“Grad Student Reveals How She Lost 16 KG In Just 6 Weeks With These 2 Simple Tricks!”
Recognise these images? You might have seen them on Facebook or Instagram recently, on a weight loss ad claiming: “Grad Student Reveals How She Lost 16 KG In Just 6 Weeks With These 2 Simple Tricks!“
The compelling before-&-after pictures and catchy title might have piqued your interest, because all of us want to lose those holiday pounds we piled on, right? So you click on this ad, which brings you to an online magazine article on Lifestyleasia, where Cathy Lim tells you about how Primo Garcinia helped her lose 16kg in six weeks.
Sounds amazing and convincing really, except that:
1. The pictures are of me and I am definitely not Cathy Lim nor am I a grad student nor did I lose 16kg in 6 weeks
2. Those pictures are originally from my 2015 blog post – My Weight Loss Story: How I Lost 8kg In 2 Months talking about my weight loss achieved with TCM Slimming Treatments at Slim Couture
3. I have never heard of Primo Garcinia let alone tried this miracle weight-loss product, ever
These ads have been circulating in various forms with different subjects on both Facebook and Instagram, under strange account names like “Beatles Parodies” and “Silly Surprises” and “Cover It All Blog”.
I’ve been receiving so many emails, messages and comments (thank you so much to all my friends, readers and followers who were concerned and contacted me!) regarding my photos being misused for false advertising online that I feel that I need to set the record straight and put something online publicly to warn consumers not to fall for Primo Garcinia‘s false selling and advertising – It’s a scam!
Fake Mirror Website Used
I was first alerted to the weight-loss images of myself and my husband being mis-used on a fake mirror website of Lifestyleasia.com (an online lifestyle portal in Singapore, sounds legit) – If you look carefully at the URL though, it is actually Lifestyleasia.com-article.co instead of Lifestyleasia.com, VERY misleading indeed.
Fake Identities & Stolen Pictures
In the first version of this fake ad by Primo Garcinia, I was named Mira. Nice, very very indie name.
In the second version of this fake article on Lifestyleasia-article.co, I have been renamed to Cathy Lim – I guess they did a little more research before they did up this second article.
There’s even a realistic interview about how Fann Wong was “my” inspiration to try Primo Garcinia, and the article ends with Cathy/myself “working with the official suppliers of Primo Garcinia to provide free 1 month supplies for readers”.
Once again, I repeat, the Primo Garcinia website is a scam!
Clicking on one of the links from the article then brings you through a series of redirects before you end up on a convincing-looking website selling Primo Garcinia, a miracle weight-loss product claiming to be voted #1 Fat Burning Product In Singapore.
Except that it isn’t quite as legit as it looks.
There are even testimonials with weight-loss pictures of Caucasian women, who stay in Tampines and Bukit Batok. LOL like seriously?
Beware The Free Trial!
Entering your details brings you to this page where you get “1 Free Bottle Confirmed”, and you’re then asked to fill in your credit card details.
A quick Google search turned up multiple names for “Primo Garcinia” and multiple websites that all looked very very similar and dubious, as well as websites calling out these “free” trials for what they are – scams.
Once you provide your credit card details, you will be sent one month’s supply for free, but if you do not cancel within 14 days of your order, you will be enrolled in an “auto-shipment program” which sends you a 1 month supply every 30 days for $133.76 + $8.04 every month, unless cancelled!
They are SO good at this. Freaking fine print on the website tells you all these, but would a consumer who’s been beguiled by those persuasive weight-loss pictures and promises of a free trial even read the tiny text or think twice before providing their credit card details?
I Tried To Contact Primo Garcinia
Primo Garcinia’s level of dodginess is just incredible.
Firstly, my Facebook friend Dexter tried doing a domain name look up for me.
This is what we got from the search:
Domain Name: COM-ARTICLE.CO
Domain ID: D172444262-CO
Sponsoring Registrar: NAMECHEAP, INC.
Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 1068
Registrar URL (registration services): http://www.namecheap.com
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registrant ID: F4CI334RTITIYTEP
Registrant Name: WhoisGuard Protected
Registrant Organization: WhoisGuard, Inc.
Registrant Address1: P.O. Box 0823-03411
Registrant City: Panama
Registrant State/Province: Panama
Registrant Postal Code: 0
Registrant Country: Panama
Registrant Country Code: PA
Registrant Phone Number: +507.8365503
Registrant Facsimile Number: +51.17057182
Registrant Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Google on WhoisGuard brought up that WhoisGuard is a privacy protection service that prevents people from seeing your name, address, phone number and email when they do a Whois search on your domain. It puts its address information to the public instead of yours to protect you from potential spam and even identity theft.
WTF, apparently WhoisGuard also protects spammers and identity thieves also lah! The company behind Primo Garcinia got their domain name protected with WhoisGuard, very clever of them.
I called the hotline listed on the website next.
Phone support for Singapore was listed on the website, so I called the number provided: 800-852-3931 and I got put through to a “customer service officer”.
I told her that my photos had been misused on an advertisement for Primo Garcinia, and she told me that “we do not sell any products in our company” and that I might have gotten the number wrong (which wasn’t the case because I tapped directly on the number from my mobile Safari). She then said that her company sold “Home Care Packages” (?????) wtf?
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I then asked for an email in which I could contact her company as this particular number was wrongly listed on a website selling weight-loss products, and I would like to alert her company to it, right? She told me that “she was unable to assist me as I was not a customer”. I hung up shortly after because this phone call was obviously going nowhere.
There is just some high-level dodgy shit going on there seriously.
So one last point to note on Primo Garcinia and its high-level dodginess is another tiny fine print on its website:
The last paragraph is just full of win.
“We are not responsible for any reviews, reports, emails, advertisements or blogs that may have led you to this page. If you feel any of these 3rd party reviews, advertisements, blogs or reports may be inaccurate, please contact us immediately. We do not condone or endorse any inaccurate information, statistics and/or claims made by 3rd parties in regards to our product.”
Win liao lor so my photos anyhow use on your fake advertisement is none of your business or responsibility right. I have emailed Primo Garcinia’s email address but I doubt I will get a response.
I have also contacted Lifestyleasia.com (the real website) and their response is below:
Do Not Fall For This Scam!
I am sincerely worried about unsuspecting consumers believing these ads on Primo Garcinia and then getting scammed into providing their credit card details because many friends have sent me screenshots of their Facebook friends / Instagram friends sharing this link and discussing about it.
Read these articles as well if you’re not convinced.
An article on Stuff.co.nz: Warning of diet pill scam as a review of Garcinia Lean XTreme on Highya.com which I assume is another name for the same product/scam.
??? Confused ???
Q: Are those real weight-loss images, then?
Yes, they are my real weight-loss images, but put in false context! The only slimming treatment that I’ve endorsed is Slim Couture’s TCM Treatments and those images are from my blog post sharing my experience at Slim Couture. They are not photoshopped images lol but NO THE WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT FROM PRIMO GARCINIA!!!
Q: But I see Primo Garcinia in supplement stores?!
Well, I did some research on Primo Garcinia and it seems to be a (somewhat) legit supplement that is available in local supplement stores, but you SHOULD NOT purchase it from dodgy websites that use stolen images and con you into providing your credit card details for an “auto-shipment” program!!!
The bottomline is, do not believe anything on the internet that seems too good to be true, and always be savvy when providing your credit card details online! There are other similar websites/scams online and many of them cleverly use consumer psychology to tap into your psyche and coerce you into these scams and gimmicks.
If you can, please share this article on your Facebook page or WhatsApp groups to warn your friends not to fall for it as well – I have no idea how I can get my images removed from the fake ad so the only way I can promote awareness of this scam is through my blog post. It would be great if you could also report these ads as spam whenever they show up on your Facebook or Instagram feed! If any one knows how I can report the false advertising or get anything done about it at all, please contact me via email.
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