If this whole Russian-ads-on-Facebook thing has taught us anything, it's that you can't always believe what you see on the internet. That, and when it comes to unsettling election results, job opportunities, potential relationships, or beauty products, one universal truth applies: Anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
With the latter, chances are you've seen the egregious skin-care claims on your feed at some point, promising that a miracle face cream can fade your wrinkles better than plastic surgery. Even Jennifer Aniston has experienced dramatic results! In fact, a recent release from the Federal Trade Commission alleges that a group of internet marketers used the likeness of countless celebs — including Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Kim Kardashian, and more — in addition to phony quotes, websites, and testimonials, to effectively con hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting customers into spending a collective $179 million within the last five years.
According to the FTC's complaint, Richard Fowler, Ryan Fowler, Nathan Martinez, and the 19 companies they control under Tarr, Inc. allegedly used fake websites with domain names that appeared to be legit media sites, such as goodhousekeepingtoday.com and womenshealthi.com. The FTC alleges these networks swindled users into ordering "free trials" of the supposed celeb-endorsed products, only to learn they'd unknowingly signed up for recurring shipments for which they were automatically charged monthly.
As a result, the defendants have reached an agreement with the commission to pay a portion (read: $6.4 million) of the profits made. They are also banned from using these tactics again to promote products online in the future. And while the internet is littered with customer complaints about these scams, now many of the stars used in these claims are also speaking out.
During a segment on The View, Whoopi Goldberg explained that stars (including herself, Joy Behar, and Robin McGraw) are all privy to the internet scams, and rightfully frustrated. "The law has finally caught up with them," she said. McGraw, who has her own beauty line, also told Entertainment Tonight that she was furious about the scam: "It just makes us so mad," she said. "I noticed now they have put Oprah's picture in this story, Eva Longoria... these are women I highly respect and consider very personal friends. I would never ask Oprah to endorse a product of mine, and that's what it looks like in the story."
The takeaway? Make sure to do your due diligence before buying into pricy products that claim to solve all your skin's issues without any effort at all. Oh, and this Fake News media is out of control. Sad!