Don't fall for this weightloss pills scam
These pills promise to make the pounds fall off. But the only pounds you'll lose are the ones in your wallet.
I've got a new best friend. And it is someone I didn't even know existed until just a week ago. Since then he or she has sent me no less than 15 emails – that's an average of two a day, but some days I have received three or four.
Now I realise that this is nothing compared to the texting between love-lorn teenagers who, I am reliably informed, will often send each other 40 or 50 messages a day. But for someone like me, of perhaps more settled years, it's a tremendous amount.
The subject lines on the first few started with “hello”, then – a real tease – they were left blank. But more recently it has been “your friend” and then “fasting”. I admit I don't understand this last one unless the writer is so besotted that she or he has given up eating until I respond positively.
How are you getting on, heartlover?
My new friend is called SkyRace461 so that's why I am not entirely sure of the gender of the sender. But I'll assume it's a woman – after all, I don't expect most males to address me as “Hi, My Darling” or with “Do you remember our last meeting?” or “How are you getting on, heartlover?”
Besides these passionate greetings, all the emails came with internet links. Back in the real world, I expected pornography at the other end or perhaps one of those get rich quick schemes where you sell reports on selling get-rich quick schemes in order to - you guessed it - get rich quick.
Instead, the first few I opened, all appearing quite different, all led to the same consumer website where the story was headlined “London Stores Struggle to keep the popular fat burner in stock!” I suspect that had I been in the United States, it would have been New York or Los Angeles stores instead.
And what is the “fat burner”? It's green coffee beans – beans that have yet to be roasted (and turn brown). It appears that green beans contain Chlorogenic Acid which eats into obesity – the acid is lost once they are roasted. The beans are turned into pills – the small print concedes there is no medical approval – which, it is claimed, then make you slimmer without boring exercise or diets. But whether that works or not, it is hard to imagine a shortage. After all, coffee beans are imported by the ten tonne load.
Some of my friend Skyrace's links also point to Raspberry Ketones (whatever they are) as a weight loss pill.
A grain of truth
Like so many of these non-medically approved supplements, there is a grain of truth in the claim. There is some evidence that Chlorogenic Acid can slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal – it's also found in potatoes, peaches, prunes and bamboo. But the claim that it has been scientifically tested is more tenuous.
Green coffee fans point to a published study although this was based on just 16 people in India and was published within two weeks of completion. Most research has to go through a long “peer review” process which can take months or more. And some think it could just be the caffeine which can suppress appetite as well as making you more active, burning off calories.
This is not a mega scam which will cause anyone to lose a fortune. But it is aimed at those with less money and could cost them around £50 a month. Moreover, it could give false hope. Science continually looks for, but fails, to find a real fat burning pill.
Beating the spam filter
And there is the question of what happened to my spam filter. My internet service provider TalkTalk has an ultra-fierce spam filter which never lets me see what it considers to be spam – I am not allowed a spam inbox. So all sorts of legitimate stuff is swallowed up – the weekly Transport for London email on weekend tube closures for starters.
But serious spammers know how to beat the filters. Every one of my Skyrace emails was different – header, contents, and links – so defeating the devices that should protect me. Perhaps I should ask TalkTalk for a refund!