(CN) – The Alcoholism Cure Foundation bilks consumers with a so-called “Permanent Cure” for alcoholism, and threatens to disclose their private medical information unless they keep forking over as much as $269 per month for a potion of “herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids,” Florida and the FTC say.
They sued the Foundation and Robert Douglas Krotzer, aka “Dr. Doug,” in Jacksonville Federal Court.
Krotzer is the director and sole owner of the Jacksonville-based Alcoholism Cure Foundation. The state and the FTC demand that he stop claiming on his Web site that the “Permanent Cure” was developed and is recommended by doctors and is the result of millions of dollars of research.
Prosecutors say the Web site advertised the program as “Virtually Free!”; said it can “End Alcohol Abuse Permanently” so customers can “Enjoy A Few Drinks – Without Carvings”; and added “Will We Work for You? Yes, beyond our PhDs’ wildest dreams. We have cured nearly all members.”
But none of the company’s employees, not even “Dr. Doug,” hold any doctorates or licenses to treat alcoholism, the state and FTC say.
Prosecutors say the company falsely claims that its “Molecule Multiplicity” system was developed and endorsed by double Noble Laureate Linus Pauling and the Harvard Medical School, among others.
The prosecutors say the company has made nearly $700,000 since 2005 peddling the “Permanent Cure” online though a confusing and inconsistent Web site and deceptive advertising.
While the company’s Web site claims that a customer can quit the program at any time, many have found it nearly impossible to get free, according to the complaint.
When consumers have tried to quit the program, the company has charged them for at least 5 months of the “cure” in advance, assuming that they have started drinking again, the prosecutors say.
If a customer fails to keep paying, the company will disclose personal health information to bill collectors, according to the complaint.
To quit the company, a customer must submit “proof of continued drinking,” including notarized notes from a doctor and at least five friends confirming that the customer continues to drink, and receipts for alcohol for up to two months, according to the complaint.
If a customer fails to provide this, the company assumes that he is “cured” and charges him for the “full cost of the program,” which is usually between $9,000 and $20,000, according to the lawsuit.
Prosecutors seek an injunction and damages for false claims, unauthorized billing, and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.