What Comes Around Goes Around: Scammers Who Conned Me Out of $10k Get Into a Fight

I was going to keep quiet. That would have been much easier. That is what these types of people expect. But I couldn’t just keep quiet and let other people get hurt as well.

Here’s the story…

But, real quick before it, if you have ever been scammed out of money, let me know.  I know it’s painful and embarrassing, but it’s time to move beyond embarrassment and shame and speak out!

You are not a victim.  When something like this happens, it’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow, but only if you do not hide.

With that awareness, here’s what happened in my life recently:

Several months ago I was contacted on Twitter by a man named Steve Pohlit. He reached out to me through a private direct message to let me know that he had perfected a lead generation process that he had been working on utilizing social media and thought would be ideal for a project I was working on.

I am a big believer in synchronicity and that there are no coincidences and I had just the day before been thinking about how I had perfected a process of converting leads and now just needed a great process for generating leads, so I was quite interested in what he had to say.

Then, when I found out he was the creator of Manifest Mastermind (a spiritually-based membership site that is supported by people I trust like Kendra Thornbury and Randy Gage), I thought for sure THIS WAS MEANT TO BE.  I was pretty excited.

Plus, Steve repeatedly used spiritually-infused language of love, trust, & faith when speaking to me and he seemed totally genuine.  PLUS, he directed me to Facebook groups of thousands of people that he had created for Manifest Mastermind and to his business partner Brian Campbell who appeared to have a solid following on Facebook.  They seemed so legit.

Despite the skepticism of my team members, I engaged Steve and Brian to implement their lead generation strategy for me.

And because I wanted to believe, I dismissed major red flags that came up right away.  After all, Steve signed his emails with platitudes like “Love, Steve” and “Sending energy of peace, happiness, unconditional love, Steve” (Oh God, I feel stupid writing this). Besides that, Steve assured me that this was a new strategy, but that he would work with me to work through any of the kinks.   I trusted him and felt confident we’d make it work together. Boy, do I feel stupid now.

Very quickly it became clear that Steve and Brian were not only not doing what they promised, but they had no intention of working through any kinks with me.  They were going to do the bare minimum that was necessary so they could say they fulfilled their end of the bargain under the terms of our agreement and that was it.  Unfortunately, the bare minimum just meant they had to do SOMETHING.

As soon as I tried to let them know that what they were doing wasn’t working and work out the kinks with them to create a strategy that would work, they began to use what I’ll call spiritual manipulation.

Here’s a sample of what that looked like in an email from Steve to me after I emailed him to let him know what wasn’t working and what I thought needed to happen to make our campaign work:

The Law of Attraction states that what you focus on expands. What has been happening is you are focusing on imagined results that have not yet manifest according to your definition. Your reaction is one of attack and you are creating situations in support of your belief that we are part of a group of less than honorable marketers.

While I will not go “toe to toe” with you on each of your points in your email, I do agree the communication was more positive and energetic at the start. Since then what we have felt is that the energy has turned to one of a weekly “bitching and moaning” session. Or, “it is Friday so it is time to tell Brian and Steve they suck”.

With that downstream energy flowing two things happen: 1. we respond factually with what we are doing and 2.) we feel the disconnect with you and the synergy that is possible is dormant.

So, basically, if I express that things are not working, I am energetically damaging the campaign.  (For the record, there was no bitching or moaning and I never said they suck  – although their campaign was a big loser; I was extremely kind with my requests for improvement- I’m quite sure, in fact, that I was too kind.)

This is the exact sort of manipulation that I’ve seen from other what I’ll call “spiritual scammers.” Let me know if you’ve experienced this sort of turn-around manipulation yourself.

As you can likely imagine, things proceeded downhill from there.

Steve and Brian were never willing to work with me to improve anything.  Anytime I expressed displeasure, Steve turned it around on me in an attempt to show me how I was creating negativity and therefore was responsible for the poor results … forget the fact that my team was running a simultaneous campaign having fantastic results with a different strategy!

I knew nothing would ever come of it and chalked the whole experience up to a big, expensive lesson learned.  Rather than investing the energy in pursuing a refund (which I have no doubt would never have come) or a lawsuit (which I have no doubt would have cost me far more than the $10,000 I lost), I let it go.  And, I let it be.

But now it appears Brian (Steve’s “partner” in this whole debacle) has been taken by Steve too.  A case of karma, if you ask me.  It’s not possible that Brian didn’t see how Steve had manipulated me into spending $10,000 on a campaign that had no chance of success.  Brian’s a smart guy and he was the one carrying out the bogus strategy.  So, what did Brian expect?  Did he not realize that Steve was ripping me off?  I’d love to hear Brian’s thoughts on this.

For the rest of ya, it’s time to speak out!

I told myself I was letting this go because I didn’t want to give it anymore energy and that’s true, but I also realize that I was embarrassed and full of shame.  And because I kept quiet, it’s quite possible that more people were taken.

Well, it’s not going to happen anymore.  I will not stand by and watch good-hearted people be taken by mean-spirited, spiritual-talkers who don’t walk their talk with integrity.

I’ve discovered an important paradox.  What has had me keep this quiet up until now  is the victim part of me that feels shame and embarrassment.  When I speak about what happened with an open heart (not from a place of revenge) I feel empowered and all remnants of the victim energy are gone.

