FTC against bogus weight loss claims
Popularized on the syndicated talk show The Dr. Oz Show, green coffee bean extract was touted as a potent weight loss treatment that supposedly burns fat.
The FTC alleged that weeks after green coffee was first promoted on The Dr. Oz Show, the defendants behind Pure Green Coffee – Nicholas Congleton, Paul Pascual, Bryan Walsh, and the companies they control – began selling their Pure Green Coffee extract, charging about $50 for a one-month supply.
They marketed the dietary supplement through ads on their own sales websites – with names such as buypuregreencoffee.com, buygreenweightloss.com, greencoffeeweightcontrol.com. The sites featured footage from The Dr. Oz Show, supposed consumer endorsements, and purported clinical proof that dieters could lose weight rapidly without changing their diet or exercise regimens. The defendants also ran paid banner and text ads that appeared on search engines and contained phony weight loss claims.
The defendants made similar claims on websites they set up to look like legitimate news sites or blogs, but were in fact advertisements, and on other “fake news” sites run by affiliate marketers whom they paid to advertise the Pure Green Coffee product, according to the complaint. The fake news sites featured mastheads of fictitious news organizations such as Women’s Health Journal and Healthy Living Reviewed, as well as logos they appropriated from actual news organizations, like CNN and MSNBC.
"Not only did these defendants trick consumers with their phony weight loss claims, they also compounded the deception by advertising on pretend news sites, making it impossible for people to know whether they were seeing news or an ad," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The complaint also names as defendants the companies used by Congleton, Pascual, and Walsh to market this operation: NPB Advertising, Inc., also doing business as Pure Green Coffee; Nationwide Ventures, LLC; Olympus Advertising, Inc.; JMD Advertising, Inc.; and Signature Group, LLC. ■