Consumer Health Digest #13-37
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 3, 2013
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Consumer Reports posts timely health insurance guide. Consumer Reports has launched HealthLawHelper, an interactive Web site for consumers who want more information about "Marketplace" insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). By answering questions about age, citizenship status, state of residence, family size, and income, visitors can determine their eligibility and the steps needed to apply. Coverage for people who enroll in their state's Marketplace by December 15th may start as early as January 1, 2014.
Alleged major spammers convicted in Russian court. The New York Times has reported that a Russian court has convicted two men of operating an international network of infected computers (the Festi botnet) and two men for hiring them to crash the computers of Russia's national airline (Aeroflot). [Kramer AE. Online attack leads to peek into spam den. New York Times, Sept 2, 2013] The article also noted:
- The process worked by transmitting viruses that embed software into home and business computers that can generate large numbers of spam messages without the owner's knowledge.
- Experts believe that the Festi network was used to send spam with links to sites called "Canada Pharmacy" or "Canadian Pharmacy," that were actually Russia-based companies that were able to process online payments from Visa through banks in Azerbaijan and Iceland.
- The sales were responsible for about a fifth of the $300 million global industry of selling fake drugs online, mostly to Americans.
- The network generated about a third of all global spam for three months in 2012.
- Many similar networks are still operating.
Kevin Trudeau briefly jailed for contempt. Infomercial scammer Kevin Trudeau was briefly jailed for failing to pay a court-ordered sanction entered against him more than three years ago. [Rogers P. Judge sends pitchman Kevin Trudeau to jail. 5NBC-TV Chicago, Sept 19, 2013] Trudeau claims that he has few assets and cannot pay. However, investigators believe he has hidden assets through an elaborate scheme that involved marrying a young Ukrainian woman and placing her in control of the Global Information Network (GIN), a multimillion-dollar network that supports his elaborate lifestyle. In July 2012, in a contempt motion, the Federal Trade Commission summarized the situation this way:
On June 2, 2010, the Court ordered Defendant Kevin Trudeau to pay a contempt sanction of $37,616,161 to the FTC. Trudeau has violated the Court's Order by failing to pay even one penny, and his claim of poverty is meritless. He is engaged in multiple lucrative business ventures that generate millions of dollars in revenues. He has systematically concealed substantial assets by various means, and dissipated other assets on his lavish lifestyle. Moreover, Trudeau's complete failure to pay, his extensive history of failing to obey court orders, and his total lack of credibility, demonstrate that he will not comply with the Court's Order unless he is coerced to do so by incarceration. Accordingly, the FTC moves to: (1) hold Trudeau in contempt for failing to pay the $37,616,161 contempt sanction; (2) immediately incarcerate him to coerce his compliance; and (3) order that he remain incarcerated until he purges his contempt by paying the sanction in full, with interest, and failing that, until he fully accounts for and turns over all assets directly or indirectly held by him or for his benefit.
The FTC's filing said that Trudeau owns or controls five corporations with nearly $190 million total cash flow since 2007. ABC News has reported that he has been averaging about $1 million a year in new credit card charges that were paid mainly by the corporations the government says he controls. [Hill J. Kevin Trudeau: Chasing the dream seller, May 20, 2013] Trudeau's attorneys deny this and characterize the payments as business expenses associated with Trudeau's speaking engagements and worldwide travel. They claim the expenses are paid by separate companies that Trudeau neither owns nor controls, in connection with services he provides to them. During a court hearing last week, when an FTC attorney questioned him for more than three hours, Trudeau invoked his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times. Trudeau is represented by the Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, which specializes in "asset protection." The FTC has also asked the court to hold the law firm and and three of the companies in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents. On September 18th, the judge ordered Trudeau jailed until he "came clean" about his assets, but the next day the judge released him with instructions to continue talking to the receiver. [Janssen K. Judge springs infomercial king Kevin Trudeau from jail— for now. Chicago Tribune, Sept 19, 2013] The FTC attorneys were expected to ask the judge again to jail Trudeau, but the government shutdown caused them to ask for the next hearing to be postponed. [TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau may avoid jail due to gov't shutdown. Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 3, 2013] Casewatch has background information on Trudeau's history and links to many relevant documents.
This page was posted on October 4, 2013.