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Four weight-loss firms to pay $34 million for fraud

Jan. 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. regulators said four companies would pay $34 million to settle charges of running deceptive advertising about weight loss products.

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday the four companies were targets of the "Operation Failed Resolution" campaign that is the agency's "ongoing effort to stop misleading claims for products promoting easy weight loss and slimmer bodies."

The FTC said it charged skin cream promoter L'Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, LeanSpa LLC and marketers of food additive Sensa with deceptive advertising.

L'Occitane produces a skin cream the company says helps users obtain slim bodies "but had no science to back up that claim," the FTC said.

HCG Diet Direct markets a human hormone as a weight loss program. The FTC said it was "touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment."

Marketers of Sensa "exhorted consumers to 'sprinkle, eat and lose weight," claiming the food additive would help dieters, the FTC said.

The bulk of the settlement, $26.5 million, would be paid by Sensa. L'Occitane Inc. was fined $450,000, while LeanSpa in what was called a partial settlement, had agreed to surrender $7.3 million in assets.

A settlement with HCG Diet Direct was suspended, the FTC said, "due to their inability to pay."

The FTC said it would make the $26.5 million Sensa penalty available to compensate Sensa customers.

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