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Green Coffee Bean Weight-Loss Guru Must Repay $9 Million

Jan. 27, 2015
Personal Finance
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Sorry, Dr. Oz. Green coffee beans don’t cause miracle weight loss, and the owner of companies that claimed they do must give $9 million back to customers.

That’s the message from the Federal Trade Commission, which has been going after sellers of the weight-loss supplement, including Lindsey Duncan, who appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show.” He claimed that people who take green coffee bean extract could lose 17 pounds and 16% of their body fat in three months, without diet or exercise.

“Lindsey Duncan and his companies made millions by falsely claiming that green coffee bean supplements cause significant and rapid weight loss,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a news release. “This case shows that the Federal Trade Commission will continue to fight deceptive marketers’ attempts to prey on consumers trying to improve their health.”

The FTC announced Monday that Duncan had agreed to settle the commission’s charges against him and will pay $9 million for “consumer redress.”

Duncan began selling the extract shortly before appearing on “The Dr. Oz Show,” and he tailored a marketing campaign around his appearance on the program, according to the commission’s complaint. It says Duncan and other employees of his companies passed themselves off as independent health experts on television and elsewhere.

On one website on which he praises the benefits of green coffee beans, Duncan is described as a “celebrity nutritionist and respected naturopathic doctor.”

After his “Dr. Oz” appearance, Duncan’s companies, Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today LLC, sold tens of millions of dollars worth of the extract, the FTC says. They also referred prospective customers to a bogus study, according to the complaint.

The FTC settled charges against the company that conducted that study in September.

Under the terms of Duncan’s settlement, he is barred from making any more unsupported claims and from pretending to be an independent expert about products he is selling. The FTC will put the money his companies pay into a fund to repay customers.

In June, Mehmet Oz was grilled by a U.S. Senate panel over his enthusiastic endorsement of questionable health products on his popular daytime show. Oz acknowledged that his words on the show are sometimes used by scammers to sell junk products, but maintained that he believes in the products he promotes.