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Oprah, Illinois AG Sue Internet Marketers

Alleged fraud and infringement

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed consumer fraud lawsuits against three suppliers and an affiliate marketer of acai berry products charging the companies lure customers with free online trial offers via aggressive Internet marketing tactics and then charge their credit cards prematurely.

 "For thousands of dieters, the quest for a miracle product has become a nightmare," said Attorney General Madigan. "Far too often, consumers end up losing their money – not weight – in these deals."

Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General
Lisa Madigan
Illinois Attorney General

 In addition, Harpo, Inc, producers of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Dr. Oz Show" along with Dr. Mehmet Oz, filed a trademark infringement complaint against 40 Internet marketers of dietary supplements, including acai berry products among others. Neither Winfrey nor Dr. Oz ever endorsed any acai berry or dietary supplement.

 Named in the lawsuits are Advanced Wellness Research, Crush LLC and its owner, TMP Nevada, Inc. and Larby Amirouche, an affiliate marketer that uses search engines, pop-up ads, websites, and advertising on social networks to drive traffic to suppliers websites.

 The complaint alleges that many consumers did not receive shipment of the trial supplements before they were billed and the companies made it nearly impossible to cancel future orders.

 The suits are asking the court for a permanent injunction barring the companies from selling dietary supplements and continuing with misleading marketing schemes. The lawsuits also ask the court to pay restitution for consumers who have lost money and civil penalties of $50,000 for violating consumer fraud laws.

 "We must hold these Internet scammers accountable for their role in a seedy marketing game that steers unsuspecting consumers to online schemes," Madigan said.

 "We also need to send a clear message to other marketers and networks in the business of designing misleading, traffic enticing schemes."

 

 

Oprah, Illinois AG Sue Internet Marketers
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  • http://www.attorneysokay.com Steve

    The only ads and spam emails I’ve gotten that were about the Acai Berry said “As seen on Oprah”.

    They never said she endorsed it in any way from what I saw, but using a person’s name is almost like an endorsement in this world. Especially when in the end you rip off consumers, like they did. No excuse for that.

  • Adam

    why are people doing like this?there are already a lot of people in a lot of countries who are afraid doing trading through the internet.And if these IMers do this way,then everything becomes more complex.

  • http://www.digitaldonhill.com/ev Don Hill

    I’ve seen a lot of email spam using the phrase “…As Seen On Oprah!”

    I personally don’t watch or follow Oprah, but I certainly support her right to defend her name and brand – which have taken her decades to build.

    The practice of “forced continuity” by offering an item of high perceived value as a “trial” in exchange for being billed regularly for an auto-ship or subscription is rampant in IM circles these days, and as the article describes, it can take months to cancel the auto-ship (and charges to your credit card). Very often, the terms are hidden in “fine print” or very light-colored fonts on the web page (making them nearly impossible to read, or even FIND in some instances).

    Forced continuity is nothing new – it’s been around for decades, with the most common example being the old “Get 12 CDs For Just One PENNY” game (by agreeing to buy X number of additional CDs at the company’s “regular price” – which is typically higher than you would pay at a retail outlet).

    I personally think such shady “forced continuity” schemes should be thoroughly investigated, and severe penalties imposed on people/companies that don’t provide a simple – and IMMEDIATE – way for the customer to cancel the recurring billing.

    Those of us who market ethically on the internet have enough to contend with, without these unethical schlubs continuing to muddy the waters and make life difficult for everyone trying to eke out a living online.

    Go get ‘em, Ms. Madigan!