FTC lawsuit targets acai berry marketing ads that pose as legitimate product reviews
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Earlier in the year, the Consumer Wellness Center (CWC) conducted an investigation into those tricky acai berry diet advertisements that lure web surfers into purchasing “free” or low-cost trials of weight loss supplements, only to have their credit cards charged for hundreds of dollars in “membership” fees (http://www.naturalnews.com/031280_acai_berries_scam.html). And the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is finally going to take action against the companies involved in the scam by suing them for “misleading practice.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the FTC has asked federal courts in ten separate cases to stop the companies involved from creating fake acai berry diet ads that pose as legitimate product reviews, but are really nothing more than fabricated marketing schemes. These deceptive ads continue to appear all across the internet on various websites, including many mainstream news websites.
“Almost everything about these sites is fake,” said David Vladeck from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement, concerning the acai ad landing pages. “The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor.”
The FTC is just a little late coming to this realization, though, as NaturalNews warned readers about the scam last February. In the event that you have never seen one of these phony acai berry diet ads — most everyone who uses the internet has likely seen at least one — you can view some screenshots at the following link: http://www.naturalnews.com/031280_acai_berries_scam.html
You can also view the full FTC announcement, including a listing of all ten defendants in the FTC filing, at the following link: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/04/fakenews.shtm
Sadly, acai berries actually can help promote weight loss, as well as help regulate cholesterol, protect against oxidative damage, slow aging, and even prevent cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/acai_berry.html). But luring customers onto a website with fake news reporters, fake testimonials, and deceptive pricing is nothing short of criminal — and the FTC, in this case, is doing the right thing by pursuing these fraudulent companies.
According to the FTC, the companies perpetuating the acai berry ad scam have collectively spent more than $10 million linking them to popular search engines and high-volume websites in order to generate significant traffic. The agency believes that far more than this amount has been raked in from unwary customers, though, who have, in some cases, been billed upwards of several hundred dollars for the products.