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Hoodia Patch Scams across Canada
They say that their products can help you reduce stress, lose weight, stop smoking, enlarge your breasts, etc. If you believe any of this crap, you are in big trouble.
In June 2008 Pattison Outdoor advertising placed ads in major shopping malls and on bus shelter in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario proclaiming LOSE WEIGHT ALL DAY!
Courthouse Weber Street Kitchener, Ontario- June 24, 2008
Conestoga Mall Waterloo, Ontario - June 29, 2008
The advertiser in question's web site, www.nbcpharma.com contains misleading information, not just about the Hoodia Patch, but for many other products as well. The bus shelter happened to be located right in front of the downtown courthouse on Weber and Queen Streets. Why would Grand River Transit allow questionable ads like this on their bus shelters in the first place?
The phone number listed on the advertisment - 866-522-1444 is a phone shop answered in suburban Toronto. They sell all sorts of health products from there. The Hoodia Patch can be purchased for $49.95 plus shipping for a 30 patch box.
When I tracked down the company that appears to be behind this, I wasn't surprised to find a link to a building that houses a private mailbox store in Rosemere, Quebec.
One of their associated companies, Naturalia Pharma, does business through a distributor that operates out of a UPS Store private mailbox in Miami Beach, Florida. Over the years this mailbox location has been used by other scammers including stock manipulators, fake invoice vendors, online dating services, numerous spammers, and others. I was unable to get their web site to work today but I traced its registration back to the Quebec location below. The fellow who administers the web site is listed as Stephane Pothier and his e-mail address is email@example.com
I also found a classified advertisement for the recruitment of distributors. I don't know if these phone number are still working, but the web site seems to be dead:
Distributors Wanted All-Natural Products
Distributors Wanted for All-Natural Lifestyle Product Line - Weight, Menopause,
Arthritis Issues Discover the Hoodia Slim Patch! Details,
Company: Naturalia Pharma
Address: 1154 warden ave suite 152 --> It's another UPS mail drop
Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Phone: 450-974-0808 --> But this phone number is actually in Quebec
Toll Free: 1-866-600-9668 --> This number is advertised in Ireland
Their internet registration
277 Labelle suite 155
Rosemere, Quebec J7A2H3
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
None of their products are registered with Health Canada
On July 3, 2008 I received a lame response to my complaint that was sent to me by Peter Zinck, a seniour executive of GRT of the Region of Waterloo.
Grand River Transit Response to complaint
Dr. Polevoy, I am responding to your email to Chair Seiling's office regarding the appropriateness of allowing Hoodia Patch advertisements on GRT bus shelters.
Grand River Transit adheres to the Region of Waterloo Advertising Content Standards which govern the placement and content of advertising on shelters and other property. The following link will take you to a council report which includes the Content and Advertising Standards. 3. Notwithstanding any prior approval, the Region reserves the absolute right to order the immediate
removal or, if necessary, remove any advertising on its property at any time.
----->[In other words, the Region has the right and the obligation to remove any and all ads from their property at ANY time!]
Our contract with Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the suppliers of our shelter advertisements, requires Pattison to follow the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and any advertisement deemed not to comply is not approved or may be removed. We have confirmed with Pattison the Hoodia Patch shelter advertisement conforms to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards and therefore our standards.
So who at the GRT or at the Region of Waterloo spoke to Pattison?
Which office was contacted?
What kind of proof did Pattison offer that would sustain their claims?
There is nothing in the Hoodia Patch bus shelter advertisement to suggest it does not comply with the Code. Neither GRT nor Pattison are aware of warnings or advisories from Health Canada regarding the use of the Hoodia Patch.
Repeat that in English Pete, please. There is basically nothing in the Hoodia Patch ad that mentions anything about the product at all. These quacks are trying their best to sell people on the idea that they too, could look like the anorectic model, and we all know that this is fraudulent advertising.
Questions relating to accuracy and clarity may be at issue for some but it is only after a complaint is received that the Advertising Standards of Canada (ASC) would review the advertisement and make a determination. Pattison recommends that consumers file a complaint directly with the ASC and the advertiser in question. Pattison are pleased to abide by all decisions by the ASC relative to advertising concerns. The following link will direct you to ASC where you can begin the process of registering a complaint. http://www.adstandards.com/en/standards/adStandards.pdf.
