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.
Update: Watch Suze Orman and her political lobbyists use the United States Army to cover their scams and plunder our troops.
Capitalizing On The Financial Illiteracy of the Poor, Minorities, and the “Occupy” Movement
Although Suze Orman and her crooked cabal have run many strings of scams, shams, and shenanigans for the past fifteen years, I have given her “Approved” prepaid debit card a special importance in this book and the documentary film for several reasons. First, it is so extremely corrupt that even journalists who had previously believed in the Suze Orman façade realized they were either dealing with someone who had either been corrupt from the beginning, or as some articles bemoaned, who must have recently gone bad. Their articles help paint the picture of what was taking place, with some welcome expert confirmation since I, like Suze Orman, have never taken a finance-related college course.
Here are a few of the headlines warning the public about Orman's "Approved" card scam:
The “Approved” card was the most well publicized, and therefore well-documented Suze Orman scam, her boldest attempt to defraud millions of poor and uneducated United States citizens. Orman’s massive media blitz created a vast amount of evidence throughout the media and social media, including Orman telling people to leave their banks and “go off the grid,” by putting their hard-earned money right into her pockets through this shoddy, fee infested card.
Orman’s prepaid debit card scam also entangled a long list of very famous celebrities and journalists who should have known better or done the slightest bit of research before knowingly or unknowingly repeating and hosting Orman’s lies about her card.
All the documentation of Orman’s appearances on television and radio shows pitching the card depict what any thinking person should be able to see as blatant fraud. I consider this book and film as an archival presentation of evidence to encourage—finally—some action by government agencies and others to stop the scams and bring justice and restitution to “Approved” card victims.
Along with securing restitution for Orman’s victims, I also hope to help educate society so we are not scammed again and again, by Suze Orman and many others who are happy to damage lives to fill their own pockets.
First Orman went for middle class people who might have been smart enough to accumulate a lot of money and education, but who had not put much energy into learning how the financial system works.
That included Orman’s big announcement at the prestigious National Press Club, with enough press coverage to make those who don’t know much about finances think that this card must be really special and important to be announced a such a historic place.
Most people would have no idea that Orman’s main protector and publicity strategist for the card was the famous, perhaps infamous, and not nearly noticed enough political lobbyist, Hilary Rosen, who with a point of her finger could easily arrange for the mirage of making Orman’s card look like a real historical event, by creating this a big announcement, bizarrely hosted by Tavis Smiley.
Middle class Americans were Orman’s prime con victims, because they had more money to pilfer than the poor. Orman went on television shows, including ABC News, as you’ll see in the film, and literally told people to leave their banks and “go off the grid,” by moving their money from proper, often free banks and Credit Unions onto her incompetently run, fee-ridden prepaid card.
The fact that Orman got away with this begs many questions about the integrity and intelligence of today’s news media, especially for the National Press Club, whose credo is, “to foster the ethical standards of the profession.”
CNN fed Orman’s scam to their viewers on many news shows, while not so subtly playing Orman’s SelectQuote commercials practically every hour during the same months they let Orman turn many of their news shows into shady infomercials. Watch one of Orman’s SelectQuote commercials, which are troubling in their own right: Link 6-1
Al Veshi, Piers Morgan, John King, and other CNN journalists shamelessly acted as infomercial hosts for Orman’s scam, in the guise of a news story about her card raising FICO scores. Did none of them do even one iota of research?
Orman gave super sloppy answers to George Stepanopoulos on Good Morning America, and lied through her teeth in a one-on-one infomercial disguised as news on Huffington Post, with none other than ardent Orman supporter Arianna Huffington.
Those venues were mostly focused on middle class American citizens, many of whom were fooled into moving their hard-earned money from proper bank accounts onto a prepaid card, believing that the expensive move was going to improve their FICO scores so they could buy that car, rent that apartment, or get that mortgage.
Many middle class victims of Orman’s Approved card posted complaints on social media when the card lost or locked them out of their accounts. Obviously, these public complaints only represented a small percentage of those who either thought they had done something wrong, or who realized that they had been scammed by this “trusted financial expert,” and didn’t know what to do.
Unhappy customers had to spend big bucks just to speak with Orman’s incompetent customer service representatives at $2 per call. When’s the last time you heard of a bank or other financial institution charging two dollars to call them when they lose your account?
