Washington, DC: On January 7, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced settlements relating to fraudulent advertising claims made by three weight-loss products, namely Sensa, L’Occitane, and HCG Diet Direct.
In total, the weight-loss marketers will pay approximately $34 million for consumer redress. In addition to the $26.5 million to be paid by Sensa, L’Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000, and the LeanSpa settling defendants will surrender assets totalling an estimated $7.3 million. The judgment against the HCG Diet Direct defendants is suspended due to their inability to pay.
The FTC charges against Sensa related to the weight-loss company’s print advertisement showing fit female torso and product being poured onto salad. “Need to lose 30 pounds? Try Sensa free. Get a gym body without going to the gym. Clinically proven.” The marketers of Sensa, who exhorted consumers to “sprinkle, eat, and lose weight” – will pay $26.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements. The FTC will make these funds available for refunds to consumers who bought Sensa.
Similarly, charges against L’Occitane involved claims the company made that that its skin cream would slim users’ bodies but had no science to back up that claim.
HCG Diet Direct marketed an unproven human hormone that has been touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment.
The FTC also announced a partial settlement in a fourth case, LeanSpa, LLC, an operation that allegedly deceptively promoted acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss supplements through fake news websites.
“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “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.”
Refund administration for consumer redress takes time, and the FTC is in the process of determining how best to provide redress in each case. Updates about the Sensa redress program can be accessed at http://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds .