The Federal Trade Commission has charged the marketers of Kevin Trudeau’s book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” with misrepresenting the book’s contents in their infomercial. The ad claims that the weight-loss plan outlined in the book is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. However, when consumers purchase the book, the FTC charges, they find it describes a complex, grueling plan that requires severe dieting, daily injections of a prescription drug that consumers cannot easily obtain, and lifelong dietary restrictions. The FTC has already filed similar charges against Trudeau.
The widely disseminated infomercial describes the weight-loss plan set forth in the book, stating that “it’s easy to do, you can do it at home” and that “when you’re done with the protocol, eat whatever you want and you don’t gain the weight back.” According to the FTC, when consumers buy and read the book, they find that it actually describes a complicated system involving daily injections, specialized cleanses and supplements, and severe food restrictions, and includes a “fourth phase” of the protocol that requires dietary restrictions and never ends.
The Commission filed the complaint today against Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc., ITV Direct, Inc., and the two individuals who jointly control the two corporations, Donald Barrett and Robert Maihos. The FTC alleged that the marketers deceptively claimed that the book establishes a weight-loss protocol that is “easy” to follow and that once the protocol ends, consumers can eat what they want without regaining weight.
In 2004, the Commission sued the same four defendants, alleging that they made deceptive advertising claims for two dietary supplements and billed consumers’ credit cards without authorization. The FTC has filed a motion for summary judgment in that case.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, click http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/complaint.shtm or call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,600 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. For free information on a variety of consumer topics, click http://ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm.