Canadian Diet Fraud Scams
(403) 245-0533 / (403) 651-9049
In Canada, the diet fraud industry has almost exclusively been based in Montreal, and has been a problem in Canada for the last 12 years.
While there are known to be European connections to the Montreal diet fraud scene, the current crop of promotions began in the mid 1990’s, and once it was realized how profitable this is, various fraudulent “groups” or “organizations” have continued on almost completely unimpeded until very recently.
Typically, ads targeting women are placed in coupon inserts in newspapers, TV guides, entertainment guides, and full-page ads in the weekend edition of tabloid newspapers.
In the U.S. weight loss ads have appeared in magazines preferred by females such as Women’s Day, Cosmopolitan, Celebrity Hairstyles, True Story and Prevention. Usually, the ads feature overweight ladies supposedly “before” taking the product, and paid models are pictured supposedly “after” using the product.
The other way these proprietors target women is to purchase mail lists from companies providing such. Almost always the requested lists are lists of female subscribers to magazines similar to the above examples. Then the company receiving the prepared mail list sends out a personal letter to the names from the list, promoting the diet product.
Most often, the address on the promotion is a mailbox or a shared office used as a mail drop. A hired “fulfillment” company, who’s hired to collect the mail, deposit the cheques, and send out the products, rents the mailbox. Sometimes the fulfillment company works closely with a hired “call center” which simply takes orders via an 800 number.
Orders come in with cheques or credit card authorizations anywhere from $30.00 to $100.00. Both the fulfillment company, and the call center are asked to sign confidentiality agreements and do not routinely reveal who is behind the scam.
Of course, the ultimate proprietor also arranges for a cheap contract manufacturer to make the product, and ship the product to the fulfillment company.
The profit margin after all of this is huge – well over 100%!
Unfortunately, in Canada, enforcement of these scams was, until very recently, almost completely non-existent.
For the longest time there seemed to be a question as to who is responsible for enforcing diet fraud.
Health Canada is responsible for enforcing the Food and Drug Act, and unapproved diet products obviously violate the Food and Drug Act. However, Health Canada has consistently positioned itself as being a “health and safety” organization and therefore, preferred complaints involving a “health hazard” or where the consumer receives an adverse reaction from the product.
Health Canada has always stated that pure consumer “fraud” is a low priority for them.
The Competition Bureau seems to be getting involved in health fraud now, and is probably a better choice to take over diet fraud investigations. The Bureau has been monitoring diet product web pages for a while now, and clearly the marketplace is getting better.
In March 2001 Rainbow Investigations pro-actively got involved in investigating specific diet fraud promotions originating in Canada. Our advocacy on this topic was reported on national TV, radio and print media all over North America.
Globe and Mail, June 19, 2001
W5, January 9, 2002
Rainbow Investigations has continued on since 2001 to monitor and expose all the Montreal based scams where are aware of, including SupraSvelt Drops, PapayaPlus, Neoform 3000, Ciren12, the current Nordic Soydiet Tablets, and the list goes on and on. Click here for the latest weight loss scams.
We do this through the diet fraud chat group (email@example.com), and the emails we receive on this topic.
While our role here now is greatly reduced from what it once was, we hold our heads high, because we believe we did make a contribution to the marketplace being better today!
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