This article is based on the AskReddit question “What scam (legal) is still operating that you can’t believe people are buying into?”
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
1. Weight loss cures!
So many people I know believe a package of powder mix is their magic weight loss cure! It seems it’s always a coworker that sells it, she will befriend you and ask you out for coffee. Then when you go, she starts in on her sell.
One day at work, a coworker stopped me to mention that she noticed I drink smoothies, and if I knew that I should drink them within 10 minutes of making them because the protein powder expires and would not be useful. I replied I use REAL FOOD in my smoothies… not a package of magical powder mixed with water, so I’m good. Pretty sure my spinach won’t expire!
2. Skinny tea
“Oh but it really does make me less bloated the next day!” No, it will make you less bloated because you’re drinking a laxative and have nothing in your bowels every day!
The thing that gets me though is they say it only works if you pair it with healthy eating and exercise. Funny.
3. Going out of business forever
Going out of business sales for Furniture store/mattress stores/used car lots. There is a mattress store near me that has been going out of business for the last 15 years.
4. Organic cleansing drinks
Your intestines naturally clean themselves by shedding epithelium the equivalent of a tennis court worth of surface area every few days. How do I know this? Cancer research biologist and my lab focused on colorectal cancer.
5. The roofing industry and insurance companies
Roofing company charges $6000 for shingles that cost $1200 at Lowes, it’s billed straight to insurance, insurance pays it, then raises your rates. I even had one con artist roofer try to tell me that the Owens Corning shingles contractors use are “contractor grade” and the ones at Lowes are lower quality. So I called Owens Corning, they confirmed that they only have one line of shingles. The whole roofing industry is a scam. And no, most insurance companies won’t let you purchase the same exact shingles yourself from Lowes and provide them to the roofing company.
6. Enlargement pills
Anything (pill, pump, one crazy trick) that promises to grow your junk. If any of that stuff even kind of worked, it would have a whole aisle in Walmart already.
7. Poor grandfather
When my grandfather had his stroke he couldn’t do much but watch tv all day. These commercials always suckered him in because he wasn’t mentally competent. My aunt let him spend tons of money on this stuff because it made him happy. My mom told her to just let him open the same package over and over because he literally couldn’t tell the difference. My aunt found that offensive for some reason. I thought it was a good idea. When he died he left all his coins to me because I collect coins too. It was heartbreaking going through the box and seeing all the things he was conned into buying. Things like Susan B Anthony dollars sealed in Mylar bags. They’re worth… one dollar. How much did he pay for them? No idea. Also some $20 rolls of presidential dollars. The kinds you can get at a bank for $20, but he probably paid over $100 for them. Worst of all are the “proofs” you describe. The infamous “clad in 99.9999% gold… that’s four nines!” Well, I actually have one. What they don’t tell you is that it’s illegal for them to mint exact replicas of any US coin. So to get around that they stamp COPY right on the coin. You don’t see that in the commercial because of a technicality. But look at what you actually get. It’s a travesty.
8. Tow lots
It’s not that people “buy into” them, just that the way they operate is legal and you have no choice.
You car gets towed Friday night and they’re closed Saturday and Sunday, but they charge you for each of those days when you pick your car up Monday?
Not to mention how much they charge. If you don’t have savings, your car getting towed means you no longer have a car for a lot of people.
9. Anything medical in Goop
I don’t think I’ve heard one sane medical professional agree with any of the advice that is dolled out. It just seems like a HUGE scam that is eventually going to come crashing down on her sooner or later.
10. The whole glasses industry
The frames you pay $150 for cost the store like 12, and the high end Tiffany’s and Tom Ford ones that go for $350-500 most MAX $45-50. Lens prices are hyper-inflated too. They get away with it because Luxottica had a monopoly on pretty much the entire industry from manufacturing to retail to insurance.
11. Pooper-scoopers aiming system
For example, every time I witness my next-door neighbor’s dog take a huge dump in my yard (which they do nothing about), I go get my pooper-scooper, the one I use for my dog.
The problem happens when I try to launch it into the trash can, and the aiming system somehow gets all messed-up, and their dog’s poop seems to always land right in the middle of the pool in their backyard.
Every. Damn. Time.
Pooper-scoopers need to recalibrate their aiming systems.
Someone could get hurt.
12. Phone call scams
Phone calls saying they need to talk to you about your computer, credit cards or student loans or saying you won some big prize and they just need some info.
13. Fancy water
“This water is harvested from the springs of (insert exotic place) and was filtered using reverse osmosis to give you a healthy experience for mind, body, and soul.”
And it still tastes like tap water.
14. Yellow pages
This is how it works, a business gets a pamphlet in the mail that says something like “confirm your information” and it has a little yellow pages logo on it (the fingers walking publicly available for free use) so most people go alright put in their business info and sign it. Then a couple weeks later they get an invoice for something like 300 dollars for listing services and a lot of companies will just pay it without thinking. But the ones that refuse to pay of course get very upset and try and cancel their listing but they have to go through several hoops to do so. The United States postal service tried to take a lot of the companies down for mail fraud but they ended up losing against the companies.
15. Ticket resellers
I recently looked for tickets for a certain band. If you buy from the band or the venue, the tickets are $36. If you buy from one of the ads at the top of the google search, they are $69. Also, you can get “better seating” for $100+. It’s a punk show! There’s no seating! I never click on the ad results, but somehow, I did this time.
