Feds Seek Millions|for Diet Pill Scheme

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – Eleven defendants in a nationwide diet-pill scheme face millions of dollars in penalties for lying about the pills and refusing to issue refunds.
     The Federal Trade Commission says Crystal Ewing, Classic Productions et al. “deceived thousands of consumers about the purported weight-loss benefits of a diet pill – marketed using three different names – through bogus claims disseminated nationwide in print and online.
     The “advertisements used brazenly fabricated doctors and scientific studies to falsely and without substantiation promise consumer that, simply by taking their pills, consumers would lose weight rapidly without any changes to diet or exercise routines,” the FTC said in its July 1 motion for summary judgment.
     “They lied to consumers about their products’ efficacy and the ‘science’ underlying those claims and stymied consumer’s refund requests. They persisted with their scheme over many years by changing the product’s name and advertising while continuing to cite results invented out of whole cloth,” the FTC added.
     They promised a “no-strings-attached refund,” which they never provided to people who bought the pills, known as Citra-Slim 4, W8-B-Gone and Quick & Easy, the FTC said.
     It adds: “Defendants designed and operated a large network of shell companies, used fictitious names in official documents and correspondence with state regulators, hid behind expired corporations and attempted to employ straw officers in an effort to conceal their unlawful scheme.”
     Unless permanently enjoined, the FTC says, there is a “reasonable likelihood” that the scam will continue.
     Default judgments were entered against Global Access Management on June 23 and against Omni Processing Center and MBE Management on July 18. The FTC filed a motion for summary judgment against the remaining defendants on July 1.
     The FTC estimates the “total consumer harm and total ill-gotten gains” of $4,187,345.
     It says Classic Productions and Global Access Management operated together and caused $1,216,461.70 in damages through Citra-Slim 4.
     It seeks damages from defendants Crystal Ewing, Ricki Black and Classic Productions of $1,216,461.70 apiece; $461,017 from Global Access Management for its sales of Citra-Slim 4; and the same amount from Black.
     It seeks another $1,552,793 from says Classic Productions, Health Nutrition Products, Omni Processing Center and MBE Management for sales of W8-B-Gone; and the same amount from Classic Productions, Health Nutrition Products, Ewing, Howard Raff, David Raff, Murphy Shirley and Ronald Boyde.
     Omni and Health Nutrition Products operated as a common enterprise and caused $957,082.73 in damages through sales of Quick & Easy; and Health Nutrition Products, Howard and David Raff, Murphy and Boyde each are liable for monetary relief of $957,082.73, the FTC says.
     The FTC seeks rapid summary judgment against the defendants, an injunction and the monetary damages.
     A complaisant Congress allows “diet supplement” pushers to operate virtually without regulation, unless or until dangerous chemicals such as methamphetamine analogs are found in them, or outright frauds are committed.

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