The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set its sights on Lumosity, a company famous for its brain games website that was launched back in 2007. In a claim filed in court on Monday, the agency claims that the company used false and deceptive advertising in its nationwide campaigns. The FTC is seeking restitution, refunds, rescission of contracts, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains, and an injunction, according to a report by Courthouse News Service.
Since its creation, Lumosity seemed to capture the public’s attention with its beneficial claims and simplistic approach. In 2013, it was listed as one of the United States’ most promising companies by Forbes Magazine. According to its website, the company currently has over 70 million users in 182 countries.
Advertisements for the company boasted that the games hosted on its site could lead to “improved athletic performance, delay in age-related decline in memory or other cognitive function, including protection against mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease,” amongst other numerous benefits -- neurological and otherwise. Many of these claims are strongly supported by testimonials of users who reinforce that the games can “change lives.”
However, the FTC has stated that many of these testimonials were made as a result of contests that the company held. The agency found that out of 160 user testimonials that the company uses in ads, 46 of them came from contests that held “significant prizes.” For example, in 2012, Lumosity held a promotional contest that asked users to write a testimonial on how the company’s games helped improve their athletic performance. “Show us how Lumosity has helped take your athletic abilities to the next level for a chance to win a lifetime subscription, the new iPad, and more,” stated the promotion.
As a result, the FTC has charged that Lumosity top officers violated the FTC Act through deceptive use of testimonials, false proof claims, and by making false, unsubstantiated claims on performance, age-related conditions, and health conditions. Lumosity has declined to comment on the lawsuit at this time.