28/02/2007

OFT warning on 'miracle' health cures

The Office of Fair Trading is warning consumers not to waste money on 'miracle' health and slimming products which do not do what they claim.

The campaign, part of the OFT's Scams Awareness Month, targets mailings and emails from sellers of products which promise miracle cures for all manner of problems, such as baldness, obesity and impotence.

The OFT said that the products were medically ineffective and even potentially dangerous in some cases and were sold by professional scammers using false claims that their product was a "scientific breakthrough" following years of research or had been "clinically proven".

The OFT also warned that the products were often supported by fake testimonials from 'satisfied customers' and worthless 'money back guarantees'.

Recent research conducted by the OFT found that around 200,000 UK consumers lose an estimated £20 million year to miracle health and slimming cures, with the average amount lost per victim amounting to £90.

Women are the main target for slimming cures and make up 78% of the victim profile for this type of scam.

The OFT is advising consumers:
  • not to believe claims that a product available only by mail order or over the web from an exclusive supplier contains a 'special', 'secret', 'foreign' or 'ancient' formula that will provide instant cures to a wide variety of ailments
  • not to believe claims that the medical establishment has overlooked, or has hidden, a 'scientific breakthrough'
  • not to accept testimonials or case histories from so-called 'satisfied customers' as the only evidence that the product actually works
Mike Haley, Head of the OFT's Scambusters Team, said: "Scammers exploit people's desperate hopes for a miracle cure to their health problem. Not only are the products a waste of money, but they can be dangerous, containing untested ingredients. We urge everyone who sees a miracle health advert to stop, think and think again. Take medical advice from your doctor or pharmacist before you buy any medicinal product by mail order or over the web."

(KMcA/SP)

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