The patent medicine scam of yesteryear has given way to the resveratrol scam of today. The resveratrol scam consists of using Dr. Mehmet Oz's picture or videos taken from his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show where he explains the benefits of resveratrol, then making it seem as if Dr. Oz endorses the supplement. Neither Oprah nor Dr. Oz endorse any supplement, and buyers must beware of any companies online seeking their credit card information to obtain a 'free' trial of resveratrol.
Anatomy of the Resveratrol Scam
Like most scams, this one relies upon half-truths to support the lies.
Resveratrol is a chemical found in the skin of red or purple grapes and in other plant sources such as blueberries, peanuts, and other dark red or purple berries. Plants produce resveratrol to fight off microorganisms, and transmit the chemical to people who eat the plants or products made from the plants such as red wine. A Harvard study conducted on obese mice demonstrated the overweight rodents lived longer if they took resveratrol supplements. Since then, claims have been made that resveratrol stops or reverses aging. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims and the FDA does not endorse these statements.
Some research links drinking red wine to good health, and there's speculation that red wine may somehow confer health benefits. According to Dr. Oz, however, it's the alcohol content of red wine, not the resveratrol, that confers benefits. Resveratrol may provide some benefits but not enough to justify the supplement makers' claims.
How the Scam Works
People seeking information on resveratrol type the term into a search engine or stumble across a flash ad on a website featuring photos of celebrities such as Demi Moore. Once the visitor clicks on the ad or a link, a website opens that includes celebrity images and claims resveratrol keeps them looking young. Many sites include video clips obtained from Dr. Oz's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show where he discusses resveratrol.
At this stage, unsuspecting visitors may believe the claims and click on an offer for a free trail. That's when the resveratrol scam kicks into high gear. A very enticing offer promises a free trial, yet you must enter your credit card information to obtain it. A tiny star and very small font printed at the bottom of the screen indicates your card will be charged an exorbitant fee for the 'sample' and you'll be included on the company's automatic shipment program. Automatic shipment means that each month, the company will charge your credit card and ship you new bottles of the supplement. You must cancel within 10 days to get your money back.
Many consumers claim resveratrol scam companies charge their credit cards not just with an outrageous shipping fee for the supplement but also for supplements they never receive. Worse, consumers who attempt to cancel their order find themselves left on hold for hours at a time. Emails sent to the company are neither acknowledged nor returned. Many consumers have had to resort to cancelling their credit cards and alerting their banks not to allow charges from unscrupulous vendors who obtain their credit card information.
For more information on the resveratrol scam, visit Oprah Winfrey's site. Many of her loyal readers and fans have posted nightmare stories about their experiences with various companies. There isn't just one company pitching a resveratrol scam. Many companies are using the same tactics to lure consumers into the 'free' trial offer. Another source of information on the scam is the Consumer Complaint Board, which includes many details on various companies using the resveratrol scam to obtain credit card information.
If you do believe resveratrol holds health benefits, you can obtain resveratrol supplements from legitimate sources such as retail stores, vitamin and supplement shops, pharmacies and online outlets nationwide. Don't lock yourself into an autoship program unless you know the company you're dealing with, and never give away your credit card information to obtain a free sample. A free sample should be shipped to you with minimal information provided to the company.
What to Do if You've Been Scammed
If you do fall prey to a resveratrol scam, here are some steps you can take to rectify the situation:
- Try calling the company and cancelling your shipment. Keep a detailed log of the time, date and number you called, who you spoke with, and any other details. If you get put on hold and nobody answers, record how many times you tried to call, the time of each call, and the duration of your hold time. You may need these facts to follow up with the Better Business Bureau and others if the scam continues.
- Return the unopened product to the company with return receipt requested so someone at the company must sign for the product. Keep the proof that they received the return with the record of your calls.
- If you still see charges on your credit card, you may be required to pay the charges while you attempt to get the money back from the resveratrol scam company. If you do not pay the charges, your credit card company may be within their rights to charge interest on the unpaid balance. Call your credit card company with any questions.
- Call the Better Business Bureau with your complaint.
- Cancel your credit card so the company can no longer charge it.