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Government fines bedbug repellents maker for ad claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A company that makes a cedar-based product it says repels bed bugs and head lice felt the sting of the U.S. government on Tuesday when it agreed to settle charges that its products have not been proven to work as promised.

Chemical Free Solutions LLC, which was previously controlled by Dave Glassel, had been accused of being deceptive in advertising that its "Best Yet!" brand cedar oil products would get rid of lice and bed bugs, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

The Best Yet! products had also been advertised as having been invented for the U.S. Army, among other incorrect statements, the FTC said.

The company is barred from making any claims about the effectiveness of their products unless it is able to produce scientific evidence to back it up.

In the case of head lice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must sign off on the claim, the FTC said.

As part of the settlement, Glassel is to pay $4.6 million and the company is to pay $185,206, although that payment is suspended because the company cannot pay, the FTC said. Glassel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The commission in 2012 started taking action on the bedbug issue which has become a growing public health threat in recent years, and head lice, a perennial worry for parents of school-aged children.

The FTC warned about companies that hope to profit on consumers' desperate wish to be rid of bedbugs, which it termed creepy little blood suckers. "Some self-proclaimed pest control professionals and marketers are trying to take a bite out of your wallet," the commission warned.

(This story is corrected in second paragraph to indicate that Glassel no longer controls Chemical Free Solutions)

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Andrew Hay)

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