FTC wants to start handing out refunds for Kevin Trudeau’s diet book

(CHICAGO) More than $30 million may be missing from Kevin Trudeau’s empire.

But a firm tasked by a federal judge with tracking down the TV pitchman’s fortune put its hands on more than $8 million.

Now the Federal Trade Commission wants to use it to start refunding customers duped into buying Trudeau’s diet book by its “grossly deceptive marketing,” the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Jonathan Cohen, an attorney for the FTC’s enforcement division, said the $8 million belongs to the consumers.

“The court ordered that Trudeau repay consumers,” Cohen said. “He didn’t do it. But the money always belonged to consumers.”

Robb Evans & Associates LLC recently filed a long-awaited analysis of Trudeau’s finances, finding the infomercial king’s vast business empire collected more than a half-billion dollars in revenue between 1999 and 2013. Trudeau cried poor in the face of a $37.6 million fine, but Robb Evans said it couldn’t figure out what happened to $30.6 million generated by Trudeau-linked companies.

Trudeau attorney Kimball Anderson declined to comment on the report earlier this week. But the lawyer opposed Robb Evans & Associates’ request for payment in court Thursday, arguing the firm “found no evidence of any fraudulent transfer of assets despite capturing the entire universe of Trudeau entity records and subpoenaing every imaginable bank credit card company and vendor.”

FTC lawyers will seek permission July 21 from U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman to begin refunding customers. In a motion filed Thursday, they indicated the refunds could arrive in multiple distributions, and it’s “reasonable” for consumers to expect $11 total from the first two.

But several variables are at play, including whether the judge will approve the plan. Cohen said the refund amounts could also depend on the number of consumers the FTC can track down and the percentage who actually cash their checks.

The FTC laid out in its motion plans to track down consumers who bought Trudeau’s book as well as how to engage in “consumer-friendly communications using plain language to explain the process.”

More than 820,000 people bought Trudeau’s book, according to the FTC.

— Chicago Sun-Times