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, April 10, 2012

Pierce-ing the veil of lies: getting even with Stephen

As reported on the Salty Droid blog last week, there is a class action lawsuit brewing against Internet marketer Stephen Pierce. And it's about time. For far too long, too many "success" gurus have been peddling their frauducts and flopportunities online and on TV infomercials, persuading thousands of vulnerable and desperate people to fork over millions of dollars that most really cannot afford to spare. Once they realize that they've squandered time, money, and mental and emotional energy for squat, most of these unhappy customers have little legal recourse. Some are too ashamed or perhaps just too stubborn to admit they've been taken, so they swallow it, or they turn a blind eye and order more frauducts, hoping the next one will be the key to the realization of their dreams. Others may own up to being swindled, but they simply don't have the resources to pursue legal remedy.


Now, with this developing case against Stephen Pierce, we have what could be a notable exception to this sad scenario. It may even inspire other similar actions against serial scammers -- at least those who haven't made themselves sue-resistant by setting up their scams on obscure offshore isles. But perhaps even those hucksters will get their due, someday.

First things first, though. Says Salty, regarding the lawsuit against Stephen Pierce:

Dallas Attorney Alan Rosenberg is preparing to bring a lawsuit against Stephen Pierce International {and affiliated companies and individuals} for the victims of SPI’s various scams :: fake opportunities :: and boiler room soul crushings. Alan and his firm :: Chamblee, Ryan, Kershaw & Anderson, P.C. :: have agreed to take the case on a contingency basis … which is super awesome of them because people who’ve just been scammed for insane monies don’t tend to have lots of cash lying around.

If you’ve been scammed by Stephen Pierce {or a phone room calling in his name} you should consider being a part of this suit. Not just for yourself :: or for the money {which you deserve to get back} … but because it needs to be done for the greater f-----g good. Because it’s not going to stop unless we all step up and do our part to stop it.

Contact Alan Rosenberg at this email address for more details about getting involved in the suit.

Why Stephen Pierce? After all, on one level, this founder of the defunct Black America Online (it seemed like such a good idea at the time!), and co-founder of the hustledork clearinghouse SANG, is just one of hundreds of smarmy pitch men (and women, though women are a very small minority in the upper echelons of this dodgy industry). Although by many reports Stephen Pierce treats his family, friends, and employees shamefully, there is still nothing particularly exceptional in that; lots of egomaniacs and sociopaths are equally reprehensible. But Stephen Pierce has made himself stand out in a very big way. Writes Salty:

...he decided he needed to hire the classless act attorneys at Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease to sue everyone in sight … mostly people he’d already made to suffer … mostly people who can’t afford to hire an attorney. That awesome move was enough to bump Stephen Pierce up to number one on my list … so well done there champ.

As my pal Marty at the Articulayers blog writes:

According to Salty’s investigating, Pierce not only has scammed tens-to-hundreds-of-thousands from people buying biz-ops, but he also flexes his lawyer on them, and sues people all the time. It doesn’t take a genius to do a little web searching and find tons of complaints on Pierce – but these are common in the stinking, scuzzy world of biz-op Internet marketing. What is not common is to sue people as much as Pierce does, and this is pretty unappealing by most standards. It’s like stealing the wheels off wheelchairs, or raping the wounded.

Couldn't have put it better myself.

And by the way, I've addressed this point before but will go there again for the benefit of any new readers. Some people are put off by the "salty" language on Salty Droid's blog. Some are confused by his sometimes cryptic writing style, and they end up scratching their heads and wondering what the heck he's talking about. (Following the many links he provides would actually clear up much of that puzzlement, but some folks don't bother.) One person whose work I respect even warned me that by quoting Salty so much on my own blog, I might be damaging my own credibility (such as it is). And some simply dismiss Salty as a hater hiding behind a fake-robot persona.

Well, he is a hater -- of scams. But he's hardly hiding. As I am doing with my Cosmic Connie persona, Salty is hiding in plain sight. He reveals his real name -- Jason Jones -- and other personal information right there on his site. And while some of the profanity might make you flinch, I urge you to stick around for the real information about real scams and scammers. As I've said many times before, I believe that Salty-aka-Jason's heart is in the right place, and so is his head. I am far from the only person who thinks he's doing good, especially with his latest series about Stephen Pierce -- a series that is still ongoing. If you really want to get up to speed about Stephen Pierce, follow this link. And don't worry; you'll get used to the language. Just try to put it in perspective: A few cuss words here and there aren't nearly as bad as the real harm that is being done by the folks being cussed.

* * * * *

It wasn't too long ago that, like millions of other people, I'd never even heard of Stephen Pierce. My blog had always focused on those whom I considered to be the higher-profile New-Wage/selfish-help/McSpirituality gurus and some of their minions -- you know, the stars of The Secret, Oprah's darlings, and the like. Reading Salty Droid's blog opened my eyes to other, intimately related, factions of the industries I'd been targeting for many years.

But Stephen Pierce still wasn't really on my radar until I heard from a former employee of his. Without mentioning any names at the time, I wrote a post about that person's experiences a few years ago: http://cosmicconnie.blogspot.com/2009/11/lies-that-blind.html. In retrospect, knowing what I know now, I see that my post barely touched on the atrocious behavior and hypocrisy of Stephen Pierce. My main point in writing it was to bolster my contention that hypocrisy, appalling behavior, and train-wreck personal lives are par for the course with all too many motivational, marketing, and pop-spirituality "stars." The people who make millions telling us how to live our lives are the ones whose own lives are sorry examples.

Now it looks as if Stephen Pierce may really get what's coming to him. Perhaps in the process, some of his colleagues and enablers, such as the notorious Utah-based "coaching" mill and boiler room Prosper Learning, may get a little karm-uppance too. (By the way, here's a recent vid from Prosper, in which they proudly name Stephen Pierce as one of their "partners." It's a segment from my local (Houston TX area) FOX station: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgJIOHDRprg )

The good news is that you can help with the effort to pursue justice for the victims of Stephen Pierce. First off, I'll reiterate what I cited above: If you -- and/or someone you know and care about -- were scammed by Stephen Pierce or anyone representing him or Stephen Pierce International, contact attorney Alan Rosenberg at arosenberg@chambleeryan.com. Even if you were not directly affected, you can help by spreading the word. In Texas, attorneys are not allowed to solicit clients. So it's up to all of us interested lay folk to get the word out.

You can use social media, for example. Tweet about this matter, and write about it on your Facebook status. Of course, you can also blog about it if too you feel so moved. Some of my favorite bloggers and scam fighters have already gotten in on the act, including:

I intend to add other links and resources as I become aware of them. Even now, sites and forums are being built to advance "the cause."

You can also participate in online discussion forums as appropriate, such as this treasure trove of information about Stephen Pierce on RealScam.com: http://www.realscam.com/f11/people-vs-stephen-pierce-1189/

You might also consider writing comments -- again, as appropriate -- in some of the discussions following reviews of Stephen Pierce's work on Amazon. Here's a page for one of his books. But please don't spam. Don't just copy and paste the same comment on dozens of threads, as that doesn't help the cause at all. As Salty noted on a thread on his blog, we have to take the high road -- both legally and morally -- all the way.

But I do urge you to do something. If not for yourself, do it for the thousands of people who feel they have been scammed by Stephen Pierce, those who have been maltreated by him, and those who haven't yet awakened from their fever dream of being led by the hand to unlimited wealth by this blustering blowhard. There's sweet little Mrs. Saunders, for instance, hand-painter of Christmas ornaments, who was still apparently enamored at the time she put this video up in 2010:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Qqz3ufYLNBw#

In the video, there is a very conspicuous cross on the wall behind Mrs. Saunders, which for me just raises the question: WWJD? (Maybe he'd get behind this contemporary effort to throw the moneylenders out of the temple?) I can't help but wonder if Mrs. Saunders has since joined the ranks of the disillusioned. Whether she has or not, however, thousands of unhappy people are decidedly in those ranks, and would like to see a little bit of justice. Here's hoping they get it. As Lynn Edgington of Eagle Research Associates wrote:

We want to wish everyone who has been a victim of Stephen Pierce, and his companies/programs all the success with getting some of your money back through this lawsuit. This attorney firm is not a firm that is interested in “settling” the case. They are trial lawyers, and they relish going to trial. The mere fact they are doing this on contingency is saying they will try this case.

And as Marty at Articulayers put it: "Here’s hoping this suit gets huge, and brings more light to this subject matter – not to mention a little well-earned restitution!"

