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Friends In Business
& Scams 101

The Biz-Op
Seminar Racket

your key to financial independence
or one step closer to living out of a shopping cart?

I could write a book on this rotten business (and someday I probably will), but for now, you'll have to settle for the following.  I promise to update it one day....

Ho hum.... what can I say?

They're always convincing.  It doesn't matter how wild the success stories are.... they're convincing as hell. 

I paid $2,995 to attend "my" seminar.... Capital Investment Systems (they have a new name now, Global Resource Network).... and believe it or not, I learned a lot about marketing.  In fact, I have to say that what I learned might have been worth the price....

IF I hadn't bought into all the "opportunities."

Add it all up and it came out to about two days of training and three days of infomercial.

That was actually pretty cheap because I put mine on a credit card.  The people who accepted CIS's generous offer to finance the experience paid $4,995.... let's see, I think they said something like, "We're willing to invest in YOUR success!"

(These guys are all alike.  When I went to a free seminar where they tried to convince me to become an internet consultant, they wanted $2,995 for a one-day workshop.  I asked if I could go home and check out their web site first and call them tomorrow to sign up.  "Sure!" they said.  "Absolutely!  But if you do that, the price will be $4,995."  A two-thousand-dollar difference.... okay, that seemed like fair punishment.  Maybe he sensed I was a little suspicious, because he said, "We have to do it that way, people, because it costs us SO much more to process these things individually."  What a hoot.... but I digress.)

I think I started to tell you that at "my" seminar, the main speaker, a Mr. Sgarlata-Somebody, claimed to be a Summit Photographix dealer.  (They're ALWAYS dealers themselves, don'tcha know, when they're not raking in megabucks recruiting suckers at seminars.)  (By the way, The Scummit went belly up and kept my $8,000, but I got off easy; one guy in my little group of "disgruntled dealers" lost $50,000.)  Anyhoo, Mr. Expensive Suit.... (sorry, I meant Mr. Sgarlata).... gave his pitch.  He asked how many people wanted to buy the prepaid order forms for "ten bucks apiece."  Of maybe 200 people in the room, at least half raced up to the front.  "Okay," said the Ringmaster, "six for fifty bucks!"  A loud argument ensued among a few of the people in line when he "ran out" and had to limit the quantity to two each.  (I think they call this "mass hysteria.") 

Then I went home and reality slapped me silly!  I couldn't unload my "prepaid order forms" for FIVE bucks apiece (and they "retailed" for $36.00!).  I couldn't even GIVE them away, because the "prepaid" order form required $5.95 postage and handling besides.... and people really look at you funny when you give them a present they have to pay for.  Some of them get downright nasty.  And you know what?  It wasn't because I didn't want to work or I didn't know what I was doing.  When I realized "I'd been had," I started The Disgruntled Dealers Coalition, and I found over 600 people who had exactly the same experience.  One day The Scummit boarded up the place and ran away, and the FTC has filed suit against them.  (You can read how The Scummit worked here).  (Like most of our links, this one will open a second browser window, so you can look around all you like without getting lost; just close the window when you're ready to come back here.)

Then there was the gold-plated chain Mr. Expen-- uh, Mr. Sgarlata offered for "five bucks."  Everybody went nuts!  This particular act had to do with a company called FONE, owned by Borges Lamont.  These people had a squeaky-clean record, but they're all gone now too.  (I was already out by the time they left their dealers high and dry.)  You can read about that one here.

This "Big Top" stuff is all part of the pitch, but don't take my word for it.  When you get done here, read the brochure put out by The Seminar Police.  They've written it with the lowest common denominator in mind (that would be us.... "The Most Gullible"), and it explains reality very well and gives you a feel for what to expect.

The government keeps closing these nasty things down, and the FTC has set up several special task forces just to hunt them down and kill them.... but it doesn't work.

Look at Financial Freedom Reports.  Look at Ed Beckley.  The FTC closed them down.  Do you suppose they were any LESS convincing?  The success stories any LESS amazing?  The speakers any LESS "honest" (choke, sputter)  than the one you might go to??

And except for the few who actually go to the slammer (I believe Mr. Beckley was so honored, and most recently, Mr. & Mrs. William McCorkle), these people aren't suffering.  They just open up down the street under a new name.

Here's a clip out of a letter I received that was, in a sense, "a confession" from three people who worked the seminars for years.  The man who sent it to me identified himself as "one of those people in a three-piece suit hanging around the back."  When I asked him why the three of them were coming out of the closet, this is what he said:

"The reason we came out with the information was we were sick of people getting ripped off and these professional businessmen (i.e. Scam artists) making one million a year with barely a high school education.  They all push their products on you and create very convincing stories to persuade their audiences.  One company I worked for used their own employees to be the "real testomonials" in their infomercial.  These employees were making 20 to 50k per year working solely for the seminar company, when in fact they were saying they made in excess of 200k per year while vacationing around the world, on cruises or spending all day with their kids. They are all in the business of seminars..... These seminar companies will spend 20 to 100k for one week of advertising in your city - then their team will fly in and make up to 5 million (gross) in sales in one week.  When I started working for these companies at age 23 I was making a ton of cash ($1500 to 2500 per week), I was traveling to NY, CA, HI, Canada, everywhere and I didn't realize what a scam I was working for until about 2 years later, when I was working with these guys on strategy for the next seminar company to develop when the attorney general was going to shut us down.  I guess all businesses have their bad side but most really try to help people, not the seminar circuit.  If you really want to get these guys who ripped you off contact your attorney general and/or next time they come to your city get a TV reporter to go out and blast them (that is their biggest fear). Do your homework first! good luck."

