I am a consumer from the Washington, DC area, and I came across what I consider one of the typical fraudsters that you find on the internet these days that I think needs to be exposed. This guy seems to have a national audience, which makes him even more dangerous.
First, some background. I am 48 years old. I work in the federal government (I'm not writing this at work, by the way). I am in debt. Like many people, I Googled "get out of debt" since I would like to get out of debt. Pretty basic, huh?
As usual, there are various results in the Google search, and I am a pretty skeptical person. So, I click on a few links to see what I can find. One link was from the guy on CNBC at night that's always talking about how he was bankrupt. Another was a link to a site called getoutofdebt.org. Another was a link to Lending Tree (you know the company with the commercials about banks competing?).
Anyway, after browsing the aforementioned links for a few minutes, I decide to spend a few more minutes on the getoutofdebt.org site. It looks pretty good, and it seems to be relevant. The first thing that I notice about the site is that it's written by a guy named Steve Rhode. I don't know him from Adam, so I Google him, too. As I'm browsing the results from the search, everything looks legit. Lots of quotes from Steve in various news organizations, etc. Of course, Steve, just like the CNBC, claims to have gone through bankruptcy, which is why he is an "expert" now. A few pages in, I find that Steve has written a book on the topic. Okay, so now I know that Steve is using his website to drive book sales. Typical, but, the man has to make a living, I guess, even if he is just using his "free" website to sell his books.
So a little further in to the search results, I notice that Steve is linked to an organization called Myvesta, which claims to be a non-profit. So, I Google "Myvesta Steve Rhode". And there it is...exactly what I expected to find, since nearly every so-called "guru" is not really that and usually has a shady past. As it turns out, Myvesta, which used to be known as Debt Counselors of America, has a cease and desist order from the state of California, which is known for aggressively pursuing fraudulent activities by companies such as this. Turns out our "guru" is out peddling debt advice and California has shut him down for not complying with California law. And, our so-called "non-profit" is apparently selling a $200 per month "debt payment" plan. What a complete and total fraud! Thank heavens for Google!
So, yet a little further in to these search results, I learn that Steve and his co-founder were forced to resign from the company in late 2003. Ah, but this gets better. Steve resigned and appointed his wife as the President...so, Steve commits fraud, the state of California pursues him, and then he appoints his wife to run his company. Yeah, things have really "changed" at Myvesta, the non-profit charing a $495 enrollment fee and a $200 per month "maintenance" fee.
Needless to say, after figuring all of this out, I decided to keep looking for a reputable site, so if you find one, let me know. I hope this helps expose Steve Rhode, Myvesta and getoutofdebt.org for the complete and total fraud that it is!