Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Clue bus runs over GINtervenors, while Kevin Trudeau enjoys his "ME time"

I know I should probably be writing a sappy holiday post, and I still might get around to that, but the saga of jailed serial scammer Kevin Trudeau continues to provide such amusing fodder that it would be downright Scrooge-like of me to deprive you of the updates.

Rude awakenings for the GINtervenors?
Perry Kiraly, leader of
a group of GIN members who were trying to gain control of the Global Information Network (GIN), issued another entertaining update yesterday, December 23. Although on his December 17 update he was encouraging the remaining members to keep paying their dues in order to keep GIN alive and stable -- and I have a bit about that on my December 22 blog post -- he has apparently since changed his mind, according to his latest update.

Even though Perry framed his latest missive around concerns he'd had with an email that the court-appointed receiver had sent out to GIN members on December 13 -- concerns that he says he took to his lawyers, the Shimkos -- I get the feeling that
the court docs released on Dec. 20 were also a rude awakening for Perry. Maybe those docs were the first major clue for Perry (and perhaps even for his Shimkos) that his "intervention" effort really doesn't stand a chance, despite what Perry had been indicating on his Stand With GIN Fund updates.

In fairness to Perry, though, a lot of the info in those optimistic updates seemed to be based upon what his Shimkos had been telling him. So either they weren't communicating accurately to him, or he was not understanding their communications correctly, or for reasons of his own he was deliberately distorting his communications to his fellow members. Maybe he should be given the benefit of the doubt. Giving the Shimkos the benefit of the doubt, it is possible that the receivers and their attorneys were not communicating accurately to the Shimkos during the previous court hearings... or perhaps the Shimkos were misinterpreting the communications, or perhaps the Shimkos were, for reasons of their own, deliberately distorting things to their clients. I don't know. Maybe it doesn't matter. All I know is that Perry seems to have changed his tune from previous updates. He 'splains why in his December 20 update, which is below.

It appears that Perry is now more fully cognizant that the receiver is not his b.f.f. His Shimko told him that the receiver wants to remake GIN in the receiver's own image. Perry also says the receiver has changed the entire vibe of the club. And Perry is miffed because the Shimko told him that the receiver is talking to other people besides Perry and his gang about re-building GIN, and will not name those people. I am thinking that perhaps Perry or the Shimko should start with the name "Jeff Devine" when trying to find a clue about that.

At any rate, here is Perry's update. You'll note that he put a December 20 date on his email but he apparently did not send it out until December 23.

From: Perry Kiraly
Date: December 23, 2013 at 10:58:51 AM EST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: SWGF Update 12-20-13

SWGF update: PERRY KIRALY
December 20, 2013

Dear Fellow GIN Members,
This update is to address the issue of membership dues. As mentioned in my previous update of 12-17-13 many Members have expressed their resentment with the Receiver's interference with our club and have told me of their plans to stop the payment of their dues.

The Members have told me of their disagreement with the Receiver's alteration and elimination of club programs and payouts and conversion of the club into that which is was never intended to be -- and using our dues to do it.this will continue unless funding is cut off.  Therefore to compel the Receiver to cease   It was thus reasoned that his torturous interference with our club many Members have chosen to downgrade to associate status or simply stop paying their dues until the Receiver steps down and control of the club is returned to the Members; and I can find no flaw in their logic.

In my update of 12-17-13 I suggested that presently (meaning at that point in time) I thought the best course of action was to keep paying dues to keep staff in place and because negotiations between the Receiver and our lawyer were underway which we thought might soon be completed.

During the hearing on the 5th of this month the Reciever's lawyer indicated in open court to judge Gettelman that he was in negotiations with us and that although we had some differences he thought we could work it out between us in a timely manner.

From subsequent discussions between our attorney and the Receiver this week however, we have come to realize that what the Receiver felt was a "timely manner," meant several months to him, and this is unacceptable.  In a few months, given the current membership attrition rate, we won't have a club.

On December 5th our lawyer additionally posed the question to the Receiver: "What if the remaining worldwide Members were asked to send their dues to an escrow account?"  This suggestion apparently ignited grave concern in the Receiver and prompted him to issue the recent Message from the Receiver sent to the GIN membership via email.

After issuance of the Message from the Receiver to the GIN membership on 12-13-13 and reading the Receiver's innuendo therein as to what the stopping of dues legally entailed (from the Receiver's perspective). I thought it prudent to ask Mr. Shimko, our attorney, to research the legal aspects of Members stopping the payment of their dues and disseminate his opinion to the membership before Members decided one way or another or encouraged other members to stop paying their dues.

Mr. Shimko's legal opinion on this matter is attached in a WORD document.  Please read it carefully and decide for yourself what the best action to take is to expedite the return of our club to the Members hands.  After reading it, it should become very clear what action that is.

To give you additional information with which to make your decision I leave you with the following observations for consideration
[I hope you don't mind a few Cosmic annotations ~CC]:

  • From current discussions between our counsel and the Receiver, it has emerged that the Receiver intends to redesign our club from top to bottom before he feels he would be in a position to close on a deal with us. The Receiver reports that he and others, whom he refuses to identify, are working on a completely new structure and design of the Club.he is creating new training programs and events that he believes  The Receiver announced that will make the Club profitable.knowledge, was never a goal upon which this club was   A club for profit, to my founded. The goal of our club was to create an environment where talented and varied thinking individuals came together to share ideas and help each other; and where all of the dues and fees collected by the club, not paid out for expenses and commissions to run and market the club, would be used for Member benefits.
  • This arm of the U.S. government has informed our counsel that he, in effect, intends to remake our club in his image with his goals and his values.
  • Since August, millions of our dollars have been collected by the Receiver.  And for that showing of support, he has cancelled our events and programs, fired our leadership,and used our dues to perform a worldwide search for Kevin Trudeau, During that time, the Receiver's interference has resulted in a membership decrease of at 's assets. least 25% and growing. On an individual basis these people that have left the club are people with exceptional talents and with whom the rest of us enjoyed meeting and associating. This is tragic. [No, tsunamis and earthquakes are tragic. This is just another day in the collapse of a pyramid scheme. Please spare us the histrionics. ~CC]
  • At present attrition rates, how much of our Club will be left by the time the Receiver creates a club he thinks is worthy for us to be Members of? One should sincerely question whether they would want to be a member of a club constructed by the Receiver and his ideal of a "profit motive." [Um... most of you guys were focused on making profits for yourselves through the MLM, so I wouldn't be so snarky about "profit motives." ~CC] Would we, a club consisting of Members known for their fierce independence of thought, really want to be a part of that model? [Members known for fierce independence of thought? Oh, my goodness... don't get me started. You were indoctrinated by Katie and you're carrying on the indoctrination. ~CC]
  • Exposure to the Reciever's [sic] vibration is changing the vibration of our club and a few of the members have already succumbed.  The recent claim of the Receiver of being assisted by members of the club (whom the Receiver refuses to identify and plans to make an advisory board of), is an ominous signal that such is occurring.  Are these members suffering from Stockholm syndrome?  Maybe, but it is sure that the presence of the Receiver and his minions are the culprits.
      I would implore the members to which the Receiver refers to, but won't identify, please be aware that any assistance you offer at this point will only serve to prolong the presence of the Receiver and send a message of capitulation to the unwanted and forced changes that are being made to our club to other Members.
  • Finally, Know that every dime of the dues paid in, aside from the expenses running of the club, goes to pay the Receiver & his associates (approximately $175,000 per month to date).  The remainder goes into the Receiver's Estate Fund collected for the FTC for the payment of Mr. Trudeau's 37-million dollar fine.
In closing, let me make it clear that I am a citizen of the United States of America and have exercised my 1st Amendment right to express my opinion herein.  The opinion expressed in this update is not meant to suggest or encourage any course of action.  The information provided herein is solely for educational purposes.  Everyone must evaluate and make up their own mind on any course of action they take.
Thank you,
Perry Kiraly
And here is Perry's list of promises that he said the receiver "breached" -- again, with some Cosmic annotations.
  • Receiver's [sic] canceled the annual cruse [sic] and breached the promise of a free curse [sic] to all new members. [A free curse? Seems they were already cursed from the moment they started this "Intervenor" thing. ~CC]
  • Visionaries get no $5000 bonus at Level V.
  • The 2% Platinum bonus for 5 years has been canceled. [It was always a crock, Perry, and word has it that it’s currently being investigated by the FBI and the USPS. ~CC]
  • The Summer sales bonanza monthly payments have been canceled. [Yeah, that’s reportedly being investigated too, guy. ~CC]
  • Inner-Circle Member’s payments have been canceled.
  • The car bonus program has been canceled.
  • The "Get 3" program double-commission has been canceled.
  • The Development series winners program has been canceled.
  • The Level 7 to 12 have been canceled.
  • Kevin Trudeau was barred for speaking at club events.
  • The Receiver has breached the promise to Founders for a $25,000 bonus at Level V.
  • The Receiver has a written stated claim that the council of 30 does not exist and never did – maybe they just don’t know how to contact them? [Maybe they don’t exist, Perry. Occam’s Razor might apply here. ~CC]
  • The Receiver has breached the promise to the 10 winners of BMW's and has refused to honor the payments due.
  • The Receiver has canceled the Affiliate program – which was responsible for the growth of our club – we now have a 25% and growing attrition rate.
  • The Receiver has breached the promise to pay commissions to Affiliate members that have worked very diligently to earn those commissions.
  • Cancellation of the affiliate program has left many members and "GIN tools" holding large volumes of obsolete tools – yet they offer no compensation. [That's what happens with pyramid schemes -- eventually they collapse. ~CC]
  • The Receiver has breached the promise to refund or make good on the Lazy Man’s program many where [sic] involved in.
  • Some GIN speakers/consultants have not been fully paid due to the receiver.
  • Several valuable and loyal members of the GIN staff have been fired by the Receiver. [No worries; most are off on their own schemes and scams. Sweet Janine, for instance, is busily helping Katie scam from behind bars. They've moved on, Perry; maybe you need to as well. ~CC]
  • The Baccarat training, listed as a benefit of level VI training, has been removed from the training section. [The baccarat training is a SCAM, Perry. Reportedly, even some higher level GIN members are very pissed off that they lost so much money on it. This baccarat thing may come back to bite Katie in the butt, though his butt is already pretty well bitten, but it could also backfire on his UK buddy and co-conspirator, Lee Kenny, of FTC infamy (Future Transactions Company, that is). ~CC]

