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John T. Reed’s views of various Real Estate Gurus, Part 5

Posted by John Reed on

Continued from Part 4

Bill Steiger—Unknown

Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. I got an email from a very unhappy customer of Steiger’s. He basically did not think what he got was worth anywhere near what he paid. I assume Steiger has a different opinion, but since there were no factual allegations, I have not asked him about it.

Martin Stone

He wrote a book on real estate investment with Spencer Strauss. See my review of it here.

Spencer Strauss

He wrote a book on real estate investment with Martin Stone. See my review of it here.

Success Magazine (see also Fortune 21)

Too expensive. I wonder why anyone thinks they need "home buyer training" that costs thousands of dollars when people have been buying homes for hundreds of years without it. There is already a whole industry to help you buy homes. They are called Realtors®, mortgage brokers, title insurers, and so forth. If you want to learn how to buy cheap, as they imply they will teach you, you should study books like my How to Buy Real Estate for at Least 20% Below Market Value. It costs $39.95, not the $2,995 these guys want. There are also a few other useful books by other authors on foreclosures and such.

Here are reader comments I have received about Success Magazine.

I think $1,025 is too much for training videos. See my article on expensive stuff. See point number 8 on my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist for my opinion of companies that offer to finance your real estate deals and point number 20 for my opinion of companies that use words like "success" in their company name or product name.

Success magazine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May of 1999.

Milt Tanzer

Has a formula for investing in the 1970s. I reviewed his book for my newsletter. Here is the review.

Bill Tappan (Albuquerque, NM)

Commercial real estate broker in Albuquerque, NM and author of the book, Real Estate Exchange and Acquisition Techniques. Great book. Unfortunately it's now out-of-print and out-of-date. Tappan is the first I know of to include court citations in a book for laymen. I followed his example in my book, Aggressive Tax Avoidance for Real Estate Investors.

Jeffrey Taylor (Norfolk, VA) but...

“Mr. Landlord” Some good information , some incorrect information. Too gimmicky for my taste. He offers so many “special” deals and free trials on his newsletter that I wonder if anybody ever pays for it. I got a bunch of mail from his readers once. Oddly, much of it came in envelopes that were recycled. For example, electric company bill envelopes with the electric company return address crossed out and my name and address written on the window. Many wanted to know what “specials” I offered. Strange group.

Suzanne P. Thomas

Click here for my review of her book Rental House for the Successful Small Investor.

Ted Thomas (Tax Lien Institute, Santa Barbara, CA)

Last I heard, Thomas was a pre-foreclosure and discount lien release guru. Now he’s touting tax liens. I have not seen his tax lien stuff.

I like many of Ted’s ideas. He’s a smart guy who has been around. He went bankrupt apparently as a result of being a syndicator in the ’80s. However, he gave me inaccurate information on a deal I interviewed him about. Two of my readers attended a seminar he gave and did not care for his approach. I know a guy who went into a venture with him and was very unhappy with Ted. Ted’s books contain some stuff I disagree with, like having the previous owner of a property you buy write to the mortgage lender saying he lost his payment book and requesting a new one. In these cases, the new owner of the property is buying subject to a nonassumable mortgage and trying to keep the sale secret to avoid triggering the due-on-sale clause.

Here is an email I received from a visitor to this page:His basic approach to pre-foreclosures and discount lien releases as reported in my newsletter and my 20% Below Market Value book is good. But he keeps doing things that embarrass me so I am reluctant to recommend him in a general sense.

“I am the one who started the ball rolling that eventually led to the Jefferson Institute (Utah) going under. Ted Thomas was teaching his foreclosure course there for something like $2750, in conjunction with JI. After I got back home, I tried his course and followed what it said to do and I found it to be a big rip off. I had to amend it to do my own thing out of it (I've been a CA real estate broker since 1971).

