An exposé about much more than just Suze Orman
From Fraudulent FICO Fables to Corporate Cons, How Suze Orman and Her Crooked Cabal Manipulated the Media, Plundered the Poor, Stole from the Middle Class, Damaged the United States Economy, and Hijacked a Political Party
A Citizen Journalism Public Service Offering
This online multimedia book is based on the documentary film:
How Suze Orman SCAMMED the World (2016)
A comedy, tragedy, and IQ test all in one
Click here to download the free ebook
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Suze Orman SCAMvenger Hunt
1: From Waitress to “Financial Expert”: Orman’s History of Shams and Shenanigans
2: Seducing Corporations, Banks and Billionaires
3: Trumping Up Her Bank Account with a Gold “Pump and Dump” Scheme
4: Distortions of the “Queen Of Crisis”: Damaging the Economy for Personal Gain
5: The “Approved” Card Scam and Media Wide Fraud
6: Capitalizing On The Financial Illiteracy of The Poor, Minorities, and the “Occupy” Movement
7: The Scam-Ridden Card’s Demise and Cover-Up
8: Sociopathology and a Twitter Meltdown
9: And The Scams Go On…
This is an online multimedia book -- throughout the text, you’ll find underlined links to videos, articles, and other supportive documentation.
Distortions of the “Queen Of Crisis”:
Damaging the Economy for Personal Gain
In the late 1990s, just as our culture was about to get swept into a higher level of generous spiritual holistic mentality, Suze Orman—who had only recently been $250,000 in debt, and spending tens of thousands of dollars of that borrowed money on extreme extravagances—came along wagging her finger and shouting that wealth is good, greed is good, money is spirituality, and you must have the “Courage to be Rich!”
Aside from buying Orman's products, much of her advice said to be afraid, be ashamed, and hold off on enjoying life. Don't pursue your dreams. Don't take that vacation, don’t get that cup of coffee, don't change your career to something you would love to do if it might disrupt your finances, don't marry anyone who doesn’t have a good FICO score, and don't help your friends, family, or anyone else but yourself. As Orman would occasionally explain, when she repeated her altruistic sounding statement, “People first, then money, then things,” what she meant was to put yourself first, in terms of always getting more money for yourself.
Orman's edicts, messages, actions, and behaviors have contributed to removing heart from our world. She sometimes advised people to act in dishonest and unscrupulous ways, such as telling a woman on her CNBC show not to tell her husband that she wanted a divorce, because if she stayed with him for one more year, She’d reach ten years of marriage and possibly get an increased portion of his social security payments one day. Orman also advised the woman to steal and hide away money from her unaware, soon-to-be ex-husband, so when she’d leave a year later, she would have some savings. Living a lie to make a few more bucks is nothing for Suze Orman, so why not advise others to live in deception and steal from loved ones as well.
Here is an article with links to other articles about certain specific problems with Orman's financial advice that suggest her liaisons with banks and creditors. It is from the Bankruptcy Law Network, so obviously the criticisms come from that point of view, but clearly the elderly woman in this example was given troubling and inconsistent advice by Orman, instead of advice based on her circumstances as an 81 year-old woman who lives on $600 of Social Security income a month:
From Bankruptcy Law Network: “Suze Orman Bankrupts a Reader Without the Benefits.” (Link 4-2)
Bankruptcy is a last resort of course. But it is an option. Paying back debt when you barely have enough money to survive is usually a horrible alternative.
Unless you are Suze Orman. Ms. Orman styles herself as a financial adviser to every day folks. And Oprah Winfrey has given her a column on the O website. But Ms. Orman sounds more and more like she works for the credit industry, not you.
In her March 2012 on-line column, she posted a Q&A response which makes consumer advocates — and anyone who actually cares about their elderly family — scream.
The question was asked how to help an 81-year old woman with $8,000 of credit card debt and only $600/mo of Social Security income get out of debt.
I can think of a few ways to deal with it. First, the lady could probably file bankruptcy. If she has no non-exempt assets, that would be a very simple case. But, second, she may not need to consider even that. If she has no assets and no other income, she is judgment-proof and would not need to file bankruptcy to avoid the debt. The creditors could not seize her Social Security for payment, for example. And I suspect there are other options available to her.
The one answer I would not suggest for someone with that much debt compared to their income — $8,000 for a person earning only $600/mon is like Orman facing an $8 million debt — would be to try to pay it off. But that’s what Suze said.
As she pointed out, “It’s fruitless to try to talk your way out of this; the card issuer has every right to expect repayment”…
For someone like Orman who ought to know that Social Security is protected from creditor collection action — so the creditor may have a “right to expect payment” but the consumer has the right to refuse to pay from those funds too — it shows she’s not even trying to help. She just doles out credit industry-approved guidance. Whether it would help, do more harm than good or is even feasible in the real world doesn’t seem to matter sometimes.
Indeed, Orman not only suggested that the elderly woman divert her pittance to repaying debt, she suggested she use more debt to get out of debt. She recommended they track down a low or no-interest card she could open and transfer the balances to. Without saying it, the next step is likely to need to open another account, rinse, and repeat. That’s a gamble and it puts keeping a good credit score over paying for the basics of life. But she never hints at any other option but repayment.
In fact, Orman simply used the elderly woman’s circumstance as a way of pitching the concept of “card kiting” as viable repayment tool for anyone in debt (and to lecture us — but not the industry — about the evils of cash advance financing).
This is an easy scenario to address if you have the consumer’s interests at heart — We already know the credit industry lost that money. It’s gone. Sometimes the only way to make them admit it is to file bankruptcy. But one way or the other, only the most ruthless creditor-oriented adviser would tell an elderly woman in such straits to find a way to repay that debt and never mention non-payment or, heaven forbid!, bankruptcy.
So what does that say about Suze Orman? Who does she really work for? And what does it say about Oprah’s O Magazine, that it would feature this advice as “Suze’s Best Advice on Getting Out of Debt.”
Orman not only reached millions of people on Oprah’s magazine and show, but due to her Oprah connection, Orman was also invited to give information that was often misinformation on many shows throughout the media landscape, resulting in a public influence extreme enough for con artist Suze Orman to be named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for two years in a row.
Once Orman hooked in with the political lobbyist media broker damage control “cabal” some years later, she would move on to bigger and better scams. Before that, she was still giving what ended up being disastrous advice, over and again. Whether some or all of Orman’s bad advice was intentional is, perhaps, up for debate.
Here is an example of Orman contributing to the housing crisis and economic decline by encouraging people to quickly buy a home at the very top of the bubble, telling them specifically not to worry about buying into a bubble, and to buy a house right away to lock in a seven percent rate, advising: “Try to apply for a mortgage sooner rather than later.”
As usual, those who followed Orman’s tainted advice lost a great deal when interest rates soon after plummeted below four percent, leaving those who locked in those seven percent rates unable to even refinance their loans.
This is either an example of misinformation from an overly-confident, uneducated, pseudo “financial expert,” or something more devious that was intended to deplete the middle class, which would support Orman’s frequent declarations that she repeated like mantras for years while running her scams that, “The middle class is gone,” and, “The American Dream is dead.”
Here is Suze Orman giving her bad housing advice in O Magazine, in 2003 and again in 2007, to the same Oprah fans she has used and conned for too many years:
Once rates fell below four percent, this “financial expert” with no credentials or education announced with great fanfare and the usual headline blast that she had changed her advice.
While those who had followed Orman’s previous advice and rushed to buy into a bubble were now finding themselves in underwater homes, she then went on the talk show circuit with a new headline.
Orman was now telling people they should walk away from their underwater mortgages, which meant losing all the money they’d already paid to the banks, including their down payments. Now the banks had their money and owned their homes.
From the Paying For Protection blog:
One vocal proponent of “walking away” is financial guru Suze Orman who has been quoted in numerous articles stating that those who are “underwater” in their mortgages should walk off and let the houses get foreclosed on. This past Monday, Ms. Orman appeared on “The View” with what has become her new rallying cry, “If you are upside down in your mortgage and the bank will not work with you, walk away from the house.”
In Orman's book The Money Class, she advises borrowers, “Do the calculations everybody. How much is it costing you to actually stay in that house? How many years will it take for you to pay more for that house than it is worth? If it's 3 years, 4 years, 5 years, are you kidding me? That's a house you really need to say bye bye. It's not worth the money.” Orman advises people who are upside down in their home mortgages to try to get the bank to modify the loan. Failing that, she says that homeowners should seek out a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. “If they won't do that, then walk away. It's just how it is.”
The fact that a respected money expert is telling American borrowers that they can and should default on their loan obligations when they have the ability to repay is really a sign of just how far we have fallen as a nation. It is deplorable to think that we have come to a place as a society where defaulting on our obligations is considered some kind of a moral high road.
Orman’s new advice was that her “clients” should walk away from their mortgages and lose all their equity and their homes, because “It’s okay to be a renter for the rest of your life.” You’ll see these clips in our documentary film section on Suze Orman’s role in the housing crisis: Link 4-1. In the film, you’ll also hear Orman bragging about owning five homes that she bought with cash. This article comment shares one example of many who lost a lot due to following Suze Orman's bad advice:
I partially blame Suze Orman for the housing bubble.
I know that sounds ridiculous, but for years she was on Oprah and in her books telling everyone, “buy a house, buy a house, buy a house, it’s the best financial decision you can ever make. Buy a house…”
My old roommate bought a condo in 2007 after reading one of her books and getting pressure from his mom and sister who had also read one of her books…Needless to say, he paid 170k for a condo in a building that now has 5 or 6 empty units out of about 40 by foreclosure. It’s impossible to really tell what his one bedroom condo is worth today because no one in their right mind would be willing to buy it, but I would guess maybe around 70.
Did Suze ever apologize to my friend for such horrible advice? Did Suze ever go on Oprah and admit that her, “buy a house, buy a house, buy a house” advice turned out to be flawed. No!
I'm not a financial expert, but who might have benefited from that housing collapse while millions lost their homes? I’ll let Donald Trump give a hint about who benefited from these abandoned and foreclosed homes, from an interview two years before the housing collapse:
“I sort of hope that happens, because then people like me would go in and buy. If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you can make a lot of money.”
And, look who was speaking together at the same time the housing market collapsed:
This next photo was taken just as the homes of hundreds of thousands of Orman's customers who had followed her advice to quickly buy a house and lock in a 7% mortgage rates before interest rates plummeted below 4%, were going into foreclosure and losing their homes.
Orman never leaves too much time to pass between her bad advice and new plundering schemes. While fans who followed her advice were still reeling from losing their equities and homes, Orman was already on to more nefarious ways to scare the public into funneling money from the poor and middle class into her pockets.
Breaking News: Suze Orman proclaims that the American Dream is Dead!
Yes, that is over 50,000 results—a big PR blast of a negative mantra that filled the public with fear and filled Orman’s pockets with more corporate and bank money for her price-for-advice disguised infomercials and other scams to come. Suze Orman benefited every time the United States’ economy took another hit.
After the housing crisis came Orman’s Gold Rush of 2011, where Orman practically begged people to invest in Gold ETFs. Those fooled by Orman’s “Gold rush” blast lost a lot of money, as documented in Chapter Three. Orman’s gold blast caused further destruction to the United States’ economy, while shifting considerable money from mostly middle class citizens up to Suze Orman and her one-percent supporters and enablers.
Due to the Oprah-given platform that brought Time magazine to name Suze Orman as one of the “100 most influential people in the world,” Orman's whims have distorted national and international streams of commerce in numerous ways, including Orman shouting out rigid rules that were often based on her behind-the-scene deals.
