The Lutragen and Essence of Argan scam – an open source investigation

It’s the beauty cream Australian personality Jessica Rowe warned others against using after she found her name had been fraudulently caught up endorsing the product through a series of online sponsored ads.

This was quickly followed by other personalities such as Deborah Knight encouraging the public to heed their warning about this latest beauty scam.

Curious as to who was behind the Lutragen beauty product, Online Investigations Pty Ltd decided to take a look beyond the skin deep surface layers and figure out who was schilling this misleading brand.

THE MARKETERS:

The origins of the post falsely linking Jessica Rowe to the brand appear to have begun on Facebook, where the Facebook page “Tasty Life” created the following sponsored ads:

The Facebook page Tasty Life was created on or about the 17 November 2017 and is limited in the information it provides about its background.  However, all the posts encourage visitors to view blogs located at the the website http://www.bodyscope.net.  The site appears to be a lifestyle blog, but all ownership details and listed contacts are hidden.  **Note: This site has since been taken down.

Google adverts which run on this site are linked to the same account connected to no less than 111 other domains.  These have all been identified as lifestyle type blogs and all hide their true registrant details.  An example of the sites which all share the same Google Advert account are: beautyplay.net, buzzbeat.net, buzzbrewer.com, coconutty.net, dizzydolphin.net, inspiredstyle.net, luxscoop, moonowl.net, roazted.com and tenderpixels.com.

Going back to the sponsored post about Jessica Rowe, the post leads to a different website with the full URL identified as: http://viraliga.com/2018/05/03/jess-rowe-speaks-out-for-the-first-time-following-her-shock-departure/?utm_source=au-f3&utm_medium=dt-nr&utm_campaign=au-jess1&utm_term=a0101&utm_content=jessilv1

Looking at the full URL of the advertisement, it is clear the success of the advert is being tracked using the campaign reference “au-jess1”.  At the time the sponsored post was active (May 2018), the website led to a blog post heavily promoting Lutragen.

An excerpt of the website when the campaign was active looked like this:

This campaign has since ended and the website now shows a generic post related to Jessica Rowe leaving her role on Studio 10.

The current website makes no mention of Lutragen.

Domain registrant searches of Viraliga.com identified the true owner was hidden using a third party anonymising service, however this was briefly lifted back in May 2017 with the true registrant revealed to be:

Registrant Name: Butterfly Media
Registrant Street: Hayarkon
Registrant Street: 2nd Floor
Registrant City: Tel Aviv
Registrant State/Province: IL
Registrant Postal Code: 69710
Registrant Country: IL
Registrant Phone: +972.583338614
Registrant Email: bmedia@gmx.com

The company is described as:

“ButterFly Media runs a global engagement network over Facebook with tens of millions of engaged users in reach and millions of active story-tellers (Talking About It) at all times.”

Although the company lists their headquarters in Israel, the Chairman of the company, Arnon Katz resides in the United Kingdom.

Butterfly Media improves the online social reach of their clients by creating content and promoting it using their network of content orientated Facebook pages around the world.

An explanation of how their service works is described in their promotional video as:

“Instead of having standard ads we offer smart, ethical, no spam, audience targeted attention by a strict pay per performance base that will make Facebook users enjoy your stories, reach your page and eventually your business.  We want to spread your stories on those news feeds”.  

The website for Butterfly Media is located at http://www.bmntw.com, which currently shows a holding page only with the words “Butterfly Media”. The last known date it was recorded as active was January 2018 and encouraged new clients to contact them via their email address info@bmntw.com which is also no longer active.

THE MAILING ADDRESS:

While there are many affiliate pages for the sale of Lutragen, the top level domain can be found at http://www.lutragen.com.

The website states when a customer places an order through this site they will be “shipped a 30 day supply of Lutragen Anti Aging and billed only $6.90, shipping and handling.”  The site further states “If you feel Lutragen Anti Aging is not for you, cancel within 14 days from today to avoid enrollment in the Exclusive Lutragen Anti Aging auto-shipment program which sends you a 1 month supply every 30 days starting 14 days from shipment of the first bottle for $131.00 plus shipping and handling of $6.90.”

Once an individual completes the form with their contact details, even if they do not complete the transaction they will begin to receive emails encouraging them to complete the order.

At the bottom of this email, additional information as to the sender is provided as:

A Google Street view of this address reviewed identified this was in fact the address for “Overseas House” which provided an additional contact phone number.

The phone number was connected to the website https://www.openaeuropeancompany.com/about-us/ which states:

“The website for OpenAeuropeancompany.com has been set up to provide a fully comprehensive specialist service to those individuals and companies who are looking to set up in Europe and need a package of services that are tailored to their own specific requirements. We can provide a full range of services including: company formation, bank account assistance, offices and accountancy as well as post incorporation consulting services.”

