Targeting those that are already suffering with various health issues is absolutely shameful, even for a criminal. A desperation to feel better or look better can lure people into falling for so-called miracle cures, effortless weight loss, and all sorts of other quick, easy, or low-cost false promises. Patients that can’t afford the current treatments or expensive prescriptions may fall for fraudsters operating online pharmacies advertising drugs at a fraction of the usual cost, with no prescription necessary. There may be no pharmacy at all, imported knock-off drugs with no quality control, or the customer is sent something that is dangerous to their health.

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada and to raise awareness the Competition Bureau has published “The Little Black Book of Scams”, which includes the following:

Health and medical scams

Watch out for magical cures that offer quick and easy fixes.
There are fraudsters out there who hope to take advantage of people’s suffering. The three most common types of health scams are miracle cures, weight loss programs and fake online pharmacies. In all cases, they often appear as sponsored posts on social media or website pop-ups.
Scammers offer products and services that seem to be legitimate alternative medicines and treatments that quickly and easily treat serious conditions. Some of these may seem to be endorsed by celebrities or promoted by testimonials of people claiming to have been cured.
Weight loss scams promise dramatic results with little to no effort. The scammers might promote unusual diets; revolutionary exercises; fat-busting devices; or breakthrough products, such as pills, patches or creams.
Fake online pharmacies offer drugs and medications at very cheap prices or without a doctor’s prescription. They advertise on the internet and send spam emails. If you do receive the promised products, there is no guarantee they are the real thing or safe to take.
Tips to protect yourself:
  • Remember that there are no magic pills or miracle cures for achieving quick weight loss or treating medical conditions.
  • Don’t trust claims about medicines, supplements or other treatments. Get the facts straight from your healthcare professional.
  • Never commit to anything under pressure, especially if a large advance payment or long-term contract is required.
  • Know that if an online pharmacy is legitimate, it will require valid prescriptions.
  • Be skeptical of celebrity endorsements or testimonials.

For more on fraud protection, see the Online Security & Fraud Protection module at DNotesEDU.