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, October 11, 2013

Meet the new new scam, same as the old new scam (and the old scam)...

NOTE: I have made a few corrections and additions to this post, as I have since corresponded with some of the Omnia Society principals. New text is in this color.
~CC, December 2013

As serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's lawyers prepare for his criminal trial to begin on November 4 (a status hearing was held yesterday, October 10, but so far the only new doc I've seen on PACER is the jury questionnaire*), it seems that some more of Katie's cohorts/former b.f.f.s are planning to launch yet another "membership society" scam. Oh, goody. We needed some more scams to fill in the gap scam that may soon be left by the apparently moribund Global Information Network (GIN), which is now under receivership. (Don't count GIN out just yet, but just between you and me, it really does not seem to be its former robust self any more. [Note for the humor-impaired: That last bit was understatement for comical effect.])

The year 2013 has been a busy one for alternate seekrit clubs. Earlier this year the
IBMS Master's Society, founded by Trudeau's ex-b.f.f. Mocktor Leonard Coldwell and Trudeau's ex-marketing guy Peter Wink, was introduced to a breathlessly waiting world. Now it appears that there's another new seekrit society in Scamworld, currently in pre-launch. And this one is different from all other societies of its ilk, because it is all dignified and intellectual and stuff, and there's a quotation by Plato on the banner on the home page, and numerous other quotations by other dead guys on the other pages, including several by The Buddha. I know you're pumped and can't stand the suspense any longer, so...

I give you
The Omnia Society.

Really. I give it to you. It's yours. Take it.

What is the Omnia Society?
Well, let me let the Omnia Society tell you.
The Omnia Society is an institution dedicated to providing quality, credible, information and training on a broad range of important topics. The word “Omnia” is ancient Latin meaning All Things. Our motto is OMNIA OMNIBVS or All Things to All People, one of the core beliefs of our society. Life-long learning is a common trait between many of the most successful people in the world. Members of the Omnia Society are people who seek knowledge and competence in order to be a well-rounded intellectual, able to achieve goals and be successful in any setting. Our members recognize that accomplishing their goals requires more than motivation alone. The Omnia Society provides the right balance of motivation and education, with the singular mission to provide the actual knowledge needed to live an accomplished life. Founded by a small group of intellectuals with a proven track record of success, the Omnia Society sets out to usher in a new generation of learning and training.
Our members come from all walks of life including business people, stay-at-home parents, athletes, free-thinkers, travelers, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, artists, and basically anyone interested in improving their self-worth, intellect, and competence. Omnia Society is more than just an institution offering education. We are a movement, and we are bound to one another through common values such as information, wisdom, hard work, mutual respect, achievement, success, responsibility, happiness, and recognition of accomplishments. When you become a member, you don’t simply join, you become part of something big.
Part of something big. Does that sound familiar?

I can't take credit for finding this thing. My pal
Bernie at GINtruth.com actually got wind of it through an anonymous emailer, who speculated that the Omnia Society was Kevin Trudeau's next big scheme. Now, my first thought, and those of a few others with whom Bernie shared this link, was that even though the new Society had more than a faint stench of GIN on its breath, Kevin would have to be stuck pretty far in the background to be an actual part of it right now, given the deep legal trouble in which he currently finds himself. It seems that being involved in another even remotely GIN-ish enterprise would be beyond brazen.

Then I read the blurb about the founders.

The Omnia Society was founded by Deno J. Andrews and Stephen Lee. Mr. Andrews holds a B.A. in Business from DePaul University, and has experience in large-scale ventures and membership organizations. Mr. Andrews values a Liberal Arts education and attributes much of his success in life to having a well rounded knowledge base. Mr. Lee brings years of operational and technical experience to the team, having worked in a global enterprise environment most of his professional career.   He served honorably in the U.S. military and has since consulted for various high-profile government agencies. Together, the two Founders have succeeded in several projects and ventures in the areas of personal development and membership organizations.
Deno J. Andrews? Now, there's a familiar name. He was a bigwig in GIN for a while, and after the crap really started hitting the fan in the spring of 2012, some began speculating that Kevin had set Deno up to be a fall guy. Some later said that Deno got out just in the nick of time, in early 2013, reportedly singing like a canary to the FTC. (Just like Peter Wink did last October.) But I have since been told that those rumors about Deno, apparently spread by Wink and self-described "GIN destroyer" Abe Husein, were not at all accurate. I have been told that Deno never went to the FTC and in fact never spoke to anyone in the FTC. This does not necessarily mean that he didn't speak to any Feds, but both Peter and Abe specifically said he spoke to the FTC, and I have heard that is not true.

