Feds Go After '1 Tip' Diet Ads

US sues creators of inescapable online ads

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 7, 2011 3:39 PM CDT

(Newser) – You’re probably sick of them by now: those ads that promise “1 Tip for a Tiny Belly” next to a drawing of a shrinking stomach. Don’t believe it, the government says: In different lawsuits, federal officials are pursuing those behind the ads, calling them a giant fraud, the Washington Post reports. The ads have garnered “tens of billions” of views, says a US lawyer, and have brought in more than a billion dollars—but they’re rife with misinformation.

The ads, by affiliates of the products’ manufacturers, lead to sites with fake news articles made to look like unbiased investigative reporting. But the news sources behind the sites, like Consumeronlinetips.com, are fake, the companies can’t demonstrate that their products work, and the “free samples” aren’t really free. In one case, requesting a free sample means agreeing to pay $80 every few weeks for new shipments, the Post notes. Meanwhile, the affiliates—who are seemingly unconnected, though their tactics are similar—allegedly cite legitimate news organizations and celebrities who haven’t really endorsed their products.

An example of one of the ads the government says are fraudulent.
An example of one of the ads the government says are fraudulent.   (fatburningfurnace.com)
This image provided by the Federal Trade Commission shows a screen shot of a web site using a fake news site to promote weight-loss products.
This image provided by the Federal Trade Commission shows a screen shot of a web site using a fake news site to promote weight-loss products.   (AP Photo/Federal Trade Commission)
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