It is wise to exercise caution when buying products that claim dramatic results. However, when trustworthy celebrities like Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres are said to endorse those products, it speeds up the decision to buy.
The problem is, these celebrities are not really endorsing those products. Bogus press releases are bringing in customers by the droves by flashing an A-lister's name as an endorser.
The scheme captures our desire to be fitter or younger -- you name it! With promising results, there is nothing that hinders these frauds from bleeding into our bank accounts.
Free Trial, Not!
Many of the fake online ads that use Bullock and DeGeneres' names reportedly lure customers with free trials. In practice, consumers are charged for the full price.
Bullock and DeGeneres found their names fraudulently attached on beauty products they never heard of, used, or endorsed. Bella Pelle Wrinkle Cream and Elliesse Serum are some of them.
Sandra Bullock Skincare Line Fraud
Bullock never launched a skincare line, but these perpetrators had people believing she did! There was also a press release where plastic surgeons allegedly blamed the actress for the large decline in their patients -- no thanks to her skincare products.
Celebrated actors like Oprah Winfrey and Kelly Ripa have also fallen victim to false marketing. Their names have been connected to unknown brands, most popularly of anti-aging creams.
Even Denzel Washington has been used by these frauds to sell erectile dysfunction pills. According to The Federal Trade Commission, false endorsements have already raked in $179 million in 5 years.
The most popular fraudulent ads are reportedly of unproven wrinkle-reduction, muscle-building and weight loss products.
Catch Them All!
Mehmet Oz of the "Dr. Oz Show" revealed that it is hard to track down the source of these bogus online ads, adding that every year, his legal team sends thousands of cease-and-desist letters to these sites.
For two years, Bullock and DeGeneres have been trying to put an end to these fabricated endorsements, but the task is daunting. The frauds are evasive and their sites pop up and disappear overnight.
DeGeneres and Bullock have joined forces to take legal action and uncover the frauds. With the help of their attorneys, they hope to subpoena the defendants identified as John Does 1 through 100.
The defendants will face lawsuits over false advertising and unauthorized use of the celebrities names to endorse their products.