Since he was named Jeff Sessions' interim replacement, Matthew Whitaker's links to World Patent Marketing have come under the spotlight. Whitaker served on the advisory board of the company, which promised that it could help make an inventor's brainchild a reality, but was later accused of being a scam by the Federal Trade Commission.
Whitaker appeared in 2015 marketing videos, talking about inventions that World Patent Marketing clients had come up with. He was also quoted in a 2014 company news release as saying, "As a former U.S. attorney, I would only align myself with a first-class organization."
But the FTC claims World Patent Marketing was a scam that defrauded thousands of consumers.
Farmer Ryan Masti told Inside Edition he paid World Patent Marketing $70,000, most of it from his father's 401(k), to market his invention, which was a social-media app for people with disabilities.
Masti said the company's promises that his invention was "worth $10 million" came to nothing, adding that he felt like he was taken for a ride.
“I lost everything," he said.
Steve Harris said the company told him his invention, an inflatable device to keep pet toys from rolling under the furniture, was unique. He said he paid the company $24,000 to conduct a patent search, only to find out later that somebody else already held the patent for such a device.
“There was no way I was able to sell the product. This was after we had already manufactured and shipped over these products from China,” he told Inside Edition.
In May, World Patent Marketing was ordered to shut down. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Whitaker was not named in the FTC complaint and a Justice Department spokesman said Whitaker was not aware of any fraudulent activity.