Scam Watch

ALSforums Scam Watch Goal

It is our goal to provide information that will make you aware of general scams online relating specifically to MND and ALS.

It is our hope that we can save you money, dignity and energy so that it can be spent on more important causes such as effective treatment, therapy and care for your loved one.

This section of our website is dedicated to Internet users that are actively seeking help, support, treatments, therapies and informational truths related to ALS/MND.

ALSforums Scam Watch is a proactive approach to combating fraudulent product, therapy and treatment promotions that affect people with MND and their partners, family, and friends.

The information and views on this page are derived from experience with ALS/MND related online forum groups and chat systems.

Be aware, con artists are actively seeking to take advantage of your situation for one simple reason; personal financial gain. While they may pretend to care, they care only about their bank accounts.

ALSforums Scam Watch

We encourage you to read the information contained on this page carefully, and reflect on this information each time you are approached, recommended, or otherwise persuaded to spend money relating to a product, philosophy or treatment that claims unproven or unrealistic benefits.

The information added to this website section is not, and never will be complete. Online fraud is ever evolving, as one “helpful product or therapy” is dismissed as fraud, a new one will appear. As one fraudster is uncovered, a market opens for a new individual to take his or her place.

Fraud Online Is a Growing Problem

Stopping fraud outright, especially online, is a daunting and difficult task - understaffed and lacking in technology, law enforcement agencies struggle to catch criminals, when they do, they often struggle with state or provincial law as well as international law; as many perpetrators live abroad they are free to go about their business without intervention from law enforcement agencies.

SCAM WATCH TIP
Trust your instincts and use common sense instead of thinking with your heart - these are your best tools.

Protect Yourself

This section of our site serves as a guide - a guide for all people affected by a terminal illness. It is our hope that with awareness, common sense, and a little history, you will be better able to protect yourself and loved ones from false hope, wasted time, and wasted money.

Hope or Hogwash

The purpose of the ALSforums Scam Watch is not designed to deter you from holding faith, keeping hope, or from investigating new or yet-unproven therapies. We would like to help showcase past “hogwash” products and similar future claims; often, fraudsters may have a stock pile of product to sell, if their scam is revealed in one community (example: the cancer patient community), they will start up a similar false hope campaign in another unrelated disease community.

While some fraudsters work hard, many are lazy, as such, they prefer to peddle their wares using similar methods and will move from one community to the next (see the mannatech scam).

Identifying a Scam

Here are some indicators to help you identify a scam product or fraudulent individual:

  • The therapy/drug comes with a money back guarantee, while also making unrealistic, and hard to prove promises or claims.
  • A product is being sold as a catch all cure for different, and unrelated medical conditions or terminal illnesses.
  • A product has no sound science or validity to prove product claims. Moreover, the only place you can find information about the product is through a public forum, another website, or the sellers website.
  • The product down plays, makes light of, or bashes the significance of modern medicine and/or science
  • The drug claims to be a “new breakthrough” and/or a “time tested remedy”. Chances are if this is the first you've heard about this product, and it meets any of the other indicators above, it's a scam.
  • The product uses catch phrases such as “natural”, “fast relief”, “amazing results”

Remember, common sense is your best defense. As you've probably heard before, if it seems too good to be true, chances are it is.

Fraudsters revel in the anonymity online forums and chat groups provide; legitimate drugs/therapies will have legitimate information available through legitimate sources. Do your homework and don't buy into false hope!

Fraudulent Individuals and “Companies”

Be aware, there are thousands of individuals online that are hoping to profit from your circumstances, from your need for hope, your need for a cure. These “people” will try to sell you products, drugs, specialty items, books, and miracle cures just to name a few. They're sales attempts, much like the individual, is secretly veiled and not to be trusted.

How Will I Be Approached?

Online con artists will post product reviews directly in discussion groups, online forums and in blog posts on websites that you frequent. They will create multiple accounts online, or they will work in teams, and will post follow up messages to reinforce their false claims. You may receive unsolicited e-mail, also known as “spam”. Often times they will ask/or obtain your home phone number or address and may approach you directly. Fraudsters will work hard to deceive you - just as we will work hard to uncover these scams and help protect you. Your best line of defense however is your own common sense - you must work hard to protect yourself.

These unscrupulous individuals will befriend you, they will pretend to help you, all in hopes of eventually making a profit from you, from your caregiver, from your friends, and from your loved ones.

Voice your thoughts publicly if you suspect a scam and be skeptical - if the product is legitimate the truth will be told, until then, as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

If you are viewing a public forum or non authoritative article it is always best to keep a certain level of skepticism.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Fraud?

Here are some important ways for you to protect yourself:

  • Never provide your home address or telephone number to a publicly available list, forum, or chat group. There's rarely if ever a need for someone else to have this information; this information should only be shared with reputable organizations and government agencies.
  • Never post your email address or full name in a public forum, use the forum tools to send private messages; these are anonymous correspondences. If you find the person you are chatting with is less than honest you can walk away with out fear that the person can continue to reach you by e-mail, or find out more about you using your name.
  • Avoid ongoing public conversations with people you suspect are dishonest; fraudsters often revel in these ongoing conversations, if they don't fool you they know they're likely to fool another unsuspecting forum visitor that comes along the forum message a day, week, or year later.
  • Report suspected abuse and scam promoters to your forum administrator; if nothing is done, move to a forum where the moderators care; unfortunately, many forum operators benefit from these fraudsters, either through PPC (pay per click) advertisements or kick backs; don't support this behavior or these types of forums.

Searching for ALS and MND Information Online?

Please read the following articles and/or forum threads to ensure that you able to protect yourself online. Experience has shown that there are many individuals ready, willing and able to take advantage of people such as yourself. These individuals are shameless in their pursuits and often use spam e-mail tactics, or worse yet, false claims, promises of miracle cures, misleading leading information and fear tactics - the goal of their pursuits always ends with one outcome, to make a sale.

Further Readings

For more information about how to identify a scam and/or report a scam we recommend the following resources:

Even Better Now
This is a forum thread has additional information about the possible organization and Eric Edney scam.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration
This resource focuses on how to identify scams online, and re-iterates in detail the information we've included in our scam watch section.

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Comments

Anonymous's picture

Nate gallardo in Phoenix is one such scammer.

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