Everyone would like to feel better, stronger and live longer. Every day we see adverts promising many of these things, unfortunately many simply do not work and others are fakes which may even damage your health. Millions fall victim to these scams, one scam operating between 2013-2017 turned over more than £2 million (see Mirror newspaper article).
Common Health and Medical Scams
Fraudsters create phony online pharmaceutical websites and send unsolicited emails offering cheap, easy medical treatments for purchase without a prescription. Often, these medicines and treatments are marketed well and touted as an alternative to mainstream medicines that have been rigorously tested and scientifically researched. Once the medicines have been purchased online via unregulated websites, they either never arrive, or credit card details have been stolen. Worse still, the medicines are often inferior and don’t do as advertised, posing more of a risk to your health.
Miracle Cure Scams
Many products are sold as ‘cures’ for various ailments such as; acne, AIDS, impotence and even cancer. Victims are led to believe that the product being purchased is ‘superior’ to medicines prescribed by a doctor. It is not uncommon for fraudsters to offer ‘no risk money-back guarantees’ however, when you try to return the product or get your money back the fraudster will have vanished. The medical risk is very high, as there is no way to guarantee if the medicines or ingredients are regulated and safe for human consumption – it could make your condition worse.
How to avoid health and medical fraud
- Talk. Seek advice from your GP or pharmacist first before making any changes to your medicines
- Check. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Registry to see if a website can legally sell medicines online
- Question. Does the online pharmacist ask questions about your condition? Or other medicines that you might be taking. If no questions are asked this should be a ‘red flag’.
- Avoid! Don’t send confidential information via email
- Secure. Ensure the website you are purchasing the products from is secure https:// along with the padlock in the browser.
- Tested. Are the medicines tested or proven to work? Are there legitimate studies and medical trials?
- Caution advised. Be suspicious if the medicine (that usually needs a prescription) does not require a prescription from the vender.
- Pay Safe. Always pay using a credit card.
- Unsure? Call Reassura 0800 888 6400 our fraud advisors are committed to helping you to avoid fraud.
If you think that you might have been a victim of a health or medical related fraud
- Notify your card provider immediately, their telephone number is on the back of your card.
- Contact Action Fraud to report the crime: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_ fraud and get a Crime Reference Number.
- If you’re worried about identity fraud contact CIFAS
Reassura is dedicated to helping raise awareness of scams and fraud and the impact they have on their victims. Reassura’s team of specialist anti-fraud advisors are on-hand to offer advice designed to help individuals make better informed decisions and avoid the unpleasant consequences of becoming a victim. For further information visit: https://reassura.com or call 0800 888 6400