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.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Viva Lost Wages: Sin City becomes GIN City for a weekend

Hey, kids, it's Friday the 13th! Are you feeling lucky? If you're in Las Vegas for serial huckster and convicted felon Kevin Trudeau's GIN Dream Weekend, you are no doubt feeling extraordinarily lucky. But you can't always trust your feelings, and in this case, you'd better not.

On the compellingly toxic and seemingly indestructible tree that yields an endless supply of hucksters, hustledorks, flim-flammers, and fraudsters -- the Tree of Lies, you might call it -- Kevin Trudeau is, I realize, the low-hanging fruit. It scarcely takes any effort at all to find negative information about him; for more than twenty years a string of critics in both the mainstream and not-so-mainstream media have been blasting away at him for his creative methods of parting the trusting masses from their money. He's been in prison (1991-93), he has been fined extraordinary sums, and yet he keeps on churning out the scams. As I've noted many times before, I'm not treading any new ground here. 

And yet, KT and some of his more loyal followers just keep coming up with more imaginative malarkey, and I never cease to be both amused and astounded by the absolute and utter crap that the hopeful masses continue, against all reason and common sense, to believe.

The newest news is that, beginning today, Friday the 13th, and lasting for three fun-filled days, you have a whole new way to lose your money in Sin City: the GIN Dream Weekend in Las Vegas, April 13-15, 2012. 

GIN, or the Global Information Network, is one of KT's most majorly mercenary money grabs. Defenders like to say that he doesn't actually own GIN but is merely a co-founder, along with about thirty other world-class billionaires (who, of course, shall remain anonymous), and he merely acts as the spokesman for this "multi-form company organized in Nevis/St. Kitts." GIN, or so the marketing tall tale goes, is based upon seekrit knowledge that until now was only accessible to princes and presidents and Bilderbergers and Bohemian Grovers and other elites. KT claims to have once been a member of a secret society called The Brotherhood himself (beginning at either the age of 12 or the age of 15, depending upon which version of the tall tale he's telling); they approached him, he says, because they recognized what a rare and gifted soul he was. He says he risked his life when he finally left the society and opted to share The Brotherhood's forbidden information with the public.

He says that some of the other founders of GIN are still members of elite secret societies, which is the only way he can continue to get all of the inside information so he can sell it to GIN members, but which of course also 'splains why he has to keep the other founders' names hidden, because otherwise their fellow society members would shun them or even... gasp... kill them.

And people -- educated grownups, mind you -- BELIEVE this. Since some time in 2009, GIN has been skillfully preying upon the hopes and fears of those who long for financial independence and wealth beyond their wildest imaginings

If you're unfamiliar with GIN and don't want to take time to follow the other links in this paragraph, here's a Squidoo page to get you up to speed quickly.

The GIN Dream Weekend site basically consists of a few teasers about how fabulously exciting the event and its host city are. But in truth it tells nothing about what the event actually is; it only promises that attending will allow you to "Bathe yourself in this high vibration environment that will TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE!" KT and his minions are talking a lot about vibrations these days; you'd think they were '60s era hippies, but really they're still just slogging that old Law of Attraction meme, inspired by Abrascam Hicks and The Secret.

The GIN Dream Weekend site also says that the Dream Weekend is a MAJOR EVENT, and Major Events are must-attends where "decisions are made and lives are changed." I'll just bet they are. The promotional video tells nothing either. And yet... and yet... they're drooling with excitement about it on the Global Information Network Facebook page.

Baccarat bounty...or not
Las Vegas seems like the perfect place for a GIN event, particularly since one of the hooks GIN has been using is the promotion of gambling systems that True-dough claims he has used to make millions for himself over the years. Apparently KT has been pushing this stuff for a while, but I just recently became aware of it a few days ago when I heard from someone who's concerned about a long-time friend who has become deeply involved with GIN. 


