Judge Freezes Assets of Acai Berry Pill Marketer

Customers lured into free trials couldn't get ensuing charges to stop, FTC says

Monday, Aug 16, 2010  |  Updated 9:15 PM CDT
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Judge Freezes Assets of Acai Berry Pill Marketer

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Acai berries.

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A federal judge has frozen the assets of Phoenix-based company that markets acai berry weight-loss pills online through free trials.

The company and its executives were also ordered to stop making false claims for their products. The judge appointed a receiver to take charge of the company's books and ordered the defendants to appear in court Friday in Chicago.

Dreams of rapid weight loss and fake celebrity endorsements from Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray lured customers into providing their credit or debit card numbers as they signed up online for a "free trial" of acai berry pills.

Instead, month after month, consumers got shipments of pills they didn't want and charges of $45 to $65 that mounted despite their attempts to cancel. It was a scam that bilked consumers out of up to $100 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which announced Monday it has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to shut down a massive Internet scam.

The products don't work for weight loss or preventing cancer, as the company claimed, the FTC said, adding that the products were "nothing but a laxative."

Ray and Winfrey submitted statements saying they'd never endorsed the products.

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