The skinny on weight-loss and other health scams

We've all seen the ads, on the sides of websites and on our social media feeds: “Doctors hate her,” or “One weird tip to melt belly fat.” They seem too good to be true, which is because they absolutely are.

These frauds offer little to nothing in terms of actual healthy weight loss, and nothing comes cheap. You can be on the hook for large up-front payments or locked into long-term contracts if you aren't careful.

But the scammers have gotten more subtle, and ignoring the margins of your web browser won't be enough to protect you from their lies on social media. You now need to watch out for the content your friends share as well.

Scammers have infiltrated Facebook feeds and Pinterest boards alike with accounts solely devoted to promoting their useless “quick-fix” products.

Seemingly real users do nothing but link as many actual people as possible to the scam content. They post before-and-after pictures of weight loss “miracles.” They post status updates of weight loss struggles and triumphs, even peppering in pictures of their pets to seem more real.

Not only does their fake content find its way into your feed, your friends can make it seem more credible by liking the content or commenting on it if they fall for a fake profile. Scammers might even add information to your friends' posts to make it seem like your friends endorse or even use the product.

Scams that promote themselves on social media are especially dangerous because they show up alongside content from people you know and trust. Always think about why someone made a post, especially if they seem to be promoting a product. Their post may have more behind it than you — or even they — realize. Find more information at