According to Jessica Rich, the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, marketers Colby Fox and Christopher Reinhold have been scamming customers for some years by luring consumers to click on ads that went to fake news sites (flogs or farticles). The FTC called it a “massive spam operation” that linked to “Fake News Websites, Phony Celebrity Endorsements To Sell Unproven Dietary Supplements.” Among other things, they claimed that Oprah was behind supporting the product and sales of the pills.
“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 FTC’s complaint alleges that Colby Fox, Christopher Reinhold, and their companies, Tachht, Inc. and Teqqi, LLC, paid for e-mails to be sent to consumers from hacked email accounts, making it appear to consumers that the messages came from their family members, friends, or other contacts.
“The e-mails linked to “fake news” websites that were designed to appear as if an independent consumer reporter, rather than a paid advertiser, had reviewed and endorsed the product. The sites also included testimonials from consumers who purportedly had benefitted from the weight-loss products. The false testimonials promised weight loss like “4 lbs/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 FTC also claims the marketers are seriously violating CAN-SPAM act.