Matthew Whitaker, President Trump’s new acting attorney general, not only served on the advisory board of a company shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly duping investors, but also apparently used his credentials as a former U.S. attorney to try to silence at least one complainant who threatened to alert the Better Business Bureau to the company’s practices, The Washington Post reports. The company, World Patent Marketing, was shut down by a federal court this year and ordered to pay a $25 million settlement after the FTC found that it had deceived investors by promising to patent their inventions and then pocketed their money instead. While there is no evidence to suggest Whitaker—a member of the company’s advisory board who featured prominently in marketing materials—knew of the alleged fraud scheme, former clients of the company have expressed disgust that he is now serving as acting attorney general. “It’s so offensive. It’s like a stab in the back,” Ryan Masti, who lost $77,000 to the company, told the Post. Masti said Whitaker’s reputation as a former U.S. attorney was part of “how they sold you” on investing and said he’d been told Whitaker personally reviewed his idea. An August 2015 email included in court documents and cited by the Post also shows Whitaker apparently taking part in an intimidation campaign that former customers say the company unleashed on anyone asking for a refund or questioning what was being done with the funds they invested. In response to a complainant who’d threatened to go to the Better Business Bureau, Whitaker reportedly wrote, “Your emails and message from today seem to be an apparent attempt at possible blackmail or extortion… I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you.” He also noted that he was a former U.S. attorney.
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