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Still Envied?

The TrimSpa controversy continues after Anna Nicole Smith’s death.

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TrimSpa founder Alex Goen went on TV last week to express shock that Slim-Fast was found in Anna Nicole Smith’s hotel fridge when she died. Blinking rapidly, Goen (real name Alex Szynalski) said that “it would definitely be a violation” of her TrimSpa contract if the company’s cheerleader was drinking Slim-Fast behind his back.

In truth, Smith died just as the New Jersey–based TrimSpa empire was seemingly wasting away. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission forced TrimSpa into a $1.5 million settlement for false advertising, based on Smith’s boast that she used TrimSpa to lose 69 pounds in eight months. Armed with Smith’s TrimSpa ads, the FTC alleged that TrimSpa “had inadequate scientific evidence to support their advertising claims,” and Goen agreed to stop advertising the “health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects” of TrimSpa, or its supposed miracle ingredient, Hoodia gordonii, unless he could back it up. Just days before her death, Smith was named in a class-action suit against TrimSpa filed by 17-year-old Janet Luna and other customers who claimed they were duped by her weight-loss claims.

It’s not the first time the government has gone after Goen, who didn’t return calls. In 2000, the Oregon attorney general warned against Goen’s weight-loss hypnosis seminars. In 2005, New Jersey forced Goen to pay $750,000 after customers were “lured” (the state attorney general’s word) to Goen’s hypnotism seminars and aggressively pitched TrimSpa and LipoSpa, which Goen claimed was “liposuction in a bottle.” New Jersey’s then-governor, Richard Codey, called it “a classic bait-and-switch scheme that targeted vulnerable consumers.” Goen has not admitted any wrongdoing in either case. Is it any wonder Smith stuck to the Slim-Fast?

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