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Field Reports

1 Nov, 2004 Response

FTC Wants the Public to Help Slam Spam

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission released a report Sept. 16 assessing how a rewards system might entice the general public to track down spammers and help the government enforce its Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2002 (CAN-SPAM).

The Act, effective since January 1, 2004, required that the FTC conduct a study and develop a way to find and penalize spammers. So far, the Commission has been involved in more than 60 spam-related cases and has yet to decipher a fail-safe method. The report notes three main obstacles consistently resurfacing in these investigations: identifying and locating the spammer; developing sufficient evidence to prove the spammer was responsible for sending the spam; and finally, obtaining a monetary award.

The Commission hopes that by developing and implementing a reward system, these hurdles will collapse. It urged Congress to consider such an informant rewards system as well as what types of features it should include.

According to the report, the people most likely to know spammers are their personal and business associates. However, these people would probably be reluctant to report the illegal activities of friends and loved ones. Another type of informant could potentially be "cyberslueths," or people with highly advanced technical skills, to track down spammers by linking the spam to a common source.

The report states that in many cases, the risk of reporting the spammers often outweighs the monetary reward. And, the Commission is still unable to determine a specific dollar amount that would make reporting spammers worthwhile. So far, it estimates that the reward would range from $100,000 to $250,000.

CortiSlim Faces Hefty Allegations from FTC, FDA

WASHINGTON — If it sounds too good to be true... the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is always there to let consumers know that it is, and according to the Commission, the famous stress therapy and weight-loss products CortiSlim and CortiStress fit perfectly into this category.

In early October, the FTC hit Los Angeles-based marketers Window Rock Enterprises, the creators and distributors of the popular weight-loss products CortiSlim and CortiStress, as well as Infinity Advertising Inc., and their principals, Stephen Cheng and Gregory Cynaumon and business partner and product formulator Shawn Talbott, with a complaint for false advertising and unsubstantiated claims.


"The Window Rock defendants' weight-loss and disease-prevention claims fly in the face of reality," said Lydia B. Panes, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "No pill can replace a healthy program of diet and exercise."

According to the advertisements, both CortiSlim and CortiStress help the body decrease the amount of cortisol produced in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that is said to increase the amount of fatty tissue stored around the middle of the body, namely the stomach, hips and thighs for women, and around the waist for men.

The Commission claims that Window Rock, which was featured in the June issue of Response under the magazine's previous administration, violated the FTC Act by making these claims through its infomercial, radio and Internet ads. The FTC alleges that it also violated the Act by using a deceptive format in at least two of its infomercials. The format made the advertisements appear to be regular television programming rather than paid advertisements.

Window Rock submitted an agreement to the courts, which states that it will no longer use the claims outlined in the FTC complaint, nor will it use any type of infomercial format that resembles anything other than a paid advertisement.

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