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FTC Takes Action Against Fake News Websites

April 21, 2011


The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office said that many websites that feature news report about weight-loss benefits of acai berry products aren’t genuine.  

They have claimed that these news websites are fake and that the claims about acai berry products helping people to reduce weight is not supported by science. During the last week, FTC has filed 10 lawsuits in courts across the U.S. and Illinois Attorney General has filed an additional lawsuit in her state against the affiliate marketers of acai berry products.

The affiliate marketers place billions of ads linking to these fake news websites and consumers have paid almost $10 million for acai berry products.

Some of the websites in the list are using names such as News 6 News Alerts and Health 5 Beat Health News. The fake news sites use logos of legitimate news websites to easily fool the people into believing them.

“We’re alleging that nearly everything about the defendants’ websites is false and deceptive,” said Charles Harwood, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

These fake news sites feature a news reports who always produces the same result across several websites. According to the report, the reporter always lost 25 pounds in four weeks without changing either the diet or exercise routine. Moreover, the picture of the reporter is of a real-life French reporter who did not even give the permission for her image to be used.

“We allege this is pure fabrication,” Harwood said. “There never was any sort of test conducted by any independent reporter, and the weight-loss results … are impossible to achieve. There simply is no scientific evidence that acai berries can help anyone lose weight, let alone cause rapid and substantial weight loss.”

The purported news sites also contain “user” comments about weight loss using the acai berry products, including Acai Max and Acai Optimum, the FTC said. But the sites don’t let visitors post comments, and the same user comments appeared on multiple sites “complete with the same spelling and grammatical errors,” he said.

The FTC lawsuits have asked courts to halt the websites’ allegedly deceptive practices.

So for people still looking for weight loss tips, please stay away from these fake news websites.

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