Skin cream ads on social media boast that their products are “better than Botox,” and they use impressive “before” and “after” images of a purported customer. The problem: The woman in the pictures didn’t give permission to use her image, and the pictures are from before and after her injections of actual Botox.
Janet D’Oliveira wasn’t shy about admitting that yep, she had injections of Botox, a medication that paralyzes muscles and can be used to relax facial wrinkles. She was proud of the results she got, and some online wrinkle cream sellers were impressed too.
Here’s the original video that is so popular with skin cream sellers:
They were so impressed that they stole her photos, KNBC reports. It was bad enough that they took pictures of her without her permission, but her backwards aging wasn’t the result of their products, and the companies that stole her image were free trial scams.
Regular readers may remember this particular scam, which pops up with different face cream or diet supplement brand names, but with the same basic form. You see a free trial advertised on Facebook or Instagram, and give the seller your credit card number.
However, the fine print describes how you’ve now committed to biweekly shipments of fresh face cream every two weeks into perpetuity if you don’t return the “free trial” products or cancel early enough.
“When you have really important terms and conditions of a sale, it’s the seller’s obligation to make sure it clearly informs the consumer about that,” Mary Engle from the Federal Trade Commission’s Advertising Practices division told KNBC. The sites typically require a few clicks to find the terms and conditions, and they’d probably be out of business if most people actually read those terms and conditions.
That’s one part of the scam, but the fake ads featuring Janet D’Oliveira are another matter. She’s been playing whack-a-mole with the ads featuring her face, having one set of ads taken down only to find a new one.
The consumer team at KNBC took her concerns to Facebook, which owns Instagram, and asked about the ads. In a statement, the company explained that its advertising team “processes millions of advertising images each week,” and that mistakes happen.
The latest batch of ads disappeared after the TV station shared her complaint, but a new round returned just two weeks later. Patrolling the internet for her own face will apparently be her job for a long time.