Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bankruptcy: GIN members await Level 7 while Kevin Trudeau files Chapter 7

Click on pic to enlarge


Yet another success tip from serial scammer Kevin Mark Trudeau, chief perpetrator of the scammy, Ponzi-like Global Information Network (GIN): When continuances and other courtroom shenanigans fail, file bankruptcy! I will have much more to say about this latest news in a little while, as soon as I finish up some work stuff. Suffice to say that this is probably just another yawner and is not the beginning of the end for Trudeau or for GIN, but rather the beginning of the end of his being harassed by the FTC for the case that has been going on for more than ten years now. Anyway, consider this post a "stub" at the moment.

25 April 2013: The rest of the story (well, some of it, anyway)

Since I published this post late yesterday afternoon, my pal Omri Shabat in Israel published a post on the GlancingWeb blog,
"The Bankruptcy File Kevin Trudeau Doesn't Want You to Know About."

Mocktor Lenny "I-know-something-you-don't-know-neener-neener-neener" Coldwell at his own game, Omri was thoughtful enough to share a link to a copy of the entire document notifying the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Judge Robert Gettleman about the filing.

And just for good measure and the sake of redundancy, here are jpegs of that three-page document. (As usual, click on the pics to enlarge them.)

Now, keep in mind that this is not the actual bankruptcy petition or any of the supporting documents. Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy is a whole separate case in a whole separate court. As shown in the screen shot at the very top of this post, it is case number 13-764,
assigned to Judge Eugene R. Wedoff of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois. Here is a link to Judge Wedoff's court calendar, subject to change at any time, of course. I imagine that eventually the schedule for Kevin Mark Trudeau's bankruptcy case will show up, so keep checking back. Or if you happen to be in the Chicagoland area, you can go in person to the Clerk's Office, Eastern Division, 219 South Dearborn, 7th Floor, Chicago, IL, USA 60604. You don't have to wait for Lenny Coldwell to spoon-feed you the info, is what I'm saying. [Update added on April 26: Please see my PS below for clarification of Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. ~CC]

Anyway, as you can see, the document in the three jpegs above is pursuant to the civil case before the Honorable Robert Gettleman: civil action number 03-CV-03904, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

And as you may know,
there is a separate but related criminal contempt case, case number 10-CR-000886, assigned to Judge Ronald A. Guzman. The link in the previous sentence to the criminal case is a June 6, 2011 document, but the case is ongoing and supposedly Trudeau is due in person, in the Honorable Guzman's court, in June of this year, for a hearing. If he doesn't show up there might be consequences. Or maybe not.

Whew. It's difficult to keep up with all of these cases, isn't it?

Naturally, there's been quite a bit of buzz already about Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy, with people speculating about what it really means. Will it be the end of GIN? (I think probably not.) More importantly, will it be the end of KT's nearly lifelong career as a scammer? (Again: I think probably not.) Will it mean that KT won't have to pay that $37 million dollar-plus fine that the FTC says he owes? (I maybe, and that's probably the main point.) Will it protect Trudeau from having to pay any of his creditors or other people who say he owes them money, including disgruntled ex-GIN speakers and members? (I say probably so. Those people are screwed.) Will it affect the aforementioned criminal contempt case at all, or will it only affect the civil proceedings? (Damned if I know, but some think that the criminal contempt case may be his Achilles heel. However, I wouldn't put anything past his lawyers at this point, and I doubt if Trudeau will see a moment of jail time for the criminal contempt.)

Omri at GlancingWeb discusses some of the possibilities and legal ramifications of Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy on the above-linked blog post, but thus far it is all speculation.

I do have the sense that the bankruptcy will be a big yawner for the most part. It won't make a dent in Scamworld and may not even make much of a dent in Trudeau's corner of Scamworld, particularly if he really has established a new home base in Switzerland, as widely reported. Meanwhile, many of Trudeau's staunchest defenders, if they even acknowledge the bankruptcy, will probably lament the fact that their beleaguered hero was driven to this indignity as his last legal recourse to protect his hard-earned dollars from the big bad U.S. government.

Whatever happens, it seems obvious to anyone with clear sight that this bankruptcy action is just another in a long, long line of Trudeau's efforts to make as much money as possible, while avoiding accountability. Let's go back in time for a bit...

