Today President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and announced that his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, would become acting attorney general. Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney in Iowa, but he was also involved in a Miami-based invention-marketing company the Federal Trade Commission shut down last year after calling it a scam.
Whitaker not only sat on the board of World Patent Marketing but also sent a threatening email to a former customer who had complained after he spent thousands of dollars and did not receive the promised services. Court records obtained by New Times for a 2017 feature about the fraudulent company show that in one email to a disgruntled customer, Whitaker touted his background as a former federal attorney and declared that filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and “smearing” the company online could result in “serious civil and criminal consequences.”
We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
Scott Cooper, the CEO and founder of World Patent Marketing, donated $2,600 to Whitaker’s 2014 Senate campaign — just $100 shy of the limit for an individual to donate to a candidate. Company records show the company paid him nearly $10,000.
World Patent Marketing collected millions of dollars by promising starry-eyed inventors it would turn their inventions into best sellers. Company reps claimed invention ideas were reviewed by an illustrious board that included big names such as Whitaker, Republican Congressman Brian Mast, and time-travel scientist Ronald Mallett.
In reality, the board simply took cash without ever meeting with inventors or reviewing any pitches. Some of the supposed innovations the company green-lit already existed, so patent applications were regularly denied. And despite the many supposed success stories listed on its website, virtually none of the firm’s clients ever made money. Once customers paid, World Patent Marketing provided little of what was promised. And when customers complained or declared they would write negative reviews, Cooper unleashed wild threats. Some of them came from Whitaker. In one provided to New Times, he accused an investor of “possible blackmail or extortion” and threatened “serious civil or criminal consequences.”
The feds alleged thousands of would-be inventors were ripped off in the scheme. They lost as much as $400,000 apiece.
After losing a 2014 Senate bid and leaving World Patent Marketing, Whitaker was named Sessions’ chief of staff in September 2017.
Cooper and World Patent Marketing settled with the Federal Trade Commission this past May. A judgment of $25,987,192 was entered in favor of the FTC. Cooper and World Patent Marketing were also banned from working in invention promotion.
Those who lost money in the scam are still waiting to receive any kind of compensation.
Here’s one of the emails from Whitaker: