Thanks to sleazy companies attempting to sell unproven weight loss pills, many celebrities have found themselves fallen victim to Internet weight loss hoaxes.
According to NBCNews and MousePrint.org, various pseudo-news sites are publishing articles falsely claiming that celebrities like Melissa McCarthy and Kim Kardashian have lost weight with particular diet pills — just to offer a "free trial" of said diet pill at the end of the article.
Not only is a free trial of a weight loss drug suspicious in itself, but in fact, the celebrity has never promoted or even heard of the product.
Some sites will even go so far as to use logos from trusted news sources like Yahoo!, Woman's Day and People to make it seem like their product has been backed by each site — see this false claim from HealthWeekly.Us.com below:
HealthWeekly.Us.com copies Us Weekly's design in an attempt to fool readers into falling for its scam. Other fake news sites like TMZ News (not to be confused with the real TMZ) EntertainmentToday.co (not to be confused with the real EntertainmentToday.net) and NewsReport247.org have since taken down articles claiming weight loss pills helped celebs like McCarthy, Kardashian, Gwen Stefani and John Goodman lose weight.
In May, Alison Sweeney spoke out on The Dr. Oz Show about similar sites that featured fake tweets and quotes from her, all saying she swore by a diet pill she'd never even heard of until fans started asking her about it.
"I was so infuriated," she said. "It made me so angry that fans would think that it was true, and of course they would think it's true. It looks true. It looks real."
According to MousePrint, it's easier than you might think to verify the authenticity (or in this case, inauthenticity) of a site like EntertainmentToday.co. That's because it will most likely feature a legal disclaimer in fine print somewhere on the page or site. In EntertainmentToday.co's case, the website states: "EntertainmentToday.Co is a fabricated web publication, which uses real names in a fictitious way. All news articles contained within EntertainmentToday.Co are fictional and should be presumed as fake news. Any mention of celebrities and public figures are used to pepper our stories, grab your attention, and sensationalize our content. They are entirely inaccurate and should not be believed as fact."
In addition to finding bogus disclaimers like that, Lois Greisman, associate director of the Division of Marketing Practics at the Federal Trade Commission, offers some sound advice on protecting yourself against Internet hoaxes:
"Any time you see a free trial offer, you've got to be skeptical as to whether it's legitimate, because all too often we see free trial offers that simply are not free," Greisman said. "Your account information is going to get billed right away and to compound all of that, you may be enrolled in a membership program or some sort of buyer's club that you've never heard of and have absolutely no interest in."0comments
In short, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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