FTC asks court to shut down fake news sites

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.