Orman’s call center scammers didn’t even bother refunding those fees once they found out it was due to their incompetence—I would dare say due to their intentional, instructed, planned obsolescence.
Again, Orman’s “opposite-land” name for her effort to scam the middle class and poor was the “People First Movement.”
Another prong of Orman’s “Approved” card scam was to go after the poor, minorities, and those activists who’d had it with Wall Street and big banks and had organized to improve their world with what was called the “Occupy movement.” If only Orman could get all of them to move even their small amounts of money onto her card, she could add mountains of money to her mountains of money.
Shawn is one of many “Approved” card users whose entire account was locked and lost by Orman’s incompetent employees. Shawn called and called at two dollars a call, and took to Twitter to beg and cajole Orman into finally responding with a most meaningless and telling tweet: “They are going to call you. It usually is a different reason than you thought.”
Orman’s use of the word, “usually,” shows more evidence that this rape of card users’ accounts was commonplace. The “different reason” than she thought was that Suze Orman was running a prepaid debit card theft ring.
Orman's misinformation campaign for the “Approved” card fooled a whole lot of poor folks into buying her card and recommending this mediocre, exploitive product to their friends, like spreading a virus of false assertions that using Orman’s prepaid card would “up their FICO scores,” which it absolutely, positively, would not do, could not do, and did not do.
Orman made an extensive ploy to fool poor and uneducated people into paying those twenty fees to her card, featuring $2 for each call to Orman’s customer service when the card didn't function correctly, something that happened all the time, based on online complaints. Then there was $20 for a check copy, $25 for a postal reject, $30.00 for a payment inquiry, and all kinds of inappropriate fees charged “by mistake.”
To pitch this predatory card to the poor, the “Approved” card publicity strategists decided on enthusiastic Orman supporter Tavis Smiley, who gave an overly laudatory introduction to Orman and her card At the National Press Club. Smiley said, “I would do anything that Suze Orman asked me to do, and that's why I'm here (at the National Press Club) for the first time in my career to stand behind somebody who's put out a product that will help poor people in their effort to get out of the hole that this country in so many ways has helped dig for them.”
Smiley added that he will always support Orman in all her endeavors as he has always done—something that should draw some concern from Smiley’s customers, fans, and supporters.
Watch video of Tavis “selling his soul to the devil” at this link: Link 6-2
The big announcement took place just before Orman returned the favor by appearing on Tavis's poverty panel, where Tavis gave yet another shameless infomercial for the fee-laden “Approved” prepaid debit card— making the poor think that Orman's ridiculous prepaid card would be a good choice for their banking needs. Smiley’s introduction to Orman’s prepaid debit card at the poverty conference was followed by Orman shouting that people shouldn’t listen to all the bad press that had started coming forth from financial journalists. “Don’t you listen to what they say I’m doing, ‘cause that ‘s not what I’m doing!”
Next you can watch a video clip of Tavis Smiley's shocking infomercial for Orman's prepaid debit card scam right in the middle of that poverty panel, titled, “Poverty to Prosperity.” With Smiley pitching Orman’s predatory card, maybe it should have been called, “Poverty to Destitution.”
In the clip you can see how uncomfortable Tavis is having to compromise his integrity to pitch this crummy prepaid card that had already been denounced by many financial experts since he announced it to great fanfare that morning at the National Press Club.
Through the discomfort, Tavis spoke about the card as if it were actually a tool to help alleviate poverty rather than a tool to plunder the poor and put more of their money into Orman's pockets. Watch the poverty panel clip: Link 6-3
Click the next link to watch another surprising video clip from Tavis Smiley's “Poverty to Prosperity” panel. It is none other than activist Michael Moore enthusiastically endorsing Orman's prepaid debit card mission right in the middle of Smiley’s panel: Link 6-4
Moore said, “It still says on that piece of paper, ‘One person, one vote.’ They can buy the politicians, they can run all the ads, they can try to stop Suze from trying to help people get a good credit score—and she’s not understating that. She’s talking something so revolutionary on that level that she has put her life at risk.”
What? Orman's scam is revolutionary and helping people? How could Moore be so stupid or easily fooled? Was he bribed or blackmailed?
