Fake Testimonials

Seven On Your Side
March 23, 2009 3:17:56 PM PDT
There's a brand new form of identity theft going on in cyberspace. Scammers are copying personal pictures you may have posted online and pasting them in deceptive online ads to sell acai berry supplements. Her name is Grace Trewartha. But now she's found she has some alarming on-line aliases.

She's pictured in one online blog as Lucy, in another she's Isabel, one more she's known as Rachel. All three blogs have her pictures and say she's lost lots of pounds using acai berry supplements. There's just one problem. "I didn't know about it," told a frustrated Grace Trewartha to Tappy Phillips, 7 On Your Side. "I didn't even know about the product."

Grace actually did lose the weight, using hard work, diet and exercise. Her results were posted on her trainer's website.

But then scammers cut and pasted them on websites that link to acai berry supplement sales.

"I didn't give my consent to be part of this fraud. I'm just so mad," said Grace.

Fake testimonials are just part of the problem with the now multiple on-line acai berry weight-loss sites.

"At this point I still did not receive anything," said former acai berry supplement customer, Richard Celestin. He's just one of tens of thousands of people who signed up for a free sample of an acai berry supplement and got nothing but monthly charges on his credit card.

"This has gone on for months and months. Thousands, tens of thousands of people have been cheated by these companies and its time to put a stop to it, said David Schardt of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Today, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal blasted these websites. Saying they'll very likely sue the people behind them for consumer fraud and try to recover damages and restitution for those who felt misled.

Mr. Schardt says, "These companies are very sophisticated, using fake blogs and so-called celebrity endorsements to trick people into thinking that this is a powerful weight-loss product, when it fact it's all fiction."

We contacted the supplement website that linked to Grace's picture. They said their website wasn't the problem, it was other websites that linked to them. However, after our call, 4 of the sites have been shut down.

So what is the acai berry? It's a fruit from Brazil that does have anti-oxidants in it. It's not bad for you, but it has no proven weight loss properties. If you feel you have been a victim of this scam, contact your state attorney general and your local better business bureau. It may also be necessary to cancel your credit card to stop unwanted charges.

For more information on the net, visit http://www.cspinet.org/new/200903231.html


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips