Donald Lapre a No-Show at Court; TV Pitchman's Accused of Scamming Investors in "Best Vitamin in the World" Business Out of Millions
Alleged Phoenix scammer Donald Lapre, owner of the company The Best Vitamin in the World, was indicted last week for allegedly swindling thousands of people out of more than $50 million by having them buy his essentially "worthless" franchises.
His arraignment was scheduled for yesterday, but Lapre never showed up, according to court officials.
See New Times' story on Lapre here.
In a 41-count indictment returned earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Lapre's company sold useless, Internet-based businesses to more than 220,000 victims.
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The charges against him include mail fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, promotional money-laundering, and transactional money-laundering.
According to the indictment, he'd enlisted about 226,794 people to sell his "worthless" products through individual sites of their own.
Lapre, the feds allege, offered bogus incentives for his sellers, such as promises "each time you get 20 new people to try our vitamin, we send you a check for $1,000!"
According to the indictment, during the course of the scheme, those scammed were swindled out of a whopping total of $51,816,308.67.
The judge handling Lapre's case has issued a bench warrant for his arrest, and U.S. Marshals reportedly are "actively looking" for him.
Kholood Eid contributed to this post.