I wrote and complained and and also wrote or called every single one of the 100 attendees of that Ted Thomas course. The Jefferson Insititute got me my money back and gave me a free ticket to attend John Stephanchik's trust deed course. They obviously were receiving all kinds of demands for refunds after my calls and letters (pre-e-mail, obviously in 1991.) Shortly thereafter JI went chapter 7. I really don't know if Ted Thomas was affected by it.

By the way, I had to amend Stephanchik's teachings too in order to do the trust deed buying and selling. I did all right with it afterwards. When I made some calls to JS to ask questions, I did get the runaround from his office in upstate (or outside of NYC) New York. Since I did not pay for the course, I didn't pursue it any further.

Dick Dennis
Escondido, CA

Wright Thurston

Thurston is first and foremost a salesman. A subscriber to my newsletter said he spent all of a recent speech by Thurston taking notes on his salesmanship, none on real estate. Thurston made a sell-stuff-in-the-back-of-the-room speech in February of 1999 in which his main claim to fame was that he used to hang around with Robert G. Allen.

A visitor to this site was kind enough to loan me a copy of Thurston's “Fair But Firm Landlording Techniques.” It’s not bad, but as I read it, I found myself thinking that parts of it were taken from my book How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value. Sure enough, he recommends the first edition of my book in the bibliography. He also recommends Leigh Robinson's Landlording, which no doubt inspired his title. You ought to read my book and Leigh’s, but there is far less reason to buy Thurston's overpriced effort.

Here are the problems I have with it. It triggers the following items on my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Check List: 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, and 20. When he paraphrases my book, you get a lame, nine-year old version of what I said. Why not get the current, complete fifth edition, which I sell for just $23.95 plus shipping?

The only reason to read Thurston’s book is that he relates some personal war stories which obviously are not in my book or Leigh Robinson's Landlording book. He also has an occasional trick, like using a silent (to human ears) dog whistle to locate secret dogs in your rental units.

I do not disagree with much of what he says. But then I do not disagree with much of what Leigh Robinson or I said in our books and Thurston seems to have benefited greatly from reading them. Most of my complaints with his book fall under the category of OK-as-far-as-it-goes-but-it-doesn't-go-very-far. Occasionally, he says something that is dead wrong. For example, he says you should lower your standards in a soft market. No way. You lower your rent in a soft market, never your standards. That advice is penny-wise and pound foolish, not to mention short-sighted.

I would recommend the book weakly if he sold it for a fair price, but I will not recommend it when he charges a bunch and forces you to buy it with cassettes which restate the same material.

Troy Aurelius Titus (Virginia Beach, VA)

Titus was disbarred by Virginia on 9/28/05 for overdrafts in escrow and trust accounts under his care. See http://hamptonroads.com/2008/02/titus-touch-fbi-investigating-popular-lawyer-and-asset-protection-guru.

He was prosecuted for mail fraud, wire fraud, and other crimes, convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on 4/15/10.

Donald Trump (New York City)—I recommend (only his Art of the Deal book)

I recommend Trump’s book Art of the Deal although it is about institutional (huge) properties and development so it is only partially helpful to individual real estate investors (purchase, renovation, and sale of small, existing properties) and beginners. I have also seen some episodes of the Apprentice and was generally impressed with the way Trump handled himself and dealt with his subordinates.

Trump’s publisher asked me to contribute to a book of his titled Trump: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received: 100 Top Experts Share Their Strategies.

 I sent in a contribution, but I later withdrew it because I started seeing ads that showed Trump speaking with Robert Kiyosaki and Tony Robbins (he is not real estate but I commented about him in my rating of Marshall Reddick above) and because I heard that the real estate guy at Trump’s University is Dolf De Roos.

I do not recommend other speakers who are associated with Trump.

A number of readers have commented to me along the lines that Trump is the gold standard of real estate investment. I disagree.

He is a somewhat successful (four Atlantic City casino companies of his went bankrupt) developer of commercial properties in Manhattan and now branching out into other cities.

