Health and medical scams

The scam

The three most common types of health scams are miracle cures, weight-loss programs and fake online pharmacies.


So you'd like to get rid of a few wrinkles and maybe firm up some not-so-firm places. Luckily you've found a miracle cream. Or … is it a health scam? How can you tell? Believe it or not, you have the power to spot scammers.

Medical or health scams look just like sponsored posts on social media or pop-up ads on websites. These scammers offer breakthrough products and services that promise miracle cures or quick-fix weight loss. They pretend to have celebrity endorsements and testimonials claiming dramatic results.

Don't trust their claims or commit to large payments or contracts. There are no magic pills, patches or creams. Instead get the facts from a healthcare professional. Why? Because knowledge is your super power. And with knowledge, you can protect your health ... and beat the scammers at their own game.

Video length: 1 minute, 14 seconds

How it works

Miracle cures: Scammers offer products and services that seem to be legitimate alternative medicines and treatments for quickly and easily treating 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: These scams promise dramatic results with little or 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: These scammers 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.

How to spot it

These scams often appear as sponsored posts on social media or as website pop-up ads on the Internet or spam emails.

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 from your health care 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 and influencer endorsements or testimonials.

Further reading