In April 2017, an advertisement for a diet product called "Refresh Garcinia Cambogia" or "Garicinia Slim" was disguised as a genuine news report and published on web sites such as Running Evolutions.com and The Platinum Beard:
Student from Cornell University Cuts 31lbs On University Budget!
Amanda Haughman, a student at Cornell University, was able to drop 31lbs off her waist in 1 month without ever using a dime of her own money. Amanda is studying nutrition sciences at Cornell, and for a required research project Amanda thought it would be perfect to use university funds to find out how to 'hack' her weight loss. According to Amanda, "the most expensive piece of it all was actually finding what worked. But the actual solution only cost about $5."
"I had struggled with my weight my whole life. I tried things like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, which just didn't work as good as they promised. I am a single Mom with a kid at home and I am also working towards my degree, so I don't have any time to be at the gym. When I was assigned this big research project, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to get a deeper look at the natural weight loss opportunities that are out there, and that is when I found out about combining Refresh Garcinia Cambogia and apple cider vinegar. The best part of it all, I can tell that my daughter is proud of me." - Amanda Haughman
These reports included a number of false and misleading claims. For instance, the lead photograph purportedly showing Amanda Haughman's tremendous weight loss is actually Rachel Graham, who lost nearly 100 pounds in a year. Graham told Today in 2016 that she credited her weight loss to exercise and a healthy diet. Graham did not mention the alleged magic formula of apple cider vinegar and garcinia cambogia:
Ask Rachel Graham how she’s managed to lose almost 100 pounds in one year and the formula is simple: Healthy food and exercise. No secrets. No gimmicks. No quick fixes.
She’s also honest about the impact of going from 235 pounds to 144 pounds, especially the loose skin on her stomach, thighs and arms.
“I want people to know that it is 110 percent possible,” Graham told TODAY.
“I used to feel as though it wasn't. That I didn't have ‘what it takes,’ and that it was just too far out of reach... If you want to make changes, it is completely possible with healthy food and exercise.”
This weight loss advertisement also fabricated an interview with CNN and claimed that the network ran a segment on this Cornell student's "amazing discovery":
We sat down with Amanda to ask her more about how she found out about Refresh Garcinia Cambogia and whether or not that is all that she used to lose 31lbs so quickly.
CNN: Tell us, how did you know where to start?
Amanda: To be honest, I really didn't. I was given a budget for the project by the university, and I spent nearly all of it researching everything under the sun. I looked into other previous research, case studies, and even successful weight loss stories of others.
This story never appeared on CNN.
Not surprisingly the Platinum Beard post links to a site selling Garcinia Cambogia. The Running Evolutions article links instead to what is apparently borrowed content from Barry's Boot Camp, a personal training program. We reached out to Barry's Boot Camp for comment, but have not yet received a reply.
Although we can't speak to the effectiveness of drinking apple cider vinegar with Refresh Garcinia Cambogia, we can say that this text did not originate in a genuine news article. This is an advertisement that used a fabricated interview, falsified claims, and an unrelated photograph to sell a diet product.