16. That juicer thing
Its currently selling for 400$. It only juices pods sold by the company, won’t juice them if they’re even a day expired, and won’t work unless it’s connected to the Internet. Though I’m not sure if anyone’s buying into it, the fact that it’s staying afloat somehow is baffling me.
17. State lotteries
I can’t believe this wasn’t already the top answer.
First, they took over the illegal, predatory numbers game from the mob and gave it a new name. Then they made the odds of winning even more remote. Then they got a bunch of impoverished gambling addicts to hand over the money their families actually need…every single day. Then they dumped almost all of the revenue it generates into lottery administration/advertising, while lying that the money goes to help schools (it doesn’t, but even if it did…seems like a pretty fucking regressive way to pay for the most basic of services that everyone deserves and ought to help pay for).
18. Companies declaring bankruptcy
They do it in order to shed Union and pension responsibilities. The workers lose their benefits then get an extra helping of strife from everyone else for “being greedy.
19. Early access video games
People are scrambling to buy these games, then sit frustrated in forums going “ITS EARLY ACESS ITS NOT DONE YET!” in defense of something they know just isn’t true. It’s like an abusive relationship.
20. Door-to-door knife salesman
I can’t remember the name of the knives but there’s a recruitment company called vector that basically trains you to become a door to door salesman for knives. You buy a set for like $300 or something ridiculous and then sell the knives for a profit and pay the company back. Except if you don’t pay them back in time they charge interest or something? They tried to recruit me because a friend listed me as a reference which apparently means the friend signed me up to call after call about coming in to orientation.
21. Weight loss pills
My cousin (God bless her ambitious soul) is a product of a negligent father and obese mom, so she did become overweight. When she realized that what she’s doing is wrong, she’s trying to reverse it. Maybe she’s trying to take a shortcut, but it’s not working.
22. Temp agencies
It isnt temp work. Its full time work disguised as temp for slave drivers to steal 30% of your paycheck indefinitely. If nobody went to temp agencies they would fold and employers would have to actually hire people and follow labor laws.
23. The “White Van Speaker Scam”
A couple of guys pull up to you in a parking lot, claim they double-ordered a big-ticket item, and they’ll sell it cheap right then and there in order to keep their boss from finding out. It’s usually some sound system they claim to be worth a ridiculous amount of money, and they’ll often go through the trouble of putting an outrageous MSRP sticker on the box to back that claim. In reality, it’s the cheapest Chinese junk they could find.
People fall for this all the time, and there’s no recourse. The company doesn’t exist – at least not how they present it, and the “invoice” they give you is fake. Ironically, they are usually actual authorized dealers who do everything else by-the-book. They just grossly misrepresent the products they sell.
24. Penny Auction sites
You “win” an iPad for only $3.27! (not including cost of bids). The concept is you buy 100 bids for $50 then the price of the item is incremented by a penny for each bid, so 100 people spend $50 and lose, one lucky person spends .50 cents + the $3.27 winning bid, while the site collects $5003.87 for an iPad.
25. College textbooks
I just spent 156 dollars on a book for linear algebra that I will never have an assignment out of, and that contains the same information that every linear algebra textbook has contained for the last 50 years. Here’s the kicker though… it comes with a sign in code to Pearson’s MyMathLab which we need to complete the online homework in class, so we were forced to by this shitty textbook we will never use for an id and password so that we can be graded online.
26. Automated bots
You know those automated bots that pretend to be some popular Youtuber that try to lead people to a site that claims to gives you stuff like free steam games? Those bots are still up and running, but aren’t too common.
Don’t understand how Youtube isn’t doing much to stop those bots. What’s worse is the verification tag that certain Youtubers get show they are the real person. Still doesn’t stop people from getting their accounts stolen.
27. Paycheck cashing companies
Personally the idea of giving someone a percentage of my check so I can cash it instead of going to a bank two blocks over seems ridiculous. I get that not everyone can open a bank account, but anyone with an ID can cash a check at the bank that the check is drawn on.
28. “Debt-relief companies”
Especially the student loan ones that will charge you $600/month so they can call your servicer, pretend they’re you, and put your loans in forbearance. In the mean time, they pocket your cash and your loan balance grows.
29. Multi level marketing scheme
They draw you in with pictures of people with great teeth standing next to their lambs and private jest. It all starts with some stranger asking you about your dreams, mentions some “mentor” or how they’re “entrepreneurs” (they aren’t) and how they “started a business” (they didn’t), and they will eventually ask you for a coffee and make you listen to them NOT explain a damn thing.
Long story short, whenever a stranger approaches me and starts asking me about my “hopes and dreams” out of the blue, I automatically assume they’re about to ask me to join them for coffee sometimes to talk about some opportunity”.
30. Buy/ use teeth aligners directly
It’s a service advertising itself as a cheaper alternative to invisalign, where you skip the ortho/dentist and buy aligners directly. They send you a kit to take your own dental impressions and some pictures, it’s “approved” by their own dentist, and they mail you your trays. No x rays, no exam, no attachments on the teeth for the trays to lock on to. There are so many potential ways to fuck up your mouth doing this, if you can even get much movement at all! Idk how the ADA hasn’t come put and said anything against it, but I just heard that align tech bought out smile direct club so who knows what’s really going on.