It was nine months ago that the Federal Trade Commission announced its crackdown on companies that created sites aimed to look like news reports that were really just advertisements for supplements and other weight loss products made from acai berries. Now, as part of a settlement agreement, six online marketers will permanently stop the deceptive practice.
The proposed settlement requires the defendants make clear when commercial messages are advertisements as opposed to journalism, and bars them from further deceptive claims about health-related products, such as the acai berry weight-loss supplements and colon cleansers that they marketed.
Among other stipulations of the settlement, the marketers are also barred from making deceptive claims about other products, such as the work-at-home schemes or penny auctions promoted by many of them.
The settlements also requires the defendants pay about $500,000 collectively, because their advertisements violated federal law.
While all the acai hype was building in recent years, our cohorts at Consumer Reports have maintained that although the berries may be high in antioxidants, there is little evidence that they have special weight-loss or other such powers that you can often touted in ads on the Internet.