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By Serge Kreutz (2010)
It is really amazing how easily people can be fooled on Ebay. One of the latest scams is that petty criminals sell alleged tongkat ali extract over the Internet, especially via Ebay.
Of all herbals, tongkat ali is best suited for this scam because it probably is the most expensive herbal of all. It is also not commonly found in Western health food stores.
It is also best suited for scammers in poor Third World countries, as it is a tropical herbal. A Third World Ebay scammer who can sell just 100 dollar worth of fake tongkat ali extract to a buyer in the US has already generated more than a monthly Third World income.
With that kind of earning prospects, it comes to no surprise that youngsters in poor Third World countries flock to computer and Internet schools at a much higher rate than their peers in industrialized nations.
Among Internet-savvy youth in Third World countries, Ebay especially has the reputation of being a cash cow. Or, depending on your political orientations, a means to justly correct the wealth imbalances between poor and rich countries.
Yeah, fake tongkat ali extract sold via Ebay. It is a 99.9 percent safe crime. The danger of a scam victim in Seattle initiating prosecution against a scammer in Surabaya, Indonesia, is already almost nil.
And that is just for the initiation of prosecution, such as filing a police report.
The chance that such prosecution would actually result in a conviction, is infinitesimally small. Any conviction (probably anyway just six month on probation) would cost a victim tens of thousands of dollars through private investigation. Why? Because no hard copy exists of the dealings, it's all just in cyberspace. The police in countries like Indonesia (where most tongkat ali originates) are not equipped and not trained to deal with Ebay scammers.
Talking about money. Doing a tongkat ali extract requires substantial investments, no less than 100,000 dollar even for the cheapest setting.
Now, do you believe that anybody puts down that amount of money and than just runs an Ebay storefront and auctions off capsules by the bottle or extract in 50-gram pouches? Some people have strange ideas after being blinded by seeing a tag that advertises a lower price.
So, what do people sell on Ebay as tongkat ali powder or extract, loose or in capsules.
The latest invention of tongkat ali scammers, including those operating on Ebay, is tongkat ali root powder mixed with ash.
This makes sense, but of course only for scum and scammers.
Because it is now widely known that for the quassinoids in it, tongkat ali is extraordinarily bitter, it has become difficult to just package saw dust into capsules and sell it as tongkat ali. Many people no longer believe that a product that is not bitter indeed is tongkat ali.
It's quite easy to mix tongkat ali root powder with ash. To produce a fake 1:50 extract, use 70 percent tongkat ali root powder and 30 percent ash. Ash from burning wood works best. Ash from burning paper is too fine.
To produce a fake 1:200 extract, use about 50 percent root powder plus 50 percent ash.
For best appearance, use a kitchen mortar and a pestle... just the equipment used to ground and mix curry spices.
The result is indistinguishable from genuine tongkat ali extract. It looks the same, and it even tastes the same... just very bitter, and typically tongkat ali.
The tongkat ali taste is almost impossible to dilute.
But there are only so many taste receptors in the human palate, and taste receptors respond on the molecular level.
Furthermore, taste receptors are subject to fatigue. This means that tastes get "lost" when taste receptors are stimulated by the same molecule over a rather short stretch of time, or when too many taste receptors get stimulated by the same molecule at the same time.
At any rate, the quassinoids in root powder mixed with ash will taste pretty much the same as a genuine tongkat ali extract.
Another trick used by scum and scammers to cheaply produce fakes is to just fry tongkat ali root powder in a Chinese wok (a large high frying pan as it is used in the West to roast chestnuts). When the root powder is roasted in the wok (don't forget constant stirring), it will turn partially into ash, again giving it the appearance and taste of tongkat ali extract (but of course zero therapeutic effect).
So how do you determine whether a product you bought, or intend to buy, is genuine or fake?
Use some common sense (and don't be blinded by lower prices).
Companies that exist for a few month only, but brag as if they are a century old, are much more likely to be fake than companies that have been around for many years. And retail outlets on Ebay that do not even run a proper company website are almost certainly fake... unless they sell a product of a large manufacturer at a reduced profit margin.
Indeed, many Ebay retailers do claim to sell products of large manufacturers, but even these claims are most of the time fake (write to the alleged manufacturer; they are usually more than willing to confirm whether a retailer is authentic or not).
As for websites selling alleged tongkat ali products, you can determine whether a company has been around by a simple whois search. A convenient whois tool is found at:
Furthermore, genuine sites usually reveal all their registration details, and the registration details are related to tongkat ali, while spam-and-scam sites are more likely to be registered as some Internet "optimization" outfit, with further details hidden.
Another good method to find out which sources are likely to be genuine and which are most probably fake, is to look at the product line.
Genuine sources typically have a unique line of products, while scum and scammers will just ride on well established identifiers, such as a formulation or an extract ratio.
If, for example, a new website sells exactly the same items as another site that has been around for 10 or more years, then this new site can only be either a distributor or an impostor.
This is why sites that sell specific formulations like rahsahelian.com are less vulnerable to product piracy than companies like tongkatali.org, which has been selling unblended 1:50 and 1:200 tongkat ali extracts for a decade. Anyway, whether a new website selling exactly the same items or alleged items (under the same or a different brand name) of products is a genuine reseller or a spam-and-scam enterprise, is quite easy to find out.
As mentioned above, producers and wholesale companies are usually more than willing to identify their resellers. Usually this just needs a short email.
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Copyright Serge Kreutz