The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged four companies with deceptive marketing related to their weight loss products: Sensa, Inc., LeanSpa, LLC, L’Occitane, and HCG Diet Direct. The FTC is attempting to crack down on companies that promote illusory claims about their products that potentially mislead consumers into buying a product that does not deliver on its promises.
According to the FTC, three of the four companies owe money to reimburse customers: Sensa
Three of the four companies charged owe money to reimburse customers, according to the FTC: Sensa will pay $26.5 million, L’Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000, and LeanSpa will surrender “cash, real estate and personal property” totaling $7.3 million. HCG Diet Direct has presented financial statements to the FTC explaining it can not pay the $3.2 million; the fee has been suspended.
The companies and defendants named in the legal charges are barred from making any other weight loss claims about dietary supplements, food or drugs unless they have reliable scientific evidence, according to the FTC.
Examples of deceptive claims these companies purported include:
- Sensa: “clinically proven to help people lose an average of 30 pounds in six months without dieting or exercise.”
- L’Occitane: “trim 1.3 inches in just 4 weeks” and “visibly refine and reshape the silhouette.”
HCG Diet Direct sells a liquid form of the hormone chorionic gonadotropin, which is produced by the human placenta and has long been said to promote weight loss. This supplement in conjunction with a strick 800 calorie diet is said to deliver impressive weight loss.
“These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” said Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, at the time. “A very low-calorie diet should only be used under proper medical supervision.”
Sensa, Inc. responded to the FTC’s allegations stating, “”The settlement includes no admission of wrongful conduct by the company… The company has agreed to make changes to its advertising claims but otherwise will continue business as usual.”
LeanSpa also fires back defending their company to the public explaining, “”LeanSpa was an excellent company with first rank scientific advisors and an excellent, clinically tested weight loss product. It did not mislead consumers in its product claims or billing practices, and was itself a victim of deceptive and fraudulent conduct by its marketing partners.”
L’Occitance explains how they complied with the FTC saying, “ L’Occitane has implemented a set of even more rigorous policies and procedures that will guide future clinical testing and ensure that our marketing and advertising comply with FTC regulations and guidelines.”
Executives from HCG Diet Direct did not respond to requests for comment.
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