By Anne Landman on July 11, 2011

"Trick of a Tiny Belly" adInternet users can't avoid those obnoxious, animated ads showing a cartoon woman with a flabby belly that shrinks, and then gets flabby again, over and over. The ad urges people to click to get "1 weird old tip" to help lose weight. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says the ads are really a three-part scam: First, people click on the ads and get taken to websites with names like "ConsumerOnlineTips.com" or "WeeklyHealthNews.com," that appear to be about dieting or health news. Next, those sites show an attractive TV reporter discussing the benefits of incorporating specific products made from berries, fruits or hormones, into the diet. The sites carry positive information about the products, supposedly from credible news sources like CNN, USA Today or ABC, and include brief "reader comments" extolling the virtues of the product. Those sites link to another site where people can order a "trial sample" of the featured product. But people who order the free sample find out later that they have actually agreed to pay $79.99 for an additional shipment of the product two weeks later, and another $79.99 for a shipment six weeks later, and so on until they cancel -- which apparently isn't easy. According to the FTC, the sites are a scheme to grab consumers' credit card information and pile on additional, unapproved charges. The ads have led to thousands of complaints of unauthorized charges. The FTC has filed multiple lawsuits against the people and companies behind the ads.

Comments

"Internet users can't avoid those obnoxious, animated ads..."

Um, we can, and do. I have never seen the one in question. I am always a bit disconcerted when I sit down at someone else's computer and see all the bouncy distracting "angry fruit salad" that appears all over otherwise useful websites thanks to advertisers.

AdBlock Plus is your friend. It knocks down online ads, and even better, it kills online user tracking by ad banner servers. It's free, look it up...

AdBlock Plus? Is that what you are selling, anonymous?

Yes, thank you very much

I doubt it. I too have Ad Block Plus and it's a Godsend. Don't be so skeptical. He was just offering some good advice. As am I. Take it or leave it.

disconcerted? AdBlock disables the functionality of many websites, doesn't block ads on a lot of websites, and it doesn't seem to kill user tracking as it claims. I suppose it's a nice notion, but there is no way to block all ads everywhere... and the more ads they do block, the more functionality it disables on websites you want to use. Ad blockers can only give their "best guess" as to what is an ad and what is not.

In anycase I came across this article after typing in "this one trick ads" into google. Maybe all these other ads spawned from the concept of this acai berry scam. It is sad to see so many ads using the same ploy... because it means it must work... which means our society is full of idiots.

They usually go like "Try this one old trick that insurance companies hate! Lower your insurance rates by 80%!"

Several components to this retarded type of advert.
1. There is a "trick" out there that you don't know of.. in other words "quick and easy"
2. This trick is "old" making it tried and true... somehow inspires confidence I guess?
3. "XXX" Company/Profession hates this "trick"... playing on people's desire to "stick it to the man"
4. Lower your rates by 80%... somehow people always fall for the most unbelievable scams... so naturally a more ridiculous number will work better than a believable one...

Sad to see that most of society is this stupid

I have seen variations on this ad on many sites and the grammatical error in the headline is always the same "One Trick _OF_ A Tiny Belly". Now it occurs to me that is probably to avoid outright fraud, since the ad's headline really doesn't say anything. If it said "FOR a Tiny Belly" the direct implication is made that a causal relationship exists between that result and the product advertised.