In June 2023, a rumor appeared in Facebook ads with pictures of Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. The ads linked out to an article that resembled the website for People magazine. The headline read, "Gwen Stefani Confirms She Is Leaving Blake Shelton And 'The Voice' After His Fat-Shaming Antics."
However, none of this was true, nor did anyone at People magazine write this article. The rumor was created by scammers who were using the image and likeness of Stefani and Shelton without their authorization to try to tempt people into clicking through to and spending time on the page.
Further, despite what the headline also claimed about Stefani leaving the "The Voice," in reality, she had already been announced as one of the show's coaches for the upcoming season, later in 2023.
The scammers' goal was to entice users into signing up for pricey monthly subscriptions of keto or CBD weight loss gummies, products that the scammers misleadingly claimed Dr. Mehmet Oz had endorsed and could help people magically lose weight without changing their diet or exercising.
In this story, we lay out how these elaborate scams work. We also take a look back at two lawsuits won by Clint Eastwood after his image and likeness were used to similarly promote CBD products without his approval.
Online Ads Led to a Fake People Magazine Article
The scam featuring Stefani and Shelton began with users clicking the link in the Facebook ads. The ads took them to wearwolf.pro, a website that was designed with a People magazine logo in an attempt to fool readers into believing they were looking at the publisher's official website.
In addition to being part of a scam, the fake People magazine article was a work of fiction. It claimed that Stefani said "she was 'tired of [Shelton's] bullying,' and has decided to dedicate herself to helping millions of women across the country." There was no evidence of Stefani ever saying those things.
The misleading article also said Stefani announced on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that she started a new business in 2021. "After being given so much, I figured there was no better time to make True Form Keto Gummies available to everyone, as it has already helped millions of people melt huge amounts of body fat, and it can help millions more," she supposedly said.
The story went on to falsely claim that Weight Watchers said it was "furious" with Stefani over the purported "breach of a previous endorsement contract and fair business competition rules," and had called for her to be "indicted."
Note: This scam article likely featured other product names, in addition to True Form Keto Gummies. The product name appeared to change based on when users accessed the article.
Dr. Oz Didn't Endorse Keto Gummies
The final step of the scam was users clicking on one of many links within the fake People magazine article. By clicking, they were taken to an online store for True Form Keto Gummies (or whatever product was displayed in its place).
On trueformbrands.com/v1, the online store for the product, the website's creator misleadingly claimed that Dr. Oz, the celebrity doctor who unsuccessfully campaigned for the U.S. Senate in 2022, had endorsed the product. In reality, he hadn't.
The online store also falsely claimed that the product was featured on CBS News, NBC, and CNN, and in the pages of Women's Health, Woman's World, Honolulu Magazine, and the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Journal.
Beware of Subscription Scams
These sorts of scams for CBD and keto weight loss gummies enroll customers in subscriptions that charge them hundreds of dollars per month until they cancel. Once customers realizes they're part of the scam, the process of canceling may be difficult; For instance, the True Form Keto Gummies website did not provide a phone number for customer service. Only an email address was listed: email@example.com.
Some customers who said they received these products in the mail posted in comments under YouTube videos about these scams also said that the return address included a nameless "fulfillment center" and a P.O. Box in cities such as Smyrna, Tennessee; Tampa, Florida, or Las Vegas. There was no further information about the people or parent companies behind these scams available.
If any readers were scammed in this way, we recommend contacting your credit card company to try and resolve the matter. We also advise people to report fraudulent activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Clint Eastwood's Lawsuit Victories
On the subject of these gummy scams, let us note the legal victories of Clint Eastwood. Just like Stefani and Shelton, Eastwood's name and likeness was used without his approval to promote CBD products — so he sued. Twice.
In 2021, Eastwood won $6.1 million in a lawsuit against a Lithuanian company. Then, the following year, Eastwood won another lawsuit against the "Los Angeles-based Norok Innovation Inc. and its CEO Eric Popowicz," according to Cannabis Law Report. That time, he won $2 million.