Here is Michael's response when I asked why he would endorse Orman's ridiculous prepaid card:
Yes, Moore was “just seated next to her,” saying absurd things like, “She’s not understating that; Suze's talking something so revolutionary on that level that she has put her life at risk.” Yet, Moore claimed to have done nothing more than be seated next to her.
After this bit of Twitter conversation, I sent Moore a short video clip of his praise of Orman and her card, about which he responded: “I'm generally nice to people, but that doesn't me (sic) I endorse their ideas.”
To which I responded, “I'm sure it sounded like an endorsement to poor folks attending who tweeted that the card improved credit scores...this is my 'Roger and Me' - I watched yours, pls read my article,” with a link to the full article on Orman's scams. Based on the page's view stats, Moore clicked on the link, but quickly left without reading the extensive research presented there.
No further response ever came from Moore, who you would think would at least take a few minutes to look into a possibility that he was unknowingly endorsing something deceptive and harmful to the poor.
Speaking of the “Orman cabal,” Moore also seems to be friends with Orman’s main protector, political strategist media broker damage control expert, Hilary Rosen, based on his passion in protecting her from criticism by democrats for her insults toward Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, with Moore even saying that liberals “have no spine” if they dare to criticize Rosen for her poor choice of words. How "cabalesque".
Perhaps because Orman's appearance at the “poverty panel” was arranged by Rosen, Moore felt obliged to support her scheme. This is one more example of how one person with a lack of integrity can get others covered with the same tar. Orman has covered a whole lot of media personalities with her scam-ridden tar, just as she did to Moore in this example.
In my opinion and experience, Orman is an example of the kind of bad company who influences people to sell out and compromise their integrity. You can see many examples of her doing just this in the documentary film, and I personally experienced her damaging effects when she convinced me to produce the deceptive video that got Orman her first book deal.
More than a year later, Orman repaid Smiley’s loyalty by being one of the first guests to appear on his new online radio blog show.
Of course, Smiley had to pay the piper again by pushing Orman’s crummy prepaid debit card to his listeners, in spite of the huge wave of articles by finance journalists, top to bottom, who had warned their readers about the card.
Smiley even allowed Orman to say that using her card prepaid could “literally change your life.” Play the audio here: Link 6-5
Check out the section shortly after three minutes into the audio excerpt, when Smiley’s assistant plays the role of a satisfied “Approved” card customer, who Smiley describes as “giddy” about how great the card has worked for him.
Note in the audio clip how Orman remembered this assistant’s name all too well in their scripted scenario. Though I didn’t personally see how this exuberant testimonial was arranged, it seemed quite obvious that it was planned in advance, with Smiley’s assistant as a shill.
The assistant actually claimed that his FICO score shot way up after he started using Orman's card, allowing him to even buy a house. Of course, if you are reading this book, you know that Orman’s card didn’t do a thing to improve anyone’s credit, which Tavis must have also known, even though he supported the claim and even pushed his assistant to tell about how he was able to get that house mortgage due to his use of Orman’s prepaid debit card.
At first, Orman didn’t correct the fellow’s claim that her card made his FICO score shoot up, but then the second time he made the same claim even more exuberantly, she must have gotten nervous about the blatant fraud.
Orman finally spoke up and gave a new spin she and her prepaid card team must have come up with, saying that using her “Approved” card had helped improve the assistant's FICO score enough to get him a house mortgage, because he hadn’t been carrying balances on credit cards for the previous year, while putting his money on Orman’s fee-laden card.
Unless Smiley’s listeners were super savvy regarding finances and unraveling twisted words, they were once again fooled into thinking that Orman’s card would improve their FICO scores, and help them get mortgages, as the card had supposedly done for “poverty activist” Tavis Smiley’s assistant.
Tavis Smiley’s audience had already been fooled by Orman’s shenanigans a year earlier in his 2012 poverty conference, which resulted in people posting incorrect information to all their friends via social media and in person, telling those they cared about that Orman’s card would increase their FICO scores. Why would she lie about that, after all? How could anyone legally get away with making such a false claim? Now, Orman was back to gobble up more of Tavis Smiley’s flock.
Another poverty activist to address Orman’s prepaid card was Ryan Mack, a contributor to CNN and other news shows, and advocate for the poor.
