Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meet the new scam, same as the old scam, Part 1

This turned out be be one of those inordinately lengthy posts, because I kept on adding to it in my spare time (in between tending to real-work and real-life matters), so I decided to publish it in two parts. Even at that it is pretty long, so pour yourself your drink of choice, and/or pop some popcorn, and sit back. Or if you are prone to getting headaches from staring at a screen too long, just print the whole thing out and take it into the "reading room." (Highlight the links that interest you and follow them when you get back to your computer or mobile device.) On the other hand, if you spend too much time in the reading room, you might get hemorrhoids. One way or the other, you should be aware that reading this post in its entirety in one sitting could be hazardous to your health.

You have been warned.

A very belated Happy New Year to all of you who are enslaved by the Gregorian Calendar! Goodness, this year is already more than three whole weeks old, and before we know it, it will be time for the Chinese New Year --
The Year of the Snake. Which is kind of appropriate to the theme of this post (no offense intended to actual snakes). But in deference to the Gregorian thing, let me say that I hope 2013 holds good things for you. Now let's get down to business.

Some of the content in this two-part post (mostly under the heading "Redundant background drivel" below) will be a recap of stuff I've already written about. And sprinkled throughout will be repeats of comments and recaps of conversations that originally appeared on other forums. Some of you may get a strong sense of deja vu. But in case there are any new visitors, or people who have not been privy to the exchanges on those other forums, I want to make sure everyone is up to speed. Context is important.

The big non-news is that there's another startup in Scamworld. It's called the
IBMS Master's Society; perhaps you have heard of it. You may or may not get to the site if you follow that link. I could, then I couldn't. Then I could again, and then I couldn't. It was totally 404'd for a few days. Then for a few days it was back up, but was nothing more than a notice that said, "Your Journey Will Begin Soon." As of this very moment, however, it appears to be up and fully functioning. Who knows what the next thirty minutes or so will bring? It's like the old Donovan song, minus the mountains: First there is a web site, then there is no web site, then there is...

Its founders say that there has never been anything like IBMS Master's Society, which, they stress, is not just another organization or a club, but a gen-yoo-ine seekrit society that is completely results-oriented. They brag about their tough screening process, stressing that once you get in, if you're not achieving, you're leaving. But from the introductory video on the home page (a vid that features every cliche in the Scamworld playbook, e.g., "It's not by accident that you're here; you are here because you are very special!") the Membership Agreement (more on that in a while) all of the other "no-excuses" copy...hmm, it appears that there have been lots of things like IBMS Master's Society.

If you had followed the link to the IBMS Master's Society the week before last, you would have seen that the home page was a mere placeholder, but the rest of the site was perfectly viewable. Due to its then-amateurish design, it was, in the opinions of several who saw it, eminently snarkworthy. I do not think the creators intended for the world to see it while they were still busy applying lipstick to the pig (no offense intended to actual pigs; it's just a metaphor). Very soon after
Bernie at published a post that snarked about the site, however, it went dark for a couple of days. Bernie still has a few screen shots, though, so you can see what I mean.

A couple of days after going dark, the site came back for a while, and the lipstick was on the pig, along with blush, eyeliner, and false eyelashes -- again, no offense intended to our porcine pals. Or to the cosmetics industry. The IBMS Master's Society site looked much better, as if designed by a professional. I was almost impressed. Other than the new design, however, the actual content was still pretty much the same, with the exception of a few things that I'll get to eventually. You know me, I take my time getting to the point.

You should be aware that anything on the IBMS Master's Society site that I snark about may mysteriously change after this blog post is published. Content has been known to change or disappear after I write about it. (Really, my snargets should be paying me for my critiques instead of trying to shut me up with lawsuit threats and not-so-veiled threats to my physical safety. In the case of the IBMS Master's Society web site, they should probably be paying Bernie too.)

I initially found the IBMS Master's Society site with a simple Google search. Things have a tendency to show up on the search engines pretty quickly these days once they're uploaded -- like immediately -- unless you take steps to keep them from public view. The search results for the IBMS Master's Society remained on Google throughout the time that the actual site was doing its disappearing and reappearing and re-disappearing and re-reappearing act.

At any rate, a lot of the stuff about IBMS is going to sound awfully familiar to many of you, which is not surprising because the new seekrit club is run by two of the bitterest defectors from
serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's bloated, much-hyped, Ponzi-like Global Information Network (GIN). Those two defectors, in case you don't know or haven't yet guessed, are (1) Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell (the former Bernd Klein, aka Bernd Witchner of the Republic of Germany), and (2) my former best frienemy forever, Peter Wink. Alas, Peter recently unfrienemy-ed me and blocked me from his Facebook page. I can't imagine why.

Judging from what I have seen so far, the IBMS Master's Society seekrit klub looks like a poor man's (and woman's) GIN. Let's face it: GIN is not for those with underfed wallets. Just for a Level One membership, GIN will set you back $1,000 for the "initiation" fee (if you pay it all at once; otherwise it's $1,500), and an additional $150 a month for as long as you remain a member. And that's just Level One. Once in, you are constantly encouraged, pressured, and harassed to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. Cumulatively, the subsequent GIN membership levels cost many thousands of dollars more, with each level ever more pricey. So far there are only six levels, but the plan, if GIN survives that long, is to have twelve.

IBMS Master's Society, on the other hand, only asks for a
nonrefundable $499 initiation fee, and a mere 89 nonrefundable US dollars a month for as long as you remain a member. At least that's what they've been saying. Who knows if or when the basic costs will change? And who knows how many additional wallet-depleting flopportunities you'll be offered once you join?

