As part of its scam awareness month, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has launched two spoof websites to warn consumers about the dangers of fake medicines.
Employing similar techniques to those used by scammers, the OFT will be drawing consumers to the spoof - but initially convincing - miracle cure sites and then revealing that they are the victims of a potential scam.
Fake diabetes products
Internet banner advertising, sponsored links on search engine sites, and keyword techniques that push the sites higher up in online searches, will be used to drive consumers looking for health or slimming treatments to the fake websites.
One of the websites, for 'Glucobate' (pictured), claims that the product is "the all-natural diabetes breakthrough" that people with diabetes have been waiting for, with "the healing aromatics of muskmelon". But consumers who try to order from the websites are redirected to a page explaining that the products are fake, posted by the OFT to warn about the dangers of such scams.
Every year an estimated 200,000 UK consumers waste money on 'miracle' cures for everything including baldness, obesity, impotence and old age.
Endangering long-term health
"Diabetes UK is acutely aware of people with diabetes being misled by rogue traders," explained Zoë Harrison, Diabetes UK Care Advisor.
Currently no cure for diabetes
"There is currently no cure for diabetes and companies that state otherwise should be treated accordingly by the law." "Supplements that falsely claim to help people with diabetes improve blood glucose control can often have the opposite effect and so endanger people's long-term health.
Preying on the vulnerable
"Companies offering fake supplements often prey on the most vulnerable members of society and in the vast majority of cases there is no evidence to suggest the 'medication' is safe for people with diabetes to take, let alone help them manage their condition.
Seek advice before changing treatment
"We strongly advises people with diabetes considering taking a supplement to contact their healthcare team for advice, or call our confidential Careline for information, before handing over any money or changing their diabetes treatment."