Tag Archives: muscle-building

Charleyhorsed by Jacked Muscle Extreme

From the people who brought you the LUX HD450 phone lens comes the latest elixir for reupholstering your skel!

On April 30, 2017, let’s aim our Scam-O-Meters at Jacked Muscle Extreme.  Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer (someone who takes your money by trickery or theft). I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Suspicious location: -1.  2658 Del Mar Heights Rd. #368, Del Mar, CA 92014 USA.  A rental box shared with known scammer LUX HD450.mailbox service

Onerous terms: -1

  • When you send for a “free, no-risk” sample, you’re implicitly agreeing to subscribe to a bottle of Jacked Muscle Extreme every month ($90).
  • You have 14 days from the day of your order — or 10 days from the day you receive your sample — to cancel your subscription.  (But you can ask for an extension.)
  • Your returned product must be postmarked within 10 days of the day you received it.
  • They don’t guarantee that the product is fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them or join a class action that’s suing them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1.  They’ll use the information you give them and what they can suck from your browser to spam you.  You can opt out.

Lying and deception: -1

  • The terms state that you’ll be billed for your next month’s subscription on the 14th day of your trial.  So, the trial period is really only 13 days long, or 9 days from the day you receive your sample.
  • The product has not been tested!  Amidst the small print at the bottom is this gem; “While clinical studies were not performed on Jacked Muscle Extreme specifically, the included ingredients have been tested to provide results as specified.”  The web site doesn’t say what the ingredients are.

Obfuscation: -1 

  • Terms and conditions appear in five different nooks and crannies of the scam-site.  It’s like an easter-egg hunt; and they are not all the same.
  • The order form lists the normal price as $79.99.  But the Terms and Conditions state it is $89.99.
  • I can’t tell whether your $90 bill on the 14th day is for your “free” sample or for your first monthly delivery.

Phony reviews: -1.  Of the paid shills, I particularly enjoyed JackedMuscleExtremeAdvice.com.  “It simply provides me the self-confidence and also self-esteem, because of a person with extra slim weak body has to bear taunt from their follows.

Crummy product: -1.  Popular Diet Pills lists the ingredients and wasn’t very impressed.  “The ingredients are more designed as a fat burning formula rather than for muscle growth.”  Consumer Reports lists one of the ingredients, green tea extract powder, in “15 Supplement Ingredients to Always Avoid,” listing these risks: “Dizziness, ringing in the ears, reduced absorption of iron; exacerbates anemia and glaucoma; elevates blood pressure and heart rate; liver damage; possibly death.

Overpriced: -1.  The package is marked “60 capsules,” and this is marketed as a 30-day supply for $90.  This works out to $3 a day or $1.50 a capsule.  Amazon has lots of muscle-building supplements at lower prices.  For example, a 90-capsule bottle of NutraFX BCAA Capsules Branched Chain Amino Acids Supplements is priced at $13.50, or $0.15 a pill — 90% cheaper.  It’s rated 4.6 stars in 103 customer reviews.  You don’t have to subscribe to anything.  And they tell you the ingredients and their amounts.

75% discount: +1.  False.

Total score; -6


Unauthorized charges: CREDIT CARD RISK ALERT.  The return address is the same as that of LUX HD450, so I assume they are the same company.  The Better Business Bureau rates LUX HD450 “F” due to numerous complaints about failure to deliver products, delivering more or different products than ordered, refusing refunds contrary to their own Terms and Conditions, and not answering phone calls and emails.

Conclusion: Avoid.

Bonus outtake:

Beaten up by Alpha Monster Advanced testosterone supplement

sand-in-faceOf all the web-scam victims, I am most in awe of those who gulp down stuff they get in the mail from unknown companies with no idea what it is.  On February 18, 2017, let’s take a look at one of these outfits, Alpha Monster Advanced (red links are evil–do not click).  Looking over the scam site, I can see that this one’s going to get our Scam-O-Meters clicking!  It’s the free trial scam.

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • They’re about to run out of the stuff; yet they’re giving it away “free.”
  • You’ll get muscles.  Increase muscle mass.  Explosive workouts.
  • You’ll get more sex.  “Almost every man can benefit from a boost in free testosterone to intensify his experience in the gym and in the bedroom.”  “Helps enhance sexual stamina.”  “Feel more desire and maximize your potential.”  Etc.
  • All you have to do is drink the stuff (re: “How It Works”) to get results.

