How to avoid supplement scam

This post was updated in November 2017 to ensure accuracy and relevancy.


Everybody looking for a testosterone boosting supplements or stack is going to encounter one or another form of supplement scam – sooner or later.
Why? There is a lot of money to make in the supplement industry. There are customers willing to pay a lot for having their problems solved. Unfortunately there will be always unscrupulous manufacturers and vendors trying to take advantage of the unaware users.
However there are some precautions you can take to avoid unpleasant surprises:

Read negative testimonials

If the products isn’t sold on Amazon – check bodybuilding forums. Of course there will be a lot of positive reviews, some of them fake, some other real but intended to encourage you to buy the product. Some negative reviews are OK if there is money back guarantee.

When buying the product make sure to be eligible for the money back guarantee. I don’t understand why someone would spend 60 USD for a supplement on Amazon WITHOUT money back guarantee if the same product is available for the same price from the manufacturer WITH a money back guarantee. Still it happens all the time.

Avoid products with secret formulas…

…undisclosed contents, etc. There is a body of scientific research regarding the most ingredients used in testosterone boosting stacks. If all active components are listed on the packaging, you can do your own research (e.g. on Wikipedia) and decide if you want to spend your money and try the supplement. In case there is no list what’s inside, you have to trust blindly the manufacturer.

Some supplements contain a list of the ingredients but without disclosed amounts. It usually reads like “proprietary formula containing ingredient 1, ingredient 2”, and so on. It’s not as bad as undisclosed ingredients but you’re still unable to check if the amounts are sufficient to deliver what the manufacturer promises.

There is also another flavor to the secret formula problem. This time it’s an outright scheme. Advertisements claim that the supplement contains ingredients not listed on the packaging. If you see a difference between promised and real ingredients – spend your money on something else.

Be careful of free samples

A legitimate offer is the money back guarantee. You pay for the supplement and if it doesn’t work for you, you get your money back. The price of the product reflects the fact that some purchases will be reimbursed. And that’s fine, you pay for the results.

A free trial is an entirely different animal. How does the free trial scam work? The first delivery is claimed as free, but only if the customer cancels the order in a short time frame. Otherwise the customer is enrolled in a subscription and subsequent deliveries follow at a very steep price. And sometimes the customer is charged even for the first “free” product sample.

Always check if you are ordering a single free shipment only, or a whole lot of shipments from which only one is free (or not free). Sometimes this information is “conveniently” hidden at the bottom of the page.

You can also check the company or product name on the websites Better Business Bureau or Ripoff Report.

In my experience free trials too often resemble a bait. If you need to enter your credit card details to pay for “shipment only”, be warned. If possible I’d rather recommend buying a supplement with sound return policy. Which leads us to a…

Complicated return policy

Another story are tricky return conditions hidden deeply into the return policy. When ordering make sure that you’ll be entitled to the reimbursement. Even legitimate companies request the users to buy more than one bottle in order to be elligible for return. The reason is simple – accepting returns costs money so the vendor grants this right only to customers buying bigger supplies.

Another point to keep in mind are the additional conditions like returning empty bottles as a prerequisite for the money back guarantee. This is often overlooked and annoys users, however there are justified reasons for some of the conditions. The vendor prevents this way scammers from ordering supplements, selling them on Ebay or on Craigslist and using the money-back guarantee.

In some cases to take advantage of the return policy you have to call the company. Write down the e-mail address and phone number of the customer service for future reference.

Avoid worthless upsells

Upselling is a technique used to sell more products to the same customer. Sometimes the upsell is legitime, e.g. the merchant suggests complementary product (even Amazon does it).

However sometimes upsells are worthless. The shpil goes usually the following way: you get a “free” magazine to your supplement purchase (or to your free trial). Both the supplement and the magazine turn out to be recurring subscriptions (with an opt-out) you didn’t know about. Before you find it out, your credit card is charged for the supplement and for the magazine or whatnot.

Look out for dangerous ingredients

Some substances have unpleasant or simply dangerous side effects which has led to a ban on them (e.g. ephedrine). They may work, but the effects come at a price. Like damaging your kidneys or liver. Sounds ugly? No need to ruin your health if there are other supplements available on the market. And boy, there is a hell of a lot of legal and safe supplements. Do you due diligence and read the ingredients list, keeping in mind our warning about secret ingredients.

A lighter version of this problem are artificial ingredients like Red 40. They could be replaced with their natural counterparts, e.g. beet root juice. If you’d like to keep your supplements as natural as possible, read the ingredients lists.

Check the country of origin

…or the country of sourcing, both for the supplement and its ingredients. There have been cases of contaminated ingredients manufactured in countries with different standards of quality like Vietnam or China. Sometimes a very appealing price and a “cheap” or undisclosed country of origin mean that the whole product is counterfeit / a fake. Probably everybody has already read about counterfeit erectile dysfunction medication made of brick dust and blue paint.

Be careful of false testimonials

Some manufacturers take a huge shortcut and let celebrities endorse their products, claiming that the looks or muscles of the celebrity in question are the effect of the supplement. Recently I have seen the before and after pictures of Dr. Jeffry Life as “John from Maryland” in an scammy advertisement of a weight loss supplement. Another version of this kind of scam is buying before and after pictures of people who have recently lost weight and using it to advertise products they even haven’t been close to 🙂


Be careful, use your own brain and do your due diligence to avoid supplement scam. If you need to – ask in the Internet (e.g. on a forum). Do not experiment with your health to save a few pennies. And you’ll be fine!

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