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Lawsuit Filed Over Fake Lifestyle Lift Reviews

22 Jul, 2009 Response This Week

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo came to a settlement with cosmetic surgery firm Lifestyle Lift last week over the firm’s allegedly fake reviews published across the Web, reports The case comes at a time when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on online word-of-mouth marketing.

As part of the settlement, Lifestyle Lift will stop publishing anonymous positive reviews online and will pay $300,000 in penalties to the state of New York.

The positive reviews about Lifestyle Lift were published on various Web sites and the Attorney General’s office said these claims “constitute deceptive commercial practices, false advertising and fraudulent and illegal conduct under New York and federal consumer protection law.”

“Lifestyle Lift regrets that earlier third-party Web site content did not always properly reflect and acknowledge patient comments or indicate that the content was provided by Lifestyle Lift,” said a press release issued by the company.

“This company’s attempt to generate business by duping consumers was cynical, manipulative and illegal,” says Cuomo. “My office has and will continue to be on the forefront in protecting consumers against emerging fraud and deception, including ‘astroturfing,’ on the Internet.” Astroturfing, as defined by Cuomo’s office, is employees posting as independent consumers to include positive reviews on Internet message boards about their own companies.

The case raises questions about the FTC’s word-of-mouth marketing investigations. In its new proposed “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” the FTC could stand to make things more difficult for bloggers and brand marketers who encourage customers to spread the word about products.

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