It's a miracle!Often, the most vulnerable are also the most likely to be taken in by a scammer offering a miracle cure or an instant fix to a perceived physical problem. The scammers come at you from all directions, so watch out for them.
Wed 14 Jun 2023
7 min read
What is a miracle cure scam?
Miracle cure scams are fraudulent schemes exploiting people's hopes and vulnerabilities by offering them supposed "miracle" treatments or cures for various medical conditions or other personal concerns. These scams prey on individuals who are desperate for a cure or relief from serious illnesses, chronic health issues or even unhappiness with appearance.
Here are some common characteristics and tactics associated with miracle cure scams:
- False claims: Scammers often make extravagant and unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of their products or treatments. They may promise to cure incurable diseases or offer remarkable health benefits with no evidence
- Missing science: Miracle cure scams typically lack credible scientific research, clinical trials, or peer-reviewed studies to validate their claims. They rely on anecdotal stories, testimonials, or pseudoscientific explanations that have no basis in reality
- Secret or exclusive treatments: Scammers sometimes claim to possess a secret remedy that mainstream medicine is trying to suppress or a treatment that is only available through their specific product or service. This creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency among potential victims
- Exploitation of fear and desperation: Just like many other kinds of scams, miracle cure scams often target individuals who are suffering from serious illnesses or chronic conditions and are desperately seeking relief or a cure. Scammers take advantage of their vulnerability, offering false hope and exploiting their fears to make a profit
- High-priced products or services: These scams frequently involve expensive products, treatments, or therapies that promise extraordinary results. Victims are often required to pay large sums of money upfront or make ongoing payments for ineffective or useless treatments
- Lack of regulation: Miracle cure scams can exploit regulatory loopholes or operate in countries with weak oversight, allowing them to avoid scrutiny and legal consequences. They often market their products or services as dietary supplements or alternative medicine to avoid stricter regulations imposed on pharmaceuticals
- Suppression of criticism or scepticism: Scammers may discourage individuals from seeking advice from medical professionals, dismissing them as part of a conspiracy or claiming that they are ignorant of the "real" cure. They often target vulnerable communities who may already have a distrust of mainstream medicine.
Weighing it up
Very common miracle cure scams that come through social media and email are ‘instant weight loss’ scams such as the keto weight loss diet. They exploit the popularity and interest in the ketogenic diet for weight loss. The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that has gained attention for its potential to promote weight loss. However, scammers take advantage of people's desire to lose weight quickly and offer false or ineffective products and programs related to the keto diet. Here’s what to watch out for:
- Fake keto products: Scammers may create and sell fake keto products, such as supplements, pills, or meal replacements, claiming that they will accelerate weight loss or induce ketosis (the metabolic state the keto diet aims to achieve). These products may be ineffective, mislabeled, or even harmful
- Unsubstantiated claims: Scammers often make extravagant claims about the effectiveness of their products, promising rapid weight loss or guaranteed results without scientific evidence or studies to support these claims
- Misleading before-and-after photos: Scammers may use manipulated or misleading before-and-after photos to promote their keto weight loss programs or products. These images are often digitally altered or taken out of context to exaggerate the results and lure people into purchasing their offerings.
- False testimonials: Testimonials from supposed satisfied customers are a common tactic used in keto weight loss scams. These testimonials may be fabricated or incentivised
- Unauthorised charges and subscriptions: Some scams involve signing up for a free trial of a keto product or program, only to later find unauthorised charges on your credit card or recurring subscriptions that are difficult to cancel. It's important to carefully read the terms and conditions and be cautious when providing payment information.
