Subject: Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman and relevant ponzi-pyramid schemes (ViaViente, OBTVIA, One Big Team) at the expense of the US taxpayer
To whom it may concern:
I am an ex-Equinox distributor. These are my personal views. If you disagree do not take it personally. My experience with Equinox International, Inc. has been included below and was published over 5 years ago on the following web sites:
I am writing in regards to Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman who have been illegal pyramid scheme operators since the mid-1980s. During the year 2000 the company they built up together with Bill Gouldd was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for having defrauded over $300M from distributors participating in an illegal pyramid scheme uner the guise of a legitimate company:
] - FTC Press Release
] - FTC Press Release
] - FTC Court Document
] - FTC Court Document
] - Trek Alliance
Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman are currently continuing the business practices they used with Bill Gouldd to steal millions during the 1990s with the following company:
3100 East Plano Parkway
Plano, Texas 75074
Corporate Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
AutoShip Department: email@example.com
Returns Department: firstname.lastname@example.org
Customer Service Department: email@example.com
Management: Sheri Sharman
Management: Buck Reed
Management: Imo Sharman
After having defrauded thousands of people out of $300M with Equinox International, Inc. (Bill Gouldd) during the nineties Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman are not quite like Enron yet but definitely make Martha Stewart look like Mother Theresa. I am writing in an attempt to call this item to the attention of the relevant government agencies whose duty is to protect the American consumer as well as the American taxpayer.
I also hope that others, after having examined the above documents and web sites, will act as responsible Americans by contacting their State Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission ( [www.ftc.gov
] ), and warning their friends and family.
By enforcing the law now as opposed to later we will be able to save the US taxpayer millions in litigation fees that will be needed to shut them down.
After Equinox International, Inc., Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman have stayed out of site for a number years. Now they are back and once they will have made enough money by defrauding "independent distributors" once more, Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman will hire the best lawyers money can buy to defend themselves against inevitable prosecution so that they will be able to walk away with a sizeable amount of the defrauded profits from their current scheme. The above has been Buck Reed, Sheri Sharman, and Imo Sharman's modus operandi since the mid-1980s. They has done so using a variety of companies such as NSA, Equinox International, Trek Alliance, Luv-n-Life, VíaVienté, OBTvia, etc.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
"Learn from an ex-idiot (me) how not to become one"
By an ex-Equinox distributor
I am a 25-year-old successful web executive and do not wish to publish my name or email in protection of my career and privacy. Although this is but one aspect of my life, for the record (and for those people who think that I am a broke failure who has nothing better to do with his time) I conservatively make over a six figure income through my profession and have been very successful investing in web startups over the past few years to the point where I am beginning to accumulate a significant net worth (well over my pre-tax income).
The views I am about to express are candid and personal and must be taken as such. My ideas and experience reflect my personality. They are purely subjective and are not meant as a direct criticism to anybody's views or lifestyle.
Being born and raised in Italy, I moved to the states on my own at the age of nineteen to attend a prominent university. Around my second year, I ran out of money, was unable to obtain financing, and was forced to drop out. However, I did not want to go back to Italy in defeat and chose to "stick it out" in the States. Despite the fact that I spoke 4 languages fluently, had been a national athlete in Italy and had been studying at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, I was forced to take a job at a convenience store to get by. After a year of working low paying jobs with side stints as a corporate translator I started to get frustrated with my experience in the States.
Soon after my 21st birthday set out to find something I could excel at and build a professional life upon. I was not sure what industry that would be or how I would do it, but was convinced I would find a way. My thinking was that I could always get the "piece of paper" later to please my family (I am now enrolled at a Master's program at Harvard). I had already excelled in sports, languages, and music in my life so I figured that I had good chance to succeed in anything--just on my persistence alone.
This is where I have mixed feelings: Shortly hereafter I met the "Equinox International opportunity" via an ad in a paper advertising "athletic minded". It is an experience I continue to reevaluate to this day. I have mixed feelings. Although my career in Equinox was a failure I was able to transmute the lessons learned into the web industry and do very well. On the other hand if I ran into a web start-up right away maybe I could have hit the market a few years earlier and--who knows?
I saw the opportunity in the now defunct Braintree, Massachusetts office. I must say that the people who got me in the business were genuine for the most part. Actually my sponsor was a very nice not to mention beautiful lady who did her best to help even though I was a hopeless case form a financial perspective. The people I have reserved feelings for now were the big money earners that I was trying to model myself after: The people I have reserved feelings for now were the big money earners that I was trying to model myself after: David Isaac's, Rich Vonn, Sherri Sharmin, Beatta Mhazen, Mike Heyle, Serena Schwartz, Joey Proia, Kale Flagg, Andy Cheung, Gregg Ammerman, Raphael Rochas, John Alden, Ray Pearson, Ernie Pirotta, and Bill Gouldd. In Equinox there was a saying "Find someone, who has what you want, do what they do, and you will get what they got". Although that technique did not bring me much success financially in Equinox it has helped in the computer industry--as I have developed an almost part-time hobby of trying to understand the thought processes of past and contemporary successful people.
However while Steve Jobbs, Bill Gates, John Rockefeller, and others have attained a business success, which is an inspiration--I cringe when I think of emulating my ex-Equinox colleagues now. Not only were these people broke, but they were trying to get ahead by financially raping others--while having no reservations about it. A lot of these so called "big hitters", like Kale Flagg and Serena Schwartz, just happened to come from well endowed families--helping them look successful.
I have no compassion for the people on top--because they know the illusion is fake. Sure they can say, "Well, I am on the top of it now so I might as well take advantage of it." However, I will never be able to stomach a rich deceiving daddy's boy/girl trying to screw over a poor well intentioned self-starter. To me that represents the behavior of weak, spineless, and morally bereft people. They will probably end up squandering family fortunes. Thank god there is something called "downward mobility" in this country.
