One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

INSIGHTS

Hi. I’m Dr. Darlene and I Lost 40lbs on the HCG Diet System.

78 Comments 5649 views

Don’t believe me? Well take a look at this…


Click to enlarge – Screen Shot of the site that stole my image.

Yup that’s me. You might not recognize my long hair and the 1 year old "Little Guy" on my hip but those pictures were swiped right from my Weight Loss Progression page.

Some bottom feeder of a company decided they could just use my image as an example for their shady weight loss system. Well, they messed with the wrong blogger.

Don’t ask because I’m not going to give them any attention by linking. I already sent them an email to which they responded….

Hello:

We outsourced this website and were unaware that your picture was taken without your permission.  It will be gone within 24 hours as you requested.  Our apologies to you. 

Sincerely,

HCG Staff

Poppycock.

I wonder how many times that email was sent out. Is it just me or does it sound like a form letter?

I can only assume the images of other people on the page are also bogus. Right? Well here’s the kicker. This was taken directly from their DISCLAIMER page….

ANY CLAIMS MADE OF ACTUAL WEIGHT LOSS OR EXAMPLES OF ACTUAL RESULTS CAN BE VERIFIED UPON REQUEST.

Oh really? Well considering Darlene doesn’t exist or at least isn’t ME I’m curious how they would "verify" her success. Hmm wonder if they’d send you a picture? oh.. wait.

As of now I’m STILL on their shady site. It’s been 9 hours.

Needless to say, this pisses me off.

Last year I wrote a post called Do you believe what you see? which focused on airbrushing in magazines but there’s a bigger issue here.

How many times have you watched an infomercial, read an ad in a magazine, admired a success story or testimonial, and considered or bought the product they were selling? I think it’s human nature to WANT to believe these things but the truth is they lie. They lie through their teeth! The stories, the images, the claims, it’s all bogus. If it sounds/looks/appears too good to be true it is.

The only way to lose weight is to eat less and move more. I’m sorry, it simply is. For YEARS I listened to these snake oil salesmen hoping there was a magic pill, some combination of food or a secret I wasn’t aware of. I find myself still mesmerized by the late night infomercials, but this incident was the last straw. Not only do they make crazy outlandish claims but they FAKE their own success stories??

I don’t know. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, maybe you all knew this already, but these companies make a lot of money preying off other people’s insecurities, and MAN that makes me angry.

ok. Vent over. Off to see if my image is still there.

I forgot to add it was Liz at Shedding the Fat-Suit who found my pics. THANKS LIZ!



Leave a comment

I’d love to hear your story or thoughts on mine.

However, to prevent the massive amounts of spam I was receiving I have turned off comments on any post older than 5 days old. If you'd like to leave me a note regarding this post or anything really try me on twitter (@RoniNoone,) my Facebook page, or even IG (@RoniNoone) I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. I never thought I'd have to do this but it's gotten way out of hand and comment management has become simply too time consuming to manage.

Discussion

There are 78 comments so far.

    Brandi

    September 13, 2011

    That HCG diet is so annoying! I’m sick of my hairdresser, coworkers, friends, family members etc. bragging to me about losing 15-20 lbs in a month while I’m trying to squeak out a 1/2 pound a week on weight watchers! I could eat 500 calories of ice cream a day and lose weight, but that’s not healthy. I always think those ads are bogus, always.

    Amanda

    September 13, 2011

    That is so crappy! You should notify The Consumerist. You look cute with long hair, btw. :)

    Laura Healey

    September 13, 2011

    I would be furious!!! You should sue them!!

    Sarah

    September 13, 2011

    I get it… and I hate that people make money off of other’s desperation.

    Marissa

    September 13, 2011

    You are definitely NOT making a mountain out of a molehill. This is horrible. I too, cannot stand to see these infomercials for “quick weight loss.” This is scandalous and I would be furious too. You worked long and hard to get to that after photo and for them to use it as a scam to quick weight loss is atrocious. I’m so sorry because I’m sure you will continue to fume until it comes down. Be relentless Roni. Don’t let them get away with this!!!!!

