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Fake friends with phony weight-loss promises

You receive an email from a friend urging you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s even a link to an article about a celebrity who noticed amazing results, with the author claiming he/she also used this products.

With these trusted sources, would you give it a shot?

Of course some people would fall for it but it’s a scam. The email might be from someone claiming to be a friend but it’s coming from a compromised email account. The links they send will lead to fake news sites with made up success stories. Neither celebrities nor reporter ever endorsed the products. What does this mean for the products? It seems questionable at best.

Lately, the Federal Trade Commission charged four defendants who used the above-mentioned tactics to deceptively market their weight-loss products. According to the FTC, millions of people received illegal spam emails made to look like they come from someone familiar. What were they trying to pull? To generate sales, of course. The FTC says the emails linked to fake news sites with fictitious articles and fake endorsements – even, supposedly, from Oprah. What’s more, says the FTC, the defendants do not have solid evidence backing their claims about the pills.

The Federal Trade Commission also charged a Florida-based affiliate marketing operation with overwhelming consumers with illegal spam email in an attempt to sell them fake weight-loss products using phony celebrity endorsements.

“These defendants used a variety of deceptive tactics to sell their bogus diet pills”, said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But we have a clear message for them – we want their illegal practices to stop and we want to give people back the money they took.”

The complaint alleges that Colby Fox, Christopher Reinhold and their companies, Tchht, Inc and Teqqi, LLC, paid for e-mails to be sent to consumers from hacked email accounts, making it appear to consumers that their family members, friends, or other contacts knew about the products. These email messages lured consumers into clicking on links that took them to websites deceptively promoting the defendants’ unproven weight-loss products,such as Original Pure Forskolin and Original White Kidney Bean.

According to the complaint, these email messages were designed to give the impression of a quick note from a friends, often reading:
“Hi! CNN says this is one of the best [link]”

“Hi! Have you already seen it? [link]”

The emails linked o fake news sites that were designed to appear as if an independent consumer reporter had reviewed and endorsed the product. The sites also included testimonials from consumers who purportedly had benefited from the weight-loss products. The false testimonials promised weight-loss like “albs/week of belly fat” and “41.7lbs in 2.5 months.” According to the FTC’s complaint, these weight-loss claims are false and lack scientific support.

The sites also falsely represented that the products for sale had been featured or endorsed by Oprah Winfrey or the hosts of the television show “The Doctors.” These fake news websites then linked to other sites where consumers could purchase the defendants’ weight-loss products.

According to the complaint, the defendants paid their affiliate marketers a commission whenever consumers clicks through from a fake news website to one of the defendants’ sites and bought their supplements.

The defendants allegedly violated Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Acts, as well as the CAN-SPAM act, according to the complaint.