FTC halts phony green agency

An organization that called itself “Tested Green” -- and claimed to certify green products for as much as $549.95 -- was put out of business by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency has announced.

More than 100 customers paid various fees to have their products endorsed by Tested Green between February 2009 and April 2010, according to the FTC. Owner Jeremy Ryan Claeys claimed that the testing labs were independent, when in fact he owned the operations.

Claeys advertised, marketed and sold environmental certifications using both the website testedgreen.com and mass e-mails to prospective consumers. The company’s marketing claimed that Tested Green was the “nation’s leading certification program with over 45,000 certifications in the United States,” FTC investigators claim.

The FTC complaint alleges, however, that Tested Green never tested any of the companies it provided with environmental certifications, and would “certify” anyone willing to pay a fee of either $189.95 for a “Rapid” certification or $549.95 for a “Pro” certification. After customers paid, Tested Green gave them its logo and the link to a “certification verification page” that could be used to advertise their “certified” status. The agency charged that the respondents violated the FTC Act by providing the means to deceive consumers.

The FTC also claims that Tested Green deceived consumers by citing its endorsements from the National Green Business Association and the National Association of Government Contractors -- implying that these were independent organizations when, in fact, both are owned and operated by Claeys.

Claeys and Tested Green did not admit guilt as part of the settlement, and the FTC notes that the agreement was “not a finding or ruling that the respondents have violated the law.”

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