I'll write this slowly so those who have trouble understanding it can maybe understand it: The. Receiver. Is. Following. A. Court. Order. The receiver's only obligation regarding GIN was and is to keep it running legally and profitably so they can get as much money as possible to pay towards Katie's fine (and yes, to pay themselves, too -- but again, that's written into the court order). Even I figured that out, months ago, and I'm no legal brain at all. The legality of the MLM (the Affiliate program) has been seriously called into question, which is why the program was discontinued. Perry and his pals might as well admit that they joined a doomed club, and the person who doomed it was Kevin himself.

Here is the Shimko opinion to which Perry referred in his update.

Timothy A. Shimko & Assocs. Co., L.P.A.
Cleveland, Ohio
Brooklyn, New York


December 20, 2013


Via Email


Perry Kiraly
Re: FTV
[sic] vs. Trudeau Attorney-Client Opinion Letter
Dear Mr. Kiraly,
You have asked me for my opinion as to whether or not Members of the GIN Fdn are required to continue paying their monthly dues while the Receiver is still in control of the Club.  In coming to my opinion, I have reviewed the membership documents of the Club signed by each Member, the Order of the Court appointing the Receiver, the several reports of the Receiver to the Court, and the relevant law.  It is my opinion that the Club Members are free to discontinue making dues payments without violating any law or Court.

My analysis is strongly reliant upon the voluntary nature of the relationship of the Members to each other and to the Club.  No one is compelled to join or to remain a member of the Club.  The only condition necessary to remain a member of the Club is a member’s continued desire to voluntarily pay his or her dues.  No Member can be compelled to remain a member.  The Club is powerless to demand or make a claim or institute any kind of litigation or arbitration to compel a Member, past or present, to make a single dues payment, or to recover "unpaid dues."

According to the preamble of the Court’s Order appointing the Receiver, the purpose of the Order is to offer Mr. Trudeau an opportunity to avoid coercive incarceration.  Clearly, the Court did not intend that the innocent Members of the club be punished for the conduct it found that Mr. Trudeau had committed, or that innocent club Members be required to pay off the judgment the Court entered against Mr. Trudeau.  The Court, however, made a finding that the Club was an entity under the control of Mr. Trudeau.  I express no opinion as to whether or not Mr. Trudeau did or did not control the Club, as that train left the station months ago.  My opinions are based upon the fact that the Court made that finding and all the wishing in the world is not going to change that reality. However, this does not preclude a future finding that the Club is no longer under the control of Mr. Trudeau, which appears to be the present reality.

Therefore, as applied to your Club’s circumstances, the Court’s Order appointing the Receiver is targeted against the GIN Fdn and other entities that the Court determined were controlled by Mr. Trudeau and individuals "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau.  No part of the Order is directed against individual members of the Club, except for those that may be "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau or with the GIN Fdn.  I am aware of no evidence that you or any of the other Intervenors are "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau.  Furthermore, the Order does not equate membership in the Club with "acting in concert" and no definition of "acting in concert" is provided in the Order.  Interpreting the Order as a whole, it is my opinion that "acting in concert" means a person or entity that is holding asets or funds owed to or owned by Mr. Trudeau or the GIN Fdn.  I am informed that none of the Intervenors owe money to or are holding any assets or money for Mr. Trudeau or the GIN Fdn.  I know of no fact or allegation made by the Receiver or the FTC that would establish that the rank and file members of the Club were or are "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau or with any entity under his control.

The Order clearly defines what the Court considers are "Assets" that are subject to its Order.  It is critical to my opinions that under paragraph (2) of the Definition section of the Order captioned "Assets," the Court did not include club dues as an "Asset" covered by the Order.  However, please note that copyrights, patents, trademarks and intellectual property are included in the definition of "assets."  That being said, although it is probable that Mr. Trudeau or the GIN Fdn or some other entity controlled by Mr. Trudeau owns the copyrights or intellectual property, I have seen nothing that establishes that fact to be true. Yet, until the ownership of the copyrights and trademarks is firmly established, it would be prudent to act as if they were assets of Trudeau or an entity under his control. Turning to the "Asset Freeze" section of the Order, the GIN Fdn and individuals "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau are enjoined from transferring converting, or withdrawing Assets owned by Mr. Trudeau and the GIN Fdn.

Again, the rank and file of the club are not identified or defined as persons "acting in concert," and there is no finding or holding that "unpaid dues" constitute an asset covered by the Court’s Order. This cannot be considered an oversight by the Court and is explained by the fact that the Club has no right to any Member’s unpaid monthly dues.  The membership documents clearly establish that the Club has no right to force the Members to continue to pay dues.  Any Member may withhold his dues with impunity.  Anytime a Member wants to leave the Club, he or she merely needs to stop paying his or her dues.  There is no legal right possessed by Mr. Trudeau or by the GIN Fdn that would permit them to compel any Member to pay his or her unpaid dues.  The only repercussion attached to not paying the voluntary dues is separation from the Club.  There is a distinction between paid dues and unpaid dues.  To be fair, once a Member pays his or her dues, the dues payments do become an asset of the GIN Fdn, but not before.  Prior to the Club’s receipt of dues, the obligation to pay them is only voluntary and payment of dues cannot be compelled or enforced.  Accordingly, unpaid dues do not fit within the traditional definition of an asset.

The Order does give the Receiver the right to "collect any money due or owing to Trudeau" or to the Club, including membership dues.  The Order gives the Receiver the authority to collect dues that are voluntarily paid, but it cannot compel anyone to pay their dues, or bring a legal action against those that do not pay their dues.  The Order does not give the Receiver the authority to sue for unpaid dues.  It is my opinion, as established above, that because of the absolute voluntary nature of a Member’s dues obligation, unpaid dues do not constitute "assets" or moneys owed to Mr. Trudeau or to the GIN Fdn, and they do not become an asset of the Club until after they are voluntarily paid.

Under the "Cooperation with Receiver" section of the Order, Mr. Trudeau and people acting in concert with him or with the GIN Fdn must cooperate with the Receiver.  Mr. Trudeau and those individuals acting in concert with him or with the Club are obligated to advise all persons owing money to Mr. Trudeau or to the Club to pay it. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that membership in the club does not in and of itself establish that a person is "acting in concert" with Mr. Trudeau or the Club.    More importantly, as discussed above, unpaid dues do not constitute money owed to either Mr. Trudeau or to the Club.

Finally, from my discussions with the Receiver, it is clear to me that Mr. Kane
[Brick Kane, president of Robb Evans & Associates ~CC] desires to make a deal with this Club, but only under his time schedule and only after he has remade the Club in an image he chooses.  It is my opinion that the Receiver will continue to remake your Club in his own image with programs and events that the Receiver designs and promotes as long as it is profitable for it to do so.  Translation: as long as the Members continue to send the Receiver their "dues," he will continue to use that money to finance his project of reconstructing a Club of his own design, which may not be one that the Members want.

