Snake oil: Alive and Well

Light shined into dark corners will make the cockroaches scurry for cover. Today we’re talking about Ketonic Labs Green Coffee Bean extract.

Executive Summary: This product is a fraud, this product is a scam, and this product is snake oil.

Here’s the spam email I got this morning:

The spam issue

In the first place, I shouldn’t be getting this junk because I’ve never done business with Ketonic Labs, Micronet Tech or That’s the beauty of the toothless CAN-SPAM act passed by our amazing congressmen, it means that anyone “can spam” you by simply offering an unsubscribe link: thank you very little, you gutless cabrones. Comcast does a pretty good job keeping most spam out of my inbox, but image-based ads like this continue to slip through their filters.

The scam issue

Supplements are almost totally unregulated. You can claim that a product will give you wings and allow you to mate with sphinges (that’s plural for sphinx), as long as you tack on this little disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” The FDA will, in general, only come after companies whose ad copy actually does claim such things, despite the disclaimer, and they’ll only take the time to prosecute the biggest players because their resources are limited. But from where I sit, the email itself violates all the rules, and the web page is even worse.

Notice the almost-invisble “ADVERTORIAL” at the top of the page. I hate that word, for what it’s worth.

  • Melt away fat
  • Get high-school slim
  • Potent Fat Burner
  • Effective Appetite Suppressant
  • Works Quickly, Proven Results
  • Affordable Prices
  • Tremendous Weight loss results
  • Increase in Focus
  • Energy Throughout the day
  • No Crash

In short, these people, like hundreds of thousands of others, are dazzling you with weasel words and pseudo-scientific horsehockey, and it’s almost a guarantee that enough people in our country will believe it that they can recoup their costs and walk away with a tidy profit before moving on to another fraud. Make no mistake – they know they are shoveling out the barn- just have a look at this great disclaimer at the bottom of the page:

*The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not real. rather this story is based on the results that some people who have used these products have achieved. The results portrayed in the story and in the comments are illustrative and may not be the results that you achieve with these products. The depictions on this page are fictitious and indicitive [sic] of potential results. Actual results may vary.

Of course, none of this is new. People have been hawking snake oil since the earliest days:

The less educated a population, the more likely you are to be able to sell them anything. You’d think as the availability of information increases, people would become more enlightened, but the general trend in my own experience is downward; mass media caters to the lowest common denominator and good information on the internet is covered with a layer of bovine ejecta worthy of the Augean stables. The older I get, the more cynical I become about sales and marketing in general, and that’s a problem because I have products of my own to sell, and it’s a constant battle to figure out how to carve out market sector without being a douchebag.

With thanks to B. Kliban

Here’s the product label:

So what is Ketonic selling you for $50.00 a bottle? Caffeine, which has long been combined in numerous diet pills and combined with other quack ingredients including PPA, ginseng, green tea extract and countless others. Double-blind, placebo-based trials, however, seem to indicate that caffeine is not effective as a weight-loss aid. But please, don’t confuse us with the facts – where there’s money to be made, the marketers will sell you all they can.


There are some solid principles for losing weight, but as I have said elsewhere, there is no magic bullet. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the snake oil.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

3 responses to “Snake oil: Alive and Well

  1. The only way to lose weight… (and I’m doing it right now 10 pounds down 90 to go) is to diet and exercise, Stay under what you bodies metabolic rate is and usually between 2000-1200 Calories per day and eat healthy. You all so have to be focused on doing it and not look for the easy way out. That’s the problem with most of us (myself included), we want a quick and easy fix. We don’t want to have to work for the end result.

  2. Pingback: Weight Loss Lies, Redux (for the jillionth time) | Playing in the World Game

  3. Pingback: Gluten Sensitivity? Only if you *really* have Celiac disease. | Playing in the World Game

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