TV pitchman Don Lapre indicted for fraud on 41 charges
Well-known TV pitchman Don Lapre, who bills himself as “the king of infomercials,” has been indicted in Phoenix, Ariz. Federal prosecutors have charged Lapre with 41 counts, including conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, promotional money laundering and transactional money laundering.
As seen on TV
Lapre, 47, was often seen on television infomercials between 2004 and 2007, claiming he turned his hard-luck life around with get rich quick schemes and enticing viewers to follow in his footsteps. He famously pitched how he made $50,000 a week from his one bedroom apartment. The campaign is perhaps best remembered by some for being parodied by David Spade on Saturday Night Live.
‘The Greatest Vitamin in the World’
The charges against Lapre were handed down last Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Phoenix. They stem from allegations that Lapre bilked 220,000 viewers out of $52 million by enticing them to invest in worthless online businesses through his company called The Greatest Vitamin in the World. Additionally, the charges claim Lapre was personally paid $2.2 million from the company between 2004 and 2007.
False claims of support
The infomercials promised investors that they would be backed by an expensive national advertising campaign and other services. However, federal prosecutors claim they were misled. Allegedly, after investing they were pressured to pay for additional advertising and services.
‘He will face justice’
“This indictment goes to show that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “Mr. Lapre used incessant nationally televised infomercials to hawk his vitamins and worthless websites as a way to get rich quick without working hard. His scams swindled a sea of victims, but thanks to the efforts of the Postal Inspection Service and the IRS, he will face justice.”
Hundred of complaints received
The company was closed down in 2007 after the Phoenix Better Business Bureau, the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the U.S. Postal Inspector Service received hundreds of complaints.
Lapre is due to be arraigned in a Phoenix U.S. District Court on June 22. The charges could carry potential fines of $250,000 to $500,00 per count, as well as federal prison terms between five and 25 years.