California Telemarketers Charged with Making False Weight-Loss Claims
in Commercials Directed to Spanish-Speaking Communities
Consent Agreement to Settle Charges
FTC News Release
October 10, 1991
Spanish Telemarketing Industries, Inc., two other telemarketing companies and one individual, all of Los Angeles, have been charged by the Federal Trade Commission with making false and unsubstantiated weight-loss claims for "Faja Fantastica" — a weight-loss regimen — in Spanish-language television commercials. The parties have agreed to settle the charges, under a proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment. The agreement would prohibit similar misrepresentations for weight-control food or drug products, and require the respondents to pay $100,000.
The FTC's complaint names Spanish Telemarketing Industries, Inc., Nickolas Telemarketing Industries, Inc., Sylvia George, Inc., and Stewart Brown (collectively "Spanish Telemarketing").
According to the complaint, the respondents advertised on Spanish-language television stations nationwide. The commercials claimed that by using a moisture cream in conjunction with a six-inch wide nylon covered rubber belt, consumers could lose weight without decreasing their caloric intake or increasing their physical activity. Consumers were told all they had to do was rub in the cream vigorously and then wear the belt.
In the commericals, Faja Fantastica was referred to as a "weight-removal plan" and a "fat-removal plan"; the nylon covered rubber belt was referred to as a "corset"; and the moisturizing cream as the "fat-removal cream," the FTC said. Some of the advertisements stated:
- "Let the Weight-Removal plan go to work for you by ridding you of those undesirable excess pounds and inches."
- "Lose those extra pounds and inches! Achieve a total reduction of pounds and inches without starving to death and without strenuous exercises."
- "Night or day, the Fat-Removal plan helps you achieve that figure you've always dreamed of, without the need for diets or strenuous exercises. With the Fat-Removal plan you lose pounds and inches from where you most need it!"
The complaint challenges as false and unsubstantiated the commercials' claims that use of Faja Fantastica will cause an individual to lose weight without an increase in physical exercise and/or a decrease in caloric intake.
The commercial also used consumer testimonials. The complaint alleges that, in fact, the consumer testimonials are not representative of what consumers will generally achieve using Faja Fantastica. The complaint further alleges that the respondents did not have a reasonable basis for claiming that the consumer testimonials were representative of what consumers will generally achieve using Faja Fantastica.
Under the proposed consent agreement, Spanish Telemarketing would be prohibited from making claims that the Faja Fantastica, or any similar product, device, or combination of products and devices, will cause an individual to lose weight without increased physical activity or decreased caloric intake. In addition, Spanish Telemarketing could not misrepresent the efficacy or performance of any weight-control product, device, or service. Nor could Spanish Telemarketing make any health related-benefit claim unless it possesses and relies upon competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the claim. Further, any time the respondents make weight-loss claims in the future, the consent order would require a prominent disclosure that weight loss can occur only through an increase in physical activity and/or a decrease in caloric intake.
The respondents would be required to pay $100,000 in consumer redress and, in the event the Commission determines that a redress program is impracticable, the money will go to the US Treasury.
Spanish Telemarketing, Nickolas Telemarketing and Sylvia George, Inc. are all based at the same address in Los Angeles. Brown operates out of the Los Angeles office as well.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement was 4-0, with Commissioner Dennis A. Yao not participating.
The FTC's San Francisco Regional Office handled the investigation.
- FTC File No. 902-3090.
This page was posted on August 27, 2006.