    Amanda

    September 13, 2011

    I sent out a tweet a few month ago at about 1a because I was tired of hearing about the hcg diet. Something about only having that hormone coursing through my veins when I was with child and only with child. If it’s a natural hormone, why are people injecting themselves w it? And further more, why did I gain 66lbs… Anyway, of track. I think this “diet” is crap and no real person can sustain weight loss on 800 calories a day. Eat less, move more. I did it the “hard” way, but ive managed to keep it off for 6m. I’m glad you sent them an email, heres to hoping your. “testimonial” is gone by the am/

    Lisa

    September 13, 2011

    HOLY SHIT! I would be SO furious! I am really glad you let everyone know. Keep on them. Become the biggest pain in their butt. This isn’t honest work. What a bunch of crap.

    Laura James

    September 13, 2011

    That makes me so angry! It’s YOUR photo, your success, just straight up STOLEN from your website. You worked incredibly hard for your success, and it certainly wasn’t from some crappy quick success. How did you find out that it was on the website? And you are completely right, you see these quick fixes and you think it will work. It will. But only for however many days you can keep up eating unsatisfying food or drinking horrible shakes. Then you will pack it all back on! Nice to see a blogger fighting for whats rightfully theirs. You go girl!

    Maggie

    September 13, 2011

    Wow! Yes, I would be furious too. I agree with the one poster. I think you should leave a comment informing the consumers of what this site is doing. You have helped more people see the truth about losing weight than any infomercial. Keep up the good work and don’t let theses type of people get you down.

    Lara @TresLaLa

    September 14, 2011

    That is so terrible! Obviously, your pictures are copyrighted by you, so I’m sure you’ve already sent a Cease & Desist letter (templates available online if not). But the worst is that they stole your image, and used it for something as unnatural and sleazy as HCG. Ugh. I’m sorry – you are not overreacting.

    Karen

    September 14, 2011

    How did you find out they had used your photos? It’s terrible. I’d be mad.

    Laina

    September 14, 2011

    Holy crap that is infuriating!

    Jeanine

    September 14, 2011

    I was looking at the pictures and wondering why it said “Darlene” underneath them when I knew it was you. I was so confused! Then I read what you said. That is terrible! I am mad right along with you! I agree that someone should be notified. I don’t know what The Consumerist is (from Amanda’s post), but it sounds like a good suggestion.

    That does suck – you should be able to contact the hosting provider to have it forcibly taken down as well via DMCA.

    On the bright side, you’re now a DOCTOR! :P

    Princess Dieter

    September 14, 2011

    Get a lawyer. I kid you not. This is like the K IMKINS scam. She used false images (Russian brides, in some cases) stolen from the net, with bogus stories of weight loss, and used it to lure folks to her paid-membership diet site. She LOST a lawsuit recently, too.

    CAll a lawyer. That’s poppycock, indeed. If they claim they can vERIFY the stories, then they should have the pictures of “Darlene” or whomever, and if so, then why use YOUR photos. Sue their ass. Get moolah.

    Nadine

    September 14, 2011

    Wow. I am incredibly naive, apparently. It is absolutely STUNNING to me that an advertisement would be SO completely FALSE. I mean, I *know* that companies push the envelope, but to steal someones images and COMPLETELY make up a story. I am really interested to know how you figured this out — and I think you should pursue it to the fullest extent you can. Your reputation is everything!

    Reen

    September 14, 2011

    Hi, Roni! I updated to the new Internet Explorer and poof, problem fixed! Yeah!

    Wow! How did you find out that your pic was being used? Did you just come across it or did someone else tell you? That’s just seriously wrong.

    Marysabel

    September 14, 2011

    Wow, this is pretty disgusting. This qualify as false advertisement (“unfair and deceptive acts or practices in commerce.”) and it’s penalized by the Federal Trade Comission, and with that info and the prove (picture, your website, their website, the screenshots) you could easily present a lawsuit against this company. I know, I know… maybe I’m going too far with this, but it makes me furious Roni. I’m one of those people who sees the infomercial, the ads on magazines… and I believed the stories, sometimes, I would buy a product, but now, this opened my eyes. It is just disgusting that a company try to sell something with a false statement, a completely made up story. I would file a lawsuit against this idiota.

