Lentek International, Inc., Joseph Durek, a former Lentek principal, and Lou Lentine, a current principal, have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated claims in advertisements for their electronic mosquito and pest repellers and their air cleaning products. Under the proposed consent agreement, the respondents are prohibited from claiming that their MosquitoContro, PestContro, and Sila Air Cleaning products are effective unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claims.
Lentek International, based in Orlando, Florida, is a distributor of such items as air cleaners, pest-control devices, housewares, pet products, personal care products, and flashlights. Lentek sells these products on the Internet, in retail stores and catalogs, and by individual home distributors.
The FTC's administrative complaint alleged that the respondents 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. According to the FTC's complaint, the respondents did not have competent and reliable evidence to support the claims made for these products. In addition, the FTC alleged that the claims for the MosquitoContro device are false.
The proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment would prohibit the respondents from representing that:
- any air cleaning product will eliminate, remove, clear, clean, neutralize, sanitize, oxidize, control, or reduce any indoor air pollutant, or that use of such product will prevent, reduce the incidence of, or provide relief from any medical or health-related condition;
- Lentek's PestContro products, or similar pest control products using sonic, ultrasonic, and/or electromagnetic technology, will repel, control, or eliminate rodents, insects, or other pests, or that they will do so in an area of a certain size; and
- Lentek's MosquitoContro products, or similar products, will repel mosquitoes from a user's body, or that such products are an effective alternative to the use of chemical pesticides or other products formulated to kill or repel mosquitoes,
unless these representations are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
The proposed order preserves the FTC's right to seek consumer redress. In addition, it requires Lentek to give copies of the order to all current and future employees, principals, and officers. Finally the order contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0. An announcement regarding the proposed consent agreement will be published in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until March 5, 2003, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, the proposed consent agreement, and an analysis to aid public comment 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 Docket No, 9303)
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