State and Federal Trade Commission Sue Branford Companies over Alleged Deceptive Practices
For immediate release DECEMBER 1, 2011
HARTFORD – Attorney General George Jepsen has joined with the Federal Trade Commission in a lawsuit against three Branford-based companies and their principal, whose Internet marketing and sales practices allegedly violate federal and state law.
The lawsuit names LeanSpa LLC, NutraSlim LLC and NutraSlim U.K. Ltd., all based in Branford, and Boris Mizhen of Guilford, individually and as the owner or corporate officer of the three companies. They allegedly used unfair and deceptive practices to advertise, market and sell dietary supplements, purported to be weight-loss and colon cleanse products, over the Internet.
The products are marketed under various brand names, which include but are not limited to: LeanSpa™; LeanSpa™ with Acai; LeanSpa™ with HCA; LeanSpa™ Cleanse; NutraSlim™; NutraSlim™ with HCA; QuickDetox™ and SlimFuel™.
The lawsuit seeks consumer refunds, undetermined civil penalties and disgorgement of any money the companies obtained illegally. While the case is pending, a U.S. District Court judge in Hartford has frozen the companies’ assets, put those assets under the control of a temporary receiver, stayed other pending legal actions and halted the alleged deceptive practices, including collecting on customer accounts.
“Left unchecked, unfair and deceptive trade practices can cause substantial injury to consumers. We are pleased to take action to address these alleged practices," said Attorney General Jepsen. He joined the lawsuit on behalf of the state Department of Consumer Protection, which received 145 complaints about the companies between September 2010 and July 2011.
“We will not tolerate companies that deceive consumers into purchasing ineffective products, which allegedly occurred in this case,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein. “I am grateful that the Attorney General, in conjunction with the FTC, was able to immediately stop these practices and to freeze assets, so that at the end of this litigation, consumers may be made whole.”
Among the unfair and deceptive practices alleged by the lawsuit: the companies used fake news websites and consumer testimonials to promote their products; offered customers a “free” trial if they paid for shipping and handling, but then used the credit or debit card information supplied to often charge consumers for the free trial; billed consumers for unauthorized charges after enrolling them into “negative option” purchase plans; failed to clearly disclose onerous preconditions for order cancellations and refunds; and failed to provide refunds.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 7, alleges that these and other company practices violate Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act and.
The State and the FTC estimate that the companies have taken in more than $25 million from U.S. consumers, and were responsible for more than 1,000 complaints made to the State, the FTC and the Better Business Bureau.
Assistant Attorneys General Phillip Rosario, Matthew Fitzsimmons, Jonathan Blake and Jose Rene Martinez are handling this case for the Attorney General.
Susan E. Kinsman, Office of the Attorney General; firstname.lastname@example.org; 860-808-5324; 860-478-9581 (cell)
Claudette Carveth, Department of Consumer Protection; email@example.com; 860-713-6022