When considering health claims about a product the FDA often comes to mind. That Agency, however, is not alone in enforcing product claims as the Federal Trade Commission again demonstrated today. In a press release from the FTC it announced a settlement with six online marketers of acai berry supplements and other weight-loss products. The proposed settlements impose monetary judgments in the full amount of the commissions the defendants received for deceptive marketing through their fake news sites.
According to the FTC complaints, in pitching the acai weight-loss products, the defendants posted attention-grabbing ads on search engines and high volume websites, such as “Acai Berry EXPOSED – Health Reporter Discovers the Shocking Truth,” driving traffic to the fake news sites and ultimately to the sites where merchants sell the products. The FTC received numerous complaints from consumers who paid between $70 and $100 for weight-loss products after having been deceived by fake news sites.
Six online marketers agreed to settlements with the Federal Trade Commission that will permanently halt their allegedly deceptive practice of using fake news websites to market acai berry supplements and other weight-loss products.
As part of its ongoing crackdown on bogus health claims, the proposed settlements will require that the six operations make clear when their commercial messages are advertisements rather than objective journalism, and will bar the defendants from further deceptive claims about health-related products such as the acai berry weight-loss supplements and colon cleansers that they marketed.
The defendants also are required to disclose any material connections they have with merchants, and will be barred from making deceptive claims about other products, such as the work-at-home schemes or penny auctions that most of them promoted. The settlements also require that these defendants collectively pay roughly $500,000 to the Commission because their advertisements violated federal law. This money amounts to most of their assets.
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