Maker of Mole Detective Settles Deceptive Marketing Complaint

Maker of Mole Detective Settles Deceptive Marketing Complaint
Image: Pixabay
August 13, 2015

The final defendant remaining in a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit is barred from making deceptive health claims about his products.

Avrom Lasarow has settled FTC charges in connection with a family of smart phone applications that claimed to accurately detect melanoma risk. The makers did not have any substantial clinical evidence to back up those claims.

Lasarow and his company took over marketing the Mole Detective app in August 2012, after it was originally developed and marketed by Kristi Kimball and her company, New Consumer Solutions LLC, and added derivative apps like Mole Detect Pro.

According to the FTC's complaint, the Mole Detective apps instructed users to photograph a mole with a smartphone camera and input other information about the mole. The apps then supposedly determined the mole's melanoma risk to be low, medium, or high. The FTC alleged that the marketers deceptively claimed that the apps accurately analyzed melanoma risk and could assess such risk in early stages.

"We haven't found any scientific evidence that Mole Detective can accurately assess melanoma risk," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Mole Detective sold in the Apple and Google app stores for up to $4.99.

Lasarow, Kimball, and their companies were named in a complaint filed by the FTC in February 2015. Kimball and her company agreed to settle the charges prior to filing, and on May 29, 2015, the court entered a default judgment against L Health. Lasarow has now agreed to a stipulated order settling the agency's charges, which will resolve the action.

Along with being barred from making deceptive claims, the proposed order imposes a $58,623 judgment, which is suspended based on Lasarow's inability to pay. If he is later found to have misrepresented his finances, the full amount will immediately become due.

Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen was the lone dissenting vote and issued a separate statement.

Real Signs of Melanoma

If you're concerned you have melanoma, you can follow the ABCDE rule as listed by the American Cancer Society. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:

A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ΒΌ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.

Some melanomas do not fit the rules described above. It is important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.

Other warning signs include:

A sore that does not heal
Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain
Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule

Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you and ask your doctor to look at areas that may be hard for you to see.