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FTC targets influencers who cheat customers

May 28,2019
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has started investigating influencer-led online shopping websites that may have violated e-commerce laws, including the imposition of unfair refund terms and conditions.

One target of the efforts is believed to be Imvely, which has been embroiled in controversy since April for selling what a customer claimed was moldy pumpkin juice. It has also been claimed that the website sold products copied from major fashion labels.

The FTC’s move comes as more influencers are using their fame to sell products, and as more customers lodge complaints.

Im Ji-hyun, who operated Imvely, was a popular influencer on Instagram. She promoted the products sold on her online website via Instagram and achieved 170 billion won ($153 million) in sales last year. Im resigned from management after Imvely was found to have sold degraded products and to have blocked a user who complained on Instagram.

A rising number of Instagrammers and YouTubers have faced criticism for abusing their power in the market. Popular mukbang YouTuber Benzz, who has 3.2 million subscribers, was accused in April of illegally promoting diet supplements that were not properly evaluated.

The FTC is expected to determine whether consumers received sufficient information about the products marketed by influencers, and whether sellers abided by refund policies.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]


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