By Gautham Nagesh - 04/19/11 03:55 PM EDT
The Federal Trade Commission is asking federal courts to stop 10 firms from using fake websites to make misleading claims regarding acai berry weight-loss products.
According to the commission, the websites appear to be legitimate news outlets, but in reality are a form of marketing designed to entice consumers to buy the featured acai berry weight-loss products from other merchants.
The complaints allege the sites are typically titled something like “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” or “Health 5 Beat Health News.” The FTC said the sites frequently display the logos of major media outlets — such as ABC, CBS, CNN and Consumer Reports — and claim their reports have been on the networks.
“Almost everything about these sites is fake,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The weight-loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor.”
The FTC has been cracking down on the marketing of acai berry weight-loss products after receiving a number of complaints from consumers who paid between $70 and $100 after being tricked into purchasing the products.