President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's pick to serve as acting attorney general was reportedly involved in a invention-marketing company that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) deemed a "scam."
The Guardian reported Wednesday that Matthew 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 duped aspiring inventors.
Whitaker was not named among the defendants in the case against the firm, but court filings show he received regular payments of $1,875 from the company, which is based in Florida, according to the newspaper.
Whitaker in 2014 stated that the company goes "beyond making statements about doing business ‘ethically’ and translate those words into action."
The FTC later filed a lawsuit against World Patent Marketing and its founder, Scott Cooper, in March 2017. The government accused it of running "an invention-promotion scam" that tricked "thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars."
The money was reportedly intended for patents and licensing deals for the clients' inventions. The FTC wrote in its complaint that the company “failed to fulfill almost every promise they make to consumers.”
On Wednesday, the Miami New Times reported that, in August 2015, Whitaker sent a threatening email to a former customer who had complained about the company. In the email, which was obtained by the 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, published by the New Times. “Understand that we take threats like this quite seriously.”
President Trump on Wednesday announced that Whitaker would become acting attorney general after Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE announced his resignation at the president's request.
The Miami New Times first reported Whitaker's ties to the company last August. Whitaker went on to serve as Sessions's chief of staff starting in September 2017.
Whitaker did not immediately return The Guardian's request for comment.