Attorney General Hardy Myers today warned overweight Oregonians of misleading claims made by weight loss hypnosis seminars. Myers issued the warning as his office filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance against a New Jersey hypnosis service for making misrepresentations in its newspaper advertising.
Named in an Assurance, filed today in Marion County Circuit Court, are A. Goen Seminars Institute, a Delaware corporation headquartered in New Jersey, and its chief executive officer, Alex Szynalski, also known as Alex Goen.
"Weight loss services often lure overweight consumers into their seminars by making outlandish weight-loss claims in their advertisements," Myers said. "We believe that the representations made in advertisements for Goen's hypnosis seminars were not supported by competent and reliable evidence."
The company claimed that the "Goen Method" would enable consumers to lose "20-60 pounds in three months, up to 120 pounds in one year" and that Goen's hypnosis techniques would make one-time, group seminar attendees "full twice as fast on half the food" and "destroy attendees' cravings for fattening junk foods." Consumer protection investigators alleged that no reliable evidence supports the statements.
The company also used newspaper testimonials and Internet advertisements that were not "sufficiently qualified" as required by the Federal Trade Commission Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Under the terms of the assurance, which admits no law violation, Goen agrees to comply with Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act and the FTC Advertising Guides and to give full refunds of any "weight loss with hypnosis" seminar fees if the consumer requests a refund within 90 days of the seminar. The company's advertisements, which must be sent to the Department of Justice 15 days before being released to the public, also must disclose the identity and qualifications of the person(s) conducting each hypnosis seminar. All representations in the ads must be supported by competent and reliable evidence and may not guarantee that seminar attendees will be hypnotized.
Goen also paid $5,000 to the Department of Justice consumer education account. Consumers wanting refunds may send their requests to Goen Seminars Institute, 8 Ridgedale Avenue, Cedar Knoll, New Jersey 07927. Consumers may file complaints on this or any other business by calling the Attorney General's toll free consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392, (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only). Those wanting printed information about weight loss products and programs may write Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection, 1162 Court Street, N.E., Salem, Oregon 97310.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org