The FTC and six states filed a lawsuit against rental listing platform Roomster Corp. and its owners John Shriber and Roman Zaks for allegedly duping consumers seeking affordable housing by paying for fake reviews and then charging for access to phony listings. Separately, the FTC and the states filed a proposed order against Jonathan Martinez—who allegedly sold Roomster tens of thousands of fake reviews—requiring him to pay $100,000 and cooperate in the FTC’s case against Roomster.
Every year the FTC brings hundreds of cases against individuals and companies for violating consumer protection and competition laws that the agency enforces. These cases can involve fraud, scams, identity theft, false advertising, privacy violations, anti-competitive behavior and more. The Legal Library has detailed information about cases we have brought in federal court or through our internal administrative process, called an adjudicative proceeding.
Online fashion retailer Fashion Nova, LLC is prohibited from suppressing customer reviews of its products and required to pay $4.2 million to settle FTC allegations that the company blocked negative reviews of its products from being posted to its website
Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Wilson Regarding the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Fake and Deceptive Reviews and Endorsements
The FTC’s October 2018 complaint against Redwood Scientific charged the defendants with a scheme that used illegal robocalls to deceptively market dissolvable oral film strips as effective smoking cessation, weight-loss, and sexual-performance aids. Announced in June 2019 as part of a crackdown on illegal robocalls against operations around the country responsible for more than one billion calls, an initial settlement resolved the FTC’s charges against one defendant in the Redwood Scientific case, Danielle Cadiz. The order permanently banned Cadiz from all robocall activities, including ringless voicemails, and imposes a judgment of $18.2 million against Cadiz. In March 2022, the FTC announced the final court orders against all remaining defendants.
The FTC and the State of Maine’s complaint against Health Research Laboratories and its principal, announced in November 2017, alleged that the defendants deceptively marketed two of their health products, BioTherapex and NeuroPlus. In November 2018, the FTC mailed 16,596 checks totaling more than $750,000 to consumers who bought the two deceptively marketed supplements. The FTC and State of Maine subsequently filed a motion seeking a contempt order against the defendants in December 2019, for allegedly violating the final Commission order by continued to market and sell dietary supplements with claims that were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. In November 2020, the FTC staff discontinued its contempt action and filed an administrative complaint against the defendants. The FTC announced a proposed order settling the complaint in March 2020.
The Federal Trade Commission is returning more than $930,000 to consumers who bought tea products that Teami marketed and sold using allegedly deceptive health claims.
The FTC sued Teami, LLC and its owners in March 2020, charging that the company made bogus health claims and paid for endorsements from well-known social media influencers who did not adequately disclose that they were being paid to promote the defendant’s products. Teami claimed without reliable scientific evidence that their Teami 30 Day Detox Pack would help consumers lose weight, and that its other teas would fight cancer, clear clogged arteries, decrease migraines, treat and prevent flus, and treat colds.
On October 21, 2019, the FTC announced it had halted the deceptive online marketing tactics of two companies and their principals, the first of which allegedly sold fake indicators of social media influence, and the second of which allegedly used fake product reviews posted by its employees on a well-known retail website. In the first case, Devumi, LLC and its owner and CEO, German Calas, Jr., agreed to settle the FTC’s first-ever complaint challenging the sale of fake indicators of social media influence. In the second case, cosmetics firm Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC and its CEO agreed to settle an FTC complaint charging them with misleading consumers by posting fake reviews of the company’s products on a major retailer’s website, at the CEO’s direction, and by failing to disclose that the reviewers were company employees. The court entered the final order on October 22, 2019.
The marketers of a dietary supplement called Synovia agreed to settle FTC charges by halting the deceptive tactics they allegedly used to mislead consumers into thinking Synovia could treat arthritis and alleviate joint pain. In December 2020, the Commission announced it was returning almost $775,000 to consumers who both the deceptively marketed product.
Majority Statement of Chairman Joseph J. Simons and Commissioners Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson Regarding Final Approval of the Sunday Riley Settlement
On October 21, 2019, the FTC announced it had halted the deceptive online marketing tactics of cosmetics firm Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC and its CEO. Under the order settling the FTC’s complaint the defendants were banned from misleading consumers by posting fake reviews of the company’s products on a major retailer’s website, at the CEO’s direction, and by failing to disclose that the reviewers were company employees. The FTC announced approval of the final order in November 2020.
The FTC entered into a settlement with the operators of LendEDU.com to resolve allegations that LendEDU falsely claimed that the website provided “objective,” “accurate,” and “unbiased” information about consumer financial products, such as student loans, personal loans, and credit cards, when in fact they offered higher rankings and ratings to companies that paid for placement.
In October 2019, the Florida-based marketers and sellers of two aloe vera-based supplements agreed to settle FTC charges that they deceived consumers with false and unsupported claims that two products, TrueAloe and AloeCran, were effective treatments for a range of conditions affecting seniors, including chronic pain, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, and acid reflux. The court order resolving the complaint prohibits the sellters from making false and unsubstantiated health claims and requires them to pay $537,500. In May 2000, the FTC announced it was sending checks totaling more than $470,000 to consumers who bought the two supplements.
In March 2020, Nevada-based Health Center, Inc. (HCI) and its owner Peggy Pearce agreed to halt their allegedly deceptive advertising claims about three “cure-all” health and wellness products that targeted older consumers nationwide, in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The order settling the FTC’s complaint prohibits HCI and Pearce from such deceptive conduct and imposes a partially suspended monetary judgment.
In April 2019, the FTC announced that 16 defendants settled charges that they deceptively marketed “cognitive improvement” supplements using sham news websites containing false and unsubstantiated efficacy claims, references to non-existent clinical studies, and fraudulent consumer and celebrity endorsements. The FTC also alleged the defendants used affiliate marketers to make deceptive claims for products including Geniux, Xcel, EVO, and Ion-Z. The settlements ban the defendants from engaging in similar conduct in the future. In February 2020, the Commission announced it was sending refund checks totaling over $551,000 to defrauded consumers.
Mortgage Solutions FCS, doing business as Mount Diablo Lending, and Ramon Walker agreed to pay $120,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other laws by revealing personal information about consumers in response to negative reviews posted on the review website Yelp.
According to the agency’s April 2019 complaint, UrthBox violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting that positive consumer reviews on the BBB’s and other websites reflected the independent experiences or opinions of impartial consumers, while the reviewers actually had a material connection to the company. The FTC alleged that UrthBox did not adequately disclose that some consumers received compensation, including free snack boxes, to post those positive reviews. The final order settling the FTC’s charges bars the respondents from engaging in similar conduct and requires them to pay $100,000 to the FTC. In December 2019, the FTC returned more than $84,000 to compensate consumers charged after signing up for the trial offer.