Matthew Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general in the wake of Jeff Sessions’ firing renewed media scrutiny of World Patent Marketing, the firm shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for fraudulent behavior — and whose advisory board Whitaker served on prior to joining the Trump administration.
According to Law & Crime, libertarian outlet Reason obtained copies of client complaints during Whitaker’s time with the company through a Freedom of Information Act request — a total of 47 pages — and those complaints reveal dozens of distraught individuals duped into handing over their savings to a firm that seemingly never intended to help them.
By August 24, 2017, WPM had been shut down and sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as a “fraudulent scheme” in which the business used “consumer funds to enrich themselves.” The agency also noted:
At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has found that the FTC is likely to prevail in its case against World Patent Marketing, an invention-promotion scheme that allegedly deceived consumers through misrepresentations about its success and the services it provided, and suppressed complaints about the company by threatening dissatisfied customers.
Law & Crime highlighted several customer complaints that were submitted to the Florida Attorney General’s office from the time Whitaker joined the firm in 2014 until the company was shuttered by the FTC:
Connie Starkey said she paid WPM $14,000 and eventually learned the company had gone under:
My husband and I sent this company a lot of money. We do not have a lot of money. My husband has been very very stressed about this situation since January 15, 2015. We understand it is now in receivership and we are unsure what that means. Can you help us? My husband is a disabled Viet Nam veteran.
Yvonne Bracamontes said she paid WPM $33,000. Over a year and a half later she’d received nothing:
Please help me what to do next, they are no longer in [existence]. They took my money. And [have] not fulfilled their contract.
C.J. JOS (sic) emailed about paying WPM $10,290 and simply never hearing back:
Promising patent for my product they took $10,290 from me. Nothing happened since. No contacts from them now.
Shelene Gates paid WPM $995; after nearly a year, Gates claimed to have received basically nothing of value:
This company did not provide the service it promised The marketing analysis I received was not applicable to the filed in question-Dentistry. The information was only informative in telling you “what” a market analysis is, there was no pertinent information to my product and challenges [bringing] it to market. The art work was completely off. When I complained, they stopped all contact with me.
When Whitaker announced his move to WPM, the now-Justice Department official gave the company a glowing review:
World Patent Marketing has become a trusted partner to many inventors that believe in the American Dream. I have always admired World Patent Marketing and its innovative products and dynamic leadership team. It’s an honor to join the World Patent Marketing board.