An Orlando, Florida company has been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with making false and unsubstantiated claims in advertisements for its electronic mosquito and pest repellers and its air cleaning products. According to the FTC, Lentek International, Inc., and its principals, Joseph Durek and Lou Lentine, have advertised that their MosquitoContro devices repel mosquitoes from the user and provide an effective alternative to using chemical pesticides in the prevention of the West Nile Virus; that their pest-control products drive away mice, rats, bats, cockroaches, and other household pests by means of ultrasound and electromagnetic technology; and that their air cleaning products remove various pollutants from indoor air through ozone and ionization. The FTC alleges in an administrative complaint that the respondents do not have competent and reliable evidence to support the claims made for these products, and that the claims for the MosquitoContro device are false.
Lentek International is a manufacturer and distributor of such items as air cleaners, pest-control devices, housewares, pet products, personal care products, and flashlights. These products are sold on the Internet, www.lentek.com, in retail stores and catalogs, and by individual home distributors.
The respondents have claimed that their battery-operated MosquitoContro products, designed to be worn or placed near the body, create sounds that mimic male mosquitoes and dragonflies, thereby supposedly frightening away the biting female mosquitoes. The MosquitoContro devices, which cost between $10 and $20, include a bracelet, a key chain, and a tabletop model. The FTC's complaint alleges that the respondents have falsely represented that their MosquitoContro products:
- Effectively repel mosquitoes from a user's body; and
- Are an effective alternative to the use of chemical pesticides or other products formulated to kill or repel mosquitoes in the prevention of West Nile Virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), ultrasonic products are not effective at preventing mosquito bites. It advises people to:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET, according to the manufacturer's instructions;
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants;
- Spread mosquito netting over infant carriers; and
- Stay indoors at dawn and dusk.
See www.cdc.gov for additional information on mosquito repellents and West Nile Virus.
Lentek also markets, under the brand name "PestContro," a variety of pest-control products that are claimed to drive away household pests such as rats, mice and cockroaches. Most of the devices are plug-in or battery operated, and some are sold for outdoor use. The PestContro products purportedly work by emitting ultrasound waves, thereby creating an annoying noise that is audible to certain pests but not to people. The uncomfortable noise supposedly drives pests out of the house or away from an outdoor area. Some PestContro devices also purport to alter the electromagnetic field of household wiring so that pests are driven out of the walls.
According to the FTC's complaint, the respondents do not have a reasonable basis for claims that ultrasound will eliminate or repel pests, including rodents and many insects, from a user's home. The complaint charges as false the respondents' claims that some PestContro devices drive away pests by altering the electromagnetic field of home wiring. In addition, the FTC alleges that the respondents have no basis for their claims that particular devices repel or eliminate pests in a space of a certain size (e.g., 2500 square feet) or that other products repel deer, racoons, skunks, or similar animals from a yard.
Sila Air Cleaners
According to the FTC, the respondents sell several small air cleaning products under the brand name "Sila." These units, ranging in price from $20 to $70, include room air cleaners, devices to be plugged into automobile cigarette lighters, and personal devices to be worn around the neck. The Sila products purportedly clean indoor air through ozone and ion generation.
The FTC's complaint alleges that the respondents do not have a reasonable basis to support claims that use of Sila Air Cleaning products would:
- Eliminate, remove, clear, clean, or substantially reduce airborne pollutants, dust, smoke, soot, pollen, mold, mildew, fungi, bacteria, germs, cigarette smoke, smog, car exhaust, car fumes, pet dander, dust mites, dead skin flakes, chemical fumes, benzene, ammonia, chloroform, formaldehyde, benzopyrene, hydrocarbons, trichloroethylene, and xylene from a user's breathing zone; and
- Prevent or provide relief from allergies, insomnia, hay fever, headaches, and fatigue.
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and notice order was 5-0.
NOTE: The Commission issues or files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of a complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondents have actually violated the law. Such action marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be ruled upon after a formal hearing.
Copies of the complaint and the notice 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, 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, 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.
(FTC File No. 012-3117)
Office of Public Affairs
Elena Paoli, 202-326-2974
Carol Jennings, 202-326-3010
Bureau of Consumer Protection