weight loss scams

“Operation Failed Resolution” Names 4 Weight Loss Product Scams

Consumer protection, Crime, News

Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions – and for getting ripped off by weight loss products. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently cracked down on a number of weight loss products for false advertising. The settlements, which total several millions, will be made available to customers for refunds in the future.

FTC Targets 4 Weight Loss Products for Deceptive Advertising

The FTC recently took action in “Operation Failed Resolution against the following companies for making unsubstantiated claims in advertising. They can stay in business but cannot make any similar claims about the efficacy of their products without first completing two clinical trials. The settled amounts will be made available for customer refunds.

  1. SENSA claims you can “lose weight without exercising,” and without drugs, diuretics, or stimulants, by sprinkling its patented crystals on the foods you eat. SENSA Products, LLC will settle in the amount of $26.5 million, a fraction of its total $364 million in sales.
  2. The HGC Diet Direct uses a diluted form of a human hormone to help promote weight loss. The website encourages customers to increase their calorie intake for the first two days on the plan and to avoid “heavy exercise.” The FTC’s judgment of $3.2 million against the company was suspended due to inability to pay.
  3. Beauty company L’Occitane sells two creams it claims will help make your figure more svelte. No scientific studies were able to back up how Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight could “reshape the silhouette” without diet and exercise. L’Occitane will pay $450,000.
  4. LeanSpa sells diet systems that use acai berry, colon cleansing, and other supplements and techniques for weight loss. The partial settlement against the company totaled $7.3 million.

In addition, early last year Ab Circle Pro, which sells a product claiming to “melt inches and pounds” via a daily 3-minute ab workout, agreed to pay up to $25 million for customer refunds. The FTC had filed a claim against the company for false advertising in August 2012.

Advice on Buying Weight Loss Products

The FTC offers advice on its website on purchasing weight loss devices, systems, and supplements so you don’t spend your hard-earned money on ineffective products. Be wary of any product that claims:

  • You will lose weight without diet or exercise
  • You can eat all the foods you want to eat
  • You will never have to diet again
  • You only need to take a pill
  • You can lose 30 pounds in 30 days
  • Everyone will lose weight with this product/on this diet
  • You only need a patch or cream to lose weight

Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Instead, the FTC recommends ignoring the testimonials you hear in ads (which are often accompanied by the small print “results not typical” anyway) and reducing calories, eating nutritious foods, and exercising regularly to sustain weight loss.

Customers Eligible for Refunds

If you purchased one of the items above, you may be eligible for a refund. When the FTC has determined how best to process the refunds, it will make information available on its refunds page.