Post Office box: -1.  They don’t even try to hide it.  P.O. Box 61553, Savannah, GA 31419

scamometer-adv-monsterOnerous terms: -1

  • The sample is a 30-day supply.  But they’ll charge the full price ($90) unless you cancel your purchase within 14 days after your order (not after you receive the product).
  • They’ll charge another $90 every month and send you a new bottle until you cancel.
  • They don’t guarantee that the product is fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • Unless you opt out in 30 days, you can’t sue them or join a class-action that’s suing them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll use all the information you give them, and all they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you.
  • They’ll share your personal data with other companies that will do the same.
  • If the company is sold, your personal data will be part of the deal.
  • You can opt out of some use of your data by email.

Lying and deception: -1

  • They don’t show the price, even after you enter personal information.  They only show the shipping charge.  (The price is in the Terms document.)
  • They don’t disclose that you’re signing up for a subscription when you order a free sample.  (This too is buried in the Terms document.)
  • They don’t tell you what’s in the product, other than “Powerful ingredients.”

Obfuscation: -1

  • Once you’ve entered personal information, you can no longer read the first page.  The browser’s back-button is disabled.  (This is a big red flag.)
  • The second page displays a count-down timer to make you think you don’t have time to research the product.

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-2-23-48-pm-copyPhony reviews: -1.  Written by people you never heard of before, these reviews are wildly enthusiastic, yet vague.  There’s no evidence that they’ve tried the product.  They have prominent links to the seller’s web site.  In short, they are advertising.  Examples:

  • Healthy Apple Chat wastes no time; “Have you ever had the feeling that your wife is not really happy with your physical intimacies in bed?”  Their use of the scammer’s promotional art work casts further doubt on their veracity.
  • Oral Health Plus‘ author claims to have used the product, tho it seems somewhat removed from his specialty.  The site is festooned with Alpha Monster art and links.
  • Muscle Health Fitness claims “The supplement is 100% safe and is approved by the FDA for daily usage.”  But Alpha Monster themselves admit in small print “This product has not been evaluated by the FDA.

To Alpha Monster’s credit, I also found some real reviews:

Crummy product: 0.  I don’t have any information about this.

Overpriced: -1.  They don’t tell you how much product you’ll receive; only that it’s a 30-day supply.  However, the bottle is labeled “60 capsules.”  Amazon doesn’t sell Alpha Monster Advanced.  However, they offer a 60-capsule bottle of Alpha Boost which touts the same benefits for $20–and no hidden subscription.  That’s 22% of the Alpha Monster price.  471 reviewers gave Alpha Boost an average of 4.6 stars.

Unauthorized charges: +1.  Ripoff report has one complaint re: the hidden subscription.  I found no complaints at the Better Business Bureau.

Final Scam-O-Meter score; -7

If you think this kind of supplement is for you, shop local, or get it from Amazon.

burned-link

 

Scam-O-Meter; Force Factor VolcaNO body-building pills

I‘ve had lots of fun mocking web scammers!  But this time is going to be different.

I’ll be using the Scam-O-Meter, a scientific system for evaluating potential scams that I just made up.  It’s September 1, 2016.  For our maiden voyage, let’s use the Scam-O-Meter to explore Force Factor’s VolcaNO.

Since I last looked at their web site, Force Factor has reworked it into a one-two punch.  You start out with an innocuous-looking product description.  If you go for the free sample, it switches to pictures of huge muscles and the megaphone comes out.

My Scam-O-Meter methodology

Here are ten things that I’ve seen in a lot of web scams.  Here’s how I’ll score them:

  • Candidate is like this: -1
  • I don’t know: 0
  • Candidate is not like this: +1

A negative score means it’s probably a scam.  Actually, some of these things are so bad that, if a candidate had only that one thing wrong with them, I would run away screaming. But moving right along, let’s play the game and see how it works.

Ridiculous claims

Force Factor-1 if this product is going to change your whole life, at hardly any cost or risk.  +1 if it’s a reasonably useful or fun thing to have.

xForce Factor: -1.   “VolcaNO is for the SERIOUS competitor — one who isn’t afraid to do the work, but understands that repetition alone won’t get you to the next level and beyond.  … Finally, explosive strength, an insane amount of power, virtually endless stamina and incredible energy for every guy looking to shatter plateaus and crush it in the gym, at work and at home.”

