King Con -- Selling Questionable Cures?

Kevin Trudeau has been on the best-seller list for six months, and he says he's sold 5 million books. You've probably seen him if you watch late-night TV.

He hosts infomercials saying things like this: "Drug companies do not want people to be healthy; they do not want to cure disease." He spent $22 million last year, buying up 2,000 hours of airtime for these infomercials so he can tell his viewers he knows how to cure "virtually every disease."

Trudeau claims there are natural remedies that will prevent and cure almost every disease -- cancer, heart disease, diabetes, herpes -- the list goes on and on.

He says if you follow his advice you'll never get sick. "20/20" bought some of the things Trudeau's book recommends, like an electromagnetic chaos eliminator that's supposed to ward off migraines and a magnetic mattress pad he says will cure multiple sclerosis. He also says a trampoline will help cure depression, and that wearing white will improve your mood and help prevent disease.

There must be some truth to it, right? Millions of book buyers couldn't all be suckers, could they?

Trudeau's Run-Ins With the Law

But I wonder: Do his fans know the truth about Trudeau's past?

Trudeau went to jail twice, first for swindling a bank, and the second time for cheating his own customers through credit card fraud.

Once out of jail, he appeared on TV as a memory expert and made false claims, according to the Federal Trade Commission, about improving your memory.

Then he claimed to have a tape that would make your pain go away. Then he claimed calcium would cure cancer.

Repeatedly, the government would move to take him to court, but without getting to court, he'd settle and sign what's called a consent order. A consent order is when you say, "I don't admit doing anything wrong, but I won't do it anymore." Then Trudeau would go right back into business, selling something different -- like weight-loss remedies.

Finally, two years ago, frustrated government officials demanded a bigger settlement. Again, Trudeau admitted no wrongdoing, but he agreed to give up one of his million-dollar homes as part of a $2 million settlement, and they got him to agree to stop selling products for life. Officials thought that would be the end of his deceitful TV pitches, but no.

Months later he was back on TV, selling books. The government couldn't prevent that -- freedom of speech laws make books different from other products. And books -- even though he's had to publish them himself -- have turned out to be his biggest gold mine yet.

What's more, his book sends readers to his Web site, where they're told to pay $9.95 a month more for details about his cures, or $499 for a lifetime membership.

Quack Claims?

Dr. Stephen Barrett runs Quackwatch.org. He's been tracking Trudeau for years and can't believe what Trudeau gets away with. "I don't think I've ever seen a book that has more ridiculous information," he said.

"Are there 'secret cures' for lots of diseases? No, that's been a quack claim for centuries," he added.

But secrecy sells. Trudeau hires infomercial hosts like Tammy Faye and explains there are things that pharmaceutical companies don't want you to know because, he claims, they want you to stay sick so they can make money.

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