Acai Berry fake news website operators fined millions of dollars by FTC

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Spam, Twitter

Have you seen this online news report about the miraculous Acai Berry diet?

You may have seen it on a site like "News 6 News Alerts," "Health News Health Alerts," or "Health 5 Beat Health News".

Fake news website

Maybe you got to the webpage after clicking on a link shared by a friend on Twitter, who says they have lost a shed load of weight by following the diet?

Of course, the website is a fake (it's just pretending to be a legitimate news source) and your friend didn't tweet out that message - their account has been compromised by spammers.

Time and time again, spammers have compromised Twitter accounts, including those belonging to Hyatt Hotels and NHS Direct, exploiting them to spread fake endorsements of using colon cleansers and following an Acai Berry diet to lose weight.

Acai berry news spam

Sadly such scams have become so common that the Acai Berry "news" site has become very familiar to all of the experts at SophosLabs (clearly the spammers never felt the need to revamp the look-and-feel of their bogus media outlet).

Acai berry capsules, courtesy of ShutterstockThe good news is that the authorities are just as fed up as the rest of us with the illegal and deceptive practices of those hawking the diet pills.

The Federal Trade Commission has just announced that a company behind the bogus news websites has agreed to pay more than $1.6 million in settlements, permanently halting its operations.

Beony International, its owner Mario Milanovic, and employee Cody Adams, were each stung with a $13 million judgment. However, unless the FTC determines they lied about their finances, they may only have to pay over $1.6 million and sell a 2008 Porsche to settle with the authorities.

This is the latest settlement in the FTC's action against Acai Berry scammers, including a $2 million penalty leveled against a Florida-based affiliate advertising network last year.

Don't make life profitable for spammers and scammers. If you see an unsolicited spam message - don't try, don't buy, don't reply.

Acai berry capsules, courtesy of Shutterstock

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4 Responses to Acai Berry fake news website operators fined millions of dollars by FTC

  1. Lee I · 590 days ago

    My spam email about acai seems to have dropped off lately. New miracles have replaced it.

  2. I rarely follow these messages coming to my twitter, facebook, etc because I don't believe 75% of diet ads. I follow ads that talk healhy ways, ideas, foods for losing weight. There's is nothing better than a healthy diet for losing weight not ads marketing products that do it all without eating healthy meals, lunches, and snacks.

  3. James Spader · 587 days ago

    Now maybe the FCC with fine Fox News for being a "bogus media outlet" too.

    • Nigel · 586 days ago

      Why fine Fox News and not all the rest of the "news" networks? They all have their own slant on the news. If you think that Fox is any more guilty than any of the others, you're simply revealing your own bias.

      "News" is what the network wishes to promote. It's a fact. You can deny it, but it's unlikely that doing so will change it.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.