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FTC files the First Case on Fake Amazon Reviews Against a Diet Pill Company

Cure Encapsulations, Inc.—The manufacturer of an alleged fat-blocking weight-loss capsule that was not effective—paid to earn fake Amazon reviews to convince customers into believing the false claims, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

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According to the agency, this is the first time it is filing a case against a marketer using fake paid-for reviews on a local website. The FTC filed the lawsuit against the company and its founder, Naftula Jacobowitz in a US District Court— the Eastern District of New York.

The respondents have accepted to settle the case; pay a fine of $50,000, and inform past consumers of the pill that there’s no scientific proof backing the weight-loss allegations. The buyers may also get refunded, but it’s not given, because it is not clear whether Cure Encapsulations, Inc. had chargeback insurance.

FTC’s claim purports that “the perpetrators made false and unsupported claims on their product page in Amazon, including the use of paid reviews, that their pill— garcinia cambogia—is a

“powerful appetite suppressant, BLOCKS FAT from forming, leads to significant weight loss, even as much as twenty pounds, and leads to rapid and substantial weight loss, as much as two or more pounds per week.”

The agency also said the defendant bought these reviews on Amazon.com giving the product a five-star rating. According to FTC claims, “the defendants represented that the purchased Amazon reviews were honest reviews from real buyers when they were fabricated in reality.”

In Oct 2014, Jacobowitz, the firm owner, agreed to pay $1,000 to www.amazonverifiedreviews.com –a site that no longer operates but which “offered sellers in  Amazon the power to ‘push your product to the top with ‘verified’ product reviews that assist your product to rank better in Amazon’s search engine,'” according to the FTC complaint. Jacobowitz requested 30 reviews and Amazon Verified Reviews staff to “Please ensure my product stays a five star.”

Here are some of the reviews the FTC listed that led to the five-star rating:

•    “I started to use this pill two months ago, and I’ve already lost 15 pounds. Don’t get me wrong, I was 150 pounds and 5’6 before. I haven’t felt dizzy or anything as these 1-star reviews said, which I was very worried about at the start. Will keep buying!”

•    “Lost 7 pounds in a month. What more can I say? I was 140 pounds and 5’6 before. Now I felt like a model. lol.”

•    “Wow. I’m still amazed that it worked way faster than I thought. I’ve lost 20 pounds by using these amazing pills. They capsules will help you with your intake of food, remove all toxins from your body and does not allow fat or sugar to stick. Highly recommended! <3.”

•    “This pill really cuts your appetite! I didn’t eat much and I was already feeling full. I used this product for 3 months and I am very glad I did. It helps with weight loss. I really love it.”

•    “I lost 10 pounds in 2 months, while not a single pound from boobs, lol.”-

•    “made in the USA. safety ensured. 110lb to 100lb in 40 days, its beyond 5 star.”-

In a nutshell,

The FTC blamed the accused of violating federal laws by making untruthful or unsupported effectiveness claims and by using false endorsement claims through fake reviews in Amazon.

Author Bio: Electronic payments expert Blair Thomas is the co-founder of high risk payment processing company eMerchantBroker. He’s just as passionate about his business as he is with traveling and spending time with his dog Cooper.

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