Man Who Made Fake News Sites To Sell “Pure Green Coffee” Must Pay $30M To Customers

Two years after the Federal Trade Commission sued the marketers of the “Pure Green Coffee” for using fake news sites and fictional reporters to push the weight-loss supplement, the man behind those companies has been ordered to repay $30 million to customers tricked into buying the product.

A federal court judge in Florida recently granted summary judgment [PDF] against Nicholas Scott Congleton, the man behind this illegal marketing of Pure Green Coffee.

The FTC says that Congleton, after hearing that green coffee extract had been talked up as some sort of pound-shedding miracle treatment on a heavily criticized episode of Dr. Oz, partnered up with two others to create their own green coffee extract operation.

He bought numerous URLs, both to sell their product to customers and to provide misleading and unfounded weight loss claims in the form of faked news stories and bought-and-paid-for testimonials.

As part of its marketing campaign, he used his company, NPB Advertising and others to create create sites with mastheads of fictitious news outlets, and logos from actual news organizations.

The ads, according to the complaint [PDF], promised customers “tremendous weight-loss results,” such as losing 17 pounds in two weeks, or 16% of body fat in 12 weeks.

These claims aren’t based in reality, the FTC alleges, noting that the assertions are “biologically implausible.”

Still, the FTC estimates that Pure Green Coffee, which cost about $50 for a one-month supply, sold nearly 536,000 bottles since May 2012.

Under the judgment, Congleton must pay nearly $30 million to the FTC once the order is approved. Those funds can be used for consumer redress, the FTC order states.

Additionally, Congleton is barred from using deceptive advertising practices in the future.

A second man, Dylan Loher, was ordered to turn over nearly $550,000 for his part in benefiting from the scheme.