As far as I can see from the Receiver’s reports to the Court, the only significant fund of money being collected by the Receiver is the "dues" that the Members voluntarily pay.  Each Member should ask himself or herself whether he or she wants to pay the Receiver to continue to redesign the Club.  Mr. Kane has informed me that he is working with individuals that he would not identify, for that purpose, and that this process will take months for him and his staff of four lawyers to accomplish.  In the meantime, he can legally use all of the "dues" that the Members voluntarily pay to the Club for that purpose. From my review of the Receiver’s records, several million dollars of "dues" paid by Club Members have already been spent on the Receiver’s efforts.  Whether or not any Member will wish to remain a Member of the Receiver’s club, after he creates his club, is anyone’s guess.

One final observation; in my experience, when a Receiver can no longer profitably perform his or her functions, he or she generally finds a way to terminate the Receivership.

I trust that this correspondence addresses the issues on which you have asked my opinion.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.

Respectfully,
Timothy A. Shimko
Timothy A. Shimko & Assocs. Co., L.P.A.

Of Counsel: Daniel Shimko, admitted in New York and New Jersey
So the Shimko appears to be strongly hinting that it would be a good thing for the GIN members to stop paying the receiver, and then perhaps the receiver will go away, because the money will dry up. Some of you may recall that this is basically the same advice that Katie's former marketing director, Peter Wink, has been giving.

Like many of us laypeople who have been watching from the sidelines, I believe the Shimko is correct when he says that the GIN members are under no legal obligation to continue paying their dues. They are free to quit GIN at any time, and are not violating any court order if they do so. But many of us had that figured out week before last, when that "message from the receiver" went out.

However, I suppose it is possible that the receiver could make a case that the rebellious GIN members are deliberately trying to stymie the receiver's efforts, since those GIN members (as well as ex-GIN members, staffers, and speakers) have specifically mentioned the receiver and have clearly stated that the only way to make the receiver go away is to stop paying dues. It may not be an actual case of obstruction of justice, and it's probably a murky legal area at best, but the GIN rebels are clearly targeting the receiver in their efforts.


In any case, while being mere "rank and file" GIN members probably lets them off the hook legally, that status also keeps members from enjoying the ownership privileges that they have tried to declare as Intervenors. To reiterate, GIN members -- including Perry -- are just that: MEMBERS of a "club," and as such they are not owners of the organization. Perry, I wonder if the Shimkos fully understood that little detail when they took on your "Intervention" case and started billing you.


Moreover, Perry, you might want to re-read the report by the FTC's economist and pyramid scheme expert, Dr. Peter Vander Nat. Dr. Vander Nat's opinion -- with which I happen to agree -- is that like most pyramids, GIN was set up so that only a few people would make any significant money; the vast majority lost money and will never recoup their "investment," even if GIN's MLM is restored and is allowed to exist in perpetuity. Of course, as I've noted before, the court still has to rule on this.

But -- if I may belabor a point -- it's really not looking good for the Intervenors. On the same day that Perry issued his update, the receiver was filing their own response in court to the motion to intervene. And the receiver agrees with all of the FTC's allegations and oppositions. From Document 809, dated 12-23-13:


RECEIVER’S STATEMENT JOINING THE FTC’S OPPOSITION TO PYRAMID SCHEME PARTICIPANTS’ MOTION TO INTERVENE
Robb Evans & Associates, LLC (the “Receiver”), in its capacity as court-appointed receiver over the assets of Kevin Trudeau and the Trudeau Entities, hereby joins the FTC’s Opposition to Pyramid Scheme Participants’ Motion to Intervene [Doc. #808]. Because the interests and position of the FTC and Receiver with respect to the Proposed Intervenors’ motion to intervene are aligned, the Receiver has sought to avoid the unnecessary legal expenses required to prepare an independent, and what would ultimately be a largely duplicative, response. The Receiver has reviewed the opposition filed by the FTC and adopts it in its entirety as reflecting the Receiver’s position. For the reasons set forth in the FTC’s opposition, the Receiver requests the Court deny the Proposed Intervenors’ motion to intervene.
Dated: December 23, 2013
Again, the court still has to rule on the above, but...well, you know. Doesn't look good for the Intervenors. 

Look, Perry et al.: If y'all want to blame someone for how it all went down with GIN, put the blame on your hero, Kevin Trudeau. He's the one who set GIN up as a money grab for himself in the beginning, and got thousands of members' hopes up, and then, when the sh-t started hitting the fan, he threw GIN under the bus. Chew on that for a while. In the meantime, it appears that you have your work cut out for you if you want your Shimkos to get paid what they are owed for work done so far. Do you think that your fellow members will want to keep contributing to a fund when they know that it will just be going for legal work that's already been done in what is increasingly appearing to be a futile fight? Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, I guess I need to stock up on more popcorn.
[Be sure to see update below. ~CC, 12-26-13]


"ME" time for Katie
Kevin himself continues to provide rich entertainment, with the help of his cohort Janine Nubani Contursi. On one of the December 23 updates on Katie's Facebook page, Janine babbles about how Katie was "in training" almost full time back in the 1970s and early '80s. And now he is "in training" again. "In training": is that what the kids these days are calling incarceration?


It's funny that there is no mention in that update of The Brotherhood, though there is a mention of an "uncle." And I wonder who that "uncle" was... Ed Foreman? The late elder Morter?

Kevin was born in February of 1963, which means that the 1970s saw him grow from a lad of seven to sweet 16. According to his brother Bob, when he was 15, Kevin got in trouble for mail fraud, and as I recall from Bob's story, someone with the Postmaster General's office showed up at the Trudeau home. Kevin was a minor, so there were no serious legal consequences, but according to Bob, Kevin got a whipping from their dad. Kevin was 15 in 1978, which according to him fell within the interval of his full time "training." So in light of this Facebook update, one has to question whether his "training" taught him to commit mail fraud. Or maybe his uncle did. Or maybe Katie was just ambitious on his own.

At any rate, following his "training" in the 1970s and early '80s, here is what he was doing between 1984 and 1990 (these are jpegs of a three-page indictment):
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/.../would-you-buy-used-cure...

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/.../would-you-buy-used-cure...

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/.../would-you-buy-used-cure...

And in 1991-93, he enjoyed nearly two years of well-earned "ME" time -- time that nearly killed his poor mother, according to Bob.

Katie hit the ground scamming when released, and since then it's been nonstop working to earn more "ME" time.

Meanwhile, he does seem to be making a desperate effort to scare up some funds from some of the assets that the receiver knows about: his homes in Oak Brook, Illinois and Ojai, Cali. He claims that his houses and all of the stuff in them have "special energies." And the fans are just eating it up.

The pathetic thing is that he does have many fans who believe this nonsense. This sort of thing isn't restricted to Katie fans, of course. Lots of New-Age ninnies believe all kinds of things about special vibes and energy balancing and so forth. Many folks who are more traditionally religious have similar beliefs -- consecrated items, holy water and so on. Katie has New-Age as well as Christian fans and is playing to both.

As nutty as they sound to some, Kevin and Janine are nuts at all; they are cynically pandering to people's gullibility and beliefs and superstitions. But as long as it helps put money in the coffers of those who earnestly pursuing Katie's funds, I'm sure that neither the receiver nor the FTC will have any objection.

So that's if for now, update-wise. I hope all of you, Katie fans and critics alike, have a wonderful holiday. I'll be back soon, if not sooner.



Update 12-26-13: A very Perry Christmas
That Perry Kiraly, he sure does have him some mood swings. Late on Christmas Eve, after I'd already gone off line and was busy not hanging the stockings by the chimney with care, because the cats would have destroyed them, Perry sent out this missive. I would have shared it yesterday, but I took Christmas Day off from blogging (and didn't actually miss it that much).

From: Perry Kiraly
Date: December 24, 2013 at 10:44:32 PM EST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: SWGF Update 12-24-13

December 24, 2013


Dear Fellow GIN Members, 
It's Christmas Eve so I will make this a brief update and leave you with the gold for the coming New Year and our soon to be renewed club.

First, know that the game is still very much in play - we are in it to win and it's getting more interesting by the minute.

The release of the 20
th wherein I expressed my opinion may have a few wondering what's next - plenty!  The last update was to enable everyone to see a viewpoint they may not have considered, and for those that took heed and acted, a precursor of what is to come. Just know that Members already have more power than they realize to achieve the restoration of our club -- absolute power in fact.

The continuation of our goal to restore control of our club to the Members is in progress and on target. And know that we do not have to wait for court rulings, or FTC or Receiver approval to begin the process of this restoration. It has in fact begun, right now with the battle tested strongest Members this situation has produced to get on with what we started -- Giving people the tools and training to be Free in every respect of the word.

The framework is being laid with counsel as I write and it will soon be ready to go. Our metamorphosis is underway and almost complete -- soon we shall have our wings.

Please bear with the metaphorical expression for the moment. I will update you with specific detail over the next two weeks. A plan is underway and it is a good one.