Post office box

-1 if the vendor is just a post office box or a similar faceless service.  +1 if the vendor has an actual brick-and-mortar facility in the United States.

xForce Factor: -1.  105 Commerce Dr, Aston, PA 19014.   Google Maps shows that this address is actually “National Fullfillment Service.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 2.16.32 PM.png

Onerous terms

-1 if it’s going to be unreasonably difficult to get a refund.  -1 big time if buying the product or accepting a “free” trial sample implicitly starts some kind of subscription, and notice of this trap is buried in the Terms and Conditions.  +1 if you get 90 days to return the product, counting from the day you received it, even if you opened and tried it, with no “restocking” fees.  Bear in mind that the vendor may not obey his own terms.

dnForce Factor: 0.  It’s a subscription scam, but they do warn you on the order form.  Highlights:

  • If you accepted the free sample, you have 14 days, not including 4 days allowance for shipping time, to cancel before your automatic subscription kicks in.
  • If “you’re unhappy with the product for any reason,” you can return your unused bottle within 30 days from your purchase date (not from the date you received it).  Looks like your reason can’t include that you tried the product and didn’t like it!
  • You can’t sue them, or join a class action that’s suing them.

Invasion of privacy

-1 if the vendor will use your personal information to spam you, beam ads at you, robocall you, and sell it to other companies unless you opt out.  +1 if they only use it to complete the transaction.  If you opt in for ads, etc. that doesn’t count against them.

xForce Factor: -1.  They’ll do all of the above!

 

Lying and deception

-1 if the vendor says something important that I can easily find out is not true.  -1 if he writes in a weasily way that conceals information or implies misinformation.

checkForce Factor: +1.  As far as I can tell, nothing they state is false, tho it seems highly exaggerated.  To their credit, they say “There’s not a nitric oxide product on the planet that works without exercise.”

Obfuscation

-1 if the information you need (such as the price!) is technically there, but you have to hunt for it and wade thru a lot of obstacles.  For example, Ultrabeam Flashlights made the link to their terms and conditions dark gray on a black background; and when you get to them, they’re stuffed with meaningless text.

xForce Factor: -1.  For a straight-up purchase, Force Factor no longer plays games.  But for a “free” sample, you have to take a phony test to find out whether you qualify to be offered the product.  Then you have to give personal information to get to the order form.  By now you’ve drilled down to the fifth web page.  To see a price list without making an order, you have to read the Terms and Conditions.

Phony reviews

Ignore positive reviews where the reviewer gets money!  -1 if the review includes a link to buy the product.   -1 if you can’t find a review by a trustworthy independent source such as CNET or Amazon.  -1 if the review is inside the vendor’s website, particularly if it includes a photograph of the reviewer that is clipart.

xForce Factor: -1.  “Review” site HowLifeWorks states:

“… a muscle builder known as VolcaNO, is already well on its way to becoming one of GNC’s top grossing products in a matter of months. The success is borderline inexplicable so we decided to ask Force Factor’s Chief Marketing Officer his secret.  

“It’s not complicated,” said the CMO. …”

There’s no way to know whether VolcaNO is really a top-grossing product.  Now a quick glance gives the impression that some GNC executive is talking here.  But no, it’s Force Factor’s own shill.  This review includes a link to Force Factor.  That’ll cost ya!  Automatic -1.  

  • I also see endorsements on Force Factor’s website by people with no last names.
  • Amazon actually has positive customer reviews of VolcaNO, but they’re coupled with complaints about Force Factor’s deceptive marketing.

Crummy product

-1 if customers say the product is much worse than they were led to expect.  +1 if the product is a fair value.

dnForce Factor: 0.  I have reservations about body-building supplements; but I can’t say whether they’re any use, nor how VolcaNO compares.  Most Amazon reviewers seem to like it.

Overpriced

-1 for prices that are two times or more the price of an identical or comparable product from Amazon or another conventional retail source.  Automatic -1 for the free-trial scam.  Automatic -1 when the advertised price turns out to be the per-unit price when you buy a large number of units.

xForce Factor: -1. You pay $69.99 plus shipping every month your subscription continues.  They don’t say how many capsules you get; but looking closely at the picture of the bottle I see it’s 120.  Amazon offers a 120-capsule bottle of VolcaNO for $31.98.  And you don’t have to dodge the free-trial scam.

Unauthorized charges

-1 if the vendor charges you for products and services you didn’t order or fees you weren’t notified about.  For example, the LUX HD450 phone lens scammers are notorious for shipping five sets of lenses regardless of how many you order, and slapping on an expensive warranty to boot.

xForce Factor: -1.  I’ve found many complaints about unauthorized charges stemming from the free-trial scam.  For example, from pissedconsumer.com,

DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER.I could not get my money back.

