20 Years Prison Sentence for Lack of Substantiation for Weight Loss Product

Frank Sarcona of West Palm Beach, Florida, was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida. This is following his conviction on multiple charges, including mail and wire fraud, in connection with the advertising of the diet pill Lipoban. Sarcona, a man with a long history in the weight loss industry was subject to a 1999 FTC injunction restricting him from engaging in deceptive marketing in connection with weight loss products. The court found that Sarcona violated the order with his most recent activity.

The Lipoban diet pill promised incredible results with little effort. The pills had little to no substantiation for claims that promised double digit weight loss without diet or exercise. Sarcona was found to have misled consumers by advertising Lipoban as a clinical test run by doctors for scientific purposes when in fact none of that was true. In a press release issued by Southern District of Florida, it is claimed that Sarcona defrauded "more than a hundred thousand consumers across the U.S. out of more than $16 million."

Sarcona actually faced a maximum sentence of 33 years in prison, but received leniency from U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Marra during sentencing. The Palm Beach Post News quoted Sarcona as saying "Everything I've done, I've done with the intent to help, not to defraud... I believe in the products I sell."

Advertisers should always remember that belief in a product is not enough when it comes to making claims about product efficacy, and very real consequences exist when proper substantiation does not exist in marketing a dietary supplement product.

*Frank Hernandez was formerly with The Lustigman Firm.

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