Attorney General Mills announces three more supplement dealers settle claims of false and misleading sales

August 23, 2017

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Andrew Roth-Wells Date: August 23, 2017 Telephone: (207) 626-8887

Attorney General Mills announces three more supplement dealers settle claims of false and misleading sales

Maine and the Federal Trade Commission partnered to crack down on sellers of supplements that made false and deceptive claims about their products and used deceptive business practices to fleece consumers if they sought a refund.

AUGUSTA – Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills today announced that the last three supplement marketers have now settled the complaint her office and the Federal Trade Commission filed against nine defendants in February 2017. The federal court complaint alleged that three corporations and six individuals conducted a deceptive campaign to sell a joint health supplement and a cognitive health supplement in violation of state and federal laws.

The defendants marketed and sold two products: “Flexiprin” for joint health and “Cogniprin” for memory improvement. The complaint alleged that the defendants employed unfair and deceptive practices in advertising, marketing, distributing, and selling FlexiPrin and CogniPrin. The defendants sold these products directly to consumers, primarily through radio and print advertising nationwide and in Canada, and they grossed in excess of $6.5 million in sales from January 1, 2012 through April 30, 2015.

The settlements with the remaining three defendants - Synergixx, LLC, an ad agency, its principal, Charlie R. Fusco, and collaborator Ronald Jahner - include proposed consent orders which will bar them from using the kind of advertising and marketing practices that financially harmed consumers in Maine, across the country, and in Canada.

The complaint filed by Maine and the FTC alleges that Synergixx and Fusco, in collaboration with other defendants, created ads falsely promoting Flexiprin and Cogniprin as proven to relieve joint pain and cognitive problems. The complaint alleges that the ads were deceptive and featured Jahner as an objective medical expert without disclosing that he was paid a percentage of sales of the products.

Maine and the FTC further allege in the complaint that Synergixx and Fusco created and used inbound sales call scripts which deceptively claimed that consumers could try the supplements "risk-free," while failing to disclose auto-ship continuity programs triggered by shorter-than-advertised trial periods, and promoted an unconditional money-back guarantee when in fact consumers often could not get their money back due to undisclosed conditions.

“I’m gratified that the last three of these nine defendants are being held accountable for these deceptive practices. The defendants led people to believe they were receiving reliable, medically tested products for serious health issues such as memory loss and joint pain,” said Attorney General Janet T. Mills. “The defendants’ took advantage of people at their most vulnerable and made it almost impossible to for people to get their money back when the products proved to be ineffective. The settlements will bar these entities and their principals from such conduct. We appreciate the assistance and cooperation of the FTC in bringing this campaign of deception to an end.”

The proposed consent orders, which require the federal District Court's approval, will settle the claims against Synergixx, Fusco, and Jahner. Among other things, the orders require the defendants to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to make health-related claims, bar them from making false or deceptive health claims, prohibit misrepresenting whether a product is proven to work, and require more disclosures about experts' financial connections, continuity programs, refund policies, and upsell conditions. The proposed order against Synergixx and Fusco imposes a monetary judgment of $6.5 million, representing total consumer purchases of Flexiprin and Cogniprin, suspended on condition of compliance with the order.

Maine and the FTC filed the complaint and the proposed Orders in the federal court for the District of Maine. These stipulated final Orders will have the force of law when approved and signed by a judge.

The complaint can be viewed here: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/cases/1523024xxlimpressions_complaint.pdf

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Supporting documents

XXL complaint