I don’t get riled up about much, but I do get riled up about this.  If you have a story about being taken … share it.  Don’t hide it.  It’s time to speak out!  You are not a victim.  With an open heart allow your experience to help others.  You are empowered.

45 Comments

  1. Michael PeakMonday, July 20, 2009 at 6:37 am 

    Hi Alexis,

    Unfortunately, many of us have fallen for similar scams. And it happens to frequently because like you, we’re too embarrased to talk about it.

    Several years ago I was scammed during the production of a TV show. I was convinced by the scammer that if I produced the show, the scammer had a deal lined up and would get it on the air. There was no deal. There was nothing but lies.

    Like you, I ignored all of the red flags. I knew I could do my part and get the show done. If the other guy did what he said he would, it would all work out. I did get the show done, but the scammer, of course, did not come through.

    It was very costly. I lost lots of money, time, and friends in the disaster.

    Pay attention to red flags. They’re there for a reason.

    Michael Peak

  2. Adryenn AshleyMonday, July 20, 2009 at 6:47 am 

    Hi Alexis,
    Great post, and yes, getting scammed does result in feelings of shame and embarrassment. I’ve been ripped off three times, the most recent is in progress. We’ll see how that goes, but since I have received none of the promised items in the package, I’m wondering what to do. If I call out the big wig not fulfilling the promises, will I get black listed? It’s a concern. I think that is a big one for people. But I love how you describe the spiritual scammers! There are so many claiming to be more than they are or ever could provide to you, you simply must do your due diligence up front, but most important, learn to listen to your gut. It’s rarely wrong!

  3. DougMonday, July 20, 2009 at 6:51 am 

    Alexis, thanks to your courage others may avoid the same fate. I hope (and believe) your speaking out will help with your healing. I’m thinking that you know intellectually that you have no reason to be ashamed and I’ll bet it is only a matter of time until you feel it emotionally.

    Sincerely,
    Doug (@CompassCoaching on Twitter)

  4. Scott LovingoodMonday, July 20, 2009 at 7:09 am 

    I am very sorry to hear about your ordeal. Unfortunately many people are only out for themselves and have become very good at manipulating others.

    It is interesting to note that your team members were skeptical of the plan. I have often found that listening to our team (or squad members for me 🙂 help keep us out of trouble.

    It happens to the best of us. It is great to see you releasing the negative feelings you seemed to have been holding inside. I hope all works out well for you and your business continues to grow.

    Sincerely
    Scott

  5. NancyMonday, July 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm 

    Alexis, I am so sorry for what has happened to you! I have been scammed out of money twice…once personally, the other professionally.

    I live in NYC, and a guy on the street stopped me, gave me some total story about needing money for a taxi or a locksmith to get a wardrobe back down to theater in time before a show started that evening..blah blah. I was unemployed, but gave him all the money in my wallet, $36 (he was asking for more… as he needed 2 taxis..but I gave him everything I had). He even asked for it as a loan, and took my phone number so he could ‘repay’ me. I gave him the money, and he didn’t go get a taxi, he walked up the street, grabbed his bicycle and biked off immediately…before I could get to him. I felt so bad.. I had lived here almost 20 years at that point…I felt I should have been smarter than that. I was upset at first, and then chalked it up to a learning experience (as you mentioned above).

    Second, a company ‘hired’ me as a representative (I’m an independent sales rep). Company took me on to start while working the NYIGF (New York International Gift Fair)…this was my training. My compensation was to be commission for my sales, and all accounts in my area would become mine. I worked 6 days of the show (including 1 full day of set up, which I gave up from my own business)…8:30 am – 6pm. To this day, the company has never paid me for my commissions. I started getting red flags during the whole show… owner wouldn’t let me give my business card to people, even new clients who had just written orders. She also wouldn’t let me keep a record of orders I had written… I had to immediately put them into a locked box and never got to see them again. At first, she wasn’t going to give me my rep kit at the end of the show either (which is what had been promised).. but then she changed her mind at the end, but had me rush and put together my own rep kit while she went to pick up the car during breakdown. She gave different customers different prices for the same item, which I didn’t consider right either. Oh, and she wanted my credit card number to give me my rep kit (something no one has ever required…and which I did not give). I was leary, but friends I shared these things with told me they thought I was reading too much into the “flags” I was pointing out. There were many warning signs, and I disregarded all of them.

    One month after the show, she asked me to send her rep kit back to her…she wanted to re-do it and send it back to me. With all the money that this woman owed me, there was no way I was going to send back the only thing I had of value from this company. She could have her rep kit back when I got paid. (I had this sneaking supsicion that I would send the rep kit back, and I would still never see my commission and be out the value of the products also)

    To this day, I have never been paid the approximately $1,500 commission I am owed… it has been 1 year now. When I approached her about it, she told me sell the rep kit to get my money. When I started calling some of the customers to ask for copies of their invoices, I was told by a couple of customers that they had been billed for items which were not included in their shipments, and when they tried to contact the company, they did not answer multiple phone calls or emails.

    I also was going to keep quiet, but I’ve decided that people need to know so they can protect themselves. Potential customers need to know so they can not be ripped off as well. Can you believe this company actually calls themselves a ‘fair-trade’ company (but could not qualify for certified fair-trade, as she wouldn’t hand over her tax returns, and other business info… for obvious reasons now 😉 ). They pride themselves on being a company that empowers women, etc. LOL!

