Letters to six companies target deceptive claims in response to pandemic
The Federal Trade Commission today announced it has sent six letters warning multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) to remove and address claims about their products’ ability to treat or prevent coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) or about the earnings people who have recently lost income can make, or both. This is the second set of warning letters to MLMs the FTC has announced as part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from COVID-19 scams.
The letters highlight specific claims made by the companies or their participants in social media posts and videos posted online, including claims made in Spanish.
The claims addressed in the letters include:
- A Spanish-language social media post promoting Vivri USA, LLC that said, “Take care of your health, your body, avoid many diseases many viruses, since this virus and many others are here to stay, coronavirus, influenza, flu, we should nourish our cells, our immune systems, reinforce it with the best nutrition system in the world …”
- A social media post that said, “#VIRUS_CORONA Worried? I’ve been boosting my immune system for several years with high-quality Plexus supplements. You can too! #Plexus provides excellent all-natural supplements that truly work. Be sensible –not fearful. Scientifically formulated & doctor-approved! Ask me!”
- A video promoting The Juice Plus Company that said, “There are a lot of people out there who have lost income … You may want to build a side income, you know, make $500 a month, $1,000 a month or more. There’s no ceiling on this. It’s whatever you want it to be … What would you like this do to for you? … Maybe it could cover one of your bills, like a car payment. Or enjoy more time and financial freedom. I can tell you those are both possible at the same time because I’ve been living that for the past eight years, and it’s wonderful to be able to offer that to other people.”
The FTC sent the letters to the companies listed below. The recipients are grouped based on the types of claims made.
In letters alleging unsubstantiated health claims, the FTC states that one or more of the efficacy claims made by the companies are unsubstantiated because they are not supported by scientific evidence, and therefore violate the FTC Act. Currently there is no scientific evidence that these, or any, products or services can prevent or treat COVID-19. In letters alleging unsubstantiated earnings claims, the FTC reminds the companies about what constitutes a false or misleading earnings claim that would violate the FTC Act.
The letters refer the companies to the agency’s guidance for MLMs, remind them that they are responsible for the claims made by their participants and representatives, and advise the recipients that they and their participants must immediately cease making all claims that are false or misleading.
The letters also instruct the recipients to notify the FTC within 48 hours about the specific actions they have taken to address the agency’s concerns.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and to protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). For the latest news and resources, follow the FTC on social media, subscribe to press releases and read our blogs.