The creator of allegedly false and misleading advertising for Gero Vita International’s dietary supplements has settled Federal Trade Commission charges. Chase Revel is required to post a $1 million performance bond before advertising, marketing, or selling any food, drug, dietary supplement, device, or health-related service. As part of the settlement, he also will pay $27,500 for consumer redress.
“Consumers have a right to expect the ads they read to be truthful,” said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Anyone who cooks up false or misleading claims in an ad -- from those who write them to those who sell the product -- will be held accountable.”
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that seven corporations, A. Glenn Braswell, Revel, and three other individuals deceptively marketed five of their dietary supplements, mostly through direct mail advertising, including the Journal of Longevity, a direct mail ad that purported to be a health-information magazine. The challenged products included: “Lung Support Formula,” a dietary supplement that purportedly cured nearly all breathing and respiratory problems, including asthma, emphysema, and smoking-related damage; “Antibetic Pancreas Tonic,” an herbal supplement that purportedly treated or cured both Type I and Type II diabetes; “G.H.3,” also known as “Theraceuticals GH3 Romanian Youth Formula,” marketed as an anti-aging product that could reverse and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia; “Chitoplex,” a chitosan-based weight-loss product that purportedly enabled users to lose weight without diet or exercise; and “Testerex,” a yohimbe product touted as effective in treating 62 to 95 percent of cases of impotence and erectile dysfunction.
According to the complaint, Revel created misleading ads for Lung Support, Antibetic, and G.H.3., as well as ads for other products the defendants made that were not named in the complaint. He is the final defendant to settle the FTC’s charges.
As part of the settlement, Revel is prohibited from making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated efficacy or safety claims for any food, drug, dietary supplement, device, or health-related service. He also is prohibited from using misleading ad formats (including phony magazines), misleading or unsubstantiated expert endorsements, and misleading scientific evidence. Before he can advertise, market, offer for sale, sell, or distribute a food, drug, dietary supplement, device, or health-related service for human use or consumption, he must first obtain a $1 million performance bond, or irrevocable letter of credit, or put the full amount into an escrow account supervised by an approved escrow agent.
Revel will pay $27,500 for consumer redress. If it is found that he misrepresented his financial status, he will be responsible for the full judgment amount of $1 million. Revel also is the subject of a 1994 stipulated order with the FTC involving the advertising and marketing of pinhole eyeglasses.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the stipulated final order was 5-0. The stipulated final order for permanent injunction was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on January 23, 2006.
NOTE: This stipulated final order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Rich Cleland or Rosemary Rosso,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088 or 202-326-2174