Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today filed an enforcement action against a Houston-area weight loss and skin care products retailer. At the Attorney General’s request, a Harris County District Court issued an asset freeze and temporary restraining order prohibiting Momentum Direct, L.L.C., and its owners, Robert B. and Christopher M. Jones, from making unauthorized bank account withdrawals from customers who attempted to cancel their orders, or who did not desire the defendants’ products in the first place.
Consumers filed more than 600 complaints against Momentum Direct with the Better Business Bureau, and more than 40 with the Office of the Attorney General. These complaints cited numerous instances of false advertising, deceptive business practices and unkept promises. The state’s enforcement action seeks restitution for customers whose bank accounts were unlawfully debited by the defendants.
Momentum, which sells its products online, operates several Web sites, including “20Minutefacelift.com,” “2DaySlimdown.com,” “Momentumdirect.net” and “Momentumworldwide.com.” The company does business under various names, including Momentum Health & Nutrition, Momentum Worldwide, Nutrition Tech, Nutrition Express, Momentum Direct and Momentum Fax on Demand.
The company, which is headquartered in Magnolia, made unreasonable guarantees about its products, such as promising the “2-Day SlimDown” allowed customers to “lose 6 to 12 pounds in two days, guaranteed!” The Web-based ads promised consumers “first bottle free” and “free trial program,” and quick, easy cancellation of orders at “no risk” for dissatisfied purchasers.
Momentum Direct’s online ads trumpeted the other products’ “life-changing” qualities, guaranteeing that users of the “20-Minute Facelift” will “look 10 years younger in just 20 minutes” – or purchasers’ money would be refunded.
The bulk of complaints indicate a systematic scheme wherein the defendant refused to honor cancellation requests. Others complained the company failed to provide promised refunds and some were sent and billed for completely unsolicited products.
The state’s investigation found that Momentum Direct ignored customers’ cancellation requests, charged for products never shipped and even continued to debit customer bank accounts for products that were never ordered. Many consumers incurred bank charges for insufficient funds due to the defendants’ monthly debiting. Some even closed their bank accounts to prevent further damage. Customers who attempted to contact the company by telephone, e-mail or first-class mail were unable to get a response.
The Attorney General is seeking full restitution for harmed consumers; civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act; and a penalty of $250,000 for any conduct that was calculated to deprive money or property from consumers who were aged 65 or older.
Texans who believe they have been deceived by similar fraudulent business practices may call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.