The Federal Trade Commission has settled fraud charges against four companies accused of selling products backed by dubious claims. Sensa Products, L'Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa haven't admitted or denied wrongdoing, but will pay $34 million in refunds to customers, the New York Times reports. The move is part of a broader FTC campaign against "fad weight-loss products," a category that accounted for twice as many fraud claims as any other in 2011. The commission is also urging media companies to avoid running ads with potentially fraudulent claims.
Sensa sold a powder that claimed to cause weight loss when sprinkled on foods, L'Occitan peddled skin creams that boasted of "clinically proven slimming effectiveness," and HCG offered liquid drops that it said contained a hormone produced by human placenta to help people lose weight, Reuters reports. LeanSpa, meanwhile, used outright fake news websites to push the slimming benefits of acai berries, says the FTC; one of its executives will personally pay $7 million.