Sellers of the “Centro Natural de Salud Obesity Treatment” have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated claims that their product causes rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss. The “treatment” consists of three pills and a bar of “special soap.”
According to a complaint filed by the FTC, in Spanish-language infomercials and on the Internet the marketers made claims such as “Lose 35 pounds in 2 months,” “Everything you lose, you will never gain back,” and “No diets, no skipping dinner, no calorie counting, no side effects.”
Under the proposed settlement, the defendants are prohibited from representing that any weight-loss product causes users to lose substantial amounts of weight rapidly without reducing caloric intake, to lose as much as a half-pound per day for multiple weeks and months, and to lose weight permanently. They also are prohibited from making any representation about the weight-loss effect or health benefits, performance, or efficacy of a product unless it is true, not misleading, and substantiated by reliable scientific evidence.
The defendants, Centro Natural Services, Inc. and Xavier Rodriguez, are located in Santa Ana, California. The settlement contains a monetary judgment of $2,377,000, all but $20,000 of which is suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay. The full judgment will be imposed if they are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the stipulated final order and amend the complaint to dismiss Rocio Diaz-Rodriguez as a defendant was 5-0. The order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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 order are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and 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 and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.
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