Like most people I am baraged with emails on a daily basis claiming I have lost relatives that have left me millions, or I’ve won the lottery or any number of scams that seem so obvious to me it makes wonder why these people persist. Yet there must be enough people who blindly believe everything that is fed to them that even with all the warnings out there, these scammers are still successfully ripping people off.
I’m reminded of this constantly on Model Mayhem, a site I have a portfolio of my photography work on. This web site has a forum and every day some newbie posts an inquiry wondering if an email they received is legit. The post is usually from some naive model who has put their email address in their profile and they get contacted by someone who noticed their profile on Model Mayhem and wants to fly them to London for a major magazine cover shoot. Yeah, right, that’s how major magazines work. They’re going to hire some unknown model with 4 crappy photos on their profile and stick them on the cover. So the dufuses are definately out there.
After my experience with Prestige Camera, I’ve learned to thoroughly research businesses on the web whenever something doesn’t seem right. Not only the business itself but also any sites reviewing the business because Prestige Camera put a lot of effort into creating sham review sites that recommended Prestige Camera as a 5 star rated company. I later discovered the “review” site was a scam after my research revealed all of the sites they listed were in fact the same company, just operating under different names.
Well it seems this approach isn’t unique to Prestige Camera. I recently came across another scam that puts the disgusting practices of Prestige Camera to absolute shame. While Prestige Camera is just after your money, this herbal medicine scam is preying on people who have little hope, probably little money to spare, and may in fact be poisoning the people they fleece.
First a little background. My wife has a genetic disorder that caused two problems. First she started losing her hearing. In the process of trying to find the cause of the hearing loss the doctors discovered she was losing her kidneys due to a hereditary condition known as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). There is growing evidence that both the hearing loss and the kidney disease are caused by the same DNA mutation. Fortunately her hearing loss was solved by bilateral cochlear implants, and as I write this, we are less than two weeks away from her transplant surgery. I am lucky enough to be a great match for her and I am the donor.
Hearing about our situation, a friend who works at a healing center and is a firm believer in the power of herbal healing, sent me a link to a product called Kidnofax. I visited the web site, and there were enough warning bells in their claims that I decided to see if there were any independent reviews of their product.
That lead me to a web site pkdhelp.com that listed three remedies. pkdhelp.com was registered by Towards Natural Health, shortly after the other domains, also through GoDaddy. This site just seemed too much like the review site I encounted with Prestige Camera, so I decided to look up the domain registrations for the three companies listed. While they were all registered by different companies in different countries, they all share some common factors. The first thing that really stuck out was that all three domains were registered May 11, 2009 with GoDaddy.com. Three different companies, in different countries selling competing products just happened to register their domains with the same company on the exact same day. That was enough for me right there to resolve any doubts I had as to the authenticity of their products. They also all use CCNow as their payment gateway. While CCNow isn’t a scam company itself, it is a useful tool for people who want to receive money and remain anonymous. It also makes it hard to get your money back once you realize you’ve been scammed.
So I emailed my friend back saying that the quick research I did seemed to indicate that Kidnofax was a scam. His response was that I was being brainwashed by the medical industry. Since this person was making recommendations to people’s health I was determined to show him some more proof. Since we’re trying to stay healthy before the transplant surgery, we didn’t have Thanksgiving with anyone. So I had all day to research and what I uncovered was truly disturbing.
Much of what I suspected was confirmed by One Sick Mother (OSM). In her exstensive blog, she has been posting about this huge network of herbal scams that Kidnofax is just a small part of. Not only has she done a tremendous amount of research and documented it well, her writing is very entertaining and so I spent the whole morning reading various articles on her web site.
Without duplicating what she has written about, I will provide a summary, and then you can view the More Info links below as a starting point.
First off, the scams aren’t just related to PKD. Each of the three companies have set up separate web sites for a long list of diseases from Adominal Adhesions to Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. I guess they’re still working on the diseases for the letters X-Z. For each of the respective companies, the web sites are exactly the same, with the exception of the specific disease that they are targeting. Same ingredient list, same testimonials, same ad copy that mentions how this miracle product was discovered, etc. In fact on some of the sites the search and replace of the disease name missed a few places and the wrong disease is mentioned.
