Acai Sellers Are Barred From Using Fake News Sites

  |  January 25, 2012   |  Comments

Six online marketers agree to settlements.

Six online marketers have agreed to settlements with the Federal Trade Commission that the agency says will permanently halt their allegedly deceptive use of fake news websites to market acai berry supplements and other products.

The proposed settlements require the operations to make clear when their messages are advertisements rather than objective journalism and will bar the defendants from further deceptive claims. The defendants also must disclose any connections they have with merchants.

Finally, defendants are required to pay roughly $500,000 to the FTC. The monetary judgments are in the full amount of the commissions the defendants received as a result of their deceptive marketing, the agency said. This amounts to most of their assets.

Due to the defendants’ financial condition, the FTC said these judgments will be suspended when it receives certain assets. For example, Ricardo Jose Labra’s $2.5 million judgment will be suspended when he pays $280,000 and records a $39,500 lien on his home. And Zachary Graham’s $953,000 judgment will be suspended when he pays $110,000 plus most of the proceeds from the sale of a truck.In all cases, if it is later determined that the financial information the defendants provided the FTC was false, the full amount of their judgments will become due.

At the FTC’s request in April 2011, federal courts temporarily halted ten acai berry operations. The FTC alleged their websites were designed to appear as if they were part of legitimate news organizations. They had titles such as “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” or “Health 5 Beat Health News” and often falsely represented that the reports had been seen on media outlets like ABC, Fox News, CBS, CNN, USA Today and Consumer Reports.

The FTC received numerous complaints from consumers who paid between $70 and $100 for weight-loss products after having been deceived.

Last year, the FTC brought suit against two other online acai berry marketers: LeanSpa, LLC, which the FTC sued in conjunction with the State of Connecticut, and Jesse Willms. In both cases, the FTC obtained preliminary injunctions barring the defendants from engaging in the charged deceptive practices.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Interactive Product Manager
      Interactive Product Manager (Western Governors University) - Salt Lake CityWestern Governors University, one of the 20 largest universities...
    • SEO Senior Analyst
      SEO Senior Analyst (University of Phoenix (Apollo Education Group)) - San FranciscoSEO Senior Analyst   Position Summary...
    • SEM & Biddable Media Manager
      SEM & Biddable Media Manager (Kepler Group LLC) - New YorkAs an Optimization & Innovation Manager at Kepler Group, you will be on the bleeding...