A Memory Boosting Pill? That News Story Is a Scam.


One of your favorite news sites has an exciting report about a new supplement that’s guaranteed to boost brain power, and improve memory and concentration—a kind of  “Viagra for the brain.” There’s even an impressive endorsement by Steven Hawking—or maybe one by Anderson Cooper. Just enter your credit card information and you’ll never forget a name again, right?


Don’t Fall for the Fake News About Memory Pills

According to Andrew Johnson, a consumer education specialist at the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are building fake websites that look like your trusted news sites to fool you into buying phony cures—a miraculous memory pill that’s at the cutting edge of medicine.

The “news” stories on these sites really are fake news—they use so-called quotes from trustworthy figures like news personalities, and scientific or medical experts. They make wild claims about the pills’ effectiveness backed by nonexistent studies or no evidence at all. And they provide links so that you can buy the pills yourself.

The spoofed news sites link you to the sales page for the product—which no legitimate news site would ever do. Once you’re on that page, it’s tempting and easy to place an order with a credit or debit card.

You could lose more than just your money. Besides stealing your credit or debit card information and possibly your identity, the people selling these fake “cures” could misrepresent the ingredients they contain and use ones that may be harmful to you.

There is no such thing as a miraculous memory supplement. Before you hit Submit on any online transaction involving a miracle cure (whether it’s for memory loss, weight gain, sleep or any other issue) run it by your doctor—or at least Google the name. It’s likely to come up on one of the sites that tracks scams, such as And if glowing reviews come up, that’s another reason not to trust it.

How to Spot a Fake Website

You might receive a link to one of these fake news sites in any number of ways:

In an email, even from someone you know

Via social media  a networking platform like Facebook, in a chat session, in public comments on a forum, through a Skype message, or even in a blog post. And you could see a link to one of these fake news stories on a legitimate website that runs ads.

On the internet, prevention is the best medicine. This site has some good tips for spotting phony or spoofed websites (hint, a typo when you type in a website address can lead to a spoofed site, so always look for https:// – the “S” means it’s secure).

Google searches alone may not yield helpful information, since scamsters also load up fake positive stories on other fake websites to confuse or discourage investigation.

If You’ve Already Paid a Scammer

There’s still hope:

  • Call the card company immediately
  • Alert them to the fraudulent charge right away
  • Ask if you are still eligible to get your money back
  • Ask if you should get a new card with a new number to prevent more fraudulent charges
  • Report the scam to the FTC


Have you ever been scammed online? Share your experience in the comments below and help someone else avoid the next scam!


10 responses to “A Memory Boosting Pill? That News Story Is a Scam.

  1. Still happening. Television ads for NeuroQ (the main ingredient is phosphatidylserine) making credible claims about memory enhancement. Web search pulls up countless pages claiming to “debunk the scam,” but really leading you to affiliate marketing sales pages. Deceptive and underhanded in the extreme. Do not be taken in by any claims about any supplements, especially those being marketed on the internet by shady websites or on television by “world renowned neurologists” and other such nonsense.

  2. Great article; I work in computer / Internet [State of Arizona WIC office] and almost fell for one of these. I found this page while using GOOGLE to find more about brain pills used by Bill Gates FAKE WEBSITE and you were absolutely correct the ‘link’ took me directly to a page to buy.
    Keep putting out good information; I’ll be adding your home page to my favorites!

  3. I was scammed Big Time trying to buy one bottle of CBD Oil and they charged my credit card $120.00 for five bottles and I only wanted one. Well they were like ghost’s in the Night!! could not find ANY INFO so I called my CC and filed a claim. When the product arrived I just left it alone waiting for my CC to give me feedback but I got pissed, opened the box and opened one of the bottles. To my dismay there was NO OIL in the bottle, it was all crystallized!!! Finally my CC company reimbursed me.

  4. i have arthritis all over my body and have purchased medical marijuana which I hoped would help more than the narcotics and surgery that the allopathic system keeps giving me. could you please do an article on marijuana for seniors. two products I already bought did not give me any help.

  5. Now I’m concerned. I ordered a 6 month supply of MINAXIL based on the ad in the Miami Herald. Isn’t there anything that can be done about these companies that sell these fake pills. I’m a 77 year old widow and can’t afford to pay for fake pills I notice that provasil has this phosphatidylserine listed as an ingredient also.

    1. I asked the company, and they pointed me to a study published in 1991 that appears to have involved at least one researcher from Stanford. The study was testing a lipid called phosphatidylserine, that was extracted from cow brains. This preparation is now banned, and therefore should not be an ingredient in Minaxil. Apparently, you can extract phosphatidylserine from other sources, such as soy, but the data with the soy version are inconsistent and not nearly as promising as the studies using cow brain phosphatidylserine. What’s more, looking at their website, I noticed that the label doesn’t even name phosphatidylserine, just a bunch of herbs and nutrients! So I went back to the company, and their reply was that they forgot to include phosphatidylserine in their label. How can you “forget” to include the main active ingredient that you write a sensational advertisement about in your label?! Sounds highly suspicious to me.

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