He is also perhaps the most prominent commercial developer in the nation because of his use of his name on most of his properties; his focus on landmark properties like office buildings, hotels, golf course properties, condos, and casinos rather than less glamorous properties like industrial buildings or garden apartments; his TV series; his marriages; and other activities that draw media attention. Trump is a celebrity real estate developer.

If there is a top real estate investor, it is more likely a guy who never put any of his companies into bankruptcy like Sam Zell or Tom Barrack whom Fortune named “The World’s Greatest Real Estate Investor” in its 10/31/05 issue.

Trump & Kiyosaki

Trump wrote a book called Why We Want You to Be Rich with Robert Kiyosaki. Click here for a review of it by one of my readers.

Trump's assistant, George Ross, wrote Trump Strategies for Real Estate. Click here for a review.

Trump University real estate programs—I do not recommend

On 8/26/13 AP reported:

New York's attorney general sued Donald Trump for $40 million, saying the real-estate mogul helped run a phony Trump University that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars and failed to deliver promised apprenticeships.

In response, Trump’s people said they provide, “11,000 testimonials to Mr. Schneiderman [NY Attorney General] from students praising the program” and said 98% of students in a survey termed the program "excellent."

That may be misleading. It is a standard tactic in the sleazy real estate investment seminar business to promise a certificate suitable for framing upon completion, to require filling out an evaluation form of the seminar to get the certificate, and to require that you hand the evalutation of the instructor to the same instructor at the end of the seminar in order to get your certificate. Most people would want to at least get the certificate and do not have the love of confrontation required to slam the instructor accurately on a piece of paper then hand to him face-to-face. The sleazy real estate gurus know this then, when you try to get your money back, they use the evaluation you signed against you in court. Sleazy real estate investment gurus do not seem to be that expert about real estate, but they are absolute geniuses when it comes to preventing you from successfully suing to get your money back and evaluations from people who wore reluctant to criticize the instructor to his face are key to that.

I should think it would not be hard to get former students to testify to what I just said, although their having done the evaluation hurts their credibility a bit. The guru’s attorney should ask them if they ever put the Trump certificate on public display or cited it in a mortgage application or investment presentation attesting to their expertise in real estate investment.

I do not know the circumstances of how Trump per se got his 11,000 evaluations, but what I have just described is standard practice among the bad gurus.

In the spring of 2015, I was hired by a law firm representing a class action suing Trump and his “University.” For reasons unknown to me, I stopped hearing from them in the Fall of 2015. The suit continues and has become a bid point of contention in his presidential campaign.

John Ulmer, Westhaven Group (Toledo, Ohio)

Commerce News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12/13/2005

Contact: Dennis Ginty at (614) 644-9564
dennis.ginty@com.state.oh.us
or Denise Lee at (614) 644-7115

SUSPENSION ORDER CONFIRMED AGAINST
WESTHAVEN GROUP, LLC, HAVEN HOLDINGS, LLC, AND JOHN F. ULMER

(Columbus) -- The Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Securities issued final orders today confirming the November 21, 2005 suspension order against Westhaven Group, LLC (“Westhaven”), Haven Holdings, LLC (“Haven Holdings”), and John F. Ulmer.

The confirmation permanently suspends the right of the respondents to buy, sell or deal in securities issued by Westhaven. Further, today’s action officially finds that Westhaven, Haven Holdings, and John F. Ulmer sold unregistered securities, made false representations in the sale of securities, and engaged in securities fraud.

The Division also finds that Westhaven, Haven Holdings and John Ulmer assured Westhaven investors that their investments were secured by real estate, when in fact some were not. The Division finds that of the 336 promissory notes sold between November 21, 2002 and June 22, 2005, 77 were not secured by real estate and 53 were not properly recorded with the appropriate county recorder’s office. In addition, 48 notes were assigned mortgages valued at less than the face amount of their note.

