The Story of Don Lapre: Infamous Salesman, Pitchman and Con Artist

In the world of sales and entrepreneurial dreams, few names were as synonymous with success as Don Lapre. With his infectious energy and promises of financial freedom, Lapre captured the attention of aspiring business people across the nation. But behind the facade of prosperity was a story of ambition, deception, and ultimately, tragedy.

Lapre's journey from a humble upbringing to becoming the "King of Infomercials" seemed like the ultimate rags-to-riches story. Born in Rhode Island, Lapre relocated to Phoenix, Arizona with his family during childhood. In 1988, he embarked on his entrepreneurial path by founding a credit repair business with his wife, Sally Redondo, called Unknown Concepts.

His breakthrough, however, came in 1992, with the introduction of his infamous infomercials. His show "The Making Money Show with Don Lapre," became a staple of cable television, inspiring many to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. He touted his "Money Making Secrets", a series of booklets, tapes, and tips that he sold as a playbook to financial success. He claimed to generate $50,000 a week from his one-bedroom apartment by placing “tiny classified ads” in newspapers, and you could too by purchasing his Money Making Secrets package. His charismatic pitch resonated with countless individuals eager to achieve financial independence and Lapre grew wealthy. 

Despite the success of his informational products, his next venture, "The Greatest Vitamin in the World," drew scrutiny from The Federal Drug Administration (FDA). In true snake oil salesman fashion, Lapre used his signature over-the-top energy and the trust he’d built with television audiences to promote unsubstantiated health claims associated with his vitamin supplements, like their ability to cure diabetes and cancer. The FDA issued him formal warnings about his claims in both 2005 and 2006. 

Lapre pivoted back to his old ways, and started selling informational products again. This time he sold a 60-day course for $295 that promised to teach anyone how to reach financial freedom through direct marketing on the internet. The course was essentially a multi-level marketing scheme. It sold quickly, but it didn’t last long. In 2011, Lapre faced a grand jury indictment on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and promotional money laundering. His alleged scam totalled over $50 million defrauded from hundreds of thousands of individuals. 

As Lapre's legal troubles mounted, so did the weight of his personal struggles. While awaiting trial in Arixona, he committed suicide in his jail cell. It was a tragic end to a life that had once seemed brimming with promise and opportunity.

Lapre's story underscores the dangers of unchecked ambition and the perils of chasing success at any cost. Despite his outward bravado and confidence, Lapre grappled with inner turmoil and despair, which ultimately led to his demise. 

So the next time you’re getting pitched a course that promises you the world from one of those overly energetic influencers on the internet, remember Don Lapre. Often, the loudest voices in the room have the least to offer. 

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