Here's how to stay safe among rising Ozempic-related scams

There are major differences between real Ozempic and counterfeit products, but they may not be that easy to spot - FDA

A scam victim shared her experience with ConsumerAffairs

With consumers flocking to Ozempic in recent months, it should come as no surprise that related scams are on the rise. 

The primary ways that consumers are targeted are either through phishing scams or scammers impersonating doctors online. In either case, consumers can’t be sure what kind of medication they’re actually receiving – if they receive anything at all – or what’s being done with their personal information. 

According to McAfee’s most recent research, phishing attempts about weight loss drugs were up 183% in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the fourth quarter of 2023. 

“As demand for Ozempic and other weight loss drugs soars, there are three major risks to consumers,” Abhishek Karnik, head of McAfee’s Threat Research Team, told ConsumerAffairs.

“The primary and most concerning thing is the health risks, because of medication that is either not FDA approved, incorrectly compounded, counterfeit, or provided with incorrect dosage. Attempting to purchase fraudulent offerings can be an expensive mistake, whether the product is fraudulent or never delivered: purchasing from an unauthorized reseller may end up costing people anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per transaction. 

“There’s also a significant risk to privacy and personal information. It’s the classic tale of scammers stealing consumer data by tricking people into clicking malicious links. Then, they unknowingly hand over sensitive information that can lead to further fraud and identity theft.” 

What do the scams look like? 

As these scams continue to ramp up, one Ozempic scam victim shared her experience with ConsumerAffairs in an attempt to bring awareness to what scammers are doing to innocent consumers. 

“It was a terrifying experience for me,” she said. “I’m a diabetic, and I’ve been using Ozempic as prescribed by my doctor. However, due to its popularity for weight loss, there was a shortage of the drug, and I couldn’t receive the medication that I rely on. 

“This led me to seek out other means, and I ended up purchasing a fake Ozempic shot. Unfortunately, the medication I purchased turned out to be an insulin pen, which could have been fatal if I injected myself with it. Even tiny doses of insulin could cause me to experience diabetic shock.”

Ultimately, she noticed major differences in the packaging between the counterfeit shot and the legitimate Ozempic shot she’d been used to receiving. While she never actually used it, she wants consumers to know the severity of these scams. 

“Do your due diligence and inspect the product thoroughly before you use it,” she said. “If something feels off, trust your instincts. If you find out you’ve been scammed, contact your bank and the authorities right away. You could be helping someone else from falling victim to these dangerous scams in the future.”

Be vigilant

The biggest takeaway for consumers: be vigilant. While scammers may be on the rise, there are ways to protect yourself. 

“During a supply shortage, it’s natural for consumers to hunt for alternatives to Ozempic,” Karnik said. “It's crucial for consumers to remain vigilant, verify sources, and avoid deals that seem too good to be true.

“It can be tempting to click ‘purchase’ on what seems like a great deal, but it’s important to remember that buying Ozempic without a prescription is not only risky, it’s illegal. Consumers should only purchase prescription medication through a reputable, trusted pharmacy. They should stick to using traditional and secure payment methods from trusted parties, like credit cards, Apple Pay, or PayPal, which offer more protection against fraud. 

“Finally, stay away from unofficial retailers, particularly those found on unverified sites, social media suppliers, unknown Telegram-based sources, or Craigslist. Don’t blindly trust testimonials.” 

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