    I believe in karma, and what comes around goes around. You will get your $10K back and more…I will get my $1,500 in other ways. Brian is already getting part of what he’s got coming to him, and Steve will also get his. Keep on doing the right thing, and it will all come back to you.

    And as far as I am concerned, you have a duty to speak out.. protect others from these same people on Twitter (or wherever they prey). This isn’t about bashing them, it is protecting others.

    The fact that they used spiritual manipulation really irks me! I’m Christian, but the best word I can come up with is Yiddish: goniffs!

    I am so sorry this happened to you…but you are doing the right thing…. don’t let these people keep getting away with it.

  6. MicheleMonday, July 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm 

    Dear Alexis,
    About 15 years ago when my guys were little I went to a free seminar to learn about business opportunities. A company was presenting that had a business that helped college bound students find public grants and scholarships. The process was a search done by computer (I will really date myself now…) with a “special program” that would match students to scholarships that they were qualified to win if their grades and applications were in order. The company also offered a guarantee that if someone followed up on every recommendation and did not get any money, that their investment of $100.00 would be refunded. This was at a time when you could not buy easy programs for the computer, the internet was not on anyone’s mind, there was no google and people were always looking for money to help cover the costs of college. I paid $3,000.00 to participate in this program and was very excited. I loved the idea of helping kids find money for college. I placed a classified ad in a popular, national teenage girl magazine magazine and got literally hundreds of responses.
    (Dave Dee would have been impressed.) I got my first student to purchase her list of possible scholarship/grant opportunities.
    I copied the list then sent her the original. They sent about 75 listings to her. It looked good.
    Out of curiosity, I sent to some of the listings myself and found bogus phone numbers, or grants that had run out of money. I had been scammed. I immediately removed my ad.
    They did have a company that dealt with questions and phone calls from people like me, the distributors, but they were very wiggly. The original guys who sold the stuff and made the presentations at these business seminars…gone.
    I guess if I had been really persistent I could have gone after them. Unfortunately they were in Utah and I was in PA and trying very hard to help keep everything going good at home as my husband was trying to start his business. The thing that really bothered me was that I was fooled. I went to this free seminar and then sent my husband to another to hear about this business. It seemed at the time to be really legitimate to both of us.
    Fortunately I discovered this before I sold too many of these and simply did not cash the checks once the orders started coming in.
    So, Alexis, don’t feel alone. Just learn from it as I know you will.

  7. Amber ShahMonday, July 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm 

    Wow, thanks for sharing this! I have only stepped my toes into the water in terms of paying for online services, like SEO and such, but things like this make me very nervous. I think I’ve only avoided being ripped off by avoiding paying for anything…

    I’m so glad that you went public with this. Sharing this will help other people feel better about their experiences, but more importantly hopefully people will find this before they do business with these people!

  8. Alexis Martin NeelyMonday, July 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm 

    Amber, please don’t let my post turn you off engaging professionals to help you grow your business. That was not my intent at all. You absolutely must invest in your business and allow others to help if you want to grow. Here’s a few important lessons to remember before you do invest: 1) always require references from past clients and check them; 2) always require examples of completed work for other clients and look at it and evaluate; and 3) keep an open heart and expectation of performance, but keep appropriate boundaries and when they are crossed take action immediately. Best of luck with the growth of your business! Alexis

  9. Meagan FrancisMonday, July 20, 2009 at 3:23 pm 

    Wow, Alexis, that is really awful. I’m so sorry.

    You know, I read Brian’s take on the issue and I wonder how privy he really was to all that was going on. It’s easy for a manipulator to make it look like he’s got other people working with him, agreeing with him, etc…but maybe Brian was just as taken as you were, or maybe he ignored red flags about the way Steve was treating members because he didn’t want to face the truth.

    I hope this guy is exposed in a major way so he can’t trick people anymore.

  10. [email protected]Monday, July 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm 

    Well well…and I thought only I was stupid enough to be taken…Back in the early days, I was taken for a ride similar to yours by a pro scammer. In 2004 I received a notice from the DOJ that this moron had been taken into custody and was charged with hundreds of counts of fraud…my name was on the list..(go figure) after years of thinking that I’d never see my money or the light of day again, I had finally, some hope. Now 5 years post that original notice, I’ve still no chance at ever seeing my money again, but I have some satisfaction in knowing that this idiot was caught, prosecuted and found guilty of conning not just me but hundreds of entrepreneurs like me and will spend quite a bit of time in the federal hotel. Not a lot of warm fuzzy there, but some. And lesson learned. If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is. And life goes on…a little more jaded a little more skeptical, but still in biz and doing better than ever! Thanks Alexis for sharing..If there’s ever anything I personally can do for you, from a marketing standpoint (and no not for thousands of dollars, just from me) let me know.
    Best
    Deb

  11. RobinMonday, July 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm 

    Alexis,

    I, too, was a victim of a scammer and haven’t told anyone. I was very trusting even though all of the red flags were there and I totally ignored them. Why did I do that? I paid $1,000 for the seminar and then $5,000 for personal training. Right after that, this person shut down the website, disabled his private email account, turned off his “private number” and disappeared. All this after talking to him and he assured me none of this was ever going to happen. After all, he was a trusted person in the next county over from where I lived , had a book out that was endorsed by a legend in Marketing in Cleveland, OH. However, during the seminar he was talking very badly about people: (1) his coach – a big red flag, especially his coach is the biggest in the industry (2) his soon-to be ex-wife while his brother-in-law sat in the back and took the money (can you believe it -his wife’s brother) , and (3) someone at the seminar that decided it wasn’t for him and asked on the first break to have his money refunded. I was still stupid enough to hand this guy 5 grand!

