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FTC targets tall tales for heightening pill

A Florida business and its owner, who marketed purported height-enhancing pills for children and young adults, will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle charges that their advertising claims were deceptive.

The Federal Trade Commission charged the defendants with making false and unsubstantiated claims for HeightMax, as well as for two other supplements, Liposan Ultra Chitosan Fat Blocker and Osteo-Vite.

To settle the charges, defendants Sunny Health Nutrition Technology & Products Inc., RiverView, FL, and its owner, Sunny Sia, will pay $375,000 in consumer redress.

According to the complaint, the ads for HeightMax Concentrate and HeightMax Plus misrepresented, among other things, that HeightMax increases height in users ages 12 to 25 more than what they would achieve without the product, and HeightMax causes users to grow an additional two to three inches in six months.

The FTC complaint charged that claims for the pills were unsubstantiated or false and that the defendants invented William Thomson, a supposed expert who appeared in the ads.

Also, the FTC complaint alleged that the defendants made unsubstantiated or false claims for Liposan Ultra Chitosan Fat Blocker, a weight loss supplement, and Osteo-Vite, marketed to older consumers for bone building.

The settlement also holds the defendants potentially liable for $1.9 million in the event that they misrepresented their finances.

The order to settle the FTC’s charges requires that claims for any dietary supplement, food, or drug must be true, non-misleading and substantiated. In addition, it prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting endorsements, including the existence or expertise of any endorser.

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