The Federal Trade Commission is taking enforcement action against lifestyle brand Lions Not Sheep and owner Sean Whalen for sticking bogus "Made in USA" labels on products imported from China and other countries, the agency said Wednesday.
The Bluffdale, Utah-based apparel company added the phony labels to T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and sweaters sold on its own website as well as on Amazon and Etsy, according to the FTC.
The company and owner Whalen promoted the products on social media, claiming that they would spread the message that "it's possible to live your life as a lion, not a sheep."
Lions Not Sheep's claims that its products are manufactured domestically were made online and on product labels, including "Made in the USA," "Made in America," "Are your products USA Made?" "100% AMERICAN MADE" and "BEST DAMN AMERICAN MADE GEAR ON THE PLANET," according to the FTC.
But most of the shirts and hats sold by the company were imported, with limited finishing work in the U.S., the agency stated. The company removed tags showing the merchandise was made in a foreign country and printed "Made in USA" at the neck of shirts regulators allege (see below).
A representative for Lions Not Sheep did not immediately return a request for comment.
A self-published author, Whalen in October announced the release of a documentary about himself entitled "Lions Not Sheep," according to a news release.
Whalen in October 2020 published a video of himself on social media entitled "MADE IN AMERICA!" alongside a Chinese flag, and in it explained how he could rip out and replace the origin tags, the FTC said.
Lions Not Sheep must pay a $211,335 judgement and stop making false "Made in USA" claims under a proposed order settling the FTC's complaints against Whalen and his company.
Under a labeling rule that took effect last summer, marketers are prohibited from labeling products as "Made in the USA" unless the final assembly or processing occurs in the U.S.
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