The Federal Trade Commission has found a group of online marketers guilty of publishing deceptive dietary supplement and skincare advertisements after they sold over 40 health and beauty products using unsavory practices. With a combination of false health claims, made-up testimonials, deceptive ‘free trials’, fake websites like “goodhousekeepingtoday.com” and “womenshealthi.com,” and the unauthorized use of celebrity images – including Dr. Oz, Jennifer Aniston, and Paula Deen – the defendants tricked consumers into spending around $179 million over the course of five years.
This ruling by the FTC is a major coup for celebrities fed up with their likeness being used without permission. Dr. Oz has been tackling the fake ads epidemic with the help of Oprah since before The Dr. Oz Show came into existence. In 2009, Dr. Oz and Oprah filed a civil suit against merchants using their likeness to sell and promote acai berry. In 2012, The Dr. Oz Show launched Oz Watch and dedicated an entire show in a fight to reclaim his name (you can watch it here). In 2013, he went a step further and launched his “It’s Not Me” campaign to inform and warn viewers about these rogue marketers and illegal selling practices. And in 2014 he brought light to the issue again in his Dr. Oz Takes Down the Scammers show, where he went face-to-face with the scammers using his name and fooling the masses to buy their products.
Over the last few years, the number of attacks has escalated thanks to Internet scammers and fake news stories. After a long battle, the FTC has passed a judgment of $179 million (the amount consumers paid due to false marketing) and will force Richard Fowler, Ryan Fowler, and Nathan Martinez (three men behind this scam), to pay $6.4 million to the Commission. These men run 19 companies, all under the umbrella known as Tarr, Inc.