Quackery is one of the oldest forms of convincing people to open their pocketbooks for a worthless product. It is the combination of fraud, hype, and wasteful spending. The people who sell these products (formerly known as “snake oil” salesmen) are well aware of the public’s weaknesses. Many of these products are related to healing, health, youthfulness, fitness, and beauty. Quacks also target people with arthritis and cancer. It is sad but true, that people who are desperate are often willing to give their money to quacks.

Fitness and weight loss is definitely an obsession in America. Even those who are obese, (1/3 of all adults), still want that firm and youthful body. Quacks offer them something wonderful - a painless way to acquire the benefits of exercise without actually exercising! There is a wide variety of “body-toning” electric muscle stimulators on the market and none of them actually work.

Magical anti-aging potions are common fraudulent products. They claim to mysteriously reverse the aging process; firm up wrinkled skin, and even prevent baldness. These ads, which are quite convincing to the public, include realistic, before and after pictures. Quacks play with human foolishness to make a living.

Arthritis sufferers are also vulnerable targets, and over 30 million Americans suffer from this disease. Since the symptoms of arthritis seem to come and go, many people believe that the phony remedy is healing them. Consumers spend an average of $2 billion on the remedies, but there is no medical cure for arthritis. Most of these false drugs include ingredients such as snake venom, lemon juice, mild and harmful steroids.

Some of the most compassionless of all fraudulent products on the market are the ones that purport to cure cancer. Cancer patients, who are often very sick and desperate for relief, may spend thousands of dollars on pseudo treatments. Quack cancer centers are often built just outside our borders so that they are beyond the reach of U.S. authorities, but easily accessible to citizens. It is important to remember there is no conspiracy within the U.S. medical community to withhold legitimate medical treatment.

It is a common misconception that advertising is screened by government agencies and therefore all the health claims we read in ads must be true. The fact is that advertisers can publish just about anything they please because no federal, state, or local government agencies verify the claims before they are printed. Prescription drugs and medical devices must be pre-approved by the FDA, but quacks are clever enough to market substances that don’t require this approval. Law enforcement is only permitted to take action after the pseudo claims have been displayed in public and there have been complaints filed with the appropriate agencies.

Common claims often linked to fraud, should alert you to beware. Any product that sounds too good to be true probably is. Claims involving words like “secret,” “ancient,” or “foreign” could be questionable. Products only available through the mail or by one supplier are often phony, and if a product offers a quick and painless cure, it is likely fraud. Steer clear of specific formulas or potions that are effective for treating a wide variety of conditions. Other warning signs include testimonials or case histories used as the only proof that these products are helpful.

Remember, if there is a scientific breakthrough, or a miracle cure discovered, you would probably read about it on the front page of your daily newspaper. The medical community doesn’t hold secrets. Lastly, before you pull out your wallet to buy a questionable product, check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Don’t be fooled by ads with bogus claims!