While diet scams have long been around, their prevalence may be growing based on the ubiquity of the Internet: McAfee SiteAdvisor has found that as many as one- third of search engine results for keywords like “hoodia pills” lead to misleading sites.

McAfee SiteAdvisor researchers found that many diet sites engage in misleading “bait-and-switch” billing practices, where a user is promised a free sample but then finds that he or she has been automatically subscribed to an expensive monthly service. In addition to billing practices, McAfee’s ratings of these sites also take into account criteria developed by the Federal Trade Commission on exaggerated product claims and results http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/health/evidence.htm . Through the course of its analysis, McAfee gave the 75 sites a “yellow” or cautionary rating.

“This problem has broad ramifications: Consumers search online for “Hoodia”, “diet pills” and related key words an estimated 24 million times each month,” noted Kelly Ford, director of marketing for McAfee. “Sadly, the bottom line is that most users who try these sites are more likely to lose money than pounds.”

McAfee is pioneering Web safety by testing and rating, on an ongoing basis, nearly every trafficked site on the Internet. McAfee SiteAdvisor software, which is available as a free download at http://us.mcafee.com/ , adds intuitive red, yellow, and green safety ratings to sites and search results. McAfee SiteAdvisor software clearly identifies potentially dangerous sites that have engaged in “social engineering” attacks such as spyware, adware, spam, browser attacks, and online scams.