Email Shows Whitaker Stiff-Arming Consumer For Firm Shut Down By FTC

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 29:  (L-R) Department of Justice Chief of Staff Matt Whitaker, the FBI's Kristi Johnson and  U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions participate in a round table event with the Joint Interagency Task Force - South (JIATF-S) foreign liaison officers and  at the Department of Justice Kennedy building August 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Based in Key West, Florida, the JIATF-S  is tasked with stopping the flow of illicit drugs with the cooperation of other agencies and international partners, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Honduras, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker appears to have shilled on the cheap, reportedly taking nearly $10,000 from a Miami-based company that the Federal Trade Commission shut down for being what it alleged was “a scam.”

The FTC claimed that World Patent Marketing (WPM) was a “fraudulent scheme” that bilked millions of dollars from consumers around the country. It reached a settlement with the company in May 2018, the company’s officers agreed to be disbarred from the industry, and the company dissolved without admitting wrongdoing.

Whitaker helped advertise WPM, appearing on promotional materials as a former U.S. attorney serving on the company’s advisory board. In one video uploaded to Vimeo, he can be seen “reviewing” the design of a hot tub.

WPM’s alleged “scam” consisted of telemarketers persuading budding inventors to buy expensive patenting, marketing, and distribution programs from the firm, with top packages running into tens of thousands of dollars, the FTC said.

When clients would follow up, WPM staff would allegedly either ignore them or delay. A court-appointed receiver estimated that the firm took in $25.9 million from the scheme.

In many cases, WPM CEO Scott J. Cooper would reply aggressively, calling the duped clients “imbecile” across multiple messages while telling others “to get your shit together,” according to filings in the FTC case.

He would frequently use legal threats to try and scare off the defrauded, according to emails revealed in the FTC case.

“Hey Genius, I understand you emailed on of my board members telling her you think my company lacks integrity and you think we might be a fraud,” Cooper wrote in one typical email from the case file. “Just wanted to let you know that is probably going to be the most expensive email you ever sent. I hope it was worth it.”

Cooper would then bring in lawyers associated with the company, leaning on Whitaker in at least two documented instances to scare off victims of the fraud.

“I am a former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and I also serve on World Patent Marketing’s Advisory Board,” Whitaker wrote in an August 2015 message to one client who was accusing WPM of being “a scam.”

Matthew Whitaker emails a client of World Patent Marketing.

“Your emails and message from today seem to be an apparent attempt at possible blackmail or extortion,” Whitaker wrote in the email from the case files. “I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you if that is in fact what you and your ‘group’ are doing.”

In another exchange from the same time period, Cooper boasted about having “a former U.S. attorney on our board.”

“You’re telling me that if I don’t refund your $1,300, you will blackmail me into filing complaints with regulators?” Cooper wrote in the message.

“And you just put it in writing,” he added.

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