PHOENIX, June 15 (UPI) -- A Phoenix man is alleged to have scammed nearly 227,000 people out of about $51 million via his company "The Greatest Vitamin in the World," officials say.
Donald Lapre has been indicted for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, promotional money laundering and transactional money laundering for allegedly defrauding about 226,794 people to invest in an Internet-based business.
"This indictment goes to show that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Dennis K. Burke, U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, says in a statement.
"Lapre used incessant nationally televised infomercials to hawk his vitamins and worthless Web sites as a way to get rich quick without working hard. His scams swindled a sea of victims, but thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service, he will face justice."
The "business" primarily consisted of selling the so-called Greatest Vitamin in the World over the Internet and the opportunity to recruit others, Burke says.
In addition, Lapre allegedly provided his investor/victims, known as "independent advertisers," with false vitamin sales records and these records encouraged independent advertisers to purchase additional advertising and services in the hope of obtaining commissions including $1,000 checks.
Lapre is to be arraigned next Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence O. Anderson in Phoenix.