Actually there's already more than a hint of what the two founders, who have dubbed themselves "Supreme Partners," have planned. Apart from numerous hints throughout the site that are related to the two guys' pet multilevel marketing schemes (more on that in a bit), there's this on the current
Membership Agreement Page:

For the first level of membership, you authorize and agree that your credit card will be charged the amount of $499 for your non-refundable initiation fee. The following month, you will be charged a recurring non-refundable monthly fee of $89.95 until such time as you cancel your membership pursuant to the cancellation process described herein. You understand and agree that your IBMS Master's Society™ membership will be automatically renewed and your credit card will be automatically charged unless you affirmatively cancel your membership or your membership is revoked for any reason by a Supreme Partner.
Each successive membership level may require an additional non-refundable initiation fee. Information and details regarding the fees and benefits for each additional membership level will only be revealed to IBMS Master's Society™ Members in the membership level right below their current membership level. For example, a Level 1 Member may request Level 2 information but not Level 3.

All transactions with the IBMS Master's Society™ shall be in U.S. dollars. All payments made to the IBMS Master's Society™, LLC are non-refundable.

So THERE. Sounds a whole lot like GIN, doesn't it? That could be because they stole the Membership Agreement, among numerous other things, from GIN.

Maybe you are wondering what IBMS stands for. One of my puckish pals recently wrote to me, "I keep thinking about Irritable Bowel Syndrome when I see those letters together. Which would make sense. Coldwell does seem to have something irritating up his ass. Maybe it's Peter."

But no. IBMS stands for Instinct Based Medicine System. That is
Lenny Coldwell's proprietary alt-health/motivational shtick. If the acronym causes a little momentary brand confusion or subconscious association with IBM -- a company that Lenny has widely claimed as one of his consulting clients (though I think that this was refuted by investigative journalists in Germany way back in the late 1990s) -- well, so much the better for Lenny. But please do not confuse Lenny's IBMS with the Institute of Biomedical Science, which actually looks like a respectable organization. That IBMS was founded in 1912, and is made up of properly credentialed professionals such as real scientists and doctors and so forth. If they wanted to, they could prolly go after Lenny for that brand confusion thing. But my guess is that Lenny, who loves to boast about his accomplishments but apparently has no genuine credentials, just isn't important enough to be a threat to them.

Why is IBMS Master's Society on my radar? Do you even have to ask? You probably already know. But just in case you don't know -- in case you're new here or just wandered in by mistake and decided to stay because you have nothing better to do -- the next section contains the stuff that people who do know can probably skip.

Redundant background drivel
Back in December of 2009,
when I first blogged about GIN, I focused mostly on the Big Lie used to promote GIN and its fourteen-CD upsell, Your Wish Is Your Command, which Kevin was heavily pushing via infomercials at the time. The Big Lie in question was Kevin's claim that he had been a member for many years -- starting at the age of either 12 or 15 (he has told it both ways) -- of a top-seekrit society called The Brotherhood. He also told this story on the GIN promotional pages online. Or rather, his copywriters and marketers told the story for him. The copy changed several times; it seemed to me that every time I would snark about something, it would almost immediately disappear or be changed. I'm sure it was just a coincidence, though.

Anyway, the Brotherhood had approached him, Kevin said, because they somehow sensed his mighty potential. And once he was a member, the story went, they were amazed at how scary-smart he was and what a fast learner he was. He absorbed their information faster than anyone ever had in the whole history of people absorbing their information. Why, the members of the society had never seen such a prodigy. He was a very special boy.

The story Kevin told in the interests of pushing the GIN con was that after many years of membership he had quit the society, though he claimed no one had ever done that before, because they kill people who try to escape the fold. And people who try to share the Brotherhood's secrets...oh, my, you just do not want to know what they do to those people. But Kevin, noble humanitarian and stuporhero that he is, claimed that at great personal risk he was now prepared to share the Brotherhood's knowledge and wisdom with the rest of us, through GIN. At least he was prepared to share it with those of us who had thousands upon thousands of dollars to spend on the GIN membership levels.

As I've mentioned a few dozen times before, I knew from the first time I heard of it that GIN was and is a scam. The very fact that notorious lifelong con artist Kevin Trudeau was at the helm was the biggest giveaway for me, but that seekrit-society meme ran a close second. It just seemed like such an obvious ruse. Making the ruse even more obvious to me (and other critics as well) was the tall tale of the alleged "GIN Council" of 30 or so other billionaires and current seekrit-society members who supposedly co-founded GIN with Kevin, and were also willing to share information with a select few people. I couldn't believe that sane, presumably educated, grown-up people would fall for this malarkey. But adult people were falling for it -- many of them both sane and educated, and some of them very nice folks to boot -- and apparently many still are.

Some people have spent $100,000 or more -- some of them far more -- to "advance" in GIN. Even so, many people over the past year have awakened to what a con it is. I have even heard from an ex-member -- one of those who spent significantly more than a hundred grand in GIN -- that many of the members still in GIN are now all but certain it's a scam, but are staying in anyway so they can somehow recoup their losses, or at least get some long-promised bonuses, incentives, or (purchased) leads. (If this person is correct, that may be a whole 'nother can of ethical -- and possibly legal -- worms. If people are still actively promoting GIN to others even though they know it's a scam, well...) Others reportedly feel compelled to stay in because they are being audited by the IRS as a result of their GIN activities, and they have to remain members in order to maintain access to information and records the IRS is requesting. What a nightmare.

At any rate, despite predictions of GIN's any-moment-now demise that have been ongoing for nearly a year -- predictions that admittedly I have sometimes supported and promoted -- GIN still lives. Membership has reportedly declined dramatically and the club may just be limping along, and more than likely its days really are numbered. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues its pursuit of Trudeau, and has subpoenaed Trudeau's affiliated entities, his lawyers, his wife, and the horse he rode in on.
Bernie has a summary of the latest news on, as well as links to the documents produced by the most recent round of paper-shuffling.

