Internet marketers of acai berry weight-loss pills and colon cleansers will pay $1.5 million to settle charges of deceptive advertising and unfair billing, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
The Phoenix-based Central Coast Nutraceuticals marketed acai berry supplements, colon cleansers, and other products using allegedly fraudulent free trial offers and phony endorsements from Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray. The company will pay $1.5 million as part of a settlement with the FTC, and the money will be made available for consumer refunds.
The FTC complaint alleged that two individuals and five related companies deceptively claimed that their Acai Pure supplement would cause rapid and substantial weight loss, and that their Colotox colon cleanser would prevent colon cancer. Also, despite claiming to offer a “free” trial for a nominal fee and full refunds upon request, the defendants allegedly repeatedly made unauthorized charges to consumers’ bank accounts, and made it all but impossible to avoid paying full price for the products, which typically cost about $40 to $60.
The settlement effectively bans the defendants from selling any products or services with a negative option feature, among several other stipulations in regard to false advertising claims and unfair billing practices. The defendants are also required to monitor affiliate marketers selling products or services on their behalf, to ensure that they comply with the order.
Too Good to be True? It Is
All of this is good news. As far as science is concerned, we have yet to find anything that could seriously be called a “super food.” Additionally, anti-oxidant-based products are taking advantage of a misconception: anti-oxidants have little to no proven benefit and might be dangerous. And with respect to the colon cleansers out there, colon cleansings also have no proven health benefit and are potentially dangerous.
It might be hard to hear, but there is no magic bullet for good health and fitness. Put in the work, exercise, eat right, and you should see results. Any product that you see making extraordinary claims like instant weight loss or preventing cancer is lying to you and making a lot of money doing it.
[Via Consumer Reports]