I have also been told that Deno was never in a position to be a "fall guy." He was not even in a position of any type of fiduciary responsibility until the last few months of his employment. Shortly after the court-appointed receiver took over Trudeau's assets in August 2011, Deno, along with several others, were let go.

Before GIN, Deno was involved with Katie's epic fail, the International Pool Tour (IPT); he was the Tour Director and ran the inaugural IPT event. My original thought, when reading about this, was that apparently IPT's failure was not enough to discourage Deno from hangin' with the big guy. I wondered about that, thinking that maybe Deno wanted to give Katie a second chance, or maybe Katie wanted to make it up to Deno. I didn't know the dynamics, obviously. I know a little more about it now.

It seems that Deno's chief reason for sticking around was to manage the IPT catastrophe, which had been caused by Katie's characteristic mismanagement of funds, and to make sure that Katie met his obligations to pay the players -- which Trudeau did, out of his own pocket, eventually. Apparently Deno did not know until the night before the final day that there was no money in the account to pay the players. It's very possible that had Deno not stuck with Kevin, the players would not have gotten paid, IPT would have gone bankrupt and all of the staff would have been fired, and there could have been a flurry of additional lawsuits to clog up the courts. Sounds plausible to me, anyway. Stories are almost always more complex than they appear on the surface.

(You might be interested to know that I came across some snarky comments about Katie on
a May 8, 2006 thread on the SportTaco.com forum. This was in the wake of a press release detailing television coverage of the IPT. Deno had posted a link to the press release (a link that, not surprisingly, no longer works), and a guy named SteveE replied:

Any pool on tv is better than no pool on tv, but I do hope the coverage going forward is a lot better than the past. More pool and less up close and personal. And for god's sake keep Kevin Trudeau out of the broadcast booth, I don't care if he is paying for it.

Fellow by the name of Larry wrote in response to SteveE's remark, "Can we get a big, loud 'AMEN' to that?")

Anyway. There's no mention on the Wiki piece to which I linked a few paragraphs up of Deno's involvement with the Global Information Network, but of course he was involved.
Here's a pic from happier days; I found it on Ed Foreman's site.

And Deno's ears must have been burning during Michael Dow's deposition on May 8, 2013 (Document 680-1, filed on May 30, 2013 in the civil case (1:03-cv-03904)). I wrote a little bit about the Dow depo on this June 7, 2013 blog post. From pages 28-29, here's Mr. Dow 'splainin' some stuff to the court:

...In December of 2012, Global Information USA stopped doing business and went -- reverted back to Global Information Foundation, and there was a new executive director of GIN Foundation.
And [Suneil] Sant and another gentleman; Deno Andrews -- and I'm not sure who else -- decided what the monthly management fee was going to be, and so we were going to, as a professional service corporation, be engaged by GIN Foundation to help produce the events and do the accounting with regards to paying people commissions and making sure that all the members were happy. So it would provide accounting, IT, customer service, graphic design to GIN Foundation, and we would pay it a monthly management fee starting in December of 2012.
On pages 95-96, Mr. Dow is asked who Deno Andrews is and what he did for GIN. Says Mr. Dow:
He held two roles. One was the vice president of operations for GIN, and then, when -- in January of 2013 he became the CEO of Web site solutions.
So, yes, by all means, Mr. Andrews "has experience in large-scale ventures and membership organizations." That Omnia Society bio blurb is spot on.

As for Stephen Lee, the other co-founder, I can't really find much on him. I'm reasonably certain he's not
the portly Brit snooker player who was banned for fixing matches. Maybe he is this Stephen Lee, whose creds on his Facebook page include the Global Information Network, Your Wish Is Your Command, and GIN Africa. Now, there's a brilliant idea.
Africa needs GIN to supplement the Nigerian scams, Somalian piracy, and whatnot.

Stephen is also a fan of The Secret. Yeah, that seems more like Omnia's Stevie. He lives in Chi-town, same area as Trudeau and Deno and the gang. And in fact his Facebook page makes it look as if he's still an active, happy GIN member.

At any rate, it's pretty obvious from the copy on the site that the Omnia Society is a very special society for very special people. I wonder if it will attract
some Neo-special people too. I'm thinking maybe so, particularly since the Facebook Stephen Lee seems to have some Neo-pals, such as Jill Reed of the Twelve Visions Party. In addition, the Neo-folk seem to fancy themselves the intellectual types, and would be more likely go for this more refined version of GIN than they would the Loony Coldwell-infested ripoff that is the IBMS Master's Society scam. Who knows, the mysterious Mark Scamilton may even be hovering in the background on this one.

I know you're probably beside yourself with excitement by now... but it gets even better. You can be an even bigger part of something big by being a member of the Membership Advisory Board.

The Omnia Society will also have a Membership Advisory Board of duly elected individuals who will serve and be the voice of the membership at large. The Membership Advisory Board will be important in understanding the membership and its needs.
Please join these founders in furthering the mission of OMNIA OMNIBVS - All Things to All People!
But wait, there's more! You can make money selling memberships to the Omnia Society, and you don't even have to be a paying member yourself in order to sell paid memberships. It says so right here. Membership costs $150 a month after you pay an "initiation fee" that is apparently only disclosed on the application form, which you currently cannot get to unless you have a referrer code. I don't know about you, but to me it sounds like deja screw all over again. (If you're "all things to all people," why do you have to charge them to join you? Never mind, I know the answer: people don't value something unless they have to pay actual money for it. Got it.)

I'm sure more details will come; as I said above, Omnia is still in pre-launch, with an expected official launch date some time in early 2014. But
here are some of the expected member benefits -- and yes, of course there's a Law of Attraction-related benefit; did you even have to ask? You can't have a really good seekrit-klub or elite-society scam without getting in on some of that LOA action. Of course you'll learn about precious metals too, as well as health-related topics such as stress reduction. Most of all, there is the ubiquitous perk of "associating with like-minded people," which is code for, "We're a pretty darned exclusive bunch with a need to believe that we're altogether more clever and evolved than most of the rest of the human race, and by golly, we're willing to pay $150 a month or more to tell each other how special we are."

Naturally there's a planned philanthropic/charitable aspect to Omnia as well, because people who form exclusive clubs want to make it known that they Do Good In The World. Omnia plans, at the very least, to provide a means by which members can help other members in need, as well as providing various scholarships for students. That is discussed on the member benefits page, linked to in the paragraph above.

I have to wonder how the charitable donations will be used. Will they actually go to help a needy member, say, with unexpected medical bills or living expenses in the face of a job loss? Or will they just go to help the "needy" member upgrade to the next level, or purchase more Omnia Society tools? And what about the scholarships? Will they be applied towards education at an accredited university or other institution of higher learning, or will they only be good for helping a deserving youth get into the Omnia Society? The copy on the web site doesn't give any indication.

There are a couple of other points I wondered about when I first wrote this post. I wondered how much of the content for Omnia would be "borrowed" from GIN. I wrote, "Maybe it doesn't matter. The main point is that when major scammers, either by design or by sheer recklessness, set up their top people to take a fall, or otherwise screw them, those people are likely to turn on the scammers, and for many, scamming well is the best revenge. Even though I have no sympathy for those who go forth into the world with scams of their own, I also have little sympathy for Kevin Trudeau, who apparently did set others up to take the fall. It's kinda backfiring, Kev."

I also wondered if Petard Winkwell, the Supreme Founders of the IMBS-ing U Master Baiter's Society, were part of Omnia too... or if we were going to have Dueling GIN Ripoffs.

Later when I raised some of these questions directly on the Omnia Society Facebook page, they told me that they are not in business with Wink and Loony, and that they plan to create original content for their members. They also said I should at least give their society a chance.

I'm not sure exactly how I am supposed to do that, since I'm not a fan of "societies" in general. But I have made a few corrections to my original post here. Even so, I believe that when it comes to the Kevin Trudeau saga, the Cosmic mantra still stands...

"No neat and tidy endings."

* At the time I first published this post, on 11 October at 9:44 AM Central, the jury questionnaire was indeed the most recent document I'd seen on PACER in the Kevin Trudeau criminal case. Later in the day, however, another document was filed (Document 106):

The defendant, Kevin Trudeau, has been charged with contempt of court. Specifically, the defendant is charged with willfully violating an order of the district court by making representations in infomercials that misrepresented the content of defendant’s book entitled The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don’t Want You To Know About. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charge."

