What makes it fun to write about the Acai Berry “Diet Plan,” as I have done on a number of occasions, it that it’s a credit card scam that truly is one of the most inventive scams I’ve witnessed. If you’re someone who wants to truly lose weight and you’re looking for help, don’t give the sellers of this “diet plan” your credit card number. But before you take my word for it, consider the latest marketing ploy of these desperate ripoff artists and judge for yourself.
I wrote an exposé on these criminals back in March of 2010, in which the Acai Berry “diet plan” crooks went to a type of news format to try to give their diet plan credibility. First of all, there is no Acai Berry “diet plan.” When you look at the fine print advertising the usual duo of “acai berry” and “colon cleanse” products being peddled by these crooks, even the fine print labels these products as “nutritional supplements.” Of interest to note, I personally observed a sixty-day supply of Acai Berry nutritional supplements being offered for sale at the well-known Walgreen’s drug store for $19.95, without the need for a “monthly commitment” for fresh thirty-day supplies of this product on a credit card. This will become important in a few minutes as we take a look at what the latest pitch for this product is asking you to spend.
In March of 2010, the Acai Berry diet plan marketers claimed that a “Stacie Sandler,” a “health columnist,” at a News6 TV station, had volunteered to be a “guinea pig” and do a one-person “scientific study” to evaluate the claims of the Acai Berry “diet plan.” Of course, if you’re trying to sell the products, which are always a combination of acai berry and colon cleanse nutritional supplements, the results of that scientific study are going to be slightly biased. Fast forward to today, 5/31/2010, and you’ll witness “Jane Smith,” a “health and fitness writer” for TV9 (http://tv9today.com/)! Jane Smith, which without a doubt has to be a fictitious name, looks exactly like Stacie Shandler, unless Jane happens to have a twin sister in the news business.
The marketing gimmick for the combination of Acai Berry pills and Colon Cleanse pills is to use a website that looks like it’s connected to a television station. Of course it isn’t, but the ripoff artists selling their useless nutritional supplements don’t care that (1) their “diet plan” doesn’t help anyone lose weight, (2) that they use logos of media outlets such as ABC, CNN, Sixty Minutes, and the BBC without authorization, and (3) that they don’t care if unsuspecting consumers can’t make the distinction between a legitimate media outlet endorsing their diet plan and a bunch of scam artists claiming a connection that doesn’t exist. Careful word parsing used such as “As seen” on CNN, ABC, etc., absolves them of any legal accountability, since it would be almost impossible for anyone to dig up footage of someone who might have mentioned Acai Berry products on one of these media outlets. While it may be true that a media outlet or two may have mentioned the Acai Berry product as a type of “superfood,” it has yet to be “reported” as having anything to do with a “diet plan,” and this is how the ripoff artists attempt to parse their words and promote their non-existent “diet plan.”
If it weren’t for the fact that some trusting consumers have attempted to purchase the Acai Berry “diet plan,” only to have their credit card abused, with no results of losing weight to show for it, this ad campaign for the Acai Berry diet plan would make great comic material. Another great example of how these hucksters create false impressions about their “diet plan” is how they make it look like “Jane Smith” is some sort of TV reporter, even sporting a picture of a TV set in the upper left hand corner of the advertisement. Certainly the link to the website advertising the product, http://tv9today.com , should give a would-be buyer of this junk the impression these people were affiliated with some sort of TV station. Toward the bottom of the advertisement, we read these words from “Jane Smith,” “There are over 12,450 daily readers of TV9 Today!” Really! So is TV9 Today a “television station,” or is it a newspaper or magazine? Perhaps we got a little dose of unintended disclosure here, when the scam artists themselves couldn’t decide whether they had a television endorsement from TV9, or whether TV9 is just some sort of publication. In all probability, TV9 doesn’t exist, either in television form, or in periodical form, but in any event, claiming to have “over 12,450 daily readers” and not “viewers” should give fair warning to anyone still considering this “diet plan” after all this, a heads up that this “diet plan” is completely bogus.
So what do the Acai Berry “diet plan” scam artists want you to do this time? Give out your credit card number and pay $2.99 for a “free trial” of Acai Pure and another $.99 for the “free trial” of Advanced Colon nutrition supplements. Oh, excuse me! In this particular scam, they are referred to as “health supplements.” This can be determined by reading the Terms and Conditions section, which explains in very fine print, exactly what you’re getting. The “free trial” of Acai Pure lasts for twenty days, then your credit card gets hit for $79.95. After that, every thirty days, you’re billed $39.95 plus $2.95 shipping until you figure out a way to stop it. Because they have your credit card number, which is all they wanted in the first place, they then tack on another $19.95 every sixty days for something called Advanced Acai 48-hour Cleanse. Good luck getting all these charges stopped on your credit card. The toll free customer service numbers are either disconnected by the time you try to contact them, or you get some third party customer service department who contracted with these scam artists who don’t have any idea how you’ve been scammed. They’ll tell you anything to get you off the phone, even tell you your credit card account has been credited, and then go right on charging your credit card. I’ve been writing about this for two years and have yet to hear from anyone who has had a different experience. Most people wind up having to change their credit card number to avoid the charges from continuing since the customer service department is either non-existent or non-responsive. The multiple charges to your credit card in differing amounts is just to confuse the credit card company and allow the charges to go to the scam artists until you get wise and change credit card numbers or get a new card.
I’ve saved the best for last, however. Remember the “free trial” for only $.99 shipping on the Advanced Colon product? Well, guess what? After only fourteen (14) days, your credit card gets hit for “$149.95!” Why $149.95, you might ask? It seems the scam artists, who are anxious to move on once they have your credit card number, charge $149.95 for a “membership fee,” and then charge your card “$12.95 every month thereafter.” A membership fee in what, I wonder? With all of these varying amounts going through on your credit card, it’s no wonder that even under the best of circumstances, a credit card company would find it impossible to stop any unauthorized charges. Even more impossible would be for the poor customer who gets lured into this “free trial” business who probably spends more time trying to track all this stuff to straighten it out, and then concludes it’s easier to just get a new credit card number. By now it should be clear, that these Acai Berry “diet plan” hucksters have no “diet plan” to sell, and have constructed a very elaborate scheme to claim media support for a non-existent product, and if reported to the appropriate authorities, would keep the Federal Trade Commission busy for a long time. The scam has been going on for two years, that I’m aware of, and doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down. If you must purchase a diet pill or product you want to help you lose weight, deal with somebody locally like a GNC or a Walgreen’s. Dealing with scam artists who just want your credit card number are only going to ruin your credit, run unauthorized charges on your card, and make your financial life a living hell.