scamIf you remember just one thing, please let it be that the so-called “Memory Healer Program” —  just like so many of the schemes targeted to people who are concerned about memory-loss caused by dementia or Alzheimers —are $40 rip-offs.  The Memory Healer Program is the name of given to a slick e-mail based advertisement floating around the Net supposedly authored by Alexander Lynch and Dr. Ronald Goldman.  The emails send you to an even slicker web site asking for the “low price” of $39.95 for what appears to be a booklet about TC-2153 that is “guaranteed” to fight off debilitating brain diseases.  This particular offering is a textbook version of the numerous other $39 infoscams that have infected the Web over the last three years.

This scam has now morphed into “Boundless Brain” that is being sold at Software Projects Inc, a Malta-based haven for scam artists who are duping consumers into paying $39-$49 for worthless or easily-found free information.   Unfortunately, most of the current science shows little correlation between “brain games” and dementia/Alzheimers symptoms.  Some 50 studies have examined the benefits of brain training but only a few have shown any real benefit.   A Commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission weighed in on these brain games and took the industry to task, stating that the vagueness of the scientific evidence and the fears everyone has of growing old and losing mental acuity can provide easy pickings for scammers.

If this claim looks familiar, it probably is — it is almost identical to the questionable other brain health offerings also hawked on the Internet — and it was probably conjured up by the same marketers .  They almost all charge the mysterious $39.95.   Here’s how it works:  you are treated to a videomercial that touts the “proven way to perfect improve your brain”.   Is it a scam?   Is it a rip-off?  Does it work?   You’ll never find out, largely because of an increasingly pernicious Internet industry that uses fake product review sites to hide customer reactions.   You’ll also never be able to find out about the credentials of the authors — none apparently exist on the Internet, nor are they provided at his own alleged web site.    So, should you spend the $37?   We recommend not, for the following reasons:

1.  There’s a reason this sales pitch is slick — they spend a lot of marketing money to get it to you.   Who is paying for that?  You are.   And, like many scammers, they were using Clickbank to sell their ebook so don’t assume you’ll get a refund.  “Rock solid guarantee”…..don’t bet on it.     Now, they are using Software Projects Inc., based in Malta, to peddle their disreputable pamphlets.   We’ve received a few reports that this scam gateway has been unresponsive to people seeking refunds.

2.  If you look for a review of the product, you are deluged with lots of fake review or “scam” sites that simply direct you to the main sales site or offer some pablum talking about how the product is highly rated or recommended.   (such as abnewswire.com, memoryhealerpro.com, scamreviewsplace.com and ncsafeharbor.org)   The marketers for this service paid to have these fake sites thwart any customer looking for real reviews.   It is also a tactic to obscure any customers who have posted complaints or alerts about fraudulent claims.

3.  The authors are unknown.  If the website fails to feature the credentials of the author and/or if a Google search turns up nothing about this person, you can bet this is a marketer driven product.   We were unable to find a “Dr. Ronald Goldman” or “Alexander Lynch” who had any credentials concerning memory loss or any brain-related diseases.

4.  Perhaps most importantly, there is an abundance of free or low-cost Alzheimer’s and dementia information on the Internet.    Amazon offers a number of ebooks that cost nothing and provide the kinds of well-established brain exercises that can help.  And very reputable medical institutions such as Harvard and the Mayo Clinic offer free and documented information.   Harvard, in particular, warns that excess weight,poor eating habits and lack of exercise are the major factors linked to brain disease.  The Mayo Clinic suggests use of brain exercises, such as those offered by a number of legitimate Internet companies who offer FREE interactive brain exercises: Neuronation,  Mind GamesBrain Matrix, as well as low-cost offerings by BrainHQ and Rosetta Stone.