    Then, I started getting emails from someone in NYC stating that they were at the same seminar when I was there and was emailing me asking my opinion of this person. This is the weird part, I didn’t give anyone my email because at the end of this I really didn’t trust anyone and couldn’t get my money back because he sat there and ridiculed anyone that wanted to drop out. Calling you a loser and I felt like one and still do! And, a few days after I received these emails from the person I didn’t know and sent some scathing responses back, (threatening to go on the local news station – I was told that I did my homework), the emails stopeed and I saw that this person sets up shop in NYC. That was not a coincidence. He is on the web today and I hope nobody ever trusts this guy.

    My dream was to make some money with this person’s methods, then I would have the money for the marketing career of my dreams. I am not a stupid person. I am an educated person (I am in Beta Gamma Sigma – top 5% of my junior class in college) but I got scammed! Couldn’t believe it. I wanted this to work so bad. I paid $6,000 to him and then a few months later I had to pay for my mom’s funeral. All of my savings gone! Now I can’t seem to trust anyone. I want a coach so bad, but I still haven’t recouped my money from the first one and my dad became very ill after my mom passed away, so I am trying to give him what he needs and I also help support someone else in my family. Now I feel like I will not be able to start my dream business and time is not on my side – I am older than most who want to start.

  12. Heather A. HowellMonday, July 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm 

    Alexis-
    Thank you for coming forward. I now understand your massive unfollow. I too was scammed several years ago and never came forward.

    It was a production company promising an infomercial for my company and it’s products. We had lots of conversations via the telephone. Oh, they originally sought me out, saying they were looking for an organic skincare line to produce as they had not yet traveled that avenue. They had researched my company and said we were a perfect match for their vision. I flew to meet them, their offices were very nice and the production studios were very modern. They wanted $50,000 to shoot the infomercial and another $10,000-$20,000 to get it on the air. I did ask for past client history and I wanted time to evaluate and research. They were very pressing and wanted money yesterday. Saying things like having to start the process and move forward, more money if we wanted a celebrity spokespeople, etc.

    I was getting “red flags” from my partner wanted not to move forward, yet I saw the possibilities and believed their pitch. they received $100’s worth of product for “testing.” I told them I had to source the funding for the project and that I needed one month. I applied for a home equity loan, was approved and was moving forward. Days before I was to get the money and start production, the loan officer pulled the loan. My angels were seriously watching over me.

    When I called the companies that had been given to me as past clients, I found out that they were not selling their products they way they were promised. Their TV times were 2-4 am on the golf network and their product was not even golf related. Similar stories cam from different companies, some were even out of business as they had invested everything for this “sure thing.”

    I consider myself lucky as I confronted them on all these issues, they demanded money from me as I had signed a contract. I called their bluff and asked for evidence of one successful campaign. I never heard from them again.

    As for your situation, I too have been contacted by Brian of Manifest Mastermind. I am disassociating from them right now. Thank you so much for speacking up! Best of luck to you, knowing that the universe will always provide.

  13. Julie JonesMonday, July 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm 

    Thank you so much for sharing!! Legal advice though — when being scammed and speaking publically about it, how do you protect yourself from being sued for defamation? I read an article in INC magazine a couple of issue back and this actually happened to someone.

  14. Russell YermalMonday, July 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm 

    Thanks Alexis,

    Steve Pohlit seems to be an out-of-control alcoholic (although I am not sure), and has always carried negative energy with him. I have distanced myself from Brian since he began working with Steve, and have seen Brian degrade as they’ve worked together. I know that Brian is a good guy, deep down inside, as he used to mentor me (and others) on Internet Marketing for free, and he also donated almost 50% of his profits from a launch last year to John Chow. Brian was like a brother to me, but the relationship has all but disintegrated since Steve came into the picture. It saddens me greatly to see that Steve’s influence on Brian has reduced him to being part of such bad business ethics.

    Comment #3 is not from the real Chamber of Commerce. It is from the fake (scam) chamber located at http://www.nancoc.com and http://www.iancoc.com. Beware of these “chambers” and their sole proponent, Mick Monroe. I got to know Mick very closely, and he told me all the details of his Chamber scam, while trying to convince me that it was a real organization. He poses as the Chamber of commerce, and quickly pulls a veil over the eyes of business owners in the $60-100k range. Be very careful around him, he’s even told me how he does it (he says, “I use Ju Jitsu, where I build up their momentum and then move out of their way, building soldiers who will do ANYTHING I ask of them). Troubled soul, indeed.

    I would do more to publicly expose this scam, but Mick forced me to agree (on recording) to never record any of the HOURS of conversation he had with me, after posing as a hot shot in the real Chamber, and telling me that I would be “appointed the President of the Texas Chamber for my amazing charisma”. He is now publicly attacking me after what seemed like a schizophrenic episode caused him to begin calling me unethical and publicly attacking me over an addiction problem I had in my past that I confidentially revealed to him.