I am sure that there are some bright young kids who are put out of commission from an ambition standpoint for 5-10 years, after they resolve to give up attempting to begin an exciting career--partly thanks to their failure at Equinox. One of the nicer things of beginning to achieve a small success is the way you can help and inspire others. I cannot believe I was actually setting people up for the opposite.
I got into the Equinox business and had a blast. It was a dream: unlimited potential, great people, young atmosphere, excitement, working for/with a company that seemed to have a cutting edge business strategy, etc. I earned my way to manager after the first month with an investment of $500 and was avidly studying books by Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie (great books - life changing although the authors themselves were in the success-selling business).
When I ran out of warm market I would bring people in from the subway everyday (I had no car) or through cold calling methods. I actually got to be pretty smooth, a few times dialing wrong numbers by accident, but managing to get those people to check out a meeting on the fly.
I BELIEVED in the system as a way to deliver better products and leverage WOM advertising. I figured that there was nothing wrong with exposing people to the opportunity much in the same way that I had been exposed. Unfortunately, what I did not realize at the time that I had already been HAD and was trying to put other people in the same boat.
Although I actually got something out of all those seminars and was certainly motivated, I was going nowhere. I still have my contact list somewhere at home and I believe I shared the opportunity with over 250 people (i.e. seminars or watching a video tape with them) and eventually had 5 people in my group (a few dropped out).
I was sold on the decision of dedicating 15 years of my life amidst poverty and social insecurity in order to be successful someday. I know that makes most people cringe, but my personality is one that wants all or nothing--in the sense I did not want to settle for less than what my parents had (an upper middle class lifestyle).
After 9 months of feverish drive, seminars, and financial sacrifices I could not afford to do the business any longer and was forced to get job working at a restaurant--thus taking "a leave of absence". There was no way I could afford a desk at the office and could have not gone back to less--given that image is often everything amongst Equinox distributors. Since I needed to save money to someday re-enter the business and start over again I stayed out for months and got involved in a web start-up--where I did not need to make any financial investment and after a few months I was making money. Soon I left the restaurant business to "work where deserved, not where needed" forever abandoning the idea of going back to Equinox.
Even after all that--I chose to ignore all the negative TV attention Equinox International began to receive. Instead, I looked upon my failure at Equinox as the foundation of my success in the web business. Anyway, I have always practiced a positive philosophy of looking for all the potential seed of success into any failure. At Equinox I learned how to take chances, but also learned that I was very gullible and credulous.
I also understand that anticipation via proper critical research on all fronts is essential towards avoiding failure. Although I started to become a good public speaker through Equinox, I also accumulated major debt. I lost $8,000.00, which back then would have taken me 5-10 years to save. I dodged creditors and proceeded to ruin my credit history as I refined my marketing presentations and sucked in motivation tapes to increase my ability to influence people.
More than anything else I had begun losing credibility with my family as I lied and "faked" success hoping that it would arrive soon enough to equalize the backlog of marketing "bullshit" deficit I was accumulating. That was probably the most difficult period in my life. For the first time, I felt alone and disconnected from the people who had always championed me in all my endeavors. It was not until I began to demonstrate a certain level of success as a web entrepreneur that I gained back my family serenity--they must have been worried sick.
Although things eventually went well for me I started to discern over time what success was attributable to myself rather than my Equinox experience. As I started to become successful I wrote a letter to Equinews magazine. I thought that although I had not been successful in Equinox, my current successes inspired by Equinox would be a great selling point for a training company. But my story was trashed to make room for some guy who claimed to have sold 3 water filters to his son's school. I even went to a Basic Building Blocks to see if the seminar could have helped me further in my business at the time.
I dropped that altogether as I realized the whole thing is a sham. Bill Gouldd supposedly became successful building sales forces and holding seminars--teaching you to do the same. At the time I believed Bill Gouldd when he said he was teaching me exactly what he did to become successful and that he was not holding anything back. Unfortunately, that was a big lie. It eventually occurred to me that Bill Gouldd, after years in direct sales, joined NSA and started making money only after he put together AMS selling seminars starting at $50 a person--while he was already lying about his income and overall wealth. This capital proceeds from the seminars were then used to buy/rent the material status symbols (e.g. cars and homes) to further enhance the lie that would attract more seminar customers.
The product appears to have always been just a front--while they were raking in millions through AMS already in their first year before they even had any products to speak of. Getting the people to commit keeps them in (like me, 15 years)--thus creating a "Perpetually Devastating Money Robbing Machine".
Somehow you shall reap what you sow Bill. You lied to me big-time and may you rot in jail/hell, whichever comes first.
At least Bill Gouldd and the rest of the Equinox people were "very good" con artists. You have to give them credit to be able to create the "quick-wealth" perception so effectively. The office technique coupled with effective closing is deadly effective. Thank God they robbed too much too quickly. Amway culture, (I attended a meeting while at Equinox) propagates a myth of getting rich over 10-30 year period. At least Equinox takes only a few years to burn out its supporters whereas Amway may turn out to be a much greater portion of your life. It is funny, because every now and then I get these "nice people" sharing the Amway opportunity--who think they have one up on me after all I have been through. What a waste.
Wake up! Although it can be fun and seemingly constructive, MLMs are often a Ponzi scheme (look it up). Direct marketing is not. If organizations like Amway and Equinox really created more millionaires than any other company in the world they would be public by now. Learn from an ex-idiot (me) how not to become one and always do your homework. As for the Equinox opportunity, which jump started my career--Rest in Peace.