LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Sylmar woman is warning consumers about online weight-loss scams using fake endorsements from Dr. Mehmet Oz to lure in customers.
Cleopatra Mcdouglad told KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo she just wanted to shed a few pounds when she saw ads on Facebook about a product praised by the popular TV doctor — so she signed up for a free trial offer.
“I thought that Dr. Oz endorsed it,” she said.
The ad promised “garcinia cambogia” was a wonder ingredient and also suggested users try green coffee extract. The only charge was going to be $7 for shipping costs.
But what Mcdouglad got instead was an eye-popping bill. She had been signed up for recurring shipments at almost $100 per bottle. In total from August through October, she was billed $600 for both products.
Mcdouglad, who is in mortgages, reads contracts for a living. She says she had trouble reaching the sellers, and when she did they told her it was too late for a refund.
“I didn’t see anything that said that I would be charged $99 per shipment per bottle. I never would have signed up,” she said.
“I was made out to be a liar, [told] that I made no attempt to contact them.”
“The Dr. Oz Show” calls it the “Oz effect” — his name moves product. The trouble is, he doesn’t endorse anything — a fact he stresses on his website and his show.
“Remember, if you see an email or direct marketing with my image, you need to know it’s not me,” he’s said.
Still, con artists are using his name and his words to sell diet pills and other products. A quick search on Ebay and Amazon gives an idea of the scope of the problem and shows thousands of items associated with his name.
The physician has posted disclaimers on his website, and even talked about it on his show.
“Dr. Oz does not endorse any brand name or commercial supplier,” a message on DoctorOz.com reads.
Dr. Oz’s spokesmen told KCAL9 News the problem is so widespread his team is working with federal authorities and attorneys general in several states.
Meanwhile, the website listed on Mcdouglad’s bottle, OrderPureGarcinia.com, has disappeared.
KCAL9 called the company several times and was told someone would call back, although no one did.
The number has since been disconnected.
It’s no surprise to Mcdouglad. The wife and mother says she followed instructions, lost money and has not lost a single pound.
“At the end of the day, I would have paid the $600 if the product really worked. It didn’t work. I was working out, I was eating less and I actually gained eight pounds on the product,” she said.
Mcdouglad says the next time she sees an ad with an endorsement from Dr. Oz she will steer clear, and advises others to do the same.
“Run, run for your life. It’s a scam at the end of the day. In this economy, it’s unfortunate people are taking advantage of people this way,” she said.