    Lynda

    September 14, 2011

    HOLY COW! Thats sooo crappy. I can’t believe it and sadly I do believe it. Love to know how you get on taking back you. Never heard of HCG diet in Australia. I’ve been warned!

    Danielle S

    September 14, 2011

    How awful and I was so confused b/c i knew those sots were of you and I was like WTH who is darlene LOL

    Tiffany @ Turbo Fire Reviews

    September 14, 2011

    If they don’t take your pic down within 24 hours I would report them to their hosting company as they will take their site down if you can prove they stole your pictures (which you can)

    They probably just entered in weight loss blogs or weight loss stories and lifted the first picture they saw. These people have no disregard for copyright or anything and I def would not want my pic attached to the HCG diet either.

    roni

    September 14, 2011

    Laura – I forgot to add it was Liz at Shedding the Fat-Suit who found my pics.

    emily (a nutritionist eats)

    September 14, 2011

    I can’t believe that! Well, I guess I can but WOW, the nerve.

    Katherina @ Zephyr Runs

    September 14, 2011

    That’s terrible!! I’m glad you spoke up, I would have been furious, too!

    Emmie

    September 14, 2011

    Aw hell no. This is some bullsh*t. For real.
    I know people who do HCG and some have had great results, so I’m not going to go down the path of it’s effiicacy b/c I’m really uneducated about it.
    But using your image and a fake story? BULL. I’d do a cease and desist and consult w/an attorney about possible damages. I known this junk happens all the time with bottomfeeders- we must protect ourselves! Bull.
    Hugs!

    Lori

    September 14, 2011

    OMG! That would upset me beyond belief! I for one can’t stand the idea of this HCG aka “Protocol” diet. It’s such a gimmick. I have 2 co-workers that do it & are constantly on & off the “diet”. Sure – I’d lose weight if I only ate an apple, drank green tea & had a chicken breast for dinner. Funny – because when they’re “off” they’re really OFF. Like eating 3/4 of a TUB of cashews or a full bag of Tostido’s with a TUB of hummus.

    Martha

    September 14, 2011

    I’ve read about people actually injecting HCG, which is a protein. I’m a chemist who works at a scientific instrument company working with the real drug companies who still struggle to make safe proteins for people to inject into themselves. No way would I ever trust some HCG off the internet and inject it into myself. I might buy some and do a study for fun, though.

    Patty @ A Day in My NYC

    September 14, 2011

    OMG! This is infuriating! I cannnot believe how low a company can sink. It makes me sick to my stomach to think I was (in the past) fooled by these types of companies. It makes me so ANGRY! Go get ’em Roni!

    Amber

    September 14, 2011

    You are so NOT making a mountain out of a mole hill! That pisses me off too as a person who spent hundreds before finally figuring out that its eat less move more. Ugh, so slimy…

    Kerri O

    September 14, 2011

    wow. People suck. I’ve been meaning to watermark my progress pics. Wonder if it helps though.

    Valerie

    September 14, 2011

    Is that your 40 pound loss pic? You worked hard to lose 70 pounds. I think that’s another way companies mislead people. “Hey, here’s what you’ll look like after you lose 40 lbs on HCG” when in actuality, it was a considerably larger loss; almost double.

    roni

    September 14, 2011

    GOOD POINT!

    Jacqui

    September 14, 2011

    Ug!! That makes me angry FOR YOU!!! The internet can do so much good, and yet so much bad comes from it. *sigh* :(

    Tina

    September 14, 2011

    That’s disgusting and creepy! Makes me angry too!

    Colleen

    September 14, 2011

    Unbelievable! Can’t they be prosecuted for that? That’s awful.

    Denise

    September 14, 2011

    wow, that is scandalous! I would be fuming too.

