Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit alleging that a Nevada corporation, operating out of Cook County, lured consumers from across the country with "magic" weight loss claims and "free trial" offers advertised on its Web site then fraudulently billed the consumers for hundreds of dollars of unwanted and ineffective weight loss products.
The lawsuit charges Diet Patch, Inc., and Guadalupe Bejar, its president, with multiple violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Madigan alleges Bejar conducted business out of her suburban Chicago home, using a Tinley Park post office box address and the Web site www.mydietpatches.com,/to run her business.
According to the lawsuit, the company used false advertising to promote and sell its products. The complaint charges that the Diet Patch Web site made numerous unsubstantiated weight loss claims including, "An easy to use product that magically melts off ugly fat, gets rid of flab and cellulite without 'dieting,' calorie counting, or strenuous exercise" and "With The Amazing Diet Patch you don't even have to think about losing weight, the patch does all the work for you!"
"The Diet Patch advertisements, such as those posted on the Diet Patch Web site, are riddled with deceptive claims," Madigan said. "These defendants are clearly trying to take advantage of their clients' eagerness to lose weight. However, the only losses these consumers saw were to their wallets, not their waistlines."
Bejar's pop-up ads that lured consumers to her Web site found their way across the country. Consumers who complained to Madigan's office were from Illinois as well as California, Texas, Pennsylvania and other states.
Madigan's Consumer Fraud and Healthcare Bureaus have received 19 consumer complaints against Diet Patch, Inc., alleging that when consumers respond to the company's free trial offer, they unexpectedly receive and are billed for shipments of the costly weight loss product.
Specifically, the Web site offered a free seven-day supply of the Amazing Diet Patch and required consumers to pay a shipping and handling fee of $2.95. Consumers were required to provide a credit or debit card number for shipping and handling charges.
However, consumers allegedly received not only the free patches, but also an additional supply of the patches without their authorization and were charged approximately $165 to $170 for the extra shipment. According to the lawsuit, even after the unwanted supplies of patches were returned, the majority of the consumers did not receive their money back.
The lawsuit asks the court to stop the defendants from running an internet site that sells diet products in violation of Illinois' consumer protection laws by making unsubstantiated weight loss claims. In addition, it calls on the court to assess a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 per violation found to be committed with the intent to defraud, and to order the defendants to pay restitution to the consumers.