Four of the biggest names in the “lose weight, fast” game have been charged with fraud by the Federal Trade Commission. On Tuesday, January 8, the FTC determined that Sensa Products, L’Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa had deceptively marketed weight-loss products and made “unfounded promises” that people could lose weight by simply using their products.
The four companies will collectively pay $34 million to customers as a refund. No company has yet admitted or denied the charges.
Here’s a quick rundown of who’s who:
- Charges $59 plus shipping and handling for one-month supply of powder
- Used the reputation of well-known media outlets to “cover” their claims
- Failed to disclose some consumers were paid for their endorsements
- Findings from studies about the products were not supported by scientific evidence
- F.T.C. imposed a $46.5 million judgment; Sensa will pay just over half of that due to “inability to pay”
- Claims are focused on HCG Diet Direct Drops
- This product contain a form of a hormone naturally produced by human placenta
- F.T.C. stated the hormone has been “falsely promoted for decades as a weight-loss supplement”
- Charged the company and its principal executive using fake news websites to promote weight-loss products
- These products included acai berry and colon cleanse products.
- Customers were charged monthly after signing up for a “free” trial
- Cosmetics company that sold “slimming creams” with claims the product would trim inches in weeks
- Will provide $450,000 in refunds to customers
Jessica Rich, director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement, “Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep. 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.”
From now on, according to settlements the F.T.C. reached with the companies, the commission will only accept double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to prove and document the effectiveness of diet products and plans. Data from 2011, the most recent available, shows that 13 percent of the fraud claims made to the F.T.C. were about weight-loss products.
The F.T.C. hopes by cracking down on the companies themselves, and by encouraging media companies to not run ads containing suspect weight loss claims.
Via The New York Times, Image from blog.trysensa.com