    Georgia

    September 14, 2011

    Now that is a mountain, not a mole hill. I’m shocked. Imagine if you didn’t have hundreds of followers, you may have never even known someone out there was using your pictures. We lived and worked in a remote area of AFrica and (though I’m not well known or followed) I’ve had the same thing happen with pictures of ours.. I randomly saw them on a group’s fundraising page.. Seriously?? Ugh. I started putting a watermark on all of my pictures but felt vain and it’s really time consuming…

    I don’t think you’re exaggerating. That sucks and is wrong. False advertisement much? Yes!

    Georgia

    September 14, 2011

    I had to comment again.. Dr. Darlene? Seriously? How ridiculous is the name even!? I guess it’s a huge compliment that you look so great-that they would want to use your image… but STILL Dr. Darlene?

    Jeri Lyn

    September 14, 2011

    JERKS!!! Go get ’em Roni!!!
    So horrible that they can do things like that. I try not to believe everything I read & see, but it’s hard when it’s always being shoved down your throat. Thanks for the reminder.

    Jzbell79

    September 14, 2011

    Just… wow. Some people/companies just never cease to amaze me. Being a photographer, I know several colleagues who’ve had work stolen and then brazenly posted online under false pretenses. It’s a little different than this, but same ballpark. Burns me up every time.

    I agree with the others who’ve suggested that you check out your legal options. At least consult an attorney; many will give you a few minutes on the phone for free. Not to be an advocate of our lawsuit-happy tendencies as a society either… but I believe this is a serious enough infraction to warrant real consequences.

    andrea @ a cake for a wife.

    September 14, 2011

    Roni, I think that’s terrible. And you are most definitely not making a mountain out of a molehill. You know, I read this blog called Food Blog Alliance, and she had a really interesting post the other day where she talked about a troll on her website who’d gone so far as to threaten her son. She reported to the FBI, using an online form they have for internet crimes, which they actually take quite seriously (links are all in the post.) Honestly, hers involved her child, so it’s a bit different, but it’s also being investigated under ‘crimes against business’ — and I think the same would apply for you. Your blog is your business, and frankly, your before and after pictures are a big part of your collateral — your success is part of the reason people follow you. So I think this absolutely falls under crimes against business, and is worth reporting. Bloggers need to start fighting back against this crap. Good luck!!!!!

    Mary

    September 14, 2011

    Roni, My PE teacher from highschool actually had this happen to her as well. It was for the Acai Berry diet. One day I was just browing the web and it popped up as an ad and I recognized her. She is a Facebook friend so I sent her a message and she said she knew about it. She said she would have to get a Cease and Desist order for each occurence and it got to be too much money so she gave up. So sad that this happens!

    Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect

    September 14, 2011

    My eyebrows immediately arched when I saw this post come through my e-mail today. I actually saw that advertisement (can’t remember where now) and remember thinking “that looks just like Roni!”, but when I read that it was “Dr. Darlene” I thought that I must have been seeing things and moved on. Man, I’m shot. ;)

    It’s horrible that companies are able to get away with dishonesty like this. I can’t even begin to tell you how many friends or family members have come to me for my opinion regarding one weight loss product or another. Many times they haven’t even finished what they’re saying and I’m telling them not to buy it. I’ve been fooled many times myself, but have learned to investigate as much as possible before turning over my hard earned money. I’m angry for you and look forward to hearing the outcome.

    Leslie

    September 14, 2011

    Holy CRAP!!! Unbelieveable. That must have been quite a jolt, Dalene…hahahahahaha! A cautionary tale to be sure – Too bad you can’t sue ’em for a jillion bucks!

    RunEatRepeat

    September 14, 2011

    So not cool, especially because a bunch of people wasted their money on this product after seeing your before and after pics.

    Laura

    September 14, 2011

    Go get them! If their product really works, why would you have to use stolen photos??? They “outsourced” it – to whom? Don’t they have photos of people who’ve lost using their product?

    Go get them Roni! Companies like this are predators to the public…they need to be shut down. Call or email your local newspaper – get the story out there!

