21 June 2018

Fake Cures and Training Crashes

The Queensland Government reports that Sun Beef Pty Ltd (trading as SunUltima) has been ordered by the Brisbane Magistrates Court to pay more than $11,000 for failing to substantiate claims regarding a cure for skin cancer.
 Sun Beef Pty Ltd, trading as SunUltima, operated by directors Colin Uebergang and Anthony Roger Asmus, failed to comply with a notice issued by the OFT [Office of Fair Trading] which was seeking to substantiate claims about its product curing skin cancer. 
Sun Beef was fined $10,000, plus professional costs of $1,500, in addition to $92 court costs. A conviction was recorded.
The court heard the OFT  received a complaint in 2017 regarding a SunUltima product in an advertisement. The product, a 5ml SunUltima Skin Cancer Cure, retailed for $560 and was marketed as a ‘natural herbal derived skin cancer cure’. SunUltima’s website also featured testimonials from three people who claimed the product had cured their cancers.   
The OFT commenced an investigation into SunUltima as it was concerned the trader was misleading vulnerable consumers, many of whom may be desperate for a cure, that the SunUltima product was a cure for skin cancer.
As the Queensland marketplace regulator, the OFT requested SunUltima provide information to substantiate the claims, identify the people who had provided testimonials and show the product was appropriately endorsed for the treatment of skin cancer. SunUltima refused to provide documents substantiating the claims made for the product. 
Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the result served as a prompt to businesses to treat consumers fairly.
“Businesses must ensure they are aware of their Australian Consumer Law obligations and aren’t misrepresenting their products to consumers,” Mr Bauer said.
“A failure to follow these obligations will result in enforcement action by Fair Trading.
“It is particularly despicable when a business preys on desperate and vulnerable consumers. The OFT will investigate and bring matters like this before the courts.”
I'm meanwhile considering the collapse of the FC 11 sports training academy (reported debts of over $5 million) after promotion as “Australia’s leading sports education provider” and claimed endorsements by leading entities such as the Penrith Panthers, Football Federation Victoria, Football NSW, Football Queensland, Northern Football NSW, Football Brisbane, Capital Football, Netball Queensland, Netball ACT, Hockey ACT and Cricket NSW.

The Age reports that FC 11 claimed that "FC 11 in conjuction [sic] with Agoge Education Australia deliver nationally accredited qualifications that incorporate sports specific coaching, training [and] strength". The Age states that a former FC 11 employee mordantly commented that it targeted students who "weren’t smart enough for university and not good enough to play professional sport".
"It was a sham. The entire business was leveraged on government grants, and when the government turned off the tap, the bottom fell out." 
FC 11 purchased a licence to operate as a registered training organisation from a Brisbane-based modelling agency and received funding under the VET FEE-HELP scheme, which was plagued by rorts and scandals. 
As with other collapses and interventions by the ACCC noted elsewhere on this site and in forthcoming articles the national government offered up-front grants for enrolments in vocational courses, with students required to repay the money once they earned more than $54,000 per year, with numerous for-profit education providers getting into trouble when the government announced a freeze on the scheme in 2016.

The Age notes that FC 11’s relationships with some of the nation's biggest sporting clubs and associations, which often gave access to databases of players and supporters who were targeted with marketing material.