In one fell swoop, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has enforced a crackdown crackdown on four unscrupulous weight-loss companies that promoted their products using untrue and misleading advertising content.

California-based Sensa Products LLC, makers of a weight loss additive called Sensa, will return over $26 million to consumers to settle federals charges that the company was engaged in deceptive advertising. The Sensa ad claimed that dieters need only sprinkle their food with Sensa and they could lose weight, because the powder enhanced the smell and taste of food, making users feel fuller and therefore eat less.

Consumers responded to this heartily, allowing the company to generate more than $364 million in sales between 2008 and 20012. Sales were promoted through major retailers and television home-shopping networks  A month's supply of Sensa costs $59.

However, officials from the FTC recently said that the company's claims were false, and that it used bogus clinical studies and paid endorsements to convince customers to purchase the product.

The FTC said that Sensa creator Dr. Alan Hirsch conducted two misleading studies and wrote a book to promote Sensa. On top of this, Sensa failed to disclose that some of its customers, who appeared in the Sensa ads, were paid between $1,000 to $ 5,000 to endorse the product, and they also enjoyed complimentary trips to Los Angeles, where the company is headquartered. Aside from making the company pay its customers back, the FTC also barred both Dr. Hirsch and Sensa CEO Adam Goldberg from making weight loss claims for any future products unless they are supported by two rigorous clinical trials.

Another weight-loss company that needs to settle federal charges in LeanSpa, a company that promotes acai berry and 'colon cleanse' weight loss supplements through fake news websites. The company was also censured for duping customers about free-trial deals. Customers were made to believe that the had to pay only a nominal shipping cost to get the free products for sampling, but it was found out that customers were charged roughly $ 80 for the samples. The company is expected to hand over $7.3 million back to its consumers.

The third company, L'Occitane, claimed that its Almond Beautiful skin cream, retailing for over $44 per 7 oz. bottle, could help users "trim 1.3 inches in just 4 weeks." The FTC ruled that such a claim was bogus, and ordered the company to repay $450,000 to its customers. The FTC also required the company to conduct the proper clinical studies before making such a claim.

HCG Diet Direct in Arizona made use of a hormone produced in the human placenta, turned them into liquid drops, and falsely promoted the end product as a weight loss aid. The company was ordered by the FTC to pay $3.2 million back to its customers.

Jessica Rich, director of FTC's consumer protection office, said, "The chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none - the science just isn't there."

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