    Kelly Munsey

    September 14, 2011

    Oh Roni! I’m with you I’d be SUPER PISSED for so many reasons. First of all that’s YOUR kid on their site. ew. Second of all – its straight up FRAUD on their part. I had always thought if it’s too good to be true it is.. .but sometimes you wonder… hmmm maybe this is the real deal. Now, unfortunately you, are the proof that it’s all false and provides the motivation to eat less, burn more. I would be extremely interested to know who runs the company. What a crock. May the force be with you.

    Funny. I’m pretty much a just daily lurker to your site. But I feel like someone just wronged my longtime friend. Hmm. weird.

    Tina

    September 14, 2011

    Hi Roni, I just sent you a private msg to another link that may have stolen your blog from today.
    Tina

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

    September 14, 2011

    That is disgusting! Snake oil salesmen, is what they are.

    Stephanie

    September 14, 2011

    This is terrible! HGC is a very sore subject between a friend of mine and myself. I will admit…I even bought the drops at one point and then chickend out after my husband called me a cheater! (Harsh, but it worked) I have been working on this the “hard” way for almost 3 months and have only lost 13lbs…but with diet and exercise. A lifestyle change…not a quick fix. She has done the HCG 3-4 times now and YES, she has lost lots of weight quick, but its not a healthy way to live.

    Thank you for your inspiration on your blog for the healthy and proper way to loose weight and keep it off!

    julie

    September 14, 2011

    I’ve heard of this happening before, which is why I have some before pictures scattered around on blog posts, and a few current ones, but never together. I don’t want anyone stealing my pictures for anything, especially weight loss scams, and I doubt anybody who takes the time to look at old posts is going to do this.

    Angie

    September 14, 2011

    I am ticked off too girl that they would use your image!! WTH! That just ain’t right! :)
    With that said, I have had many co-workers use the HCG diet with great success. However, I don’t give the HCG drops or shots the credit, these ladies were consuming a mere 500 calories per day while on the “diet.” They had headaches, mood swings, ireegular periods, you name it. As we all know when you cut out the calories it is going to help.. but the fact they encourage anyone to limit themselves to 500 calories a day was just crazy!!

    Ima

    September 14, 2011

    I also suggest you look towards TV because I swear I’ve seen that comparison on TV. Not to say that it can’t just be online, but if I were you I’d sue. When companies do these types of advertisements they typically get everything licensed. If they are going to make a weight loss claim with pictures I’m sure that they “own” the image somehow.

    Good luck!

    jeana

    September 14, 2011

    This is disgusting. if it’s not illegal, then it should be, and you know there are people who bought into that based on those pictures, and when they dont lose the weight promised in the ad, they feel like failures. you wonder “WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?” and the cycle goes on an on…

    Tami@nutmegnotebook

    September 14, 2011

    I wish you could take legal action against them!

    Paula

    September 14, 2011

    OMG! This is disgraceful. I should hope you could bake legal action to prevent this type of fraud. What a crappy thing for this site to do. Some folks will stoop to any level.

    Laurie

    September 14, 2011

    I feel nauseas reading this, how violating.
    Is there a law suit here?

    Melissa

    September 14, 2011

    omgosh!!! I’m furious for you! I agree with the 20 other people that said you should sue them and make it as public as you can. I always wondered if weight loss company’s did that, now I know the truth! They truly are snakes! I wonder how bad that diet is for people anyway! We’ll prob find out someday that it causes cancer or something!!

    Charlie Hills

    September 14, 2011

    Read the disclaimer carefully:

    ANY CLAIMS MADE OF ACTUAL WEIGHT LOSS OR EXAMPLES OF ACTUAL RESULTS CAN BE VERIFIED UPON REQUEST.

    It says claims of “actual weight loss” and “actual results” can be verified. They don’t say they will verify anything about their made-up crap.

    Reinaldo

    September 14, 2011

    Wait, you’re a doctor?

    s

    September 15, 2011

    umm … creepy :(

    RedPanda

    September 15, 2011

    The same thing happened on the now-defunct Oxygen Magazine forum. Some scam weight loss company swiped before and after pics that members had uploaded to the forum. I’ve read of the same thing happening to weight loss bloggers as well.

