The pitch: Weight-loss soap!
The scam: A weight-loss regimen advertised on television by Centro Natural Services Inc. of Santa Ana included "a reducing soap to avoid flab and stretch marks," according to the Federal Trade Commission's translation of the Spanish-language ad. The TV spot went on to explain that the soap compresses body tissue, "helping you to lose dress sizes."
The charges: The federal agency said in a U.S. District Court of Los Angeles filing that Centro Natural's claims for its weight-loss program were false and deceptive. According to the agency, the soap bar consisted of nothing more than dried soap, seaweed powder, fragrance and aloe gel.
The settlement: An agreement ratified by the court Jan. 28 required the company to cease making claims for its products without reliable scientific evidence. Centro Natural didn't admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but it did agree to a monetary judgment of $2.4 million. Only $20,000 will be collected, according to the agency, because of the company's inability to pay the full amount.
Info: FTC guidelines on weight-loss claims, in English and Spanish, are at www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/fitness.