    I’m just a 22 year old college student who’s learning how to do business for the first time, but it seems to me like Mick doesn’t like it when he feels like other people “get things” that he doesn’t. My strengths are in Social Media and Sales, and what he calls a “spiritual scam” is my marketing method, which entails delivering massive value to a community, for free, and then allowing leads to fall into place.

    It also saddens me to have to put any negative energy like this out, period… I wish I could just let this be. However, I can not stand still when I have a highly troubled and unethical person attacking me publicly, especially when he’s doing it under the guise of the “Chamber of Commerce”. I do not believe that things like this should be able to stand, however, I do fear that Mick’s fake Chamber is mostly legal here in the states.

    If you’d like to ask me more about the Chamber scam, my history with Brian or Steve, or my personal/business history, feel free to email me at [email protected] – I’m an open book.

    From a college student who started a blog to inspire people and got surrounded by some of the wrong people (and learned a great lesson in the process).
    Russell

  15. BrianMonday, July 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm 

    Alexis- WOW! So proud you did this…. There are very BAD people out there…
    I had a client accuse me of a business practice in my industry that is totally unethical, which in twelve years in my industry I have NEVER done… (recruiting from your won clients), and I have tried to reach out to tell my side of the story, with no response.
    This article has inspired me to TAKE action of my brand, and not put up with this…

    Take care,
    Brian-

    PS I know if took ALOT for you to write that article, and WE appreciate it…

  16. Des WalshMonday, July 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm 

    I tell myself it’s all part of our real life education Alex and I do believe that. What does amaze me is that while I regard what these people do as being immoral (if not always illegal) so many of them seem to be amoral – that is, somehow have had a “right and wrong gauge” by-pass. I have been conned by some very charming people. The one that leaves me gobsmacked to this day is someone I had known off and on for about 20 years: he had a big plan: he had funding almost lined up of some $100 million and would use some of that to establish an educational foundation he wanted me to run. After a year of lots of coffee meetings, inspection of de-commissioned school buildings to take over, etc, he phoned me one morning to tell me his key fund-raiser in Florida had that morning been taken away in handcuffs by the FBI. What staggered me that my “friend” seemed to have no remorse, no embarrassment. I should have heeded the warning from his ex-wife that he was not an honest person: I put it down to ex-spouse hostility. 🙁 What reminded me of this guy and how dumb I felt was that he was fully up to speed on the spiritual talk – and we were going to create a foundation to do good, weren’t we? Recently I saw in the letters column of a major newspaper that he was up to his old tricks, floating grand vision ideas for which he clearly wanted the government to ante up the capital.

  17. SarahTuesday, July 21, 2009 at 1:54 am 

    Wow, Alexis.

    I’m not sure I can even enumerate all the times I got scammed. I’ll talk first, though, about the “spirituality talk” of all of this.

    I am a committed follower of Christ myself (evangelical Christian) with lots of training (professional and doctoral) in theology and spiritual formation. And yet, I’m sad to say, I’m a bit skeptical of spiritual talk for a couple of reasons.

    First, there are many people who want to be what they are not yet within themselves, so they speak the language, wanting to “manifest” it, but their actions simply do not matched. They have not been sufficiently changed from the inside out by the Spirit of God for their actions to match their words.

    Second, like anything else, religion and spiritual talk can be abused to manipulate or deceive others, by people who are struggling still to grow in giving or who are down right bad.

    I personally tend to observe people for a long time who use lots of spiritual talk, to see if their actions match their words. Plus I listen to my guts, because our spirits are trained in discernment over time to sense the genuineness of the spirits of others. Eventually I find out if they are true kindred spirits, liars, or struggling in between.

    Now about being scammed. I’ve been scammed so many times in the distant past, out of so much money, I’m not sure where to start in the recitation, so I won’t. Let’s just say that it was in the six figures.

    In the more recent past, I’ve been scammed by buying products in internet marketing without a long track record, not getting what was promised. They sold the product before it was fully created or tested or whatever. Most coaching programs did not deliver the promised benefit either — though there are notable exceptions, and good coaching programs are incredibly empowering for your business and shorten the learning curve.

    I’ve also been scammed recently when I knew I was taking risks in a certain business relationship, making a leap of faith. So I went into that one with my eyes wide open, choosing the risk, without a contract.

    We often end up being taken advantage of in a situation that did not start out as a deliberate scam. It’s amazing how people’s perceptions or priorities change when money becomes involved, and no amount of reason or logic or truth will fix it.

    (In those situations we tend to feel less shame because we knowingly chose the act of faith with a strong note of reservation, willing to experience the loss if it didn’t work out. It’s when we “believe” that we feel the shame — we were taken without our giving permission to be taken.)

    I still choose to take such risks, but weighing the cost. If the cost is too high, get a contract. 🙂

  18. Martin LindeskogTuesday, July 21, 2009 at 2:51 am 

    Alexis Martin Neely,

    I found your site via a tweet message by Tim Berry. I believe in “what comes around goes around” as you do. To use Tim Berry’s wording: “My lesson was a smooth talking bizdev swindler.” Please feel free to read my post, Time for a Small Business Safety Network? on Small Business Trends. (Click on my name if you want to read my post.)

