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AG Rowe, Federal Authorities Work To Expose "The Big Fat Lie"
November 9, 2004
Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed suit against two Maine companies and their executives for unfair and deceptive trade practices in marketing and selling weight-loss patch products called Slim Patch and Bodylite Gel Patch. The defendants are: Brewer-based Integra Direct LLC; its president Vincent Wank; Scarborough-based Infinity Marketing LLC; and Gregory Fletcher, who ran Infinity Marketing with Wank.
The Attorney General's complaint, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, alleges that the defendants falsely represented that their products caused substantial weight loss with little or no dieting or exercise, and that they made other false and unsubstantiated claims as to the efficacy and safety of those products. The complaint also alleges that the defendants failed to honor money-back guarantees, charged consumer credit cards amounts that the consumers had not authorized, and falsely represented that they were offering a limited-time reduction in price to consumers who agreed to purchase their products that same day.
"Consumers should not be misled by get-thin-quick schemes," Attorney General Rowe said. "There are no pills, patches, or magic potions for quickly and safely removing body weight. The best way to shed pounds is the old fashioned way: by reducing calorie intake and exercising regularly." Rowe also cautioned consumers that they could lose more than their money by using certain weight loss products. "Some weight loss products may actually be dangerous to your health," said Rowe.
In addition to restitution for numerous consumers around the country, the Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against each of the four defendants, as well as civil penalties and costs. The filing of the case corresponds with a national enforcement effort by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called "Operation Big Fat Lie." For more information on the FTC effort, go to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/11/bigfatliesweep.htm . Last year, the FTC advised consumers and media outlets to be wary of weight-loss product ads that make the following common "Red Flag" deceptive claims:
- Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month, or more without dieting or exercise.
- Causes substantial weight loss, no matter what or how much the consumer eats.
- Causes permanent weight loss (even when the consumer stops using the product).
- Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.
- Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.
- Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
- Causes substantial weight loss by wearing it on the body or rubbing it into the skin.
STANLEY PIECUCH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8818