Their ‘Terms and Conditions’ is a trap for unsuspected consumers. I did not like the product, but they keep sending me more and charging my credit card.

It is very aggressive and unethical marketing practice. Stay away from companies like this. For Canadians it is very difficult to take American company to court.

My bank advised me to read ‘Terms and Conditions’ carefully next time.The product itself made me sick.

Force Factor states in small print on the order form that accepting the free sample will trigger a subscription.  Many scammers bury this information in T&C legalese.  Nevertheless, many customers feel that they were deceived.  And it looks to me like Force Factor intends to deceive.

Bottom line

My total score for Force Factor; -6.  Even if you think VolcaNO is a good product, you can get it for less than half the price at Amazon, with no subscriptions or other dirty tricks.


12/4/16 update

Consumer Reports warns that liver damage due to supplements is on the rise.  Body-building and weight-loss supplements are responsible for half the cases of supplement-caused liver damage.

Most of the supplements contained multiple ingredients, so the researchers weren’t always able to pinpoint the harmful substance. In addition, dietary supplements are sometimes illegally spiked with prescription drugs or other ingredients that aren’t included on the label, making it even harder to identify the culprit, says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser.

Elite Test 360 / Ripped Muscle X; two scams in one

If the big kids have been kicking sand in your face at the beach, you may not want to resort to these products.

Customers filed 55 complaints against Elite Test 360 at the Better Business Bureau as of 6/18/16.  Sixteen of them are billing and collection issues that will sound familiar to buyers of LUX HD450 clip-on phone lenses.  What a coincidence that the two companies share the same post-office box in Del Mar, CA.

The BBB rates the Elite Test 360 company C+, calling their advertised claims “Unsubstantiated:”


The BBB contacted EliteTest360 in January 2014 in regards to health claims made on the company’s website as well as concerns with the company’s 14 day trial. The BBB requested that the company substantiate the health and result claims made on their website, however the business response failed to do so. … The company also claims that the 14 day trial is in compliance with Visa and MasterCard “Regulations”.


This company’s website looks very professional, until you start to read the copy.  I dislike profiling, but broken English seems to be a classic symptom of dubious Internet scams:


So, why not trying something that is already used and already proven to give what is made for?


Never mind all those words.  Just look at the abs on the man who drinks the stuff!  But wait — is he a real customer, or is he just a model, like LUX HD450’s laughing bearded man?  My Google image search found that this picture is up on Flickr for free downloads.  It’s also featured in websites for Formula T10, Power Pro Testosterone, Testosterone VT Pro, Nitric Oxide Boosters, Pro Factor T 2000 and more, as well as a few legitimate health advice websites and a lot of Instagram accounts.

Returning to Elite Test 360, toward the bottom of the page we learn that Ripped Muscle X is based on creatine — which is a real thing, but associated with multiple health risks if you overdo it.  If you still want to take creatine, a supplement needn’t be expensive.  Amazon, a reputable company, offers many of them; for example, well-rated MET Rx Creatine 4200.  A 240-tablet bottle sells for $7.36 plus shipping.

Or, you could click Buy Ripped Muscle X on the Elite Test 360 website and …

… end up at a website about HT Rush?

Talk about bait-and-switch!  I see several interesting avenues to explore here.

  • Is there such a product as Ripped Muscle X, or is it just a fiction to attract men who fear they lack the stamina for sex?
  • Did the company switch suppliers, and their IT department (remember we’re talking about a post-office box here) hasn’t yet caught up?
  • Maybe if I accept the HT Rush sample, they’ll allow me to buy the Ripped Muscle X I origianlly wanted?  What would I do then?  Mix them together?
  • Maybe the Elite Test 360 website has been hacked, and its Order button has been hijacked?

Let’s try the Buy Elite Test 360 button:

Well, dang — that button has been hijacked too!  Now they’re pushing Pure Testo Xplode.

I’m reluctant to explore this labyrinth any further.  If you have, let me know how it turned out.  Seriously!  Your experience doing business with this company and trying its products, whatever they turn out to be, is bound to be instructive; and sharing it would be a community service.  I absolutely promise not to laugh.


Further thought about this “hijacking” led me to a different conclusion.  Web scammers can form tightly-integrated cooperative networks.  When something happened to their ability to sell these particular products, the fake review sites made a coordinated switch to different products.  I’ll write more about scammer networks shortly.