As part of the confirmation order, the Division finds that Westhaven, Haven Holdings and John Ulmer failed to disclose to investors that:

Westhaven has not been profitable for at least the past three years,

New investor funds have been used to repay the principal of previous investors,

Former Investment Manager Roger Morr was convicted of grand theft, a third-degree felony, in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on October 23, 2003. (Morr had sold at least $140,000 in phony, non-existent, allegedly FDIC-insured certificates of deposit to eight investors, including customers of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Delta, Ohio. At the time, Morr was the financial institution’s branch manager.) The Division finds that Morr informed Westhaven, Haven Holdings and John Ulmer of his conviction and prison time during his job interview with Westhaven, and

The $10 million life insurance policy securing payment of the outstanding balance of the notes in the event of John Ulmer’s death could not cover the approximately $26 million in outstanding notes.

Westhaven, Haven Holdings, and John Ulmer, in cooperating with the Division, consented to the confirmation of the suspension order and do not admit or deny the findings against them. Legal counsel for Anthony R. Garzony and Roger A. Morr, who were also named in the Division’s suspension order, have indicated to the Division that their clients intend to consent to the confirmation of the suspension order. As a result, the confirmation or revocation hearing that was continued to December 13 and then December 14 has been cancelled.

Scot F. Ulmer’s legal counsel has requested a continuance to the confirmation or revocation hearing to provide additional time to prepare for a hearing. A date for his hearing has not yet been scheduled. The November 21, 2005 suspension order against Scot Ulmer remains in effect.

To see this on the Ohio Department Commerce Web site click here.

US Mortgage Reduction

Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru.

J.P. Vaughan

I almost never visit Vaughan’s Web site, Creative Real Estate Online. I think it’s a good idea and I’m glad it exists, but as a real estate investment information writer, there are several problems with my hanging around there. Mainly, I sell the sort of information that persons who contribute to CRE give away for free. Also, I frequently answer a question with, “Read my book or article on that subject.” Such answers are verboten on CRE. No free advertising. The alternative to that answer is for me to rewrite the requested info in email form. That would be time-consuming and not conducive to my paying my mortgage.

The group has published some negative comments about me, which is fine, except a couple of them have been factual in nature and inaccurate. One such comment, made by Vaughan herself, honked me off greatly. She has since apologized to me for the error. I overreacted to two early libelous statements about me at CRE. Some CRE people sent me emails saying I was making a fool of myself—that the individual who posted the message in question was a known jerk whom no one paid any attention to. Bill Mencarow, guru of Papersourceonline.com, another real estate news group (devoted to investing in and brokering notes) told me he once engaged in a lengthy debate with a news group contributor—until several people sent him emails saying the consensus was that the guy he was debating was 12.

Someone on that site impersonated me and and made it look like I made an inaccurate comment about Nothing Down author Bob Allen. I was also impersonated again in July of 2000.

I disagree with their policy of not screening comments or requiring commenters to identify themselves. Vaughan says everybody knows who everyone is, disguised names or not, on the Group I portion of the Web site. Glad to hear that, although I cannot see how it can be true of new users. Group II is the one where people have impersonated or libelled me. According to Vaughan, the Group II portion of the site was created to get all the newbies, who mainly want to know if Carleton Sheets, et al are good, away from the serious discussion. I generally do not feel welcome at the Group II section either. They tend to be followers of the gurus I criticize, so my participation there would likely deteriorate into a shouting match.

Vaughan also say that they sweep through the site daily checking the new postings for things that should not be thtere for violating the rules of the group. And they have always been good about quickly removing inaccurate comments about me or impersonations of me.

The site appears to have some useful comments from good people. But they are mixed in with impersonators, shills who are praising themselves or an associate without disclosing their connection to the guru being praised, shills who condemn competitors without disclosing that conflict of interest, “cultists” who believe certain gurus can do no wrong, and just plain dummies who do not know what they are talking about. Vaughan allows all this as free of speech. Her site reminds me of the bar scene in Star Wars: some normal people there, but a lot of weirdos and outlaws, too. It is also like a cocktail party where invitations are not necessary and many of the guests are wearing ski masks. Vaughn filed suit against one outlaw after spending $20,000 tracking him down. “Buyer beware” is an ancient legal admonition. In view of the lawless nature of Internet news groups, “Web site visitor beware” is also good advice.

