FORT WORTH (CN) – An Arlington, Texas man bilked customers who signed up for “free” trials of an acai berry diet supplement over the Internet by automatically signing them up for lifetime supplies whether they knew it or not, the Texas attorney general says. The state sued Austin Hilton and his businesses in Tarrant County Court.
The attorney general says his office and the Better Business Bureau fielded 350 complaints from consumers duped by Hilton’s Internet scam offering “free” 15-day trials of Acai Berry Maxx from his two Web sites, FX Supplements.com and Acaiberrymaxx.com.
Hilton also claimed his stuff could prevent heart disease, cancer and aging, and shed 10 to 30 lbs. of “toxins” from the body, according to the complaint in Tarrant County Court.
Consumer who clicked on the “free” (plus shipping and handling) trial offer, were given “four minutes to order,” hardly enough time to read the fine print signing them up for monthly shipments with automatic credit card deductions, the state says.
Customers had two weeks to cancel, but in many cases the free trial arrived after the two-week deadline. In other cases the trial order never showed up at all, but customers were still billed the $85 per month. The only way to stop the charges was to cancel the credit cards, the attorney general says.
The state demands an injunction and fines of up to $20,000 for each violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and $250,000 for each victim who was 65 or older.