The FBI is investigating a Miami-based company with ties to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that was shuttered in May 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Whitaker served on the company’s advisory board, appearing in promotional materials and, at one point, sending an email that appeared to threaten a disgruntled client.
The FTC, a civil regulatory body, called the company a “scam” in a press release, accusing it of persuading inventors to buy expensive marketing, patenting, and distribution packages and then blowing them off when they demanded fulfillment of their orders.
The WSJ reports that the FBI’s Miami field office is overseeing the criminal investigation along with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, citing a letter sent by an FBI victim specialist. The report also states that the investigation began as early as June 2017.
World Patent Marketing entered receivership in May after a settlement in which the company did not concede any wrongdoing. Its executives agreed to be disbarred from the industry as per the terms of the settlement, and to pay a fine.
Whitaker received $9,375 from the company, according to court documents.
A court-appointed receiver told the Wall Street Journal that while other advisory board members had given back fees that the company paid them, Whitaker had not yet replied to a demand notice.