A story in the 6/29/98 San Francisco Chronicle was titled “Investors Beware in Internet Chat Rooms.” It was mainly about stock-market rooms but applies to real-estate-investment news groups like Vaughan’s as well. Among the problems they listed:

  • contributors may be children or totally unqualified adults
  • contributors may have a conflict of interest, either for or against the person about whom they comment
  • contributors may impersonate another person

The Chronicle article described “...their value as an investment tool seems negligible—to put it politely. Chat rooms, it seems, serve mainly as group-therapy sessions for people who are in the market and nervous about it.” I would add that they also give a Cheers bar-stool-like platform to the legions of Cliff Clavens who need to try to trick people into thinking they are knowledgeable.

In July of 2000, a person posted a message at CRE Online posing as me. I got a bunch of angry emails denouncing it, but only three apologies when I explained that I had not posted it. I sent a two-sentence form email to each of the people who denounced me in emails I received. About half bounced because their email addresses were phony. I have often thought that Creative Real Estate Online was a classic example of the blind leading the blind. A more accurate description would be: Creative Real Estate Online, where the anonymous debate the fake with the phony under the watchful eye of the gullible. Vaughan tells me the Group I discussions are much better. I have only seen the Group II and those only on a few occasions.

Because of the almost total lack of quality control on the postings at Creative Real Estate Online Group II, it can be the real estate Internet equivalent of the Jerry Springer Show at times. The 2/19/01 Forbes ASAP had a pertinent comment. Jade Beetle, was a “guide” (high-ranking volunteer) at AOL and met her husband as a result. She is now part of a class action suit alleging that AOL’s thousands of “volunteers” were actually employees and should have been paid or paid more than just $19.95 worth of free AOL service per month. She says, “Most of the volunteers are emotionally starved in some way.” As far as real estate investors go, the successful ones are generally very busy and I have trouble imaging them spending much time at news groups. They would use the Net for research, but I would be surprised if they devoted much time to providing free advice.

I suspect the best use of such groups is to ask for referrals. I also found them useful for getting a big picture impression of certain real estate investment gurus. By reading a bunch of postings about a guru, you can get a general idea of the nature and quality of his services. I have been told by people I repect that there is much good advice at CRE Group I. I don’t doubt it, but the key question, especially for novices, is which of the advice is good. When someone identifies himself, you can use his or her reputation to tell if they give good advice. But with anonymous postings or handles, you really have no idea. Which takes me back to referrals. If the anonymous, as a group, refer you to the non-anonymous, you are probably better off for the referral. But taking advice from anonymous individuals strikes me as a course of action that simply cannot be recommended by definition.

[See my reflections on maintaining this Web page for my thoughts on these behavior patterns.]

On 3/9/01, a visitor to my site said I am currently on CRE online in a debate about Russ Whitney. For the record, I have not posted any message on CRE online in 2001. If there are message there purporting to be from me they are written by imposters.

I wish Vaughan and CRE well. Real estate news groups are new media that need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and evolve accordingly. We are still in the early stages of that evolution.

Bill Vaughn

I previously stated here that Mr. Vaughn does not mentor persons in his mentoring service. He sent me an email stating that he mentors about 25% of them. My incorrect impression came from his advertising, which said mentoring customers would be assigned to a “qualified professional personal advisor who is well versed in real estate investing.” I assumed that he would make sure customers knew that he was one of the mentors if in fact he was.

