Monday, July 12, 2010

Don't touch that dial!

If you don't realize it already, radio air time is not always what it's cracked up to be. Almost anyone with the money to buy thirty or sixty minutes of airtime on a local station can "host" a "talk show" and pretty much say anything they want - and omit things about themselves.

It's a lot cheaper than television time but it's still expensive. You may have to find your own advertisers to help defray the costs or, more commonly the show is a simply a platform to attract customers to call a number and/or register for a seminar.

The effort to make the show seem like it's not really advertising knows almost no limits. Staged calls (some so badly crafted that you can tell the person asking the question is reading it) are common - and almost always wind up telling the shill to call the toll-free number to talk to someone who can "help" them with their particular situation.

In Colorado there's going to be one less of these yahoos. Something called "Real Talk Network, Inc. (aka Real Talk LLC) is a guy - David Burke. He has one sales guy, Eric Sale (no, I'm not making that up). The show Burke has had on several Colorado stations since sometime in 2008 is basically used to invite people to call and sign up for "free seminars" that are essentially high-pressure sales pitches for a $3,500 program to allegedly help people manage their debts.

Of course you can't run this kind of thing without a web site, and because it's now been taken down (more on that later), you wouldn't be able to see the typical hype these kinds of people produce - such as:

Real Talk Presents: The New Banking and Credit Event
0% INTEREST ON CREDIT CARDS AND MORTGAGES? IS IT POSSIBLE? Join us for a discussion and training on eliminating the interest in your life. Are you tired of losing money? If you are paying any interest on credit cards or your mortgage, you are losing. Come learn how to win in today's opportunistic market.

Learn the secrets to your credit score from the creator of the FICO scoring model. Put $1,000-$3,000 in your bank account in 45 days using the strategies you will learn in this webinar. Boost you score instantly and much much more.

Learn and practice advance financial methodologies to wipe out all of your consumer debt and increase your monthly cash flow. Learn how to get up to a 40% raise in your household income.

Wipe out your debt NOW!
•Credit Cards
•Auto Loans
•Medical Loans

The reason you won't find that on Burke's web site any more is that Burke and Sale have been charged by the Colorado Attorney General's office with violations of various acts, including the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, the Uniform Consumer Credit Code, the Colorado Credit Services Organization Act and the Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act.

David Burke describes himself as a nationally-syndicated talk show host and financial expert. Of course, you wouldn't pay money for a program to just anybody, would you? Hey, why not trust a "nationally-syndicated talk show host and financial expert?"

And wouldn't you trust a graduate of USC who has a large ranch in Montana? And especially if he just came out of years of retirement to "help save American families in this time of crisis," and that he has coached the House of Representatives and "a bunch of media figures?"

What about if he's just another guy who never graduated from USC and has filed for bankruptcy twice in the last thirteen years? And instead of being "syndicated" Burke buys his infomercial time on several radio stations in Colorado.

Burke told his audience at a March 29, 2010 seminar that, "Our methodologies, math, access, tools, all that stuff is not dependent upon income, believe it or not, it doesn't matter what your income is - it simply works for everybody, regardless of your income - your income means nothing."

Even better - with Burke's program you wouldn't have to change your lifestyle - and, if you had a bankruptcy RTN could even get it removed from your credit report!

The charges filed don't enumerate exactly how many people in Colorado and California have been duped into this scheme but in one part of the complaint it points out they were signing up between thirty and fifty consumers per week. In other words, in nearly two years Burke has been on the air he's probably fleeced over a thousand people out of more than $3.5 Million dollars.

Amazingly enough, the radio stations involved were happy to take Burke's money, despite having a BBB rating of F from 116 complaints.

Keeping scammers off the airwaves isn't easy.