FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) – More than 700 people have complained that Advanced Wellness Research bilked them for alleged health products they didn’t order and don’t want, Florida claims in Broward County Court. The Miami-based company offers a “free trial” on its Web site, then charges $80 a month and makes it hard or impossible to cancel, the state says.
The state also sued Netalab and Transact Plus and the three people who run the companies: Nicolas Molina of Miami Beach; Michael Trimarco of Hauppauge, N.Y.; and Kelly O’Shea of Aventura, Fla.
Assistant Attorney General Theresa Edwards says more than 700 people from all over the country have complained of the scam.
The defendants sell a range of stuff, including acai berries and tooth whiteners. They ask their victims for their credit card numbers to pay a $4.95 “shipping charge” and then bill them for $80 a month, plus other unauthorized charges, the state says.
Acai berries have been touted by dozens of dodgy online companies after the Brazilian palm fruit was mentioned on the Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray shows, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a statement.
“If Bernard Madoff were in the food business, he’d be offering ‘free’ trials of acai-based weight-loss products,” nutritionist David Schardt said in a CSPI newsletter.
Florida seeks injunctions and penalties, and stiffer penalties for each case in which the victim was a senior citizen.