This story is over 5 years old.


It Did Not Work Out For Me With My Vitamins: The Death of Don Lapre

Don Lapre, one of television and the Internet's most notorious scam artists, was found dead yesterday morning in an Arizona jail cell. Lapre claimed to have kickstarted his multimillion dollar success story by selling "tiny classified ads" in enough...

Don Lapre, one of television and the Internet’s most notorious scam artists, was found dead yesterday morning in an Arizona jail cell. Lapre claimed to have kickstarted his multimillion dollar success story by selling “tiny classified ads” in enough newspapers to earn $50,000 a week.

Lapre rose to fame, deep in the neon intoxication of the 90s, on late night television, spitting fuzzy logic about making amazing amounts of money with very little effort. In fact, his oddball persona, coupled with the murky terms of his schemes, made Lapre nearly impervious to most legal chastisement outside of being called out by consumer watchdog organizations and putting up with claims from customers who reported being ripped off.


By 2008, it seemed the jig was up after Lapre was told to stop pushing a miracle vitamin that promised to cure everything from arthritis to cancer. However, up the jig was not, and until his arrest in the summer of 2011, Lapre was advertising a marketing course called CMR 9000 and/or Web Freedom Now, a 60 day course for $295 which claimed to cover Internet and direct marketing, featuring the triumphant return of the “tiny classified ads” scheme.

The next anyone knew, Don Lapre was living out of a ritzy gym in Arizona, trying to kill himself before facing trial for 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and promotional money laundering. Ironically enough, his legacy lives on in the form of quickly thrown together website which used to advertise a number of his programs. It begins with a brief introduction followed by a mosaic of stock photos of the interiors of mansions and (presumably) his family: a dark reminder of what a capitalist cautionary tale might look like.

Never Stop Dreaming….I tried to create the best product on earth, paid out millions, made very little trying to make it a success, had attorneys review my entire company, paid out millions in refunds, tried to make the commission and products better every single year, and in spite of all that, I have been accused of something I did not do. I did not have the perfect company but never once did I allow one thing to be done that would violate any law. Nevertheless, because the majority of people did not make money, in spite of everyone of them being able to make as many $1000 checks as they wanted, I am left to fight a battle that will for sure destroy what energy I have left inside… I hope the pictures below motivate you to take a chance in life and try to do the impossible… It did not work out for me with my vitamins but I believe that being willing to fail is part of having a chance at success….Never stop dreaming and for all those who sent me testimonials of what you did because of some of my help, I am grateful I made a small difference in your life…DL


What’s perhaps the darkest aspect of Don Lapre’s predictably timed death is the kind of attention it draws to the man behind the pitchman. New details about Lapre’s death have surfaced that allude to a history of depression, clearly bolstered by the macabre undertones of his website.

What could be interpreted as his final scam, Lapre’s website begs its audience to accept the waning plea of a man whose very existence became synonymous with trickery and deceit. But it’s tempting to buy. In the end, for all that’s shit flavored about his story, it’s hard not to admire Lapre—for what it’s worth, the general consensus is that people who fall for the sort of crap Lapre was up to are typically moronic. With nothing said for that, it’s like Lapre died in vain—a harsh conclusion to technically successful career.

A creepy video of Lapre, shot for CBS, defending his vitamin scam, succeeds in catching the “king of infomercials” in a lie about a customer named Igor Somda, who was taped claiming he made more than $100 an hour selling “The Greatest Vitamin in the World.”

Somda did make $600 convincing others to buy Web sites from Lapre. Lapre insists that those who are determined, can profit, but when it comes to making money, few can be more determined than Don Lapre.

In the words of Lapre himself, from his final infomercial promoting a service that allegedly produces infomercials: “Video is the most powerful form of media on the face of the planet.” A claim few would argue with that takes on a ghoulish tone in the wake of his suicide. A fan site, FreeDonLapre is littered with video memories of Lapre’s life; scattered among them, ads for some of his products.