No, Virginia, “brain booster” pills don’t work.

I have inveighed many times against the deceptive nature of affiliate marketing. It’s getting worse all the time, and otherwise legitimate entities are promoting it by allowing anybody and their capybara to inject ads onto their websites. It’s all about the revenue.

Newser™ used to be one of my favorite news aggregator sites, but my enthusiam began waning when their site became jugged with deceptive advertising, and my patience finally snapped when they added code to create popup tabs and randomly switch me to unwanted articles.

Advertorial.jpg

This one, which I had mentioned before, popped up again. It infuriates me, because people are going to believe this camel ejecta, and waste their money on worthless garbage. Instead of “BrainStorm Elite” or “IQ+,” it’s now called “Intelleral” – and it’s not much more than what they flufferously designate as WGCP (whole green coffee powder), meaning NoDoz™ would be just as effective because it’s nothing more than caffeine.

Take note:

  • Stephen Hawking does not say anything about Intelleral or anything else doubling your IQ.
  • The advertisement server is smart enough to know that I’m browsing from Maine, and it injects that state into the headline.
  • Anderson Cooper’s interview has nothing to do with any products.
  • I believe that Intelleral is worthless garbage, and its manufacturers are – in my humble opinion – criminal scum.

So let’s say you’re curious and google something like “intelleral scam.”

search.jpg

Take note that almost every one of these results is the result of an affiliate marketer’s campaign. The red WOT circles are also a good indication that these websites are deceptive and potentially dangerous.

An example: the last link on the list purports to warn you about the side effects and cost of Intelleral. And it’s nothing more than a page promoting the product:

intelleral-ad-1

How much more deceptive can you get than this? Why would you buy a product that’s so dishonestly promoted, even if it worked… which it doesn’t.

One customer wasn’t too happy… among countless:

This product is a scam
By [redacted], Canton, NC, Jan 6, 2017
I ordered Intelleral due to the wonderful advertisement and testimonies by several famous people. I have taken this for a couple of weeks with no noticeable positive effect.

I was checking my credit card this morning and noticed two different charges pending for the two trial items I ordered from the Intelleral website. I did not request future orders. I was billed $64.95 and then $69.95 (charges pending).I contacted my credit card company to dispute this.

Do not order from these people.

You notice her complaint about the extra charges? That’s standard operating procedure for these slimy bottom-feeders. Have a look at their “terms,” which you have to click through to read:

2.1 By placing your order you will be receiving a 14 day evaluation of for the price of $4.95! We stand by our satisfaction Guarantee and our friendly customer service. You will also be enrolling into our convenient auto ship program once your evaluation expires. You understand that you are subscribing to a monthly shipment program and you will be charged $89.99 per month starting 14 days from today and every 30 days thereafter unless cancelled. You also understand that you can cancel at any time, subject to the provisions of section 3, without further obligation by calling 888-298-0291, Monday – Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm MST. Your transaction will appear on your credit card statement as “”. You will recieve your package within 2-5 business days of each payment. Please allow 2-5 Business days for your initial Bottle.

There’s a lot more if you have the stomach to read it. You thought you were paying $4.95 for a trial, but you were actually obligating yourself to shell out $90 bucks a month for this snake oil, and good luck getting a refund from these weasels.

Best solution: TURN AROUND, RUN AWAY, DON’T LOOK BACK. Do not buy this or anything like it that sounds too good to be true, because it is.

Selling Snake Oil with Name-Dropping.

I don’t like scammers. I don’t like woo-peddlers. I don’t like people who take advantage of the gullible and/or the vulnerable to make money at any cost. I’ve written numerous times about snake-oil sales, and even got a cease-and-desist letter from some law firm because the manufacturer didn’t like being called a scumball.

But they’re still at it.

Back in 2015, Forbes wrote a legitimate article about “How Fake News Articles And Lies About Billionaires Were Used To Market An Iffy Dietary Supplement.” Forbes complained and followed up, and the spurious website vanished, the cockroaches scurrying back into the darkness that spawned them.

For what it’s worth, the crooks didn’t focus on Forbes, they also used CNN and probably many others to hawk their garbage.

The thing about cockroaches, however, is that they keep coming back; if anyone survives a nuclear winter, it will be these creatures. There’s enough money to be made selling worthless nostrums that the scammers can easily afford to reformulate and resurface. and the immense potential for fraud inherent in affiliate marketing (which I elaborated on here) means that this plague will be a difficult one to eradicate.