Pattison's response is about as ignorant as they come. Advertising Standards Canada has no legal power. In other words, they could if they wanted to, listen to complaints and then make recommendations about a particular ad. They can't sue the advertiser or the company that carries the ads. They can't ask for the companies in question to return money to disgruntled customers. What Pattison didn't mention was the fact that the Competition Bureau is now tasked to police false advertising of products like this in Canada. They could charge vendors to cough up the money, repay their customers, or even order them to court to face a judgment. My guess is that the Region of Waterloo lawyers have ignored this. It's about time that they put on their thinking caps and start demanding more accountability of the GRT.
The number and location of the advertisements is based on the market research and client requests to Pattison. In the Region of Waterloo there are 10 shelter locations with the Hoodia Patch advertisements. We are aware the advertising campaign is running in other Canadian municipalities.
At this time, there does not appear to be specific information to suggest the Hoodia Patch advertisements violate our content standards. I trust this responds to your inquiry, however if you have any questions please contact me.
Grand River Transit
Region of Waterloo
250 Strasburg Rd
Kitchener ON N2E 3M6
(519) 585-7597 ext 7277
(519) 585-1060 fax
My response to GRT's defense of the Hoodia Patches and Pattison Outdoor.
This was sent to Carolina Ulloa, Health Canada Inspectorate, The Competition Bureau, Advertising Standards Canada, the Minister of Health for Canada, and others.
Dear Ms. Ulloa:
Re: Health Canada Inpectorate Reference number B080102 (click picture to see the letter from Ms. Ulloa)
Here is the lame excuse by Peter Zinck, an executive of GRT in Kitchener about the Hoodia Patch ads. He says that the ads comply with Advertising Standards and he sees no reason to take them down. In fact he admits that they are on ten bus shelters across our region alone and that they are now running across Canada. I find that disturing.
Unfortunately his statement that the ads comply with Advertising Standards and the link he provided to me is untruthful. He obviously didn't read those Standards at all. If he read them, he has ignored the very basic tenets of the Standards themselves.
The product and the links provided to the public to their own web site are fraudulent. Any intelligent person can see through that.
I've been following diet patch scams for over 20 years, and this one is about the same as all of the rest. There have been FTC actions against companies like this in the U.S. and there will likely be more of them.
Here are links to the Advertising Standards Canada web site:
There are 14 points in these Standards, and many of them are violated with these ads and their web site advertising. This is an important point because the ads contain a link to their web site and a toll-free number.
If Peter Zinck can tell me how the ads are NOT in violation of their Standards, I'd drop these complaints. It's obvious to me that Pattison has a long-term contract with GRT and that they have no control over what Pattison can put on them. The same goes for the Conestoga Mall ads that are all over the place.
1. ACCURACY AND CLARITY
(a) Advertisements must not contain inaccurate or deceptive claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to a product or service. In assessing the truthfulness and accuracy of a message, the concern is not with the intent of the sender or precise legality of the presentation. Rather, the focus is on the message as received or perceived, i.e. the general impression conveyed by the advertisement. [The ads make deceptive claims, the picture of the model portrays her as a skinny babe, implies that the hoodia patch will do the same. That's not obviously true.]
(b) Advertisements must not omit relevant information in a manner that, in the result, is deceptive. [There is no relevant information anywhere on the ads]
(c) All pertinent details of an advertised offer must be clearly and understandably stated. [There are no details]
(d) Disclaimers and asterisked or footnoted information must not contradict more prominent aspects of the message and should be located and presented in such a manner as to be clearly visible and/or audible. [There are no disclaimers in the bus shelter or mall ads!]
(e) Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable. If the support on which an advertised claim or representation depends is test or survey data, such data must be reasonably competent and reliable, reflecting accepted principles of research design and execution that characterize the current state of the art. At the same time, however, such research should be economically and technically feasible, with due recognition of the various costs of doing business. [ There is no clinical evidence that any diet patch works, and in particular any patch that contains (or claims to contain) any hoodia whatsoever. There is zero reliability for any of the claims on their web sites that link to the one on the advertisement. There has been no evidence presented that there have been any scientific studies that any of their claims are true.]
