The famous infomercial king, Kevin Trudeau, whose products have scammed the public out of billions of dollars, was tossed in jail this week after failing to pay a $38 million fine he receive for misleading people in his ads.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Trudeau was ordered to jail after refusing to pay a $38 million fine levied in 2011 for allegedly scamming customers for decades.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first began coming after Trudeau in 1998 for making outrageous claims in his famous late-night infomercials. Selling books such as Natural Cures They Don’t Want You to Know About and The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About, he has claimed that coral calcium can cure cancer, that AIDS is one of the biggest deceptions ever played on the American public, and that sunblock causes cancer rather than the sun. He also claims his alternative medicines can cause dramatic weight loss, cure addictions, and give users a photographic memory.
In spite of the fact that he has no medical training and several criminal convictions in his background, he has sold millions of books.
The FTC estimates that consumers were defrauded out of $37.6 million by Trudeau’s “deceptive infomercials” about his weight loss book and he was ordered to pay a fine in that amount by Judge Robert Gettleman in 2007. This order was upheld by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. When Trudeau failed to pay the fine and an order to transfer ownership of his companies and financial accounts, Gettleman found him in contempt of court, but opted not to give him jail time because he was concerned that those who were hurt by his actions would never receive just compensation.
“He [Gettleman] likened Trudeau to a puppet master in control of a vast network being used to keep his assets hidden and suggested that without his cooperation there would be no way to get at that money,” the Mail reports.
Trudeau’s lawyer, Thomas Kirsch, maintained, that there “isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” and that no hidden assets would be found.
The judge rejected these pleas, saying “This isn’t an infomercial, Mr. Trudeau. You can’t talk your way out of this one.”
After the ruling, Trudeau was escorted out of the courtroom by two U.S. Marshals who took him to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. He will spend at least a night there while court-appointed officials determine his level of cooperation.
This ruling was just the latest round in more than a decade of legal battles.
He was first sued in 1998 by the FTC for making false and unsubstantiated claims about hair growth, memory and weight loss products.
In 2003 he was again sued for deceptive marketing of coral calcium which he claimed could cure cancer, and Biotape which he sold as a pain reliever.
He paid $2 million in 2004 to settle these charges and agreed to comply with a court order banning him from producing infomercials for anything except promoting books.
But three years later, he was again hauled into court for misrepresenting facts about a weight-loss book in which he tells people they can eat whatever they want. In reality, the books requires “severe dieting” along with daily injections of a prescription drug that is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for weight loss.
Whether or not he will ever pay this latest and biggest fine remains to be seen.