Scam Watch

ALSforums Scam Watch Goal

Our goal to provide information that will make you aware of scams and misleading information often found online when searching disease related information.

It is our hope that we can save your energy and money for more important things 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 information for health concerns.

ALSforums Scam Watch is a proactive approach to combating fraudulent products, therapies, protocols and treatment promotions that affect people with terminal illness and their loved ones, family members and friends.

The information and views on this page are derived from experience with ALS/MND related online forum groups and chat systems. Over the past fifteen years we've seen many unproven and wildly hyped and marketed online therapies that are designed for one purpose, to give false hope while robbing loved ones of finances. The groups that perpetrate these miracle cures have one goal, to mislead you for the purpose of profit.

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.

Often times, the perpetrators will give the appearance of fighting against modern medicine, or have stipulations that they're willing to "give the drug away for free for compassionate reasons"; if you dig deeper, and fall victim, you'll soon find you're paying money to someone, or a some website, in order to receive the treatment. Everything is setup to mislead you for their own personal gain.

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.  These groups have decades of practice in deceit.  The lengths they'll go to sell their snake oil products is extensive (fake posts, fake reviews, fake people, fake relationships, fake charts, fake graphs, fake statistics, all disguised with artificial compassion and hope).

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.
  • The product is offered only through illegitimate websites, online, or out of country.  
  • Your doctor has never heard of it, nor has any reputable agency or government.
  • 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”

Other important indicators are the following:

  • The people sharing information with you want to contact you privately (email, phone, private messaging on forums or social media)
  • The positive reviews are coming from strangers
  • When anyone questions the validity of the product they're attacked (these fraudsters are combative, well spoken, and strong debaters)

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 of online forums and chat groups; 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:

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.  It's a great resource to learn about ways to protect yourself from common mistakes and fraud.

Consumer Protection
Another great resource that helps individuals learn ways to protect themselves and recognize common scams.  A quote from their website shares valuable insight:

A scam or a fraud is any scheme designed to con you out of money or steal your personal information. If someone contacts you unexpectedly – whether over the phone, through the post, by email, on a website, in person or on social media – always consider the possibility that it may be a scam.

Scammers target lots of people, often for small amounts of money. Most scams come from overseas but they may pretend to be locally based — from a reputable company, bank or government agency, or even from your friends on social media if your account has been hacked. It is very difficult to get your money back once it is sent overseas.

Even Better Now Scam
This is a forum thread has additional information about the possible organization and Eric Edney scam.  Miracle cures, miracle remedies, miracle "protocols" often use a very similar template to promote the amazing benefits of their snake oil.  We've seen these shameful templates re-used many times over the past 15 years on websites and forums; all designed to give false hope to loved ones, family and friends of people affected by terminal illness.  It's easy to fall victim to such scams when we need hope for a cure.  Please be very careful not to spend your hard earned money and hope on such unproven remedies and unknown drugs, cures, protocols, and therapies.

Health Scams - 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.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

Nate gallardo in Phoenix is one such scammer.