Recent hype surrounding weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy has fueled a wave of weight loss scams. But the truth remains that diet, exercise, and — in some cases, doctor-managed, FDA-approved drugs and surgeries — are the only ways to truly lose weight. That said, know how to spot the latest weight-loss frauds before your wallet gets skinnier while your scale stays the same. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity currently affects four out of 10 Americans. Given that, it’s little wonder that the global data group Research and Markets (RM) reports that the U.S. weight-loss industry ballooned into a $90 billion market in 2023.

Scam artists follow the money, so the weight loss market proves irresistible territory. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) gets more complaints about diet-related scams than any other healthcare scam.

Luckily, weight-loss scammers haven’t reinvented the wheel when it comes to pitching empty promises. Knowing the most common ones marks your first step toward self-protection.

Don’t believe these seven false weight-loss promises

Weight loss ads with false claims and false stories are all too common. The FTC says fraudsters continue to claim seven false weight-loss promises.  

  • You’ll lose two or more pounds every week you use the product, even without diet changes or exercise.  

  • You can safely lose more than three pounds weekly for more than four weeks.  

  • You’ll lose a serious amount of weight and can eat whatever you want, however much you want, whenever you want. 

  • Even after you stop using the product, you’ll never regain the pounds. 

  • The product blocks calories and fat.  

  • Every person using the product will lose a significant amount of weight.  

  • You are instructed to wear or rub the product on your skin.  

And the FTC is not the only group handing out red flags. The Florida Attorney General’s office called out common words and catchphrases weight loss scammers love to use.

Your internal scam alarm should ring when you see these in subject lines on emails, taglines on commercials, in testimonials on social media, and on:   

  • Magic: “A magical cure!” 

  • Breakthrough discovery: “A miraculous breakthrough discovery!” 

  • Exclusive: “You’re invited to this exclusive release of our new product.” 

  • Secret: “The secret to stars staying skinny!” 

  • Melts away the pounds: “Two pills a day and the pounds melt away!” 

  • Guarantee: “We guarantee you will see results!” 

Spot fake endorsements, fake reviews, and deepfakes

Search “slimming yoga pants” or “diets that work,” and suddenly, weight-loss ads crop up everywhere. They appear when you scroll through social media, browse online, watch videos, or stream the latest episode of a show.

They may even pop up in your inbox or mailbox, or on your phone via calls or texts.

And while you may be savvy about avoiding empty promises and hype words, these phishing scams and fake ads can take in anyone. Some scammers even use the logos of legitimate manufacturers on their fraudulent products.

Be cautious of fake reviews and endorsements written by those claiming to be "real people," before and after photos and videos that have been doctored, and deepfakes of celebrities featured in fake advertisements endorsing a product or service.

The do’s of weight loss products and programs 

Whether you're looking to purchase a device like exercise equipment, sign up for a meal plan, enroll in your local gym, or take the latest supplement, following these guidelines will help protect you (and your wallet) from scams.  

  • Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements. Show your doctor the product and its ingredient list; your doctor should be able to tell you if the product interacts with your current medications.   

  • Look for the FDA- and FTC-compliant wording on a product and in its ads. These disclaimers signal the product has a better chance of being a legit supplement.   

  • Be wary of “free trials.” Read the fine print, and look for shipping costs as well as renewal, return, and cancellation policies. If you need help getting out of a contract, see what the FTC suggests.  

  • Check the BB Scam Tracker for the company or product name. Check the BBB Scam Tracker and multiple reviews before believing what you read, see, or hear.

  • Stay on top of financial statements. Sometimes, rogue charges on credit cards and bank statements look plausible. When in doubt, double-check that you or your family shopped with the source.

  • File a complaint if you fall for a weight-loss scam. Register your complaint with the FTC, post it on the BB Scam Tracker, and alert your state attorney general. Your complaints could help set off investigations.  

When in doubt, give us a call using the number on your account dashboard. We’re here to help you determine if something is a scam, and we'll guide you on how to protect yourself, and your financial wellbeing, going forward.