Journalist Remy Stern joined Ian Punnett to discuss the dark truth about the infomercial industry, and the deceptive hucksters who lure unsuspecting and desperate people into their scams. While legitimate companies (e.g., Guthy-Renker) do use infomercials to market their products, Stern noted that lax government regulations have allowed many con artists and quacks to slip through.
One of the most notorious is Kevin Trudeau, the late night television pitchman known for hawking his Natural Cures and Mega Memory systems. "He has made an art out of scamming people," Stern said. Trudeau has been the subject of Federal Trade Commission lawsuits and charged numerous times for making outlandish claims with no evidence to back them up. In 2004, Trudeau agreed to give up his assets of record (some cash and his residence in California) to settle one such lawsuit. According to Stern, he likely still has millions of dollars, stashed in various offshore accounts.
Transferring the bulk of their enormous earnings to offshore tax havens is typical of many infomercial stars, Stern continued, noting convicted real estate 'guru' William McCorkle in particular. McCorkle, who peddled a get rich scheme involving foreclosed properties, was shown in his infomercials standing in front of expensive homes, luxury cars, an even a private jet--none of which belonged to him, Stern said. He was ultimately sentenced to 18 years in prison for moving his ill-gotten gains from the United States to the Cayman Islands.
Stern spoke briefly about 80s get rich icon Tom Vu, SMC Corp, Carleton 'No Down Payment' Sheets, and Miss Cleo, the supposed Jamaican psychic who duped millions of callers with her phony hotline. He also shared his experience at a 'free' Trump Institute seminar, where participants were strongly urged to pay $1500 for a 3-day real estate course, and went over his top infomercial schemes and scammers, including multi-level marketing salesman Don Lapre, Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, continuity sales specialist Video Professor, and Cash4Gold.
The final hour featured Open Lines.
Ian Punnett's Blog Post 3/20/10
I hope you had a fantastic National Livingroom Fort Day! Did you order some pizza or Chinese and never leave the house like proponents of this occasion were suggesting on Facebook? Whatever you do, whenever you build a livingroom fort out of sofa cushions and coffee tables, etc, remember to take pictures and post them on Facebook. There’s a whole FB page dedicated to this.
Being able to assemble a livingroom fort is an important skill to maintain in case this country is overrun by invaders with Nerf guns.
Every good livingroom fort needs a spy to keep an eye on those diningroom fort losers and every good spy needs an invisibility cloak. The Times online says that those times are almost online:
Scientists have come a step closer to making Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks a reality.
Researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in Germany, have created the first device to render an object invisible in three dimensions.
By placing a "cloak" over a tiny lump of gold measuring 0.00004 in by 0.00005 in, they were able to distort the light hitting the object in such a way that the bump appears invisible at nearly visible infrared frequencies.
Previously developed cloaks worked only in two dimensions and only worked if viewed from a specific angle. They also only worked for microwave frequencies. The new cloak works for infrared light — a step closer to the visible spectrum.
My sixteen-year-old just asked me the other day what I would do if I had an invisibility cloak and I told him I would use it to cover myself next time I had to go in for a colonoscopy. While he sat there trying to figure that out, I sat there trying to remember at what age exactly the answer to "what would you do if you were invisible?" changed from "I would go into the girl's locker room."
Of course, if you had asked me yesterday when a story I was involved with was on TMZ, I might have used the invisibility cloak for a couple of hours until that blew over.
If you missed it, it's too hard to explain. The story involved infidelity, my wife and Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman but don't worry, my wife didn't cheat on me with Dog, at least yet.
Like I said, hard to explain. Weirder still is that somebody just posted a message on my FB page explaining how Geraldo Rivera was asking Duane "Dog" Chapman about the TMZ piece and he denied any of it was true.
Fair enough. So, without going into the issue, the issue is settled. Geraldo is still going after the big game, my wife is still my wife and Dog is still a Dog.
The rest you will have to google.