1 Trick of a Tiny Belly | 1 Tip for a Flat Belly Ads | Weight Loss Acai Berry Scams

Posted by Export on January 13, 2010 at 10:46 am.

OK, I thought it was only right to point out the fraud that is being perpetrated on people throughout the world and explain how it works.


You have probably seen some of the ads that are plastered all over hundreds of websites with the animation of a woman shrinking from being large and rather unattractive to thin and happy looking.  They have text in a handwritten font claiming that it is some sort of home remedy or mother’s secret passed down over time.

The human weakness the scam preys on: people hate being overweight, it is socially stigmatized and socially unacceptable and so they are desperate to get thin because they believe that will lead to a happier and success filled life. To some extent they are probably right but that does not mean they should listen to false promises from people trying to sell them crap to make that happen.

How It Works And Why It Is A Scam:

  1. People browse websites and see the ads.
  2. They click the ads and are taken to a website with a long narrative about the secret
  3. After reading the nonsense pitch for a while they are channeled into “trying out” some Acai Berry/Weight Loss Elixir type products.
  4. They put their credit card information and click “I agree” to a “no obligation trial”.
  5. What they are agreeing to is an endless subscription to be shipped bottles of this stuff each month at a cost of around $80/month.
  6. If they do nothing the products keep coming and they keep getting billed each month for $80.
  7. When the consumer finally catches on and tries to cancel, the company makes it very difficult to unsubscribe from the service - messing you around on the phone and draining half an hour of your time just to speak to someone.

In Summary
You get endless shipments of useless drinks that are extremely expensive and will never help you toward your goal of losing weight. To stop the orders from coming is a very frustrating and time consuming process and in some cases may not be possible at all.

Why Consuming Drinks Will Not Make You Thin

The only way to get thinner is to burn more calories (through exercise + activity + the base amount your body burns just by living) than you consume in food and drinks (that includes anything you put in your body that has calories including stuff like juice and soft drinks - almost anything that tastes good has calories).  Burn more than you eat - THAT IS THE ONLY WAY!!

Here is an example of an appropriate calorie intake vs. burn ratio that will lead to weight loss for most people:

INTAKE SIDE: It amounts to about three very moderate meals a day: bowl of cereal with glass of orange juice for breakfast, homemade tuna sandwich and an apple for lunch, chicken breast + small scoop of rice + steamed broccoli + one glass of wine for dinner, no snacks after dinner and no dessert).   Which special drinks you consume will not lower the intake side of this equation and will never work to make you thinner - in fact will actually add calories.  I promise you.

If you cheat and have a really high calorie meal, you have to take those calories out of the other meals you have that day.  You are better off just not cheating.

CALORIE BURNING SIDE: Walking when you can in your work life (take the stairs, park far from work etc).  Doing 35 minutes of fat burning (heart rate around 150 depending on age) exercise like running, cycling, stairmaster, swimming etc. 3-4 times per week.

If you do the above, you will get thin and stay thin, live longer and probably be happier.  That is the only way!

But Oprah Endorses Them…
This is a complete and total lie.  Celebrities may have stated casually that these products “maybe cannot hurt” or could have some benefits but they are absolutely not saying “if you drink this stuff, you will get thin even if you sit around and eat McDonald’s all day”.

External Links

  • http://Mattearle.com Dave

    I totally agree with you! This is wrong and peopple need to realize that. Thanks

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/greenrd greenrd

    Question for US redditors: How is the FTC allowing this operation to stay in business for so long? I’ve been seeing these ads for what seems like *months*.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/PulpAffliction PulpAffliction

    I’ve *always* wondered what was on the other end of these ads. Thank you for the insight!

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/didyouwoof didyouwoof

    Yeah, they’ve been around for almost a year. At first they alluded to "1 ancient rule," then it was "1 simple trick," and the latest I’ve seen is "1 weird trick." I clicked on a random sampling early on to see if *any* of the links actually mentioned a rule or a trick, and — surprise, surprise — none of them did. Some of the ads were so slipshod that it was obvious the person in the "after" photo was someone other than the person in the "before" photo! It’s sad to think people actually fall for that sort of hype.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • http://murraysrants.blogspot.com/ Murray Turner

    Thanks for that. Seeing that ad everywhere was sending me over the edge. Have put something up with a link through to this article. Cheers

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/glummdead glummdead

    The New World Order.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • http://www.ubervu.com/conversations/www.mattearle.com/weight-loss-acai-berry-scams-1-trick-of-a-tiny-belly-1-weird-old-tip-fraud/ uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by fieldguided: @UniformNatural I found this: http://www.mattearle.com/weight-loss-acai-berry-scams-1-trick-of-a-tiny-belly-1-weird-old-tip-fraud/...

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/Teatoly Teatoly

    Pretty much what I thought.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/jfredett jfredett

    I imagine its partly that they’re not particularly loud anyone the FTC/FDA people would look, they don’t make health claims (which is big, you can sell anything so long as it only "promotes your immune system" or something else suitably vague, and which doesn’t make any direct health improvement claims (eg, "This cures cancer!")), and generally, they appear too small to be a real issue. The FTC (in an ideal world) would handle this quickly, it’s a false claim, FTC drops the hammer, scammers done. Unfortunately, as we all well know, this is not even close to an ideal world… C’est la vie, I suppose.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • admin

    You don’t want a nanny state where the government helps you avoid the pitfalls of life.

