State of Connecticut Probes Acai Berry Scams

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Connecticut Probes Acai Berry Scams

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is investigating the business practices and questionable science associated with Acai berry products — primarily pitched by Internet-based companies as a wonder treatment for weight-loss.

Blumenthal’s office has received numerous consumer complaints related to Acai berry purchases, and is investigating with other states.

There is no competent scientific research that demonstrates any of the claimed effects of Acai berry, including weight loss, detoxification and increased energy and vitality, Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said various companies selling Acai berry products — in addition to bogus weight loss claims — have improperly charged consumer credit cards.

After promising 14-day “free trials” of Acai berry products, the companies often make it virtually impossible for consumers to cancel the trial, resulting in charges to consumer credit cards ranging anywhere from $59 to $89.

Even worse, some consumers never even receive the product within the trial period — making it impossible to try the product before deciding whether to cancel.

That’s what happened to Robin of Covington, Ga., who complained to about her dealings with Advanced Wellness Research.

“I ordered the free trial of Acai Berry capsules for $4.99. It took 2 weeks to get the bottle. That’s their have to call withing 14 days to cancel. It’s hard to cancel when you haven’t received the product! … On my next credit card statement, I had been charged $78.81 on 2/7/09 and another $83.80 on 2/22/09.”

“There are no magical berries from the Brazilian rainforest that cure obesity — only painfully real credit card charges and empty weight loss promises,” Blumenthal said. “Aggressive Acai berry pitches on the Internet entice countless consumers into free trials promising weight loss, energy and detoxification. These claims are based on folklore, traditional remedies and outright fabrications — unproven by real scientific evidence.

“In reality, consumers lose more money than weight after free trials transition into inescapable charges. We will investigate these allegedly misleading or deceptive nutrition and health claims and take action under our consumer protection statutes — as we have done with other food products. As problematic as the berries are the bills.

“Supposedly free online product offers commonly entail costs. These false celebrity endorsements and fake blogs show the dark side of online marketing.”

David Schardt, senior nutritionist for Center for Science in the Public Interest, said, “If Bernard Madoff were in the food business, he’d be offering ‘free’ trials of a├žai-based weight-loss products. Law enforcement has yet to catch up to these rogue operators. Until they do, consumers have to protect themselves.”

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