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Just Fall for This Scam and Lose Weight!

Weight-loss scams, foreign lottery offers and buyers clubs were the top ways that scam artists separated 30 million Americans from their money in one year, a U.S. agency said Monday.

Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to fall victim to scam artists than whites, the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement discussing its most recent survey on fraud. Twenty percent of blacks and 18 percent of Hispanics reported being defrauded, compared to 12 percent of whites.

Overall, 13.5 percent of U.S. adults fell victim to fraud, the FTC said.

An estimated 4.8 million Americans bought bogus weight-loss supplements, patches, creams or other products, making fat-fighting fraud the most common scam.

Foreign lottery scams that inform people they won a lottery they didn't enter claimed 3.2 million victims, the FTC said.

Buyers clubs that bill consumers for membership in a club they didn't join had a similar number.

Other schemes included work-at-home programs and prize promotions. In both, victims were promised more than they got -- if they got anything.

Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau, urged consumers to visit the agency's Web site at www.ftc.gov to report fraud and to find out how to recognize scams.

The FTC survey, which was done between Nov. 16 and Dec. 20, 2005, asked about fraud during the previous year. It found that about 30.2 million people, fell victim to 48.7 million incidents of fraud in a 12-month period.

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