Mack is one of the finance experts and journalists who had previously trusted and recommended Orman’s works, before being confronted with a big “uh oh, something is very wrong here” feeling when they saw her come out with this predatory prepaid debit card that she fooled people into thinking was a great tool for their finances.
I think a lot of media professionals and finance experts have and will be giving a big, collective, “Oops!” as these shams and shenanigans come to light regarding a person they may have previously put forth as a nearly divinely anointed, trustworthy finance expert and advisor for all aspects of politics and family life.
Still, it is better to say “Oops” than to continue to propagate the sham just to save themselves from admitting they had been fooled or had been knowingly or unknowingly complicit. I’m talking to you, Oprah Winfrey! And far too many others.
Mack was deeply disappointed by Orman’s prepaid debit card scam, since he'd really believed she was someone whom people could trust, specifically the poor people he served. Mack tried to ask Orman about the card and even had an interview scheduled, but then Orman cancelled in the midst of all the bad press that was swirling around her and the card.
Ryan wrote about how Orman’s previous advice had been that prepaid cards were not a viable option, quoting her words on page 96 of the original edition of The Money Class book, where she had specifically stated, “I don't think prepaid cards are a viable option.”
Mack then showed how the newly revised Money Class book removed that sentence and contained an ad for the Suze Orman “Approved” prepaid debit card, along with Orman’s new quote: “There are two types of debit cards: There is the debit card that is tied to your bank or credit union checking account, or there is the increasingly popular option of a prepaid debit card that you can load money onto and then pay bills or make purchases up to that amount.”
In the new revised and updated version appears the mention of the “increasingly popular” prepaid debit card. In this revised book we see why—on pages 24 and 25 of her revised and updated book there was an advertisement for her brand new Approved Card. I have known her to justify this shift in principle by saying that “millions” of people are using these cards. Yes….and millions of people are using Rent-A-Centers, cash advance “stores” and the services of other financial predators. Most importantly those who fall prey to these predators are those who cannot afford to pay the high fees for their services.
When Mack tried to inform a woman via Twitter that there was an easy way for her to find a free secured card that would actually help her credit score, lyin’ Orman actually threatened legal action:
Mack also joked on FOX Business about his new “Awesome Air” cup that would cost users the same $3 per month, as a way of making fun of the uselessness of Orman’s card. (Link 6-6)
Even months after all this prepaid debit card backlash, Orman continued to give corrupted advice, including to this woman who had just moved to the U.S. and was simply asking this supposed financial advisor how to get a bank account and establish credit.
Scamming the Hispanic Community
Orman continued her prepaid card scam at the January 2012 NCLR annual conference. The National Council of La Raza is the largest national Hispanic civic rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
The previous year, President Obama was the main speaker, where he described the importance of the NCLR: “For more than four decades, NCLR has fought for opportunities for Latinos from city centers to farm fields. And that fight for opportunity—the opportunity to get a decent education, the opportunity to find a good job, the opportunity to make of our lives what we will—has never been more important than it is today.”
That’s where Orman showed up with her prepaid debit card scam, months after it had already been ripped to shreds by financial journalists. NCLR president Janet Murguia welcomed Orman with extravagant praise, positioning her into a perceived position of trust by saying, “NCLR and Suze Orman are working on similar goals. We want the people we work with to be smart, educated consumers.”
It boggled the mind to see Murguia stand by while Orman conned her community with a long, obviously deceptive infomercial that included scare tactics and false promises:
“Now listen to me closely. Because you may not have a FICO score or a credit score, either one, you may not be able to rent an apartment; good luck getting a loan from a bank or a credit union to buy a car or a home, and if you do get a loan, you are going to pay incredibly high interest rates. If you have a low FICO score or none at all, do you know that you pay more in car insurance premiums and your insurance premiums across the board are higher?
This is the same scam set up Orman used throughout the media landscape to preface her fraudulent claims that using her “Approved” card was going to solve all these scary problems by giving card users a good FICO score. Orman’s NCLR con continued:
“I want to change the credit scoring system in the United States of America, and I need your help to do so. I want it to be inclusive of you, not exclusive. I want you to be rewarded for paying for things on a debit card, not penalized for doing it…To that end, I created something, and I am asking you to help me with this…
Orman then claimed her one million dollar investment in the card had grown to nearly two million, an indication of why she needed to exploit every opportunity for the card to generate income from all those official and unofficial fees.