As of now I'm not holding my breath waiting for The End, even though the latest FTC documents do sound a little ominous for Kevin Trudeau. GIN is still viable as of this writing, and Kevin is still scamming away, and no doubt dreaming up other scams. In fact,
the first of two January 2013 GIN Leadership Cruises set sail over this past weekend, despite predictions that there would be no cruise at all. And Kevin is reportedly on that cruise, after having spent a couple of months in Europe to spread the GIN poison on The Continent.

Unfortunately, some of the scammed ex-GIN members to whom I was lending support -- and, in retrospect, giving far too much benefit of the doubt -- have shown themselves to be scammers-in-training. (Like Peter Wink, these people have blocked me on Facebook too. Profiles in courage!) So I probably owe a few apologies to people who were pointing out all along that these ex-GIN folks were scammers in their own right (and/or idiots), and I probably even owe apologies to some of the current GIN members and Trudeau loyalists who told me I was wrong months ago about GIN going away "any day now."

Be that as it may, for years I have had fun poking fun, writing what I thought were overly obvious posts about how GIN is a scam and Kevin Trudeau is a scammer. Until I got to know some ex-GIN fans, however, I didn't really have any details about the scam other than the information that was on the official GIN site, and on the sites of some of GIN's most ardent supporters. But I was pretty sure I had the basics down know, the bit about GIN being a scam, and Kevin Trudeau being a scammer.

During all of that time -- and actually even before I'd heard of GIN -- I was also corresponding and speaking with the aforementioned
Peter Wink, who for two and a half years was Kevin Trudeau's director of sales and marketing. I initiated contact with Peter in the autumn of 2009, shortly after he and Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale parted ways (Peter had been Mr. Fire's VP of Sales and Marketing). Peter reported directly to Kevin and worked on other Trudeau projects besides GIN, but he had a lot to do with GIN's marketing and promotional efforts, and with the GIN speakers program as well. For a long time Peter was very loyal to Kevin, as one would expect -- well, loyal on the surface, anyway. He knew what side his bread was buttered on, as the old saying goes.

He has since indicated that he knew all along that Trudeau was a con artist and that Trudeau hasn't changed since the 1990s. Peter made that declaration on a July 2012 conversation with me on his Facebook wall, but last time I was able to check, the conversation had disappeared.

When talking to me back in the day, however, Peter insisted that despite my snarky blog posts about his boss, and despite the mounds of criticism from others over the years, Kevin Trudeau was really one of the nicest, sweetest, most sincere guys you could ever hope to meet. As indicated above, Peter had known Kevin off and on since the 1990s, when Peter was working for motivational products giant
Nightingale-Conant. For a time N/C was in some sort of unholy marketing alliance with KT. (Here is another ex-N/C employee's take on that.)

I ended up writing a short blog series based on some of my phone conversations and email exchanges with Peter. He made it clear from the beginning that he did not want the series to be about Trudeau and GIN, but about his general experiences with and observations of the selfish-help industry. Fair enough. It was blog material, and I thought it was time for me to present a few words from the "other side." (The series got mixed reviews to say the least.) However, during one of our phone conversations, Peter did manage to address the GIN/secret-society issue -- sort of -- without any prompting from me. Here's a snippet from
Part 2 of my Wink series:

At the time I first spoke to Peter [on the phone, in December 2009], Kevin had just stepped up his efforts to promote a fourteen-CD set,
Your Wish Is Your Command, which supposedly contains some of the information Kevin learned as a member of a “secret society” known as The Brotherhood...Needless to say, I had quite a bit of fun with that on my blog.
Peter, I must say, has been a very good sport about it all. While he understandably did not want to discuss it at length with me, he did volunteer his opinion that there is validity to Kevin’s claim that secret societies have long been the jealous guardians of knowledge forbidden to the masses. Peter says his own experience as a Freemason has taught him this. (Peter was recently inducted into the Shriners. He says he wants to help kids in need, and “the Shrine gives me a platform to do good in this world.”)
However, he told me that he hasn’t actually asked Kevin about his own background in “The Brotherhood.” Another case of “plausible deniability?” Perhaps. But that’s Peter’s story and he’s sticking to it.
And that’s really the extent of our conversations about KT. As I noted in my first post, Peter considers Kevin to be a friend as well as his employer, and he’s loyal to the end.

Well, loyal to the end of their relationship, anyway. As many of you know, Peter Wink and Kevin Trudeau rancorously parted ways in late April of 2012, and
judging from the way he ratted out his former boss to the Feds a few months ago, Peter no longer feels that Kevin Trudeau is one of the nicest, most sincere guys you could ever want to know. I am still not sure exactly what happened, because I have only heard it from Peter's side, with verification from his brother-in-harms Lenny Coldwell, and frankly, some of the stories have seemed contradictory. The basic tale Peter has been telling is that he was duped by Kevin, and that at some point he discovered that Kevin was doing dodgy things, and he was alarmed when he saw the depths of Kevin's dodginess.

Peter has said that he was increasingly being asked to do unethical and possibly even illegal things to market GIN -- such as changing the names on older testimonials and recycling them for newer marketing letters. (Apparently this is a common ruse in Scamworld; Trudeau is hardly the first one to think up this one. Doesn't make it right, of course, but it's common.) According to Peter, he deliberately became a trouble-maker and set himself up to be booted out of Trudeau's organization, but it was all good because he had been planning all along to go off on his own in 2012 anyway. I'm a little confused about the details. For a long time Peter said he would give me an "exclusive" when he was finally at liberty to talk, but I suspect that deal is off.

I confess that when Peter first told me he and Kevin had parted ways, I felt glad for him. I got the impression at the beginning, when he first told me of his separation, that he had been the one to call it quits, clear and simple, because his conscience finally got the better of him. I was very supportive and told him he had done the right thing. And I meant it. Better late than never, I thought.