End of testimonial from an insider.

But you're in luck....

I have another.

"I found you while trying to help an acquaintance investigate an 'opportunity' she heard about at a seminar. It turns out that the opportunity was being offered by Global Resource Network which is the new name of Capital Investment Systems and yes, they wanted about $5,000 to send her to a training school.  The interesting part is that I met this person while filming an infomercial for a seminar company.  You see, I am the subject of your derision (or was once in a previous life).  I spent the last ten years working for and owning seminar companies that offered everything from 900 numbers to real estate systems to network marketing plans to you name it. I invented the multiple businesses in a box.  When I closed my company (due in part to an impending FTC investigation) I became a consultant to the seminar and infomercial industry.  My first client was an old acquaintance who at one time was a speaker for me.  He had a great idea for helping people who wanted to buy their own home.  I agreed to work with him with the understanding that we would create a company where we got paid when people actually bought a home (I had begun to see the light).  He agreed and off we went.  Within 6 months he was firing the staff I had developed to actually help people and trying to figure out how to get more money from the people who had not yet bought a home.  In January of this year (1998) I and most of the people I had recruited left in disgust.  The company is now out of business and the principal is fighting numerous law suits.  I then began working with a gentleman who was new to the business (and unsullied) and I thought I could help him do it right.  Unfortunately the pervasiveness of the "hit and run" mentality in the business was too great and I am now looking again for someone who wants to deliver good information at a reasonable price without unreasonable promises.  While I believe that seminars and similar forums are a reasonable vehicle for the conveyance of information I have not been able to find anyone in the industry who can overcome the lure of the fast buck.  What you probably don't know is that every person I know in the industry has gone broke at least once and most several times.  I was scammed when I worked as a consultant by not being paid for my services, and there is a trail of bodies testifying to the people in the industry who have been burned by their cohorts.  If you would like to e-mail me regarding virtually anything offered through either seminars or television infomercials I can probably get the inside scoop for you. this is the only way I know of to atone for my past sins."

I can't vouch for the accuracy of what either of these "insider" people is saying, but it jives rather nicely with the version of reality that slapped me upside the head.


If "tonight's the night.... tomorrow's too late!!"....

Get out of your chair and RUN out the back door (and try to knock down a couple of the goons on your way out).


(Sorry to yell, but it's SO important!!) 

If they're pressuring you, it's because their money comes from the sale of "business opportunities."  (Translated: Their business is emptying your pockets to fill theirs.) 

They know that if they let you get away and you (gulp) investigate their claims or (really big gulp) make contact with other dealers.... you won't buy.

And just to be sure you won't break your own rule....


And last but not least....

If ANYTHING smells the least bit fishy...

Case in point:  Me. 

This page is getting way too long.  How about I put all the gory details in a separate article?  I'll call it, The Want-To-Believe Syndrome

And remember....

If the opportunity is as good as they say.... and the speakers are REALLY involved with it themselves, and raking in megabucks like you'll soon be doing if you're smart enough to recognize opportunity when it knocks.... chances are they'll be out WORKING the business and not standing up there in fancy suits trying to sell it to you. 

I would venture to guess that not many people in the audience actually get through a whole seminar without wondering about all these things.... but instead of acting on their suspicions, they blow them off.  It's easy to do when everyone around you is caught up in the excitement and you think you're the only one feeling queasy.

Dare to be different!!

Pick yourself up and walk out the door, preferably when the speaker is in the middle of a sentence.... making sure to say "This is bull" as you make your exit.

Or if you want to see the speaker dance, try snapping your notebook shut and saying, "Wait 'til my editor gets his hands on THIS story!"  (Of course the goons probably relieve you of your notes on the way out, but that's another episode.)

On a related note, if you think I'm kidding about the goons, this might be a good time to read about the little man with the mailing list; you'll find it in the story called The Want-To-Believe Syndrome.  It's really quite eye-opening.

Take me back to the Scams 101 Index!

Gather 'round, Kiddies!     

What does "Making a Bundle on eBay" mean to you?  How about spending every waking moment hunting down products, taking pictures, writing listings, and RElisting all the stuff that didn't sell (as in "most of it")?  Oh yes, then there's standing in line at the Post Office for 17 years... and don't forget counting that profit on your ten little toes.

Granted, that's how a lot of people do it (including more than a few Power Sellers)... but that isn't the way smart business owners do it.  Once you learn to write killer ad copy and combine eBay selling with tried & true email marketing techniques (on autopilot no less), you'll have time to actually enjoy some of that money (what a concept!).

                                                          Click here to blow the cork off your eBay business . . . . .

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REFRESH to rotate MAAMAW'S CLICKY NOTES thru this space..... Timely Tips, Best of the Boards & More

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMS!  Research all business opportunities thoroughly, and never blow off other people's bad experiences.  Ask around (and listen!).  The Scams101 Message Board is a good place to start.  What's that?  You've found a Biz Op and you're wondering if it's endorsed by FIB?...  Not unless it's listed in MaaMaw's Magnificent Toolbox.

Me & Katie

  Lesley Fountain                          Click Here to Send an Email
  P. O. Box 542                                  Phone:  (707) 682-0303
  Fortuna, CA  95540                                          ↓        ↓        ↓

 Some days I get so many calls that email is my only hope of responding
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Copyright 1998-2007 by Lesley Fountain.  All Rights Reserved.
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