FTC Begins Crackdown of Fake News Sites Selling Weight Loss Products

Federal Trade Commission announced a major crackdown against sites appearing as news site to promote acacia berry weight loss products. Ten websites "that're meant to appear as if they belong to legitimate news-gathering organizations, but in reality the sites are simply advertisements aimed at deceptively enticing consumers to buy the featured acai berry weight-loss products […]

Federal Trade Commission announced a major crackdown against sites appearing as news site to promote acacia berry weight loss products. Ten websites "that're meant to appear as if they belong to legitimate news-gathering organizations, but in reality the sites are simply advertisements aimed at deceptively enticing consumers to buy the featured acai berry weight-loss products from other merchants" were being sued by the FTC.

"The FTC complaints allege that typical fake news sites have titles such as "News 6 News Alerts," "Health News Health Alerts," or "Health 5 Beat Health News." The sites often include the names and logos of major media outlets - such as ABC, Fox News, CBS, CNN, USA Today, and Consumer Reports - and falsely represent that the reports on the sites have been seen on these networks. An investigative-sounding headline on one such site proclaims "Acai Berry Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?" The sub-headline reads, "As part of a new series: 'Diet Trends: A look at America's Top Diets' we examine consumer tips for dieting during a recession." The article that follows purports to document a reporter's first-hand experience with acai berry supplements - typically claiming to have lost 25 pounds in four weeks," the FTC stated.

"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."

The sites are from all over the country - a list can be found at the FTC website.