Thomas Pierce Exposed
Finally, The Whole Truth About Internet Con Artist Thomas Pierce.
Thomas Pierce the Black America Online Scam Again is doing it in Jacksonville Florida:
I was introduced Thomas Pierce by Rosetta Shelley Bodewes at my local church after meeting him a few times he discussed with me an idea he had for an e-commence website and would I like to invest in the site, I was not keen to invest but had my own website and e-commence site I wanted him to develop Rosetta and Thomas went on to state how they could help with blogging and facebook development as well. Thomas stated it would cost in the region of $20,000.00 to develop and I gave a deposit for the work and to my shock I am still waiting three months later...I have now discovered this is not the first time Thomas has done something like this..and he was involved in Black Online America. [continued below]....
..... My understanding is that Rosetta and Thomas are ripping people off by not doing what they state they are going to do in Jacksonville on a whole.
Below is what I discovered Thomas did to people before he came to Jacksonville:
Denise Gooden didnt expect to get rich when she invested $7,000 in Black America Online Inc. in the spring of 1996. Her financial adviser opposed it, but the idea of helping a black-owned business inspired her to plunk down her money anyway.
I felt it was two young African Americans that were trying to do something and had a vision, said the 32-year-old travel agent from Michigan. By the end of the year, the only return Ms. Gooden and others had from their investment in the Gaithersburg company was a bitter lesson on the cost of idealism. The Internet service was out of business. Its two founders were gone, and so was at least $56,000 of investors money.
Short-lived Black America Online now is being investigated for securities violations by Maryland state regulators and has been accused of embezzlement by its largest investor. Even the companys publicist intends to sue for unpaid work.
The company that billed itself as the Internet gateway for African Americans nationwide and Afrocentric peoples across the globe was up and running for less than six months and never had more than 200 subscribers, according to documents filed by the Maryland securities commissioner. But in that short time, it became a cautionary tale for anyone considering investing in a flashy new high-tech company.
Everybody thinks that the Internet is the next California gold rush, and that just aint quite the case yet, said Sharon H. Kent, business development director at Tomco Systems Inc., a young, black-owned Internet company in Oxon Hill. Success stories are still the exception and not the rule. Golden opportunity
The business plan circulated by Black America Online in December 1995 reads like a golden opportunity. The company projected it would have 2,500 subscribers within six months, 22,500 by the end of the first year and 30,000 six months after that.
For those 12 months, BAOL would rake in more than $3.8 million in revenue, with a profit margin of at least 70 percent, according to the projections. By 2000, the company would be clearing $17.6 million in revenues and $10.5 million in profit.
Who said it has to be hard? reads a statement tucked in with the projections.
Just as impressive are the descriptions of BAOLs top executive, Thomas Pakii Pierce, 28. The business plan calls Thomas is billed as a skilled decision maker and a dynamic speaker with experience in business administration.
But what appealed most to potential investors was their ambitious social agenda. The Internet, they said, could be used to educate blacks.
We know that African Americans are lagging behind other groups in Internet use, but the numbers are improving. We want to help not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of children who will have more educational resources at their disposal, businesses that will increase their bottom line and black people in general who are missing out on the wealth of information in cyberspace.
Efforts to reach Stephen Pierce over the course of several weeks were unsuccessful. Thomas Pierce did not return phone messages left at his home in Forestville.
In their business plan, the Pierce said his goal was to raise $250,000 in start-up capital for BAOL. In fall 1995, they had started soliciting subscribers from large on-line services such as America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe, according to documents filed by the Maryland securities commissioner Robert N. McDonald. From the first 200, they singled out several and pitched them on the idea of becoming investors.
The companys service went on line the following June. Its site (www.blackamericaonline.com) on the World Wide Web featured news services, interactive games and chat rooms with names such as Brother 2 Brother, Mahogany Talk and the Singles Cafe. Connecting and educating our black nation is priority, empowering and prospering our black nation is an urgency, uniting and loving our black nation is a must! the companys business plan says.
Its a goal shared by many successful black executives in the computer business.
It was just a few years ago that business reporters were reporting that blacks were slow to get on line, Tomcos Ms. Kent said. I think its important that everyone understands that you have to be part of this technology. You cannot afford not to be.
Tomco Systems is one of a small but growing number of black-owned Internet providers in the country. In addition to Internet connections, the company does Web site development and network consulting. Unlike BAOL, the company doesnt limit its marketing to blacks. Ducks in a row?
In contrast to the Pierces grand ambitions, BAOL had only $31,600 worth of computer equipment and a tiny staff sprinkled with other members of the Pierce family, documents indicate.
Still, Stephen Pierce was able to recruit prominent blacks, including entertainer d**k Gregory, to help promote Black America Online through the Internet. The company won enthusiastic write-ups in trade magazines and newspapers. Stephen Pierce was even scheduled to speak at a seminar to be held by Black Enterprise magazine.
