You may not know his name, but you absolutely know his face. If you ever spent a sleepless night channel-surfing, you’ll instantly recognize the man who promised a fortune by way of “tiny classified ads.”
Don Lapre’s cheap yet memorable commercials are emblazoned into the minds of a generation. However, you may not know that Lapre had fallen on tragically difficult times.
Lapre was found dead Sunday (Sept. 2) morning in an Arizona jail cell; he was surrounded by blood and authorities believe he intentionally cut himself. Lapre was mere days away from a $52 million fraud trail, facing 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering.
Lapre faced accusations that he tricked 220,000 people by offering worthless business promotional schemes like “The Greatest Vitamin in the World” or “Making Money From a Tiny One Bedroom Apartment.” Internet research reveals that customers who paid for his programs were not offered any information or techniques outside of what they heard on the commercial; however, they were bombarded with phone calls from Lapre’s company to upgrade their packages and buy additional services.
Lapre had evaded authorities by camping inside a Tempe fitness center; reportedly, he was apprehended after stabbing himself repeatedly. If convicted, Lapre faced up to $500,000 in fines per count of fraud as well as five to 25 years in prison. Lapre was 47 years old.