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November 11, 2019

Celebrities Fight Back Against Fake Product Endorsements

Filed under: Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:39 am

For the past 10 years, we have warned readers about fake news sites with stories that tout pills and face creams supposedly endorsed by big celebrities or reporters. In reality, those celebrities never actually used or promoted those products. Now the stars are fighting back against the scammers (See New York Times story.) Also, see our 2019 story, 2016 story and one from 2009.

Last week, Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock filed a lawsuit against 100 unspecified defendants who over the years have set up websites selling beauty aids usually on a free trial offer basis using their likenesses and made-up endorsements without authorization.

Here are excerpts from two such websites with fake stories and testimonials about products they never used:

Ellen and Sandra Bullock

Ellen never said this

All these types of sites use celebrities’ testimonials to convince potential buyers of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the products they are pitching. The offers generally end with a free trial period (just pay $5 for shipping). Inconspicuous fine print disclosures ultimately hoodwink unsuspecting buyers into receiving monthly shipments of the products for $70-$90 a bottle or jar.

We asked Ellen’s lawyer why they filed this suit.

“People are being defrauded in this massive scam using Sandra’s and Ellen’s names and images. Like Whack-A-Mole, for each fake site exposed, another one pops up. The complaint exposes the scam and how it works so people can avoid getting trapped in it, and provides a way to identify those responsible and profiting from it so they can be stopped and held to account.” — Michael Weinsten, Attorney for Ellen DeGeneres.

The lawyers are seeking compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits, punitive damages, and an injunction against the use of their clients’ likeness and name in the future.

We say, go get’m.

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  1. I think it’s good that these lawsuits are being filed. But the fact that a celebrity endorses a product is meaningless. Just check out, for example, the complaints found on the internet regarding the beauty products being hawked on TV by celebrity actresses. The biggest complaint is that customers cannot stop the companies from sending automatic shipments when they find that the products don’t do anything special for them that cannot be achieved by buying beauty products sold in drug stores.

    Comment by hmc — November 11, 2019 @ 9:48 am
  2. Saw this at the very end of the Shark Tank show on Sunday. I hope the celebs can win the lawsuit.

    Comment by richard Ginn — November 11, 2019 @ 11:04 am
  3. Nothing new. This stuff has been going on longer than I can remember. Only the UNsavvy will fall for it.

    Comment by Len — November 11, 2019 @ 4:20 pm
  4. Len, you write: “Only the unsavvy will fall for it.” May I ask what your point is?

    Comment by HMC — November 11, 2019 @ 9:19 pm

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