Don’t worry about Suze Orman’s massive stash of cash; a year later she would claim to the Daily Beast that she had made all her money back, but at the NCLR, she was actually trying to get middle class and low income Hispanics to feel sorry for her:
“I’ve already put in almost two million dollars of my own money. It is costing me tens of thousands of dollars a month to keep it going, but I am going to keep it going until it works, cause you deserve to have a vehicle like my Approved card. If I could be doing that for you, can you just help me help you.”
Yes, Orman ended her sales pitch with, “If I could be doing that for you, can you just help me help you?” Orman sighed this out with just as much over-the-top passion as when Tom Cruise’s character said the same line in Jerry Maguire.
Watch the video of Orman blatantly scamming the Hispanic community with her prepaid card at the NCLR: (Link 6-7)
Note that in the NCLR clip, Orman said the decision of whether her card will produce a FICO score would be made in six months to a year, instead of the eighteen months to two years she was declaring a few months earlier. What matter numbers when the whole thing is a sham? Of course, it was all fudged. Even FICO had already said they were not interested, remember? (Why FICO is not interested, excerpt from the Baltimore Sun: Link 6-8)
Nevertheless, the NCLR’s National Latino Family Expo welcomed Orman to turn their stage into a prepaid debit card scamathon as one of their main speakers.
Interestingly, another main speaker at the same event was Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray, who should have been investigating and probably arresting Orman for what she was doing in the next room.
Orman must feel awfully protected by her protectors to run such a shameless scam right at the same conference where Cordray was also speaking. Apparently, Cordray and the CFPB never even questioned Orman about her prepaid card scam, and you can bet I and others sent them the information needed to begin an investigation.
The CFPB did soon after began an investigation into troubling aspects of prepaid debit cards in general that included fee disclosure issues and misleading marketing that suggests users will get an improved credit scores by using a prepaid card (guess who had been doing that?)
Even so, “hands off” Orman had no worries while she was protected by her cabal, including the same political lobbyist publicists who have represented and pushed up the influence rating of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who created and supported the CFPB. Unfortunately, that super powerful political lobbyist PR team are also the same democratic strategists who raised money for and advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The “cabal’s” hold on the Obama administration was also evident, including President Obama’s communications director Anita Dunn, who subsequently became a senior partner of Hilary Rosen’s SKDK. Records show that Rosen and her clients got into President Obama’s White House at least thirty-five times, so with Hillary Clinton in their claws, we may be in for four more years of Suze Orman’s scams being completely ignored by government agencies.
After their NCLR appearances, CFPB head Richard Cordray and Suze Orman also appeared on the same day’s broadcast of Marketplace from American Public Media, the premier business news show on National Public Radio. Again, Cordray should have been paying attention as Orman read out her well-rehearsed latticework of convoluted words in response to Tess Vigeland's questions.
You can hear Orman reading the obviously pre-composed responses in this audio of their radio interview: Link 5-22
Vigeland: I wanna talk about your new pre-paid debit card that was announced this week. Why did you decide you wanted to get into this business?
Orman: As you know, there's an entire group of people -- the unbanked and the underbanked -- that are growing, there are 70 million of them right now, that are literally using these prepaid debit cards. The fact of the matter is, if you look at the majority of the prepaid cards that are out there, they absolutely charge exorbitant fees. So I decided number one, that was absolutely ludicrous. That people should not have to pay large sums of money just to be able to have the privilege of using a card. Next, I wanted to change the scoring mechanism system. I wanted to make it so people who use debit cards eventually got credit toward their credit scores. And that's what we're doing . This is the first prepaid card in history that is sharing information with TransUnion, a major credit bureau. It'll be 18 to 24 months before TransUnion -- and hopefully other credit bureaus will join us on this -- that they will be able to determine if debit card behavior can predict future credit card use.
Vigeland: CardHub.com did an analysis of your card versus the Green Dot card as well as the Amex card. And the one knock it did have is that there are so many different fees on your card—twenty versus eight for the Green Dot and only one fee for the Amex card.
Orman: Oh please, girl friend. Don't tell me that you are that naive. There is no way Amex has just one fee. There is no way Green Dot has just four or five fees.
