Mathew Whitaker, the man appointed acting attorney general on Wednesday afternoon after President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was reportedly part of an invention-marketing company the U.S. government deemed “an invention-promotion scam” that tricked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars,” The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, Whitaker sat on the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, a firm that was ordered to pay a $26 million settlement in May after federal authorities said it tricked aspiring inventors.
Court filings show that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the Florida-based company, and sent a threatening email in 2015 to a victim of the alleged scam. In the email obtained by the Miami New Times and The Guardian, Whitaker wrote that there could be “serious” consequences.
“I am assuming you understand that there could be serious civil and criminal consequences for you,” Whitaker wrote in an email. “Understand that we take threats like this quite seriously.”
Whitaker admitted in 2014 that the company goes “beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate those words into action.” In March 2017, the FTC filed a lawsuit against World Patent Marketing and its founder, Scott Cooper.
The New Times first reported Whitaker’s ties to the company last August.