FTC: Marketer Charged With False Advertising For Manipulating Ratings (First Eve Review Hijacking Case)
On February 16th, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Bountiful Company—a firm engaged in the business of marketing and selling vitamins and supplements—in a false advertising case. It is the agency’s first ever “review hijacking” case. As part of the enforcement action, Bountiful Company will pay $600,000. Below, our West Palm Beach deceptive trade practices lawyers discuss the case and explain your options if you were harmed by false advertising in Florida.
Allegations: Company Engaged in Improper “Review Hijacking”
Bountiful Company is a Ronkonkoma, NY based firm engaged in the marketing of vitamins and supplementals. It sells many products on Amazon. The FTC opened up an investigation into the advertising practices of Bountiful Company after receiving reports that the company was improperly manipulating its reviews. According to the FTC, the company did so in order to deceive consumers that certain products had more reviews than they actually did.
The practice is sometimes called “review hijacking.” Broadly explained, Review hijacking in the context of false advertising refers to a practice where an individual or company attempts to manipulate the reviews of a product or service by taking over or “hijacking” an existing review thread, or by creating fake reviews, in order to promote their own product or service or to discredit a competitor. Notably, this is the FTC’s first ever enforcement action in this type of case.
Company Settles False Advertising Claim for $600,000
As part of its settlement with the FTC, Bountiful Company will pay a total of $600,000. The FTC states clearly that manipulating reviews is sometimes done through new tactics such as hijacking, but it is “still plain old false advertising.” The monetary relief provided through this settlement will be distributed to affected consumers. The FTC also emphasizes that it will continue to take enforcement action against companies engaged in deceptive and unfair advertising practices.
False Advertising is an Actionable Claim Under the FDUTPA
False advertising refers to the dissemination of false or misleading information about a product or service in order to deceive consumers into making a purchase. The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is a state law that provides consumers with legal recourse in cases of false advertising. Under the FDUTPA, consumers can hold companies that engage in false advertising practices accountable. If a consumer proves that they were deceived and damaged by false advertising, they have the right to seek compensation for actual losses under the FDUTPA.
Schedule a Completely Confidential Consultation With Our South Florida FDUTPA Lawyer
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida false advertising lawyers have extensive experience handling FDUTPA claims. If you have any questions or concerns about a false advertising case, we are here to help. Give us a call now or contact us online. With offices in West Palm, Wellington, and Miami, we handle state-based false advertising claims throughout South Florida, including in Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County.