Blogger’s ‘Before and After’ Photos Stolen by Weight Loss Website

photo courtesy Roni Noone
photo courtesy Roni Noone

Wouldn't it be incredible if "fat melted off like butter," without diet or exercise-just a "natural" daily supplement or two? But it doesn't, as blogger Roni Noone knows very well. It took her 12 months to drop seventy pounds, and, as she writes on her blog chronicling her weight loss and her effort to get off the yo-yo dieting cycle, "It was frickin' hard and sometimes I was HUNGRY but I kept at it."

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Imagine her surprise when she spotted her actual before and after photographs from her blog-taken exactly one year apart-on a Facebook ad for supplements called "Garcinia Cambogia XT" and "Natural Cleanse Plus" which said that "New York blogger Jess" had lost nearly 30 pounds in just five weeks while taking the pills in combination.

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The ad, which is designed to look like an article in a women's magazine, reads: "In the story on her blog she states, 'I couldn't believe how easy it was. I didn't change my diet or my daily routine, but the fat melted off like it [sic] butter. I love this stuff. Finally a diet that just works!"

"These companies have no shame," Noone told Yahoo! Shine. "They swipe a photo and claim that the person used their pill or device." As a full-time blogger who has been writing about weight loss and health related issues for eight years, she's accustomed to sending out copyright violation notices for stolen photos. She contacted the company, which runs multiple websites that appear to be women's health and fitness magazines, through a Facebook fan page. While she received no response, she noticed the photo was taken down-and quickly replaced by similar before and after shots from another popular blogger who has written about her own weight loss journey. The name and photo were changed, but otherwise the copy and format remained exactly the same.

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As of Wednesday morning, Noone's photo is back up on one of the websites. A representative of the company selling the product did not respond to Yahoo! Shine's request for a comment (to put it mildly-in fact, they hung up on this reporter's phone call).

Garcina cambogia extract is derived from a plant called Malabar Tamarind or Bridle Berry, and is eaten and used for medicinal purposes in Indonesia. While it has been touted by Dr. Oz as an effective supplement, the National Cancer Institute reports that study results are mixed and that there is no conclusive evidence of its safety for humans.

Noone says that she hopes her story will make people more skeptical about using "miracle" weight loss products. "Not only are people being duped by the photos, but they are taking a supplement with who-knows-what ingredients." They could also be opening themselves up to identity theft: the website says it will send you a free sample of the supplements-but only after you enter your name, address, phone number, email, and credit card information.

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