FBI Portland
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January 16, 2018

FBI Tech Tuesday—Building a Digital Defense Against Diet Scams

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week, building a digital defense against diet scams.

Earlier this month, we talked about setting New Year’s resolutions to keep your new tech gadgets safe.

This week, we are sharing some advice from our friends at the Federal Trade Commission about a different kind of resolution—the kind that has you desperate to drop a few pounds.

This time of year you are likely seeing all kinds of ads on social media for the latest new gadget, drug, or breakthrough to help you lose weight or get in shape. The before-and-after photos are stunning—if that person can do it, as the story goes, you can, too! The best part, you often don't have to diet or work out. Shell out a few dollars, and the new you will be shopping for bathing suits soon.

As the FTC can tell you, though, there are plenty of scams mixed in with legitimate offers—and if you fall for one, the only thing that will lose weight is your wallet.

The FTC recommends:

  • Pass on any patch, pill, or gadget that promises you can eat all you want and still lose weight permanently. Losing weight requires sensible food choices, and long-term success will require permanent lifestyle changes.
  • Electronic devices that offer to slim and tone your body usually only have temporary effects on muscle strength. Most were made for physical therapy and rehabilitation, not to give you six-pack abs. Getting real exercise is your best bet for that.
  • Be wary of the photos that allegedly prove what money can buy you. The photos can easily be faked, and even if they aren't—there’s no guarantee that the now-skinny person in the “after” picture didn't actually diet and work out in addition to using whatever the miracle product was.
  • Recognize that everybody is different. Even if the item is legitimate and does help some people—it won't necessarily help you.

    Bottom line—there is no “miracle” drug or product that is going to make your body lighter or stronger for the long run. If you are tempted, make sure you do your homework, talk to your doctor, and think before you give online scammers your credit card number.

If you need more detail on diet and device scams, go to FTC.gov or FDA.gov.

If you have been victimized by an online scam, be sure to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.