The Federal Trade Commission has sued the makers of weight loss supplement Pure Green Coffee for false advertising, alleging they faked news reports and made unsupported claims for their product. The FTC sued a group of related companies and executives from those companies, including NPB Advertising Inc., alleging that they paid $200 and offered a free supply of Pure Green Coffee pills in exchange for video testimonials without disclosing that fact. They also allegedly made false and unsubstantiated claims about the product’s ability to help consumers lose as many as 17 pounds in 12 weeks. They allegedly created deceptive online sites to promote Pure Green Coffee featuring mastheads for news organizations and logos of actual news organizations such as CNN and MSNBC, according to the complaint. The companies also hired affiliate marketers to create similar sites to attract customers to the Pure Green Coffee sites, the complaint said.

The companies also represented that a 2012 clinical study proved the efficacy of Pure Green Coffee for weight loss, but the study provided no such proof, according to the FTC’s complaint. Dr. Mehmet Oz generated interest in green coffee bean extract after discussing its alleged weight loss properties on an April 2012 edition of his nationally syndicated "The Dr. Oz Show," and within weeks, NPB and the other companies had launched Pure Green Coffee, according to the complaint. NPB created at least 11 different websites to promote and sell the product, which went for $48 per bottle, the FTC said in its complaint. It sold more than 536,000 bottles of Pure Green Coffee since May 2012, according to the complaint.

The FTC asserted four counts of violations of the Federal Trade Communications Act against the defendants, including false or unsubstantiated efficacy claims, false proof claims, failure to disclose a material connection in respect to testimonials, and misrepresentations in connection with fake news reports.

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. NPB Advertising Inc. et al., case no. 8:14-cv-01155, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

TIP: Weight loss claims are a hot button with the FTC, and advertisers should have relevant and directly applicable randomized controlled clinical support for any such claims.