Further review of this address identified it is connected to a significant number of companies and acts as a ‘virtual office’ rather than a physical address for the representatives of a specific company.

THE COMPANY:

Company record information for Down Range Limited revealed it was first registered on the 21st April 2011 however had recently dissolved as of 17th July 2018.

The Company Directors were identified as:

Robert Brett Bell (September 1975) – Utah, United States Of America; and

William Marc Bell (December 1977)  – Utah, United States of America

A former Director was identified as

Tobias Charles Sachev (June 1986) – Herts, United Kingdom

Enquiries into Robert Brett Bell and William Marc Bell identified they had a history of involvement in an alleged work from home scam which falsely traded on Google’s name.  Further to this, they were also linked to the company Yknot Holdings LLC which has an extensive listings of complaints online related to non delivery of goods.

There are also a number of online complaints linking Yknot Holdings LLC to the failed delivery of supplements and fraudulent billing.

THE CONTACT PHONE NUMBER:

Information on the lutragren.com website states “To cancel at anytime call +61-290520868 or for more information please visit http://www.lutragen.com/support/”

A reverse search of  (02) 9052 0868 reveals an extensive list of supplements (and subsequent complaints of non-delivery) which all list this number as their contact number.

This includes but is not limited to:
Junivive Cream
Optic Garcinia
Garcinia Cambogia
Ultavive Garcinia
Votofel Force
Nutralu Garcinia
Celuraid Extreme
Lutrevia
Vexan Pills
Activeplus Youth Cream
Renuvaline
Xaxtus TBoost
Mustachio Testosterone
Phytolast
Tryvix Cream
The domain lesunecs.com has recently been connected to the sale of Lutragen

LESUNECS.COM:

From 30th September 2018, complaints began appearing here from Australians stating they had incurred repeated fraudulent transactions and received the Lutragen product in the mail despite never ordering it.  The charges on their bank statement were showing as “Lesunecs.com 35376680371 IE”.

Domain searches identified the current registrant to be:

Valerie McHugh

Acoustic Ales LImited

4 Chuirt An Fhile, Roslevan

Ennis, Co. Clare V95 YE2D

Ireland

Tel: +353 766 803 714

Email: support@lesunecs.com

Reverse searches of domains owned by “Valerie McHugh” revealed 145 other sites owned in this name.  These included domains including but not limited to:

Domain NameCreate DateRegistrar
acousticaleslimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
alpinestreetlimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
apapodalin.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
apapodalincs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
avirier.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
aviriercs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
bdycgecrecs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
bldvstmscl.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
bldvstmsclcstmr.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
bldvstmsclhlp.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
blkbldcs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
blkbuldinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
bodycagecore.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
branchvalleylimited.com2018-04-26NAMECHEAP INC
brllntsknsrm.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
buildvastmuscle.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
buildvastmusclecs.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
bulbuilcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
bulkbldhelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
bulkbuilds.com2018-01-23NAMECHEAP INC
clabsctinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
classyskinplus.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
clearabscut.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
clearacthelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
clearmaize.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
clearmzcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
clrmaizeinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
clrmzecs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
clsssknplscs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
cmaizehelpdesk.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
coronadomedialimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
craneflatlimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
customerdrmhd.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
denoroy.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
denoroycs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
dermahyde.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
dewrevitalmoisturizer.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
dewrevitalmoisturizercs.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
dewrevitalserum.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
dewrevitalserumcs.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
dhydeinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dmahyhelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
docids.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
docidscs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
downcleansediet.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
downcleansedietcs.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
drmhydcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwnclnsdt.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
dwnclnsdtcstmr.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
dwnclnsdthlp.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP IN
Domain NameCreate DateRegistrar
dwrevitalmoistcs.com2018-03-01NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknmoistcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknmoistcstmr.com2018-03-01NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknmoistcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknmoisthelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknsrmcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknsrmcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
dwysknsrmhelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
erilao.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
erilaocs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
extrmctdtcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
extrmctdtcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
extrmctdthelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
ffgainshelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
fitnesslimgympro.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
fitnessprodetox.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
flashneinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
fofygnscs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
forfgainscustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
fortifygains.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
frlashncs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
frlasnecustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
frofa.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
frofacs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
frolashine.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
frshinehelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
frtfygnshelp.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
ftnsprodtxhelp.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
ftnssslmgymproinfo.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
gransia.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
gransiacs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
hairluxycare.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
hdrmshinehelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
healthdshinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
healthydermashine.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
helpdeskcabsct.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
helpdesksknrvta.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
hinuetente.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
hinuetentecs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
hldrmshcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
hrlxycrcs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
iatha.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
iathacs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
infodeskclrbsct.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
infodeskskvta.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
larodor.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
larodorcs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
lesune.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
lesunecs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
lhtdrmshninfo.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
Domain NameCreate DateRegistrar
manneably.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
manneablycs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
matoket.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
matoketcs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
misiota.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
misiotacs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
missionestancialimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
msclbrodmsscs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
msclbrodmsscstmr.com2018-03-01NAMECHEAP INC
msclbrodmsscustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
msclbrodmsshelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
mstrnsprinfo.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
muscletransitionpro.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
naturalnewglow.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
newshinelocks.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
ntnwglwinfo.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
nwshlckcs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
pfere.com2017-09-14NAMECHEAP INC
pferecs.com2017-09-22NAMECHEAP INC
pheobuslimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
rejuveskinserum.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
rjvsksrminfodesk.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
scrtstnhr.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
scrtstnhrcstmr.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
scrtstnhrhlp.com2018-03-06NAMECHEAP INC
skinrevita.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
skrvtasupport.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
slfsdtinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
sllimfastdiet.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
sllmfsdcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
slmfastdcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
slmfstdtcs.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
srvtahelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
superbhairrepair.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
superbhairrepaircs.com2018-01-26NAMECHEAP INC
trendglamoreskin.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
trndglmrskninfo.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
upwardfollicledesignslimited.com2018-04-13NAMECHEAP INC
yhairhinfo.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
yhhealthcustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
yourhairhealth.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
yourhhlthcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
yrhrhlthinfodesk.com2018-01-19NAMECHEAP INC
yrstnhrcs.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
yrstnhrcscustomer.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC
yrstnhrhelp.com2018-02-05NAMECHEAP INC