In addition, a document and exhibit were filed in the civil case: Trudeau's response to the FTC's and the receiver's call for coercive sanctions (throwing him in jail): Documents 766 and 766-1. Here's a handy link.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Connie

Hello from Queensland Australia. Thanks for your commitment and candour. Love your work.
I was just wondering about all the work a lot of these groups eg AccessAntiConsciousness do, in their own country and abroad. It's what we call in Australia 'off the books' and 'cash in hand'. I just wondering how the tax department of respective countries would feel about knowing this? I also know the travel visa requirements have strict limitations on working. just a thought ;-)

Friday, October 11, 2013 5:38:00 PM  
Blogger Sheila O'Shea said...

Most of all, there is the ubiquitous perk of "associating with like-minded people," which is code for, "We're a pretty darned exclusive bunch with a need to believe that we're altogether more clever and evolved than most of the rest of the human race, and by golly, we're willing to pay $150 a month or more to tell each other how special we are."

I love that line so much. So much.

We all have a basic craving for human connection and it maddens me to see that craving exploited by cults and scams like GIN.

Saturday, October 12, 2013 4:59:00 PM  
Blogger Angela Carder said...


Monday, October 14, 2013 5:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You making fun of people is what I got out of this article. If you are going to try to inform people about possible truths, focus on what you believe to be the truth and leave the agenda-driven ego behind please. Remember - anything you say is an opinion just like anyone else. You may be right about certain things, but it won't be because you actually KNOW, it will be because you guessed based on superficial information that you were fed by other sources. If you're right, don't bother patting yourself on the back; just get on with your life.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:21:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Angela: Thank you for your kind comments.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Anon January 18, 2014: Yes, I make fun of people on this blog, and have been doing so since, oh, 2006 or so. My blog, like most creative efforts by most people, is fueled in part by ego and I've never pretended otherwise. That bit I wrote on my profile about being an insufferable narcissist is only semi-facetious.

All journalism and alt-journalism is about "possible truths" and nobody has the true, complete story of anything. Journalists generally rely on information from other sources, superficial or not.

My blog is and always has been a mixture of information and informed opinion (and occasionally mis-informed or incompletely informed opinion, which I try to complete or correct when new information is made available to me). Many of these opinions are simply the result of my own observations as an outsider who has a pretty good idea of how New-Wage schemes work and of how participants in New-Wage culture think.

I knew, for example, even without being "fed" any information, that GIN was a scam. I knew it back in 2009 when GIN was first being launched. Even before GIN, I knew Kevin Trudeau to be a nearly lifelong scammer.

My post about Omnia was originally fueled by my own observations and what I believed to be the truth, based on (1) what I feel is pretty extensive knowledge of what GIN is and was; (2) the similarities of Omnia to GIN; (3) the fact that the principals in Omnia were very much involved in GIN at one time.

That said, I have made some minor modifications to the post after communicating with some of these people. I made what I felt were corrections in factual errors. My original opinions about New-Wage "clubs" and "societies" have not changed, however.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this informative, which is helpful. Connie, it's easy to criticize and be a nay-sayer. What do you actually do besides mocking other people? What do you stand FOR? And what do you actually create? Is there anything in your opinion that is NOT a scam? Do you have anything positive to say about KT and GIN? I must commend you for getting Deno's side of the story and updating accordingly. We need less scamming and more transparency. And a more informed society overall. This type of open dialogue is good, I'm glad I found you on the Google. Keep writing and FEEL GOOD NOW, babe :)

Saturday, June 07, 2014 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Hi, Anon. It's easy to criticize the critics too, and to accuse them (even if indirectly) of doing nothing useful with their lives. This blog reflects only one of my interests: the scammy or dodgy aspects of the new-age/self-help/pop-spirituality/motivational industry. I try to stay on that topic for the most part, except on occasion when I veer off into politics or nattering about my personal life. That's why I usually don't write about things that I DON'T think are scams, and that's why there's a lot of mockery on this blog.

I stand FOR many things, and one of them, directly related to this blog, is working towards a world where people finally accept that if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is a scam. That would be a world it's much more difficult for scammers to get away with their crap, because the public would be more informed and more inclined to think critically.

Maybe my blog does its small part towards this end, maybe not. I don't have any grandiose delusions.

The only positive things I can say about Katie and GIN are that they provided tons of blog fodder, both for posts and creative Photoshopping.

As for Omnia, Deno himself seems like a decent fellow, but some of the people being promoted by Omnia -- those on their 'faculty' -- not so much.

Sunday, June 08, 2014 5:19:00 PM  

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