Have a great Christmas and New Year. All is well.
Perry
Wings... oh, my. I don't know about you, but I love metaphorical expressions, particularly ones that make me envision winged monkeys. Perry didn't specify whether or not the "counsel" to whom he refers are those Shimkos, or Thayer ("Your MLM Attorney") or all of the above, but I'm sure they will be more than happy to continue to take the remaining GIN members' money.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kevin Trudeau's pyramid continues to crumble as FTC snarks at GINtervenors

SEE UPDATE AT THE END (after the PS)
~CC, 23 December 2013


While serial scammer Kevin Trudeau
continues his proxy prison ministry, allowing his long-time companion Janine Nubani Contursi to babble on the Facebooks about life lessons and miracles, the paper shuffling in his long, drawn-out civil case continues (Case number 1:03-cv-03904, Judge Robert Gettleman presiding). On December 20, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed its opposition to the November 18, 2013 motion by Ohio GIN member Perry Kiraly et al. to intervene in the case. In its statement the FTC calls the suspended-for-now MLM arm of Trudeau's Global Information Network (GIN) an illegal pyramid scheme. The first clue that the FTC is not going to be gentle on the Intervenors is in the main document's title:
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’S OPPOSITION TO PYRAMID SCHEME
PARTICIPANTS’ MOTION TO INTERVENE


The "pyramid scheme" participants = Perry Kiraly and his fellow Intervenors.

Here is a direct link to the document and the exhibits -- all 256 pages.

Heck, I could have told all of 'em that GIN was a pyramid scheme. In fact I believe I first suggested it
back in... oh... 2009, when I first heard of GIN. I kind of mentioned it again in 2011. But then, I'm no credentialed expert.

To those who have been following (and swallowing) Perry Kiraly's
Stand With GIN updates, these documents may come as a little bit of a shock. After all, Perry made it sound as if the receiver's attorney and the FTC attorneys were quite sympathetic to the Intervenors' desires to take over GIN. But to the rest of us, particularly those who have been casually exploring the background of some of the Intervenors and their lawyers, the Shimkos, for the past two months, the lack of accuracy might not be such a shock. Background research or not, anyone reading the GIN Membership Agreements, which most of the Intervenors signed, could see that they had no legal ownership in GIN. It would appear that Perry may have been erring on the side of optimism in some of his reports and updates. Or maybe he was simply misled by his Shimkos. If so... bad, bad Shimkos.

The FTC called upon their senior economist,
Peter J. Vander Nat, Ph.D., who has been with the agency for 25 years and is an expert on MLMs and pyramid schemes. Dr. Vander Nat, unlike so many gurus of Scamworld (John Gray, Joe Vitale, Loony Coldwell), is what is known as a real Ph.D. His detailed analysis of GIN's pyramid-ishness is included in the exhibits accompanying this document. In their motion to oppose intervention the FTC cites Dr. Vander Nat's findings several times.

The Intervenors have until January 17, 2014 to reply to the FTC's opposition to their motion to intervene. Another hearing is scheduled for January 30 at 9:00 AM. At that time, presumably, the court will rule one way or the other. It's important to remember that the final decision will still be made by the court.



I am of course no legal expert, but from what I can see, both the FTC and Dr. Vander Nat make a very good case for GIN's MLM having been an illegal pyramid scheme. As noted above, the court still has to rule on this, of course. But Dr. Vander Nat has an excellent track record, at least according to him and to the FTC, who claim that to date no court has ever rejected his conclusion that an enterprise was a pyramid scheme.
 
The part of the latest court docs that details exactly why the FTC believes GIN is an illegal pyramid scheme is Doc 803-3, "Declaration of Dr. Peter Vander Nat" etc., supported by FRC PXC:1. It is part of that large doc I uploaded.
Here is the link again.

On page 2 Dr. Vander Nat goes into "The Meaning of a Pyramid Scheme." He also explains Ponzi schemes, which are clearly illegal in the US. Both his report and the FTC statement of opposition cite numerous case precedents, including the 40-year-old
Koscot case (involving old-school motivational huckster Glenn Turner) that first brought MLM dodginess to the public's attention in a big way. I have a three-quarters-finished blog post about Glenn Turner; I really do need to finish it.

Anyway, in his conclusion, Dr. Vander Nat says that in his opinion GIN's program fully meets the "Koscot test" for being a pyramid because "the firm offers substantial rewards for recruiting members without any requirement for retail sales; i.e., product sales outside the network."

And the FTC makes no bones about its contempt for the Intervenors:

In the latest obstacle to achieving consumer redress and concluding this matter, twenty-five participants in Kevin Trudeau’s Global Information Network (“GIN”) pyramid scheme (collectively, "the GIN Participants") seek to intervene—apparently because the Receiver halted their pyramid payments. For several reasons, however, their misguided motion is both legally meritless and factually baseless. First, because the GIN Participants neither own GIN nor have any right to unlawful pyramid payments, they lack a sufficient stake in this litigation to satisfy Article III standing requirements. Second, their motion is untimely because, through its attorneys, GIN knew about this litigation for nearly two years before anyone moved to intervene—after extensive litigation concluded, after the Court resolved the key factual issues, and after the Court created a receivership that the GIN Participants now seek to unravel.

Third, even if the motion were timely—and it is not—the GIN Participants still fail to satisfy the requirements of either Rule 24(a) or (b) because they lack any cognizable interest in this case, they raise no question of law or fact that has not already been litigated, and their intervention would prejudice the FTC substantially. If everyone involved with Trudeau’s machinations were permitted to intervene, there will be thousands of parties before the Court. It makes no sense to spend public resources and the balance of the Receivership Estate sorting through the mess that intervention will precipitate. In short, the interests of justice demand that the Court deny the motion.
The FTC also gets a little snarky about the Intervenors' MLM expert, Thayer Lindauer, who, by the way, wants to be "your network marketing attorney." Thayer will help you structure your MLM scheme to get around the regulators. But even Thayer thought GIN was operating an illegal pyramid scheme (and I'm sure he would be glad to make it a legal pyramid scheme, for a price). Here is a link to a page that contains Thayer's test about whether a company is an illegal pyramid scheme (for the record, Thayer thinks Herbalife is illegal too). And here is Thayer's discourse on "pyramid consequences," including his take on the ethical dilemmas faced by attorneys who advise MLM-ers.

But back to the court docs at hand. This is from Document 808-0, the FTC's statement of opposition to the motion to intervene:

D. The Pyramid Scheme Participants
Significantly, more than half of the twenty-five GIN Participants received payments from GIN for their “recruiting” efforts... In fact, their own alleged “expert,” Thayer Lindauer, opines that GIN operated as an illegal pyramid scheme:

My review of the current sales program of Global Information Network indicates that [it] was almost certainly operating as a pyramid promotional scheme as defined by various administrative decisions of the Federal Trade Commission under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
That was an excerpt of a letter from Lindauer to Timothy Shimko, one of the Intervenors' lawyers.

The FTC statement continues:

The FTC’s pyramid scheme expert concurs. Specifically, economist Peter Vander Nat—arguably the country’s preeminent expert on pyramids—provides an expert report including thorough economic analysis. Dr. Vander Nat “conclude[s] that GIN is a pyramid scheme.”... Among other things, he opines that the overwhelming majority of GIN pyramid participants will lose money: GIN promotes its business opportunity as a “perpetual money-making machine.” In reality, it is a perpetual recruitment scheme that dooms the vast majority of the participants (well above 90%) to financial losses by the very design of the compensation plan...
But the FTC seems to have Perry and gang's numbers too (in more ways than one).
...Although almost everyone loses, a very few do not. Perry Kiraly, the lead proposed intervenor, made almost $48,000, and would stand to make more if the Receiver had not dismantled Trudeau’s pyramid...Several other GIN Participants who seek to intervene also made money, and stand to make more at the expense of lower-ranking members. Many others have not yet recouped their pyramid payments, but apparently hope to do so if Trudeau’s pyramid continues functioning...(as Dr. Vander Nat explains, for this reason, it is typical for middle-level pyramid scheme participants to want the pyramid to continue—so they can recover their “investment” from lower-ranking members... This is why the GIN Participants allege that they “benefit financially from their membership in [GIN] in the form of residual income paid to members for attracting new members”... and why they complain that the Receiver deprived them of their purported “rights to income disbursements...
This may not necessarily mean that Perry's gang or some other group has zero chance of acquiring GIN at some point in the near future and re-creating it as a "legitimate" club (and possibly a legit MLM). They have a Plan B in mind too, which Perry has indicated since he first started doing his Stand With GIN updates. In fact, that is supposedly why they've been working with Thayer Lindauer: to clean up GIN's MLM and start 'er up again.

But if the FTC has its way, the court will not recognize their right to act as Intervenors -- after all, as the FTC patiently explained, they were members, who signed membership agreements stipulating that they had NO ownership. Moreover, their "intervention" wasn't timely, according to the FTC. So if they have any chance whatsoever of making GIN their baby, they will more than likely have to find some other way besides "intervention."

