The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is sending checks totaling $774,755 to 13,221 consumers who bought Synovia, a supplement advertised and sold by A.S. Research, LLC, as a treatment for arthritis and joint pain.
According to the FTC’s complaint, A.S. Research made misleading health claims and used phony testimonials, including one in which a user said he “gave away his walker” after using the supplement. The defendants allegedly invented this person.
The complaint states that the defendants solicited most consumer testimonials with the offer of free product in exchange for “especially positive and inspiring” reviews of Synovia. The FTC also alleged that the defendants told consumers they had to pay extra for a version of Synovia containing an ingredient added to increase pain relief and speed joint repair, when in fact all purchasers received that product.
In addition, the FTC alleged that many advertisements featured a person as an endorser and identified him as an “early user” of Synovia, without disclosing that he was an owner and officer of A.S. Research.
The order settling the FTC’s allegations prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting the results of any scientific study or endorsement and requires them to disclose any material connections they have with endorsers. It also required the company to pay $821,000 to the Commission for consumer refunds.
The FTC stated that its actions led to more than $642 million in refunds to consumers across the country in fiscal year 2020.