    RedPanda

    September 15, 2011

    And besides, anyone can see the woman in the “after” photo has lost way more than 40 pounds!

    andrea

    September 15, 2011

    Gasp! Terrible! I am so sorry this happened to you!!

    Dawn, Lay Down My Idols

    September 15, 2011

    It took me a while to figure out why you were now calling yourself “Darlene” lol. I knew immediately that they were your pics, and my naive mind was confused. Scary stuff. Hope you can get it solved.
    Dawn

    BigTickles

    September 15, 2011

    One word – LAWYER
    A company has to be held responsible for what they market.

    Eileen

    September 16, 2011

    oh that pisses me off. If I ever saw your image misused like that, I would def. give you a heads up. I met a guy that ranted about how much weight he lost with that diet, but it was b/c he was eating 500 calories a day! Umm…yeah that sounds healthy (not!)

    Hi – just found your blog and woah, what a story! So irresponsible and irritating – especially for such a terrible diet as HCG. So sorry this happened to you, I would be livid!

    Claudia

    September 16, 2011

    OMG!
    I was also thinking you could sue if you wanted but that could take forever and $$$ although that is probably why they do it… “send template of apology email” and remove the picture, add stolen picture #123 until they get a complaint from #123… It makes me angry, you are right, liars and all the infomertials that also lie…
    “we outsourced the page”… lame excuse! how dishonorable among many other things :(

    Nina

    September 17, 2011

    You are definitely not overreacting, this is a serious issue here. Not only because they’re frauds but also because they use your picture without your permission. They do not even want to pay people who tell lies for them, as the ad system usually works! They want to make even more money by illegitimately using photos of real people without their permission. It really must pay off for them if they risk being sued for using those photos…Those people make me so SICK! Not only because they don’t give a darn for the people they are cheating on, but because they don’t give a sh… about anything.

    And yes, this is a form letter. It is relatively easy to see.

    Love,

    Nina

    Nina

    September 17, 2011

    Another thought: Who believes someone with the cheesy name “Dr. Darlene”? Couldn’t they even afford a proper surname? They are really saving on everything…;)

    Hot Coco @ Flab to Fab

    September 17, 2011

    I linked to this via Katy Widrick, and am appalled. I hope you are able to make a stronger stand – and impact – against HCG. Shame on them!

    Angela

    September 17, 2011

    I saw one of those ads once that had stolen before and after pics of a Biggest Loser winner with a fake name and story!!

    liz at im shedding the fatsuit

    September 18, 2011

    you’re welcome roni! i’m actually not anti-hcg, but i am anti-stealing people’s pictures and making up a bunch of lies, i’m glad you got it taken care of :)

    JavaChick

    September 19, 2011

    That is so shady. Bad enough that your photos were stolen, but even worse that they are lying to people about their weight loss program. It’s scary what people can get away with.

    Ellen

    September 20, 2011

    I thought it was you, but maybe it was Pasta Queen (Jennette Fulda) or Dietgirl (Shauna) who has prevented use of stolen photos through some kind of encoding in the photo (yeah, I’m not a tech person…). Essentially, if someone tries to copy/paste or save as, the photo saves as a different graphic that said something like “This Photo Was Stolen from the following website:__________”. I don’t remember the details on how it worked, but one of those ladies may know (assuming it wasn’t you and this doesn’t work in this case). Maybe it had to be a linked image. Ack, wish I could remember.

    roni

    September 20, 2011

    That was me but in the case it wouldn’t work. They took a copy of the the photos instead of simply displaying them from my site. It’s something we really have no control over except to add watermarks which is very time consuming.

    Sheila

    September 20, 2011

    Roni…What a bunch of c r a p….Can you sue them? I tend to be one of the people you talked about in your post about seeing a “success” story and buying into the product because of it. Well…after seeing this, it’s really going to make me think twice, or 5 times before I would purchase the product. Thanks for keeping us informed! =)