I wanted to believe the best -- well, the best by my definition, which was that he really had finally had enough of the worst of Scamworld and that he wanted to turn his back on any further association with scoundrels. I certainly wasn't expecting him to get out of the self-help industry entirely, since he loves it so much. That would be like him expecting me to stop snarking about many of the things he holds dear. We've always agreed to disagree about the merits of a lot of self-help content and gurus, and I've been cool with that and assumed he was too. I couldn't bring myself to believe that anyone he was involved with was truly evil. Profoundly snarkworthy, yes, but not truly evil.

Others told me I was being foolish and idealistic (it's odd that I am such a "hater" and can still be idealistic, or perhaps a better word is "willfully blind"). But -- please don't laugh at me, okay do laugh; I deserve it -- I actually had hopes that Peter's association with Trudeau would mark the nadir of his career, ethics-wise, and that it would be all uphill from there. But I had to draw a line in the sand when I realized the depth of Peter's involvement with Lenny Coldwell. Whatever the circumstances of Peter's separation from GIN,
the Coldwell alliance is, in my view, a problem in its own right. To say the least. But Peter has told me that he never concerns himself with the personal lives and behavior of his clients and business partners. I think that explains a lot.

With the introduction of the IBMS Master's Society, Peter appears to have tied himself to Coldwell's brand in a way that I don't think he ever did with any of his other clients, buds, and bidness partners. But even before the announcement of IBMS Master's Society, he made it very clear, very often, that he and Lenny were super-b.f.f.s.

And as you might expect, Peter has devoted some effort trying to convince me that Lenny is one of the nicest, sincerest guys you could ever want to know -- the same things he told me about Kevin, once upon a time. I am not convinced.

Peter has also repeatedly advised me to "forget Coldwell" -- to stop blogging about Lenny and focus on the real scammer and scam, Kevin Trudeau and GIN. He even proposed to me a couple of months ago that if I would stop posting about Coldwell and remove what I had posted, he would approach Coldwell and see if Coldwell might be willing to stop threatening me and telling actionable lies about me on Facebook and who knows where else.

Peter did not call these threats and actionable lies, of course,
but they were. Lenny has said that I am a former prostitute who gave a customer a bad STD, and that I am a "cancer" that needs to be eliminated from society. (In fact, I recently came across another, more direct threat to me from Coldwell that concerned me enough to report it to law enforcement.)

Anyway, I did not agree to Peter's deal.

Axes of evil

That Peter Wink has a few axes to grind with GIN and Trudeau is obvious and not surprising. It also comes as no surprise that Lenny has his own axes to grind. After all, consider what he lost when he and Kevin broke up. As a former close friend and business partner of Kevin's, as well as his
"personal physician while in Europe," Coldwell was able to expand his platform dramatically from the following he'd had before GIN. Naturally it was a mutually beneficial relationship, as Kevin would never do anything that didn't benefit himself. In this case, he was able to mine Lenny for tons of eminently marketable alt-health misinformation.

It wasn't just a matter of expanding his platform; there were direct financial rewards for Lenny as well. As a paid GIN speaker,
Lenny was raking in regular paychecks of nearly $17k a month just for appearing a few times a year at GIN events. That's not really an extravagant amount in the world of paid professional speakers, some of whom make much more than that, but it certainly isn't anything to sneeze at, and it was a regular paycheck that didn't require much work on Lenny's part. He also got to fly business class (that was written into the speaker's agreement), and have all "reasonable" meal and accommodation costs covered, as well as attend cruises and other events that afforded him numerous drinking and groping ops (I am basing the "drinking and groping" comment on multiple eyewitness reports). There were many perks beyond the salary.

Then there was Lenny's downline for the MLM segment of GIN, which involves selling Level One memberships to as many suckers as one can manage to sucker in. There's some confusion regarding that downline. I was recently reviewing a recording of an October 14, 2012 teleconference Peter and Lenny hosted to explain to participants what "really happened" and why "Dr." C was no longer with GIN. (Peter and Lenny charged $28.00 a pop for folks to listen in.) I didn't listen in real time, but later on, at Peter's invitation, I grabbed the recording from a site to which it had been uploaded.

It's a pretty interesting phone call, though the volume is inconsistent, with Peter's voice loud and nasal, and Lenny's little Colonel Klink-ish rambling considerably harder to hear without turning the volume up a lot. On this audio, Lenny at first seems to deny having a GIN downline. He says (at about 3:20), "We [Peter Wink and I] were not in GIN basically as members or working the downline or any of those things, so we didn't know a lot of the things that were going on behind the scenes."

Later on in the audio, however (at about 40:20), Lenny says, "He [Kevin] gave me a free downline to make it look like I was a member of GIN." Maybe in Lenny's mind, having a downline is not the same as working a downline. But for a long time he had a GIN banner on the right-hand side of his main Web site --
here's a Wayback Machine link -- and the embedded link has an affiliate code. Here's the direct Wayback link to the remainders of Lenny's GIN affiliate page.

Several ex-GIN members I asked said that Lenny mentioned to them on more than one occasion that he had a GIN downline, and they said he also spoke to them of his ongoing efforts to recruit members for his downline. These efforts reportedly included approaching strangers in elevators and inviting them to join GIN as part of his downline, and asking his followers on social media sites to join as well.

On the audio, Lenny says he has received emails from 11,000 people who shared with him that they only got into GIN because of him. The numbers may be exaggerated -- remember, this is Lenny we are talking about -- but it seems apparent that many people were influenced and persuaded by Coldwell to throw their money into Kevin Trudeau's big black hole. On the same audio, Peter Wink speaks of Lenny as if Lenny had been the heart and soul of the GIN speaker program -- the wind in their sails (or maybe he meant "sales") -- and he reiterates that Lenny was the reason many thousands of people became members in the first place.

