FTC settles weight-loss product scam aimed at Spanish speakers

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A weight-loss-product marketer settled Federal Trade Commission allegations that it charged Spanish-speaking customers for unordered or defective products and made it costly or impossible for them to get their money back.

FTC says Hispanic Global Way used Spanish-language TV ads and Peruvian call centers to sell its products. They then shipped incomplete orders, incorrect or defective products or products that didn’t perform as advertised, such as a phony weight-loss belt. When consumers called to complain, telemarketers ignored or insulted them, said products couldn’t be returned or exchanged, or asked customers to pay a fee of $20–$299 to process a return or exchange.

The company admitted to the allegations and agreed to be banned from telemarketing or selling weight-loss products. Under the settlement order, in any future business, the owners of Hispanic Global Way must provide free refunds or exchanges for incorrect or nonworking products, for any product or service that differs from what was advertised, or for products that include a gift that was promised as an incentive for a purchase but not received. The defendants also are barred from misrepresenting their goods and services. Further, they’re prohibited from profiting from and must dispose of personal information that was obtained from consumers. 

The settlement order imposes a $50 million judgment that will be suspended upon surrender of all of the defendants’ significant assets. FTC didn’t mention potential consumer remedies.