The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has asked the federal courts to stop the “deceptive tactics” of 10 firms that are issuing made-up news about açaí weight-loss products on the Web. FTC wants the courts to freeze their assets.

Such sites appear to be offering legitimate news, says the FTC, with names and logos that mimic major news organizations. News reports also appear to be investigative stories, but are just advertisements for weight-loss products bearing unrealistic claims about fast and substantial weight loss.

“Almost everything about these sites is fake,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor.”

If the FTC gets its wish, courts will force the defendants to stop making the claims and to provide refunds to consumers who bought the supplements that were promoted.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2011