Home Consumer FTC Cracks Down On “Miracle Diet Plans”

FTC Cracks Down On “Miracle Diet Plans”

By Al Sunshine, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Consumer Investigator, Oct. 2, 2015 – Weight Loss Scams may be growing faster than some of our waistbands, and Federal Investors are keeping busy trying to keep up with all the latest twists and turns marketers are using to get you to pay for their so-called “Miracle Diet Plans”.

But it turns out the Industry is also fighting back trying to shut down consumer complaints that they lost nothing more than the weight from their pocketbooks over what they paid for it all.

Roca-Labs-Gastric-Bypass-NO-Surgery-2A Flori-Duh Company is the focus of a FTC action after allegedly threatening consumers who had bad experiences with their “Roca Labs “Formula” and “Anti-Craving Formula”.

According to the FTC,” Roca Labs Nutraceutical USA, Inc.; and their principals have sued and threatened to sue consumers who shared their negative experiences online or complained to the Better Business Bureau, stating that the consumers violated the non-disparagement provisions of the “Terms and Conditions” they supposedly agreed to when they bought the products.

Faith Based Events

The FTC alleges that these gag clause provisions, and the defendants’ related warnings, threats, and lawsuits, harm consumers by unfairly barring purchasers from sharing truthful, negative comments about the defendants and their products.

“Roca Labs had an adversarial relationship with the truth,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Not only did they make false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims, they also attempted to intimidate their own customers from sharing truthful – and truly negative – reviews of their products.”

roca-gastricAccording to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants advertised their weight-loss products, Roca Labs “Formula” and “Anti-Cravings” powder, via the Internet and through online search and social media advertising such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook. The defendants represented their products as safe and effective alternatives to gastric bypass surgery. They also claimed that users could lose as much as 21 pounds in one month, and that users have a 90 percent success rate in achieving substantial weight loss.

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against the Florida-based marketers of a line of weight-loss supplements who allegedly made baseless claims for their products, and then threatened to enforce “gag clause” provisions against consumers to stop them from posting negative reviews and testimonials online.

In a complaint filed in federal court, the FTC alleges that Roca Labs, Inc.; Roca Labs Nutraceutical USA, Inc.; and their principals have sued and threatened to sue consumers who shared their negative experiences online or complained to the Better Business Bureau, stating that the consumers violated the non-disparagement provisions of the “Terms and Conditions” they supposedly agreed to when they bought the products. The FTC alleges that these gag clause provisions, and the defendants’ related warnings, threats, and lawsuits, harm consumers by unfairly barring purchasers from sharing truthful, negative comments about the defendants and their products.”

289701776_640The FTC reports the business reportedly sold more than $20 million worth of it’s products since 2010 according to the FTC by marketing them extensively thru online media and social websites like Facebook and Twitter. The FTC says “the defendants represented their products as safe and effective alternatives to gastric bypass surgery. They also claimed that users could lose as much as 21 pounds in one month, and that users have a 90 percent success rate in achieving substantial weight loss.

In addition, the defendants used testimonials and supposed “third-party” reviews to illustrate the weight-loss success consumers achieved with their products. They solicited “Success Videos” from purchasers by offering to pay 50 percent of the products’ price for providing positive reviews. In addition to threatening consumers who violated the gag clause provisions, the defendants claimed that consumers who posted negative reviews would owe the “full price” for their products – hundreds of dollars more than advertised or actually paid, according to the complaint.”

leanspa-standing_400x400In another weight loss case, the FTC says it’s “Mailing 23,406 checks totaling more than $3.7 million to consumers who lost money after buying LeanSpa, a supplement whose marketers allegedly made deceptive weight-loss claims. The FTC and the State of Connecticut sued the marketers of LeanSpa in December 2011, charging that they used fake websites to promote acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss products, and falsely told consumers they could receive free trials by paying a nominal shipping and handling cost. In reality, consumers ended up paying $79.95 for the trial, and for recurring monthly shipments of the product that were hard to cancel. The LeanSpa marketers settled the complaint in 2014, agreeing to stop their allegedly deceptive practices and surrender assets for consumer redress.

Affected consumers will receive an average amount of $160.10. ”

While we’re all barraged with ads for Fast Foods and Beer, we’re also seeing more advertising and promotions for so-called miracle weight loss plans, exercise products and miracle supplements to melt away the fat and lean down.

Most medical experts agree, eating less and exercising more may still be the best way of shedding extra pounds.

And get away from that keyboard and go outside and EXERCISE more than just your fingers!

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Read The FTC Decision

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Al Sunshine is a South Florida-based Broadcast and Digital Journalist whose career has spanned more than 40 years at the local and national levels. His award-winning investigations have triggered more than a dozen state and local consumer protection laws and his work’s been cited in Congressional Testimony before the U-S House of Representatives. He is best known for his “Shame On You” features for CBS Miami which sought to expose businesses, agencies and individuals defrauding or deceiving consumers, as well as endangering the safety and welfare of the general public. In 2013 Al retired from CBS Miami to set up his own Digital News Business, “Sunshine News, LLC” and Al continues to blog for the Radio, Television, Digital News Association, sponsors of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards”. An avid environmentalist, Al is one of the founding members of the “Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition”. The Florida Non-Profit is fighting to save and restore the last 2% of Pine Rocklands found only in South Florida and nowhere else in the continental United States. Al was recently elected its President.