I’ve been following an incredible story in the U.S. where the blogger behind Lazy Man and Money had his identity revealed and received death threats for exposing a multi-level marketing (MLM) scam.
LifeVantage, makers of a diet pill called Protandim, has gone to great lengths to discredit the author of Lazy Man and Money – creating websites and videos that debunk the “myths and lies” that were exposed (Google “Lazy Man and Money” and check out the search results).
The posts have over 100 comments, many from staunch defenders of these companies, and still get comments years after the original articles were published. I’m willing to bet these organizations have set up Google alerts to identify negative reviews and then send a team of employees to comment anonymously in defense of the company.
Rachelle Berube was sued for defamation for calling League REIT a scam and warning potential investors of a ponzi-scheme. She saw League was advertising a guaranteed 10-15% annual return and decided to look into it herself.
After posting what she found out on her blog and in a forum, she was hit with a $2.6M lawsuit. Read more about the downfall of League REIT in this excellent Globe and Mail piece by Tim Kiladze.
I applaud these bloggers for putting their necks on the line to make consumers aware of potentially harmful, deceitful, and unethical business practices. Another excellent consumer advocate is my Toronto Star colleague Ellen Roseman. Her latest book is called Fight Back: 81 Ways to Save Money and Protect Yourself from Corporate Trickery.
I also have to give a shout-out to Tom Harrington and Erica Johnson, hosts of CBC Marketplace. The show is in its 41st season and continues to help expose scams, misleading marketing claims, and customer service nightmares to protect consumer rights.
One episode looked at the oil change chain, Economy Lube, and revealed that the service technicians were trained to upsell you on services you didn’t need – transmission fluid change, brake fluid flush, etc. Customers who thought they were going in for a $19.99 oil change were getting charged over $200 for services that weren’t needed and sometimes weren’t even performed!
Have you ever fallen victim to a scam? Or exposed fraudulent activity? What else should consumers be wary of?