The person who wrote to me hadn't really even heard of Kevin True-dough before conversing with this friend and conducting some independent research. I'll share parts of the email, which my correspondent gave me permission to use. The first item of concern was the actual cost of membership:
The $20,000 to get through the GIN [Membership] levels does not include the monthly cruises / Vegas trips / Seminars or additional GIN learning opportunities.
Members pay another $1000 plus transportation and expenses to go to these things and meet the charlatans. Monthly costs for the brainwashed can easily be over 5 grand per month after participating in all the fabulous GIN events.
That's pretty much consistent with what I've heard from others. And here's where the gambling comes in. My correspondent continued:
In addition to this stuff and what you already know, GIN is really trying to bash its most gullible members over the head with their ... Baccarat "money management system." Whatever money they make sending their dopey hoards off to a casino with their last 10 grand is nothing compared to the money these people will lose following [this] gambling system.
That got me doing a little rudimentary research of my own, and I found a mention of baccarat, and wealth through gambling, in a post by a very enthusiastic GIN blogger named David Krueger, who appears to have a major man-crush on True-dough:
In this f-----g amazing installment, Kevin reveals that he has convinced his friend, who has an amazing sytem [sic] for winning at Baccarat, night after night, will be teaching a one time only seminar to GIN members. We are also getting the horse racing sytem [sic] that Kevin himself has used to win millions over the years. Are you kidding, Join GIN now!
Here is a link to the video mentioning the gambling. If you don't want to watch the entire vid -- and I certainly can't blame you because it's one hour you'll never get back -- I'll tell you now that the gambling stuff starts at about 1:07 and continues through about 12:00. It's pretty disgusting.
If you go to the KT Radio Network site, you'll see a list of entries with a "baccarat" tag: http://www.ktradionetwork.com/tag/baccarat/
Granted, the KT vid I linked to above was posted over a year ago, and at that time True-dough said that the baccarat training he was planning to offer, thanks to the good graces of a baccarat-savvy buddy of his named Don, was only going to be a one-time deal. Of course, as I noted to my correspondent in a subsequent email, we know that the perception of scarcity is one of the tools (or weapons) of influence documented by Robert Cialdini in his classic book, and it's a weapon that is used shamelessly by the slimiest of Internet marketers.

In any case I wondered if KT and GIN are still pushing the gambling wisdumb as part of the package of "benefits" for those who pay for GIN membership. One of the "benefits" listed on the GIN member benefits page is, "How to be lucky and win at gambling, including horse racing, baccarat and other casino games," but I wanted a little more information.

So I asked my correspondent about this, and was assured that the observations shared in the email were based upon very recent exchanges with GIN members, some of whom had done the gambling seminar about a month ago and were obviously gambling novices, but were gambling 5-10 grand per week using their newly learned system. My correspondent added:
I am guessing the scarcity of the training depends on how easily or cheaply GIN can get a degenerate gambler to show up...
I'll add more specific info about the gambling/"money management" systems actually being taught to GIN members as I get it. Apparently they are based upon the Martingale betting system. Wrote my correspondent:
The system is good for scammers because it works as long as you have a large bankroll. Once you start getting near your limit you risk it all until you are broke again. These guys can sell the systems as long as people are betting and not yet broke. People using the system will claim they are winning constantly and will not admit that they lost their shirts until they need to borrow money. Using the system with a large bankroll means you can stretch out your 1% loss over a long period of time and tout [the] system to other nincompoops.


In any event, I think my correspondent nailed it pretty well in the first email to me:
Of all the shady nasty things GIN seems to be putting into the heads of these gullible nitwits, to me this one is the worst. For the few grand GIN might make for selling this crap to its members they are encouraging them to risk 100 times more money than GIN could possibly make on this scheme...
Until I met a few GIN members I would have laughed about this stupidity, but the scams are starting to look like stealing candy from babies. I am sure the few members I've met will be cleaned out within a year.
It seems Trudeau has found the perfect balance between Amway, Tony Robbins, As-Seen-on-TV, conspiracy theories, cults and Scientology. Much of his pabulum is just repackaged self help nonsense from as early as 1800s mixed with objectivism. It seems he has pre-programmed his followers so no amount of evidence of this fact will ever penetrate their heads.
Harsh words, those. And lest you think this is a case of victim-bashing, the context makes it clear to me that my correspondent is motivated chiefly by compassion and concern for a close friend who has recently been imbibing the GIN-spiked Kool-Aid in a big way. As for me, I still struggle between my compassion for the easily fooled and eternally hopeful, and my desire to grab them by the collective shirt collar and shake them (figuratively speaking), while shouting at them:
"WAKE UP!"

Of course, KT has convinced many that it's the rest of us who are asleep, and the lucky ones who join GIN who are awake.

Jimmy Ray Jumpsuit serving GIN from prison cellAnd in related news -- probably worth a blog post of its own, but I'm a little rushed today -- convicted killer James Arthur "Death" Ray, currently serving time in prison for the deaths of three people in his fake sweat lodge in October 2009, is apparently trying to help True-dough out by flogging Your Wish Is Your Command, the 14-CD upsell for GIN. Wrote Tragedy In Sedona author Connie Joy on her Facebook page yesterday:
Under the subject of "You just can't make this kind of thing up" I just got an email from JamesRay@aweber.com with the title of "From the Desk Of James Arthur Ray"! I didn't know that he had a desk in jail?!? But he is still selling his stuff. He has a "GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU" a program he is calling Your Wish Is Your Command. "I've personally gone through the entire program and can strongly recommend it to you." Yes, you want to buy this so you can be just like him???
Perhaps Death Ray is just paying True-dough back for speaking out in defense of Death Ray (and the entire selfish-help industry) on the KT "radio" show last year.
As far as I'm concerned, the meat industry isn't the only thing producing a lot of pink slime these days. Slime is slime, whether it's decked out in an orange jumpsuit or a silly hat.
More True-dough on this Whirled:

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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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