The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said today, a U.S. district court has ordered the marketers of acai berry supplements and other products to stop an Internet sales scheme that allegedly scammed people out of $30 million or more in 2009 through deceptive advertising and unfair billing practices.
The FTC says since 2007, victimized consumers have flooded law enforcement agencies and the Better Business Bureau with more than 2,800 complaints about the company Central Coast Nutraceuticals (CCN).
"Too many ‘free’ offers come with strings attached," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
"In this case, the defendants promised buyers a ‘risk free’ trial and then illegally billed their credit cards again and again – and again. We estimate that about a million people has fallen victim to this scam. As if that weren’t enough, there were fake endorsements from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray for a product that didn’t work in the first place."
The court order stops the allegedly illegal conduct of CCN, imposes an asset freeze, and appoints a temporary receiver over CCN and a number of related companies, while the FTC goes forward with its case to stop the company’s bogus health claims and other deceptive and unfair conduct.
The FTC charged CCN, two individuals, and four related companies with multiple violations, including deceptively advertising AcaiPure, an acai berry supplement, as a weight-loss product, and Colopure, a colon cleansing supplement, as an aid for preventing cancer.