Some of us have thought all along that they were fighting a losing battle with the "Intervenor" effort, but they did manage to get themselves added to the docket and have become part of the case. In other words, they weren't laughed out of court right off the bat. Still, my sense is that the court will agree with the FTC that the Intervenors have no ownership in GIN. But again, that doesn't mean GIN is completely dead... yet. Even so, it looks as if the well-intentioned folks who contributed to the Stand With GIN fund may have just been throwing their money away, as many did for years in GIN. But at least those Shimkos will have a little extra spending money.

Bottom line is that the FTC, with the help of their economist/MLM expert, have defined GIN's pyramid dodginess pretty accurately -- which is another nail but possibly not the final one if GIN can somehow be taken over, revived, and turned into a legal scam. Though Perry Kiraly's "Intervention" effort will probably fail, Perry and his pals are probably not going to give up. And there are no doubt other parties fighting for the remains of the moribund beast.

More popcorn, please.


PS ~ Self-proclaimed GIN destroyer Abe Husein is excited because he, Peter Wink and Loony Coldwell were mentioned in a March 2013 email from Kevin Trudeau to some of his cohorts. Katie apparently panicked and clumsily tried to do some damage control after ABC News showed up outside of his luxury digs in Zurich in March. It was apparently those "ambush journalists" who spooked Katie into trying to discredit some of his detractors. It's almost as if he didn't really realize what they were up to until he got shaken out of his complacency by ABC's visit. More than likely he was also inspired by his looming court cases and upcoming hearings and trial. But his main concern besides discrediting his detractors seemed to be to get tons of pro-GIN testimonials into the right hands. In fact, he seemed more concerned with getting those testimonials than with discrediting Abe, Wink, and Loony. Word has it that no one in the GIN offices actually embarked upon a campaign to discredit the Three Stooges, reasoning that the Stooges did their own self-discrediting better than anyone else ever could.

Here's a shot of the emails.

"Video testes from cruise"... that kind of sounds like he's talking about naughty movies. I'd heard that some of those cruises got a little wild... Well, Katie is not the world's best speller or punctuator.

Obviously any efforts at damage control that may have been made in the wake of the ABC "ambush" were ineffective; ABC aired their episodes of The Lookout,
one in May and a followup in August, with, it must be noted, a segment featuring Abe (but with no mention of Loony or Wink). I think that most journalists who have had any interaction with Loony or Wink, particularly Loony, can sense that showcasing them as sources would not be the best move, credibility-wise, for any news media outlet. (Peter did give a "press conference" after one of Katie's hearings, and some of the Chicago journos used some quotes from him, but that's about the extent of Peter's front-and-center exposure in this saga. I hear that some of the Chi-town journos think he is a little sleazy.)

The one major point that Loony, Peter, and Abe were and are correct about, of course, is that Trudeau is a scammer and GIN is a scam, which I've been saying for years. Where they are concerned it may be a pot-and-kettle situation, but they are correct about that one point and yes, they (particularly Abe) have earned themselves some media coverage for criticizing GIN and Katie.
I did find it interesting that Katie's fans talk about him taking the "high road" when it comes to dealing with his detractors, when his emails indicate that he so clearly did not want to take the high road. It's worthy of note, I think, that this is the way that most Scamworld gurus handle their critics, when ignoring them does not work: by trying to discredit them. Loony Coldwell has tried that with all of his critics, including me, of course -- this being just one example. In this case, Loony was totally making up lies about me (major fail in the discrediting effort), whereas if Katie's guys had wanted to discredit Loony and Wink and Abe, they would have had some legit info on which to draw. But Katie's own lack of credibility was kind of an issue, to say the least, and ABC had enough goods on him to neutralize any efforts to discredit sources. They obviously did their own research and digging.

And so the saga continues, with no neat and tidy endings in sight.


UPDATE 23 December 2013:
Perry Kiraly sent out another update today (actually the update is dated December 20, but the email has today's date). Apparently, after discussion with one of his Shimkos and with other GIN members, he has changed his tune about the receiver and now agrees with those who feel the receiver is interfering with and destroying GIN. The receiver has bad vibes and it's ruining the club, I tell you... ruining it! Here's a sample of what Perry wrote in his email:

Exposure to the Receiver's vibration is changing the vibration of our club and a few of the members have already succumbed. The recent claim of the Receiver of being assisted by members of the club (whom the Receiver refuses to identify and plans to make an advisory board of), is an ominous signal that such is occurring.  Are these members suffering from Stockholm syndrome?  Maybe, but it is sure that the presence of the Receiver and his minions are the culprits.
More details to come.


Other relevant Whirled links about MLMs and pyramids:
Out of this Whirled...
Here's more information about the difference between a "legitimate" MLM and an illegal pyramid scheme. Many activists argue that there really is little difference when it comes to results, because all MLMs are structured so that only the top few people ever make any significant money -- and they do so at the expense of hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file members.
http://www.dsa.org/ethics/internalconsumptionwhitepaper.pdf

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kevin Trudeau's McMiracle (and a few mundane matters too)

[Updates/additions are in gold text.
~ CC, 20 December 2013]

 

Dear Ones, I have astounding news for you, a beautiful gift for this Season of Miracles. Jailed serial scammer Kevin Trudeau has experienced a True Spiritual Miracle. Actually he experienced it last month, before the official onset of the Season of Miracles, but Kevin has always been ahead of his time. He is only now revealing the Miracle to us, and it is so earth-shattering that my hands are shaking as I type this.

I learned about the Miracle from Katie's long-time cohort (as in, ex-girlfriend, past co-defendant and current business partner) Janine Nubani Contursi, who reportedly is writing those schlocky jailhouse posts on Facebook, the first one of which appeared a month ago. Through Janine, Katie has been keeping us apprised of the marvelous time he is having on his big adventure in the clink. And today -- December 19 -- Janine-as-Kevin revealed to a waiting world that the REAL reason he didn't testify on his own behalf during his criminal trial last month, a decision that was apparently made without notifying the court in advance (thus earning the ire of the presiding judge, Ronald Guzman), was that he had a Truly Miraculous Experience. He was going to testify, truly he was, but then, oh my goodness, the night before he was to take the stand, he had a vision... or a visitation... or something (he and Janine are still working on their story, and Janine will share it in future seminars).

The truth is that we simply don't know the deets yet. They will, presumably, be revealed in the fullness of time. But as far as I'm concerned, if Katie said it was a Miracle, that's good enough for me! A pox on all you doubters and naysayers who thought that the decision not to testify was due to Katie having spun such a web of lies over the years that, once in the witness box, he would have ended up either perjuring himself or incriminating himself. Now we know better. Oh, ye of little faith...

You can see for yourself in the pic above, or in the one below, the latter of which includes a fervently supportive comment from Neo-stinker
Mike Ginther. Mike's is one of 65 comments at the time the screen shot was made (click to enlarge).



I mentioned Mike Ginther in passing a couple of years ago on my first Neo-stink post; scroll down to the subhead, "The heady smell of bromance in the air." Today, Mike says he looks forward to sharing fine cigars on a distant beach with his Katie, sometime on the other side of all of Katie's troubles. It may be a long way to that other side, Mike, a slow-forward rather than a fast-forward. Just saying.

For now, it seems clear that Janine, acting on behalf of Saint Kevin, is going to milk that McMiracle for all it's worth. For those of you who can get to it,
here's the permalink on Facebook.

Some of us have been speculating about this ever since
the jailhouse crock first began oozing out of the MCC and on to Facebook. It seems painfully obvious that Katie's next planned scam will be a tad more spiritual -- or even downright religious -- than his previous scams. He's been making noise in that direction since the early days of that behind-the-bars blather. One former GINsider tells me that some time ago, in pre-jail, pre-conviction days, Katie confided that his next big step is... wait for it... Evangelism. Oh, goody. No offense intended to folks of faith, but I think we all know that evangelism and scamming are a match made in.... well, you know.

On the other hand, Katie could have had an altogether more mundane type of evangelism in mind, such as evangelism marketing. But I gathered that from the context of the conversation, the ex-GINsider figured it was the more Godly type that Katie had in mind.

So now we have clearer hints of Katie's next step. Jail is a perfect place to hone one's phony conversion. Frankly, that whole finding-the-Lord-in-the-lockup theme is kind of overdone, but it seems that some people never tire of it.