8. PROFESSIONAL OR SCIENTIFIC CLAIMS
Advertisements must not distort the true meaning of statements made by professionals or scientific authorities. Advertising claims must not imply that they have a scientific basis that they do not truly possess. Any scientific, professional or authoritative claims or statements must be applicable to the Canadian context, unless otherwise clearly stated.
In summary, the answers given to me by Peter Zinck are a defense of his position as a senior executive of GRT. He has to look after the fiduciary responsibility of the contracts signed by companies like Pattison. It is in HIS best interest to not cause waves, or to involve lawyers when complaints are raised about advertising on publicly owned bus shelters.
I don't believe that Mr. Zinck is able to defend that position under the circumstances. The claims that the Hoodia Patch ads are not in violation of Advertising Standards Canada are clearly baseless. They should be rejected by the Region of Waterloo outright. It is time for the Region of Waterloo to do something to stop the promotion of fraudulent products on bus shelters. The same goes for the owners of Conestoga Mall, or other locations where these ads appear.
It is time for the Competition Bureau to do their job as promised and clean up the fraudulent advertising in the diet industry, and for Health Canada to demand that any natural health product comply with legislation under the law.
The fact that neither of these government agencies has done anything to stop these scam artists, and others like them over the last 20 years places Canada in the unenviable position as one of the worst examples of a country that just doesn't care.
Terry Polevoy, MD
Have you been been ripped off by diet patch scams like Hoodia?
If so, contact DietFraud.com and we'd be happy to help you organize your complaint to the appropriate agency.
You can file complaints yourself with:
- Health Canada
- Competition Bureau
- Advertising Standards Canada
- RCMP - Recol.ca
The U.S. FTC has prosecuted diet patch scams for over two decades.
There are over 100 entries on their web site alone.
Many of these involved Canadian companies hiding out in private mailboxes. It seems that nothing has changed here in Canada, eh?
Hoodia patch's affiliated companies
HB Pharma has another web site with a professional looking web page that purports to look like a real pharmaceutical or medical company, complete with pictures of young healthy looking doctors.
Naturalia Pharma markets SlimmerVescent. This site makes some of the most ridiculous claims that I have ever heard. Drink to Your Health . . . With SlimmerVescent! Mother Nature's Healthy "Cocktail".
turns up your maximum fat burning power ?
boost your immune system?
fight aging, and keep you looking young and sexy!
Glucopatch 24/7 - Don't spend another day in pain.
Phirago Patch - Have you lost your sexual appetite? Are you worried about your performance, or lack of it? Everyday stress and problems can also have a direct effect on your sex life. Worrying about it usually just makes it worse.
BreastFX 24/7 - Look Your Best In Less Than 30 Days, for naturally looking breasts without the risks or costs of surgery.
MenoPatch 24 seven - It's not your mother's menopause.
Karma Stress Patch - Stress: The Silent Killer. Your health not only depends on what you eat, but also on what is eating you. Karma Patch is here to help!
Uquitine patch - Uquitine patches provide a revolutionary and natural way to assist smokers to quit smoking, without the intake of nicotine. The patches contain extract of Lobelia Inflata, a North American Indian herb that has long been associated with improving the respiratory tract.
The Downside of Hoodia
What's so bad about using an indiginous African plant for the purposes of making a profit? First of all, it's being sold by people who don't know what they are doing scientifically. Secondly, the plants are nearing extinction where they are grown. Lastly, the claims that are being made for the hoodia itself are outrageous.
- Medicinal plants 'facing threat' - BBC News
Hundreds of medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease, according to experts.
- Hoodia - Plant has sparked interest for its ability to suppress appetite, but vast quantities have already been "ripped from the wild" as the search for the miracle weight drug continues. Hoodia, which originally comes from Namibia and is attracting interest from drug firms looking into developing weight loss drugs, is on the verge of extinction.
- Watch BBC video - Interview with James Wong. He specifically mentions Hoodia and also throws in mention of Britney Speers.
‘Miracle’ Cures Face Extinction BGCI- 16th January 2008
A new global study reveals that hundreds of medicinal plant species, whose naturally-occurring chemicals make up the basis of over 50% of all prescription drugs, are threatened with extinction.
