A Baltimore-based company, Agora Financial, LLC, and several of its affiliates have agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they tricked seniors into buying pamphlets, newsletters, and other publications that falsely promised a cure for type 2 diabetes or promoted a phony plan to help them cash in on a government-affiliated check program.
In addition to the monetary judgment, which will be used to provide refunds to defrauded consumers, the proposed settlement also bars Agora and the other defendants from making such false or unsupported claims.
“These defendants preyed primarily on older consumers with false or unsubstantiated claims about curing diabetes and free money from the government,” said Bureau of Consumer Protection Acting Director Daniel Kaufman. “The FTC has a long history of taking legal action against deceptive claims such as these, and companies that fail to substantiate their scientific and financial representations can expect to face the consequences.”
According to the FTC’s October 2019 complaint, Agora and some of its affiliates primarily targeted its publications, including The Doctor’s Guide to Reversing Diabetes in 28 Days (The Doctor’s Guide), at older consumers nationwide. Agora falsely marketed The Doctor’s Guide as a simple and scientifically proven protocol that can permanently cure type 2 diabetes in 28 days, without any changes in diet or exercise.
The FTC alleged the defendants falsely touted a “100 percent success rate” and claimed that “mainstream” treatments are ineffective and may even make consumers’ diabetes worse. The company’s marketing materials for The Doctor’s Guide deceptively advertised that the disease—which Agora claimed was caused by electronic devices—could be cured with a combination of natural products called “Himalayan Silk,” “Epsom Blue,” and “Chromanite.”
In its complaint, the FTC also alleged that Agora and a second group of related defendants marketed other publications, including a book titled Congress’ Secret $1.17 Trillion Giveaway to consumers that falsely promised it would show them how to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars to which they are entitled in “Congressional Checks” or “Republican Checks.”
Consumers who bought these products, however, found that they merely describe an investment strategy focused on dividend-paying stocks, which would require consumers to risk thousands of dollars to obtain the promised amounts.
The proposed consent order settling the FTC’s complaint, prohibits Agora and the other defendants from making the types of misrepresentations about diabetes that they allegedly made in The Doctor’s Guide without competent and reliable scientific evidence.
The order also prohibits the defendants from making any representations about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy of the products or programs covered in the settlement without certain substantiation; from misrepresenting that a covered product does not require consumers to restrict their diet or make dietary changes; and from misrepresenting that a covered product is scientifically or clinically proven when it is not.
The order further bars the defendants from making the financial misrepresentations alleged in the complaint, from misrepresenting other material facts about their publications, and from making any financial claim, without first disclosing terms such as the risks, cost, restrictions, limitations, or conditions of the program.
The Commission vote approving the proposed settlement order was 4-0. The FTC filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division. A complete list of the individual and corporate defendants in this case can be found in the proposed order on the FTC’s website. The corporate defendants are subsidiaries of Monument & Cathedral, which oversees a large business comprising more than 80 different companies that together market more than 400 different products, programs, or services to consumers.
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