Orman took up most of the “financial expert” air in the public financial advice marketplace, displacing actual educated experts who could and would have given honest, helpful, balanced information and respectfully empowered and guided individuals with the information needed to follow their own intelligence, integrity, generosity, and destiny.
Orman has readily admitted that she benefits whenever the economy gets worse, and based on the Suze Orman I knew all too well, she would be more than happy to ruin lives and harm the economy, as long as it increased her fortune and fame.
An article in Time magazine, titled, “Suze Orman: Queen of the Crisis,” begins with: (Link 4-3)
“'I'm very, very sorry to say that my business is skyrocketing,' the personal-finance guru Suze Orman said one late January afternoon. The Dow was down almost 200 points, and Orman was lounging on the terrace of her San Francisco town house, wearing a leopard-print tunic and cowboy boots. She looked up and popped a grape into her mouth.”
Oh, she sounded sooo very, very sorry, like a cartoon villain, popping another grape in her mouth while gloating over the suffering masses.
It is ultimately greed that is destroying our social fabric, economy, environment, and much more. Although Orman has tossed in a few often-plagiarized quotes about how we can be rich without money (you can almost always find quotes where Orman says the exact opposite of things she’s said in other quotes) her real message has always been that material wealth is more important than anything else in life.
A large part of Orman’s CNBC show involved shouting at people that they must deny themselves everything and anything in life unless it fits into her little Suze Orman box of rules that she never followed in the slightest while she was deeply in debt and finding her way to worldly success.
I do have some other speculations about roles Orman is playing in shifting the wealth in this country, including her corporate connections, deals and partnerships with many large corporations and heads of large corporations, billionaires, and who knows who else.
Suze Orman has gained access to the most private personal and financial data from millions of people who have signed up for her various wares, including software programs and newsletters she has given away for free, but not necessarily without motive.
As an example, Orman’s FICO kit was the subject of a successful lawsuit that accused Orman and Fair Isaac Corporation of not only giving bad information to their customers, but of using the personal information people submitted when purchasing their scores for the purpose of helping creditors get money from them. Quite a scam!
"Baker (one of the litigants of the successful lawsuit) can’t understand how multi-millionaire Suze Orman sleeps at night, her advice appears to be out of a 20 year old credit repair manual and she has certainly destroyed many consumers’ lives with her horrible recommendations.
The CRAs and Fair Isaac are in business to assist creditors and collectors with the collection of debts.
Is it legal to request that consumers submit personal information so that current and future creditors can use it to aide their debt collection efforts? Fair Isaac FAILS TO DISCLOSE that the purpose of this “service” is debt collection.
Collectors have to disclose to debtors that the information provided will be used to collect debts, as per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Baker is not sure whether Fair Isaac would be considered a debt collector subject to the FDCPA, but to disguise these debt collection efforts by Suze Orman as advice is misleading, deceptive and extremely damaging to consumers."
Orman’s rampant PR blitzes of big headlines, to sell products and increase her influence, have led to huge numbers of people walking away from their mortgages, not spending the stimulus checks that were meant to jumpstart the economy in 2008, canceling their newspaper subscriptions, taking vows not to eat in restaurants when the recession left many businesses on the brink of closing, encouraging students to forgo higher education (unless it’s the predatory Orman partner University of Phoenix), with Orman telling people not to help friends or relatives, and parents not to help their children with college or by giving allowances. Orman considered those things as “wants.”
So what might she consider as a “need”?
As Orman says in this next QVC clip with slick oil salesman panache, if she can make it to success, fame, and fortune while never getting a single grade above a “C,” you can (…wait for it…) reach into your pocket and buy her latest silver box kit, which is apparently better than the blue or green boxes the QVC audience may have previously purchased. (Watch the clip: Link 4-4)
Here is one of many Twitter messages Orman posted while feverishly pitching her prepaid debit card:
You can see how Orman’s biggest dream come true would have been for the banking system to collapse enough to push millions of people’s life savings onto her fee-laden, shoddily run, predatory prepaid debit card that was deceptively poised to catch it. In our film, you’ll see Orman describing her card to Time magazine, as being “like a little bank that you can keep in your pocket.” Yet, nobody even mentioned that her card being like a little bank that you can keep in your pocket is no different from any credit, debit, or prepaid card in the world, except that hers lost accounts left and right and charged loads of fees!