The person that did that article doesn't even know how to evaluate cards, let alone be good enough to give a determination on it. The reason that they were able to see all the fees that we could potentially charge, if you don't use the card the way that we tell you, is because by law, you have to have them. And the only difference is we're showing everybody the fees, we're being transparent! All those other cards, you do your homework. You try to find their fees, you try to find out how much it's really gonna cost you, you're not gonna be able to, because they are hidden deep deep into the site. Are you kidding me? He was an idiot!
Vigeland: Are you concerned at all that your audience might question you having a card like this, perhaps making money off of them -- however little -- while at the same time counseling them on their money management?
Orman: I don't think so. Because the people who have been listening now for almost 30 years they know that I have earned their trust. (Editor’s note—30 years before this interview, Orman was staying with a mutual acquaintance, while selling multi-level marketing water filters) They know that I have never put my needs in front of theirs. So I don't personally care what other people say, because I know what I'm doing and the people who follow me know what I'm doing as well. And we will just see who has the last laugh when it comes to the Approved card.
You see, it’s all a game for Orman, who always has gotten the last laugh, because every disaster she causes just shovels more money into her accounts, while her PR wizards cover up bad press and get all kinds of glowing political and government accolades to prop up Orman’s public influence and keep her from facing justice for her blatant frauds that would have landed anyone else in prison.
Orman's deceptive behavior during the Marketplace Money interview even drew criticism from one of her previous supporters, Felix Salmon of Reuters, who had been known to valiantly defend Orman from criticism by other finance journalists over the years.
Finally, even Felix saw the light enough to write an article titled, “Suze Orman's Conflicts”: (Link 5-23)
I had a memorable conversation on Monday with Suze Orman and Kim Bishop, the face and president respectively of the new Approved Card prepaid debit card. I had quite a few questions for them, and they did answer them, even if at times I did feel as though we were speaking at cross-purposes.
I started off by asking Orman about an exchange she had last week with Marketplace Money’s Tess Vigeland.
Vigeland: CardHub.com did an analysis of your card versus the Green Dot card as well as the Amex card. And the one knock it did have is that there are so many different fees on your card — 20 versus eight for the Green Dot and only one fee for the Amex card.
Orman: Oh please, girl friend. Don’t tell me that you are that naive. There is no way Amex has just one fee. There is no way Green Dot has just four or five fees. The person that did that article doesn’t even know how to evaluate cards, let alone be good enough to give a determination on it. The reason that they were able to see all the fees that we could potentially charge, if you don’t use the card the way that we tell you, is because by law, you have to have them. And the only difference is we’re showing everybody the fees, we’re being transparent! All those other cards, you do your homework. You try to find their fees, you try to find out how much it’s really gonna cost you, you’re not gonna be able to, because they are hidden deep deep into the site. Are you kidding me? He was an idiot!
It’s worth listening to that answer, rather than just reading it: she spits it out. There is. No. Way. Amex. Has. Just. One. Fee.
Except, there is a way that Amex has just one fee. See for yourself. It’s a reasonably big fee: $2 per ATM withdrawal, with no free ATMs. But it really is the only fee that Amex has — you can delve as deep into the terms and conditions as you like, and you’re not going to find another one.
Taking advantage of the “Occupy” Movement:
Orman also tried to take advantage of the “Occupy” movement, painting her mediocre, fee-laden prepaid debit card as a great altruistic movement, even going so far as to call it her “People First Movement” to make it sound like the Occupy movement.
Next is an example of Orman praising the Occupy movement while deceptively pitching her card to them, from a January 2012 interview with Good Business:
Wow, Orman’s card would be just like having a little bank in your pocket with you—like every other debit and credit card out there, except this one was going to take a big slice off the top of your hard-earned money.
All of Orman’s altruistic baloney about joining her in this “People First Movement” was about a crummy, fee-laden prepaid debit card for which Orman had partnered with those “non-corporate businesses,” Mastercard and Bancorp.
Now we get to Orman’s Occupy movement scam set-up, as one of many examples of how anything Suze Orman praises can nearly always be traced to some benefit to her pocketbook, as part of one scam or another. Once you see how she does it, you can have your own Suze Orman “SCAMvenger hunt,” whenever you see her doing anything, because Scamming Suze is always scamming.
