Several posts are circulating on Facebook (FB) advertising an “all-natural” nasal spray that guarantees to cure sinusitis and rhinitis within seven to 14 days. These are scams.
VERA Files Fact Check flagged four such posts from Jan. 12 to 16 alone.
Some featured videos of unidentified people dressed as medical experts selling the product, while others illicitly used clips from unrelated videos to make it appear legitimate. None of the original videos endorsed nor even mentioned the product.
Fake nasal spray
The product peddled in the videos, generically called “Sinusitis Spray,” is not listed under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) verification portal for drugs and medical devices.
The FB posts falsely advertised the product as being “FDA-approved.” One page even falsified a certificate of product registration from the FDA and called it “Fast – Sore Throat Spray.”
The videos bore several more tell-tale signs that point to it being a scam, including claims that it can “100% cure” sinusitis and rhinitis in one to two weeks and that there is a “money back guarantee” or a “refund” if a buyer finds the product to be ineffective.
To spot false health claims, the Department of Health advises the public to watch out for these techniques used by scammers:
- Certain keywords like “scientific breakthrough,” “miracle cure,” “all natural without side-effects,” or “ancient remedy” are used.
- Ads contain undocumented, anecdotal cases, but with amazing results. No science involved.
- There is a money-back guarantee promise.
Videos grabbed elsewhere
Some of the posts used videos downloaded from YouTube, discussing nasal diseases and conditions. But none actually promoted the nasal spray.
One FB page used a clip from a May 2021 explainer on sinusitis published by cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong’s official YouTube channel.
Another FB page took a short segment from the August 2021 episode of CNN Philippines’ Med Talk on sinus infections.
All FB posts provided a link where netizens can supposedly order the product online. These are scam websites that gather personal information.
The videos spread as the country logged thousands of new COVID-19 cases this January.
FB pages Best Selling Product in Philippines (created on Jan. 18, 2021), Sinusitis, Rhinitis Treatment Center (Sept. 25, 2022), Ang tiyak na paggamot sa sinusitis, allergic rhinitis (Sept. 8, 2022) and Doktor sinus no 3 (Sept. 13, 2022) published the erroneous videos, collectively garnering more than 6,000 reactions, 2,900 comments, 1,073,000 views.
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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)