Orman’s restaurant and newspaper blowout
As the economy fell in late 2008 and early 2009, Orman's “rescue remedy” was to ask society, through Oprah's massive stage and other venues, to cut their spending in half, specifically telling them to cancel their newspaper subscriptions.
From an article titled, “Dear Oprah, why do you want to kill newspapers?” (Link 4-12)
You let financial guru Suze Orman come on your show and tell your audience to cancel their newspaper subscriptions to save money.
Let me remind you of your audience: They do what you say.
I know. I have a wife, a mother and at least one sister-in-law who all follow your every move. My mom has a bookshelf in her house that should be labeled “Oprah’s Bookshelf.” You wave it; she reads it.
After the Dow and Wal-Mart, you are the No. 3 economic force in America.
You so influence the lives of these women that I’ve been dying for an episode entitled “Mrs. Franko, it’s time for you to go back into the workforce” because my chats with my wife are certainly not working.
What will you do if your fans go out today and cancel their newspaper?
Here’s an irony: Had this show aired in October, and your audience listened to you, you might not have had a Chicago Sun-Times in November to wave on TV to proclaim “the best paper in the world.”
Around the same time, Orman asked Oprah viewers to take an official pledge to stop eating in restaurants for one month.
In that time of economic downturn, restaurants and newspapers were two areas of society that were barely hanging on, and Orman’s lopsided commandments to withdraw large streams of income from those two sectors all at once with a headline grabber she and her cabal came up with to generate some headlines for her new book, were surely felt by people in both industries, as explained by this restaurant chef in US News: (Link 4-13)
At the core of (Orman’s) Action Plan is what she calls her Action Pledge that she wants everyone to take within one month of reading her book. Her pledge says: “Do not spend money for one day. Do not use your credit card for one week. Do not eat out at a restaurant for one month.”
As a professional restaurant chef, I was floored when I heard that quoted on the radio. The restaurant industry blogs and websites have been in a panic. In the name of financial responsibility, Orman is singling out one industry as her “fall guy.” Why restaurants? And why for an entire month? Does she want our entire food system to collapse as the shock waves of her very public proposals ripple through the economy?
Restaurants, and the many people and businesses that supply them with their food, are already under tremendous pressure. Restaurants are closing right and left, even without Orman's help. Suppliers are sending out half-empty trucks as people order less food, and this is affecting the farmers, ranchers, and producers farther down the chain. Hundreds of thousands of people in the food industry are struggling already - and will be even worse off if people listen to Orman and Oprah. This extreme single-mindedness is not the way to financial freedom.
These are just two examples of how Orman’s distorted advice, pushed by Oprah Winfrey’s extreme influence, caused troubling distortions in the economy and in whatever specific businesses Orman chose to target.
You can be sure business who paid her price were spared from Orman’s wrath.
Note that “financial expert Suze Orman” didn’t advise Oprah’s viewers to look at all their expenses and see what they could trim, “For example, you might want to stop going to restaurants or to cancel your newspapers.” She asked every one of Oprah’s millions of viewers to take a pledge, all at the same time!
Of course it is general good advice to curtail extravagant spending when funds are low, however, it is a problem to ask people to take a pledge, not only through Oprah's platform, but Orman's other media appearances, where she targeted specific business sectors that were already on the brink of failing in a time of extreme economic instability.