ESSENCE OF ARGAN:

A new scam warning has also recently popped up for “Essence of Argan” oil, this time being shilled using the fake testimony of Australian personality Samantha Armytage.

As outlined in the Lutragen scam above, the marketing tactics of this oil involve sponsored Facebook ads, fake news articles and the enticement of a ‘free’ trial.  Once a customer has provided their details they are usually overcharged on their credit card and the product doesn’t arrive.

The website located at https://essenceofargan.com/ has been registered since 2010, with the true registrant hidden by a third party anonymiser since June 2011.  At the time of its registration in 2010, the registrant was provided as:

OShea, Kelly  
kelly@1streamline.com
16001 Collins Ave #3307
Sunny Isles, Florida 33160
United States
3053363993

Open source searches on Kelly O’Shea revealed him to be the current Director of CO Holdings, Ltd , which is described as providing solutions “for continued/expedited growth”.  Further to this, Mr O’Shea’s LinkedIN profile describes him as “an active Entrepreneur and Patent Author focusing on E-Commerce, currently acting as CEO or Director for several Global Corporations. Passionately improving the Ad-Tech, Fin-Tech and Health & Beauty sectors.

The website states they are owned by “Life Style Ventures, LTD” which provide a Malta location for their head office.

A search of the Maltese company records confirm the following company details:

LIFESTYLE VENTURES LIMITEDC 62477CAROLINA COURT, FLAT 2, 69, GIUSEPPE CALI STREET,TA’ XBIEX

A search on Google maps of this location provides the following image for the company head office.  (Would seeing this make you rethink where you were purchasing your beauty products from?)

Life Style Ventures Ltd office location – Carolina Court, 69 Giuseppe Cali St., Fl.2, Ta’Xbiex, XBX 1425, Malta.

Both CoHoldings, Ltd and Life Style Ventures Ltd list their physical address at the above address, however Kelly O’Shea currently lists himself as residing in the Greater New York area.

So a warning for those who are enticed by sponsored ads and the lure of their favourite personalities promoting supplements online – do you really know what you’re getting?

Have you had experiences with purchasing Lutragen or a similar related product or company association? Let us know in the comments below:

16 thoughts on “The Lutragen and Essence of Argan scam – an open source investigation

  1. Cara Reply

    I recently saw a Facebook advert about Jennifer Hawkins and why she was quiting Myer, she was starting a skin care line called lutragen and wanted to give people a sample just pay for shipping costs which I purchased and then realized later on further investigation as their email in my inbox did not look professional that it was a scam. I received the dodgy products and emailed them saying cancel any order you may have from me, even though I didn’t sign up for a subscription, I read they continue taking money out.

    • Online Investigations Team Post authorReply

      Thank you for letting us know about this and sorry to hear of your situation. We were not aware Jennifer Hawkins had been frauduently used to promote this. Please make sure you notify your bank about the unauthorised withdrawals.

  2. Janet Laing Reply

    You guys are a total rip off. F… I hate people like u. Yes I have let the bank no. But in the mean time you have taken out $450. out of my account for 2 pots of cream that i only wanted to try at a low price before i brought. What kind of trick was that. I’m very disappointed but yes I should of known better and that it was good to be true. A refund would be greatly appreciated as that has really made me mad.

