The Federal Trade Commission alleges that Sale Slash used a “fraud trifecta” of illegal spam emails, fake news websites and bogus celebrity endorsements to push weight-loss products with unproven results.
The FTC has obtained a court order temporarily halting the Glendale, California-based operation that used unauthorized endorsements from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey to market its diet pills.
The Commission said it will seek to recover money from the company to provide refunds to consumers who bought the diet pills.
“Sale Slash is a fraud trifecta,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The company made outlandish weight-loss claims for its diet pills using fake news sites, phony celebrity endorsements, and millions of unwanted spam emails.”
According to the FTC’s complaint, Sale Slash and affiliates used stolen email user accounts to blast the users’ contacts with spam containing brief messages such as: “Breaking news…,” and “Hi! Oprah says it’s excellent,” followed by hyperlinks.
Because the messages were sent to the “contacts” of hacked accounts, they appeared to be coming from a friend or family member, instead of defendants’ affiliates. The spam often contained no information about how consumers could opt out of getting future emails.
Sale Slash’s affiliate marketers also placed banner ads making claims like, “1 Tip for a tiny belly,” “Cut down on a bit of your belly every day following this 1 old weird tip,” and “Garcinia Cambogia Exposed – Miracle Diet or Scam?”
Sale Slash paid its affiliate marketers a commission whenever consumers clicked through from a fake news website to one of the defendants’ sites and bought their supplements, according to the complaint.