I bought a fake Ozempic shot online and it nearly killed me – here’s how top spot weight loss drug…

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EXCLUSIVEI bought a fake Ozempic shot online and it nearly killed me – here’s how top spot weight loss drug scams READ MORE: Now doctors are warning against ‘Ozempic tongue’ By Nicholas Fearn For Dailymail.Com Published: 23:43 BST, 9 June 2024 | Updated: 00:28 BST, 10 June 2024 e-mail 5 View comments A diabetic woman who was forced to buy Ozempic online due to a shortage of the drug has revealed how she fell victim to a scam that could have killed her. Lexi Ortanez, 26, purchased the product from someone who claimed they were connected to the medical industry, but she immediately realized something was off when the package arrived. ‘When I opened the box up, it didn’t look or feel right. The packaging felt flimsy, and the pen looked quite different from the one I had been using,’ she told DailyMail.com. It turned out to be an insulin pen, which Ortanez said could have been fatal if she injected herself with it because even tiny doses can lead to diabetic shock. Her story is just one of many as criminals use the rocketing demand for Ozempic and Wegovy for money making schemes, which also including stealing patient data. Lexi Ortanez, 26, told DailyMail.com she was forced to search for Ozempic online when the drug’s stock ran out at the height of the boom fell victim to scam that could’ve cost her life The cybersecurity company McAffee has identified a staggering 176,871 phishing emails and 449 risky websites advertising counterfeit goods this year alone. ‘Realizing that I had almost injected myself with the wrong substance, thinking it was Ozempic, was terrifying and could have been fatal,’ said Ortanez. ‘It’s really scary to think about what could have happened if [my mother and I] hadn’t done a careful double-check. ‘Even if someone is desperate to find Ozempic, it’s not worth risking your life.’ Read More Revealed: Number of American CHILDREN who are taking Ozempic and other weight loss drugs Bad actors are offering the discounted obesity drugs without a prescription – and some are even cheaper when customers pay using cryptocurrency. Along with fake websites and phishing emails, cybercriminals are also using popular websites like Facebook and Craigslist to spread weight loss treatment scams. Scammers have created fake profiles to advertise discounted drugs on Facebook Marketplace, with many fooling unsuspecting shoppers by claiming to have surplus stock or foreign Ozempic alternatives requiring no prescriptions. The shots for sale on the social media platform range from $0 to $500 for a one-month supply – and anyone can find them with a quick search. Her story is just on of many as new data from Antivirus maker McAfee shows that criminals are using the Ozempic and Wegovy demands to steal money and personal information from victims. Pictured are off-brand shots being sold on Facebook Marketplace Scammers have created fake profiles to advertise discounted drugs on Facebook Marketplace, with many fooling unsuspecting shoppers by claiming to have surplus stock or foreign Ozempic alternatives requiring no prescriptions DailyMail.com found several off-brand injections on the website, along with reviews that confirmed the sellers’ products are fake. Cybercrooks have even pretended to be doctors to improve the authenticity of their scams. For example, one scammer claimed to be a ‘Doctor Melissa’ from Canada and advertised non-prescription Mounjaro and Ozempic treatments on Facebook Marketplace. Customers were asked to pay using non-traditional methods such as Bitcoin, Zelle, Venmo and Cash App, which McAfee described as a major ‘red flag.’ Craigslist is not only touting fake shots but also offering people money to join an Ozempic study. In April, researchers detected 207 Ozempic scams had been posted on the classified advertisements site within just 24 hours. This proves victims are ‘more susceptible’ to website-based weight loss scams, MacAfee researchers said. McAfee only uncovered a Telegram channel promoting a weight loss scam in March, which increased from 13,362 to 15,599 members within a matter of weeks. Abhishek Karnik, head of threat research at McAfee, told DailyMail.com that people may encounter these scams after typing phrases like ‘weight loss solutions’ into social media platforms, and they are also prevalent on messaging apps. Victims are often deceived by ‘seemingly positive’ user reviews that are typically ‘fabricated,’ he warned. McAfee identified a staggering 176,871 phishing emails and 449 risky websites advertising counterfeit goods in just the first four months of this year ‘As these people seek more information, they are gradually lured into the scam, and with each channel possibly having thousands of subscribers, the potential scale of these scams is tremendous.’ According to Karnick, there are three main factors behind the rise of weight loss scams – the first capitalizes on the popularity and shortage of Ozempic. ‘This has created a perfect storm for scammers, who see an opportunity to exploit people desperate for the drug by offering counterfeit versions or alternatives that may not meet safety standards,’ he explained. The second sees crooks target people looking to ‘bypass the conventional medical system for reasons of convenience or cost’ by offering non-prescription drugs. They even deceive users by ‘masquerading as legitimate online pharmacies or resellers.’ Finally, because these drugs can cost as much as $1000 per month, many people are scouring the web in search of cheaper alternatives — which scammers claim to offer. Karnick said cyber criminals use fake online reviews to make deals look ‘more trustworthy’ and ‘financially advantageous.’ ‘Unfortunately, this also leads to people being deceived by seemingly reliable sellers purporting to offer the drug at what these people believe to be bargain prices,’ he continued. Many of these fake reviews are developed with AI tools, which Karnick said also boosts ‘the scale, effectiveness and speed of scams.’ ‘These scammers are dedicated opportunists who can pivot quickly when an opportunity – like heightened interest in weight loss drugs like Ozempic – rises, to meet consumers where their interest is,’ he explained. In April, researchers detected 207 Ozempic scams posted within just 24 hours. This proves victims are ‘more susceptible’ to website-based weight loss scams, MacAfee researchers argued DailyMail.com found several off-brand injections on the website, along with reviews that confirmed the sellers’ products are fake ‘They may use a range of digital platforms and techniques to reach potential victims, spread the word about fraudulent offers and gather personal information from victims.’ Falling for one of these scams can severely impact the ‘finances, health and wellbeing’ of victims, said Karnick. He explained that the financial losses can range ‘from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per transaction’, with scammers ranking in millions on Telegram alone. Additionally, victims risk losing sensitive personal information like health details to cyber criminals, he said. This can result in ‘additional fraud and identify theft.’ But aside from financial and personal data loss, the McAfee researchers has warned there are ‘serious health risks.’ ‘Scammers often market these drugs without a prescription’ and bypass ‘safety checks’, potentially ‘causing harm,’ he explained. ‘In extreme cases, they can negatively affect the user’s health – a real risk since unauthorized sellers typically do not disclose potential side effects and may sell products that have not undergone safety testing,’ continued Karnick. ‘It is important for consumers to understand that prescription medications should only be purchased through trusted providers, with a prescription, and any claims that seem too good to be true likely are.’ Craigslist is another popular website for these scams, which is not only touting fake shots but also offering people money to join an Ozempic study. Victims of weight loss scams should report financial losses to their bank, block their credit cards and file a crime report To avoid such scams, Karnick said people should only purchase weight loss treatments with a prescription from ‘a trusted, licensed medical provider’. Other tell-tale signs include products advertised on platforms Craigslist and Telegram, sellers who ask for cryptocurrency payments, as well as discounts that are ‘too good to be true,’ he said. Victims of weight loss scams should report financial losses to their bank, block their credit cards and file a crime report, he adds. Jake Moore, global cybersecurity at antivirus provider ESET, has also witnessed an uptick in scammers capitalizing on the Ozempic craze. ‘Scammers will target any new fashion or trend in the hope to catch people out who are new to the idea,’ he told DailyMail.com He has advised careful due diligence prior to buying a weight loss drug but admitted this can sometimes be hard. ‘It remains very difficult for people to research into a brand or account on social media sites and they may even have similar branding to legitimate companies,’ concluded Moore. ‘It is therefore vital that people make sure they buy from reputable and genuine sites and do their research into the companies fully before handing over their sensitive and financial information.’ Share or comment on this article: I bought a fake Ozempic shot online and it nearly killed me – here’s how top spot weight loss drug scams e-mail Add comment

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