In a Facebook discussion about this newest Wondrous Thing, Kevin's brother Bob wrote that he remembers years ago hearing how Katie tried to get minister creds "so he could get on TV and have us all praise the Lord with a little green." Bob noted that this was about the same time Katie became pals with televangelists Jim and the late Tammy Faye Bakker, formerly of PTL (Praise The Lord) fame/infamy. Years after her 1992 split with Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye appeared in a 2005 Natural Cures infomercial with Katie. The infomercial was nailed by the New York State Consumer Protection Board for, among other things, giving the false impression that Tammy Faye (who eventually died of cancer) opposed chemo in favor of the "natural cures" in Trudeau's book. But one of Tammy's reps said that wasn't true and that she was starting chemo again at the time.

As for Jimbo, he's still going strong at the age of 73, though he has had his share of troubles --
financial and sex scandals, as well as more than his share of resulting legal problems (some of which may sound awfully familiar to those who have followed Katie's troubles). He spent time in prison but is out fleecing his flock once again, though he's also permanently indebted to the IRS.

And as for Katie, if he has truly been interested for any length of time in that particular career pathology...um...path, I don't know why he didn't go for it years ago. Getting minister creds is easy -- even I am an ordained minister, and I'm an agnostic! -- and getting on TV has always been easy for Kevin too. He could have started a church and probably have acquired and retained nonprofit/tax-exempt status, and possibly have avoided a lot of government scrutiny. On the other hand, he may not have been able to restrain himself from the very same excesses that led to Jim Bakker's downfall.

In any case, perhaps he is trying to make up for lost time now. But it may be too little, too late. He and Janine are probably going to have to cook up a very elaborate and compelling miracle story in order to gain a significant new following. But he does still have a very loyal fan base who would probably embrace him even if he came out as a worshiper of Satan.

My big question is whether his McMiracle will be Christian based or more New-Agey like Abraham Hicks (another Whirled favorite, whose works were on Katie's Global Information Network (GIN) reading list). The former GINsider speculated that a Christian angle would be a possibility, considering the fact that so many GIN members were Christians. And indeed, there's a huge audience for Christian e-scam-gelism, particularly if it is prosperity-based -- as in, "The Lord wants you to be wealthy! Give to our ministry and we will show you the way!" (Though it must be said that in more recent years,
Jim Bakker has renounced his own "prosperity theology" and even wrote a book about how wrong he was. He came to that conclusion in... you guessed it!... prison.)

But if Katie gets TOO dogmatically or self-righteously Christian, he risks alienating his New-Wage/McSpirituality fan base, which is also significant. I think he needs to test-market several different miracle stories and see which one sticks. Maybe his nearly lifelong buddy Fred Van Liew, who I understand has experience with demons, can help out.


* * * * *

Meanwhile, back in the mundane realms, there's more from Katie's ongoing civil case. First, there's another status report from the court-appointed receiver: Document 805-0, dated December 17, 2013, plus 13 exhibits. This was one of the items on the docket for the civil court hearing today, December 19.
Here's a link for you. I'll get the newest docs that were generated by today's paper shuffling session when they're available.

What seems clear is that Katie is still begging the judge for his freedom.
Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner wrote of the December 19 hearing:
Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, the normally dapper Trudeau implored [Judge Robert] Gettleman to relent, saying that keeping him locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center isn’t going to change the fact that there is no more money to disclose.

“I sit there back at MCC with nothing to do because I don’t know what to do,” Trudeau said. “If you could just tell me what it is.”
Of course this is completely incongruous with Katie Janine's Facebook posts, including this December 20 post that describes how Katie is earnestly trying to help the other inmates better themselves, and also reveals that he is plugging into some mysterious "field."



Perhaps he is wandering through a Chopra-esque "field of all possibilities." Or maybe he is picking weeds from one of Rupert Sheldrake's morphic fields. Whatever they are, it seems that these fields are particularly strong on the "inside" and Katie just couldn't get to 'em when he was a free man, smoking his fine cee-gars, tooling around in his leased Bentley, and scarfing down expensive steaks. In any case, as my friend Julie Daniel said, perhaps his fans should stop rallying for his release and just let him stay in the cage and do his fieldwork.

Notwithstanding those who are rallying for his freedom, including Katie himself, the judge seems inclined to let Katie stay in his MCC study hall till he coughs up more info about his hidden overseas assets. According to the Chicago Trib piece linked to above, Judge Gettleman said to Katie, “If you think you can wait this out, or wait me out…I guess I could reach a point where I give up, but I haven’t reached that point yet." So perhaps the issue of Katie's continued incarceration over the civil case (the one involving the $37.6 million fine) has just come down to being a matter of who blinks first.



There's nothing particularly surprising in the aforementioned December 17 receiver's report, in which the receiver basically states that even though Trudeau has made some half-hearted efforts to comply with requests for information about his assets, the receiver knows very well that Trudeau is not really telling everything he knows. They are also trying to squeeze info out of his cohorts -- such as Lee Kenny, who is in the UK most of the time. Kenny has been cooperating to a limited degree but hasn't given them all of the information they have requested. Accordingly, the receiver says that since Katie hasn't made any material change regarding their requests, at least not that they are aware of, he belongs in jail for now.

But Katie apparently doesn't care, since he is being so blessed by being behind bars. As Janine keeps telling us, he consciously created and chose this route, putting him in the category of Jesus H. Mandela Gandhi-Chavez and all of the great ones. In light of that I wonder if he'll just have his lawyers cancel that whole motion for acquittal in re his criminal case. That's the case that, depending upon the court's decision, could result in a super-long prison sentence for Katie. By the way, according to a December 11 docket entry, the February 6 sentencing date has been stricken, and the parties were to contact the Courtroom Deputy to reschedule. I don't know if they'll end up scheduling the sentencing before or after February 6, but at least Katie won't have to spend his birthday in the courtroom.

As for the aforementioned Lee Kenny, it seems that he is the worst-kept seekrit behind the ongoing scams. I sense that he will not be visiting the US any time soon, at least not voluntarily. He did, however, recently visit former GIN Platinum affiliate and recently-appointed Omnia Society faculty member Matthew LoCicero, aka "Bangkok Matthew, in Thailand while on a layover during a trip to Australia. Someone pointed out to me that Lee's Facebook posts indicate he was only in Oz for about 24 hours and that it seems an awfully long way to go for such a short visit. Maybe Lee wanted to visit some of his and Katie's hidden assets Down Under.

In any case, it appears that as Katie continues to refuse to cooperate, Lee is not being totally forthcoming either (to say the least). While Katie taps into magickal fields at the MCC and spends his spare time whining to the judge to let him out, Lee remains free to continue to build the scampire. Among other things he is reportedly making money hand over fist with his and Kevin's $997.00 baccarat scam, which is being promoted (though not sold) through the Natural Cures web site... but that's another story, and not part of the latest court docs. (As discussed on this Whirled previously, according to information in Trudeau's former CFO Michael Dow's deposition this past May, Kenny "bought" Natural Cures from Kevin for a mere $100,000.)
Click to enlarge.
Despite Katie's claims that he has done the math that proves the baccarat system works for just about anyone, resulting in a generous, effortless, and steady income, several folks I've corresponded with have done the math proving that it's a losing system. I know, I was as shocked as you are. Another dream bites the dust.

For now, let me just say that more than one person has pointed out what is apparently a joke between Katie and Lee: the fact that Lee's and Katie's company,
Future Transactions Company Limited, a company registered in the UK, has the acronym of... FTC. Now, if THAT'S not thumbing your nose at the gummit, I don't know what is.

In related news, the Intervenors who joined the KT civil case recently are still trying to get the court, the receiver, and the FTC to come to some sort of agreement with them so they can legally take the reins and turn GIN into a more respectable and legal scam. Lead Intervenor Perry Kiraly of Ohio has been sending out semi-regular updates, this December 17 missive being his latest. In that update he discusses an email sent out last week by the receiver, in which the receiver admonished GIN members who are thinking of holding off on paying dues to stop "interfering" with the receiver's duty to stabilize GIN. That's probably worth a whole other blog post, which I may or may not get around to doing really soon, since there's so much going on, and so much information flying around. [NOTE: More info became available about this with the release of new court documents late on Friday, December 20. More about that in the next blog post. For now, here is a direct link to those documents. ~CC] By the the way, it appears that two GIN speakers, good ol' Ed Foreman and his lovely bidness partner Earlene Vining, are supporting the Intervenors' efforts (they recently donated a thousand bucks to the cause, according to Perry Kiraly's update).

Click to enlarge.

The road goes on forever, and the scamming never ends. Or, in other words: No neat and tidy endings. I'll have a lot more in the near future, but for now, I must get back to the paying work, and then I'm going to throw some random Christmas decorations around the house,
in the parts where the cats don't live, to make it marginally more festive for the upcoming Big Day. So until next time, keep your eyes open for McMiracles. They are all around us.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tin Promises: How MLMs Can Tear Lives Apart, Part 2 of 2


This is the conclusion of "Roger Willco's" story about his life on the fringes of multi-level marketing (MLM) culture. If you haven't read
Part 1 of this story, I suggest you do so first.

