The Federal Trade Commission charged a Canadian corporation operating in the United States under the name Bio Lab and its president with deceiving consumers through false advertising for their weight-loss and cellulite-treatment products in violation of the FTC Act. The FTC announced today a law enforcement action against No. 9068-8425 Quebec, Inc., doing business as Bio Lab, and its president, Jean-Francois Brochu. The FTC alleged that the defendants, using mainstream U.S. media, targeted U.S. consumers by advertising and selling "Quick Slim" - a purported weight-loss product which they claim causes users to lose rapid and substantial weight without dieting or exercise; and "Cellu-Fight," a product which they claim completely eliminates cellulite without any effort by users. The FTC filed the case in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on September 3, 2002.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that the defendants advertised Quick Slim in Glamour and TV Guide magazines, in free standing inserts (weekend coupon inserts) distributed through newspapers, such as Philadelphia Inquirer, the Dallas Morning News, the San Francisco Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, and on the Internet. Quick Slim is a dietary supplement advertised as a "fat blocker" that uses apple pectin to control weight. Promotions for Quick Slim, which costs $70.00 for a bottle of 180 caplets, promised rapid and substantial weight loss without diet and exercise. The defendants' ads contain statements such as, "Lose Up to 2 Pounds Daily Without Diet or Exercise," and claims that the weight loss would be permanent. In fact, the FTC alleged, Quick Slim does not cause rapid or significant weight loss without the need for diet and exercise, and does not cause permanent weight loss.
Bio Lab also marketed and sold Cellu-Fight on the Internet and through direct mail brochures. The ads contained statements such as, "Cellu-Fight ... New Tablet for A Direct Attack on Cellulite," and "New Tablet Completely Eliminates Cellulite." A bottle of 60 tablets costs $40.00. According to the FTC, the ads falsely claim that the product is clinically proven to eliminate cellulite from the stomach, backside, hips and thighs. In fact, the FTC alleges, Cellu-Fight does not eliminate or substantially reduce cellulite.
On September 6, 2002, U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd entered a temporary restraining order against defendants prohibiting dissemination of misleading advertising for Quick Slim and Cellu-Fight and freezing defendants' assets. A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for September 20th.
The FTC received valuable assistance from the Competition Bureau of Industry Canada in its investigation of Bio Lab.
The Commission vote to authorize the staff to file the complaint was 5-0.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
(FTC Matter No. 022 3167)
(Civil Action No. 1:02:CV-1128