FTC Announces $34 Million Settlement with Weight Loss Product Marketers By Tod Aronovitz | 01/14/14 | 0 Comment

As part of the Federal Trade Commission’s initiative to stop misleading claims for products promoting easy weight loss and slimmer bodies, the agency recently cracked down on four marketers of fad weight-loss products charging the companies with deceptive advertising related to their weight loss products.

The ongoing effort, dubbed ‘Operation Failed Resolution,’ dealt a collective $34 million blow to the following marketers:

  • Sensa, who led consumers to believe that they could “sprinkle, eat and lose weight,” will pay $26.5 million for deceptively advertising that the powdered food additive makes users feel full faster so they eat less and lose weight without diet or exercise.  According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants did not have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support these claims. The settlement is second only to the FTC’s $40 million settlement with Skechers in 2012.
  • L’Occitane, Inc., will pay $450,000 for claiming that its Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight skin creams have clinically proven body slimming capabilities that noticeably reduce body size.  The FTC found no scientific evidence to back up that claim.
  • HCG Diet Direct touted an unproven human hormone as a weight-loss treatment, promising that its liquid homeopathic hCG drops bring about rapid and substantial weight loss. The order imposes a $3.2 million judgment, which has been suspended because the company does not have the ability to pay. If the FTC finds that financial information provided by HCG Diet Direct was false, the full amount of the judgment will become due. (Read our Nov. 13, 2013 post on HCG.)
  • LeanSpa, LLC, an operation that allegedly promoted acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss products deceptively through fake news websites, resulted in a partial settlement.  LeanSpa’s principal Boris Mizhen and three companies he controls have been required to surrender cash, real estate and personal property totaling approximately $7 million.  Mizhen’s wife, Angelina Strano, charged as a relief defendant who accepted money from the scheme but did not actively participate in it, will surrender nearly $300,000. Litigation continues against defendants that acted as LeanSpa’s affiliate network, and two other relief defendants.

In addition, the FTC says that the marketers and defendants named in the legal charges are barred from making any other weight-loss claims about dietary supplements, food or drugs unless they have reliable scientific evidence.

“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a news release statement.  “And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none.  The science just isn’t there.”

The FTC is currently deciding how to best provide consumer redress in each case and urges patience in the refund administration process. Consumers can access the FTC’s “Cases and Proceedings” webpage which lists cases that result in refunds.

The FTC also advises that consumers carefully evaluate advertising claims for weight-loss products.  For more information, see the FTC’s guidelines for consumers and media outlets regarding products and services advertised for weight loss and fitness.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Representing Consumers in Product Liability Cases

The Miami product liability law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for citizens across Florida who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation including consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.

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