<Nelson> HA HA </Nelson>

By Phil Plait | January 24, 2009 11:45 am

Via @rebeccawatson comes schadenfreude personified: Judge Orders Kevin Trudeau to Pay More Than $37 Million for False Claims About Weight-Loss Book.

Too bad it won’t bring back anyone Trudeau may have killed by telling them to ignore their doctors and eat coral instead.

There’s bad science, and then there is evil. Think I exaggerate? From the FTC article (emphasis mine):

In 2003, the Commission charged Trudeau with violating the 1998 order by falsely claiming in infomercials that a product, Coral Calcium Supreme, could cure cancer.

Kevin Trudeau, convicted scam artist

Trudeau has been under court order, twice, to stop lying. He violated that first order, which is why he’s being fined so much.

But sometimes, good prevails. Let’s hope that every time this guy tries to make a buck off of lying to sick people and putting them at greater risk, the government is right there making sure he pays. I don’t think there is a fine high enough for Trudeau… but 37 million is a pretty good start.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff

Comments (57)

  1. Mchl

    Not all hope is lost!

    Next!

  2. Do you think Trudeau won’t try to use this to portray himself as being “persecuted” by medical doctors trying to “suppress the truth”? There is no bad publicity.

  3. gila

    Romeo: yes, absolutely he will. He’s done it before. Sadly, it seems to work for him.

  4. Michelle

    It’s just too bad that karma doesn’t exist… cuz that guy deserves some sort of more severe backlash.

  5. Why is this guy still scamming people? (Dangerously, I might add!)

    Now, if they can just get the Enzyte guy… Actually, I thought they did, but the product is still being sold. (Before anyone asks, I see the commercials on late night television!)

  6. Elise

    I’m glad about this. I know a guy who read this book and just got weird. First he stopped eating all types of things, then started being completely against the government, and now he believes all the 2012 stuff and believes the government is concealing it from us because of what he read in Kevin Trudeau’s books. People like this need to be punished for what they do. I am glad that something is being done about it, but if 2012 doesn’t happen, will the people who spent money on survival kits get in trouble?

  7. Flip

    Late night television?

    Those scam commercials are on during the day and evening now. What happened to all the fast food and regular product commercials? They are mostly scams now. Multi marketing scams, overpriced crap products, fake tax services, fake drugs, fake products. Scams everywhere.

  8. They need to keep charging and fining him until he can’t even afford to breathe air.

  9. Adrian Lopez

    Every time I see that jerk’s mug, it makes me want to throw something at my TV. He’s one of those people I would love to see get pied in the face.

  10. JoeTheJuggler

    The question of the amount of the fine is a good one. How much does the guy make? If he can still turn ANY profit after the $37 million fine, then it’s not high enough.

    Really–I’ll bet he could consider this a cost of doing business and still make millions.

  11. You know, maybe someone should start writing diet books that are really based on science… crazy thought I know, everyone wants the silver bullet but its just not there. (And anyone who thinks that there is should watch the episode of B*llsh*t! that talks about fad diets!)

    Significant weight loss is possible if your willing to work very hard, do a lot of research and use your critical thinking skills. Heck since about this time last year I’ve lost a little more than 110 pounds by 1) listening to my doctor, 2) exercising more and 3) eating less. Granted, I’m a bit of a special case since they found a treatable medical condition that was partially responsible for my weight gain (severe sleep apnea).

    At any rate, I vote for sending people like this to Monster Island. There is no Monster Island you say? Just send them all to an island…any island and it’ll become one.

  12. IVAN3MAN

    Don’t you lot in the U.S. have an Advertising Standards Authority, like here in the U.K.?

  13. IVAN3MAN

    Adrian Lopez, I think that Kevin Trudeau deserves more than a pie-in-the-face: A knuckle sandwich! (Like what Bart Sibrel got from Buzz Aldrin.) :-)

  14. IVAN3MAN

    myddrin:

    At any rate, I vote for sending people like this to Monster Island. There is no Monster Island you say? Just send them all to an island…any island and it’ll become one.

    How about an island like the one in the Japanese film Battle Royale?!

