A bit of background – I decided to write this article after my previous post on Pure Perfect Skin Lightening Cream received multiple fake comments. And well, that really made me angry.
Anger turned into indignation, which turned to writing… and this article was born. Isn’t it amazing how good things can come from bad?
UPDATE… (2 September 2011): Fake comments from St. Dalfour Whitening Cream revealed fraudsters posing as different people.
UPDATE… (3 December 2011): A St Dalfour seller called Jhan Gorman (from “Angel Touch Essentials”) comments here and here. Be sure to scroll down to read the entire comment threads as they’re excellent examples of the aggressive online tactics used by shady sellers of banned whitening creams.
UPDATE… (18 August 2014): Here’s another example. Read this hilarious comment thread by “MAK”, who started off by asking what I had first thought was a simple question. He was most displeased by my reply that Golden Pearl Beauty cream has been proven to contain mercury, and went on to try and intimidate me (yeah, not gonna happen, bro. This is *my* house.)
Initial flattery, assurances, over-the-top promises, and finally, passive aggressiveness, feigned “hurt”, intimidation, mockery and insults when they don’t get their own way. This is their modus operandi.
Do not be intimidated if this bullying is ever directed at you — instead, try to see them for what they truly are. Online fraudsters live a dishonest and fear-filled existence, needing to rely on lies just to make a living. People like these do not breathe easy, for the walls will always be closing in on them.
And never hide your own inner voice. When one person stands up to a bully, he/she gives courage to many others.
User reviews in skin lightening websites and forums offer powerful credibility
Claims made by websites or companies selling skin lightening products are naturally met with some degree of skepticism. After all, they want to make money. Most people are aware of this fundamental fact, so they typically take product claims with a grain of salt.
But as sellers and products (and even ingredient lists) have become less trusted, people have sought out other, more reliable sources of information – such as online user reviews and comments.
Online user reviews and comments in skin lightening forums and websites (like this one) naturally carry much more credibility than product ads do because they seemingly come from a neutral third-party.
People read user comments online and think:
- This is a real person.
- This was written by someone just like me.
- This person has the same problems/issues/worries/desires as me.
- I can trust what they say.
- If it worked for them, it’ll work for me.
For unscrupulous or dishonest sellers, “real user” comments, reviews and testimonials can be a goldmine. Trust sells. And it sells very well.
It’s important to remember that anything we read online—however genuine they might sound—are really only words typed by a faceless person, whose motives are completely hidden from our view.
Know this: Anyone can type in anything. Let me repeat that, because it is so important. Anyone can type in anything.
Please understand, I am not saying that we should mistrust everyone’s words on the web. That’s no way to live. Besides, I truly believe there are more good people in the world than bad. There are a great many honest online user reviews that have helped countless people, including myself.
But there are also dishonest user reviews out there, and skin lightening boards, forums and websites seem to be particularly rife with aggressive and manipulative sellers posing as users. It’s important we know they exist because this will minimize the chances of us being duped out of our money, and more importantly, our health and well-being.
How can you tell what’s real and what’s not?
It’s impossible to always tell the real from the fake online. However, there are several things you can look out for to protect yourself.
In skin lightening forums, pay attention to a few red flags:
- People who are exceedingly exuberant about a product. For example, expressing excessive jubilation about how something is “wonderful”, “amazing”, “a miracle”, “completely changed their skin”, etc etc. Pay attention to the kind of language used, they are engineered to target and manipulate the desperate.
- Posts with positive and agreeable replies from newly-registered users. These could be all from the same person. (Unfortunately, many scammers have built up multiple user registrations at forums over a long period of time. Some have even built credible stories and personalities for each “person”. )
- People who get overly defensive, “hurt” or angry when other posters have viewpoints that differ from their own. Making threats and using profanity are common tactics used to intimidate others or to end an argument that is not in the seller’s favour. These are not normal behavior. Think about it for a minute—if a product works well for you, but you read online that it did not work for someone else, you would probably not care very much and just move on. Excessive anger, feigned “hurt”, indignation and defensiveness are not normal user and consumer behavior. Unless of course, someone’s sales are being hurt.
- People who write things like this after being given a link to a government site that states clearly (and with photos) the mercury level in a banned cream.
An excerpt of this “gem”:
“If there is no clear information about the manufacturer/contacts/country on the containers of products and you have not researched that out yourself either, then, I regret to say, your assertion about the origin of the product is just baseless and challenging…. I may continue search for complete information regarding the origin of these products but I am closing the discussion with offer of some words of caution, if I may please, to avoid forwarding information without having complete information for a proper & adequate scientific base in support.“
In other words, crap. This is a conman who has taken a slightly different tack — he writes a whole lot (of nothing at all) and tries to intimidate you (again, with nothing) when confronted with actual facts.
Is this normal behaviour? Of course not.
On skin lightening websites:
- Watch out for likely conflicts of interests. When skin lightening advice is being offered, are they also selling the solution (i.e. skin whitening creams, skin whitening soaps, whitening pills, etc)?
- Collected user testimonial pages (product reviews) are very easily embellished and can sometimes even be wholly fabricated. All it takes is a little creative writing. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to find out which ones are real and which were written by the seller. So unless you can find similar testimonials elsewhere, don’t put too much stock in them.
Do you know of any other common red flags?