FTC Charges Green Coffee Sellers for Phony Claims

Tampa, FL—The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has charged a Florida-based operation for marketing a supplement called Pure Green Coffee using false claims and fake news sites.

Green coffee bean extract has recently been touted as a powerful fat burner, particularly after being featured and promoted on The Dr. Oz Show. According to the allegations from the FTC, weeks after green coffee was profiled on the show, the defendants began marketing their Pure Green Coffee extract, at a $50 a month cost.

The primary source of the defendants’ marketing was ads on their own sales websites, with addresses like greencoffeeweightcontrol.com and buypuregreencoffee.com. These sites combined video from The Dr. Oz Show along with supposed consumer endorsements and various false claims promising weight loss with no dieting or exercise. Some of the false claims included promising weight loss of 10.5% and body fat loss of 16% at 22 weeks as well as losing four to six inches of belly fat in three to five months.

In addition, they also claimed that certain news websites linked from the main sites were objective news sources with articles from objective reporters and comments from independent consumers. In actuality, many of these sites were run by affiliate marketers paid to advertise Pure Green Coffee, and contained mastheads of fictitious news organizations as well as logos appropriated from actual news organizations, including CNN and MSNBC. Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, remarked that this deception “made it impossible for people to know whether they were seeing news or an ad.”

The FTC has also made a statement urging consumers to carefully evaluate any weight loss products they may encounter. Guidance on selecting weight loss and fitness products is available on their website.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, July 2014 (Online May 21, 2014)