    All the Best,

    Martin Lindeskog – American in spirit.
    Gothenburg, Sweden.

  19. Fan of Mari SmithTuesday, July 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm 

    In regard to your blog post SCAMMERS: BRIAN CAMBELL AND CREW.

    I find it interesting to note that Brian Cambell, Ian Chapman, Scott Branden Hoffman, Russell Yermal and others who’s names all appear in Brain Cambell’s inner circle groups have been banned for most of the last two years from Mari Smith’s Facebook pages. What good sense does she have that those of you so desperate to grow and use these creeps who abuse your trust and your friends to sell you ‘get rich quick schemes’ – Their techniques are not hidden, any idiot will a little life experience can discern very quickly the false ring to their ‘manifesting’ spirituality (seems to be a key term with the fakers) – A manifester in colonial days was a ‘witch’ – think about it.

    I think Alexa is angry at herself that she was abused. I salute Alexa and Mari for having the backbone to stand up and warn people….. All of this crap always comes from Brian Campbell – he will associate with any nutcase – inlist them to go out and friend everyone in the name of friendship and spirituality, put your name in the middle of a note full of scammers and then one of the slimballs will tell you ‘you are one of us’ and tell you about their techniques, all the while infiltrating your network – publicly making it appear you indorse them… though you have no clue who they realy are….. while they abuse your friends.

    Interestingly enough – I notice Alexa still in conversing and has not blocked them. Nor excercise good business judgement in the first place by paying up front…. Mari Smith doesn’t speak publicly about these creeps …I wonder what her strategy is.

  20. Mike BryantWednesday, July 22, 2009 at 4:50 am 

    Thanks for the information and for telling the story. It is especially enlightening on the use of the “attraction” argument.

  21. Mari SmithWednesday, July 22, 2009 at 5:25 am 

    Wow, Alexis – sooooo sorry to hear of these shenanigans. Really makes me sad to see such behavior in any industry. I’m not sure who the anonymous commenter is above who claims to be a fan of mine; the person does correctly point out that I simply have chosen not to interact with certain individuals over the years. I like to focus my attention on the positive, heart-centered way of doing business and those people who resonate with me and my style.

    I’ve noticed a distinct uptick in the number of people flooding the social mediasphere with the competitive, numbers-based approach and I find this is fear-based. There’s plenty resources, money, people, fans, followers, friends to go around, right?! 🙂

    Interestingly enough, social media has “leveled the playing field” insofar as anyone can build a platform, become a thought leader, an expert even, if you will. But, for me, the moment someone makes their marketing all about them and becomes really “guru-based,” (or ego-based as I call it), it just doesn’t send the right message.

    In any case, I trust all will be resolved for everyone’s highest possible good. And I deeply honor you for sharing this experience openly.

    Best,
    Mari

  22. ChristineWednesday, July 22, 2009 at 11:57 am 

    Thanks for the information.

    I was a “fan” on Facebook–and subscribed to their newsletter. But not anymore!!

    I admire your courage in speaking up.

    All the best,
    Christine

  23. Ben GlassThursday, July 23, 2009 at 12:13 am 

    Alexis:

    been there, done that (been scammed)… in retrospect all of signs were there….and if we were perfect, how boring would life be?

    sorry it happened to you but the power of the Internet will bury the guy

  24. JanetFriday, July 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm 

    Alexis, I am too very sorry to hear about this. I am on Steve’s list and fan page, which I will now remove myself from. Have I been scammed? Yes, and I am very embarrassed about it too. I have been so afraid to pay for coaching and programs because of the scams and not getting what I paid for that have happened to me. I also feel worried that if you talk about someone who has scammed you, will you be blacklisted? This is a real concern. I have been to presentations that are free and led by so called “heart based” spiritual people. Here is a couple of my stories. I went to a free two day seminar, and of course they were selling their products in the back of the room which was expected and not a problem. I didn’t sign up right away, but did the week after. Needless to say, I needed to cancel for personal reasons, and the return policy was mind boggling. First they charged a 30% cancellation fee, then told me it would take 90 days to get a check back to me! 90 days? I was so angry! We all know that all you have to do is refund through your shopping cart and it doesn’t take 90 days. The reason I was angry was because 90 days was not stated on their contract anywhere. 90 days past and still no check, I had to call several times before I got a response, I finally got my refund minus all the “fees” 4 months later. I also signed up for a year of coaching, I did my due dilligence and asked for referrals, the person told me that no one had ever asked for them before, that should of sent up a red flag but I signed up and when the coaching was becoming redundant I tried to tell my coach that I wasn’t happy and wanted to move on to other topics, I got the run around and spiritual manipulation too. I paid a lot for that coaching and I learned one strategy! Yikes, and there was no way they were going to give my money back. Oh and one more thing, this is the worst. I signed up for a business coach with a very well known “The Secret” contributor. His sales person was relentless about signing me up. I finally caved in because he said I could “try it out” and if I didn’t like it, he would refund my money. So I tried it out, did not feel it was for me, told him to cancel and he tells me I have to pay anyway, when I reminded him about his ‘try it out ‘ statement, he would not accept it, and acted as if I was crazy. He started in on how I was a terrible person and needed help! WOW. That fight is still going on. So, just know you are not alone! I would love to know how not be afraid to hire coaches and such because after all this I am a very gun shy!