    • Online Investigations Team Post authorReply

      Hi Janet – sorry to hear you a victim of the Lutragen scam. Unfortunately you have left a comment on an article from an Investigation warning others about this and we are not the people who have sold you the Lutragen or taken money out of your account. Please report this scam to your bank and ensure any direct debits are cancelled.

  3. Diane Leak Reply

    I just got off the phone from the Essence of Argan customer service. I only ordered this yesterday (sat) at 4pm. Had a bad feeling about this, and I normally don’t order things online. Once I read the bad reviews, I rang the bank this morning (sunday 9.30am) cancelled my card. Then rang cust service, told them I got in trouble with my husband for ordering and needed to cancell it. Since it hadn’t been packed for shipping, they did cancel it. although he tried to get me to just try it anyway. I got emails about cancellation and a refund while I was still on the phone to them. Lets hope that worked.

  4. peter Reply

    Hi There would you be interested in a go find me page to fund the further investigation & class action against all directors of this company? As a digital expert I would be very keen to get support and bring some accountability to the web to stop further activities like this.

  5. Lisa Meuleman Reply

    Please stop sending product and billing. Pensioner and can’t afford anymore.

    • Online Investigations Team Post authorReply

      Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment. We are not affiliated with Lutragen – we are an investigation company who have identified this as a scam. Please contact your bank to report this and stop the direct debit.

  6. Malcolm Johns Reply

    After doing a “survey” and ordering a “free” gift I now find a debit in their name on my bank statement. Please keep exposing this “scam” rip off to let others know .

  7. germaineshepherd Reply

    Ordered the trial of Essence of Argan for $15.93. I assumed this was the amount in AUD and not US dollars as they had my billing address in Australia. yesterday (2/11/20) I got a statement from my bank and saw they had taken $160.72 from my account! When I rang a number that was the Australian number I found on their email, I spoke to a Filipino lady calling herself “Sarah” who had a phony American accent. She offered me 40% then 60% then 70% refund when I said I would contact Scam Watch. I went to the bank and got my account canceled today and put in a Visa dispute. I rang the company when I got home and got the same story that I should have returned the product after 30 days if I didn’t want to be charged the full amount of over $100. I said that the ad I clicked on had no such info as far as I could remember. I would not have agreed to their terms and conditions had I known that in purchasing their product it was incumbent on me returning said product or I would be hit for over $100 which they claim is the true value. I see in the reviews that others have returned the product and got no refund. It is a scam!

  8. Sophia Drawbridge Reply

    On the 14th of December 2020 an amount for $168.48 came out of my account from lesunecs.com for a product I didn’t order. I feel I had been scammed and completely ripped off. This happened so inconveniently right before Christmas 🌲☃️ which meant I couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for my family. I’m not a rich person and am just getting by from week to week. I have had to change my visa debit EFTPOS card. I would really appreciate it if this company would get back to me on this matter on refunding my money 💲💰 back to me, I really need this money as now because of this I have an overdue bill I need to fix and this has left me angry and very upset. Why people steal from the less fortunate for their own benefit is beyond me. For me $168.48 is a lot of 💰 that I could have done with. Please get back to me on this matter.

  9. Anita Varga Reply

    I have been scammed now. It is the name of https://www.erilao.com/ I saw some promotion for the El Cortes Ingles and ended up buying some face creams for a few euro-s. I din’t saw anything about monthly subscription anywhere thru the process of ordering. It was last week. Today I got charged of 98, 59 eur. I called them..there was somebody in a car driving..after a man hanged up the phone, I called again and it was a lady saying that I probably didn’t saw the monthly subscription… I didn’t even got the product. I cancel my card, and I hope that they cannot charge me anymore. I am trying to get back my money thru bank 🙁 I am extremely sad..I could used this money for my children 🙁 What can we do in this situation?

  10. Caron Hortara Reply

    I am acting on behalf of my 82 yr old mother, she cant remember who or what she has bought from aviriercs.com Doing a small investigation I have found this page and think that it was Essence of Argon oil. Her bank statement shows 2 amounts being deducted 2 April 2020 AUD$8.52 and 25 April $138.39 she has not received any goods/parcels. We sought assistance from her bank but unfortunately they believe that mum has signed up for something and therefore unable to help. I am going to try them again as now i know it was definately a scam. My question is … is there something else we can do to get a refund even a partial one as she is a pensioner.

  11. Janice Vella Reply

    I have also been scammed by this company. Already they have taken just over $500 with no products being delivered. I have tried to cancel my “subscription” and have sent several emails but I keep being billed for nothing.

  12. Marius Paul O'Shea Reply

    I have also been scammed by Argan. Sent off for the “free” offer (postage only), then discovered that I was paying AUD109.99 a month for “membership. When I contacted Customer Service I was told that under Terms and Conditions I had signed on for membership. At no point and nowhere on any of the Argan correspondence was there any mention of “membership”. Of course, no refund is forthcoming.

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