Friday, February 22, 2008

BREAKING: Enzyte Won't Really Enlarge Your Pen1s

Shocking news from Cincinnati.

The continued viability of Enzyte (the once-a-day supplement for natural male enhancement) has a brand has always been something of a mystery. Obviously, the stuff had to be fake. Yet the parent company not only survived, but had the money to run the brilliant (if fraudulent) "Smiling Bob" ads seemingly during every ESPN commercial break. And they famously sponsored:

Their own NASCAR entry.

Turns out, the whole thing, was not only a consumer fraud, but was an ongoing credit card scam:

    When customers ordered a product, the company's goal was to keep charging their credit cards for as long as possible, Teegarden said.

    He said first-time customers were automatically enrolled in a "continuity program" that sent Enzyte to their homes every month and charged their credit cards without authorization.

    "Without continuity, the company wouldn't exist," he said. "It was the sole profit of the business."

    If customers complained, he said, employees were instructed to "make it as difficult as possible" for them to get their money back. In some cases, Teegarden said, Warshak required customers to produce a notarized statement from a doctor certifying that Enzyte did not work.

And what may go down as the best line of trial testimony ever:
    "He said it was extremely unlikely someone would get anything notarized saying they had a small penis," Teegarden said.
As a scam it was brilliantly audacious. This wasn't just something from a fly-by-night web-based operation, this was a real company! With ads on ESPN! And a presence in NASCAR!! All designed to make it look like the product must have some value or it just couldn't maintain all that presence.

Which leads to a serious point. Apparently the Feds have been after the company -- Berkeley Pharmaceuticals -- and founder Steve Warshak for a couple of years. They were able to make the case primarily by turning one of Warshak's top executives. Why, we must ask ourselves, is it so hard to make a case when the fraud is so obvious? Could it have anything to do with the anti-regulatory fervor of the current administration and the immediate past Congress?

The Berkeley Pharmaceuticals verdict comes one day after the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot offer stronger consumer protections if Federal law regulates an industry. It's easy to make jokes about Bob's wife smiling no more, but this could be a sign of something significantly less funny.


Colin Morris said...

Cool post, scary story.