|Born||Donald D. Lapre
May 19, 1964
|Died||October 2, 2011
Florence, Arizona, U.S.
|Occupation||Television direct-response pitchman|
Donald D. "Don" Lapre (May 19, 1964 – October 2, 2011) was an American TV pitchman. He became a multi-level marketing and infomercial salesman. His work involved product packages such as "The Greatest Vitamin in the World" and "Making Money Secrets".
Lapre was criticized as selling questionable business plans that often did not work for his clients. In June 2011, Lapre was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and promotional money laundering related to his Internet businesses. He was arrested on June 24, 2011, for failing to appear in court to face these charges. On October 2, 2011, Lapre committed suicide while awaiting trial in federal custody.
A high-school dropout, in 1990 Lapre and his wife started a credit repair business called Unknown Concepts. Lapre then began selling a 36-page booklet explaining how to recover a Federal Housing Administration insurance refund after paying off a home mortgage. He also began offering "900" phone lines. On TV infomercials in the early–mid 1990s, he claimed that by placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers he was "able to make $50,000 a week from [his] tiny one-bedroom apartment".
In 1992, Lapre began broadcasting The Making Money Show with Don Lapre, which suggested that viewers could make money as easily as he had. For several years the show was ranked among the ten most frequently broadcast cable television infomercials. The principal product was Lapre's "Money Making Secrets", a package of booklets, tapes, and common-sense tips for placing ads and operating a 900-number business. The product was sold through "New Strategies", whose parent company was Tropical Beaches.
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Lapre about claims his vitamins were intended as a drug for diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, insomnia, cancer, and arthritis. The FDA stated "Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced conditions." In 2006 the FDA again warned Lapre about untruthful claims.
According to a June 15, 2011 Associated Press article, Lapre was indicted by a federal grand jury in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 8, 2011, on accusations of running a nationwide scheme to sell worthless Internet businesses. Federal prosecutors accused Lapre of bilking more than 220,000 victims out of nearly $52 million. He was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, promotional money laundering, and transactional money laundering.
On June 27, 2011, Lapre was arrested in Tempe, Arizona at a Life Time Fitness center, where he had reportedly lived for two days, with serious self-inflicted knife wounds to his groin. The wounds led authorities to believe Lapre had attempted suicide while at the Lifetime Fitness by attempting to sever the femoral artery in his legs.
Lapre died in custody from an apparent suicide on October 2, 2011, while in jail awaiting his trial, which was scheduled to begin on October 4, 2011. Lapre died from severe blood loss after cutting his throat with a razor blade. The autopsy report stated that Lapre died of massive blood loss and had wrapped himself in sheets to conceal any blood loss from prison officials.
In popular culture
- David Spade appeared in two sketches parodying Don Lapre on Saturday Night Live.
- John C. McGinley played Dick Dupre, a spoof of Don Lapre and his astrologer Melissa Lipnutz, in the film Puff, Puff, Pass.
- KSAZ: "Incarcerated TV Pitchman Don Lapre Found Dead", October 3, 2011.
- "TV pitchman arrested after missing appearance". Associated Press. June 23, 2011.
- Leigh Farr. "Don Wan". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on 2000-08-24. Retrieved 2007-03-12.
- Don Lapre Sells Tiny Classified Ads
- FDA warns Lapre again about claims
- Stephen Barrett, MD and Quill, Timothy, MD. "Be Wary of Don Lapre, Doug Grant, and "The Greatest Vitamin in the World"". Quackwatch. Retrieved 2007-02-11.
- Jun. 15, 2011 10:59 AM Associated Press (2011-06-15). "Phoenix-based TV pitchman Donald Lapre accused of bilking 220,000 out of $52M". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- "News Headlines". Cnbc.com. 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- Duluth News Tribune report on Lapre's bench warrant
- "Lapre 'no-show' at arraignment"
- Lapre attempts suicide in Tempe
- "King Of Infomercials Don Lapre Used A Razor Blade To Kill Himself | South Florida Chronicle". Sflchronicle.com. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- Mark Duell (October 3, 2011). "Top TV pitchman Don Lapre 'commits suicide' in prison just two days before $52m fraud trial". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved October 4, 2011.