Joe Madison, a D.C. radio talk show host with WWRC-AM, said the Pierces signed him to a contract to be a spokesman for the company.
He said they had a lot of investors, and it was a growth company, Mr. Madison said. I said, Well, this is a new arena, especially for African Americans. And it was wide open. My position was: Lets give them a chance.
When Pierce showed up at his Montgomery County home, Mr. Madison recalls, he arrived in a chauffeured limousine. The two sat down at a computer and watched as BAOLs chat room filled up with subscribers.
I was just impressed, Mr. Madison said. Everything he said seemed to be in place.
Pierce inspired similar confidence in others who invested in BAOL. One of them, Denver clothing designer Brendalinell Carhee, fronted the company $50,000 in cash and equipment and even helped arrange a corporate credit account with American Express.
Ms. Carhee said she and other investors put a lot of their own time into the company, doing customer service and technical work. Troubling signs
It wasnt long, however, before she and other associates started noticing troubling signs at BAOL. The companys server was often out of service, and subscribers sometimes had to communicate through America Online to get access codes to BAOL.
It was all talk, said Ms. Carhee, who has filed a civil suit against the Pierce in Montgomery County. They didnt know how to operate the business once it got going.
Only about a month after it went on line, BAOL shut down, Ms. Gooden said. Two months later the company was back on line, but it started requiring subscribers to pay for a years worth of service in advance about $240.
Later in the year, Pierce called Ms. Gooden and asked for more money, she said. He said he needed cash for a business trip to New York City.
I said, I dont do personal loans, she said.
The final straw may have come in December, when the Pierce received a letter from the nations largest Internet service, America Online, demanding they stop using the Black America Online name, arguing it amounted to trademark infringement.
AOL never got a response from BAOL, according to company spokeswoman Tricia Primrose.
We didnt take any action from there because their Web site went down quickly after that, Miss Primrose said.
In the December interview with the Sun Reporter, BAOL claimed it had more than 4,000 subscribers. Pierce also announced plans to restart a less-expensive version of BAOL. The company would drop its Internet connection and become a home page on the Web designed for blacks.
At the same time, the Pierce were still making grandiose claims. In its Dec. 13-19 issue, the Washington Business Journal quoted Thomas Pierce as saying the company generates about $80,000 a month in revenue (and) is near its break-even point. Failure or con game?
But by the end of the year, BAOL was off line for good. When Ms. Carhee and other investors and business associates started trying to find the Pierces, they said, their phone calls went unanswered. Eventually, Pierce phone numbers were disconnected.
They, to this day, have not sent a letter, a postcard nothing to the people that invested money, Ms. Carhee said.
BAOLs publicist, Hyattsville-based Leslie Communications, also has tried in vain to find the Pierces so it could serve them with a civil suit. According to company President John Leslie, the Pierces owe more than $3,000.
On New Years Eve, Ms. Carhee received a letter from American Express demanding that she repay $18,000 that had been charged on BAOLs corporate credit account. The charges, she said, included televisions, stereos and clothes.
I just about lost it, she said. There was not one thing on there related to the running of Black America Online.
BAOLs business plan provides a hint of how difficult it could be to collect from Stephen Pierce. Among the special reports he has written, according to the business plan, were The 7 Commandments to Taming Your Creditors and 51 Battle-Tested Tips for Successful Creditor Negotiations.
Roc has shown corporate executives how to outwit creditors, instantly putting cash back into their companies and operate debt-free, the business plan says.
When Ms. Carhee looked more closely into the Pierces background, she said, she discovered the company had been run out of the home of the parents.
According to documents filed by the Maryland securities commissioner, investigators believe there may be grounds to charge the Pierce with fraud and the sale of unregistered securities. Ms. Carhee has tried unsuccessfully to convince the attorney general to press criminal charges, arguing that the episode amounted to embezzlement.
Their paper trail shows they tried to start a business with other peoples money, Ms. Carhee said. When it did go bad, he just skipped and ran. Mr. Madison agrees.
It all turned out to be, as far as Im concerned, a big con game, the talk show host said. The stink of being hustled was clear.
Others, like Ms. Gooden, arent sure if BAOL was a hustle or a business venture turned sour. She says she still plans to invest her money with an eye toward helping black entrepreneurs.
My gut feeling would have to say, OK. I probably would be a lot more cautious, Ms. Gooden said. Would I automatically say no? I dont think so.
Ms. Carhee is less forgiving. I would never do this to anyone, what was done to me or let anyone do this to me, she said.
Source Washington Post
PLEASE THINK BEFORE USING THOMAS PIERCE FOR ANY ONLINE OR PROGRAMMING WORK! TAKES THIS AS YOUR WARNING.