Smooth operator...
As I have noted repeatedly, probably to the point of irritation, anybody who bothers to research Kevin Trudeau's past will easily find scads of negative information. There's more negative info about him than positive info. The fact that many people did not bother to do research before joining GIN -- or did do some of the research and joined anyway -- is testament to Trudeau's mighty marketing power. The truth is that many good, smart people joined GIN and now regret it. And I am not trying to rub these good people's face in anything, so I hope those of you who are my friends will understand why I keep repeating myself.

I've written a lot about Trudeau over the past four-and-a-half years (see link list at the end of this post), and I have provided many links to negative info about him. But I've had a few links lying around waiting to be used on this Whirled (or used again), and now is as good a time as any to use or re-use them. If some of these look familiar to some of you, it's because I've previously shared and discussed them on Facebook, in various forums.

The International Pool Tour
One of the more recent Trudeau failures, which several folks have mentioned again in the wake of the latest bankruptcy news, is
the infamous International Pool Tour (IPT), created by Kevin Trudeau in 2005. (Alas, several documents in the corroborating links at the end of the linked Wiki article have now been 404'd.)

The IPT all started out so wonderfully,
with Billiards Digest writing a glowing profile of the rich, successful Trudeau in November 2005. The writer waxed almost worshipful of the king who lived such a gilded lifestyle in his opulent mansion in idyllic Ojai, California.

Technically, Rand McNally refers to the 8,000-population city Trudeau calls "home" as Ojai, Calif. But Trudeau knew he would live in Ojai long before he even knew it existed.

"Shangri-la was the mythical, remote idyllic hideaway in James Hilton's book, 'Lost Horizon,'" says Trudeau, sipping from a bottle of water as he motors north on I-405. "When they made the movie version (1937), it showed these shots of a valley with lush greenery and orange groves surrounded by mountains. Way back when I saw that movie I said I wanted to live there.

"Then, the first time I came to Ojai to visit a friend, I looked around and said, 'This is Shangri-la. I want to live here.' I didn't realize until later that Ojai actually was the Shangri-la depicted in the movie." Dreams always seem to find their way into reality for Trudeau.

There have been a lot of questions over the past couple of years about that KT castle in Shangri-La. According to
this Zimbio summary of KT's criminal history, Kevin agreed in September 2004 to transfer some Ojai residential property and a luxury vehicle to settle an FTC charge. I wonder: Did that agreement fall through, or was this a different property from the one portrayed in the November 2005 Billiards Digest piece (which appears to be on the market for $1.4 mil)? In any case, I do hope that the major news outlet that is working on an investigative story about Trudeau and GIN took a trip or is planning to take a trip to Ojai. Just to make sure they got all of their bases covered. Heck, they went to Switzerland, so Ojai should be a piece of cake.

The Billiards Digest article is worth reading, because it provides Kevin's spin on his early history and prison time (
page 3 and page 4). Not a word about any seekrit society/Brotherhood, though. I don't think he really started flogging that tall tale until his second Natural Cures book in 2006.

Not surprisingly, there were a few naysayers re the IPT from the beginning. Not everyone was deliriously enthusiastic about a pool tour with convicted felon Kevin Trudeau at the helm. But that was NBD to KT. The Billiards Digest piece quotes Kevin as saying, "My point is, I get scrutinized because I'm in a controversial area." The writer of the piece continues:

So it comes as no surprise to Trudeau that his sudden and Trump-esque entree into the pool world has also been met with scrutiny, cynicism and trepidation.

"The opening quote in my book is by Albert Einstein," Trudeau points out. "He said, 'Great spirits always get violent opposition from mediocre minds.'"

"When you create something new, like the IPT, the first reaction isn't, 'Great!' It's, 'Witch! Charlatan!' That's what happens. And that's why those reactions don't affect me anymore."
And towards the end of the article, Kevin reassures any doubters...
"For starters, I'm 100 percent guaranteed to 2006 and 2007. I've committed $1 million or more to every event. Plus $1 million to the production of each event.

"Additionally, my intention is not to do this for a couple of years and then say, 'Nah, I don't want to do this anymore.' I truly want pool to get as big as the PGA [Professional Golf Association] Tour. My vision is to eventually have a U.S. tour, with four 'majors.' I could see an Asian tour and a European tour.

"At that point," he insists, "the IPT would become a self-sustaining entity."

Alas, by the end of 2006, the International Pool Tour was... you guessed it... "in serious financial trouble, and was forced to stop staging major tournaments," according to the Wiki article on the IPT, linked to above.
Here's what the main Wiki article on Trudeau had to say about it.

