The Checkout

But Wait, There's Still More!

Annys Shin

Kevin Trudeau doesn't understand the word, "No." A federal judge has banned him from infomercials for three years yet again.

The ruling is the latest turn in a decade long quest by the Federal Trade Commission to stop Trudeau, who it says is "a prolific marketer who has either appeared in or produced hundreds of infomercials."

The FTC filed its first case against him in 1998 over infomercials for products that he claimed could cause significant weight loss and cure addictions to heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes. Oh, and give users photographic memory to make it easier for them to remember all 12 steps, not to mention that scary warning label on the outside of the cigarette pack.

As a result of that first case, Trudeau was banned by court order from making false claims for products in the future and ordered to pay $500,000 in consumer redress.

In 2003, the FTC said Trudeau violated the 1998 order because of infomercials for a new product, Coral Calcium Supreme, that he said could cure cancer. (No photographic memory this time.) He was slapped with a preliminary injunction to stop making those claims, which he chose to ignore. He was found in contempt of court.

In 2004, Trudeau agreed to pay $2 million to settle the Coral Calcium matter. He was banned from making infomercials, except for infomercials for informational publications such as books, with one caveat: he was not allowed to misrepresent the content of the books.

So what did he do? According to the FTC, he misrepresented the content of his weight-loss book in -- what else? -- infomercials. In November 2007, a federal judge found Trudeau in contempt, saying he was "in flagrant violation" of the court's previous order.

The latest ruling, which came in August, 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."

He was also ordered to pay more than $5 million.

Will this silence Trudeau? If the past is any guide, probably not. He even managed to use the FTC's previous efforts to shut him up to peddle his wares, by subtitling his book "previously censored brand name products that cure diseases."

Talk about chutzpah.

No doubt the feds will keep trying.

If you want to read more about Mr. Trudeau, check out this 2005 profile, penned by my colleague Libby Copeland.

By Annys Shin |  October 8, 2008; 1:01 PM ET Annys Shin
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