Since the domains were registered on May 11, 2009, I found it very odd that the sites had testimonials from users in several countries dating back to 2007. How did these people find and buy the product as the one email response I received back from them stated that the product is only available from their web site.
If you try to research the companies themselves you’ll find that the satellite sites don’t link back to the corporate sites. I’m sure they’re afraid that people might find the other scam sites if they linked them that way. I was able to find the URL’s for the corporate sites, but they don’t exist. They are either under construction or they’re an empty directory.
I did email a couple of them and got a reponse back for an inquiry about Reneton. As I suspected from reading user’s comments left on OSM, the reply came not from an IP address in New Zealand, but from a possibly forged IP address in Pakistan.
I communicated this information including the links to OSM to my friend and his response was that he would buy the stuff for me, he was so sure of its efficacy. I told him no thanks. Especially since OSM provided an analysis of some of the ingredients that included such nice extras such as rat poison.
Some of the other details that I discovered are listed below in the table. I’ve tried not providing links to the companies themselves because I really don’t want to promote them. So you’ll have to copy and paste the URLs.
The companies supposedly are located in either New Zealand, Australia and Denmark. However Gordon’s uses a private bag which is similar to a post office box, Healing Plants uses a virtual office, and Solutions by Nature uses a post office box. The photos on the sites that supposedly show their corporate headquarters aren’t the real locations, and in the case of Towards Natural Health, they Photoshopped New York’s skyline into something they thought would represent both Scotland and Copenhagen.
So after laying out my findings, was my friend convinced that these companies are a fraud, that there are unscrupulous people in Pakistan willing to grab your money and possibly ruin your health? Nope, he remained convinced of the power of herbal healing because he is convinced that the western medical industry is not the solution. And that is why these scams succeed. Because some people want something to believe in after modern medicine has failed them.
It’s a shame on so many levels that scams like this exist. I believe that some herbs do have some positive effects. I take echinacea at the first signs of a sore throat and sometimes it seems to have prevented an oncoming cold, or at least lessened the severity of it. Other times it had no effects. With over 200 types of the common cold, who’s to say if it’s really effective, just a placebo effect, or effective for some colds but not others. But modern quackery taints the entire alternative medicine industry. Preying on people who are already experiencing the physical, mental and financial stress from terminal diseases by offering them false hope is despicable. Selling them drugs that may include (depending on whether what you receive really is the formula listed on their web sites) compounds that are toxic such as rat poison.
If you see any of these companies advertising on Google you can use this form to complain. There isn’t much else you can do unfortunately except complain to search engines and hope the people that run them have some morals and will remove these sites from their listings. But I don’t even have much hope for that.
||Gordon’s Herbal Research Center
||Healing Plants Ltd.
||Solutions By Nature
||Gordon’s Herbal Research Center
Private Bag 92185
|Healing Plants Ltd
9 Crofts Ave.
Hurstville NSW 2220
Google Street View
|Solutions by Nature
PO Box 2175
(may be forged)
||Wattle Bark 116.27 mg
Elephant Creeper 58.11 mg
Sweet Root 58.13 mg
Coral calcium 34.88 mg
Iron Compound 34.88 mg
Spanish chamomile 23.25 mg
Cloves 23.25 mg
Indian Bay-leaf 23.25 mg
Nutmeg 23.25 mg
Nux vomica 11.62 mg
Henbane 11.62 mg
|Swertia Chirata Hum 15.90mg
Fumaria Officinalis Linn 15.90mg
Tephrosa Purpurea 15.90mg
Sphaeranthus Indicus Linn 15.90mg
Artemisia Vulgaris Linn 15.90mg
Zizyphus Vulgaris Lamk 15.90mg
Terminalia Chebula 15.90mg
Cassia Absus Linn 15.90mg
Melia Linn 15.90mg
Lycopodium Clavatum 15.90mg
Berberis Aristata DC. Ext. 15.90mg
||Gordon’s Herbal Research Center scam
||Healing Plants Ltd scam
||Solutions by Nature scam