If I understand Vaughn correctly, he says he can provide an “unlimited” mentoring service for 5,200 clients for just $44.95 because he and his colleagues are not trying to make any money on the mentoring, some people pay then never call, and almost all are weaned within two or three months. I suspect that when you charge $44.95 rather than $2,500, mentoring customers feel less need to call repeatedly to get their money's worth. But I continue to point out that a profit-seeking mentor worth listening to ought to cost at least $100 per hour. At that rate, a mentoring service that costs only $44.95 could only make a profit if it limited customers to $44.95/$100 = .45 of an hour or 27 minutes total worth of mentoring---less if they have any overhead or expenses. He tells me they made a profit of just $2,400 in 1999.

Vaughn says his Web site has been certified as a “Safe Shopping Site” by The Public Eye, an Internet consumer watchdog group. I have never heard of that organization.

Vaughn told me, “I must admit, however, that you are pretty close to the mark on some of your reviews.”

Eugene Vollucci

Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Review of his book How to Buy and Sell Apartment Buildings

Tom Vu

Claimed to be a Vietnamese boat person. Surrounded himself with bikini-clad babes in TV infomercials. I am not sure how babes relate to real estate investment. Was he implying you can afford prostitutes after you get rich using his course? Or were the babes gold diggers which you will attract because of your net worth? His approach to advertising is so sleazy I wonder why anyone asks me about this guy.

Here is an email I received about Vu:

“I wish that internet had been around ten years earlier. I bought many books and tapes from many speakers. One of them was Tom Vu’s course. After I bought the course for about $395.00, I realized that I had been had. The information was just basic that most reasonable real estate books you get from the library would have. Some of the information were worthless. I kept some old courses, but I threw Tom Vu’s course away long ago because its zero value. This web site is a valuable one that any real estate investor should read.” mnnguyen49@ hotmail.com

Click here for another longer, excellent email about Vu and real-estate gurus in general.

Michael T. Warren (1665 Territory Trail, Colorado Springs, CO)

He sent me a post card advertising his "Making Money From Bad Debts Boot Camp." I like that subject. But the post card did not state the cost, which usually means it is so high that the guru feels he has to get you into the clutches of a salesperson before he reveals it. A visitor to my site says Warren’s course is $595 with $100 off if you sign up at the promo speech.

The post card also had four testimonials. He only gave the initials, no names or cities. Providing only the initials of testimonial givers triggers item #21 in my B.S. Artist Detection checklist. I thought it was interesting that one testimonial was by a person whose initials were actually “B.S.”

Warren is one of the guys who offers to invest in your deals. That’s item # 8 in my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist.

I have heard from at least one Warren customer, Jack Larkin, who is extremely unhappy with Warren. Here is an email exchange concerning Larkin and Warren. Contact him and/or Warren for details of the dispute. There has been some information about him at papersourceonline.com, too.

There is also an email about Warren under the Stefanchik heading above.

On the first weekend in March, 2003, I got a blizzard of emails telling me that Warren had been arrested for securities fraud, theft, and racketeering (People v. Michael T. Warren, Div. 03 Case No.: 03CR0793 Colorado Fourth District). If convicted on all counts, he could get 36 years. Trial reportedly has been postponed to February or March, 2005.

Here is an email I sent in 2007 and the answer I got:

I am told you can confirm or tell me where to get confirmation that Michael T. Warren pled guilty to 15 counts of fraud. I would appreciate it if you would tell me how to get the confirming documents so I can write about this at my real estate guru rating page where I previously reported his indictment. (http://www.johntreed.com/Reedgururating.html#anchor541182)
Thank you,
John T. Reed
Mr. Reed

I can only confirm what is public knowledge. Michael Warren did enter a plea of guilty in case 03CR0793, to One Count (1) of Securities Fraud which is a class three felony. The guilty plea was entered on December 20th, 2006, before Judge Robert Lowrey, Fourth Judicial District, State of Colorado. The sentencing on this case is set for September 4th, 2007. There are no documents because this was not a written plea. I hope this answers your questions, if not feel free to contact me and I will try and help you.

