Company founders forced to surrender valuables to pay consumer damages
“A blizzard of lies” is how the Maine AG’s office described the sales and marketing practices of husband-and-wife duo Anthony and Staci Dill.
According to a recently resolved joint complaint filed in the District of Maine by the FTC and the Maine AG, the Dills, along with their companies, Direct Alternatives and Original Organics LLC, were engaged in multiple no-nos while hawking their weight-loss products, AF Plus and Final Trim.
The complaint, which was filed in 2016, accused the Dills of garden-variety unsubstantiated weight-loss claims, such as promising significant weight loss in a matter of days and guaranteed weight loss.
But the defendants supplemented these violations further with several forbidden marketing practices, including fabricating nonexistent satisfied customers for testimonials and even implying that their commercials were public service announcements. Add to this a negative option payment scheme and you have a thick complaint.
The Dills were accused of multiple violations, including false or unsubstantiated claims, false advertising, deceptive radio format, deceptive free gift cards, misrepresentation of risk-free trial offers and unauthorized billing charges.
The settlement was reached in short order, with the defendants getting smacked with a $16 million judgment that was to be suspended after “the defendants sell or liquidate a substantial portion of their assets, including real estate, furniture, appliances, timeshares, a boat, snowmobiles, IRAs, jewelry, artwork, numerous investment accounts, and business investments.”
The usual agreements to not indulge in previous misdeeds were struck as well.
Funds recovered from the Dills – as well as from a related case against an advertising agency that put together deceptive radio ads for the couple – totaled $3.5 million, which was distributed to consumers in mid-February 2019.