Friday, February 8, 2019

Scam Psychology: Antivax Alternative Facts redux

Antivaxers are well known for bogosities and inability to admit defeat. I've covered this previously but recently, some more bogus facts pushed by antivaxers simply chafed me wrong.

On 27-JAN-2019, in a bit of debate on flu vaccine, someone brought up the "Bill Gates is antivax" hoax. I quickly replied with a rebuttal citing.

Politifacts tracked down the source to a website called Yournewswire, who have NO citing at all. No name, no proof, nothing. Indeed, it is a fake news clickbait site.

Not that it matters to the claimant, who simply dismissed the rebuttal, so I called him out on it.

So he jumped over to Google and pasted the first link he found that supposedly proves it.

Which leads to this article:

At the bottom, the "source" is cited as Transcend Media Service, where a virtually identical article can be found, but the ORIGINAL source was revealed to be YourNewsWire... the very source debunked in the article I linked.

Indeed, YourNewsWire has a long history of publishing fake news clickbait later debunked by Snopes that now number in the dozens.

Sample headlines published by YourNewsWire includes:

"Katy Perry: 'Human Flesh is The Best Meat; Cannibalism Got A Bad Rap'"

"George Soros Orchestrates Devastating Plan to Kill 100000 Haitians"

and so on.

But none of this bull**** has any effect on the original poster.

Guess we have to consider him an antivax troll.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Why You Should Not Follow Youtube Health Advice: who is the "Drugless Doctor" on Youtube?

If you look on Youtube for health advice, you may have come across Dr. Bob DeMaria, who goes by the moniker "Drugless Doctor", and sometimes, "Dr.Bob".

The problem is, he never got an MD. The closest credential he got was a chiropractic degree he got from the "National College of Health Sciences" (now National University of Health Sciences) back in 1978.

Bob mentioned in his LinkedIn profile that he went to Clayton College for further studies. What he did not mention was that Clayton College of Natural Health was NOT an accredited school, does mostly distance learning, and closed in 2010 instead of seeking accreditation, and was sued by students who got neither degree nor refund. Indeed, one investigation by the state turned up someone who managed to obtain FOUR diplomas from this school over 14 month period: BS, MS, Ph.D., AND "Doctor of Naturopathy".

Clayton College is also known for selling their founder's nutritional supplements "Doctor Clayton's Naturals", from minerals and vitamins to homeopathic remedies.

But that's not the most disturbing thing about Bob DeMaria (I refuse to call him doctor)...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

BREAKING: Washington State Attorney General Sues Lularoe, Allege "Pyramid Scheme"

On Friday, 25-JAN-2019, the Washington attorney general filed a lawsuit against LulaRoe, the clothing marketer, for operating as a pyramid scheme that defrauded the "fashion consultants" it employs.

Without going into too much detail, LuLaRoe is best known for selling leggings (and other stuff) on a lottery system. Each consultant is expected to buy $2000 to $9000 worth of stuff upon signing up. Yet they will not know what they will receive.  Since 2014, over 3500 Washington residents signed up, but less than 2000 remain active today. Between 2014 and 2017, LuLaRoe consultants receive bonuses based on how much inventory they and their recruits have PURCHASED (not sold) from the company.  It is obvious that the more the consultants recruited (and each recruit bought THOUSANDS of dollars of stuff), the more bonuses were paid out. The compensation plan was changed in 2017 to be only based on sales of the consultant alone.

There are PLENTY of other problems with the company's practices. The leggings have to be unpacked to be show to potential customers (including for eBay), yet LuLaRoe have refused to provide refund if the package was opened. There were frequent charges of "low quality". Multiple designers have charged LulaRoe of stealing their designs and patterns without their permission. After multiple complaints, LLR seems to have moved to taking vector art and remixing them, but again, many seems to have been used without the proper license.

MLMSkeptic had penned a commentary "Is LuLaRoe eating its own tail?" in 2017, when LuLaRoe attempted to serve a "discovery" on a blog critic who goes by MommyGyver, claiming she had disclosed company secrets.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How One Woman Scammed a Dozen People out of $5.4 Million

Woman claimed to have purchased software from Europe that can let doctors to remotely examine and talk with patients, and need more money to pay taxes and fees.  But it was all a ruse. In the end she got $5.4 million from about 50 people and spent it mostly on herself and her friends, only 300K actually went to the software, and it's not even purchased.

But what's really disturbing is how she exploited her friends and victims, making them believe they just need to lie a little, she'll get the money soon. Even more, she convinced two ex-air-marshals into pretending to be still active to intimidate people into coughing up more money.

What's even more disturbing is she apparently believes she will be offered probation because of her education and career... as she somehow has degrees in electrical engineering and law...

