The marketers of Seasilver, an alleged phony cure-all, have been ordered to pay almost $120 million for failing to comply with an earlier order requiring them to pay $3 million in consumer redress.
In ads for Seasilver, the promoters claimed the product, a liquid dietary supplement containing aloe vera, phyto-silver sea vegetables, herbs, cranberry concentrate, and other ingredients, was clinically proven to treat or cure 650 diseases, including cancer and AIDS, and caused rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss without dieting. The FTC alleged that the claims were false and unsubstantiated.
In March 2004, the defendants agreed to settle the FTC’s charges. The settlement, filed in federal court, barred the defendants from making false or misleading claims in the future. It also required the defendants to pay $3 million in consumer redress and included a suspended judgment of $120 million, which would become due if the defendants misrepresented their financial status, or did not make the payments as they agreed.
To date, Seasilver, USA, Inc. and Americaloe, Inc., and their owners, Bela Berkes and Jason Berkes, have paid less than $1 million of the consumer redress they agreed to pay. Under the Court’s order, entered on June 20, 2006, the Seasilver marketers are now jointly and severally liable to pay the full amount of $119,237,000, plus interest. The FTC has secured liens on the defendants’ assets, including a nursery, an aloe farm, and equipment. The two largest distributors of Seasilver, who were named in the FTC’s complaint and settled the charges, have made their separate court-ordered payments of $1 million and $500,000.
The hotline number for this case, 1-866-408-2536, contains more information for interested consumers.
Copies of the orders 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, D.C. 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/ftc/complaint.htm. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Jan Charter or Dave Newman,
FTC’s Western Region
415-848-5115, or 415-848-5123