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Kevin Trudeau in contempt for not paying $37M fine

In what has become one of the longest FTC battles ever, a federal judge has held that Kevin Trudeau, a crazy popular how-to book guru, is in contempt for not paying a $37.6M Fine.

This is part of a decades long fight between the FTC and Trudeau, who has written books claiming to cure cancer, fight hair loss and lose weight easily. Trudeau had agreed in 2004 to stop deceptive marketing of his books via infomercials, but supposedly kept on making claims about the books that were false.

Thus, he was fined another $37.6M in 2007 but has failed to pay it, claiming that he does not personally have the money, and his wide network of offshore companies are not actually owned by him.

The judge decided not to send him to jail, but instead has ordered that he turn over all this companies and assets immediately, saying that would be the only way to ensure that his “victims” are paid.

The judge is probably pretty upset, because in 2010 Trudeau had urged his followers to contact the judge as part of his “free speech” campaign. The Judge at that point sentenced him to 30 days in jail for, among other things, crashing his email server.

Trudeau has claimed from the beginning that what he sells is protected by Free Speech, and that his prosecution by the FTC was nothing more than an attempt to smear his name.  The claims of a conspiracy involving pharmaceutical companies and the Federal government has led to him being a hero of sorts with some anti-government fringe elements.

What do you think of the FTC’s fight against “fraud?” Is it going overboard when they are preventing free speech? Is this a real issue?

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Pesach Lattin

Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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15 Comments

  1. I cannot believe that somebody would consider thinking of him as a fighter for free speech after reading the titles of these books. On the other hand, I cannot blame him for earning that money as people have bought that sort of junk willingly.

  2. Let me tell you this. Last week I bought an ant trap/killer from HallMart, guess what they do not work and actually I see more ants at around my home may be they are eating the ant killer. Whom can I sue for that? Before that I got a bed from super giant which promised that I can sleep like a baby but guess what I do not get good night sleep.

    PS: All business do need some checks and boundary though.

  3. $37 million is… ridiculous. Or insane. Guess that judge is feeling a bit…offended. Unprofessional of him.

    I haven’t read Trudeau’s books, and don’t intend to, but he certainly has the right to publish the stuff. He isn’t forcing people to buy anything.

    Which “victims,” exactly? A bunch of people who bought books
    that the FDA says are baloney? Gee, some people pay monthly fees so they can watch (insert least favorite show/news/series here.)Why isn’t the FDA clamping down on that? And Prakash Kumar’s remark above. How about that?

    While his stuff may be baloney and the FDA is “just protecting us from baloney,” science has a history of being wrong (eg: recent studies showing salt isn’t bad for you,) so the authorities should take a bit of care in what they call baloney and then censor.

    “had agreed in 2004 to stop deceptive marketing” LOL, a gov’t agency warning about that. Heh. By those standards many of our elected officials should be fined/jailed.

    Now, since this IS the internet age. It seems to me that is a sufficient mass of people think his stuff is BS then it would be all over the web and his cash flow would suffer appropriately. Being the “crazy popular how-to book guru” he is, somehow I don’t think that’s happening.

  4. Greg,

    Picture a scenario where his books say ‘arsenic is good for your health’. Then people start dying. Maybe not enough that it becomes a mass hysteria. What then? you think that’s okay?

    1. First off, consider that medical peer-reviewed papers are retracted more often than you might think. Next, that what medicine says is “good” one day might have a different report some time later. Things change.

      I think people need to use some common sense (I know, rare commodity) and I think having a gov’t that protects us from everything is not a good thing. Censorship is not a good thing.

      Maybe this guy is an awesome salesman, he seems to have a very large following.

      Maybe he’s full of s***, but again, there’s that really large following, so it can’t smell too bad.

      And how many people have died because of his stuff? (No, I have no idea.) Is he leaving carnage in his wake?

  5. My gripe with Kevin Trudeau is not about freedom of speech he is entitled to that, heck we’re all entitled to that, and when it comes to his products, you should do your own due diligence before making a purchase.

    The problem i have with him is his felony conviction which he rightfully deserves for credit card fraud 1990 1991.

    He’s a thief and i think people should have some credibility issues with him, he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers.

    Maybe I’m being to hard on him? (he was younger then) because people do deserve a second chance, but as far as the law goes you can see why the Feds would also question his credibility.

    1. Actually, free speech IS intended to protect speech we don’t like. And that includes bad advice.

  6. Silly me, I don’t want the government to tell me what i can or cannot read.

    But I would like to tell the government to stop reading my emails and comments on websites.

    1. You worried about the government knowing you are cruising gay porn sites ? Don’t worry, everyone already knows but as Seinfeld said “not that there’s anything wrong with it”.

      Obviously you misconstrue intent to defraud with personal freedom. Sad day for you. Freedom of speech will always live in this great country but freedom to scam unsuspecting victims is ending. Sites like the Warrior Forum, Clickbank, etc while empowering “freedom of speech” do not have ethics, condone outright consumer fraud and I for one, am all for a cleanup of the affiliate marketing industry and the internet.

  7. Maybe the FTC could take a look at Benghazi and stop the deception coming out of there.

    The latest report is 35 CIA agents were gun running weapons we’d given to AlQaeda from Libya to Syria via Turkey.

    Apparently that pissed of the Libyan AlQaeda folk a whole lot more than a homemade movie they’d never seen or heard about.

    1. The Doctor Who Cures Cancer ?

      You should be ashamed of yourself for what you are promoting. As someone who has lost both my mother and father to Cancer, went to Cancer Treatment Centers of America for the best care money could buy, how on earth, can your shady e-book profess to cure cancer?

      You are a predatory human being, preying on human weakness and emotion.

      you belong in prison. Hopefully, the FTC will nail you. I’ve already reported your site. How dare you profess you have some secret to avoid or cure cancer.

      If you really had something intelligent, the FDA and news would be all over it to help people.

      1. Just saw your ridiculous comments for the first time, thus the late reply. The book is a biography as the title should clearly indicate. It’s now an ebook and a paperback. It was published as a hard cover book by a NY publisher.

        The method of cure would only be relative secret if the book weren’t written. As you’ll see by reading the book, the FDA does the opposite of what you believe when the cure is not owned by a major drug company.

        That’s right, the government is not always your friend. In a case like that we citizens need to step forward and expose the government’s nefarious role in keeping you ignorant of what should be available to you.

  8. Throw him in prison where he belongs. His scams are no different than premeditated robbery, in fact, he spent more time on the premeditation of elicit scams which show more than clearly, his evident intention to defraud.

    Trudeau belongs in prison but the FTC is more impressed with monetary compensation than sending a career criminal to prison. Needless to say, Trudeau will eventually be spending his twilight years with Bernie Madhoff, however, his victims will receive little or no compensation.

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