Orman would often pass off her whims as trustworthy advice, asking people to cut spending in sometimes absurd and petty ways, without exception or individual discernment. The big exception to her stingy advice was when it came to buying wares that would put more money into Orman's bulging pockets. These included her own products that she begged, cajoled and scared people into buying on QVC and other venues, and whatever products she has been paid to promote. Those, she likes to classify as a “need,” not a “want.” (Link 4-14)
This kind of reckless cookie-cutter advice had the potential to ruin many businesses and ultimately caused harm to the U.S. economy. At the same time Orman was making people pledge to cut their spending in half—cutting even the most minor purchases from their lives—financial experts were warning about the importance of consumer spending in staving off a worse recession or depression for our country and the world.
How Suze Orman contributed to derailing the 2008 Economic Stimulus Act
Here is one example of Orman’s widely publicized, reckless advice regarding the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 that may have significantly contributed to the economic recession.
In February 2008, President Bush, with bipartisan support from Congress, passed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. Its goal was to boost the economy and avoid the impending economic crash by sending a stimulus check from $300 to $600 to every taxpayer. These checks were sent to wealthy and poor taxpayers alike, with the request that people from all these different walks of life spend those checks into the economy from their different angles and levels of interest and need. This stimulus plan was the opposite of Orman’s push for people to withhold spending from specific Orman-chosen business sectors. Like bombarding all the cells of a body with healthy nourishment to overcome disease, the Stimulus Act was expected to nourish and heal the overall economy.
The rationale of this plan as explained on Wikipedia:
As 2008 began, economic indicators suggested an increased risk of recession. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress that quick action was needed to stimulate the economy through targeted government spending and tax incentives. Congress moved rapidly to pass such legislation. The legislation was designed to stimulate spending by businesses and consumers during 2008. The hope was that the targeted individual tax rebates would boost consumer spending and that targeted tax incentives would boost business spending.
Along came “financial guru” Suze Orman on all the shows, commanding that people not do what they’d been asked to do, which was to spend those checks into the economy.
Below is a transcript of Orman literally begging people not to spend their stimulus checks on Larry King Live on January 27, 2008, the same week that congress was ratifying the Economic Stimulus Act.
Clearly, Orman’s appearance was specifically timed to make a big headline grabbing announcement that nobody—wealthy or poor, with a lot of savings or a pile of bills—nobody should spend any of those stimulus checks that were specifically being sent for people to spend. (Link 4-5)
LARRY KING: All right, $300 going out, if they approve this, to everybody. What do you make of that?
ORMAN: Well, here is what I really hope. Regardless of what they settle on, I hope when all of you -- when all of you get that check, I hope that you take that check and you save it. I hope you don't do what they're hoping you're going to do, which is go out and spend money on things that you don't even need. I hope that you really look at this as a gift they're giving to you, but that you keep it in case something goes wrong -- in case you can't make a car payment, in case you can't make a mortgage payment.
Can you just all hold onto this money or pay off debt with it?
But don't go out and spend it. That's what I hope they don't do. Of course, everybody else is hoping they do.
KING: Why do they want you to spend it?
ORMAN: Because they are hoping that if they give you this money, you're going to go out and spend it. If you go out and spend it, you will stimulate the economy. If you stimulate the economy by giving all the retailers and restaurants and all these people your money, that will help save the economy. As I've always said on your show, Larry, I don't really care about what's happening out there.
Note that statement by Orman that she doesn’t really care about what’s happening out there. Does she actually think that what’s happening “out there” isn’t affecting each person’s life? Although for Orman, the worse the economy got, the more money and power she got. Orman continued:
I care about what's happening with your life. And the truth of the matter is we don't need any more stuff. We don't need anymore junk. What you do need is money in the bank account. You need to get out of credit card debt.
So I am hoping and I'm wishing and praying that when you get these rebate checks, EVERYBODY, that you really do what you should do with it -- and that's save it or pay off your debt. Anything else you shouldn't be doing.
After watching this interview and others with concern that Orman's proclamations were going to derail the whole stimulus program, I waited for intelligent journalists and politicians to respond and explain why it was indeed good for people who have enough money to give themselves a special treat and spend those stimulus funds in the marketplace to do so. That was the purpose of those stimulus checks—they was not being sent to millions of people to be stashed away in long term accounts.
