Online affiliate network Ads4Dough will pay $1 million to settle charges that marketers in its network used "fake news" sites to dupe people into purchasing acai berry as a weight-loss supplement. Ads4Dough also agreed to tightly police the affiliates within its network, in order to settle the case.
The deal resolves a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging that Ads4Dough (also known as Codeadium) acted as an intermediary between affiliate marketers who created fake news sites and online retailers who sold acai berry as a weight-loss supplement.
The marketers allegedly created sites with domain names like nbcreports.com or usahealthnewstoday.org. Those sites duped consumers by carrying "the names and logos of major broadcast and cable television networks," according to the FTC. The sites also offered supposed news stories touting the benefits of acai berry as a weight-loss aid.
The complaint and settlement, unveiled on Wednesday, is the latest in a series of cases brought by the FTC challenging marketing efforts for acai berry. Most of the other cases have targeted the companies that allegedly create fake news sites, but the FTC also brought a previous case against another affiliate network -- IMM Interactive, previously Intermark Communications.
Ads4Dough promised that in the future, it will require affiliates to provide marketing materials -- including ad copy, photos and URLs -- in advance. The company also said it won't pay for leads or sales if an affiliate uses materials that were disapproved. Ads4Dough also promised to terminate any affiliate that uses fake news sites in the future.