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Fembots, opiates and federal prison – the latest on FTC consumer protection

Ashley Madison

The website whose tagline used to be “Life is short, have an affair” saw many of its users exposed last summer when hackers leaked personal information related to more than 30 million users.  Now, amidst the company’s efforts to rebrand, its parent company, Avid Life Media, is facing an FTC probe due to the website’s former use of “fembots.”

The thrust of the investigation is that the company used fake female profiles (fembots) to lure in male customers and artificially inflate the number of female users on the site.  This is not the first time a dating website has been accused of using fake profiles to grow its customer base; JDI Dating paid $616,165 for similar practices in a 2014 settlement with the FTC.

The FTC has yet to comment on the investigation.

Sunrise Nutraceuticals

Last year the supplement company was sued by the FTC due to its claims that its product, Elimidrol, would help opiate addicts “permanently overcome withdrawal – the first time.”  However, according to the FTC, Sunrise had no human clinical trials to substantiate any of the product claims.

A final stipulated order was entered into July 6, 2016.  In addition to requiring Sunrise to have scientific evidence before making future claims, the order includes a judgment of almost $1.4 million – with $235,000 to be paid up front and the remainder suspended based on the company’s financial situation.

Kevin Trudeau

Last month, the FTC issued refund checks totaling approximately $6.3 million to consumers who had purchased Trudeau’s book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.  Trudeau advertised the book as an eat anything you want type of plan, but in reality, the book called for daily injections of prescription drugs and a minimalist diet.

Trudeau’s history of fraudulent practices and run ins with the FTC dates back to 1998; and, due to his repetitive and fraudulent actions, and attempts to escape paying millions of dollars in fines, Trudeau is serving 10 years in federal prison for criminal contempt.

When selling products or services directly to consumers, consult an attorney to ensure the company’s sales and marketing practices stay above board; otherwise, you may end up as the subject of one of our articles…

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