Some would have done better personally by using their stimulus checks to pay old debts or to stash away a bit of savings for upcoming needs. But Orman wasn’t giving any clarifications or personalizations for this instruction. Her decree was that nobody who heard the sound of her voice should dare spend that check—viewers surely spread this “important advice from Suze” to their friends and family as well.
Some might suggest that it was better for people to save the checks, because the stimulus check plan might not have worked to help the economy anyway. Obviously, the experts who advised congress to spend billions of dollars on this stimulus check program thought it had at least a reasonable shot of helping to stop, slow, or minimize the recession. And it would be a chance for people in an economic recession to have a bit of extra cash to enjoy and spend into the economy.
What Orman did was akin to telling townsfolk in a village that is being threatened by a big flood, who have been given sandbags to place along the coastline, “I don’t want you to place those bags at the coastline. I want you, everyone, to use them around your own house, or to store them in the garage in case you ever need a sandbag in the future, but do not go and place the sandbag you were given by the coast, where it was meant to be placed. Even if your garage is already full of sandbags, do not put your stimulus sandbag by the shore.”
Then came the big flood in the form of a serious economic downturn that caused harm to many of those who had hoarded their checks, wiping away their savings and homes. Would the economy have fared better if more people had placed the sandbags they were given on the shoreline? We’ll never know, because the stimulus check program failed after two-thirds of the public failed to spend their checks.
ComScore said its research reveals that fully two thirds of consumers said they had not planned to spend their stimulus checks and rather intended to use the cash to pay off debt or put the money into savings.
A year after Orman’s Larry King Live appearance, the economy was in much worse shape, and Orman was being touted as the “Queen of the Crisis,” while shoveling more money into her bulging coffers.
On April 14, 2009, as the stimulus program failed, President Obama explained why commanding everyone to cut back extremely on their spending all at once had been harming the economic recovery: Link 4-10
“You see, when this recession began, many families sat around the kitchen table and tried to figure out where they could cut back. So have many businesses. And this is a completely reasonable and understandable reaction. But if everybody - if everybody, if every family in America, if every business in America cuts back all at once, then no one is spending any money, which means there are no customers, which means there are more layoffs, which means that the economy gets even worse.”
It is difficult to imagine that someone would intentionally contribute to an economic collapse even if it would give themselves more money and power, but having known Orman personally, I believe she has a sociopathic and greedy makeup. Having witnessed her intentionally causing harm to others almost a sport, I certainly would not put it past the Suze Orman I knew to harm the economy just to enrich herself, probably without even a moment’s hesitation. It is difficult for decent people to understand the mechanics of sociopaths, but in some cases it is greatly beneficial to know and stop the damage.
From the U.S. News article, June 23, 2009:
Do you think you and other financial experts could have done a better job of anticipating the crisis?
I'm a personal finance expert. My expertise is not as an economist, not as a stock market guru, not as a precious metal predictor, or in interest-rate foreshadowing. My job is to look at what happened in the economy and what is going on in the world of finance and to tell people, based on fact, this is what's happening now; this is what you need to do with your personal money. To that end, I think I was really far and above anybody else, and I got attacked for it.
In the same Larry King interview where she insisted that nobody should spend their stimulus checks, Orman was given her usual CNN infomercial space to pitch FICO scores, without disclosing that she was making tens of millions of dollars from sales of the Suze Orman FICO kit.
Knowing Orman’s tactics, I would guess that “Stuart from Dana Point's” real name just might be “Suze Orman from one of her five homes,” or one of Orman’s publicists for this Larry King Live infomercial moment that topped off Orman's irresponsible advice:
LARRY KING: An e-mail from Stuart, Dana Point California: “What's the best, most trustworthy place online to get all my credit reports and scores?”
ORMAN: Well, the only ones that really matter, if you ask me, is at myFICO.com. There are credit scores and then there are FICO scores. Approximately 80 percent of all the lenders out there only look at what's called a FICO score. Fico stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that essentially created all this many, many years ago.
