The Federal Trade Commission plans to soon begin compensating customers who bought a controversial weight-loss book that landed infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau in prison, according to court records.
According to a filing last week, the FTC will be mailing refund checks within 30 days to hundreds of thousands of people who bought into Trudeau’s false promises of shedding pounds while eating steak and ice cream. Trudeau claimed the book was filled with “easy” weight-loss techniques that actually called for prescription injections of a hormone found only in pregnant women, a month of colon hydrotherapy and a 500-calorie-a-day diet.
In its filing, the FTC revealed that it had determined that far more people had been victimized than originally thought. Last summer, the FTC had put the number at more than 820,000, but further calculations showed that almost 1.27 million people had bought the book, it said.
The money will come from the approximately $8 million in Trudeau assets recovered as of last summer by a court-appointed receiver after the so-called infomercial king failed to pay a penny of a whopping $37.6 million civil penalty levied by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman in 2007.
Under the FTC’s original 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. But how the larger number of victims will affect that individual payout was unclear.
Trudeau is serving a 10-year sentence at a minimum-security federal prison camp in Alabama, records show.
In a report last year that detailed Trudeau’s finances, the receiver said Trudeau hid tens of millions in an elaborate “asset protection plan” that diverted funds to banks in Switzerland and the Caribbean as well as various business entities and shell companies controlled by his wife and his attorney.
Trudeau’s vast business empire collected more than half a billion dollars in revenue from 1999 to 2013, and at least $30 million remains unaccounted for, according to the report.