ICFE eNEWS #16-24 - August 4th 2016
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Consumers get $10 Billion for Volkswagen's False Clean Air Claims
The FTC entered into a partial settlement with Volkswagen in which the company agreed to pay up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars that it claimed had low levels of harmful emissions, but did not. The settlements do not resolve pending claims for civil penalties or any claims concerning 3.0 liter diesel vehicles. In a related partial settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the California Attorney General, Volkswagen will spend an additional $4.7 billion to mitigate pollution and make investments supporting increased use of zero-emissions vehicles. This is the largest false advertising case in FTC history, with nearly 500,000 cars affected. More information is available at www.VWCourtSettlement.com.
"[This] announcement shows the high cost of violating our consumer protection and environmental laws. Just as importantly, consumers who were cheated by Volkswagen's deceptive advertising campaign will be able to get full and fair compensation, not only for the lost or diminished value of their car but also for the other harms that VW caused them."
— Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman, FTC
Herbalife to Refund $200 Million
The FTC announced a settlement with Herbalife that significantly restructures how the company does business - by rewarding participants for what they sell, rather than how many people they recruit. The settlement also will return $200 million to people who lost the most money to the company. Through extensive marketing in English and Spanish, Herbalife told people they could change their lives, quit their jobs, or even get rich by selling the company's weight management and nutrition products. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up - but, says the FTC, most made little or no money. Details on refunds will follow.
Warner Bros. Filed to Disclose Endorsers Were Paid
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment agreed to settle FTC charges that it didn't properly disclose that it paid online influencers to post favorable reviews of its video game, "Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor." The FTC says Warner Bros. paid the reviewers thousands of dollars to post positive gameplay videos on YouTube and other social media as part of a marketing campaign, but didn't require them to clearly disclose that they were paid to tout the game. The order bans Warner Bros. from these deceptive practices in the future.
Seller of Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal and Addiction Settles with FTC
Sunrise Nutraceuticals, LLC, which claimed its dietary supplement, Elimidrol, was the "#1 Opiate Withdrawal Supplement," settled an FTC complaint that its statements about the powder's effectiveness were false and misleading. The company said Elimidrol could help people permanently overcome addiction to prescription opiates, heroin, methadone, and suboxone, and that it would alleviate the harsh effects of withdrawal. But the FTC's investigation revealed those claims weren't backed by science. The proposed order requires Sunrise to pay $235,000 and to have solid scientific evidence to back claims for opiate treatments going forward.
Can Manufacturers Sell Facilities to Settle Pre-Merger Complaint
The two largest makers of aluminum cans will sell several manufacturing facilities to settle FTC charges that their merger would likely lead to higher can prices in three regions in the United States. Ball Corporation agreed to sell eight aluminum can plants and related assets to proceed with its $8.4 billion acquisition of Rexam PLC. Prior to the merger, both companies made standard 12-ounce aluminum cans as well as specialty cans that range in size from 7.5 ounces to 24 ounces, which are used for a wide variety of products, such as energy drinks.
New FTC Resources Break Down the Car-Buying Process
The FTC has four new videos with important tips for each stage of the car-buying process. These mobile-friendly videos, also available in Spanish, cover Spotting Deceptive Car Ads, Buying a Used Car, Financing a Car, and Understanding Car Add-ons. Also, be sure to check out the FTC's new Spanish-language fotonovela, Avoid Car-Buying Trouble, which can help buyers avoid problems with dealership financing.
Court Bans Fake Debt Collector
The FTC obtained a court order to ban The Primary Group and Gail Daniels from the debt collection business for allegedly threatening people - via texts, emails and calls - with arrest or lawsuits if they didn't make payments…which people didn't even owe.
FTC Stops OSHA Scam Targeting Small Businesses
The FTC got a federal court to stop D&S Marketing Solutions from allegedly tricking small businesses into paying up to $200 for government regulation posters that are actually free. D&S allegedly told businesses they were violating federal law by not having the posters and threatened to shut the businesses down unless they bought them.
Operators of Tech Support Scam Settle Charges
Several phony tech support companies settled charges by the FTC and the State of Florida that they lied about finding security or performance issues on peoples' computers. Under the settlement, Vast Tech Support, LLC and OMG Tech Help, LLC and their chief operating officer, Mark Donohue, are prohibited from misleading consumers about the nature of the products they sell or market, as well as from deceptive telemarketing. In addition, Vast Tech Support and OMG Tech Help are prohibited from advertising, promoting or selling any tech support products or services.
Your Money Back
Volkswagen Will Provide up to $10 Billion to Owners and Lessees
Volkswagen will provide up to $10 billion to owners and lessees of VW and Audi 2.0 liter diesel cars that it claimed had low levels of harmful emissions, but did not. If you think you're affected by the Volkswagen emissions case, visit VWCourtSettlement.com and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if your car qualifies.
FTC Returns More Than $6 Million to People Who Bought Kevin Trudeau's Weight-Loss Book
The FTC is mailing checks totaling approximately $6.3 million to people who bought Kevin Trudeau's book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About." Trudeau allegedly misrepresented the book's content.
Refunds Going to Those who Bought Green Coffee Bean Supplements
The FTC is mailing checks to people who bought Genesis Today green coffee bean supplements online. If you bought the supplements in a retail store such as Walmart, you may still apply for a refund online, or print and mail this PDF form. You might receive only a partial refund. Consumers filing a claim on the FTC's site must do so by August 15, 2016.
If you get a refund check, deposit or cash it within 60 days of the mailing date. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or to provide information before refund checks can be cashed. Want information about the FTC's refund program? Visit ftc.gov/refunds.
IN OTHER NEWS:
FTC Raises Civil Penalty Maximums to Adjust for Inflation
FTC Approves Final Order in Vipvape APEC Cross Border Privacy Rule Case
FTC Testifies on Efforts to Stop Fraud Affecting Older Americans Before Senate Judiciary Committee
Does your #app respect your privacy? Understand how #mobile apps work and what kinds of information they can share. #privacysettings
Before buying anything based on a review, find out if the reviewer has connections with the company. #onlinereview #productreview
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