  25. John CaddellThursday, August 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm 

    Alexis, I found this post through Tim Berry’s blog. He mentioned in his post a site I created called The Mistake Bank (http://mistakebank.com). The purpose of the site is to encourage what you did so bravely here–share a mistake you’ve learned from so that others can avoid that mistake. We have over 500 members and I would love it if you might be willing to repost this on The Mistake Bank–for the specific lesson in the story, as well as your courage in sharing it.

    regards, John

  26. JusticeNowWednesday, August 12, 2009 at 2:12 am 

    E-Digital Stream aka http://www.edigitalstream.com are scam website developers. I have taken it upon myself to expose these crooks . The phish established boards on elance, guru, odesk, scriptlance getafreelancer etc. An unsophisticated customer is rip for the scam. The steal your money and promise a website product that never works. They are frauds.

  27. RonFriday, October 9, 2009 at 4:14 am 

    That’s what that stupid law of attraction crap will getcha!!! Ripped!!!

  28. HemogoblinWednesday, December 9, 2009 at 7:02 am 

    I had a scammer talk my ex-wife out of $3,500. I was leery the entire time. The instant the scammer thought I was talking to police a cashiers check for $3,500 appeared at my door. Scammers operate on FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. They will do just about anything to keep their scams going. Including giving money back.

  29. HemogoblinWednesday, December 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm 

    I had a scammer talk my ex-wife out of $3,500. I was leery the entire time. The instant the scammer thought I was talking to police a cashiers check for $3,500 appeared at my door. Scammers operate on FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. They will do just about anything to keep their scams going. Including giving money back.

  30. Catherine BehanThursday, December 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm 

    Hi Alexis,

    Thanks for this post. I admire your transparency. I have experienced similar pressure from certain big names when trying to sell me their services. I have been told that my “resistance” was not letting me invest in what they claim was the exact program that would solve my obvious problem.

    After the horrific sweat lodge incident in Sedona, I was once again reminded that we must hear our heart and the yellow (or red) flags that we sense. The Divine does lead if we will but tune in.

    Your brave story is inspiring and a breath of fresh air. I remember several months ago when Brian wrote to his list and said he was parting ways with Steve. He said there were problems there but did not detail.

    I hope they decide to fly right. Redemption is available to everyone, after all!

    Bless ya!
    Catherine

  31. Catherine BehanFriday, December 11, 2009 at 2:38 am 

    Hi Alexis,

    Thanks for this post. I admire your transparency. I have experienced similar pressure from certain big names when trying to sell me their services. I have been told that my “resistance” was not letting me invest in what they claim was the exact program that would solve my obvious problem.

    After the horrific sweat lodge incident in Sedona, I was once again reminded that we must hear our heart and the yellow (or red) flags that we sense. The Divine does lead if we will but tune in.

    Your brave story is inspiring and a breath of fresh air. I remember several months ago when Brian wrote to his list and said he was parting ways with Steve. He said there were problems there but did not detail.

    I hope they decide to fly right. Redemption is available to everyone, after all!

    Bless ya!
    Catherine

  32. CharaMonday, December 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm 

    Dear Alexis,
    Thank you for your courage and openness regarding this issue; it takes a huge amount of courage to admit that we have been taken advantage of by others. I am by nature a cautious person, overly so, I have been taken advantage of by others. I worked with a business consultant to set up my business, when I confronted him with the shortcomings that had become obvious, his response was less than acceptable and yes turned the finger to point at my shortcomings. He didn't even respond the last time, completely ignoring the situation. I trusted his experience and integrity and do feel shame, embarrassment and victimized. I learned valuable lessons from the experience. I am currently addressing issues in my business and course correcting with the insights that I have gained as a result. I am very glad that you have outed these conartists and protected others that may become their victims.

  33. CharaMonday, December 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm 

    Dear Alexis,
    Thank you for your courage and openness regarding this issue; it takes a huge amount of courage to admit that we have been taken advantage of by others. I am by nature a cautious person, overly so, I have been taken advantage of by others. I worked with a business consultant to set up my business, when I confronted him with the shortcomings that had become obvious, his response was less than acceptable and yes turned the finger to point at my shortcomings. He didn't even respond the last time, completely ignoring the situation. I trusted his experience and integrity and do feel shame, embarrassment and victimized. I learned valuable lessons from the experience. I am currently addressing issues in my business and course correcting with the insights that I have gained as a result. I am very glad that you have outed these conartists and protected others that may become their victims.

  34. MorganDayCecilSaturday, July 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm 

    So interesting, Alexis.

    This is EXACTLY why I have been turned off by folks who even mention “The Secret” in any of their marketing material.

    “Spirituality” is something that is so sacred to me, it's always put up a big red flag when someone tries to use it as part of their platform.

    I believe you can tell a spiritual person by the fruits in their life– fruits such as patience, kindness, generosity, not material fruits such as nice cars, big homes, large followings.

    As soon as a person tells you they are “spiritual”, you can pretty much be assured that they are not.

    I've met amazing small business owners– such as landscapers,bakers, accountants– that never once told me they were “spiritual” but by the way the treated me, their families, and the community at large you could tell they had a deep connection with Something Greater.

    The world online is a strange and beautiful place. There are opportunities to earn a living and create freedom and help others. There is also a lot of hogwash with “Spiritual Manipulators abound.