So, look at your FICO score. And the way that you do it is you go to myFICO.com. And with your fico score comes your credit report.
Guess whose face was waiting to greet “Stuart” and all of Larry King's other viewers when they arrived at FICO.com?
Orman’s own portfolio
Everything Orman recommends that others should do is pretty much the opposite of what she herself does, including investing. In the next 2007 New York Times article, Orman says a number of troubling things, including responses regarding keeping her personal investments mostly out of the stock market, at the same time she was advising her followers to invest in stocks just before the stock market crashed.
“She's So Money,” A New York Times interview by Deborah Soloman: (Link 4-11)
How much are you worth these days? One journalist estimated my liquid net worth at $25 million. That’s pretty close. (editor’s note: not close at all) My houses are worth another $7 million.
What are your qualifications for giving financial advice, which you do in your books, your column in Oprah’s magazine and your CNBC television show? For seven years after college, I was a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, and from there I got a job at Merrill Lynch as an account executive, from where I went to vice president of investments for Prudential-Bache Securities. I started my own firm in 1987.
Do you enjoy spending money? Oh, yes. My greatest pleasure is still flying private. I spend between $300,000 to $500,000, depending on my year, on flying private.
What do you do with the rest of your money? Save it and build it in municipal bonds. I buy zero-coupon municipal bonds, and all the bonds I buy are triple-A-rated and insured so that even if the city goes under, I get my money. I take a little lower interest rate to make sure my bonds are 100 percent safe and sound.
Do you play the stock market at all? I have a million dollars in the stock market, because if I lose a million dollars, I don’t personally care.
Even though Orman claims to be all too happy to lose a million dollars, those who followed her advice to put substantial amounts of their money into stocks before the market crashed, houses before the housing bubble burst, Orman’s gold “pump and dump” before gold plummeted, and other Suze schemes probably did care about the money they lost toward their retirements and other necessities of life.
Orman’s distorted personal advice
Many people may feel that Orman's financial information has been useful in improving their spending habits and finances. The problem is that this useful guidance is wrapped in all those scams and shams, as well as Orman's problematic world views and ways of relating to people.
Of course, it is common sense and generally good advice to be frugal and to only spend within your means. It is also true that helping people in the wrong way, at the wrong time, or for the wrong person can increase their feelings of dependence and keep them from achieving the strength to make it on their own, or leave your own accounts depleted.
However, Suze Orman turned not helping others into a virtual commandment, directing parents to not help their children with college, nor to help friends or family in need.
Here is one example of a self-proclaimed Suze Orman fan who regrets having trusted Orman's advice without knowing more facts about her personal life, from a comment on Tammy Bruce's blog after Orman stopped hiding her sexual orientation in 2007:
I have been a fan of Suze Orman for many, many years. In fact, I credit her with helping me achieve financial freedom. I never gave her sexual preferences a second thought. She always flirted with the male callers and created a sexual tension between she and her email co-host Jeff, on her CNBC shows. I did however, used to find it odd that whenever a woman called in to discuss her male partner's flagrant credit stories, Suze ALWAYS recommended dumping the guy, divorcing the guy or just plain getting rid of him. Suze never once suggested the two work it out and solve the financial problem together. I also used to find it odd that she would advice women to think of themselves first and forget their children.
For example: forget the college tuition and worry about socking money away for your own retirement. Now, since Suze outed herself, it all makes perfect sense. If I had known this information beforehand, I would have handled her advice a bit differently. I had my own children endure painful and costly student loans all in the sake of my own retirement. Suze doesn't have children so how could she understand a mother's enduring love? Suze has different problems in her partnership than a husband and wife does.
I wish her much luck in the future. I just wish she could have been more honest 10 years ago when I started following her advice. I may not have cast off a relationship so easily.
Go to Chapter Five:
"The 'Approved' Card Scam and Media Wide Fraud"
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