Sometimes, involvement with MLM -- and the self-help/motivational/LGAT (Large Group Awareness Training) culture that both supports and is supported by MLM -- can have tragic consequences. More than finances and relationships can be decimated; sometimes, on occasion, lives can be lost. In all fairness it is not a common occurrence, but it happens enough to be noteworthy...although even one occurrence would be too much.

We've seen tragic extremes in recent years with selfish-help guru and star of
The Secret James Arthur Ray (who has been covered more than once
on this blog and, in much more detail, on Salty Droid's blog). And tragedies have occurred with lesser-known gurus and LGATS as well, the link in this sentence being just one example.

Disastrous consequences have been a part of LGATs ever there have been LGATs. Group such as est (later The Forum, then Landmark Forum/Landmark Education, now Landmark Worldwide) have had their share of fatalities and injuries over the years, although one has to be careful how one frames these incidents,
since Landmark, somewhat like Scientology, is notoriously litigious. The 70s-style "encounter groups" that were held in venues such as Esalen also spawned their share of tragic tales. One problem then as now has been that egregiously under-qualified "leaders" have been allowed to guide vulnerable participants through grueling emotional processes, sometimes leading to traumas or even psychotic episodes that the "leaders" have been utterly unequipped to handle.

Sadly, most people don't see or acknowledge the potentially dangerous side of LGAT culture or MLMs, any more than they see or acknowledge the cultish insidiousness that Roger documented so well in Part 1 of this narrative. When tragedy strikes, some will blame the victim, and others will rationalize the incident as an aberration, perhaps an unavoidable one.

I am impressed by Roger's even-handed treatment of the story below. He blames neither LGAT nor MLM, and certainly does not blame the victim or the victim's loved ones. He acknowledges the victim's mental illness and does not blame any external factors for that illness. At the same time he is forthright about what he sees as the roles that LGAT and MLM may have played in the tragedy.

It was difficult for Roger to write this story; he is still processing it, still trying to make sense of it. I am grateful to him for allowing me to share the story here.

I am also grateful to Roger for wrapping up his narrative by offering some solid pointers on how you can protect yourself from well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) people in your life who may be earnestly offering you the next great opportunity to finally live the life of your dreams. It is Roger's hope -- and mine as well -- that reading his story can help you see that those golden promises these people use to lure you are all too often forged of tin. And sometimes things made of tin have sharp edges and can hurt you.

One more point, since this has been a frequent topic on this Whirled of late: If you've recently been separated, either willingly or unwillingly, from serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's Global Information Network (GIN) MLM -- which was suspended on November 30, 2013 -- and you are now even remotely tempted by the siren song of ex-GIN principals who are offering you still more golden promises (in the form of, say, a chance to get in on a private phone call about The Next Big Thing), please make it a point to read this story, and Part 1, again. And then read it again, if you have to. It will be a far better use of your time than listening in on that phone call.

Epilogue: Tin Promises
Turn Deadly

by "Roger Willco"
© 2014, all rights reserved • Used by permission
The MLM culture I experienced included a symbiosis with self-help and prosperity cults, which seem to orbit its periphery in order to exploit a population made vulnerable by its already-suspended ability to think critically. The MLM events I attended often featured motivational speakers who encouraged listeners’ involvement in these cults. The pursuit of material wealth was central to MLM’s message; and high-level distributors pushed neophytes to read books and listen to audio programs authored by cult gurus. The relationship between MLM and cults seems to be a vicious circle. MLM promotes self-help and prosperity cults, which in turn, promote MLM. Some critics refer to this unholy syndicate as "The Big Sick Machine".

In our later years together, Danni had become so consumed by her appetite for self-help and prosperity-focused books and CDs that she accumulated sizable libraries of them. Always a student, Danni did her hour-long morning fitness workouts to the accompaniment of her CDs; and our hours on the road were serenaded by her chosen gurus’ voices droning nonstop over the car stereo. Danni called it our "university on wheels"; but for me, it was a disappointing change from her delightful and well-informed commentary about the natural and man-made wonders she noticed on our travels in happier times. I’d always been fascinated by Danni’s ability to identify any crop growing in a field a half mile away, describe its growing season and the weather conditions necessary for it to flourish. When it came to nature, she was a virtual encyclopedia.

Seminar madness
Four years into our relationship, Danni decided to participate in a "personal-growth" seminar offered in a distant city by an organization her MLM associates heartily endorsed. In late-night phone calls to me while she was away, she recounted a highly regimented schedule from early morning until at least nine o’clock at night and sometimes until eleven; and that regimentation extended to meals and bathroom breaks. Much of the curriculum Danni described made sense. However, I found the absence of trained and licensed psychological counselors at the exercises involving deep personal disclosure and other challenges to emotional vulnerability disturbing.

I was also concerned about the virtual deification of the program’s leader among his followers. It was the same sort of reverence MLM participants seemed to have for their companies’ founders. After her return home, Danni began to receive CDs from the seminar’s producers through the mail. They consisted of motivational messages from their guru and his inspirational interviews with various prosperity gurus and MLM leaders.

Danni went on to attend three more seminars in the next twelve months to complete the series. Again, she described legitimate fear challenges that made sense to me. However, the schedules were highly regimented from early morning until late at night, just as they were in the first seminar.

Shortly before she attended her final seminar, I went with Danni to one of the program’s half-day introductory workshops. Throughout the workshop, I recognized the same sort of psychosocial deprogramming I’d experienced twenty years earlier in basic training at the beginning of my hitch in the U.S. Army. I saw firsthand the indignity imposed on attendees by an authoritarian facilitator—a tall, fit and stern-faced young man I’ll call "Adolf". Wearing a well-tailored grey suit and marching purposefully up and down the center aisle, he barked orders to his assistants and to us. The only things missing were shades and a flat-brimmed campaign hat tilted forward atop his shock of blond hair. I can’t recall that he cracked a smile at any point in the workshop—all in all, not my idea of a fun time.

At the end of the workshop, Adolf gave a recruiting pitch for the first seminar, complete with the fee "discounting" that is so familiar to anyone who’s experienced similar workshops. I don’t remember the claimed dollar value of the seminar; but it was in the thousands. By the time Adolf finished his spiel—"This course is worth $xx,xxx. How many of you would sign up today if we offered you this outstanding opportunity for $x,xxx?" —the fee had "dropped" to $500. Were I to observe a similar workshop today, I would recognize many clues that would suggest the organization was a cult. However, I hadn’t yet learned enough to realize I had briefly stepped into the cult netherworld.

I understand that the necessary purpose of military training is to ultimately reprogram new soldiers to follow orders without question, to overcome fear, and to make it possible for them to participate in the horrors of combat without intolerable guilt. However, I wondered what reprogramming participants in this series of self-help seminars underwent. Aaaah . . . but that was a secret.

Danni came away happy with the overall experience and with noticeable changes in her attitude—some that seemed good and some not so good. She was more self-confident; but she had also become recalcitrant in her refusal to accept any information coming from outside her cultural bubble or which countered her MLM-prescribed biases. Danni’s ability to think critically about anything coming from inside her bubble seemed to be completely wiped out. One positive was her inclusion in an accountability group, established in the first seminar. The group initially conferred by phone every week. However, that fell apart after just a few conferences. Regrettably, Danni was also $12,000 poorer for her adventure.

Start them young...
A few months later, Danni’s 17-year old son, Ethan, signed up for the first in the cult’s series of seminars—this particular one tailored to adolescents. He too came away happy that he’d attended and convinced he’d gained a lot from it.

Fast-forward four years. Ethan was doing exceptionally well in college. He was brilliant, talented, athletic, highly motivated and self-directed—much like his mother. Amid all this good news, came one piece of bad news. Ethan had begun exhibiting episodes of bizarre behavior that prompted his dad to have a psychiatrist examine him. The doctor’s diagnosis was "high-functioning schizophrenia". Ethan was never able to accept his disease; and tragically, he declined treatment.

Note: I don’t for a moment think that his years-earlier encounter with the self-help cult was the cause of his illness. Schizophrenia is an organic disease of the physical brain, not an environmentally induced disease of the intangible mind.
It wasn’t long after Ethan’s struggles came to light that Danni and I terminated our relationship. We had stayed in touch; and a year later, we were working to salvage our long-standing friendship from the wreckage of our failed relationship. I had relocated to a nearby community where I was rebuilding my life. My anger had resolved into a determination to help others avoid the devastation I’d seen victims of that industry suffer; and my motivation had turned from vengeance to compassion.

One evening, while relaxing after a day of writing and online research, I received a call from Danni. In a trembling voice, barely understandable through her agonized sobs, she told me what she could of a story that broke my heart.

The prior weekend, Ethan had been invited to help staff an initial mini-seminar sponsored by the same cult he was confident had helped him so much in the past. It was held several hundred miles from where Ethan lived, so he stayed in the local sponsor’s home.

