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The FTC rules against false comments on Amazon in the Landmark case



Diet pills
Photo: David McNew (Getty)

In the first case of this kind, the Federal Trade Commission took action against a seller of diet pills for making false statements and paying money to improve their reputation on Amazon with false positive reviews.

The fruit of garcinia cambogia has been hailed by some as a powerful weight loss supplement. Of course, there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support this assertion – although there is some evidence to suggest that in rare cases this could lead to liver failure, which led the FDA to issue an opinion regarding a product containing the active ingredient – which is why most of the undesirable diet pills tend to make their effectiveness claims vague. Cure Encapsulations, against which the FTC pronounced yesterday, did not have this modesty, claiming instead that the extract in question "literally blocked the formation of fat."

Naftula Jacobowitz, owner / operator of Cure Encapsulations, "has paid a website, amazonverifiedreviews.com, to create and publish Amazon reviews of her product," according to the FTC – demanding. its products have an average rating of 4.3 stars. As the largest online commerce market in the world, Amazon has become the ideal solution to improve the visibility of its products – among which false assessments are a well-used method. According to a study by Pew Research, the majority of Americans sometimes check reviews online, although only half of them say they are trustworthy.

Not surprisingly, Jacobowitz had already been sued by another Amazon vendor in 2016 for, among other things, submitting "false negative comments and / or other false complaints to Amazon.com," which, according to the plaintiff, had resulted in the loss of the much coveted "Buy Box" of Amazon. a piece of real estate screen associated with higher sales. (The case was settled by a permanent injunction in September 2016.)

Amazon has taken legal action several times over the years against entities that abuse its control system, but this is the first time that the FTC has been involved in these cases. "We welcome the work of the FTC in this area. Amazon invests significant resources to protect the integrity of the reviews in our store because we know that customers appreciate the knowledge and experiences shared by other customers, "said an Amazon spokeswoman in Gizmodo. "Even an inauthentic criticism is one too many."

In the ruling, and pending a judgment in the Eastern District Court of New York, various provisions are provided against Jacobowitz's Cure Encapsulations. His company would be required to inform previous customers of claims against him and to identify paid notices for Amazon. The company would no longer be able to make "claims of weight loss, appetite suppression, fat blocking or disease treatment" on products without "reliable scientific evidence in the form of 39, clinical trials on humans, and would face a largely suspended analysis. fine of $ 12.8 million.

Updated with Amazon commentary


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