More than 100 million Americans are watching their diet, spending more than $70 billion a year to lose weight.

It is not surprising that bogus diet products and programs were ranked No. 1 among healthcare scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year.

On-the-make marketers use a variety of schemes to get people to purchase their products and services. Some create websites that look like those of legitimate magazines and news organizations and fill them with phony articles claiming celebrities have achieved amazing results from various diet pills or herbal supplements. Others use social media, posting bogus stories or quietly paying “influencers” to promote unproven products.

Remember, weight loss products touted as “natural” or “herbal” do not necessarily mean “safe or wholesome” and some herbal ingredients are toxic in certain doses. Diet and weight loss programs often encourage people to sign up for a free trial. If the tiny print is read, it opts you into getting charged for regular orders or additional products.

Claims that sound too be true, such as losing weight while eating as much as you want, are too good to be true.

Seek advice from a trustworthy source, such as your doctor or a registered dietitian before you buy a weight loss product. Be skeptical about a product or program promising you will lose a specific amount of weight per day, week, or month. Be wary of ads that tout weight loss products as “a miracle,” “revolutionary” or a “scientific breakthrough.”

Call the Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers with information about scams and frauds. To contact the Scam Squad directly, 9 am to noon Monday — Friday, call (520) 351-6715, or email To report suspicious activity or a particular incident of fraud (a scam involving a loss of money) call (520) 351-4900. You may also check our Web sites at or

If you are interested in becoming a Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteer, please email for an application or call (520) 351-6746.