Forbes did NOT publish an article touting the benefits of a dietary supplement called BrainStorm Elite.
But someone set up a fake website seemingly related to Forbes — ForbesMemoryPlus.com, using Forbes’ logo and an article attributed to a former Forbes writer Robert Langreth, Forbes‘ Matthew Herper reported this month.
“The whole thing is made up,” Herper wrote. “Forbes had nothing to do with the site, Langreth never penned the article, and the billionaires have never heard of this miracle pill.”
Herper dove into investigating the site after a reader asked about it.
The phony site contained some real information, like “an actual Forbes headline, ‘Viagra For the Brain’ from a 2002 Forbes Magazine cover story by Robert Langreth.”
“However, the headline of the story had been altered to “BrainStorm Elite: Viagra for the Brain,” and the story crowed: “The previously banned genius pill is back and safer, stronger, and more likely [sic] to be banned again… then [sic]ever!” The URL of the article had been altered so that it looked as if it had been published in February 2014 – four years after Langreth left Forbes for another publication.”
But Forbes isn’t alone in being victimized. “Promotional material for BrainStorm Elite included forged articles and screencaps from a host of media properties, including CNN, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, and ABC News,” Forbes reported.
The website also mis-attributed information to Scientific American, claiming that its Gary Stix said BrainStorm Elite is “the missing link in human evolution,” which he never said.
Forbes contacted the dubious website and the site then “apparently ceased operation.” BrainStorm Elite is “no longer for sale” on BrainStormElite.com and the fake Forbes content was removed.
iMediaEthics visited the website May 9. There is a red banner at the top that states: “As of March 28, 2015, we are sorry to inform you that we are not accepting orders for Brainstorm Elite.”
iMediaEthics also went to ForbesMemoryPlus.com, the website Herper first examined. It now says “This webpage is not available.”
BrainStorm Elite’s company claimed that “affiliate marketers” produced the ads and sites. BrainStorm Elite’s lawyer Joseph D. Huser told Forbes that “these misrepresentations are not being published by BrainStorm Elite and in such a case, a cease and desist letter is sent immediately.” Forbes countered that BrainStorm Elite posted the ads on its social media.
But the FTC still can pursue a complaint against the company if it wants, with its assistant director in the Division of Advertising Practices’ Richard Cleland telling Forbes “We can and have and will go after the manufacturer and the affiliates.”
Cleland added that there isn’t a defense even if the fake ads were produced by a marketer not the company itself.
Read Herper’s full report at Forbes.