Attorney General Bonta and FTC Announce Settlement with CRI Genetics over Deceptive Marketing and Business Practices

Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta, in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced a settlement with CRI Genetics (CRI), a Southern California company that offers DNA testing and ancestry services to consumers. Today’s settlement, which is subject to court approval, resolves allegations that CRI misled consumers about the purported superiority of its genetic testing services, presented false and misleading consumer testimonials and reviews, and engaged in deceptive billing practices. The settlement requires CRI to pay the state $700,000 in civil penalties and restricts CRI and its founder from engaging in future deceptive conduct. CRI’s customers will also receive greater privacy protections as a result of the settlement. 

“CRI Genetics could have found legitimate ways to market its services. Unfortunately, in its pursuit of growth and profits, the company repeatedly misled consumers. The FTC and my office took notice, we investigated, and we are delivering results today,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Our settlement not only holds CRI Genetics accountable for its past misconduct — it also aims to ensure that CRI Genetics doesn’t engage in similar misconduct going forward. I want to thank our federal counterparts at the FTC for their continued partnership and commitment to ensuring that all businesses play by the same rules.”

“Today’s action continues the FTC’s crackdown on deceptive reviews, dark patterns, and baseless claims around algorithmic solutions,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are proud to partner with California on this important matter and will continue to carefully scrutinize claims around biometric information technologies.”

The complaint, which was filed simultaneously with the proposed judgment that details the settlement terms, alleges that CRI engaged in a number of misleading marketing practices, including misrepresenting that its DNA testing services are more accurate and detailed than those of its competitors, and that its ancestry reports show exactly where a consumer’s ancestors are from with over 90% accuracy. Further, CRI created a genetics testing review website deceptively formatted to look independent. Through that website, CRI provided inflated reviews of its genetic testing services. In addition, the company presented false consumer testimonials on its own website and social media platforms like Facebook. Moreover, the complaint alleges CRI manipulated consumers into purchasing unwanted add-on services, forcing consumers to go through a time-consuming and confusing refund process.

Under the terms of the settlement:

  • CRI must not make any misrepresentations about its genetic testing and analysis services.
  • CRI must not employ deceptive tactics in selling its genetic testing and analysis services, in representing endorsements, or in billing practices.
  • CRI must pay $700,000 in civil penalties, paid over four years and secured by commercial property.
  • CRI must disclose its website billing practices and any sharing or usage of genetic data for any purpose other than the services the consumer purchases.
  • CRI must comply with California law, including the California Consumer Privacy Act and the Genetic Information Privacy Act. 

A copy of the complaint and proposed judgment can be found here and here.

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