    These scammers have the internet, well guess what, so do we and we can make/link to/twitter content like above and this creates awareness about these kinds of scams and why they are bad for people.

    We can fight back and help other people who are more gullible than ourselves.

  • admin

    Because these guys are very careful not to actually break any laws and they are still small time. This is never going to be a huge viable business - it works for a little while and then when it starts to be a problem for society, the government steps in.

    The reality is there are few if any protections out there for consumers. There are always going to be people with absolutely no ethics or morals willing to market stuff to the next sucker to come along. The only way to protect yourself is with your own common sense and by instilling that in your children so they can protect themselves.

  • WStern

    Oh great, I think you just saved me some money - keep up the good work!

  • Sadie

    Thank you for the post. The one recommendation I have is if you try to call and cancel your order and they’re jacking you around, hang up immediately, call your credit card company and have them stop the charges. Companies hate this when you do this. It’s very effective.
    Thanks again for the info.

  • http://www.mommyreporter.com Mommy Reporter

    Thanks for sharing this info!! I knew it had to be some kind of a scam… especially since they make you listen to a long, drawn out message up front. Keep up the great work!!!

  • Patrick

    Hi there,

    I came across your helpful site while trying to find a way of getting rid of this irritating, badly worded ad from my browser - it’s like having a hobo sitting next to you in the car on the commute to work! Isn’t this repetitiveness linked in some way to Google? The ads are after all tagged “Google Ads”. I downloaded something from Google to stop tracking my browsing preferences but it has made absolutely no difference. They should be taking responsibility for this intrusion. I uninstalled the Google toolbar today because of this ad, perhaps it will make a difference.

  • http:// admin

    Here is the connection to Google. The advertisers (who are the Acai Berry scammers) buy up tons of advertising on hundreds of websites that participate in the Google Adsense program. Google Adsense, one of the primary revenue sources for Google, is just a simple and easy way for a webmaster to earn money from people visiting their website. Many big websites use Google Adsense as a last resort to sell advertising space when they have no other bidders. This might be on crap sections of their site or in regions that no national advertisers want to target.

    You do have a point though, Google should consider some kind of quality control for their advertisers. The thing is, one of the main reasons Google makes tons of money is because they really try and limit the human powered labor necessary for their company to keep working, thus they do not have a human being review ads or take the time to understand the business models of their advertisers. Also, in this case, it is not in their interest because these Acai Berry, weight loss scammers pay them tons of money for the ads. They are able to afford to pay Google lots of money because scamming is very lucrative in the short term. My feeling is the scammer’s consciences will catch up with them eventually, and when they realize they are driving real people to bankruptcy and terrible unhappiness, they will hate themselves and face vicious demons. Either that or they will get arrested.

  • Patrick

    Thank you for your comprehensive explanation.

    By way of feedback, I’ve noticed that there has been an improvement since I uninstalled the Google Toolbar. The ad still appears on (mainly newspaper) websites but it is only text, so I’m spared having to look at that appalling graphic.

  • D

    I agree with the comment above. If your still being billed for something you clearly don’t want all you need to do is phone your bank/building society etc and either get them to cancel the subscription or if that fails then you cancel your card and have another one sent to you….

  • Gordon

    These are extremely annoying ads. Unfortunately current laws don’t do much to protect consumers from these sort of traps. So what can we do? (1) Complain to the websites that host these ads and tell them you’ll take your business elsewhere. (2) Spread the word that these ads are for Acai and that they don’t work and that it’s a scam. Track down someone who actually works for this company (good luck) and start calling them in the middle of the night.

  • Carol

    Thank you, Matt.

  • John Murray

    Well done Matt - I was sick to death of that advert but curious to know!
    Your diet advice is what everyone needs to hear. I have basically done the same thing and its worked for me - my weight is now perfect and my partner has gone down a dress size and is happier and healthier.
    Again - well done!

  • Jill

    Hey Matt, I agree about the scams, but one thing: I click on that exact ad you posted and was taken to a site that had a long video, but offered me a traning and nutrition program, that after buying it, was quite good. I haven’t started to use the workouts yet, so we’ll see, but it appears maybe the acai berry scammers are copying these ads? Have you ever watched the video that this ad takes you to until the end? I’ve clicked on them a few times and never got an acai berry offer or any trial offer of any kind. Just my 2 cents…

  • http://Mattearle.com Matt

    That’s interesting and yes I am sure it is a copycat. One thing I can tell you - the margins on legit businesses are not fat enough to finance blanketing all sorts of websites with ads. Before I wrote the article I checked a bunch of them and the majority of these ads lead to some variation of the above. Though I appreciate your comment I would also note you are at a very early stage to comment in terms of your experience with the product you purchased. Come back in a couple months and let us know your final opinion.

  • Geof

    i wonder where these ads originate from? i mean, because of the fractured, grammatically twisted english phrasing, i suspect this company of scammers is overseas somewhere, perhaps in eastern europe or somewhere in asia? it always had a foreign ring to me. “1 trick of…” instead of “1 trick for…” for example. i also wonder if using the word “trick” is some kind of inside joke for them, as they haul their ill-gotten gains all the way to the bank!

  • thebimbly

    Anyone who has not figured out that virtually ALL advertising is lies and furthermore cannot see the lie in the too good to be true stuff, then they deserve to be bilked.

    don’t be stupid. ads are lies period.

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