Attorney General Phil Weiser announces hand sanitizer company will pay $62,500 for misrepresenting product
Sept. 3, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today announced that a Denver-based entrepreneur will pay $62,500 to the State after misleading buyers and consumers about his qualifications to make the hand sanitizer he began producing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cole Evans began selling hand sanitizer under the “Handzfree” label, among other labels, in March through his companies: Kiss Industries, LLC; LTD INDUSTRIES, LLC; and MBCE Holdings, LLC. On two websites, the companies falsely claimed to own manufacturing facilities and misrepresented the certification of those facilities.
“Businesses must be held accountable for fraudulent and misleading practices, particularly during a pandemic when so many are counting on those selling vital products to be trustworthy,” said Weiser. “Protecting consumers is one of my top priorities, and the Colorado Department of Law will continue to hold accountable those who seek to take advantage of consumers during this public health crisis.”
The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the companies after reports that they falsely claimed that the hand sanitizer would be manufactured by Oralabs, a facility in Denver that is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell hand sanitizer. In fact, the hand sanitizer was not manufactured at Oralabs.
The companies made other false claims about the manufacturing process of the hand sanitizer. The KISS Industries website claimed the company owned manufacturing facilities in Colorado and Texas, while in fact none of Evans’ companies own or operate manufacturing facilities. On a website used to market the hand sanitizer, the companies falsely claimed that the facilities used to make the hand sanitizer were regularly audited by third-party agencies (as well as through internal controls), and that they maintained various certifications. These claims were false.
Documents obtained by the Attorney General’s Office showed that, although the companies made false claims about the certifications and auditing processes of their manufacturers, their hand sanitizer contained the requisite alcohol percentage to be effective and was not unsafe for consumers.
As part of the settlement, the companies and Evans committed to:
- Comply with all applicable federal regulations and guidance governing the manufacturing, packaging, and labeling of hand sanitizer, including the FDA’s emergency policy in its current form and as it may be updated;
- Maintain batch testing samples and all related records for a period of 12 months; and
- Cease making misrepresentations about the nature of the companies’ business.
The settlement funds will go toward the State’s actual costs and attorneys’ fees, for future consumer fraud or antitrust enforcement, consumer education, or public welfare purposes.