High profile medical scams
The age of the internet and rise in online shopping has seen consumers become increasingly vulnerable to fraud and scams. Designed to make innocent victims part with their cash, scams can be varied; ranging from fake lotteries to cowboy builders.
Health and medical scams specifically target people who have a medical condition or who are concerned about their health, weight, or any other aspect of their wellbeing. Medical scams again include a wide mix of different scams and fraud; miracle cures, penis enlargement and fake online pharmacies.
Email and adverts
Emails and adverts are two of the most commonly used methods of communication between scam artists and the innocent consumer. An email drops into your inbox with the promise of a new ‘wonder drug’ or ‘instant cure’ for a range of conditions; naturally your interest is sparked. The crux of such campaigns that really sucks consumers in is that the products are marketed as being cheap and good value for money.
It is this contact via email and the internet that gives scams the potential to be so dangerous. Consumers buy the latest herbal remedy or wondrousnew superfood online, revealing their bank account and credit card details to unscrupulous vendors. So not only do they then have something that has no health benefits what so ever, their details are available for scam artists to use to continually access their bank accounts.
Pills, therapies, supplements or superfoods claim to offer ‘cures’ for weight-loss, acne, cancer, diabetes, baldness, even AIDS. This is one of the first things that consumers should look out for; a product that is promising to act as a cure for unrelated conditions and illnesses. Ailments like this often taken a lot of time to cure, some may be financially demanding while some might be incurable.
Miracle products have often not been scientifically tested and rather than being beneficial to consumers’ wellbeing they may cause more harm than good. Retailers offering money-back guarantees are frequently associated with miracle cure scams but alas, they disappear when people try to contact them for a refund. Meanwhile, glowing testimonials from patients or doctors that are featured on such a product’s website should be investigated and not taken for face value; they could easily be made up.
Fake online pharmacies
Online pharmacies offering prescription drugs at a reduced cost are also common sights on the medial scam market. Websites or companies like this should set alarm bells ringing straight away; they are offering prescription drugs to people without a prescription, an illegal act in itself. To capture people’s interest, fake online pharmacies often advertise well-known drugs such as Viagra or Prozac.
The fact they are claiming to have ‘the real deal’ medication at a fraction of the RRP is also fairly suspicious and is likely to mean that that pills or tablets are not genuine. On this basis, there is no telling exactly what chemicals have been used to produce them, they may be past their use-by date or could react adversely with other medications one may be taking.
That is, of course, if consumers receive the medications they have ordered in the first place; an online pharmacy is usually a cover or ‘front’ used to gain access to financial information or to load spyware onto users’ computers.
Online dating sites are becoming increasingly popular platforms to recruit victims of ‘medical emergency’ scams. Con-artists join such sites and start to build a relationship with other users. Just as the online ‘relationship’ starts to take off, the online partner suddenly confronts the victim with a medical emergency. They may not be able to afford treatment for surgery for themselves or a family member, or alternatively the victim receives a call from a third party saying their partner has been in a serious accident and they need to send money treatment can start.
It has often been seen in these situations that the scammer will pretend to be a Western man but the majority of scam-artists are based in Africa. It is also common place that online partners will suffer from a host of medical ‘complications’, things that will ultimately require more money from the victim.
Although medical scams can be varied in their format or approach, they are all designed with one common aim; to earn money for the con-artists. Being vigilant and aware of the medical scams that are out there and how people are targeted are one of the first steps victims can take to protect themselves from this type of fraud.