- Plants for Life: Medicinal Plants Under Threat - Download report
Pattison's Anti-Abortion Links
|The company that owns these billboards is part of the privately held media conglomerate the Jim Pattison Group. Billionaire Jim Pattison is one of Canada's richest men and has donated millions to hospitals in Vancouver, including a $20 million donation for prostate cancer research. However, over the last two years billboards and ad campaigns associated with his companies have included questionable anti-abortion billboards across Canada.
The billboard campaign to link abortions with breast cancer (totally untrue) began with a Pattison Outdoor blitz in British Columbia in October 2006. It coincided with Breast Cancer month across Canada. The Jim Pattison Group billboard was on property owned by the Ministry of Highways. Jennifer St. Hilaire, a breast cancer survivor was very upset and went to her city council to complain. A link to the www.abortionbreastcancer.com website is filled with bogus claims. The facts are that there are NO LINKS between breast cancer and spontaneous or induced abortions.
Billboard near King and Victoria Street - Kitchener, Ontario - October 17, 2007
Does Jim Pattison care about the billboards and kiosk ads in shopping malls that are not truthful? Does his personal anti-abortion stance influence his company's position?
Vancouver Sun article on Jim Pattison
'Scare tactics' challenged - Cancer expert says Right to Life billboard sends wrong message. - The Record - November 2, 2007.
The billboard, paid for the by Kitchener-Waterloo and Area Right to Life Association, depicts a distressed young woman and asks the question, "Why wasn't I told?" The letter "o" in the word "told" has been replaced with a pink ribbon, similar to the logo of the breast cancer foundation. Jane Richard, co-ordinator of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area Right to Life, said the group purchased the print for the billboard from its parent organization, LifeCanada. This is the second year the billboard has been used in Kitchener during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and it will remain up until the end of November.
Center for BioEthical Reform - anti-abortion video. Would the organization who used Jim Pattison owned billboards and mall displays also agree with them?
Center for BioEthical Reform's latest newletter - note the display board that links abortion with the Nazi holocaust against the Jewish people.
Complaints to Jim Pattison's offices in Toronto about the Hoodia Patch ads, also untruthful, fell on deaf ears. Since his company is 100% privately owned, he can do anything he bloody-well pleases. That's the bottom line. My recommendations for anyone who has a beef against Jim Pattison's company ads have a right to file an official complaint with either the Canadian government's own
Advertising Standards Canada
Hoodia patch critics
Hoodia Patch: Dieter's Weight Loss Blessing, or Total Fraud? - Today many vendors are claiming that the so-called "hoodia patch" will kill your appetite and even work better and faster than the ordinary hoodia in a capsule, tablet, or liquid. This claim would be extremely good—that is—if it were really true. But so far there exists absolutely no proof that the "hoodia patch" actually works. There is no clinical case study on the "hoodia patch." Be very cautious: If any vendor claims to have a scientific study or clinical trial that supports the validity of their "hoodia patch," such "proof" may turn out to be FAKE—produced in order to endorse, promote, and sell the so-called "hoodia patch" to the unsuspecting public.
3 Reasons to Not Use the Hoodia Diet Patch - There is no proof whatsoever that the hoodia diet patch works, let alone works better than hoodia pills and capsules despite what some of these patch sellers try to claim.
We have yet to find one real, scientific, clinical study showing the hoodia patch works better than other hoodia products on the market.
International Irony: China Investigates U.S. Diet Patch - ABC News
Americans Spend $22 Billion a Year on 'Natural' Dietary Supplements That Escape Regulation. Hoodia — be it drug or food — seems to have escaped the scrutiny of the FDA. The Federal Trade Commission, on the other hand, sued several manufacturers for false advertising of a similar diet patch in 2004 and 2006 and won. Here's a link to the NCCAM page on Hoodia where they said the following:
Sellers of Hoodia Coffee Settle with FTC for Bogus Weight Loss Claims - The marketers of "Slim Coffee"—an instant coffee product purportedly containing hoodia—have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that their advertising falsely claimed that their product would enable its users to lose significant amounts of weight without diet or exercise. The defendants ran television ads claiming that drinking Slim Coffee had been "clinically proven" to cause weight loss of "up to 5 pounds a week and up to 20 pounds a month." "There’s no need to change your eating habits or what you eat," the defendants claimed. "Just replace your coffee with Slim Coffee and you will start to see results. It’s that easy and all-natural."
