Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Tampa restaurant owner touted bogus diet pills in email spam campaign, feds say

An owner of a Tampa restaurant is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for a "massive spam campaign," according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Tampa last week.

The FTC listed Colby Fox of Tampa as the owner and officer of Tachht and Teqqi, two Florida companies that allegedly "paid for emails to be sent to customers from hacked email accounts, making it appear to consumers that the messages came from their family members, friends or other contacts."

The emails were advertisements for weight-loss products, though they appeared to be from real news websites, according to the lawsuit. The websites also allegedly had fake endorsements claiming the products had been featured by Oprah Winfrey or the hosts of The Doctors television show.

"These defendants used a variety of deceptive tactics to sell their bogus diet pills," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, wrote in a statement. "But we have a clear message for them — we want their illegal practices to stop and we want to give people back the money they took."

The FTC said Fox and a co-defendant, Christopher Reinhold, violated the national commercial email standards law. The FTC did not list the amount of money that consumers paid Fox and Reinhold. The lawsuit also did not list the number of consumers affected.

Fox is one of five owners of Hyde Out, a restaurant and lounge on W Platt Street in South Tampa. A restaurant manager declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that Fox is an owner. Fox and his lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.

Reinhold is listed in Florida corporate records as the managing owner of Kona Coolers, a drinking water system company in Safety Harbor. He did not return a call for comment.

Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected] Follow @KnotheA.

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