Crimes of Persuasion:

Schemes, scams, frauds.

American Cash Flow Training Program

After seeing it advertised on local television I attended a free 3 hour seminar in Pasadena California promoting American Cash Flow.

Though the company is based in Florida, the presenter was from a small mid-west town.

The cash flow industry was described as a broker middleman operation.

With the use of this company's database as part of the purchase price, you supposedly have access to holders of invoice notices from their clients and also access to buyers of those invoices for 90 cents on the dollar.

With a $2000.00 discount if you purchased the training program there, the total cost was $2,995.00 to become part of the presenters inner-circle.

About 100 people were in attendance. Once the announcement was made to sign up at the back of the room there was a scamper for the opportunity.

I left because of the urgency to sign up now, the quickness of some to sign up, and the fact that this company is from Florida.

I have received so many MLM network marketing and other opportunities from Florida, that I become very concerned once I hear that state mentioned. Is this what it's cracked up to be?

Danny 09/18/02

American Cash Flow Association™ ( ACFA ), also known as the American Cash Flow Institute ™ ( ACFI ), American Cash Flow Corporation™ ( ACFA ), National Mortgage Investor's Institute ( NMII ), Diversified Cash Flow Institute ™ (DCFI), among many other names -- all founded by lawyer Laurence J. Pino / Larry Pino

The Diversified Cash Flow Institute ™ (DCFI also known as D.C.F.I.), run by an Orlando lawyer Larry Pino, sells a class on how to be a note broker for $5,995 through highly-visible national TV infomercials, 4-page glossy ads in major airline magazines, massive direct mail campaigns and sales meetings across the country.

While note brokering and investing in cash flows can supposedly be very profitable, before you invest your money in any seminar, whether run by the American Cash Flow Institute ( ACFI ) / American Cash Flow Association ( ACFA ) or any other company, consider this Newsweek article which is headlined:

"Show Me The Money"

"Larry Pino's pricey cash-flow workshops plug an easy way to get rich quick.
It's a real business, all right -- but there isn't much easy or quick about it."

That headline is restrained compared to the ones in newspapers across the country: "Get Rich Course Will Waste Your $6,000" (Philadelphia); "Keep Eye On Pitch To Get Rich" (Akron); "Grim Reality Lurks Behind Sales Pitch" (Washington State); "’Discounted Notes’ Latest in Get-Rich-Quick Parade" (Ft. Lauderdale); "Road To Riches With "Discounted Notes" May Be Rocky" (Orlando) and many, many others.

Newsweek reporter Temma Ehrenfeld, along with 450 others, attended a "free seminar" in New York City sponsored by DCFI.

The magazine said the DCFI pitchman spewed "a spiel that feeds dreams. 'I'll show you how to make $1,000 with one phone call,' he cries.

'You deserve to be making three times as much as you're making now.' He claimed that you could make '$4,900 a month for a few hours' work: $128,367 on your maiden deal. 'All this without leaving home."

The price of this dream? Just $5,995 ($2,495 for the tape course).

Newsweek paid the fee and sent Ms. Ehrenfeld to the live course. Then they waited 15 months to find out how her fellow students had done:

"We asked them how many $1,000 phone calls they'd made. Zero, as far as we can learn."

After 15 months she could find only ONE of her 32 DCFI classmates (of the 18 who responded) who had made any money at all: One deal for a profit of $750, and one for $300.

$750 + $300 = $1050. The most successful student she could find is in the hole for $4,945.00 18 months later (the cost of the class minus the $1050 profit).

$5,995 x 32 students = $191,840 for DCFI.

Quinn reported on two DCFI students (not in the above class) who said they were happy with their training.

"An “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” was filed in court in Davidson County, Tennessee in 1996 and is labeled State of Tennessee versus Diversified Cash Flow Institute, Inc. (Pino is “President and General Counsel” of DCFI).

It says “The Division of Consumer Affairs...and the Attorney General conducted an investigation of [DCFI's] business practices.

These practices include the following:...using earnings claims that are not representative of the results an average participant in the training program could expect; making potentially misleading statements about the value or cost of the training program; stating that the training program was associated with a university when it was not;... and overstating the value of certification offered by [DCFI]... the Division and the Attorney General determined that certain acts and practices of [DCFI] violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977.

[DCFI] neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing...and gives this assurance... in order to avoid the expense of litigation.” The court papers state that the DCFI training program cost $6,995.

Interestingly, the “Assurance” requires DCFI to make “verifiable substantiation of...illustrations that may not reflect the average experience of a graduate...available on request.”

The word “illustrations” apparently refers to examples of student success or student testimonials.

I am very suspicious of the testimonials provided by seemingly average persons on guru infomercials.

The Assurance requires DCFI to stop saying the “cash flow” industry is unregulated when, in fact, TN law requires a brokers license for some of the activities DCFI covers.

The Assurance orders DCFI to refrain from discouraging consumers from taking notes or otherwise keeping a careful record of the information [DCFI] provides during the introductory workshop.

Jane Bryant Quinn cuts to the heart of the issue:

"The question with Pino workshops, and others like it, is the sales pitch.

Does it give a true picture of what it takes for success? Or does it prey on people's innocent hopes?"

She then summarizes the key points:

1) "Note brokering isn't as easy as it sounds."

In spite of claims to the contrary in order to sell seminars, successful note brokers work 50 to 70 hours a week and couldn't earn a living part-time.

A Pino booklet called "Getting Your First 10 Deals In 10 Days or Less" met with "um, disbelief" among seasoned note brokers questioned by Newsweek.

Pino says he "barely remembers" what he calls the "broad stroke stuff" booklet.

2) "There's probably not as much money in it as you think."

Invoice buyer John Fox says he has to retrain many DCFI graduates and finds most of them "unrealistic.. about the opportunities to really make money."

Pino says he doesn’t teach what Fox requires.

3) "The competition can be brutal.

Pino claims that you’re up against "limited competition" for deals that are "as plentiful as raindrops."

Veteran note broker Ed Burris calls those claims "baloney." He says he had almost 1,000 "brokers" on his contact list.

Most did one transaction and disappeared.

4) You need skills.

If you are "young or mature," "rich or poor," or "stuck in a dead end job" you ought to be a note broker -- at least if you believe the advertising.

Not so, says Dwayne, a Seattle ironworker interviewed by Quinn who was persuaded by Pino's pitchman to borrow money to attend the class.

"I was taken advantage of," he says. "It's not for working-class people...You need a background to do this."

Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, scams, frauds.