Much of the first hour or more of the audio is devoted to Peter and Lenny describing how they were both duped by Trudeau, and didn't realize for the longest time just how bad things really were, and are now trying to do the right thing by exposing the fraud. They make themselves sound like quite the heroes.

And yet, and yet... Lenny makes mention of several candid conversations he had with Kevin over an unspecified period of time. Among other things, Kevin laughingly told Lenny that there is no "GIN Council" and never was. Kevin also told Lenny that he had set things up so that very few if any GIN participants would actually receive their promised bonuses. Kevin also apparently shared with Lenny that he thought of most of the GIN participants as "losers." Lenny has also mentioned these conversations on various Facebook posts, which I was able to read before he blocked me. If these conversations between Kevin and Lenny really took place as Lenny described, then it really does appear that Lenny went along with the ruse -- knowing it was a ruse -- for quite a while.

The point, in case it isn't painfully obvious, is this: Even after having pretend-discovered that GIN was pretty much a big lie, Lenny kept trying to get people into GIN, and happily accepted paychecks from Kevin as well.

As is the case with Peter's GIN narratives, Lenny's seem confusing and contradictory. In some of his Facebook posts he has indicated that he was one of the first to know GIN was a scam, and that he and Peter started making waves long before anyone else did. Yet in the audio he makes it sound as if he really didn't know the truth until the Las Vegas "Dream Weekend" in April of 2012 -- which was only a little more than a month (a month and a half, tops) before he was jettisoned from the GINtanic. So you're just going to have to make up your own mind. My sense is that you will never get an accurate chronology from either one of these guys.

That said, and although I have always taken their explanations of their own motives with more than a grain of salt, it does seem clear that both Lenny and Peter have a lot of inside information on Trudeau and GIN -- info that has likely proven useful to various agencies who are in pursuit of Trudeau. I don't know whether Lenny and Peter were granted some sort of immunity themselves, or perhaps just told such good stories of their own innocence that immunity was never an issue. It's a mystery that may never be solved.

What I do know is that Lenny was loudly singing Kevin's and GIN's praises till he got yanked off of the GIN teat sometime in May of 2012. He has spent the months since then ranting about what a con artist and cult leader Kevin Trudeau is, and making predictions that have so far utterly failed to come true time after time, regarding the demise of GIN and the date of Trudeau's imprisonment.

I don't disagree with Lenny that Kevin Trudeau is a con artist and cult leader (or cult leader wannabe) and that GIN is a scam, of course. I just take major issue with Lenny's belated "discovery" of same, and his efforts to brand himself as the modest hero who (along with Peter) played such a major role in exposing the scam. As noted above, Peter and Lenny are both claiming they were duped and that everything they've done regarding GIN and Trudeau since then is a sincere effort to help others -- people they say they have come to love -- who were also duped and cheated. Such altruists, those two.

Early on in his post-GIN career, Lenny also tried to rally many of the disgruntled ex-GIN and on-the-fencers to send him emails telling their stories about how they had been screwed by Trudeau and GIN. Lenny said he was initiating a class-action lawsuit and that the ex-GIN folks had a chance to be in on it if they sent him their data. Peter was promoting and supporting this lawsuit too for a while, but when I asked him about it at one point, he told me that he really didn't know much about it and wasn't involved at all.

From the beginning I strongly suspected that Lenny had self-serving motives (
and I mentioned that suspicion towards the end of this post) -- a point that by now seems pathetically obvious. Lenny's class-action lawsuit apparently went nowhere, although more recently he has claimed that he has a $5 million dollar lawsuit against Trudeau and GIN. But by golly, dangling the carrot of a class-action lawsuit allowed him (and Peter) to get those names and email addresses.

And I am sure they have come in handy. Since being tossed from the GINtanic, Lenny has no doubt had to work harder to come up with schemes to part people from their money. I suspect that Lenny himself would scoff at that notion. He is, after all, always bragging about how stinkin' rich he is. "Rich like shit," is how he recently recently put it, in an effort to explain why he will be able to legally and financially destroy all of his critics, including and especially Salty Droid and me. He has also said that he keeps piles of cash around the house and has shown his piles to Peter Wink. (Now, there's an unpleasant visual.)

But I still cannot rid myself of the sense that both he and Peter are having to work considerably harder to maintain the cash flow, now that GIN is gone from their lives. It was a natural progression for the two of them to team up so they can grow their piles together.

IBMS Master's Society is not the first or only joint venture for these two. They have, for instance, been involved for months in
a major MLM merger -- Youngevity/Livinity -- that involves other former (or possibly still current) Trudeau partners (the shilling starts at about 3:50 on the vid in that link). And some of the bigwigs in Livinity/Youngevity were featured on one of the rotating banners on the new IBMS Master's Society web site -- at least they were the other night before the site went mostly dark again. I suspect that the Livinity/Youngevity partnership will play a very big role in the IBMS Master's Society, as will a certain egregiously overpriced colon cleanse, Bepure, that Lenny has been hawking for years (Kevin Trudeau has been pushing it too). The MLM topics may be worth a whole blog post in themselves, but that's kind of on the back burner for now.

Back to the future

What's on the front burner is that Lenny and Peter are also now reviving the seekrit-society gig, the IBMS Master Baiter's... I mean Master's Society. Also known as the IBMS Master's Secret Society. I first got word of it early in December 2012, when Peter was posting this announcement on his timeline and the timelines of many of his Facebook friends (including me):


This is the only club of its kind. Here you will be personally trained how to properly set and attain your goals. Your success is assured IF you follow through. All members who do not follow through will be removed. Members will all work together to help one another. (This is the first ever club that actually makes attaining goals a requirement to retain membership!)