More importantly,recent science suggests that some Alzheimers’ symptoms can be attenuated and, perhaps, reversed.  But the key steps needed are eliminating all simple carbohydrates from your diet, increasing consumption of fruit, vegetables and non-farmed fish, incorporation of yoga and meditation and daily supplements including vitamin D3, fish oil, coenzyme Q10, melatonin and for women to resume hormone therapy, if they had ended it.  While the supplement part of this recommendation is somewhat controversial, the lifestyle changes are not;  they promote healthfulness, which is an essential element in keeping the brain healthy. There is a plethora of free and peer-reviewed analysis, like this, on the web and new studies that are revealing more light into the causes and treatment of Alzheimers.

5.  These kinds of offerings generally like to tout that their information is controversial and contains information that Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Brother or some other such authority is trying to keep from you.   Sure enough, the Memory Healer hawkers call their video a “breakthrough” that the “pharmaceutical industry” and “the government” don’t want you to know about.   And they use all of the marketer-driven catch words: “revolutionary”, “secret”, “incredible” and “amazing”.   It’s a textbook snake oil pitch!  A sloppy one at that….rife with exaggerated claims.

6.  The testimonials offered in the video do not offer the full names or backgrounds of the individuals who are touting the product in very terse, well-crafted and well-lighted videos.

You don’t have to spend $39.95 to get information about how to improve your memory. We recommend that you check out these low-cost or free books or web-based sources before forking over $39.95 to the faux doctor.   And beware ANY Net-based sales pitch that has uncredentialed, slick video presentations with no independent reviews. It may not be a scam, but it is probably a rip-off because it is overpriced for what it is offering.   In this case, there’s lots of good vision exercises in the marketplace offered at a fraction of the cost of the so-called “Memory Healer Program”.  In fact, this one is free and is quite credible.   Save your hard-earned money.

One additional warning:  once you give them your money, you’ll be tagged as “meat”.  Once they know that you’ll fall for this pitch, the same marketers will be coming back to you over and over and over for other such pitches.  So understand that if you pay these marketers anything….let alone $39…..they’ll continue to hound you with more slick schemes designed to prey on your fears and concerns.  Our advice: don’t open your door or wallet to them.

The good news is that scientists know that the brain remains malleable, even in old age. That is, stimulating activities like learning a new skill or taking classes can strengthen neural connections and produce other positive changes in the brain. If you want to exercise your brain, study Spanish, take up Ikebana flower arranging, or learn a new game like chess or bridge. You may strengthen those neural connections in your brain, and you’ll almost certainly have fun.  If you feel that you need to use online brain games, there are a number of free resources that include:

  1. ThirdAge Games. Brain fitness is the object of these games featured on this site.
  2. BrainCurls. Find jigsaw puzzles, memory games, and games that sharpen your observation skills here.
  3. Sharp Brains Brain Teasers and Games. These 50 brain teasers and games are meant for keeping your brain fit and young.
  4. Grandparent Games. Meant to keep grandparents and their grandchildren connected through shared online games, you can help keep you brain young while connecting with family.
  5. Braingle. This popular site offers fun brain activities that include brain teasers, riddles, trivia, and brain exercises.
  6. Fit Brains. If you want brain games designed by scientists specifically for promoting brain health, then give these a try.
  7. Games ~ Grandma Faith’s Website. These family-friendly games are meant for both young and old and offer plenty of ways to keep your brain working.
  8. Brain Bashers. The video games here are meant to sharpen your mental acuity while providing entertainment.
  9. Strategy Games. Keep your brain young with these seven strategy games.
  10. AARP.org Games. Chess, puzzles, card games, and multiplayer games are offered here to help aging brains stay sharp.
  11. Games for the Brain. Games like Mastermind, chess, and Sudoku presented here offer you a great way to challenge your brain.
  12. HAPPYneuron. Try the fun games and activities here to keep your brain young.
  13. BrainTraining 101. Find an assortment of different types of challenging brain games here.
  14. Freedom Years Games. Designed especially for seniors, these games include jigsaw puzzles, a memory game, and Sudoku.

But our strong recommendation is keep sharp by keeping active, keeping social and keeping your imagination alive and well.   And save that $10-12 per month for some fun, lively experiences with friends and family.