Earlier this evening I saw a weight loss ad on TV. The ad promised: “Simply sprinkle Sensa on, eat all the foods you love and watch the pounds come off…It’s that easy.” I thought to myself, how crazy is that and how can anyone fall for such nonsense. So you can imagine my surprise when later this evening I came across a few news articles reporting that FTC charged four companies with weight loss fraud and false advertisement. Among them, Sensa – the product I saw on TV earlier!
It is a perfect time to slap these companies as now is the time when a large number of people make resolutions to lose weight and many, in their desperation, will fall pray to various fraudulent products advertised online or in the media.
The four companies charged were L’Occitane, HCG Direct, Sensa Products and LeanSpa.
False Advertising To Sell Weight Loss Products Leads To Fraud Charges – ABC News
I was going to show you the video from ABC and as a matter of fact I embedded it here but it stopped playing or for some reason the video was taken down.
I’ll try it one more time, but I am not sure if the code will stay up for a longer period of time.
One of the biggest targets was Sensa Products the maker of the Sensa powder that supposedly helps you lose weight by sprinkling the powder on your food and then eating all you want.
The claims simply aren’t supported by the evidence,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, of the ads, which helped generate more than $350 million in business for Sensa over a four-year period, according to ABC News
The second company charged was LeanSpa. In December 2011 FTC halted the operations of LeanSpa for using fake news websites to promote acai berry and colon cleansing products.
The sites included stories such as “Acai Berry Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?” and “1 Trick of a Tiny Belly: Reporter Loses Her ‘Belly’ Using 1 Easy Tip,” and often displayed the logos of major news sources, such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Fake reporters on the sites claimed to have tried the defendants’ weight-loss products, such as LeanSpa, NutraSlim, and SlimFuel, and to have lost a substantial amount of weight quickly – sometimes as much as 25 pounds in four weeks without any special diet or vigorous exercise regime. The fake news sites had links to the defendants’ own websites, where consumers were offered trial samples of two weight-loss dietary supplements: an acai-berry product and a colon cleanse product. The affiliate marketers earned a commission for each consumer who landed on their sites and signed up for a trial. FTC action…
FTC also charged L’Occitane, a luxury bath products company, for deceptive marketing that claimed that “the clinically proven” Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight skin cream could trim inches from a user’s body in four weeks, resulting in a “noticeably slimmer, trimmer you.” (Source)
The fourth company to be charged by the commission was HCG Diet Direct, which sold HCG Diet Direct Drops. These drops contain a hormone (chorionic gonadotropin) produced by human placenta. HCG Diet Direct promoted these drops as a weight loss supplement.
These hormones were to be taken as a supplement with a very low calorie diet of 800 calories per day. The company falsely claimed that the drops were approved by the FDA according to CNN.
Billions of dollars are spent annually on weight loss products many of which deliver nothing but broken promises. It was about time that the commission stepped in. Perhaps this will serve as a warning to the other weight loss charlatans. But perhaps this is also a lesson for the consumer to stay away from weight loss products that make unreasonable claims.