Dena Peck, Investigative Paralegal
Economic Crime Division
Fourth Judicial District Attorney's Office

Wealth Investment Network (P.O. Box 49683, Colorado Springs, CO 80949)

I do not like the name of this organization. The good gurus generally do not choose such names. See my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Check List for a discussion of how bad gurus reveal themselves by such things as emphasizing the benefits of wealth rather than real-estate information. Their Web site entry pages are chock a block full of words and phrases that I see over and over in material put out by sleazy gurus.

Some of the articles at this site were written by guys I recommend. Many were written by guys I give a neutral recommendation to. In other words, the authors are generally not as into get-rich-quick hype as the site owners. The home page has a picture of a treasure chest overflowing with gold and jewels.

Stephen Weeks—unknown

Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru.

Fred Weinkauf—unknown

Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru.

David Whisnant (Atlanta, GA)

Click here to read my review of his program.

Whitney, Russ --- I do not recommend --- If I had numerical ratings, I would give him a lower rating than any other guru

Because Russ Whitney sued me in June of 2002, I have created a separate Web page that leads to many other Web pages I have created about Whitney. Click here to go there.

I.G. Williams a.k.a. Ione Young Gray

L.A. foreclosure guru convicted on two counts of using a false social security number to obtain more than $600,000 in federally-related mortgages. Sentenced to 18 months in prison. A visitor to this site added the following: Her Bar Number was #74419; suspension date was 4-29-97. Conviction was for violation of 18 USC 1014, Felony, false Social Security number on a loan application, and for 42 USC 408 (a) (7) (b). He said she was not a saint, but that the government ’s prosecution was questionable. He did not say why. I asked him that and why she used an alias in her seminar business.

Here is an email I received:

“John, I thought you might be interested in the following. It was published in the Attorney Discipline section of this month's edition of the California Bar Journal, which is the official publication of the State Bar of California.

IONE YOUNG GRAY [#74491], 54, of Los Angeles was suspended for five years, stayed, placed on four years of probation with a four-year, six-month actual suspension, and was ordered to take the MPRE. Credit towards the actual suspension will be given for an interim suspension which began April 29, 1997. The order took effect Sept. 20, 2001. Gray was convicted in 1997 of two counts of making false statements on a loan application and two counts of fraudulent use of a Social Security number, all felonies involving moral turpitude. The convictions were the result of knowingly making material false statements in documentation she submitted in support of two loan applications. She provided a false name and Social Security number and misstated her monthly earnings. While suspended for nonpayment of bar dues, Gray accepted three cases for clients. She made three court appearances, filed a complaint and motions, and requested a continuance of a trial date. She stipulated that she committed acts of moral turpitude. In mitigation, she made her loan payments on time and the bank suffered no monetary loss as a result of her actions. There was no order of restitution.

Richard Wood—Murdered

Wood was a paper (seller mortgages) seminar guru. He reportedly persuaded his seminar students to give him $4 to $6 million to invest in second mortgages. Instead, he used some of it to pay phony returns to later investors. Using the principal of early investors to pay phony returns to them and later investors is called a Ponzi Scheme after Charles Ponzi, the first to receive great publicity for using the scheme. Wood reportedly put the rest of the investor’s money into his own accounts—offshore. When he avoided investors or told them unbelivable stories explaining why he could not give them their money back, they forced him into involuntary bankruptcy. He stopped making payments on his $500,000 Las Vegas mortgage and was presumably about to flee the country when he was shot dead in front of his house.

Lance Young—Unknown

Probate guy. Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru.

On 10/9/07, some blogger posted the following:

Without much fanfare, John T Reed has initiated a subtle (but I think welcome) change to his guru ratings system. Under the old system, a guru was either recommended or not. The vast majority were NOT recommended. ...

Reed response: I have not done anything with that page since I posted an item about the Gatten Trust. Today, I am going to note Bob Bruss’s death. Otherwise, I have neither made such a change nor even thought about it. I do not know what he’s talking about.

Good luck,
John T. Reed


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