"There is no reliable scientific evidence to support hoodia's use. No studies of the herb in people have been published."
Classic Patch Scams
Hoodiadietpatches.com - Located in Bellevue, Washington, right across the border from British Columbia, Canada. The products are quite similar to the Hoodia folks from Montreal. The claims are just as ridiculous. A link to their registration.
Consumers to receive full refund for bogus diet patches - This is probably the first and only actions that any governmental body has taken against a diet patch vendors in Canada. Competition Bureau Announces Resolution of First Case Under Project FairWeb
OTTAWA, December 13, 2004 – Canadian consumers will no longer be subjected to false claims about the Zyapex and Dyapex Diet Patches from Performance Marketing Ltd., following the Competition Bureau's first FairWeb case. As part of a consent agreement registered with the Competition Tribunal, Performance Marketing has agreed to refund consumers the full value of the diet patches.
Diet Patch Sellers Settle Can-Spam Charges - March 2005
Phoenix Avatar, the operators who sent millions of illegal e-mail messages to market their bogus diet patch have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that their operation violated federal laws, including the CAN-SPAM Act. The settlement bars the defendants from violating CAN-SPAM. It also bars them from making false or misleading claims for their products or services and bars unsubstantiated health, efficacy, or safety claims. It also provides for a suspended judgment of $230,000, the total amount of diet patch sales.
Search the FTC for diet patch scams
Meditrend's Appetoff Patch - 1987-88
Svelt Patch - 1995-97
More Patch scams on DietFraud.com
You can take action against these scam artists. Just keep us posted when you see them.
"Do Nothing" Policies
OUR GOVERNMENTS' "DO NOTHING" POLICIES ENCOURAGE REPEAT FLIM-FLAMS
When is the government of Canada going to take action against the
newspapers and the companies who market this junk on unsuspecting
We demand a complete investigation why the government has failed to take
action against any of these companies. The diet and weight loss scam industry
is worth billions in North America, and much of it comes from Canada. In other
words our country is a safe-haven for hundreds of scam artists who use the
internet and advertise freely in newspapers without fear of investigation by
our governement. Someone right now stands to make millions operating from the
safety of Toronto, right under the noses of Health Canada and the Ontario
government consumer protection branch.
We appeal to the ASC, the government, both Provincial and Federal to take control
of the fraud artists that are preying on the public. Right now, Canada is the
laughing stock of the world when it comes to the control of health quackery.
We will continue to do everything possible to educate the Canadian public about scam
artists and rogue health care providers on our web sites. But, it seems clear from
where I sit, that our governments just doesn't care about false advertising, health
scams and the dangerous products that come into our country. They also don't care
about mailorder scams that originate here, but are often part of an underground
cash-filled pipeline to some island in the Lesser Antilles.
The world of health fraud on the internet includes dozens of other stories, some
of them are very serious and involve doctors who are try to ship quack cancer drugs
out of Canada into the U.S. That's another story, one that we will cover later on.
Office of Natural Health Products
What did the government do about diet and health fraud? Late last year, they
decided to form a new office, a spin-off of Health Canada. They appointed a
dozen or so people to a transition team, the overwhelming majority supposedly
represented the cream of the crop who work in companies that supply Canada with
vitamins, herbs, and other alternative health products. These are the very people
who can't prove that their products work, who can't prove that there products are
safe, and yet the government appoints them to a transition team to set up standards
in the natural and herbal product industry.
While the company that sells this particular product featured in this article is unknown, it is a prime
example of what the government has failed to do. Having an Office of Natural
Health Products is like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
Why hasn't Health Canada or the police visited the vendors, and their associates to see what is really going on. Where is the money going from their profits? Is it being laundered overseas?
We Demand that Action be Taken Now!
Our web sites will cover the story of government failure to control the
false claims made in major publications, on the internet, on the radio
and televison info-mercials until something is done.
Terry Polevoy, M.D.
SEND US YOUR ADVERTISEMENTS:
Please send any questionable diet ads in your local paper or magazines
from this company. Include the date, the name of the publication, and we
will scan them in and forward them to the proper department at the Bureau
of Competition of Industry Canada. Please send them even if the ads were
in non-Canadian publications. American and other foreign magazines are
everywhere. If we don't know that the scams are out there, we won't be
able to complain.