CHICAGO (CN) – Diet supplement sellers are using fake diet blogs, or “flogs,” to dupe consumers into “risk free trial offers” for purported weight-loss remedies using acai berries, then charging for additional shipments the victims never ordered, Attorney General Lisa Madigan says in three complaints in Cook County Court.
Madigan says the distributors sell acai berry supplements through Web sites “such as Myspace and Facebook,” using “false celebrity endorsements” to lure consumers to accept the “free trial offer.” The companies claim to charge only for shipping and handling.
But the companies do not disclose that they enroll their victims in a subscription if they do not cancel within 14 days, they ignore requests for cancellation, and do not give their targets adequate time to try the product or cancel “by not delivering the free trial product within a reasonable amount of time,” Madigan says.
Distributors charge from $29.95 to $89.95 per month for the additional orders.
Madigan adds that the companies have used pictures of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Mehmet Oz, “touting significant weight loss and implying a connection” with the products – Winfrey’s production company and Oz have filed a separate complaint about that in Manhattan Federal Court.
Madigan says she has received 22 complaints against the supplement distributors. She wants them enjoined from using celebrity advertisements, from offering free trials or enrolling customers for repeat orders, and she seeks restitution.
Defendants include Advanced Wellness Research, Nicholas Molina, Netalab, Crush LLC, TMP Nevada, Amirouche and Norton LLC, and Larby Amirouche.