  15. Sindragosa

    I don’t know. I don’t agree that separating morons from their money should be a crime. I also think that lying should be protected under the First Ammendment.

  16. Lying is protected… until it becomes fraud.

  17. The Ill Tempered Klavier

    High carb, low fat
    Is where it’s at.
    Fruits and veggies really neat,
    Just go easy on the meat.
    Then lay off booze and nicotine,
    And all that stuff that has caffeine.

    Of course I consider exercise a supremely dirty word. I think Lenny Bruce could have built a far better career out of it alone rather than some of the ones he was awarded the metal of honor for. If I can configure my day so I shoot hoops for an hour or carry a dozen or so bags of cement from my pickup around back where I’m building a patio instead of putting on the weight belt to clean and jerk fifty kilos a hundred times, I’ll do it. I remember those scenes from “The Karate Kid;” wax on, wax off.

    Still doesn’t keep me from hanging out at Chocoholics Unanimous meetings or getting carried back to my cabin from the midnite chocolate buffet the last cruise boat I was on.

  18. Joshman

    No one answered this in the other post, Does anyone know anything about this?

    Any one have any coments on this? “In the mythology of the Aztecs, the first age of mankind ended with the animals devouring humans. The second age was finished by wind, the third by fire, and the fourth by water. The present fifth epoch is called Nahui-Olin (Sun of Earthquake), which began in 3113 BC and will end on December 24, 2011.

    The Mayan calendar is divided into Seven Ages of Man. The fourth epoch ended in August 1987. The Mayan calendar comes to an end on Sunday, December 23, 2012. Only a few people will survive the catastrophe that ensues.”

  19. …Ahhhh…our 2012 shrieker returns with a a new pseudonym…

    I’ll just keep pointing them to Universe Today.

  20. Kevin

    It doesn’t matter that Trudeau and his ilk get fined. Their infomercials will still air, because they will pay television stations to advertise on their stations. It’s funny as I read Phil’s post on this, I turned on the television and he was on three channels!! He’s changed from cancer cures and weight loss to investing and banking, it seems.

    He needs to be put down like a sick, rabid animal, just like that Billy Mays idiot and all the others.

  21. Joshman what does that have to do with Kevin Trudeau?

  22. Kevin

    @ Joshman..

    Search through Phil’s archives. You will find the correct information. And along with that, you will see that people who believe this “2012 Apocalypse” stuff are grade-A idiots.

    I plan on being around well past 2012. I plan on watching Apophis in 2036. :)

  23. @Kevin: At least Billy Mays sells products which actually might do something useful. He’s the Ron Popeil of the 21st century.

  24. Richard

    Perhaps Trudeau’s “success” has to do with the fact that too many people want to believe in some “secret” that they allow themselves to indulge in gullibility. From there, it’s pretty quick to become a “true believer.” Hence, Trudeau attracts those willing to be gullible suckers (we can safely call them “idiots” by now).

    Other gullible suckers include people who go to an Astronomy site discussing the disgusting Trudeau to post “Maya can haz 2o12?” The jerks who sell those books are less slimy than Trudeau only because they haven’t killed off their teeming idiots, yet.


  25. The jerks who sell those books are less slimy than Trudeau only because they haven’t killed off their teeming idiots, yet.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the time comes. I’m betting there’s a good chance of another “Heaven’s Gate” incident due to the 2012 nonsense.

  26. @drksky:
    I thing that is something you can bank on! (Unfortunately)

  27. tresmal

    BTW: Next time you want to Nelson HAHA.

  28. Richard

    You know, this would be a great time to start revving up the “Cthulhu Mythos.” You tie in real fiction as opposed fiction masquerading as It’s-Gonna-Happen-Non-Fiction.

    But that’s just an idea.

    I think there needs to be a shirt/logo/mug/thong for “Maya can haz 2012.” Sums up that whole up-coming fail.

  29. Richard

    Trudeau’s next sure-fire cure?

    Male Bovine Excrement. “MBE” for short.

    “I gots the cure-all for it all. I got a whole lot of MBE to sell you. My warehouse if full of MBE. In fact, you can say that I’m full of MBE. MBE, ’cause you can trust me, Kevin Trudeau.”

