Fraudster's Doing It Again, Class Claims

     NEWARK (CN) - A recidivist scammer is pushing an expensive "super juice" with false claims of its "curative powers," a class action claims in Federal Court.
     "The Mona Vie juice scam is the newest creation of noted multi-level marketing scheme architect, and prior 'super juice' creator, Dallin Larsen, after his last venture was halted by the Food and Drug Administration because of false and misleading advertising," lead plaintiff Lisa Pontrelli says in the lawsuit.
     Larsen is not a named defendant; the defendants are his companies Mona Vie Inc. and Mona Vie LLC, both of South Jordan, Utah.
     "Mona Vie's story is almost identical to that of Royal Tongan Limu - another 'super juice' product with too-good-to-be-true alleged health benefits," the complaint states." Both were created by Larsen. Both are based upon an exotic 'superfood' found in remote locations of the world. Both market schemes were based on claims of outrageous health benefits from consuming the product, ranging from curing cancer and diabetes to making your skin beautiful. Both were sold through multi-level marketing schemes where untrained 'distributors' sell the product by extolling the unproven health benefits to unwitting customers. Royal Tongan Limu came under FDA scrutiny for the false and misleading advertisements about its alleged health benefits and the product was ultimately taken off the market with the unsold inventory being poured into a landfill under FDA supervision. The false and misleading advertisements generated by the Mona Vie scheme, which can best be described as propaganda, are just as offensive to the common law and consumer protection laws as was the Royal Tongan Limu advertising.
     "The propaganda created through the Mona Vie scheme is false and misleading about the nature of and benefits attributable to consuming Mona Vie juice. The propaganda is an essential component of the scheme because the perpetuation of the belief that Mona Vie juice will cure or treat whatever health problems a consumer might have is the main reason defendants are able to charge the wrongfully inflated price of approximately $45 for a 25 ounce bottle."
     Pontrelli says the so-called "independent distributors" are another essential component for the scam.
     "Defendants and their 'independent distributors' sales force work together in a symbolic fashion to sell as much wrongfully overpriced Mona Vie juice as possible," according to the lawsuit. "Defendants know that their co-conspirator 'independent distributors' generate false and misleading advertising about the health benefits of Mona Vie juice, but do not stop them because such advertisements generate sales of Mona Vie juice. The most insidious form of this false and misleading advertising are the testimonials where individuals attribute miraculous medical breakthroughs to their individual chronic health condition to drinking Mona Vie juice. Defendants, of course, taught their 'independent distributors' how to generate such testimonials by themselves hiring individuals of modest celebrity to make their own misleading testimonials."
     By calling these people "independent distributors," Pontrelli claims, Mona Vie can force them to do the "dirty work," shift blame to them when claims about false advertising arise, and "reap the unjust profits that flow from consumer's belief that Mona Vie juice will cure health problems."
     As a result, the class has been defrauded by paying "outrageously inflated" prices for products that fail to deliver the promised "substantial prophylactic, healing, therapeutic and curative powers for an almost limitless universe of diseases and conditions," Pontrelli says in the complaint.
     She seeks an injunction and punitive damages for fraud, consumer fraud and unjust enrichment.
     She is represented by Donald Beshada with Beshada Farnese, of Pompton Lakes, N.J.