Yeah, what they said.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Angry Ant said...

Connie:

Lovely coverage - except it made my skin crawl with every mention of Stephen Pierce. Not your fault I know, but this whole subject has been under my skin for the past four years and I am just delighted that you and others like Salty Droid have picked up the ball and run with it.

In March 2008, I purchased a program called the Product Creation Lab (PCL) from Stephen Pierce at a live event in Australia for a total of Aust$20,000 and so far, he has delivered only a minute fraction of the promised program and lots of stalling tactics and outright lies. This year, I began asking for a refund based on the clear gap between what was promised and what was delivered. No response at all so far.

Here is the whole sorry history. Don’t let yourself get caught up in his excuses!

2008 – Purchased the program in March; in June I travelled to Stephen Pierce’s home in Texas to work with him personally for 3 days on developing my product. However, I spoke with Stephen Pierce for no more than 5 minutes on just 2 occasions. After that I got a logo and an audio person added some music to the start and end of a few of my audio recordings.

2009–The company assigned someone named Marie to get my online business ready to launch made another logo. She quit, and I got Chipo who passed me off to Karol who sent some unpublishable junk.

2010– The staff repeatedly asked for information that I have already sent, then Chipo and Karole quit and the new team handed me off to Francis and Duane. I went through all this information again and resent all the previous documents. Francis admitted that my case had indeed been mishandled.

2011– Francis left the company and Todd took over. Later that year, Francis, Todd, and Duane left the company and the staff downsized to almost nothing. I couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone. Finally got through to Stephen Pierce personally (stephen@dtalpha.com), after posting negative comments on one of his web pages. In July he too began failing to meet promised deadlines for an inferior replacement product. By December I gave up on him ever delivering anything so I started asking for a refund.

I have been begging these surfs for service for almost FOUR YEARS so here I am going public everywhere I can.

My story is also headed for the US regulatory authorities, relevant enforcement agencies and anywhere that Stephen Pierce ever plans on speaking in public.

Clearly, I have paid for something that I have not received, nor have I now any reasonable expectation of ever receiving it. Over this time, I have experienced constant emotional stress due to the uncertainty and the doubts over whether my internet business would ever come to life, and whether or not I would receive any outcome from the significant financial investment that I made. This emotional stress and anxiety has taken a heavy toll on my physical health.

That’s my story in abbreviated format. If you have any thoughts of every getting involved with ANY product offered by Stephen Pierce, think long and hard before you do – and pay only for what you receive WHEN YOU RECEIVE IT!

After four years I have had it up to here! I have arranged legal representation to recover both costs and damages. If you have a similar story to mine feel free to contact me at StephenPierceScam.101@gmail.com as you may be able to join my campaign. My attorney may be able to accept more claimants.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 2:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Angry Ant said...

Connie;
Sorry, but i think i forgot to delete my "alternate" email address from my earlier post. No point having two email addresses competing on the one site.;)
Feel free to mod.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 3:34:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences, AA, and no worries about the "competing" email addresses. Blogger makes it kind of a hassle to edit comments and I think yours are fine just as they are.
(Say, maybe your attorney and Mr. Rosenberg could combine their efforts?)

I urge everyone who has not already done so to read the more detailed version of AA's story on the stephenpiercescam.wordpress.com blog.

I find it disgusting, AA, that you only got to spend a few minutes with SP at that event, after traveling all the way from Oz to Texas.

Kinda reminds me of a tale I heard of another New-Wage guru who put on one of those big miracles/manifestation events a few years ago, with himself as the star and focal point, and then he spent most of the weekend drunk in his hotel room.

Or the very well compensated and supremely egotistical senior minister of a New-Thought church who "hosts" lavish cruises to far-off places every year. People pay a lot to be able to hang with him during the event, but he generally sequesters himself and they see very little of him.

But your experience with Stephen Pierce trumps all of that, especially since you put so much money into it with the hopes of starting a legitimate business. SP seems to embody the worst of the worst of New-Wage gurus' behavior. He's everyone's best bud when he's trying to get folks' money, but then he disappears and lets a series of minions handle the riff-raff.

And I apologize for mentioning the name Stephen Pierce so many times in my post, but I was in an SEO frame of mind. :-)

I wish you the best of luck with your action against SP and his company.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Lynndel "Lynn" Edgington said...