  30. justcorbly

    Ivan3Man: Don’t you lot in the U.S. have an Advertising Standards Authority…

    No, not really. We just tend to sue each other. Reading about ad bans in the UK tends to get some conservative types all riled up.

    2012: What’s so special about the Mayans that makes all those people run out and buy stuff? Lots of cultures have had all kinds of end-of-the-world prophecies. and they’ve allbeen wrong. The chance of this Mayan stuff coming true is no greater than the chance that Thor will descend to Stockholm and start whacking heads. And I don’t recall the Zeus and his buddies ever met their demise, so they’re still up there somewhere. Just biding their time, obviously.

    Complete text of my diet book, gratis: “Eat less. Move more.”

  31. In psychology we judge a punishment by its effect. If it reduces the undesired behavior, then it is a punishment. If it does not, then it is not a punishment. If it increases the behavior, then it was a reward.

    I’d like to see the justice system use this approach to punishment. They should punish Trudeau to the extent that it makes him stop doing the illegal activity. If $37 million fails to result in his cessation of fraud (or whatever he was charged with), they should come back with additional fines until it gets him to stop.

    This may actually be their approach. He was originally fined $1 million, but he violated the court order and has now been forced to surrender $37 million, which is all the revenue from his weight loss book as hawked in infomercials.

    Personally, I find it sad that he could make $37 million selling dubious information.

  32. Adrian Lopez

    “Adrian Lopez, I think that Kevin Trudeau deserves more than a pie-in-the-face: A knuckle sandwich! (Like what Bart Sibrel got from Buzz Aldrin.) ”

    I quite agree. I was reluctant to say so, however, so I went with pie instead.

  33. Chris

    ” At any rate, I vote for sending people like this to Monster Island. There is no Monster Island you say? Just send them all to an island…any island and it’ll become one.

    How about an island like the one in the Japanese film Battle Royale?!”

    How about one like Ryker’s or Alcatraz?

  34. Part of the judgment is also a 3 year ban from “for three years, from producing or publishing infomercials for products in which he has an interest” and also “revised the three-year ban to prohibit Trudeau from “disseminating or assisting others in disseminating” any infomercial for any informational publication in which he has an interest”. I think he should be banned for life from making infomercials but at least he’s off the air for 3 years.

    Why is it some people don’t seem to understand the concept of fraud and defend those who commit it? It’s the legal and moral equivalent of theft, we don’t tell people who’ve had their cars stolen that the thieves get to keep it because they left the keys inside however stupid that might be.

  35. Brandon

    37 million is a lot of money. Thankfully Kevin can add up all those numbers in his head thanks to his MegaMemory system!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MegaMemory

  36. Geoff

    I started college in Fall 2005, and my roommate used his TV as an alarm clock. Myself being lazy, I simply learned to ignore the TV (and he learned to get up *much* faster), but the first week he used it I was twice treated to an hour of this skunk – or someone with a copycat product, but my memory follows the given format of his junk in wikipedia – preaching such blatantly idiotic crap that my freshly not-exactly-rested brain was stunned into a state of shock and I willingly watched, both amused and bemused, as this man claimed his product was capable of anything short of stopping elite military forces with personal vendettas. There were even subtle suggestions and implications of immortality, and he backed them in part with the simple logical fallacy that (I’m paraphrasing) ‘people go to doctors when they’re sick, so if you stop seeing doctors you will be healthy all the time!’ (in which case, of course, we don’t really actually need his product either).

    I’m heartened to see the guy off the air for a while, but I have a feeling he’s going to turn it into a long-term advantage (partially funded by a new book about ‘Debt Cures’). I think the best bet would be to try and get some of the beneficiaries of the $37 mil – or just people who regretted buying his garbage – to pay into a “Citizens Doomed by Kevin” organization or something along those lines that would buy short slots on either side of *all* his future infomercials, giving the guy’s bad advice a kill total, a short synopsis of how he ‘stole’ the $37 mil, and a site to go to so you can check the facts. I say ‘stole’ only because I figure that word should figure prominently into discussing the $37 mil. fine in the commercial. It’s worth a shot.

  37. Sindragosa

    “Lying is protected… until it becomes fraud.”

