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Seeing through false health claims

Created date

October 23rd, 2015
scam alert logo
scam alert logo

Dim restaurant lighting confounds many a diner who must squint or reach for reading glasses to decipher the menu. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to leave those glasses and the squinting behind? Of course it would, but don’t fall prey to unscrupulous claims that your vision deficiencies can be cured through a downloadable app. Recently, one California company landed in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after dangling a fake carrot—in this case, an app that could supposedly improve your vision—in online advertisements.

Since 2012, Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc., and its co-owners Adam Goldberg and Aaron Seitz have advertised and sold Ultimeyes, a vision software app. The company’s Internet ads promised that the app would “turn back the clock on your vision” and stated that using Ultimeyes would result in “comprehensive vision improvement.” Ultimeyes sold for between $5.99 and $9.99 on the company’s website and through third-party app stores, including the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 

To back up their claims, the ads touted scientific evidence (including a study done by Aaron Seitz) proving the app worked. Upon closer inspection, the FTC decided that the evidence failed to prove the app worked. The FTC also noted that their advertisements failed to disclose Seitz’s affiliation with the company.

“This case came down to the simple fact that ‘Ultimeyes’ promoters did not have the scientific evidence to support their claims that the app could improve users’ vision,” says Jessica Rich, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Health-related apps can offer benefits to consumers, but the FTC will not hesitate to act when health-related claims are not based on sound science.”

Beware the ‘too good to be true’ health claims

All companies want to make their products look good in advertisements. That’s basically the point. However, it’s against the law to deceive people. The company has agreed to stop making deceptive claims to settle the FTC complaint.  

Be especially cautious when it comes to health claims. As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While being taken for a relatively small amount (under $10) isn’t going to make a lasting financial impact, a scam is a scam. It’s up to you to keep your guard up so your hard earned money stays out of scammers’ pockets.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online complaint assistant at
ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

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