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On December 6, someone posted a diary titled, "Today, I found out we have nothing." It was a long sob story that elicited the usual sympathy and offers of help from kind-hearted Kossacks.

Someone in the comments smelled a scam and checked it out. That someone was correct.

But here's the deal: the company that the scam artist diarist was traced back to had a product being advertised on many of the lefty blogs including TalkingPointsMemo, fivethirtyeight, Atrios and the Huffington Post as a weight loss wonder drug. And it was much worse than just trading on the sympathy of generous individuals. If you have dealt with them, you need to know some vital information.

This weekend I was at a friend's house. In her kitchen, I noticed a bottle of acai berry pills. Being curious, I asked her what they did. She said they were supposed to help you lose weight. She said they only cost $5 for shipping, so what did she have to lose?

My friend is a devotee of fivethirtyeight, so I asked her A red light went off in my head. I had remembered one of the commenters on the scam diary saying something about a product that was advertised by the company that was tied to the scam diarist. The commenter said that the company advertised that it "only charged for shipping," but then, people ordering it would find their accounts debited for $78.

I immediately told my friend that we needed to get on her computer and look at her account. Sure enough, there it was: a charge for $78.81 by Advanced Wellness Research. Today, my friend called her bank to report the fraud. Her bank immediately told her she needed to get a new debit card because the charge was scheduled to be made monthly. Her bank also tried to call several numbers associated with the withdrawal, but, naturally, none of them worked.

So she now has a new debit card and her bank is following up on her fraud report.

I know this isn't much of a diary, but I couldn't let this go without warning y'all. If you or someone you know has been taken advantage of, GO TO YOUR BANK IMMEDIATELY.

UPDATE: To clarify.

  1. Popvent posts a diary about how his family has lost everything.
  1. He provides a link to his wife's business site, HealZoo, which, according to a comment by Kossack Ultraslacker, is linked to a number of scam sites. HealZoo is a weight loss website.
  1. A commenter pointed out that Popvent's IP address was linked to an acai berry scam. This commenter also noted that people would send for the acai berry pills thinking they were only paying shipping. Then their bank accounts would be charged $78.

I may have made a leap, based on other comments, that linked Popvent to the acai berry scam. If so, I apologize. However, based on the googling skills of smarter Kossacks than me, Popvent appears to be a bit shady.

And the acai berry scam is real.

Originally posted to AtlantaJan on Mon Dec 08, 2008 at 10:06 AM PST.

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