FTC bans cleansing program marketers from making infomercials

Marketers of the 7 Day Miracle Cleanse Program, a purported herbal colon cleansing program, have agreed to settle charges from the FTC that the company claimed their product would cure cancer as well as other severe illnesses.

The FTC’s complaint says that one of the defendants, Paris DeAguero appeared in national 30-minute infomercials as “the Health Man,” claiming that the program cured him of skin and breast cancer in just weeks without surgery or other treatments. Advertisements also allegedly claimed that the program could prevent, treat and cure AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis, among others.

As a result, 7 Day Marketing Inc., DeAguero, Dieter Ammann and Laura DeAguero are banned from any involvement in infomercials for any product, program or service and, regardless of the advertising medium, from representing that any product, program or service can treat, cure or prevent any disease or provide health benefits.

Additionally, the defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting any test or study concerning any product, program or service. They are also barred from transferring, selling or renting personal information collected from customers who purchased the program or its individual products. Upon the conclusion of pending lawsuits, this information must be destroyed.

According to Peter Marinello, director of the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulatory Program, his agency began the investigation in December 2004. “We contacted Paris and said ‘Here’s who we are and here’s what we do.’” The ERSP requested written response substantiating the claims made in its infomercials. “We said ‘this is a voluntary program and you’re not compelled to participate but it might be in your best interest to participate in the forum’ and he elected voluntarily to not respond,” said Marinello. The case was then turned over to the FTC.

One of the FTC’s orders contains a monetary judgment of $14,455,123. However, because of the defendants’ inability to pay, it has been suspended. Another settlement with Dieter Ammann also includes a judgment of $14,455,123, which is suspended upon payment of $70,000, and also based on his inability to pay. On both orders if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial situation, the full judgment will be imposed.

The marketers also claimed their product, Parasine 2, was “clinically proven to eliminate parasites and worms, including tapeworms. The FTC alleged the ads were in violation of the Act because the claims were false or unsubstantiated by reliable scientific studies.

The vote to authorize the staff to file the complaint by the commission was 5-0. Currently the documents are filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

“This case helps demonstrate the importance of consumers really taking a good hard look into whether or not to participate in self-regulatory programs like ERSP,” said Marinello.

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