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A Big Wrist-Slap PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

Well, at least it's something. Huckster Kevin Trudeau, who claimed his books could cause significant weight loss, cure addictions to heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes, and enable users to achieve a photographic memory, has been banned from being involved in "infomercials" for three years, and ordered to pay more than five million dollars for making false claims. See this Swift article from 2007.. Mind you, Trudeau has made that amount of money many, many, times over, so this is just a slight hitch in his operation - a nuisance. Look for Trudeau-coached operators appearing on TV to continue selling the same woo-woo, as Kevin enjoys the Riviera in luxury, while banking the proceeds.

The judge who sentenced Trudeau said that he had a "history of deception and contemptuous violation of court orders," and his "willful efforts to deceive consumers" into believing that his weight-loss book contained material that it did not, justified the court's ruling that found him in contempt.

The FTC had filed its first lawsuit against Trudeau in 1998, charging him with making false and misleading claims in infomercials, At that time, a stipulated court order resolving the case barred Trudeau from making false claims for products in the future, ordered him to pay $500,000 in consumer redress, and established a $500,000 performance bond to ensure compliance. Then in 2003, the Commission charged Trudeau with violating the 1998 order by falsely claiming that a product, "Coral Calcium Supreme," could cure cancer. The court issued an injunction that ordered him not to make such claims, but when he continued to make cancer-cure claims about this spurious product, he was found in contempt of that injunction.

In 2004, Trudeau agreed was directed to pay $2 million in consumer redress on the Coral Calcium Supreme matter, and was banned from making and appearing in infomercials, except for infomercials for publications such as books, though I don't recall any reduction in his infomercial appearances, at all.

See this notice from the FTC for the whole story.

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written by Robert Stacy, November 14, 2008
Perhaps, and I know it will never happen, if the stations and networks which run his garbage were held responsible for what they air, Trudeau and his ilk would vanish from the airways altogether.
In the world of tv, fraud, deceit and scamming are the order of the day.
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Glad it will never happen
written by Jens Fiederer, November 14, 2008
I am glad that will never happen - what would prompt the networks to go through the expense of investigating the truth of claims made (especially during clearly labeled paid airtime)? Maybe complaints from sceptics?

Then say goodbye to science programming, as any broadcast suggesting evolution might be true is deluged with complaints by fundamentalists, and the networks decide they don't want to take the risk of having a case assigned to a born-again judge.

You can be against fraud without being against freedom. But for people who believe and send money for that nonsense, all you can do is to make sure that the correct information is out there for them - as their money goes, if Trudeau doesn't get it Pat Robertson will.
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Disappointed something didn't happen...
written by Jens Fiederer, November 14, 2008
On the other hand, given Trudeau's wilful contempt for justice and the truth, I think a nice prison term would have gone so wellwith that injunction and penalty.
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written by Charles Niles, November 14, 2008
"Trudeau has made that amount of money many, many, times over, so this is just a slight hitch in his operation - a nuisance. Look for Trudeau-coached operators appearing on TV to continue selling the same woo-woo, as Kevin enjoys the Riviera in luxury"
******************************************************* ***

First, I am reading this from my office at 8:45 am on a dreary Friday but I wish I was in the Riviera......

Second, the FTC release states

"In his August ruling, the court banned Trudeau "or any person acting in concert with him, from participating in the production or publication of any infomercial for any product, including books, in which Mr. Trudeau or any related entity has an interest, for a period of three years from the date of this order." The court also imposed a judgment against Trudeau of more than $5 million dollars."

This may be naive but doesn't the order prevent "Trudeau-coached operators" from shilling for Trudeau while Trudeau banks the proceeds?
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written by Jens Fiederer, November 14, 2008
The order prohibits "Trudeau-coached operators" from shilling for Trudeau while Trudeau banks the proceeds?

That doesn't necessarily mean the order effectively PREVENTS it. Setting up strawmen is a time-honored practice that is not always easy to track down.

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Thanks for pointing that out.
written by cwniles, November 14, 2008
Yeah, as I said, that may be a naive point of view but regardless, the bottom line is that by law, he is restricted from setting up shills in his stead. Enforcement was not the point of my statement.
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written by Realitysage, November 14, 2008
It's easy to dismiss Mr. Trudeau for being the huckster that he is, but we mustn't dismiss the gullible's responsibility in buying what he sells. After all, without a steady stream of customers he'd go out of business. And even if he's banned from scamming people in the U.S., most of the world is still an open market.
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written by thetruth, November 14, 2008
This is one time I would love to see a class action lawsuit go after the networks that allow this garbage. It would stop them from airing this kind of stuff in the future. And what about a little jail time for Mr. Trudeau?
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written by Joe D., November 15, 2008
Me watching those ridiculous infomercials wondering, "Is this guy nuts?" and then doing some searches on Google actually pointed my way to the JREF and videos on James Randi. (Actually, a specific SWIFT article I believe.)

This nutbag was actually the breaking point in which I finally smartened up about woo-woo crap and finally gave it all up, and realized, "Wow, the world is pretty messed up and has a lot of deluded, made up crap in it."

I watched him while he was saying crud like, "So, the FDA broke into a guy's house and stole his bread, cause it could cure something." And I was like, "What? You're joking..."
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written by Starthinker, November 15, 2008
One of those commercials is on right now. When does this take affect? It 7am, Saturday morning, not sure what channel, they don't put identifiers up for infomercials.
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written by Wareyin, November 16, 2008
I also wish the tv and radio stations also would not broadcast this junk in the first place. When I listen to the radio late at night, every other ad seems to be for some diet pill, or some kind of "male enhancement" product. Even Playboy Magazine claims to take the high road and not run "male enhancement" advertisements. If Playboy knows they are false claims, and I know they are false claims, and "Smiling Bob" now knows they are false claims, then how can broadcasters justify broadcasting these ads?

Think about it. If a tv or radio station can be held liable for broadcasting Janet Jackson's nipple, or Howard Stern's antics, why shouldn't it be held liable for broadcasting these known liars and thieves? I don't know how reasonable holding a TV station responsible for broadcasting this junk is, but I would have a lot more respect for one that refuses this obvious scam.

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written by jensfiederer, November 17, 2008
I also wish that they wouldn't broadcast it. I wish my black sheep uncle wouldn't tell ethnic jokes, either, but that doesn't mean I think the government should send out guys with firearms to stop him.

I do think about it, and I'd rather NOT have them censoring Janet Jackson's nipples (see http://techliberation.com/2008...kson-case/ where 'the three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” when it imposed a $550,000 fine on CBS for the incident') or Howard Stern's antics.

I kind of like a country that allows free expression.

Now as your respect goes, that doesn't pay their bills. But your viewership during the commercials they are running does, and I'll bet you are far more likely to be watching when they have something decent on. That's one reason why the real trash is usually put on late at night when the respectable sponsors have little interest advertising.
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