Big C: That’s C for Con
Cancer cure scams are fraudulent schemes that prey on the vulnerability and desperation of individuals diagnosed with cancer or their loved ones. These scams offer false hope and promise miraculous cures or treatments for cancer, often with exorbitant costs attached. It’s important to note that there is currently no known single "miracle" cure for cancer, and legitimate treatments are based on scientific research and medical protocols. Here are some characteristics and examples of cancer cure scams:
- False claims of guaranteed cures: Scammers may make bold and unsubstantiated claims, guaranteeing complete remission or cure from cancer through their products or treatments. They often rely on anecdotal evidence or testimonials, avoiding scientific validation or clinical studies
- Alternative therapies without evidence: Cancer cure scams frequently promote alternative or unproven therapies, claiming they are more effective than conventional medical treatments. Examples include herbal remedies, special diets, hyperthermia, ozone therapy, or unregulated substances like apricot kernels or laetrile
- Suppression of mainstream medicine: Scammers may depict the medical establishment as conspiring to hide "real" cures and portray themselves as heroes fighting against a medical establishment that prioritises profits over patients. They exploit the scepticism or distrust some individuals may already have toward traditional medicine
- Expensive treatments or products: Cancer cure scams often involve costly treatments, supplements, or therapies that promise extraordinary results. Victims may be asked to pay substantial amounts of money upfront or subscribe to ongoing payment plans, draining their financial resources without any real benefit
- Targeting vulnerable individuals: Scammers prey on the emotional vulnerability of cancer patients and their families, who are desperately seeking hope and a solution. They may specifically target those who have exhausted conventional treatment options or are looking for alternative approaches
- Lack of science: Cancer cure scams often lack credible scientific evidence, clinical trials, or peer-reviewed studies to support their claims
- Unregulated or illegal treatments: Some scams involve unapproved or illegal treatments that have not undergone rigorous testing or do not meet safety standards. These treatments may pose serious health risks or even worsen the condition.
Close to home
There have been a few examples of miracle cure scams in the UK:
- Operation Pangea: In 2015, the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) participated in an international operation targeting the sale of fake and unlicensed medicines online. Several fraudulent websites were shut down, including those selling counterfeit or unproven "miracle" cures for various conditions
- Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS): MMS is a dangerous and unproven product that has been marketed as a cure for a wide range of illnesses, including cancer, autism, and HIV/AIDS. Despite warnings from health authorities, some individuals and groups in the UK have promoted and sold MMS as a miracle cure, leading to potential health risks and legal action
- Cancer cure scams: Fraudulent clinics or individuals have been known to exploit vulnerable cancer patients by offering unproven treatments or alternative therapies as miracle cures. These scams often involve expensive treatments with false claims of high success rates, exploiting the desperation and hope of individuals battling cancer
- Fake weight loss products: Scammers have targeted individuals seeking quick and effortless weight loss solutions by promoting "miracle" weight loss products that promise rapid results without any lifestyle changes. These products often lack scientific evidence and may pose health risks due to undisclosed ingredients or dangerous substances
How can I watch out for miracle cure scams?
If you’re not sure about an apparent miracle scam, here’s what to look out for:
- Consult reputable medical professionals: Seek advice from licensed healthcare practitioners who can provide evidence-based guidance and treatment options.
- Research thoroughly: Look for reliable sources of information, such as scientific studies, medical journals, or trusted health organisations, to validate the effectiveness and safety of any treatment or product
- Be cautious of big claims: If a product or treatment sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Ask questions and don't be swayed solely by anecdotal evidence or testimonials
- Be sceptical: Anecdotes and ‘testimonials’ are not sufficient evidence for the effectiveness of a treatment. Look for comprehensive scientific studies and clinical trials conducted by reputable institutions
- Check for regulatory approval: Verify whether a treatment or product has been approved by government or consumer focused organisations. Legitimate treatments are continually evolving through rigorous scientific research and meet established medical standards
- Watch out for high-pressure sales tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency or use aggressive sales tactics to pressure you into making a quick decision. Take your time to thoroughly evaluate any claims before making a purchase or commitment.
- Stay sharp: Keep up to date and protect yourself from potential scams by checking in with trusted information sources such as government health agencies, consumer protection organisations such as Action Fraud, and reputable news outlets.
- Report scams: If you come across a miracle cure scam or suspect fraudulent activity, report it to your local authority, Action Fraud, or healthcare regulatory organisations. This could help protect others from falling victim to similar scams.
You need to be cautious with personal information and payments. Make sure it’s a genuine and responsible organisation. Always read the terms and conditions before providing personal or financial information online. Be wary of free trials or subscription offers and understand the cancellation policy to avoid unauthorised charges.
You can easily get targeted through social media or email spam sent by scammers to get you interested in their fraud. They may target you because they were able to find a few snippets of personal information online, either via the dark web or through a data hack where a company lost some of your private and personal information. When that happens the company may not even know about it for many months, and you may never realise it’s fallen into the wrong hands.
The best way to prevent your data being stolen from a company in this way is to get your data deleted. The best way to do that is to use our Rightly Protect service, which will figure out who has your data and enable you to get it completely deleted in a single click. It’s quick, simple and free.
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