    I’m honestly not getting where the line is. People like Peter Popoff and Benny Hill(Hinn?) get off scott free endangering stupid people with their lies. Pop psychiatrists like Oprah and Doctor Phil (not you, the other one) get away with profiting from giving stupid advice to vulnerable people.

    I’m not sure if Sylvia Browne and John Edward do any actual harm but people (like you) whom I respect seem to think they do.

    I’d include homeopaths, chiropracters and anti-vaxxers in the list, but one could make the argument that they are honestly mistaken rather than outright lying. However that excuse will not work for the individuals I mentioned. They jolly well know they’re lying.

    So how come this guy gets busted when they don’t? What’s the difference between him and Popoff?

  38. Nigel Depledge

    Elise said:

    … but if 2012 doesn’t happen …

    Erm, I’m pretty sure 2012 will happen. It’s the year that follows 2011, after all, and how else will we get to 2013?

    Or was there something in your comment that I missed …?

    I think we should all be much more worried about 2112 . . .

  39. Nigel Depledge

    Myddrin said:

    You know, maybe someone should start writing diet books that are really based on science…

    Yeah, but these books are pretty damn short.

    Mine was less than a page:

    “Eat a varied diet, including as much fresh food (i.e. as little processed crap) as you can. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, but don’t get obsessive about anything. And, above all, get plenty of aerobic exercise.”

    This is what the science has been telling us for the last couple of decades. For more detail about exercise versus dieting, read Covert Bailey’s The New Fit or Fat. It’s quite interesting.

  40. Nigel Depledge

    Joshman said:

    No one answered this in the other post, Does anyone know anything about this?

    Any one have any coments on this? “In the mythology of the Aztecs, the first age of mankind ended with the animals devouring humans. The second age was finished by wind, the third by fire, and the fourth by water. The present fifth epoch is called Nahui-Olin (Sun of Earthquake), which began in 3113 BC and will end on December 24, 2011.

    The Mayan calendar is divided into Seven Ages of Man. The fourth epoch ended in August 1987. The Mayan calendar comes to an end on Sunday, December 23, 2012. Only a few people will survive the catastrophe that ensues.”

    There’s a very simple answer: it’s rubbish. Happy now?

  41. Nigel, unfortunately, Joshman is just one of a long line of synonyms of the same person that has been posting the same, exact same for that matter, text in every one of Phil’s entries, regardless of the content. I’m pretty sure he’s just shotgun spamming the blog, throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest trying to get a reaction.

  42. It’s Benny Hinn, Benny Hill was a great British comedian. I’m not a lawyer so I don’t exactly know where the legal line is between lying and fraud. However wherever it is Trudeau was way over it because what he did was a pretty classic con in misrepresenting what he was selling. It actually isn’t that the information is incorrect that he’s being punished for but because he lied about the contents of his book to get people to buy it.

  43. Sindragosa

    “It actually isn’t that the information is incorrect that he’s being punished for but because he lied about the contents of his book to get people to buy it.”

    I can dig that. That’s what I get for not reading the article properly.

  44. Richard

    Thank you, “captain swoop.” I’d forgotten that I had Quackwatch in my bookmarks. I found this article in there:
    Twenty-Five Ways to Spot Quacks and Vitamin Pushers“:
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/spotquack.html

  45. Andrew

    This might not get published, but I’d like to say it anyway. This guy is an absolute c!nt of a human being. He also attempts to flog speed reading and make mathematics easy programs on home shopping channels.

    What a w!nker!

  46. Andrew

    Sorry to lower the tone Phil of your excellent site, but these people really p!ss me off.

  47. José

    @Noadi
    Benny Hill was a great British comedian.

    Great?

    It actually isn’t that the information is incorrect that he’s being punished for but because he lied about the contents of his book to get people to buy it.

    There are plenty of blatant lies and incorrect information in his infomercials and books.

  48. Aah, that cheers me up no end. $37m should be enough to start making quacks all over the place stand up and take notice – we’re not going to take your crap any more! I love that Judge and wish him an eternity of tasty cakes and fine ale.