Sometime mid-seminar Ethan phoned Danni, upset that he’d violated his obligation to participants by sharing too much about his own personal struggles. In subsequent calls to her over the next several days, he told her that he was [obsessively] studying the cult-founder’s written manifesto. Apparently, no facilitator, seminar staffer or his host realized that Ethan was in emotional crisis. They simply didn’t have the knowledge or expertise to recognize it.

After the seminar, Ethan returned to his home near the university he attended. By midweek, his continuing bizarre behavior had alarmed his long-time girlfriend. She phoned her dad, who owned the house in which they were living; and he came over to tell Ethan he’d have to find someplace else to live until he got some psychiatric help.

Danni received another call from Ethan that morning in which he told her of his unraveling situation. She was out of town for the day; but she reassured him with an invitation to move in with her until his circumstances stabilized. That call would be Ethan’s final communication with anyone in his family.

An hour later, a friend of Danni’s, Joanne, arrived at Danni’s house to feed her menagerie of birds and cats. As she let herself into the house, she noticed Ethan sitting on the front room sofa, reading aloud from the cult guru’s manifesto as if delivering a sermon. As a puzzled Joanne wished him a good morning, Ethan, without acknowledging her greeting or saying another word, set his book on the coffee table, pulled a small-caliber revolver from his backpack and pressed its muzzle against the right side of his upper neck. Joanne, now panicked, ran back outside and to the house next door to call 9-1-1. At almost the same moment the spring-loaded screen door slammed shut with a bang behind her, she thought she also heard a second report that sounded to her like it could have been a gunshot.

Minutes later, police found Ethan, slumped onto his left side on his mother’s sofa, his legs askew and dangling to the floor. He wasn’t breathing. His book was open, face down on the coffee table—almost as if he had intended to pick it up again, and his handgun lay beside him on the sofa cushion near his empty right hand. The officers found a nearly bloodless gunshot wound just below and behind his right ear. His handgun’s deadly missile had obliterated his brainstem and Ethan had died instantly.

So ended the life of an amazing young man, full of promise, full of care for everyone whose life he touched, and loved by all who knew him. Hundreds attended Ethan’s memorial, listening to his grieving friends and brothers tearfully recount his delightful personality, his intellectual curiosity, his openness, his honesty and his ability to think outside the box.

Months later, Ethan’s closest friends and family gathered once more—this time aboard a borrowed yacht. They silently sailed on a gentle breeze into the deep waters of the ocean Ethan so loved. They ceremoniously scattered his ashes on the water’s surface, consigning his physical remains to the sea and locking their memories of him forever in their hearts.

Questions left unanswered
Ethan left no written communication explaining his decision to end his life. As is always the case, his family and friends sought some—any—explanation for his unexpected passing. Estranged from Ethan’s family and alone with my grief, I began my own analysis of what might have led to Ethan’s decision to leave a life that had become for him, too painful, for a more peaceful place.

My opinion is heavily colored by emotion and should by no means be considered anything more than that of an acknowledged layman. I’m just someone with a penchant for logic who loved Ethan and is trying to understand why he died. However the circumstances involved, from the beginning of my life with Danni to the end of Ethan’s life, lead me to conclusions which more than any other, make sense to me.

There’s no question that Ethan’s untreated psychosis was the ultimate cause of his suicide. That fact cannot be obscured by the other circumstances surrounding his death. There was nothing his family or friends could have done to prevent it. Ethan’s choice to refuse treatment was his alone. This written story is available to Danni; and if she ever reads it, I want her to understand that this reality is incontrovertible. No person on this planet—not even Danni—had the power to change Ethan’s tortured thought processes without his permission.

Beyond that all-important recognition, it seems apparent that Ethan’s final psychotic episode began while he was staffing a self-help seminar the weekend before his death. In my opinion, Ethan’s cult-related activities’ proximity in space and time to his suicide point to its contribution—at least as a triggering factor.

None of us who knew and loved Ethan could have predicted his life would end this way. Maybe he didn’t really have to die. Maybe Ethan died, in part, because of the dangerous mind-bending stress that self-help cults impose on their followers without appropriate knowledge and expertise.

The unacknowledged and deniable link between MLM and self-help cults isn’t intuitively recognizable . . . it all seemed harmless enough to me at the time. However, there’s an observable and documented connection.

MLM is allowed to flourish because agencies of our state and federal governments charged with protecting the public from fraud have abdicated their responsibility to understand and counter the economic and social tolls the MLM industry exacts from its victims. Because it flourishes, mind-control cults do as well.

Our government regulators fail to act because they are in reality us; and we as a nationwide community, choose to tolerate these predatory enterprises. Until we stop tolerating their malignant abuses, the MLM industry will continue to feed pernicious mind-control cults with ready victims. One thing is certain: The consequences of our tolerance reach far beyond the economic and social costs to victimized members of our community. The chain of contributing factors to Ethan’s suicide extends all the way to us—Americans whose love of freedom sometimes leads us to forget our responsibility to prevent exploitive abuses of our blood-bought liberty.

That is why I’m making this very private story public. It’s a story my conscience won’t permit me to leave untold. I’ve changed the names of victims, kept undisclosed the identity of perpetrators and altered details of Ethan’s suicide to protect the privacy of innocent people who’ve already suffered far too much.

However, this story couldn’t be more real. The tragedy of what happened to Ethan and Danni, and the pain Ethan’s family and friends suffered at having to tell him "goodbye" much too soon doesn’t have to be a complete and total waste. If their story can help persuade a reluctant public to put an end to the MLM deceptions that all too often entice our innocent neighbors onto a disastrous path, at least some good can come of it.

The path begins with glittering golden promises. However, it’s also a path which at least 99% of the time leads to financial loss . . . a path which if followed farther, leads to financial and social ruin, revealing the golden promises of MLM as counterfeits made of tin . . . and a path which can end in devastation. In Ethan’s case, those tin promises were ultimately deadly. Maybe Ethan didn’t have to die . . . but he did; and from where I stand, it looks very much like we, as an unenlightened community, let it happen.

Peace … Out [Ethan’s favorite sign-off]

"It’s not that we can’t do something about it . . . it’s just that we haven’t." — Salty Droid


Protect Yourself: How Being Tough
Can Keep You Out of Trouble
As long as "caveat emptor" remains the public’s only effective protection from business-opportunity fraud, there is one protective solution available to individual consumers. It’s amazingly simple and fair to all concerned, it’s perfectly legal and it’s part of the due diligence aspiring entrepreneurs in any other setting exercise when contemplating a business proposition.

Here’s the technique: Simply state to the seller at the outset of their pitch that as a condition of doing business with them, you need to see a true copy of their most recent income tax filing for the business into which they’re inviting your participation. If their tax form—usually an IRS schedule C—showing their net (taxable) profit—line 31on Schedule C—is positive, the proposition may merit further investigation, although you’re not necessarily safe. If on the other hand, line 31 indicates a net loss, you’d be wise to assume that you too would sustain net losses in the same business.

Unquestionably, this is a difficult demand to make on a friend or family member—the persons most likely to offer you a home-based business opportunity. They will probably tell you in all honesty that they haven’t been in business long enough to make a profit. That’s OK. Just ask to see the same documentation from the person directly above them in their upline. Keep going until someone up the line is able to produce a qualified document. Only three in every thousand MLM distributors make a net profit; and chances are, you’ll get a flat refusal before you get to someone who can show bona fide proof of profitability.

Deceptive business-opportunity sellers will make up all kinds of excuses for refusing to cooperate. Nevertheless, if you are persistent in your demand for valid proof of profitability, their excuses won’t sway you; and malevolent sellers will look for another mark somewhere else.

Cautions:

  1. Don’t accept substitute documentation. The penalties for filing fraudulent income tax returns are sufficient to give you some assurance of a filed IRS document’s legitimacy.
  2. If at any point you’re told that having a home-based business allows them (and you) a way to write off ANY non-business related expenses, walk away. The person who’s giving you that information is committing tax fraud. Would you really want to be in business with someone of that ilk?
  3. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into a conversation with anyone in your prospector’s upline until your demand is met and you’ve actually seen the document. Most often, that third person has specific expertise in deceptive tactics that will dissuade you from true due diligence so they can close the sale. Don’t allow it under any circumstances!
  4. Before you sign anything, require your prospector to provide you with a certified photocopy of the IRS document they show you as proof of their business’ profitability that you can retain for your records. This gives you written documentation of fraud if it turns out your prospector sold you a bill of goods.
  5. Finally, don’t be drawn into ANY proposition that promises quick or easy material wealth, a fast track to emotional health or to success in any aspect of life. It’s safest to assume those propositions are fraudulent and predatory. I can’t say there are no exceptions. However, I can honestly say that I’ve never encountered one.


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