There will also be monthly teleconferences where members will learn little-known secret information about health, wealth and sovereignty as well as get personal coaching from Dr. Leonard Coldwell and other hand-selected faculty. We will also hold two guarded, closed-door members-only meetings per year in remote locations. Details to come.

If you are interested in joining THE IBMS MASTER'S SOCIETY, please send an email (with your name, address, phone number) to the honorable Amy Chappell at [email].

Special perks for founding members to be announced!

After I gave Peter a bit of flak about it -- telling him that I didn't feel the need to get "personal coaching" from someone
who has told actionable lies about me -- he kindly removed the message from my timeline. I admit that I was curious about the IBMS Master's Society, but not curious enough to try to find out anything more about it.

As it happened, though, someone else was curious and sent an email to the "honorable" Amy Chappell to ask for more information. This person did not hear back from Hon. Amy herself, but from Supreme Partner Peter Wink. Here's the reply, in its entirety -- unedited.

Dear #####,

Thank you for inquiring about the “IBMS™ Master's Society."

The "IBMS™ Master's Society" is founded by Supreme Partner's Dr. Leonard Coldwell and myself Peter Wink.

Dr. Leonard Coldwell is a world leader in natural health as well as a bestselling author (The Only Answer to Cancer,The Only Answer to Success, and more) and a results-based performance coach. He has been credited with curing over 35,000 Cancer patients and he has personally coached business leaders, celebrities, top athletes, politicians, rock musicians, and Hollywood stars to success. Further, Dr. Coldwell is a high-level Member of the “Renaissance” secret society founded by U.S. President Bill Clinton and the co-founder/spokesman of the Coldwell Brother’s Organization.

I’ve been working in the personal development field as a marketing and product development expert with world leading authors, speakers and celebrities for over 20 years. I’m the author of multiple books/audios (Negotiate Your Way to Riches, Buying Secrets, and more). I’m also an active Member of six different areas of the Freemason secret society including the Scottish Rite 32nd Degree, Shriners and Knights Templar. And I’ve helped grow another members-only group to almost 22,000 members as well as helped Dr. Coldwell grow the Coldwell Brother’s Organization from zero to hundreds of members.
[That "members-only" group with 22,000 members is GIN. As for that Coldwell Brother's Organization... yeah, that's really booming.
It's burning up the search engines! ~ CC]

The “IBMS™ Master's Society" is unique. It is the only society dedicated to helping its members attain real tangible results in their lives.

Members will set and work toward attaining their goals in a timely fashion or they will be removed from the society with no exceptions or financial reimbursements. Of all the benefits to being in this society, attaining goals is paramount. This is a society created by achievers for achievers and nothing but. Mediocrity is as bad as Cancer and it will not be tolerated. One mediocre person leads to two and so on. The world is filled with mediocre people and we are not interested in wasting time dealing with them in our society. The “IBMS™ Master's Society" is a society for achievers and nothing but. Please remember that as you will hear it often.

The society will also provide a stellar logically progressive IBMS™-based curriculum, as well as provide Members the opportunity to learn from world-class presenters, speakers, politicians, authors, celebrities, and health practitioners. IBMS™ stands for Instinct Based Medicine System® --- a focused process and system that gets to the core of any issue you have (health, business, wealth, spiritual, relationships, fear, procrastination, self confidence, happiness) and can permanently eliminates it, allowing you to get on with your life just as you design it.

Our ultimate goal is for our own Members to become the faculty. If you want to become a presenter and speaker, the “IBMS™ Master's Society" can provide the opportunity for you --- if you are up to our standards. We are also going to provide multiple levels of IBMS™ success mastery --- it is encouraged but not a requirement.

Initially, the “IBMS™ Master's Society” is going to focus it’s Members only on the following topics:

Building self confidence and self esteem
Eliminating stress, depression, anxiety and worry
Detoxifying the body from the inside out
Goal setting and attainment
Conquering fear
Eliminating limiting beliefs and excuses
Leadership and self-preservation
Becoming an entrepreneur and building a successful business
Individual sovereignty
Current events and world government

You will also get access to monthly audios, teleseminars, interviews with achievers --- and (2) guarded, closed-door meetings taking place in 2013. Each will be held in a remote area outside a major city. These will not be typical seminars with fancy lights and other kinds of useless, expensive, no-results, smoke and mirrors hoopla. These will be planning sessions. Life is serious and you need to treat it that way. You will also learn a vast amount of secret or little-known information, as well as network with fellow Members of the society.

We also expect that anyone accepted into the “IBMS™ Master's Society" as a Member makes the commitment to help other Members. We are not looking for wallflowers or inactive Members. When people become Members of the “IBMS™ Master's Society" it will actually mean something. We are going to grow the “IBMS™ Master's Society" on merit --- not on how much money someone has on their credit card. We are a society created by achievers for achievers. Remember that.

Another one of our goals is to provide Members the opportunity for discounts on a host of items such as insurance, retail products, business services, legal services, and much more.

One thing we want to be upfront about right now is that the “IBMS™ Master's Society" is looking for quality Members. We are not interested in quantity, therefore we expect to reject most applicants.

Further, we are not offering commissions to Members to bring in new Members. This dilutes your energy from the major focus of your membership which is attaining the goals you have for your life.
When you see what you are getting, and how you are finally achieving your goals, you will automatically encourage your family, friends and colleagues to apply for Membership into the “IBMS™ Master's Society." Remember --- we are a society created by achievers for achievers.

