Scammers commonly promote products that have “miracle” cosmetic or health benefits using fake celebrity endorsements.
For months, ads on social media have claimed celebrity Oprah Winfrey is selling and/or endorsing a line of weight loss gummies. Some even include video of Oprah talking about weight loss gummies, while others use shocking news headlines as part of their ad.
That’s led several VERIFY readers to text us with questions asking if these products are real. One said they received a text from an “0prahsgiveaway” website about keto gummies allegedly sold by Oprah and WeightWatchers. Another sent a screenshot of an ad urging the reader to claim a free bottle of the gummies.
Is Oprah selling or endorsing weight loss gummies?
No, Oprah is not selling or endorsing weight loss gummies.
WHAT WE FOUND
Oprah denied selling or endorsing any weight loss gummies in an October 2022 Instagram video. The gummies are instead a version of a common scam that uses “miracle” health and cosmetic products to take your credit card information and surprise you with charges.
“I have nothing to do with weight loss gummies or diet pills, and I don’t want you all taken advantage of by people misusing my name,” Oprah said in the video after explaining she was addressing the issue because she kept getting questions about it. “So please know I have no weight loss gummies.”
Ironically, scammers have edited that clip into more misleading ads.
Some gummy sellers have since used out-of-context clips from Oprah’s warnings within their ads. In this ad’s video, for example, there are two different clips pulling from parts of the video where she said “weight loss gummies.”
Oprah Daily, the digital publication Oprah owns, also wrote an article denying Oprah’s involvement with weight loss gummies.
“Back in 2015, Oprah made headlines when she partnered with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) and has always been candid about her own weight loss journey,” wrote Oprah Daily. “But gummies that claim to shed unwanted pounds are not part of her journey—despite the fact that some companies falsely advertise these products using Oprah’s name and image.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning about scams like this on Feb. 17, 2023. The FTC says to approach celebrity testimonials with caution, search for the product online alongside words like “scam” and “complaints” and remember that the government doesn’t review or evaluate supplements.
Also in February, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of tainted weight loss products promoted as miracle cures. Some of these products are relabeled prescription drugs for unrelated ailments such as blood pressure and seizures, while others might have dangerous ingredients, the FDA said.
Neither the FTC or FDA singled out the Oprah keto pills, but that’s because scams like this take on countless different forms. There are many variations of the specific ads used in this scam, but here’s a general overview of what to watch out for.
How does this scam work?
Many of these celebrity-backed miracle cure ads will wind up taking you to a phony news article. VERIFY found such a fake article while researching the fake Mayim Bialik CBD gummies in 2022. The Oprah weight loss gummies ad also take their victims to a fake news article, in this case one that looks like a convincing mockup of the Time magazine website.
You can tell the website is a fake because the URL doesn’t match up with the real website. In the archived Time article, the website URL was “brownketoclub.us” which is now defunct. These web pages normally don’t last long before they’re taken down, and so the scammers regularly have to move on to new URLs.
VERIFY searched the real Time website for “oprah weight loss gummy,” and found that no such article exists.
The “article” itself reads more like an ad than an actual news story. This is consistent for these kinds of ads, regardless of what the headline says.
If you click on any of the links within the articles, it will take you to a page that typically uses urgent and sensational language in an attempt to bait you into sharing your information. You can see archived examples for the link in the fake Time article here and another article’s links here.
While the pages aren’t exactly the same, they use identical tactics. They promise a free bottle if you give them your information, and try to pressure you into making a hasty decision by claiming the time you have to get one is extremely limited. They also make sensational claims about the product’s effectiveness, and try to establish trust with apparent customer reviews.
Neither store page makes a reference to Oprah, despite her name being used in the ads.
If you do try to “RUSH YOUR ORDER” like the store page wants you to do, you’ll usually find it also asks for your credit card information even though it advertises an opportunity to get a free bottle. Whether you actually get a bottle or not, you will typically be charged more than you agreed to.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaints for countless keto weight loss gummy companies, including some that reference Oprah, describe the same kind of scam. The customer pays for a bottle or expects a free bottle, and they are charged for far more than they’ve purchased and sometimes unknowingly sign up for a costly subscription. If the customer tries to cancel their order or get a refund for any reason, the gummy sellers allegedly make it difficult and sometimes impossible to get a refund, and often only give customers a partial refund if at all.
There are many scams promoting a variety of products that follow this formula. For example, the customer question and answer section on this anti-aging cream’s Amazon page shows that the product was supposedly endorsed by Jennifer Aniston, Betty White, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez, and people reported being charged hundreds of dollars for a surprise subscription. Another skin cream’s BBB page is full of identical complaints.
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