By Mark Huffman
January 22, 2007
Consumers hoping to lose weight through diet supplements like Hoodia are being victimized by a company using spam emails to promote its wares. Consumers accuse LeanRx.Net of charging their accounts for $100 or more in products they didn't order.
"I ordered a free sample of Hoodia, and all I had to do is pay shipping and handling and I paid it with a debit card -- dumb me. I paid $4.95 in June of 2006," Shirley, of Cardington, OH, told ConsumerAffairs.com. "But there was a $99.99 charge to Bumfathoodia, which caused several of my checks to bounce."
Shirley's story is similar to others received at ConsumerAffairs.com in the last two months. A number of consumers have recounted their unsuccessful efforts to get in touch with LeanRX.Net.
"I tried calling the above 800 number to cancel my order because I never receive anything," said Debra of Colorado Springs CO. "When I called it was an automated answering machine telling me to enter my credit card number. I wasn't about to do that so I just stayed on the line. The automated voice finally said that if I needed customer service to visit their website at leanrx.net."
But Debra and others who have gone to LeanRx.Net have found not a Web site but only a message reading "Content is being updated to better serve you in the New Year."
In the meantime, LeanRx.Net has consumers' credit and debit account information and can -- and, some say, does -- place charges anytime it wants. Some consumers say their accounts have been charged $70 to $80 twice in one month.
Security experts warn consumers to never respond to sales pitches that come in spam email, saying in most cases such appeals are scams. They say any online purchase should be made with a company you trust, or have checked out.
Hoodia has been used in folk medicine in southern Africa to treat minor illnesses. Since the 1990s its active ingredient, P57, has been touted as an appetite suppressant.
However, it has not received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and one pharmaceutical company doing research on P57 expressed concern about potential side effects.