And here is more,
from a 2006 article in Details Magazine. True to form, Kevin apparently spun it as another case where he was the one who really got screwed.

If the dream is dead, it may only be for the players. Trudeau's aggressive good cheer returns when he talks about the IPT's future, which may involve a reorganization under bankruptcy protection and even a stock offering. "I'm really bullish about the business," he says, "and I feel really good about it."

Players like Morris, who've heard Trudeau's enthusiasm before, are left wondering. Could the IPT have been an honest business? Was it just a tax write-off for Trudeau or a promotional ploy? Or maybe a grander scheme that got tripped up before it could take flight?

The last scenario may be the most likely, as Trudeau now claims his business model from the start "was to have pool matches online where people could wager between one another. And also allow wagering on the events amongst players." Although Trudeau never revealed this plan ("It's not wise for a new business to show the world their playbook"), the IPT was to be an online-gambling site.

"People say, 'Oh, the players are getting screwed,'" Trudeau says. "No, Kevin Trudeau gets screwed! I'm the sucker." He claims to have invested $10 million and lost $2 million of his own money, but don't expect him to offer proof anytime soon: He mentions that his holding companies are in constant motion and that he's given much of his fortune to various foundations, but says, "What I do with my money I keep completely private." And he is even more adamant when it comes to keeping the IPT's finances and even the names of its board members secret. "It's a privately held corporation," Trudeau says. "You know the great thing about being privately owned? I don't have to tell you."
Yeah, he's big on those secrets. Kind of like with GIN...

MLM fever

Going back in time considerably further, there's the infamous Nutrition for Life multi-level marketing company.
Here's an article from the January 1, 1996 Wall Street Journal. Though the article says that there was no evidence that Trudeau had personally committed any wrongdoing in recruiting, it appears he was doing some dodgy things through his Trudeau Marketing Group (though he claimed that he personally wasn't to blame). Nutrition for Life International went into bankruptcy in 2003, but not, as the Skepdic site noted, "before making Trudeau and some other investors very rich."

I'd recommend reading that Skepdic article too, if you haven't already. It is not new; as of today (4/25/13) it was last updated on 9 December 2010. However, it does contain some history about Trudeau -- history that just won't go away.

And here's a 2004 opinion piece by Evelyn Pringle that contains some very interesting background on Kevin Trudeau's involvement with Amway, Amway leader Dexter Yager, and current GIN spokes-predator Blaine Athorn. Apparently Blaine knew about Trudeau's criminal activities way back when, and even fired him when he found out about the credit card fraud in the late 1980s... but lo these many years later, Blaine remains one of the most aggressive recruiters for GIN.

Looking bloated and complacent, long-time Trudeau bud Blaine Athorn
calls the GIN faithful to recruit more suckers to give money to his b.f.f. 

Amway, of course, continues to thrive despite Trudeau's involvement, and over the decades has developed into quite the cash cow for a few, and, like most MLMs, quite the monetary black hole for the many. But other companies in which Trudeau was involved have not been so fortunate.

Trudeau's own advice on bankruptcy
As many of you may know, Kevin Trudeau has actually given advice about bankruptcy. In fact he had a whole chapter devoted to it in his book,
Debt Cures They Don't Want You To Know About.

Here is
southern Oregon bankruptcy lawyer Karen Oakes' review of that chapter:
She concludes:
The opinions expressed in this chapter are merely Mr. Trudeau’s opinions. He states that bankruptcy will be a black mark on your credit score and that vultures will “swoop down” to prey on the debtor. My experience has been that my clients’ credit scores will go up upon filing bankruptcy, especially when there are a number of accounts that have gone to debt collectors or are paid late. Every situation is unique; every financial matter is different and the outcome is as unique as the financial situation bringing debtors to my office.   This chapter, while one of the shorter chapters in the book, just adds to the stigma surrounding the filing of bankruptcy.

This chapter fails.
Granted, Ms. Oakes is a bankruptcy lawyer so she has a stake in convincing people that bankruptcy isn't a horrible tragedy. Still, I find it interesting. And despite what he apparently wrote in Chapter 15 of the book, "No Bankruptcy," Trudeau also seemed to promote bankruptcy as a perfectly honorable solution when all else fails, as indicated in this screen shot of the 2008 hardcover edition of the book:

RevRon's take on it...
Before I close this out I want to share a comment that my guy Ron Kaye made on Facebook the other day regarding the Kevin Trudeau bankruptcy, and the anticipated buzz about same. This is a slightly edited/corrected version of the one that originally appeared. Writes Ron, who as usual minces no words (warning: may be offensive to sensitive readers).

