If someone tried to sell you a product that supposedly cured every ailment, would you believe the salesman?
A set of TV infomercials produced about 10 years ago made that very claim. The ads said Coral Calcium, a supplement harvested from coral skeletons near Okinawa, Japan, and Supreme Greens, a concentration of grasses, vegetables, herbs and sprouted grains, cured every illness from Parkinson's to obesity to cancer.
Often, more flagrant false advertising happens at lower levels of the business world, at organizations that can avoid regulators' radars or have empty pockets, Roberti says. Going after "enablers"--such as Triad ML Marketing, the order-processor defendant in Direct Marketing Concepts--who are sometimes more influential, can force companies to better regulate themselves and their business partners.
Wielding Sharp Swords
Often a company will get a preliminary warning before facing prosecution. Working fast to fix the situation can significantly help the outcome. However, the FTC goes particularly hard after recidivists and companies that don't comply after being warned, Roberti says, with a high rate of success.