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FTC freezes 10 operations using fake news websites to market acai berry weight-loss products

On the NPR Shots blog, Scott Hensley reports: “This Just In: Fake News Is No Way To Sell Acai Berries.” Excerpt:

“Some marketers of weight-loss products containing acai berries are also purveyors of news you shouldn’t use, the Federal Trade Commission says.

The FTC has asked federal courts to put a stop to the activities of 10 different outfits that the commission alleges use “fake news websites” to tout acai berry weight-loss products.

Chances are you’ve stumbled across the sites, which often sport the logos of major mainstream news organizations, such as ABC, CNN and Consumer Reports. (See this example posted by the FTC.)

Take, for example the FTC’s complaint against Beony International LLC, a company based in San Diego.

The company allegedly ran sites with names such as “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” and “Health 6 Beat Health News.” The sites feature purportedly objective investigative reports of acai products by reporters, who supposedly tried the stuff “and experienced dramatic and positive results.”

The blog post also includes links to examples and complaints posted by the FTC, a Consumer Reports feature on acai scams and this Better Business Bureau video warning about free trial scams.

Unfortunately, every day in our nationwide scan of health news stories, we see REAL news stories that look like advertising. So advertising that is made to look like news is not surprising.

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