After having followed the conversations and looked at all the "evidence" presented for many months, I've come to the conclusion that Trudeau is by all counts a huckster and serial scammer, who has managed to talk a lot of people out of a lot of money for products and promises of dubious value. Some felt cheated, and some felt that they benefited from their investments. Bottom line is that he broke several laws in the process, but has managed to stay a step ahead of those who are pursuing him.

Some of those who felt cheated - particularly those who envy the kind of success Trudeau has achieved - are so angry at Trudeau that they have made it their life's work to get revenge. The less intelligent among them underestimate Trudeau's survival talents, and repeatedly issue giddy proclamations that the end is near for him and his empire. He might suffer some loss, and might even face criminal charges, but I wouldn't write him off too quickly.

So Trudeau is a huckster. Compare what he has done to what his most vocal detractors are doing. Leonard Coldwell, for example, seems to not only want Trudeau to fail, his inane and vitriolic ramblings seem to indicate that he wants the entire country to undergo a destructive upheaval. He isn't satisfied with his own GIN clone scam making him a bunch of money; he attacks anyone who doesn't march in lockstep with his proclamations (historical reference intended), and even encourages others to commit criminal acts against them. In short, he foments nothing as diligently as the hate and upheaval with which he is so obsessed. Anyone with a brain can see that he is using an ignorant and easily-manipulated Abe Husein as a focal point in his diatribes, playing upon Abe's  fixation upon revenge and his desire to appear significant beyond his position as a fast-food worker.

My opinion of the third party to this tainted triumvirate, Peter Wink, is that he can be accurately compared to an ineffective sperm, swimming from diseased egg to diseased egg, hoping to find one that he can fertilize. One need only look at his employment history of jumping from huckster to huckster - with what has become a boilerplate derision of people upon whom he had previously heaped unabashed praise - to see the validity of the comparison. He attempts to appear magnanimous and "above the fray," while encouraging the vitriol and perpetuating the scams to the best of his abilities.

And these folks are supposed to be the "cure" for Trudeau's misdeeds? I, for one, find the obsession with anger, violence, and hate to be infinitely more destructive than the act of convincing thousands of people to spend money they don't have on things they either don't need or could obtain at much lower cost or free. While I make no excuses for Trudeau, he is actually no worse than many executives on Wall Street or at the helm of large corporations. And while I agree that in a perfect world, the government would put a stop to his shady dealings, I recognize that we don't live in a perfect world, and I would put Trudeau in line for prosecution somewhere behind a lot of executives and elected officials who do far more damage to society as a whole, not to mention millions of individuals.

And yes, I'd even put the proponents of hate, of violence, and of sedition in line ahead of him. But I sense that prosecution isn't necessary for folks like Coldwell, Abe, and Wink; their public statements will render them inconsequential in short order, because as smart as they think they are, they aren't smart enough to read the mood of the country, or even to keep their mouths shut about their inane predictions and philosophies. Their lies - and their sociopathy - will out, and all we really need to do is sit back and watch. Any legal trouble they might get themselves into will only be icing on the cake, as things come to pass in their own organic way. For myself, I look forward to having even a single day when I hear none of their names, and when my eyes no longer ache from rolling back in my head over their malevolent idiocy. The one prediction I will make is that such a day is approaching rapidly.

My sense is that my own vague, no-brainer prediction is continually being validated: there will be no neat and tidy endings to the GIN saga, or to Kevin Trudeau's scamming. Although I too got caught up in the GIN-is-falling schadenfreude party last year, and even momentarily thought Trudeau's arrest was imminent, I'm over that. I don't know if he even belongs in jail (I think one of his predatory former b.f.f.s is a much better candidate for imprisonment, but that probably won't happen either). To tell the truth I'd rather see KT in humble community service for the rest of his life, along with some of those over-stuffed, complacent accomplices such as Blaine Athorn. But he's a slippery snake, Kevin is, and my sense now is that his scamming days are far from over. I think it seems likely that the bankruptcy is not the beginning of the end; it's just the beginning of a new beginning for Kevin Mark Trudeau.

