Photo: Wikimedia, CC.
Kevin Trudeau, the king of too-good-to-be-true late-night TV scams, must pay $37.6 million in fines and restitution after he ignored an FTC order to stop making infomercials.
A federal appeals court has ruled, after thirteen years of litigation, that the feds were within their rights to ban him from making TV ads for his books, which include “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About” and “Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About.”
The FTC’s pursuit of Trudeau goes back to at least 1998, when the FTC fined him $500,000 for deceptively advertising Eden’s Secret Nature’s Purifying Product, which falsely claimed to improve your immune system.
After that, Trudeau graduated to perhaps his most cynical infomercial in which he claimed that eating coral calcium could cure cancer.
The FTC began its pursuit of Trudeau in earnest, and got a court order banning him from making infomercials for three years in 2007.
Trudeau insisted his First Amendment rights were being infringed, and began advertising books rather than diet supplements in new infomercials. This had the effect of personally annoying FTC staff attorney Leslie Fair. After the ban, she attended a conference in New York. Upon entering her hotel room, she said, “What was the first thing I saw when I turned on the TV? A Kevin Trudeau infomercial.” Fair discussed her revenge in a blog post on the ruling.
The new ruling requires Trudeau to give back all the money he made from selling books during the infomercial ban. The ruling offers these juicy tidbits about the size of Trudeau’s operation:
- Trudeau’s Weight Loss Cure infomercial sold thousands of books each day for many months.
- Trudeau aired infomercials in violation of the order at least 32,000 times.
- The infomercial ban does not violate the First Amendment because the government has the right to protect consumers by imposing narrowly tailored restrictions on commercial speech.
- Trudeau assigned his rights to payment from his company’s assets to ITV Global in exchange for 10 years of monthly million-dollar checks in order to steady his cashflow.
Trudeau is still hawking coral calcium as a bogus health aid. Here he is in a video he posted on YouTube last year:
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