Bathing suit time is thundering up the road. After a year comfortably concealed under roomy, forgiving, cold weather duds, is your body ready? If not and you’re considering purchasing a weight-loss product that claims dramatic results in a remarkably short time, you might want to take a look at a recent survey by the Federal Trade Commission. According to this report, in 2011 more than 5.1 million consumers purchased weight-loss products including skin patches, creams, wraps, earrings, appetite- suppressing eyeglasses, dietary supplements and non-prescription drugs that promised buyers they could easily lose excess poundage without diet or exercise.  These claims turned out to be dust in the wind for 2.1 percent of Americans. If you do the math and multiply that number by the pricey (sometimes-exorbitant) cost of those products, a lot of big bucks are also being thrown to the wind.

This report detailed 17 different kinds of scams, but the bogus weight-loss products were by far the biggest, more than double the amount in any other category.

The Internet roped in most scam victims. Forty percent of overall fraudulent product purchases were made online after product pitches by email and on social media, auction sites and classified ads.

Print advertising  (apparently it’s still alive), television and radio advertising were the next most popular mediums through which consumers learned about offers that turned out to be phony baloney.

Now that bikini weather is on the horizon, advertisers in the weight-loss biz will be working overtime, zeroing in on consumer’s dread of exposing their bodies in breezy, all-revealing summer clothes. At their most vulnerable, consumers will be tempted to solve their poundage problems with whiz-bang, magic bullets. So watch your wallets, lest you become a statistic in the FTC’s next survey on weight-loss product scams.

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