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BBB: Watch out for snake oil disguised as miracle cure

The Federal Trade Commission recently won a $700,000 judgment against a company selling a “permanent alcoholism cure.” 2012/07/alcoholcure.shtm

According to the FTC press release the Alcohol Cure Foundation:

• Tricked consumers into paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to participate in the program

• Used ineffective dietary supplements in the supposed “cure”

• Charged consumers’ financial accounts without authorization

And when customers tried to cancel the program, ACF routinely tried to extract further payment by threatening to reveal the consumers’ alcoholism.

It got me to thinking about miracle cures. How many times have I been told that there is a secret diet, drug, or machine that will cure my insulin-dependent diabetes, only to be disappointed? Unfortunately, more than once.

The Hook: If you have a serious health condition, one for which science has no cure, you may be tempted by a product, device, or treatment that claims to help. What have you got to lose?

The Reality: These “miracle cures” are often unproven and useless, and the sellers are taking advantage of you by making promises they can’t keep.

The FTC warns that phony miracle products can have dangerous interactions with medicines you’re already taking. They also might cause you to delay or stop medical treatment for your condition, even when proven treatments are available from your physician. As we have seen at the BBB, a money-back guarantee may be meaningless.

So even though we all want to believe, I think that as the FTC urges, it is a good idea to remain skeptical. Reliable sources of information about diseases and treatments are available at, and To learn more about alternative and complementary medicine, visit Check out the reliability of companies at

More information or to report scams: Visit our website at Call (509)455-4200 or (800) 356-1007. Or sign up to receive Scam Alerts at


Holly Doering, BBB Editor

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