Via Coffee Loving Skeptic– The laziest example of peddling snake-oil I have ever seen.

See, normally when people are scamming desperate people for money, the scammers put in quite a bit of effort on the front end, concocting a story for why their ‘alternative treatment’ is so fabulous.  A good back-story can up your profit by orders of magnitude.

Its not a bottle of tap water… Its the tears of a crying statue of the Virgin Mary!

Its not a tuning fork… Its a sacred Cherokee  instrument forged in the fires of Mount Doom to vibrate at the same resonance as the Universe!

Its not not a crushed ‘Centrum Chewable Vitamin for Kids’… Its a secret recipe of life-giving vitamins and minerals passed down for generations from Cleopatra in Ancient Egypt that BIG PHARMA DOESNT WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT.

But this group of folks put ZERO EFFORT into their scam.  ZERO. They went to the grocery store, bought some bottles of regular ol Goya olive oil and some black currant drink, said the pastor or reverend or whatever blessed it, and sold it for 2X what the grocery store charged them.

They didnt even put it into fancy bottles or anything.

ITS STILL IN THE ORIGINAL GROCERY STORE PACKAGING.

Reporter with his PRICELESS 'cures'

Apparently they put all their effort into the sell:

It was the speed of it all which surprised me most – just 15 minutes earlier I had entered a church seeking guidance over a sick uncle and now I was being offered a miracle cure.

But after a few minutes the conversation quickly took a turn, despite me explaining that I had no strong religious views and certainly never mentioning I was looking for a miracle cure, I was told unequivocally that if I bought the blackcurrant squash on offer in the church shop it would cure my uncle’s cancer.

Now that theyve been caught, the pastor is bawwing about how pious he and his flock are, and how they arent hurting anyone, and gosh, they didnt know they were breaking any laws, blah blah… Except theyve been caught pulling this exact same stunt before.  No one is buying it:

I respect that people are free to pursue their own beliefs but felt that in a vulnerable position I was offered the guarantee of a miracle cure in a bid to get me into the church.

Encouraging people to part with their cash promising a quick fix for a savage illness seems wrong, irrespective of belief. There are laws against it for a reason – to protect people when they feel at their most vulnerable.

Its not just about them turning a profit by selling a miracle cure of garbage at 14 pounds (~$22).  Of course, you need more than one bottle for this ‘cure’ to work, two a week, so, $44 a week.  Cancer treatment (or death from cancer) can last months to years.  All the while, the victim and their family are attending the church, donating what, 10% of their income?  If the patient lives, All Praise to Jesus (and the miracle cure), and the church gets a lifetime of 10% $$$.  If the patient dies, then we have a funeral to throw, at the church, for another hefty fee. Thank God the church is there to comfort the family (again, a lifetime of 10% $$$).

To make matters worse, according to the reporter, theyre scamming people “in the middle of one of Manchester’s most deprived communities”.

Lazy, lazy, lazy hucksterism.  But no less nefarious than more elaborate schemes.

Comments

  1. #1 Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic
    August 20, 2012

    Thanks for re-posting and discussing this. I found it utterly reprehensible.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    August 20, 2012

    ITS STILL IN THE ORIGINAL GROCERY STORE PACKAGING.

    That’s the truly facepalm-worthy part of this story. Basically, the church nets GBP 8 per 1.5 liters (assuming they pay the retail price; I imagine they could get a quantity discount without too much effort) for blessing the bottles, and they don’t even bother to mix the stuff–that’s up to the patient.

    That, and the fact that they’re pulling this scam in a country which has an at least halfway civilized health care system. I don’t know what the UK NHS charges for prescription copayments (or even if they have any), but I don’t think it’s significantly more than the cost of this “treatment” (which is presumably not covered by NHS).

  3. #3 Bob Powers
    Tulsa, OK
    August 20, 2012

    Here in Oklahomer, the reddest of the red states, we have right here in Tulsa-town, a magical-mystery-cure from none other than god-healer Oral Roberts himself.

    Or we did, back in the 70′s or so. ORU (his private “university”… who needs effing accreditation anyway?) was selling magical-mystery water from the Jordan river (yes that one, in the middle east).

    It was allegedly supposed to cure what ailed you– (assuming what ailed you was having too much money to spend, and it actually did cure that ailment)

    – it was magical water from the magical river Jordan, right?

    Well… not so much, as it turned out? Only a few thousands of a percent of the water was from that river–the rest was tap water…

    ….!!!

    Yeah, when the truth came out, they had to pay a hefty fine.

    …but…

    Did they have to give back all the money they’d scammed?

    Nope. Oral continued to ride in a fancy limousine… still does.

  4. #4 jmtz
    August 21, 2012

    Well even at the jacked up prices…this stuff is probably less expensive than hiring Deepak to heal you with advice about you and your negative thoughts are the cause of your illness and the only medicine you need is positive thinking.
    If you can’t afford the real thing…you can get free Deepak Wisdom here….
    http://www.wisdomofchopra.com/

    About the site….

    “It has been said by some that the thoughts and tweets of Deepak Chopra are indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order, particularly the tweets tagged with “#cosmisconciousness”. This site aims to test that claim! Each “quote” is generated from a list of words that can be found in Deepak Chopra’s Twitter stream randomly stuck together in a sentence.
    wisdomofchopra.com uses a very simple algorithm to generate random ‘quotes’. The words and phrases used are contained with 4 PHP arrays, the source code is available on request. ”

    Here’s one…..
    “”Self power is inside universal acceptance”

    Also….
    ” Oral continued to ride in a fancy limousine… still does.”

    An occasional hefty fine is likely a part of the business pan. scum.

  5. #5 R Coyne
    South Africa
    August 21, 2012

    As far as I know Oral Roberts died in about 2009. If he is still seen driving round in his limousine, maybe his miracle water works after all.

  6. #6 Charl
    August 21, 2012

    Prescriptions in the UK (unless it’s for contraception – that’s free) are £7.65 a throw, but you can get an exemption certificate if you’re on state benefits, and if you’re getting more than 1 prescription per month, they encourage you to get a pre-pay certificate of about £140/year, covering everything you’re prescribed.

    This is not so far removed from a big hoo-ha a year or so ago about a UK church that claimed prayer could cure cancer, Hep C, AIDS, you name it – and told people not to take their medication any more because all they needed was prayer >.<

  7. #7 Aj
    August 21, 2012

    Ah Pentecostalism, makes even the more batshit fringes of Anglicanism appear almost sane in comparison.

  8. #8 Grant
    August 21, 2012

    Way off topic, but this popped up in the Research Blogging feed:

    Resurrecting XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

    http://questioning-answers.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/resurrecting-xmrv-in-chronic-fatigue.html

    (Another recap on Paolucci et al.)

  9. #9 dustbubble
    August 21, 2012

    Don’t want to cause you any blood-pressure issues, Charl, but only english people pay so much as a a penny for prescriptions, as of last year.
    Thanks to Wee Fat Eck’s crew, it’s all on the house for us sweaties (or the english taxpayer, more like…)

  10. #10 Bob Powers
    Tulsa, OK
    August 21, 2012

    Whereas it is true senior Roberts is now a well-deserved corpse, the heir to the ORU throne (and fortune) is alive and still extorting money from petitioners.

    Such is the way of religious dynasties.

  11. #11 Charl
    August 22, 2012

    Good point dustbubble, I’d forgotten about that. But really, who’d want to live in the beautiful Black Mountains/bleak Cairngorms/lovely Irish coastal regions anyway?!