How Consumers Were Duped by Green Coffee Bean Weight-Loss Supplement Scam
So now that the marketer of the Green Coffee Bean weight loss supplement - Lindsey Duncan - has recently agreed to pay some hefty fines to the FTC for intentionally deceptive marketing practices, here’s a little more about how he duped consumers into buying this bogus weight loss product.
Unbeknownst to consumers who were duped by the Green Coffee Bean weight loss supplement, according to the FTC the hoopla behind the scan began before Lindsey Duncan’s ill-famed appearance on The Dr. Oz Show. As it turns out, as soon as Mr. Duncan agreed to appear on The Dr. Oz Show he reportedly began selling the extract and tailored a marketing campaign around his appearance on the show to capitalize on what is colloquially referred to as the “Oz effect”―a phenomenon in which discussion of a product on the program causes an increase in consumer demand, similar to what Oprah did for book sales by some authors.
Also unbeknownst to consumers is that “doctor” Lindsey Duncan is no doctor—but likes to play one on TV.
As it turns out, the Texas Attorney General’s office has charged Mr. Duncan for duping the public by claiming to be a doctor when in fact he is not. Mr. Duncan’s explanation that he is a naturopathic doctor was dismissed by the Attorney General’s office due to that his alleged accreditation is from a defunct unaccredited, distance-learning Clayton College of Natural Health of which is on a list of institutions whose degrees are illegal to claim.
According to a press release from the Attorney General’s office, “…the State’s investigation also found that Duncan falsely presents himself as a health practitioner in media interviews, television show appearances, presentations, and video promotions by donning lab coats and making references to clinical experience and practice―deceptive conduct that intentionally misleads viewers into believing that he is disseminating health advice and knowledge about the nutritional products he is promoting and in which he has a financial interest.”
Concerned more about what he was selling and less on his credentials, according to a press release from the FTC, officials charged Mr. Duncan and his companies―Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today, Inc.― for deceptively claiming that a clinical study showed that the Green Coffee Bean supplement could cause consumers to lose 17 pounds and 16 percent of their body fat in just 12 weeks without diet or exercise. The alleged study has since been found to be seriously flawed and was subsequently discredited.
The FTC filed that the chain of events of the deception were as follows:
• Mr. Duncan began selling the extract and tailored a marketing campaign around his future appearance on The Dr. Oz Show.
• Mr. Duncan reached out to retailers, describing his upcoming appearance on The Dr. Oz Show and saying he planned to discuss the clinical trials that purportedly proved the supplement’s effectiveness. He and his companies also began an intensive effort to make the extract available in Walmart stores and on Amazon.com when the program aired.
• While discussing green coffee bean extract during the taping of Dr. Oz, Duncan urged viewers to search for the product online using phrases his companies would use in search advertising to drive consumers to their websites selling the extract.
• Mr. Duncan continued to use his Dr. Oz appearance in a marketing campaign after the show aired, posting links to the episode on websites and using retail point-of-sale displays showing messages such as “New Health Discovery! As Seen on TV, The Dieter’s Secret Weapon.”
• Mr. Duncan and several of the companies’ paid spokespeople portrayed themselves on television shows as independent sources of information about green coffee bean extract and other natural remedies, while failing to disclose their financial ties to the companies.
The result of this chain of events led to Mr. Duncan and his associated companies selling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of the extract.
According to the recent settlement with the FTC, Mr. Duncan and the companies he controlled will pay $9 million for consumer redress and are barred from misrepresenting the status of any endorser, and requires them to disclose all material connections between them and anyone who endorses their products. And, any future weight-loss claims of their products must be backed with at least two well-controlled human clinical tests, substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
Reference: FTC Press Release― “Marketer Who Promoted a Green Coffee Bean Weight-Loss Supplement Agrees to Settle FTC Charges”