If anyone knows of any victims of Stephen Pierce and any of his companies from the UK, please contact me with their information.

I have the opportunity to get a story printed in one of the London papers if there are victims from the UK. I will need their real name(s), and will explain in E-mail why that is needed.

Contact me here: eagleresearchassoc@cox.net.

Thanks,

Lynn

Thursday, April 12, 2012 4:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well said...hopefully he will get what he deserves...karma is a bitch!

Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Lynn: Thank you for providing your information. I'm sure there are some disillusioned souls in the UK who will be glad to participate in this project.

Monday, April 16, 2012 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:17:00 PM: Amen!

Monday, April 16, 2012 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to comment on the continuing expose of Stephen Pierce international and Impulsive Profits, both owned by Texas based internet marketing expert Stephen A. Pierce. The three former customers who complained online about their inability to get either service/product/support or refund were typical.

Apparently, the version of the contact that gives you only 3 days to request a refund fails to mention that you may not receive your log in information or materials for weeks or even months. That gives you time to come to your senses. Forcing the point above will get you on the refund “list”, but getting Stephen Pierce to actually approve the refund and send the money is another hurdle. Former employees say that Stephen Pierce himself has to approve every single refund, refusing to give anyone in his company the authority to do so based on some standard policy or procedure.

Instead he put employees in the awkward position of having to hold back the flood of complaints with excuses and delay tactics. When neither the employee nor the customer can take it any longer, Attorney Kevin Vela got involved. Customers credit Vela with enabling the fraud to continue with his own threats of defamation lawsuits. In fact, Vela tried to get one former customer to commit to informing on former employees in exchange for his refund. If true, that is an extraordinary length to go to for a simple refund when the company didn’t give you a product or service in the first place!

This torture is meted out to consumers who have already had their dreams of internet wealth shattered, their trust destroyed, their patience tried, and their persistence tested to the extreme. Most customers just give up.

I’m sorry,. But that scenario played out dozens maybe hundreds of times does not sound like the working of a legitimate business to me. Making former customers beg can only hurt a company’s reputation and provoke customers to anger and action that they might not otherwise have taken.
Treat too many consumers with this callous disregard, and they will fight back.

Thursday, April 19, 2012 1:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the "Get Motivated" to get ripped off seminar in Lexington KY, October 2011. I too fell prey to Stephen Piece and one of his sidekicks, Corey someone, sales pitches on achieving finance success through their affiliate marketing packages.

After these sales gurus captured my attention, they convinced me that I could become financially successful if I invested in one of their affiliate marketing training packages. I purchased the Platinum package that included unlimited LPG express (I think this is unlimited landing pages) for $6994. Yes, I "purchased" the package at a total cost of $6,994. They forbid you to use the words "purchase" and "cost". You are to refer to the process as "investing in yourself" - "investing in your education." The package I purchased consists of a box of seven CDs,, unlimited landing pages, and attendance at a two-day summit in Utah.

After I listened to one of the CDs, I had questions, so I attempted to contact someone for technical support. I was batted around several times, on several occasions, but was never able to reach anyone who had the expertise to respond to my questions, so I put the CD box aside and tried to ignore the fact I had been the victim of a $6,994 scam. It was $6,994 I did not have. Rather, I placed myself in debt to purchase this package of snake oil.

Looking at this retrospectively, when a company has a full page of disclaimers on the reverse side of the sales receipt, the company likely has had many complaints, but has no intention of returning your money, should you not be satisfied with the package. But, of course, their focus is on getting you to sign the form and sending you on your way. They certainly are not going to sit down and explain that the package is a ripoff and that they have no intention of returning your money when you realize that you have been scammed.

They have called me on a number of occasions, asking me to reserve my spot and confirm my attendance - hotel stay, etc. at one of the upcoming summits in Utah. The next upcoming one is in June. They even asked me if I have any food allergies, in case a meal might have food allergens. Of course, this is not an all-expenses-paid trip, they just want to make sure that you are locked in on attending. My speculation is that it is a sucker count, of sorts. No doubt, they will be peddling some kind of coaching package there - probably to the tune of $10,000.

Anyway, that's my nightmare with Stephen Pierce and the rest of is snake oil peddlers. I am another victim of slick sales tactics, designed to swindle you.

Monday, May 28, 2012 6:47:00 PM  

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