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The only way that you could have missed the “1 trick of a tiny belly” or “One tip to a tiny belly” ads that have been everywhere – absolutely everywhere – on the Internet would be if you hadn’t been on the Internet yourself. Well it turns out that those “1 tip” ads, some of which tout “Cut down a bit of your belly everyday by following this 1 weird old tip”, are part of a massive network of scams which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has uncovered.
Because these ads have appeared on some very well-known and trusted sites, including Facebook and the Washington Post, made all the worse by the their being linked to bogus news reports of how well the product supposedly works, many many people have fallen for them. The fake articles are hosted on sites with names such as ConsumerOnlineTips.com and WeeklyHealthNews.com.
Many of the ads look exactly the same and that’s because, says David O’Toole, an attorney with the FTC, “because it’s cheap. They don’t have to create a new ad from whole cloth. It’s easy to use it again and again because it keeps costs down. And it works.”
And that last part is the most important part: it works – in fact it works even when all a customer orders is the free sample – and that’s because even the free sample ends up costing hundreds of dollars. Customers who order the free samples overlook the teeny tiny print that says that their credit card (which they have to give for “shipping and handling”) will be billed $79 a few weeks later, and $79 again a few weeks after that, and so on, until they call to cancel it – that is, call a number that often doesn’t work.
The Feds estimate that all told, the various affiliates running these scam ads have taken in at least $1 billion, so far! We say “so far” because many of these ads are still running, and the reason that the ads are still running is because so many different affiliates are using the same ads, that many of them are not (yet) the subject of the the FTC’s lawsuits.
But make no mistake – the one trick of the tiny belly ads is that the only thing that is going to lose weight is your wallet.