While we are not at liberty to give away too much information at this time, we do want to share a few quick points about the “IBMS™ Master's Society" application process ---

You must be a minimum of 16 years of age.
You must fill out a complete “Member Application” online which will be reviewed by the Supreme Partners.
You will be required to pay a one-time initiation fee which will be priced to attract the level of individual we wish to install as a Member.
You will be required to pay monthly dues which will be priced to attract the level of individual we wish to retain as a Member.
You will be accepted or rejected at the will of the Supreme Partners.
You should consider why you’re joining before applying.
If you’re joining for mercenary or other unworthy motives, you will be expelled. Join to grow.
You will also need to agree to a “Member Agreement” swearing to keep the secrets of the “IBMS™ Master's Society” confidential and to never disclose your knowledge or other information you learn as a Member to anyone except other “IBMS™ Master's Society” Members in good standing.”

It is every important for you to understand that the “IBMS™ Master's Society” is being run as a true society --- not as a club. If you are one of the few fortunate people who are bestowed membership in the “IBMS™ Master's Society,” you will have strict oaths and doctrines to abide by to retain your membership. This is for the protection of the society. You will understand this if you are granted a membership.

One thing we want you to be aware of is that there are going to be special perks given to our initial Founding Members. We plan to recognize those who step out on faith and act as the trailblazers of the “IBMS™ Master's Society." Those perks will be revealed once the Founders are identified.

Additional perks will also be available to those Members who attain their goals and identify new Members for the society.

The Supreme Partners will also select a special exclusive group for a one-year tenure to act as Members of its first Supreme Council. The Supreme Council will act on behalf of the Members and as liaisons for recommendations to the Supreme Partners. If you want to become a leader, you want to become a Founding Member of the “IBMS™ Master's Society."

More information and the online Membership Application link will be sent to you in January.

We wish you, your family, and other loved ones a very Happy Holiday season and a Happy New Year.


Peter Wink
Supreme Partner
“IBMS™ Master's Society”

Supreme Partner, indeed. And Supreme Council. Hat tip to the Freemasons for that Supreme Council thing, I'm sure. Or maybe the Muslims. Or the military of any number of countries. Take your pick, but my money is on the Masons.

If you ask me, the idea of having sixteen-year-olds in any group that includes Lenny Coldwell is pretty creepy. But
aren't there special laws that apply to entering into contracts with minors? Well, maybe they'll work that out. Perhaps there are many enlightened parents who will have no problem with their kids plunking down money for an initiation fee and monthly payments for a seekrit club.

Hopefully they won't have any problems with their kids listening to Lenny's profanity-laced presentations either. Or his wing-nutty, Obama-loathing political rants. Or his relationship advice, which according to several people I've communicated with who have been to some of his events, can be summarized as, "If you're not happy in your relationship, get rid of the deadwood, open the door, and shout, 'Next!'" More relationship advice -- here's Lenny on the art of forgiving:

Click on pic to enlarge.

The plan to have "two guarded, closed-door meetings per year in remote locations" that contain Lenny is also disturbing, no matter what the age of the attendee. Actually, the seekrit-meetings plan reminds me of the Trained Liars Council...oops, I mean the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC), which is an exclusive club for selfish-help and McSpirituality hucksters. They have their meetings in January and July of every year. I've
visited them on my Whirled, and so has Salty Droid.

The TLC usually holds its meetings in luxurious, resort-type locations, though. Since IBMS Master's Secret Society is apparently planning to cut out the frills and do everything on the cheap -- well, according to that email I just quoted, anyway -- they may just have their meetings at a Motel 6 in Lenny's hometown of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (which is outside of Charleston), or maybe in Peter's neck of the woods, Schaumburg, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). Remember, kids: "Life is serious and you need to treat it that way."

But I could be totally wrong about that. Maybe the Supreme Partners of the IBMS Master's Society will decide they need to pull out all the stops and throw a big wingding after all. After all, Lenny is always emphasizing the luxurious settings and appointments for his own events. Nothing is too good for his Chumpions and his Booty Camps. I really can't see him going along with Peter's austerity program. It's possible that the Supreme Partners will have the attendees stay in the Motel 6, and they'll take out suites at more luxurious digs in Charleston or Chicago. But I'll cross that snarky bridge when I come to it. I'm sure that no matter how seekrit the meetings are, details will leak out somehow.

And there may be more than two meetings. Judging from what Peter said in the video that is currently on the IBMS Master's Society home page, there will be several "events" each year.

I should also emphasize that the email above apparently isn't the latest version of the response to inquiries; other people have sent me copies of an email that went out more recently The email quoted above was sent out in late December. Like the IBMS Web site, the marketing come-on seems to be a work in progress. It may change yet again after this blog post comes out.

Renaissance man, my a$$
Some friends and I were discussing the above-quoted email a few weeks ago, and some were wondering about this so-called Renaissance group Peter mentioned in that email -- the group that Bill Clinton supposedly founded. Some hadn't heard of it. As it happened, I have.

As many of you may know,
this group is actually real, and Bill Clinton has been involved (so has Hillary), though President Clinton did not found it. (If you are interested, here is more information about the founders of the Renaissance gatherings.)

Renaissance is what you might call an elitist group but it is not a "secret society." At any rate, I seriously doubt that Coldwell is a "high level member."

On the more recent response email mentioned above, Coldwell was simply billed as being "a member of the elite Renaissance," and there was no mention of Bill Clinton being the founder of the group. However, on Lenny's bio page on the original, badly designed IBMS site, he was described as "a highly active member" of the Renaissance group, "founded by U.S. President Bill Clinton."

Click on pic to enlarge.

