By Bill Kahn, Series Contributor -Scams, Frauds and Cons

The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” was once pretty much true, but not anymore. Words that denote a scam can now do serious damage to your health and wallet. Snake Oil salesmen were the scammers of old and the elixir they sold probably contained a lot of alcohol, which made the buyer feel better. There wasn’t a lot of media to talk about their product, but times have changed.

Then, there were newspapers of sorts and information flyers. Today, the media is so prolific that information can move around the globe in a fraction of a second. In some case it is so uncontrolled that a lie can take on a life of its own life.

When the drug Penicillin and a host of vaccine such as Polio and Smallpox were discovered, the media were ablaze with “Scientific Breakthrough,” “Revolutionary” and “Miracle Drug.” The public certainly did not obtain that information through advertisements, emails or websites. Today, those media contain a whole host of products that use words that convey Scams, Frauds or Cons.

In a recent newspaper advertisement, the headlines screamed [Breakthrough “Antioxidant” Diabetic Drink Hailed “A Miracle”]. It then went on to state there were eleven more aliments it could relieve. Later in small print the advertisement stated, “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.” Have you seen the media ablaze with this wonder product, I think not! The “Snake Oil” salesmen are alive and well, just using a different media to put out their message.

Typical words that indicate Scams-Frauds-Cons include: Active Remedy, Amazing, Ancient Remedy, Breakthrough, Confidential Information, Developed by Doctors, Exclusive Product, Guarantee, Insider, Miracle, Miraculous, Money-Back Guarantee, Never Before Revealed,New Discovery, Newly Discovered Treatments, No-Risk, Not Easily Obtained, Processing Fees, Registration Fees, Revolutionary, Safe/All-Natural, Secret , Sensational, Smart Drugs, Special Diets, Uncorrupted Truth,Western Union Transfer, Wire Transfer.

You will see these words especially used for weight loss, anti-aging, skin conditioners and health aids. The term “all natural” is used often to imply safety. Consider that Arsenic is “all natural.” Also, most of the products that use those words have not gone through rigorous unbiased testing, if tested at all, and you could be the test guinea pig. Infomercials whether on TV or the Internet, proclaiming, “not sold in stores” is potentially the giveaway of a con or at least a “gotcha.”

When you see these words, the safest thing to do is run! Some of the companies that use these words want you to buy an untested product; others just plain rip you off. Since you might not want to remember a lot of words, a good rule is not to take any action if you are contacted by an unknown person or company via: mail, email, through social media, in person, telephone or fax. Although, you might miss an opportunity, you will stay safe.

Bill Kahn

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