Judge Freezes Assets Of Weight Loss, Nutrition Companies

Judge Freezes Assets Of Weight Loss, Nutrition Companies J. Albert Diaz Cecilia Altonaga

The Federal Trade Commission shut down a group of Doral companies accused of making misrepresentations and unsubstantiated claims about their weight loss and nutritional products on Spanish-language television.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga in Miami entered a preliminary injunction Monday halting the operations of several businesses—Hispanic Global Way, Hispanic Network Connections, First Airborne Services Trading Corp. and eight affiliated companies.

Altonaga also froze the assets of Maria Gisella Carrasco, Rafael Martin Hernandez, Roberto Carrasco Macedo and Maria Elizabeth Vera.

The individual defendants hold titles of president, manager and other executive officer posts in the various companies, and “routinely commingle funds by transferring funds among themselves and paying for one another’s debts and liabilities,” said the FTC complaint filed June 2.

They also hold themselves out to consumers as being the same company, the FTC said.

The FTC alleged the defendants advertised and sold $40 million worth of products through Spanish-language television commercial since at least 2008.

For the past two years, the defendants promoted nationwide the Moulding Motion 5 as a liquid-filled weight-loss belt that, when activated, causes the liquid to crystallize, radiating heat that causes quick weight loss.

“In fact, the Moulding Motion 5 does not cause rapid and substantial weight loss,” the FTC said.

Other products include Celluless, a device that supposedly reduced cellulite; Akupurian, jewelry meant to substitute for acupuncture treatment; collagen pills; a diet supplement; and a girdle called Xtreme Powernet.

The FTC also alleges the defendants mistreated and cheated customers by routinely shipping incomplete orders, defective products and products of the wrong size or color.

“When consumers complained, defendants routinely placed them on hold for long periods, disconnected them, or otherwise ignored or insulted them. If consumers persisted, sales representatives were instructed to extract significant additional fees, purportedly for shipping and handling,” the FTC said.

Altonaga appointed Jonathan E. Perlman of Genovese Joblove & Battista in Miami as receiver to manage and investigate the companies. His duties include recovering any funds for customers who have suffered harm.

The defendants are represented by Timothy Maze Hartley of Fort Lauderdale and Alberto Emilio Acuna of Miami.

The complaint was brought by FTC attorney Michael L. Schaefer of Washington.

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