July 23, 2015

A bunch of people who bought an insane weight loss book might get federally-mandated refunds

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51mZTYUuYeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In scary news for American authors of bullshit diet and wellness books, (not to be confused with Australian authors of bullshit diet and wellness books) a federal judge has tentatively approved a plan to refund customers of oleaginous mountebank Kevin Trudeau’s book The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. The Chicago Tribune reports:

More than 800,000 people bought the book that the smooth-talking Trudeau claimed was filled with “easy” weight-loss techniques when it actually called for prescription injections of a hormone found only in pregnant women, a month of colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-per-day diet.

Under the FTC’s plan, consumers would receive about $11 each in the first round of checks — and more in another round for those who cash the initial checks, according to a court filing earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman gave attorneys for Trudeau until October to file any objections to the plan, which he said isn’t perfect but is likely “as good as we are going to see.”

The “They” in the title has apparently come to mean “officers of the court and law enforcement” since Trudeau was arrested last year. The charge? Contempt of court, after Trudeau continued to not just publish books of insanely untrue “health tips”, but also insisted on lying about their content in his informercials, effectively violating a federal injunction and promptly receiving a 10-year bid.

Trudeau, who has been serving his sentence at a minimum-security prison in Alabama, can certainly afford to pay a few refunds, as he’s worth at least $8 million. Though that’s only as much as the court has been able to recover since 2007, but there’s a lot of missing cash. After all, Trudeau sold 850,000 copies of his book. So where’s the money?

In a recent report detailing Trudeau’s finances, the receiver said Trudeau hid tens of millions in an elaborate “asset protection plan” that diverted funds overseas to banks in Switzerland and the Caribbean as well as various business entities and shell companies controlled by his wife and personal attorney, Marc Lane.

In all, Trudeau’s vast business empire collected more than a half a billion dollars in revenue from 1999 to 2013, and at least $30 million remains unaccounted for, according to the receiver’s report.

It’s completely understandable that the court would be skeptical; after all, Trudeau didn’t just make millions as a professional liar, he continually showed zero regard for the court’s authority. Their opinion of Lane is also fairly low, having called his claims “about as valid as the misrepresentations on Trudeau’s contemptuous infomercials” and having held Lane and his firm in contempt in 2013 after he failed to produce subpoenaed documents. And now, Lane’s alleged collusion in covering up Trudeau’s fortune is being investigated by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. 

Perhaps the court can prisoner’s-dilemma some truth out of either man, but in the meantime, if you bought a copy of TWLC”T”DWYTKA, rejoice! You might be coming into some (tiny amount of) money soon. Though it won’t count if you bought the book for a dollar off a used clearance cart, which is the only place I’ve ever seen them stocked. Maybe you can use it to prop up a wobbly table.

 

Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.

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