    I am so sorry you had to go through this difficult and expensive lesson.

    For me I wish that spirituality would stop being marketed all together. Closeness to God was never meant to be a 'niche' or a platform, and when it becomes one it becomes “icky”…. to much room for spiritual scammers…If living our lives “spiritually” is so important to us, I believe we should stop trying to sell it or advertise it….the fruits of our spiritual practice will show up and we will not have to say one word to point them out.

  35. AnonymousSaturday, July 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm 

    Alexis, I truly appreciate your honesty as I have been living with the pain of such that you mention for many months.

    I joined up with a woman (well-known in the health and nutrition world) who gave me 1/2 pay in year one and less than 1/3 pay in year two to be applied toward a “partnership” which she never took action to form. She called me “partner” yet made all financial decisions without me (and even shifted direction behind my back on decisions we made together!).

    After my investment advisor warned me that my personal finances were on shaky ground (I had been dipping into my retirement monies to carry me – AND HER BUSINESS), and I would have to put our newly renovated home on the market, I left her to set up my own company to attempt to recover my losses.

    She claims I do not “deserve” financial remuneration for my 50+ hour work weeks since we were “partners,” yet no partnership was ever put in place.

    So, now without a partnership share, no pay for my work, a loosely structured agreement (read: non-enforceable contract), a house on the market, I find myself licking my wounds but determined to make a go of my new business. I've lost tens of thousands of dollars. She, on the other hand, has a successful book launch, TV show the Fall, and is making a big splash in her industry.

    And what do I hear through the grapevine? Because I decided to leave her, she is trashing my reputation, and attempting to undermine my new business launch.

    This has been the most painful experience in my life.

  36. Been there!Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 9:01 pm 

    Yes, thank you for sharing yourself and the story. My business got ripped off $1,500 last year by someone who touted their experience and affiliation with a known organization to do work for my company. He never did a damned thing and lied all through it and of course has been just 'teflon' as far as a refund goes.

  37. JustynaszpejerMonday, July 5, 2010 at 8:04 pm 

    Thank you for sharing. Awhile back I was a member of David Wygant's Private Community. When I was on it I notice plenty of things I didn't like. For example, they did not deliver everything they promised on their sales page. I wanted to get advice from David Wygant instead one of his other coaches, Coach Khiem gave the advice. His advice wasn't all that great. Then something else happened. On one of David's blog posts he saw the movie ” The Ugly Truth “. He loved how in the movie the dating coach came up with that nickname for dating aka The Ugly Truth. He went on to say how he would love to come up with a nickname for dating too. I came up with a really good one. I wanted to post it below the blog but for some technical reason I couln't post it so I went into the private community and posted my idea. Coach Khiem really liked it. He told me he would get David to use it. True enough he did. My idea was to call dating The Naked Truth. Now my idea is all over his website. I was hoping I would get a thank you from David or a mention. I received neither. Also I wasn't happy with his private community. I wasn't getting everything I was paying for. So I wrote a letter telling him about my concerns. In return I got the nastiest and meanest letter from his assistant Kirsten. Kirsten told me that my concerns were unfounded. She said that they were offering everything they promised and that the idea I gave them to use on the website The Naked Truth someone on their team had already come up with it the day before I suggested it to Coach Khiem. Thank you Alexis.

  38. JustynaszpejerMonday, July 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm 

    I just wanted to share one more thing. I hope you don't mind Alexis.I went to court with my ex TJ to get money back that I lent to him while we were dating. I lent him $ 35,000. The judge only gave me back $ 5,000. I feel really frustrated. I knew him for ten years. The first half we were friends. The other half we dated on/off for five years. Five years the first time we dated I supported him through a rough time. During that time he met a very young girl that he became friends with. She fell in love with him. I could see she was trying to break us up. This caused tension and he didn't believe me. We broke and he started dating that young girl. She stopped taking her birth control behind his back to get pregnant and she succeeded. They ended up getting married. The marriage didn't last long. She walked out on him because she couldn't take the pressure of the responsibility and she maxed out his credit cards. We ended up getting back together. That's when I ended up lending him the money. The relationship was even more frustrating this time around. So I ended up breaking it off with him. He said he would pay me back. He never did and we ended up in court. What frustrates me is this. We had a pre-trial. He never showed up for it. Then he moved and changed jobs. I had to call and tell him I was going to drop the lawsuit in order to find out where he works and lives so I could have the judgement papers served. We went to court because he wanted the judgment reversed. He told the judge he never got notice to go for the pre-trial. The judge believed him and that led us to a third court date. I went in there confident I would get all of my money back. I had 69 pages of bank statements. I was confident and I have a good memory. My representation even told the judge that I very organized and reliable. However the judge felt that I couldn't prove the 69 pages that I had was money that went to TJ.He told that judge it was a gift. How could he lie on the stand and get away with. I don't understand. I was positive. I was going to put money to responsible and positive use. I was going to move out and get my own place. Now I am stuck living at home at 31. He lied in court twice and got away with it. Plus his mom knew how much I lent him because I told her the amount and she lied for him in court. I have tried to manifest a positive outcome for the trial and this happened. I am glad I received $ 5,000 but I deserved so much more. I was of service. I helped him so much. How can this have happened?

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