I keep getting popup tabs when I visit Newser.com, and this is a recent one:

hawking

The name of the junk product has changed – instead of BrainStorm Elite it’s now IQ+, and the source of the farticle (fake article, or advertorial) is http://www.healthreportz.com/, a website that has nothing to do with Forbes.

It goes without saying that the product is worthless, Hawking has nothing to do with this junk, and the interview with Anderson Cooper is being spun to appear as if it’s endorsing this particular product – which it’s not.

The IQ+ website looks really slick, includes the standard Quack Miranda¹, and after you give them your information and click the big red “Rush My Order!” button, you are taken to the confirmation page where you provide your all-important credit card information. That page also includes this text:

rush

That’s exactly how it looks, and is so easy to miss that most people won’t read it, which is what the bottom-feeders are hoping for. If you do click the Terms and Conditions, you find the industry-standard “gotcha” clause:

In-Trial Offer: A trial offer provides the customer an opportunity to try our product free of charge for 14 days from date of order, paying only shipping and handling fees of $4.98(USD). At the conclusion of the trial period, you will be billed the full purchase price of $89.97(USD) and enrolled in the monthly replenishment program.

So that special price of $4.98 is really $94.95, and you will be billed $89.97 every 30 days because you signed up (without reading the details) for their convenient auto-ship program. You can make a Wreave bet² on the fact that getting a refund for unexpected charges to your credit card will be harder than pulling hen’s teeth – their agents will be trained to make it nearly impossible to get your money back without the threat of legal action.  This is how the kiz-eaters make their money, and frankly, Scarlet, it stinks.

I notified Forbes of the most recent iteration of this scam, and hopefully they’ll look into it. As mentioned before, there’s so much money to be made with scams of this nature that they’ll be back . I have no illusions that my little essays will do anything to stem the tide, but if even one person reads them and saves their money, it will have been worth it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Notes:

¹ The “Quack Miranda” warning is required by the FDA on all nutritional supplements, some of which have proven value. The appearance of the standard wording does not mean a product is worthless, but a huge percentage of the garbage sold by nutritional companies have dubious value and all must carry the disclaimer.

² The Wreaves are a part of Frank Herbert’s ConSentiency universe. Their strict code of honor prevents them from gambling, hence a “Wreave bet” is a sure thing.

ProBioSlim: I’m not the only one who’s calling bullshit.

Just have a look here, the website of Diet Pills Watchdog.

pro

I love the Pros: “May not cause too many side effects.” Well, that’s reassuring.  Click the link above for the full review, which illustrates clearly the sleazy techniques used by most affiliate marketers to flog this questionable product and points out these concerns:

Probioslim Concerns:

  • Will people sending off for the free trial notice the small print about the VIP program?

  • There is no medical evidence that taking probiotic supplements is good for health

  • Potentially dangerous if you have a weakened immune system

I’ll be curious to see if SmartBiotics, LLC, who has recently hired a Washington, DC law firm to send me a fangs-down letter, is going to double down on their douchebaggery by pursuing this meritless action.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Forskolin – It sounds vaguely indecent.

junk

Just got this in my spam box today. It appears that Dr. Oz has now moved from hawking garcinia cambogia to this new garbage, Forskolin. The name sounds thoroughly unsavory for reasons I won’t go into here.

I found a great post over at Science Based Medicine that says many of the things I’d normally post here, so I’ll just refer you to that article, and other posts on the same website are worth reading as well. One good quote I will extract – all of these weight-loss nostrums

“…fit the same pattern: a small grain of plausibility, inadequate research, exaggerated claims, and commercial exploitation. There are always testimonials from people who lost weight, probably because their will to believe in the product encouraged them to try harder to eat less and exercise. But enthusiasms and fads don’t last. A year later, the same people are likely to be on a new bandwagon for a different product. Dr. Oz will never lack for new ideas to bolster his ratings. Enthusiasm for easy solutions and for the next new hope will never flag as long as humans remain human.”

In short, it’s all bulldust. But as network marketers will tell you, health and wellness is a trillion-dollar industry, and everyone is trying to get a slice of that pie. As one associate put it, that business is big enough that it would be sufficient to lick the knife that cut the pie. The sad part is, the pie is a lie. Most of what is hawked and marketed has little or no value. As I mentioned over here, if you want to release weight, eat less, eat better, and exercise more.

As a final note, a couple of rules of thumb regarding spam messages like the one above.

  1. It’s a scam. Legitimate businesses don’t advertise using spam
  2. Never click the link that says “unsubscribe.” You’ve just confirmed to these unethical dipweeds that your email address is real and active. It will be sold to other scumbags, and your level of spam will increase.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.