PS added on 26 April 2013 ~
A friend of mine added some perspective about Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

Having gone through a Chapter 7 myself I can tell you some procedural things. Such as, you might not ever see KT's case on [Judge] Wedoff's docket. Why? Because it will be the Bankruptcy Trustee, [Phillip D.] Levey, who will do all the heavy lifting and hosting all the hearings. If you can find Levey's schedule, that would be the way to track Kevin. My attorney and I were required to attend a hearing room meeting with the Trustee who asks the financial questions while I was on the stand under oath. Neither I nor my attorney ever had to meet the judge. At his leisure and in his chambers alone the judge ultimately signs the document and has it published after the Trustee gives him a review and a thumbs up.

Kevin's case will be complicated and contentious, unlike mine. So perhaps the judge will get involved if the Trustee feels overwhelmed. But that would be much later after Kevin's attorney sends by mail any additional documents requested by the Trustee, after the hearing room experience.

[During my own hearing] there were approximately 20 other parties in the room also declaring bankruptcy. Time on the stand only about 5 minutes each. Creditors are notified as to the date and time of the hearing. They can ask questions, but rarely do because they've been given the same financial paperwork describing the person's situation. [My creditor] had a representative in the room and he asked about every fourth person a question about personal property or inheritance or life insurance, things that might be off the radar. I was required to produce one additional document which my attorney mailed in. It took about 8 months from start to finish.

The Trustee holds great power, but makes it clear to those assembled that he is not there to humiliate anyone. That's how it works!
So again: Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy is just another procedure, just more paper shuffling, and probably nothing more than a way to shield his assets from those who believe he owes them money. But mainly it seems to be a way of avoiding paying the $37 mil FTC fine and getting the contempt charges vacated. And it may very well be successful, or will at least create still more delays. Don't get me wrong: certainly as a symbolic event Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy is significant; it's always significant when a public figure who preaches "success" tips and brags about his own success resorts to bankruptcy. It's no big deal when ordinary citizens file bankruptcy; sometimes that is the only way out of an otherwise impossible situation. But when the king of cons does it, it is kind of a big deal. And this development should make GIN members and KT defenders at least pause to consider that they're being taken. Even so, as I said, Kevin Trudeau's bankruptcy won't make a dent in Scamworld and probably not even much of a dent in Trudeau's cushy life.

Update, 2 July 2013: I was poking around on today, and found that Trudeau's bankruptcy has already been closed and the trustee discharged. The case was dismissed in late May due to failure to file the proper documents, and terminated on June 3.
The deadline for objecting to the discharge is August 30.

Of course, this could all be just another delay tactic. As a friend of mine observed, "This gives them until August to delay and maybe make a deal, and failing that they protest and refile and delay another 4 months. This is making 20 lawyers very rich." That sounds about right. Anyway, here's a shot of page 1 of the docket:


Update, 11 July 2013: The trustee weighs in. This was not available on the docket when I did my update immediately above; it was filed the day after I did that update. Click to enlarge...

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  1. It could also be a quick way to dispense with all of those nagging legal bills he has run up.

  2. @ Tom Banjo, I was thinking along those lines... what is he seeking protection from by filing?

    Many followers/victims of these scams are familiar with the workings of bankruptcy, having gone through it themselves!

  3. Ron's commentary is coffee out the nose hilarious. Loved it. Great work as usual, Connie.

  4. Abe has posted some of the financials of GIN, and other KT related entities on his facebook.

  5. If I turn on the TV for an hour I expect to hear dozens, or hundreds, of false claims. Can you investigate why Trudeau was singled out to be fined a third of a tenth of a billion dollars for making BS claims that everyone else also makes. Did he simply say "get lost" to the wrong powers-that-be? Your articles have a strong "I hate Kevin" overtone. Be fair...

  6. Great post. It seems that this issue of bankruptcy scams isn't only an issue in Ontario. I wonder where it all started. Thanks again.

  7. ABC's The Lookout covered story on Kevin tonight... Federal judge has ruled against him, a court appointed receiver has been put in control of his whole empire, froze all of his assets and could soon begin liquidation... deeming that he actually controls all of the companies in his wife's name... he has been ordered to stay in America, give up his passports...

  8. Thanks, Wendy. Yes, on my most recent blog post (August 14), I mentioned the ABC followup. I've also been reporting the court goings-on since the bankruptcy.