Marketer Jailed For Consumer Fraud

Puffery can lead to consumer fraud. Too much can land you in the clink.
Puffery can lead to consumer fraud charges. Too much can land you in the clink.

Oh how the mighty fall. Long time TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau recently battled the Federal Trade Commission in a Chicago courthouse. Consumer fraud was the question at hand. In the end, Trudeau lost. Now the notorious weight loss marketer will have to spend some time behind bars.

Why? Keep reading.

When You Disregard FTC Orders and Edicts, Expect Serious Legal Trouble

The FTC says the “easy weight loss” infomercial kingpin lied to their faces and willfully disobeyed a 10-year-old commission consent order that demanded Trudeau refrain from making “misleading” advertisements. So, the FTC slapped him with criminal contempt charges.

Don’t Kid Yourself: Exaggeration In Marketing Is Against The Law

Meet Kevin Trudeau: Weight Loss Infomercial King, Extraordinaire!

If you find yourself awake in the wee hours of the night, you’re probably familiar with Kevin Trudeau, a veteran on the infomercial circuit. For years, he peddled his *miracle* weight loss system called, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About”. In infomercials, Trudeau waxed poetic about his diet plan that allowed for steak, potatoes and hot fudge sundaes. It sold like fireworks on July 4th. Unfortunately, what Trudeau said was in the book was very different than what was in the book. The FTC caught up with him, and now he’s going to jail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum put it bluntly, explaining:

“[Trudeau] chose to make his book sound way better than it was to sell more books and make more money.”

You see, the problem with Trudeau’s book is that it doesn’t deliver on what he promised. Instead it advocates expensive solutions like prescription hormone injections and month-long, spa-like therapies. Oh, and according to the book, his method won’t work unless dieters stick to a 500-calorie-a-day diet! (For the record, eating only 500 calories a day is bad for your health.)

The Marketer’s Defense, “TPTB Are After Me Because I’m An Outspoken Critic,” Didn’t Work

In his defense, Trudeau’s attorneys argued that their client was an outspoken natural cures advocate who regularly railed against government and big pharma. The lawyers hoped to frame Trudeau as a persecuted truth teller, mercilessly harassed by the evil powers that be.

Jury Votes Guilty For Consumer Fraud In A Flash

But alas, the marketing gods were not on Trudeau’s side. Less than an hour after retiring to deliberate, the jury came back with a guilty verdict. Not only that, but Trudeau was taken into custody immediately – a rarity for these types of white collar crimes.

In Addition To Jail, Marketer Also Slapped With $37 Million Fine. Ouch.

In a related civil case, a court fined Trudeau a cool $37 million for violating his FTC order. The pitchman, however, insists he doesn’t have the money. Though, federal officials are convinced he’s got several, shall we say, “healthy” offshore accounts – which is probably why he was taken into custody ASAP.

The FTC Likes To “Drink The Blood” Of Consumer Fraudsters. Keep The Commission At Bay By Making Sure Your Marketing Materials Don’t Cross The Consumer Fraud Line.

Well, friends, let the case of Kevin Trudeau serve as a reminder that the Federal Trade Commission does not mess around when it comes to their edicts. They may have a reputation for being wishy-washy, but think of the department as a voracious vampire that thrives on second-offense blood. If you’ve been slapped on the wrist once, don’t get on the commission’s bad side again!

Consumer Fraud Lawyer With FTC Defense Experience

If you do, however, find yourself in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission for the first, second of third time, get in touch with Aaron Kelly at Kelly Warner Law. He has a wealth of experience defending startups and online marketers against FTC charges.

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