Unfortunately, this time, the law has documented all of her lies... Like her claim that a fictitious billionaire will "lend" her 74 million, and the time she claimed to be in negotiation for the "loan", she's actually in Jamaica, celebrating one of her girlfriend's birthday. And she had been to Bora Bora and other ritz-y resorts around the world, all while claiming medical emergencies and tough negotiations to her victims, trying to squeeze even more money... Once, the victims even sent her the social security check...

And it's not just the money, but the devastation it left behind on the victims. Most of the victims had invested their life savings, and even mortgaged their homes and businesses to put in even more money for a "sure bet". Now they have lost everything, all based on lies, lies, and more lies.

Meet Keisha L Williams, who will be spending the next 15 and a half years in Federal prison. And this is her story.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Would You Pay Someone to Commit Suicide? 13000 People did. Really.

According to a recently published paper, 13000 people paid over 1.4 million dollars to help 200 people commit suicide. Except they thought they were paying for zero-evidence treatment for desperate cancer patients. In other words, these so-called do-gooders paid scammer quacks to help sick people commit suicide by paying huge amounts of money for water... i.e. homeopathic cancer treatments.

That's 1.4 million bucks raised to pay for some VERY expensive water proven to do nothing, that could have been used for palliative care or other purposes that may have made final moments of life more bearable. 1.4 million bucks could have paid for a lot of weed or even more powerful opioids or whatever the cancer patients needed to spend the final days in peace, and leave some for their family to cover other expenses.

Instead, the money is going to cancer quacks, doing NOTHING for the actual patients, who have to live their final days with treatment proven to do NOTHING, see their hopes dashed and pain unmanaged.

Basically, the 1.4 million bucks paid for suicide by water and pain.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Scam Psychology: Bogus Science and Alternative Facts Redux

One of the ways scams and woo spread is by linking a famous person to it, never mind that famous person actually said the EXACT OPPOSITE.

Recently, there was a Twitter debate when someone rehashed the myth that "cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment", and cited Dr. Otto Warburg, 1931 Nobel Laureate, and even claimed that's what he got the Nobel prize for.  But it wasn't.

This alkaline nonsense was thoroughly busted by Snopes back in 2016, as well as by practically every major medical news website and several hospitals and medical schools. To make a long story short, it's circular reasoning. Dr. Warburg actually discovered that cancer cells produce MORE lactic acid by using a different metabolism method than healthy cells. While a cancerous body is slightly acidic than normal, this is the effect of cancer, NOT THE CAUSE. And you can't force a body or blood to be acidic through diet (that means your kidneys have FAILED!). It's clear that whoever listened to this nonsense doesn't understand cause and effect. They think cancer -> acid, then anti-acid = anti-cancer. It doesn't work like that.  A caused B. B does not cause A.

But the way they try to validate their nonsense by citing Dr. Warburg via the false citing was the reason for this post. Falsely citing a celebrity is a common scam tactic, usually ignored by the company as that would imply they willingly violated state or Federal laws on False Endorsement and Right of Publicity Claims. In fact, some companies are known to have set up fake news pages claiming links between their products and actors and celebrities such as actor Will Farrell and celebrity chef Paula Dean.

Back in 2004 Actor Ray Liotta sued Nerium after some Nerium reps falsely claimed via Facebook posts that Mr. Liotta's facial complexion improved due to the use of their products. The case was later settled out of court. But this hardly stopped other overeager reps from claiming things that have no basis in science or fact.

One of the more recent victims of false endorsement was Malaysia sprinter Watson Myambek. In November 2018, someone was spreading claims on Facebook that Nyambek is a Bitcoin millionaire to promote some sort of crypto-scam. He categorically denied such allegations and said he will file a report with police and want the lying culprit found.

The point is unless you can trust the source, like a reputable newspaper article, you should NOT believe anything you read on Facebook and similar social media platforms.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Evil MLM: Revisionist History, Juice Plus Edition

Remember in the book 1984 by George Orwell, the government rewrites history when the policies change? "We've always been at war with Eastasia"? Turns out, MLM participants does that every day.

Just the other day, someone posted this to reddit's /antimlm subreddit

I have nothing to say about Bear Grylls. I do have something to say about the revisionist history though.

Notice where it says "juice plus has been tested and trialed for the past 40 years"?

That's impossible. Juice Plus didn't exist until 1993. This is from their own homepage:
All Juice Plus+ products share a common nutritional philosophy that traces back to our beginnings in 1993
Before 1993, Juice Plus sold water filters, air purifiers, and smoke alarms under the name "National Safety Associates" as an MLM. They swapped companies names in 1993 and changed focus entirely. It's a brand new company, but they kept the leadership, so they can kinda keep claiming they were founded almost 50 years ago (in 1970 under a different name).

I am NOT going to get into the bogosity of "juice plus cure my cancer" stories on Youtube. I'll just refer you to the article written by a real retired MD