October 14th, 2021
In a video posted on the Instagram account for BlackOxygen Organics, an MLM that sells supplements, a man says he was experiencing all of these “lingering side effects” after emerging from quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 in April 2021.
“I was taking all the right vitamins to get me to a place where I could be myself but nothing was helping,” the man says in the video, which was posted in July 2021. Then, his wife “found” BlackOxygen Organics “and within 24 hours of taking the product,” he says, he felt “normal.”
“I was playing with my kids, I had loads of energy. I could think clearly, I didn’t have any more anxiety and depression.”
As of this writing in October 2021, the video, which TINA.org discovered after receiving a tip from a reader, has more than 5,000 views. That’s potentially 5,000 people who could have been misled into thinking that BlackOxygen Organics’ products have been proven to alleviate the symptoms of long-haul COVID. The truth is, they have not.
Since the start of the pandemic, the FTC and FDA have sent hundreds of warning letters to supplement makers regarding unsupported claims about their products’ ability to treat or cure COVID-19. It is worth remembering that, unlike FDA-approved drugs, supplements are not reviewed for safety and efficacy before they are sold to consumers and only FDA-approved drugs can make disease-treatment claims.
Distributor claims = MLM claims
It’s unclear whether the man who credits BlackOxygen Organics for his COVID recovery is a distributor in the MLM. But his wife is and she gives her own testimonial recounting her husband’s quick turnaround in a video that BlackOxygen Organics also shares on its Instagram account.
Though even if the company didn’t use the testimonial in its own marketing materials, it would still be responsible for the claims contained therein, according to the FTC. In other words, there’s nothing separating claims that a distributor makes independently from claims that an MLM makes directly in terms of who’s on the hook. And in this case, the claims are not only deceptive but illegal.
Speaking of claims that an MLM makes directly, there are also a number of misleading income representations on an opportunity page on the BlackOxygen Organics website, including references to bonuses ranging from $1,500 to $30,000. The reality? Most people who join legitimate MLMs make little or no money and some even lose money, according to the FTC.
TINA.org reached out to BlackOxygen Organics for comment. Check back for updates.
Find more of our coverage on MLMs here.
Multi-Level Marketing – a way of distributing products or services in which the distributors earn income from their own retail sales and from retail sales made by their direct and indirect recruits.