The FBI is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation related to World Patent Marketing, a company that was shut down in 2017 after the Federal Trade Commission alleged that it operating “an invention-promotion scam” that tricked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” According to recent reports, new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on its advisory board.
Alleged WPM Conduct
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of an invention-promotion scam, World Patent Marketing, with deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers. At the FTC’s request, a federal court temporarily halted the Florida-based scheme and froze its assets pending litigation.
“This case is about protecting innovators, the engine of a thriving economy,” said then Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return. Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”
According to the FTC, consumers paid an individual and various corporate entities thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions based on bogus “success stories” and testimonials promoted by the defendants. But after they allegedly strung consumers along for months or even years, the defendants purportedly failed to deliver what they promised. Instead, many customers allegedly ended up in debt or lost their life savings with nothing to show for it.
WPM Threats of Legal Action
The FTC also alleged that the defendants used various unfair tactics, including threats of legal action, to discourage consumers from publishing truthful or non-defamatory negative reviews about the defendants and their services. According to FTC attorney Richard B. Newman, the agency reported that one customer who sought a refund and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau allegedly received a letter from the defendants’ lawyer. According to the FTC, the letter stated that seeking a refund was extortion under Florida law and, “since you used email to make your threats, you would be subject to a federal extortion charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to two years and potential criminal fines.”
WPM Settlement Order
In 2018, the defendants agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business. Under the settlement order, the defendants are also banned from misrepresenting any good or service, and suppressing the availability of truthful negative comments or reviews by consumers. They are also prohibited from profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of it properly.
A $25,987,192 judgment was imposed, which was partially suspended when $78,670 in frozen funds were transferred to the Commission and the individual defendant Cooper paid $976,330.
Whitaker’s Alleged Involvement
According to media reports, court filings indicate that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the company while serving as a member of its advisory board. It has also been reported that Whitaker sent a strongly worded email to a former customer in 2015 that had complained about the company. Whitaker is not a named as a defendant in the case against the company.
In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has said he was not aware of any fraudulent activity. Any stories suggesting otherwise are false.” In fact, FTC investigators did not obtain evidence or internal communications showing Whitaker knew about the company’s alleged bogus promises, according to those with firsthand knowledge of the matter. The receiver that oversaw the settlement confirmed, recently stating to The Washington Post that he has “no reason to believe that [Whitaker] knew of any of the wrongdoing.”
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Brooklyn District Attorney Drops Charges Against Mother Who Had Child Ripped Away by Police
A video showing NYPD officers violently removing a woman’s one-year-old child from her arms has sparked national outrage — even after NYPD and the Brooklyn DA informed us that they would be not pursuing charges. Additionally, NYPD Commissioner O’Neill has informed the public he is personally looking into the case..
Nyesha Ferguos posted the video to her Facebook page on Friday. It shows 23-year-old Jazmine Headly clinging to her son, Damone, and telling officers they are hurting him as they attempt to yank the child away from her. One officer waves a yellow stun gun at the outraged crowd, which includes children, several of whom are filming on their cell phones.
When she refused to stand, security called the police. The situation quickly escalated. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told CBS2 News that “a Taser was used” and that HRA peace officers tried to remove Headley because of what they described as “disorderly conduct towards others and for obstructing the hallway.”
Did Alexander Acosta Allow Famous Pedophiles to Go Free?
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta is under fire again for a plea deal for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, when Acosta was U.S. attorney in Miami.
Acosta was reportedly under consideration to become attorney general, CNN reported earlier this month. Matthew Whitaker has been serving as acting AG, appointed by President Donald Trump after Jeff Sessions was fired Nov. 7.
However, because of a Miami Herald report on the plea deal, he is now out of the running for the post.
Epstein – a multimillionaire financier who counted Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew, Duke of York, among his friends – was accused of sexually abusing dozens of girls as far back as 2001 in what the Herald classified in its expose as a “large, cult-like network.”
Sources close to the president told the Herald Acosta is out of the running for the AG position.
Acosta approved a non-prosecution agreement for Epstein, which allowed him to serve only 18 months in prison.
Epstein pleaded guilty to two state charges of prostitution solicitation. The terms of the deal prevent him and his associates from facing federal charges, the Miami Herald said, which could have sent him to jail for life. He was required to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to dozens of victims.
Trump Signals He Will Support Marijuana Legalization
Following the forced resignation of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, stock in marijuana rebounded. And now, President Donald Trump says it is likely the psychedelic herb will be decriminalized during his term in office.
The LA Times reports that President declared that he would “likely” support a congressional effort to end the federal ban on pot. The move would signify a significant change in the legal cannabis industry, as well as end the threat of a Justice Department crackdown.
A bill to decriminalize the herb is presently being pushed by a bipartisan coalition. It would allow for states to go forward with the legalization process without the threat of federal prosecution.
Trump made his comments to a group of reporters before boarding a helicopter to attend the G-7 Summit on Friday. He expressed support for the bill, which was proposed by the bipartisan group the day before.
“I support Sen. Gardner,” Trump said, referencing one of the bill’s main sponsors, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). “I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
So far, Washington D.C. and nine US states have legalized the legal consumption of marijuana for adults. Additionally, 20 US states permit marijuana for medical use.
Once cannabis is decriminalized at a federal level, many of the restrictions and roadblocks preventing established businesses from conducting affairs in states where it is legal will disappear. For instance, as Gardner explained at a recent news conference, “If you are in the marijuana business … you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of concern over the conflict between state and federal law.”
“We need to fix this. It is time we take this industry out of the shadows, bring these dollars out of the shadows,” he concluded.
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