On May 3, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Mikey & Momo Inc., owner of Aromaflage perfumes and scented candles, agreed to settle charges that it used deceptive claims to sell its alleged mosquito-repelling products. According the FTC, the products, marketed as "fragrance with function," lack any scientific evidence to support their insect-repellant claims.
According to its marketing materials, the elegantly packaged products sold by several retailers – including Dillard's, Overstock, and Anthropologie – were "tested in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, as well as the finest locations in the Caribbean, Hamptons, and cottage country in the peak of summer," and effectively repel mosquitoes for 2.5 hours. Further, the company claimed that the sprays and candles repel mosquitoes as effectively as 25-percent DEET.
According the FTC's complaint, the product website also stated that the sprays and candles were "rigorously tested at one of the world's leading universities" and "repels mosquitoes that may carry Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever." The FTC contends that none of these claims can be substantiated.
In addition to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the veracity of the products' claims, the FTC was bugged by the fact that many of the purported impartial positive product reviews posted on the company's Amazon storefront were, in fact, written by the owners of Mikey & Momo, as well as other individuals with a financial interest in the company.
Fortunately for Mikey & Momo, the proposed order settling the FTC's charges does not include a monetary penalty. It does, however, prohibit the company and its owners from making any of the misrepresentations alleged in the complaint, and requires them to disclose clearly and conspicuously whether there is a connection between an endorser and the product or anyone associated with it.
Avoid the sting of the FTC by consulting with an attorney to make sure your product claims pass the smell test.