  49. Chris Z

    @Sindragosa

    [/i]I’m honestly not getting where the line is. People like Peter Popoff and Benny Hill(Hinn?) get off scott free endangering stupid people with their lies. Pop psychiatrists like Oprah and Doctor Phil (not you, the other one) get away with profiting from giving stupid advice to vulnerable people.[/i]

    The hardest part about convicting someone of fraud is demonstrating that that person knew they were lying. Whether or not the likes of Benny Hinn know they’re lying cheats, you have to be able to prove it (beyond a reasonable doubt) if you’re going to convict them. Truly deluded people can’t be convicted even if they’re peddling false information.

  50. Atom C

    Perhaps you people are too closed minded to the ancient wisdoms that WHITE MAN has been travelling the world to exterminate.

    The WHITE MAN has destroyed more wisdom in the past 500 years than science will rediscover in the next 1000…

    Too bad you sheeple will all be dead of flouride, chlorine, mercury, cancer, MS, AIDS, or killed off by eugenicist doctors when you are lo longer usefull… see you in hell.

  51. Brandon T.

    Oh, Atom C. What ancient wisdom do you speak of? The ancient wisdom that allowed people to live into their 90’s or longer? Oh, that’s right. Modern medicine did that. Ancient wisdom only gave us an average life expectancy of 30. Under the all knowing wisdom of the ancients, nearly half of all children died before reaching adulthood, and women were far more likely to die in childbirth.

    Where was the ancient wisdom that protected the Native Americans from small pox? Oh, that’s right, THERE WASN’T ANY. It was modern medicine that eradicated small pox. Did you know that under ancient wisdom, millions of people died of the flu every year, and in 1910 there was such a horrible strain of influenza that more people died from it in one year than all the people who ever died from the Black Plague combined? Was it ancient wisdom that provided flu vaccines, or modern medicine? Or how about this one…which one of the following cured polio…was it modern medicine, or was it the “ancient wisdom” of primitive witch doctors dancing around a bonfire, naked and chanting under the influence of hallucinogenic plants? I’ll give you a hint…the latter mistook polio for demonic possession.

    One last thing. If you are so confident in your convictions that modern medicine is so inferior to “ancient wisdom”, then the next time you have to undergo surgery, make sure to tell the doctor that you only want the anaesthetics found in ancient wisdom. Good luck with that, dumbass.

  52. Brandon T.

    @Sindragosa: Your logic is draconian at best. You seem to have a deep-seated hatred for stupid people; perhaps in the same way some gay people are ashamed of being gay, thus they are self-loathing and hate other gay people. Is that why you hate stupid people? Because you are self-loathing?

    Okay, now it is time to use your own logic against you, both destroying your argument and your self esteem. Try not to cry too much… I think we can both agree that stupidity is a weakness. Now, let’s apply your logic to physically weak people. By your own moronic conclusions, it would be just fine and dandy to beat up, abuse, intimidate, and take advantage of anyone physically weaker than you, because they lack the strength to defend themselves. So why don’t you go punch a baby in the face…babies are so weak that they deserve it, right? It’s their own fault if they get hurt, because they’re too weak to do anything about it. In the same way, stupid people deserve to be ripped off, right? They lack the mental ability to defend themselves against fraud, so they must deserve it. Did you know that the most common victims of these kinds of fraud are the elderly? So if your grandmother were to get conned, would you say, “She was stupid, so she deserved it”? No, you would probably be pissed off that someone took advantage of an old woman whose mental capacity is declining.

    Next time, please try to atleast think before forming an opinion in that tiny mind of yours. Heed my advice, and you should avoid the embarrassment of making a fool of yourself in the future. There’s a good idiot.

  53. ok look, its true Trudeau has had some problems and a questionalbel past but he does bring some valuable pints to the table and to light in general. Its obvious that the FTC and other goverment organizations are run more by the people who pay them hten by the laws. And as for his medical resaerch you are correct to assume that some of his medical findiags are garbage but he like many are trying to advocate a medicane that worked for thousands of years and it was only till the last 200 years that a major transistion moved to western medicine. Ther is thruth so some “natural things” will help much more then any prescription but if anything its integated medicine thats the future of both beliefes. I really wish the western medicine and “natural” would kiss and make up allready and end this anicollaberation allready.

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