During the Olympics, the Zika virus came into its own. Kerri Walsh Jennings was only one of the US Olympians who wanted to be protected. In her case, Brazilian volleyball fans jeered her and April Ross with chants of, “Zika, Zika,” during their match against China. Other Olympians either stayed away from the games, left early, or chose their own remedies. All of this attention not only made millions of people aware of the mosquito-borne disease, but it also created the perfect opportunity for the Zika email scam.
The Zika email scam
Products offering to repel mosquitos are promoted via email, social media, and websites. The products themselves take many forms—patches, stickers, even wristbands. All of the products have one thing in common, they claim to prevent the disease by keeping the bugs away.
One product cures it all
From the earliest days of the snake oil salesmen, people have been selling miracle cures. Just like those old-time traveling salesmen, today’s online salesmen tout their product’s effectiveness against a wide variety of diseases.
Another thing that hasn’t changed since those early days is the use of testimonials. As we’ve seen time and again, testimonials are a far cry from scientific evidence and some big-time spokesmen have themselves inadvertently aided the scammers’ causes—even Dr. Oz.
The product will most likely be “all natural,” but this term really doesn’t mean much. After all, “all natural” does not necessarily equal safe.
Not the last rodeo
Even though the Federal Trade Commission warned online sellers to remove products which have not been scientifically proven to be effective, the scammers will not stop. You probably won’t see legitimate retailers selling questionable products, but there will be plenty of others.
The Zika virus is only the latest in a long series of these health-related scams. For now, you can avoid the Zika email scam by doing your homework before buying a product. If the product claims to be scientifically proven, go to the source. Quite often, the advertising will say something like “as seen in such-and-such journal.” However, when you go to the journal to check the reference, the item was never mentioned or it wasn’t mentioned in the same context as the ad.
For More Information
Learn more about finding a legitimate option to protect yourself against Zika and mosquitos in this article from the FTC. If you’re looking for ways to protect yourself or your family from mosquitos, you can get more information in this piece from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.