TJ Hawkins (otherwise known as Timothy Ray Hawkins Jr.), the CEO of The Rhythm Brands is without a doubt a scam artist who has not only scammed me personally, but cheated and stole from a literacy charity I run called Reading, Writing, Its Exciting!
After I and my charity caught him in the act of stealing from us, we researched who he really was. Obviously, we wish we had done it much sooner, because most likely well never recoup the money he stole from us. But the hope is that by posting here, others will not be harmed by his actions.
First, Mr. Hawkins claimed that The Rhythm Brands is a registered company in New York. We called and checked and it is not recognized at all It was, however, a company registered in California, but was suspended in 2006. Weve learned that when a corporation is suspended, that means they cannot legally operate in any way, shape, or form. Here is the link showing that his company was suspended: http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/cbs.aspx.
So how does he do his scamming? Well, he is the smoothest of smooth operators. He comes off as the most genuine, caring and intelligent person youll ever meet. He sets up many meetings with you and talks for days about all the ways hell help you and/or your charity, and it draws you in. I now believe he targets small charities like ours, who are desperate for help. You so want to believe and are grateful for the things hes promising to do, but in the end, its all a pack of lies.
So how did he cheat our charity specifically? We had an event in which he was going to get our marketing materials for it. He was supposed to deliver them to me before the event so I could see how many of our materials there were (and to know what we were paying for). He made an excuse for why he couldnt get it to us, but that he would deliver it straight to the event. Which he did. He told me (and texted me) that he was delivering 500 flyers, 500 pieces of letterhead, 500
envelopes and 100 business cards that he had printed, which went into gift bags (except for the cards).
Since there were 150 gift bags at the event, I naturally wanted to know where the extra 350 flyers and 350 pieces of letterhead were. He said they must have been thrown away by the people who owned the venue, because the venue couldnt locate them. We learned later this was a blatant lie.
I explained that the charity needed an invoice, and I later received one from his company that only showed the description of the materials printed (flyers, letterhead, envelopes, cards) and the total cost. It didnt say how much of each material was printed, or how much each material cost.
I then emailed that the charity needed an invoice showing exactly how many materials were printed and for how much. I received a response from a staff member Id never heard of (Julie Nguyen) that this could not be provided because their company worked with so many printer groups, and unless
it was requested on a per diem basis, an individual breakdown for amount and cost of each could not be done But heres where Mr. Hawkins scam crumbled. He didnt cover his tracks. The printer he used contacted me because they had some extra business cards and they wanted me to come pay for them. I then asked them if they had an invoice for the original printing they did for us (with an actual breakdown), since Mr. Hawkins company didnt provide one. They said, Sure. And they sent it to me. And it showed that only 100 flyers and 100 pieces of letterhead (not 500 of each) were printed. And it showed that Mr. Hawkins VASTLY overcharged for this deceit. I asked the printer if they were one of The Rhythm Brands printer groups, and he said they had never met Mr. Hawkins before, or ever dealt with his company, and that Mr. Hawkins paid in cash. They also shared with me the emails between them and Mr. Hawkins company showing that only 100 of the flyers and letterhead were requested. So basically, Mr. Hawkins blatantly lied to us in order to overcharge the charity several hundred dollars.
And heres how Mr. Hawkins scammed me personally, and this is the way he will mainly try to scam others. After all the meetings with you in which he details all the wonderful things he will do, he then charges an upfront fee to do it all (a reputable company would disclose this fee in the very first meeting). Afterwards, Mr. Hawkins then does some small things to make you feel he and the company are legit, but as time as goes by, the main things he promised (that you really want done) dont get done. And even though he said they wouldnt charge anymore unless these things were done, SUDDENLY things change with his company,and they will now need more money upfront to do all these things promised. At that point, I never gave him this extra money and received a letter from his company that my account could no longer remain active because of it. I had a feeling I had been scammed then, and it was a few days later when I learned that he stole from the charity as well (as I described above).
Heres another specific example of how he scams. Hell tellyou his company will do something that has a fee, and that they need you to pay the fee. With me, I was told they would make a company name I wanted turned into a C Corp for $400. I paid him this in November 2011 and he told me and texted me it was a done deal, and that all I had to do to make it official was also file a DBA. Which I did. I recently (April 2011) called the Secretary of State's office in Sacramento, CA to see if I really did have a C Corp. They told me no, and they said if anyone had filed anything on my behalf at any time it would be in their files.
Once all this came to light, I contacted Mr. Hawkins describing the charity printing invoice discrepancy. A few days later, I received a letter that The Rhythm Brands was terminating their services with me and that I owed them $9,446.19 and if I made any public complaints about Mr. Hawkins or the company, there would be further financial repercussions. Ive learned this tactic at attempted intimidation is right out of the scam artist playbook.
One thing that I cant prove yet, but Im hoping with help from others that I will, is proving that his staff is either made-up names, or people he has just recently met and will eventually go away when they realize they wont be paid for his services. In the 8 months that I knew him, he always had a reason why I couldnt meet any of this staff. I finally met one, at our March charity event, and she told me shed only known Mr. Hawkins for a week, and that he was mentoring her. Very suspicious.
In any regard, I urge all of you reading this to spread the word that TJ Hawkins (otherwise known as Timothy Ray Hawkins) is a scam artist and that his company The Rhythm Brands was suspended in 2006, and is therefore not an actual company. His companys website is just a homepage with a New Site Coming Soon notice on it since Ive known him (since 7/2011). Hopefully, if the word is spread, no one will ever be harmed by him again.