A Nevada federal court has granted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) motion for a temporary restraining order preventing nine companies— including Health Formulas, LL C, Pure Vitamins, LL C and Weight Loss Dojo, LL C—and four of the companies’ shared officers from “using ‘free’ trial offers and health claims that the agency charges are deceptive and illegal to pitch green coffee bean extract” and other dietary supplements, according to an October 20, 2014, agency press release. FTC v. Health Formulas, LLC, No. 14-1649 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Nev., order filed October 9, 2014).
The four individual defendants serve various capacities in the nine defendant companies, with each involved in at least five and one involved in all nine. FTC alleges that the companies charged consumers without their knowledge for “a variety of dietary supplements and other weight-loss, virility, musclebuilding, or skin cream products,” which they allegedly advertised with unsubstantiated claims. The complaint also asserts that the defendants used consumer payment information to enroll them in automatic-debit programs, with charges for Simple Pure’s weight loss supplements—such as Pure Green Coffee Bean Plus and RKG Extreme—typically ranging from $60 to $210 per month.
According to FTC, the charges represent the first action alleging violations of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act; in addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants violated the FTC Act and the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. “The defendants behind Simple Pure used nearly every trick in the book to deceive customers,” Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich reportedly said. “They not only deceived consumers about the effectiveness of their products, but also repeatedly debited consumers’ accounts without their approval.”