The Washington Post

Don Lapre, the ‘King of Infomercials,’ arrested in Arizona


A screen shot from a “The Greatest Vitamin in the World” commercial. (YouTube)

Last week, Lapre was indicted on 41 counts of conspiracy and fraud, accused of defrauding 222,000 people of $52 million between 2003 and 2007. He was arrested Wednesday after failing to appear at his arraignment and spending 24 hours on the lam

“This indictment goes to show that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said in a news release.

I bet the people who invested in Lapre’s “vitamin” business wish they had that advice. The Web site Rip-off Report features many complaints from the so-called “Independent Advertisers” who spent thousands of dollars for the opportunity to sell the product, only to find it was nearly impossible to do so.

Some of the complaint filers said they were unemployed and looking for a way to make money, including Charles from New Jersey, who filed a claim in 2007. In the report, he claims to have spent more than $6,000 in merchandise and advertising, but never made a profit. He unsuccessfully tried to cancel his plan before the 60-day money-back guarantee was up.

“The Greatest Vitamin in the World” appears to have folded in 2007, a year after Lapre was sent a letter from the Food and Drug Administration detailing the “objectionable claims” he was making on his Web sites.

Lapre may be best known for the “tiny classified ads” infomercial, in which he claimed that purchasers could make thousands by placing small ads in newspapers for “900” phone lines. The ad was so prevalent on TV that it was spoofed by David Spade on “Saturday Night Live.” Watch the ad below:

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