Sneeze Study Scam

Have you been contacted by someone to participate in a sneeze study.  This person is targeting alternative medicine practitioners.

I was contacted over a year ago and asked to participate in a sneeze study.  I refused because the information provided to me did not make sense and intuitively I could sense something was amiss.  On Saturday I was once again called by the same person and recruited.  I was busy, but curious how he could have “forgotten” he had already contacted me.  I couldn’t find any information online about what appears to be a scam or fraudulent activity so I wanted to post a blog to share the info and see what other’s experience has been.

The man introduces himself as a Dr. Rice or Price or something like that.  He is a Ph.D. psychologist in Canada with a master’s in bio-mechanics.  I didn’t ask a lot of questions, like I did the first time, but basically he calls with caller ID blocked, refuses to give a call back number (“he is just recruiting and someone else will be following up with the study if I agree to participate”), and will not give out University affiliation, etc.  The study is being conducted by a woman in Korea and it is supposedly her dissertation study.  Last time I tried to search on him and her and could find no references.

He asks me if I am a practitioner of EFT, quantum healing, ThetaHealing, etc.  Apparently, he doesn’t know who I am, but “they” gave him a list of people that supposedly fit that description. He spends a good twenty minutes asking few questions and explaining sneeze mechanism and how it correlates to stress and cortisol.  The benefits of the study is to reduce stress and tone my abdominal muscles as I learn to sneeze on command and will do so four days a week, nine minutes a day for eight months.

The script he uses was the same both times.  Last time, I refused to participate and this time I went to the next step and he set up a time to call me back.  Since he talked about payment in August at the end of the study being $5500 by “gift” visa debit card and the training period being $75 taxable requiring a 1099 I was thinking it was a financial scam.  I expected him to request my tax ID and other such stuff, but he never addressed that.

Instead, he called today 1.5 hours after our appointment time (apologized for getting the time zone wrong) and proceeded to start my training.  He repeated a lot of the same information and then had me move to a mirror so I could describe my umbilicus (the acupuncture point CV8).  He was very elaborate.  Size, shape etc illustrated my physical age, stress level, etc.  We were 30 minutes into the call when he wanted to teach me how to sneeze.  When he suggested I go outside and get a blade of grass I hung up.  This was because I had found information about a sneeze scam involving phone auditions where a “pervert” had the “actor” stick various stuff up there nose to try to induce a sneeze.

It seemed that he was not trying to steal financial information from me.  He could have started with that, but was slowly leading me on.  If you have been contacted, please leave a post and let others know.

Reasons this was not a real study:

  1. He said the study began two weeks ago and this was the last day to enroll. (Well, he called me a year ago with the same line.)
  2. He said the study would have over 300 participants.  Each would make $3500 at the end of the study.  If they had a Ph.D. then the pay out would be $5500.  The training was paid at $75 on top of that.  That would mean a Ph.D. student in Korea was conducting a one to two million dollar study.  Not a chance.  And sneezing is not patentable, so no rich drug company sponsor.
  3. A man with a Ph.D. is working for a student.
  4. They refuse to provide any contact info.
  5. They quote HIPPA this and that, but they are not getting signed consent
  6. All entities are outside US, yet they talk about 1099 reporting.
  7. A variety of other conduct which is not how research studies are conducted.