UPDATE: A couple of months after I wrote this article the offenders shut down the websites I linked to and (no doubt) moved them somewhere else. But even better, on Aug. 19th the Reuters news agency reported that Oprah and Dr. Oz are suing over 50 companies for falsely claiming they endorsed their products. Link

Also in August, I was contacted directly by a producer for the ABC's 20/20 news program. He told me they are doing a program about these fake photos.

Then in March, 2010 ABC News reported that the claims of the berry were overstated, it has no weight loss properties and that the whole operation was used to steal credit card information and bill people monthly. Link

Of course, next month someone else will start new websites with new fake photos and fake endorsements for some other nutritional supplement claiming fat loss or muscle gain or both. But at least these guys are busted.

Note: Many of the link below have disappeared as the scam was eventually shut down. (Millions of dollars too late for the people who believed the ridiculous before and after photos.)

Before & After Fraud Photos

I have a pet peeve. I don't want to start ranting here but for years I've been irked by people who believe that before & after photos are the absolute proof - the litmus test - of whether or not a training program works. Last month I got an e-mail from someone who literally said, "Science and numbers don't mean anything without photos that show proof."


Listen, I've been around this fitness game for nearly twenty years now and I can tell you without reservation there is nothing - absolutely nothing - more rife with outright fraud than the before & after photos that accompany diet, nutritional supplement and training program ads.

Want proof?

As this is written (Feb 2009) one of the fashionable, hyped diets right now involves the acai berry. This obscure little berry is just the supplement de jour and in a few months it will be replaced by some other obscure fruit, vegetable, bark or root that will be sold the same dishonest way with claims of fantastic fat loss, huge muscle gain and enormous increases in energy and vitality.

Question: If you had a product that really worked, would you resort to the following tactics to sell it?

Meet Nicholle, Kathy and Jenny!

Notice the photos of Nicholle Stevenson, Kathy Thompson and Jenny Conrad? They look quite similar, wouldn't you say? Also notice that they lost 35, 23 and 25 pounds respectively.

I copied these images (took screen shots, to be exact) from three different websites designed to look like personal blogs of women who are telling the world about their diets and weight loss success.

If you want, you can visit the websites at these links: Nicholle Kathy Jenny





The first thing you notice is that every "personal blog" is almost identical in content, including YouTube clips about acai berries, undoubtedly unauthorized photos of Oprah, personal details involving husbands and children, etc. My personal favorite is the fake "comments" cheering about the product and saying "I'm ordering right now." And get this - the fake comments use IP filtering so if you leave a message telling everyone "this is total fraud and a scam" the only person who sees the post is YOU. How clever is that? Evil genius, I'd say.

Here are some "before, during & after" photos of how Jenny and Nicholle's "diet" worked.



Impressive huh?

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet!

The very pretty woman in these five photos is a (completely innocent) model who has her photos available at an online stock photo agency called istockphoto.com (also an innocent party). Anyone can go online and buy these photos for a few dollars.

Click photo to visit the agency.

Look familiar? These are the actual model photos before they were faked!

It's quite obvious the promoters of this wonder berry that allegedly melts off fat have a very talented Photoshop person on their payroll. The legitimate photos of the pretty model have been altered to show fantastic weight loss.

Left, real model photo - Right, faked photo showing weight loss.


Left, real model photo - Right, faked photo showing weight loss.


Left, real model photo - Right, faked photo showing weight loss.


And here's a before & after photo of 'Rachel' from this berry site with the same layout and other bogus info.

Since when does a woman who's lost 18 pounds pose in the same outfit for the 'after' photo? And what is she wearing in the second photo? A skirt? Pants? The black is pure color and no texture. It's been Photoshopped.


Here's the photos of 'Aubrey' taken from this site that also duplicates the identical format as 'Rachel's' site.

Another photo of a woman who allegedly lost 42 pounds and then posed in the same outfit for the 'after' shot. Yeah, right. When a woman loses a whopping 42 pounds would the same shorts even fit? And would they have the identical wrinkles over the hamstring area?



Now meet Maria Stevens and Tina Collins. They don't really look alike but you'd be surprised to see how similar their before & after abdominal photos look.

Maria and Tina also have virtually identical websites.

And here are their before & after abdominal photos. Yes, they both say these photos are their abs. Two different women - same before & after photos. Hmmm.


You might find more women who have the same abs if you ever click on this popular banner ad:


By the way, there is no "1 rule" to obey. They just want you to sign up to buy the nutritional supplement on an automatic billing plan that dings your credit card for 100 bucks or so every month. And good luck trying to cancel your order when you're dealing with guys who create fake photos and fake blogs to sell a fake wonder food that they claim causes weight loss.

All these scams are predicated on the belief that the brightest biochemistry PhD's and medical MD's from the best universities in the world who have dedicated their lives to difficult sciences can't find a quick fat loss drug or food ingredient but some yahoo in the rainforest can easily create a juice that does.

Question: If Pfizer, Merck or Glaxo came up with a juice or pill that really, really caused 30 pounds of fat to melt off in 8 weeks how many trillions of dollars do you think the company would be worth overnight? If acai berry showed any promise whatsoever don't you think Wall Street would be all over it? Can't you just hear Jim Cramer yelling "Buy, buy, buy!"!

Nope. Nobody on this earth has a quick fat loss product. Nobody.

And I'll repeat my question: If you had a product that really worked, would you resort to fake photos, fake blogs, fake user comments and fake names to sell it?

You Can Have Your Own Photo Altered Too

Once you realize how a pro can alter a photo to simulate weight loss you can see it would be motivating to have a picture of yourself done by a pro. The before & after photos below are all done by a UK company that helps people visualize a slimmer reality for about thirty bucks. That's a legitimate use of Photoshop talent because it isn't used to trick people to buy a crappy product that can't possibly work as advertised. And when you see all the photos at this website you can see how easy it is to create hundreds of bogus "before & after" photos.




Because these fake diet program photos and others just like them are everywhere, extreme results like this become the standard in people's minds; this is what they think they should quickly see for their meager efforts. People expect radical transformations like these from a few weeks of drinking fruit juice. That is a crazy expectation. But these images have been displayed literally millions of times every day on some enormously busy websites. The same thing happens with muscle photos and hair loss and every other opportunity to persuade people with before & after photos.

In the end, some people think "science and numbers don't mean anything without photos that show proof." The reality is science and numbers mean everything; they are the foundation of reason and human advancement.

Train with your brain,

P.S. Check below. I found a great Latin proverb for this page . . .


In the spirit of well-rounded self-improvement and spending fitness time wisely and efficiently, this Static Contraction article was brought to you by the Latin proverb:

Mala malus mala mala dat
"A bad apple tree gives bad apples"

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