Doctor Trusted Scam
I am sure you have seen various seals and certificates on the sites you visit. They show that a site is secure, or that products on the site have been tested and evaluated. You’d think you could trust those seals and certificates. Scammers are always trying to find ways to take advantage of your trust.
Doctor Trusted and its owner Robert Vozdecky, also known as Bill Anderson, got caught running a bogus program that offered a “Doctor Trusted” certification that claimed that the products sold on websites with its seal were evaluated by doctors using their medical expertise.
“At Doctor Trusted™, our mission is help consumers find health-related businesses they can trust. With so much of deceptive advertising, scam products and unethical billing practices, visitors wonder whether a website is offering the right information, whether products are legitimate, and what their doctor would think. We help consumers answer these questions. (Editor: grammar errors were left in.)”
Here are the details of this scam and what happened to this company:
On the Doctor Trusted website they made many claims about how they would protect people.
What Does the Doctor Trusted™ Seal Mean to Consumers?
Doctor Trusted™ works to protect consumers from fraudulent and unethical business practices.
Seeing the Doctor Trusted™ seal means that the website in question:
- Makes reasonable health claims
- Has ethical billing practices
- Offers fair return policies
- Is cleared on due diligence
Doctor Trusted™ means that the visitor can trust that the website holds approval by an independent medical doctor, and that there are no concerns about the legitimacy of the product.
When it comes to shopping for health products and supplements, consumers worry whether the products they see are represented accurately. They also worry about whether a product is safe, and whether they can ask for a refund on an unsatisfactory product. Another important worry is whether an online purchase might result in unauthorized charges to a credit card.
Doctor Trusted™ alleviates all of these fears by recognizing ethical, trustworthy websites. The Doctor Trusted™ seal protects consumers from inaccurate representation, fraudulent claims, and unethical business practices. Every website holding the seal passes the Doctor Trusted™ Code of Conduct first, with evaluation by an independent medical doctor.
Consumers have access to several ways to verify the validity of a Doctor Trusted™ certificate. Every Doctor Trusted™ certificate incorporates security features, making it difficult to falsify. Consumers can be certain that a website with a seal upholds the ethical standards necessary for approval. To double-check the certificate’s validity, click on it and watch for the “DoctorTrusted.org” domain name to appear in the address bar. Additionally, validity can be confirmed using a QRC code scanner on any smartphone.
Doctor Trusted™ hires only medical doctors with a clean background check, ethical practices and no bias. Although the application process is open to every health-related website, only websites that meet the rigorous Code of Conduct receive the seal. We work with websites that need additional assistance to meet the standards necessary, but we never grant certification to a website that fails to meet standards.
Doctor Trusted™ ensures that every website continues to uphold the standards, even after certification is granted
Our certification process ensures that only ethical websites are accepted to our program.
1. The client applies for their website to be Doctor Trusted certified.
2. The application is reviewed by our research staff. We consider business performance details such as user complaints, customer product reviews, store reviews, and more to ensure that each business meets the Code of Conduct. Incomplete applications are sent back to the approval queue until the missing information is supplied.
3. A third-party doctor reviews the business’s website and conducts due diligence check and may request additional information from the applicant. If the website requires changes before approval, the we reach out to the client to request the changes.
4. Common changes include adding a refund policy, changing medical claims or adding FDA or FTC disclaimers.
5. Upon approval, we issue a Doctor Trusted seal and certificate via e-mail to be installed on the website.
6. Applications are rejected if the website and business fail to meet the Code of Conduct. Grounds for rejection include: extensive customer complaints, exaggerated medical claims, pseudoscientific claims, hidden billing schedules, unfair return policies, unsafe products, or selling prescription medications without a pharmacy license.
– Source Doctortrusted.org
Doctor Trusted Scam Reality
In reality, the seals and certificates were meaningless. They hired two freelance doctors who superficially reviewed the products on the websites.
- The products and services offered for sale on the websites with the Doctor Trusted certificate were not evaluated by doctors applying their medical expertise;
- The Doctor Trusted certification was not issued by a nonprofit consumer protection organization; and
- They did not continuously monitor a website’s fitness to display the Doctor Trusted seal and certificate.
The Doctor Trusted certificate was for sale. They offered two types of pricing models, a free 30-day trial as well as a standard registration. Under the free 30-day trial option, they provided customers with an invitation code that allowed them to use the service free for 30 days after certification. If customers continued the service, they charged a monthly fee of $39.95. Under the standard registration option, they charged $99.95 for the first month, with a subsequent monthly fee of $39.95. Total gross revenues from 2013 through October 2015 were approximately $575,000.
In addition, they operated a lifestyle blog and review websites that supposedly offered unbiased advice and information about various medical products, programs, health issues, and scientific breakthroughs: betterlivingjournal.org, prematurecures.com, and pheromonemen.info. In reality, these sites were advertising vehicles, and they received a commission whenever someone clicked on them or bought an advertised product.
Doctor Trusted Scam Outcome
This is a classic scam where they use the authority of a doctor to sell bogus products. The FTC figured out the scam they were running. Now they get to pay.
They have been ordered to do the following:
The defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting the extent to which medical or other expertise is used to evaluate a product; that defendants are a consumer protection or non-profit organization; and the frequency with which defendants evaluate, certify or review a product or service; and that any website or other publication is an independent resource for products or services.
The defendants also must disclose when the content of any website or other publication is not written by an objective source but is instead an ad or paid placement, as well as any material connection between themselves and any product or service being discussed, reviewed, or evaluated on a website or other publication. Finally, the order imposes a judgment of $603,588, which will be partially suspended upon the defendants’ payment of $35,000. – Source FTC
Don’t rely on a seal or a lifestyle blog alone when making decisions about whether to trust the quality and safety of health products. Do some research, and ask your doctor before taking dietary supplements that you find online or in a store.