You know all those online ads extolling the virtues of acai berries? Of course you do. They're everywhere. Typically it's an image of an attractive female anchorwoman next to the headline "Acai Berry Diet Exposed!" Other times it's the forearms of a man picking acai berries from a basket. In any event, the ads are a scam and the FTC announced today it's cracking down on them.
In a nationwide sweep, 10 operations stand accused of "using fake news websites to market acai berry weight-loss products." If you ever clicked through to the websites, they display the logos of major media companies like ABC, CBS, Fox News and USA Today. Next to the logos is an investigative-sounding headline like "Miracle Diet or Scam?" followed by a news story that purports to be impartial but inevitably concludes that, yes, acai berry supplements will lose you "25 pounds in four weeks!"
Desperate Americans have sunk an estimated $10 million into the acai berry products that, according to the FTC, don't cause weight loss at all. "Almost everything about these sites is fake," an FTC official said in a statement. "The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor." The agency is requesting that state courts freeze the assets of the companies and marketers give refunds to customers. Included in the press release, are a bunch of screen grabs the FTC took of the scammy ads taken around the web. Get ready to see a lot less of the Acai Berry Lady during your web-surfing routine:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.