Curiously enough,
Lenny's garbled bio page on the updated, more elegant looking Web site does not mention Renaissance at all. But Peter mentions it -- and Bill Clinton as founder -- in the video that is currently on the home page. At least the mention is there now. It may be edited out after this post comes out.
As of now, I can't see Lenny's name anywhere on the various participants' lists on the Renaissance site. He's not even on the list of Anniversary Advisers for the 25th anniversary celebrations that took place in 2006. The only mention of the Coldwell name at all is a listing for a guy who was president of Coldwell Bank. But maybe the absence of the not-doc's name is due to Lenny being such a Top Seekrit High-Level Member that his name is hidden from public view. Yeah, that must be it.

In the interest of research, I have sent emails out to Bill Clinton and to the Renaissance group founders to ask them if they know Lenny or know of him, and if so, what they think about him. If they write back to me, I will gladly publish their responses -- whether they lavishly praise this great humanitarian, or they tell me that their membership lists are confidential and they can't answer me one way or the other, or they say they've never heard of the little twerp.

Actually, I can't imagine Coldwell bragging about being associated with something in which Bill Clinton was involved, since Coldwell is such a right-wing nutcake. But I suppose that any celebrity will do when you're a little fame whore.

Anyway, I'll let you know what I hear from Bill Clinton.

Peter and Lenny learned from the best (Kevin Trudeau)
As much as they like to sing the blues about how Kevin and GIN done them wrong, Peter and Lenny have obviously taken a lot from GIN to create IBMS Master's Society. There's was even an obviously unintended taste of GIN in the aforementioned
Membership Agreement, which, when I saw it last night, read:

You acknowledge that, due to the nature of the Confidential Information, a breach of this provision will cause the IBMS Master's Society™ irreparable harm for which monetary damages would be inadequate. You agree that, in the event that you breach any of your obligations with regard to Confidential Information, your membership will be cancelled immediately and the IBMS Master's Society™ will be entitled to injunctive relief to protect its rights, in addition to any and all remedies available at law. You agree to assign to GIN your right to bring any action for violation of any proprietary rights against any third parties in possession of Confidential Information received by you.

Click on pic to enlarge.

Oops. But apparently Petard Winkwell or one of their devoted tattlers read Bernie's snarky blog post, aptly titled, "They steal before they even get started!" -- and the problem has already been "corrected."

One thing seems clear: the guys are really cognizant of the danger of lawsuits. Which is not surprising, given that Lenny himself lives by the lawsuit. They even tell prospective members right off the bat that they must agree to never, ever sue IBMS Master's Society, its Supreme Partners, or anyone or anything even remotely related to the IBMS Master's Society. They are so concerned about this matter that they mention it not once, but twice (emphasis below is mine).:

IBMS Master's Society™ Membership Requirements
By submitting this The IBMS Master's Society™, you agree to all the following...
  • You are a least 16 years of age.
  • You will never judge a member based on religion or politics.
  • You will always teach fellow members the importance of helping one another as well as helping one's self.
  • You will complete the IBMS™ learning curriculum.
  • You will consistently study and follow IBMS™ curriculum.
  • You will keep all information learned in the IBMS Master's Society™ confidential.
  • You will never record or videotape any IBMS Master's Society™ videoconferences, webinars, teleconferences, audios, videos, CDs, DVDs, live events or anything else.
  • You are joining of your own freewill.
  • You will foster and cultivate a camaraderie with your fellow IBMS Master's Society™ Members and further help whoever you can.
  • You will strive to improve personal and professional relationships.
  • You will become happier and healthier through the use of natural health practices.
  • You will attain financial independence.
  • You are not joining in the hope of personal gain or advancement at the society's expense.
  • You are not joining for mercenary or other unworthy motives.
  • You will demonstrate loyalty to your respective country.
  • You believe the pursuit of wealth, health and sovereignty is of the utmost importance.
  • You will not ever sue the IBMS Master's Society™, LLC or any of its subscribers, agents, Members, directors, officers, staff members, employees, Supreme Partners, and assigns.
  • You will not ever give yourself excuses for failure.
  • You can be expelled at any time from the IBMS Master's Society™ for violation of the Member requirements.
  • You will not ever sue any the IBMS Master's Society™, LLC or any of its subscribers, agents, Members, directors, officers, staff members, employees, Supreme Partners, and assigns.
Of course, that little boo-boo will probably be corrected too, as soon as Peter reads my blog post. Or maybe it was intentional: some type of hypnotic repetition thing.

It may seem that I have spent a whole lot of space reviewing and re-hashing and speculating, and haven't really shared anything new. But remember, as I said at the beginning of this post, context is important.

In fact, context is everything.

But I think this post has gone on long enough. I'll have some more "context" in a day or so.

More True-dough (and Lenny) on this Whirled:

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Anonymous said...

Watching a vid there you see that Wink has some nervous twitches where he raises his shoulders. Poker players would call them 'tells', and for good reason. And that lamp and trinket cabinet in the background represents an alleged secret society 'country club'. Is it the knitting secret county club? The toy doll secret society 'country club'?

"See, we don't care about quantity of members", he literally says. He wouldn't misrepresent Lenny's and Wink's real feelings. Would he?

A google search of their contact info indicates their 'country club' shares the premisis with these other businesses:

4 Corners Inspections, LLC‎
Absolute Quality Services‎
All Is Well‎
Carolina Service Group - Spa Repair‎
Elyse A. Waple, DC‎
Fly Direct Inc‎
Gwendolyn Geddies, RN‎
Rashida T. Hill, SLP‎
Richard M. Huston, DC‎
Ryan L. Buckhannon, DC‎
Zimmerman & Murray Associates Inc

Must be nice having a country club.‎

foolmeonce said...

Another amazing commentary, Connie, putting everything in order! I find it incredible that Lenny and Peter Wink think they can pull off this Master's Society scam. They can't even establish a decent web presence. First there is a website, then there is no website, then there is! I'm glad that I can observe from a distance, but I'm crossing my fingers and toes that no 16 year old girls join the Supreme Parters' club!