FTC wins in court over deceptive advertiser


The Federal Trade Commission is one of the primary government watchdogs when it comes to advertising claims, and it won another round in court with a dietary supplement company that made unsupported claims about the health benefits of its products.

Donald W. Barrett used infomercials to pitch supplements on behalf of co-defendant Robert Maihos and their two companies, Direct Marketing Concepts, Inc. and ITV Direct, Inc. They had been ordered to pay $48.2M for deceptive advertising for products like “Supreme Greens” and “Coral Calcium,” which they touted “as a cure for ailments ranging from cancer and Parkinson’s disease to heart disease and autoimmune diseases.”

“Despite the volume of the Defendants’ arguments, we find no more substance in them than the district court found in their infomercials,” wrote U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson.

According to the FTC, “The appellate court rejected all the marketers’ arguments for overturning the ruling and affirmed the lower court’s conclusion that evidence to support their health claims for the supplements was ‘woefully inadequate.’ The appellate court concluded that the district court’s monetary remedy appropriately ordered ‘the defendants to cure their customers in a way that their bogus supplements could not.’”

Among the activities the company is barred from engaging in henceforth “…is failing to disclose that promotional programming is, in fact, a paid advertisement.”