“Tired of living paycheck to paycheck? Feel like you’re in a rut? Come to our free presentation and we’ll show you how to make your life not suck!” We’ve all heard or seen advertisements that have that basic premise, but is there any truth to their claims? Those had always set off alarms in my head that screamed scam, but one day my curiosity finally got the better of me. After seeing an ad that one of these presentations would be happening in my city I realized this was my chance. I had to find out what actually happens at these things.
Like most of these events, this one had a big name in the money-making industry tied to it. Think the Tony Robbins-type (it wasn’t Tony though). Let’s just refer to this guy as Big Wig from now on. I had heard of Big Wig before and I was interested to see how these play out, so I started the sign up process to attend. Some of the information they asked for seemed a little personal. Why did they need to know my income? So far it looked like my initial feelings of it being super sketchy were confirmed. Whatever though, do it for the story, right?
Shortly after signing up I got a call from someone going over standard information like the location and time of the presentation even though it was clearly on the sign up page. Efficient I guess? Then in the week before the presentation I started receiving automated texts that were supposedly from Big Wig himself. Yeah right. They essentially acted as even more reminders and tried to get you excited for the looming presentation ahead. Believe me, you won’t forget you signed up for this thing. They’ll make sure of that.
The Day of the Presentation
On the morning of the “life-changing” presentation I got another text from my new bud, Big Wig, hyping me up about it and going through the itinerary. I’ll soon actually get to meet the guy behind all of these texts, right? Nope! In a shocking turn of events Big Wig wasn’t even there! I was flabbergasted… not really. I knew he wouldn’t be there, but nowhere did they advertise that. Seems a little shifty if you ask me.
Before the presentation they make you sign a form that says you won’t take any pictures or videos during the presentation. Sure would be a shame if someone were to let the cat out of the bag about what happens at these things. Whoops. My bad guys.
After I signed their form I was given my free copy of Big Wig’s top-rated book as promised. I hate to be a pessimist, but after looking at the reviews on Amazon it looks like there might’ve been some tampering that helped the “top-rated” part become a reality.
So we already established that Big Wig wasn’t there, so who’s going to do the presentation? Say hello to Mini Big Wig. He has an extensive background in the financial industry, but isn’t nearly as well-known as Big Wig himself. After a quick Google search I discovered his abandoned Twitter account that had about 130 followers, and that he had written his own books (that apparently didn’t get the same rating inflation treatment as Big Wig’s) . This should be interesting.
The presentation started off with a prerecorded video of Big Wig that’s intended to get you pumped up and remind you that he’s even associated with this thing. Then Mini Big Wig took over. The first part of his presentation was basically just trying to establish his credibility by going through his background and name-dropping all the people he knows. He even broke out a picture of himself with Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank). He had it captioned Mr. Wonderful and Mr. Wonderful, so we can rest assured that this guy doesn’t need any assistance in the ego department.
The next part revolved around how great his life is and how the audience’s probably isn’t. Ouch Mini Big Wig, mine’s not THAT bad. I have to give him credit for doing it with enough tact to not sound like a COMPLETE elitist though. I also feel like I need to mention this tidbit of social commentary he randomly threw in just because it was so awkward. He somehow worked in that discriminating based on race is stupid and there’s really only one race. Okay, a little out of place at a financial presentation, but I agree. Good point Mini Big Wig…but then he continued. “That’s like not petting a dog because its coat color.” *Insert his mocking voice here* “Oh, I don’t pet the brown ones because they’re all murderers and rapists”. Yeesh man, you should’ve stopped after the first part. I know what you were going for, but you could’ve pulled it off better. The audience was pretty diverse, and you could tell some of them were taken aback after that one. He quickly continued on with the presentation after realizing he probably could’ve worded it a bit better.
Then we FINALLY got to how we’re all supposed to become rich. The answer isssss *drumroll*…trading options on the stock market. I know, a little anticlimactic.
He went through a quick crash course of what options are and how he uses software to help make his decisions. The best part is we can learn how to do this too! Just one catch though. We have to sign up to attend their course. Aaaand there it is. That’s what I was waiting for. Kinda odd that the main Big Wig is known for real estate, but the course is about the stock market though. Almost makes you think that his name was just attached to it for marketing and money-grabbing purposes. Hmm.
The course is three days long and would teach you how to use analytic software to trade options. You’re probably wondering about the price. Well, it’s $997. Yikes. They excluded the dollar sign in front of the 997 on the presentation slide, which I thought was funny. Maybe they were hoping the audience wouldn’t realize they meant 997 dollars? Who knows? I’m about 99% sure it was on purpose though to lessen the blow that they’re charging $1000 for it.
They’re kind and reasonable people though, so if you signed up immediately they’d offer you a $500 rebate! Pretty generous of them! Well, not entirely. To get it you have to attend all three days, do practice and real trades after the conclusion of the class, and then email them proof of your trades about a month later. That’s kind of sneaky because 1) the rebate isn’t immediate 2) they’re counting on people to forget about it or not meet all the requirements 3) to qualify you have to pay right after the presentation without having time to think it over.
That’s not where my concerns with the class ends either. A three day course isn’t enough time to make someone an expert on options. During the presentation they asked if anyone was familiar with options, and I was the only one in the audience that was. There’s just no way you can go from not knowing what an option is to an expert on them in three days. I was a little horrified to see all of these people sign up for a course on something they didn’t even know existed a few hours before and at $1000 no less.
There are numerous cheap and free resources to learn about options, so you shouldn’t need to pay that much just to get a questionable education on them. There’s no way to know if the course is even good, but unfortunately that didn’t stop a good portion of the audience from signing up completely blindly. I wanted to go talk some sense into them but I knew Mini Big Wig and his minions wouldn’t be too happy about that.
So is it a total scam? Not quite to the degree I was expecting, but still a major ripoff in my opinion. I was glad to see that at least their offer was about a legitimate way to make money instead of something like a Multi-Level Marketing or Pyramid Scheme, and honestly they did present things in a way that wasn’t 100% deceitful. The presenter actually was pretty professional overall (aside from a few hiccups) and they did mention that there was risk involved and you weren’t guaranteed to make money. That was more than likely to cover themselves instead of for the benefit of the audience, but I appreciated that it was mentioned nonetheless.
They used a lot of shady tactics that I did not appreciate though. For example, they mentioned that they couldn’t accommodate everyone that showed interest in the presentation, and they made it sound like we were lucky to have been invited. I think there’s more to the selection process than luck though. Remember that information that they asked for before the event? It seems like they had a certain type of person in mind to pitch this class to and used that information to make their selections. The most important part being that they wanted their audience to be able to pay for the class.
Once I got to the venue I realized I might not be included in the other part of the demographic they were targeting. The vast majority of the people in the audience were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and weren’t especially financially savvy. That’s not me making judgments based on looks either. Mini Big Wig asked questions throughout the presentation to get a feel for the audience’s financial knowledge. Many didn’t have any retirement funds, didn’t invest in the stock market, and many were even struggling with debt and paying bills. Essentially they were preying upon people that were in a tough financial spot and made it sound like this class was their saving grace. Maybe I’m wrong and financially savvy people just avoid these presentations by nature, but it just seems a little too convenient that so much of the audience fits the description I mentioned.
While I’m sure the class offers some valuable information, it’s just not worth the $500-$1000. Everything they teach can be learned for much cheaper or even free. Heck, if you stick around here I’m sure I’ll do some articles on options. Final Verdict: skip these sketchy presentations unless you’re some sort of sadistic person that enjoys watching people spend their hard-earned money on unnecessary things.