Just a few months before announcing and releasing her “Approved” prepaid debit card, Orman “coincidently” wrote a big article for her friend Arianna's Huffington Post, praising the Occupy movement with a title that said, “Occupy Wall Street: Approved!”
Those who were concerned about the growing chasm between the rich and the poor were so happy to see Suze Orman supporting their efforts, fueled by Hilary Rosen and SKDK’s vast network of media and social media reposters, that Orman’s article was forwarded tens of thousands of times, like a free pre-ad for her upcoming “Approved” card. Readers of Huffington Post would soon be receiving further infomercials about Orman’s card, hosted by Arianna Huffington herself.
The set-up of Orman “approving” the Occupy movement in order to scam them a few month's later with her “Approved” card is quite clear in Orman’s quote from the Good Business interview quoted above, stating that she created the “Approved” card specifically for the 99% Occupy movement, adding:
"If you want to keep your money in big banks, if you want to continue to get fees, if you want to continue to get all those things, you leave it right where it is. If you want to make a difference in your own life, how you use money, the accounting of money, everything about it, I am telling you, put your money on me."
Of course, Orman created the card for the Occupy movement and anyone else she could trick into moving their money out of the banking system and onto her fee-laden card, which is run by…a big bank! Sounds like, at minimum, false advertising.
As an aside, the Credit Union industry was quite miffed to see Orman pushing people toward such a crummy financial product when most US citizens would be able to get a free account and debit card at their local Credit Union.
Just two years before Orman’s prepaid debit card blitz, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions had paid $1.6 million dollars to put Orman as the face of Credit Unions, many of which plastered her face in their literature and physical banks.
With that extensively publicized campaign, Credit Unions across America were putting Suze Orman forth as a paragon and face of trustworthiness and protection for consumers, just as the FDIC had done previously. Both campaigns probably did more to benefit Orman’s image than the NCUA, and certainly did more for her pocketbook.
From the Credit Union Times:
When one “price for advice” contract is over for Suze Orman, her advice is once again up for grabs by whomever and whatever will pay.
Just months after telling people to leave their banks for credit unions, Orman was now using her undeserved clout to tell people to leave their banks and credit unions and to put their money onto a card that she pretended wasn't owned by a big bank, a card that would pour untold amounts of wealth from monthly fees, merchant interchange fees for every transaction, and a minefield of other improperly charged fees, directly into Orman’s greedy hands.
Here’s the heading of Orman’s setup on the Huffington Post for her upcoming “plunder the occupy movement” “Approved” card scam. Notice anything interesting about the headline?
As a side note, the information in the Huffington Post article, as with many of Orman’s books and articles, sounds nothing like Orman’s speaking style or her nearly illiterate Twitter postings or personal email messages. It reads like one more ghostwritten piece with Suze Orman’s name on it—this time with the predatory foreshadowing of an “Approved!” headline. (Link 6-9)
In the space of less than a month, the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained national notoriety. A new poll out Monday shows that more than half of Americans are aware of the grass-roots campaign pushing back at the outsize profits, bailouts, and influence of the financial sector. That quick rise has plenty of special interests so worried they have resorted to a pathetic yet popular tact: When you feel threatened, work overtime to marginalize the threat before it establishes traction.
Me? I want to publicly say thank you to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Thank you for not accepting the status quo. Thank you for not assuming there is nothing to be done. Thank you for rattling the cages. Much coverage of Occupy Wall Street has cast this as the beginning of something new. That’s only partly true. What I find so encouraging is that Occupy Wall Street’s more important message is that this marks an end point. An end to just shrugging and putting up with the inequity. An end to patiently waiting for government to get its act together and take steps to reduce the pain felt by millions of Americans who are unemployed, the millions more who are underemployed, and the millions more again who worry that if we indeed slip into a double dip recession they will soon become unemployed. An end to letting Washington just continue further down its dysfunctional dark hole without being called out.
This Huffington Post article was not an article written by someone who brags that she never received better than a “C” in a single college course, whose own bio says, “In grammar school on the South Side of Chicago, I had to take reading exams, and would always score among the lowest in the class,” and who admitted to her first agent that she didn't know how to write, to which Binky Urban said, “Great. Finally an author who knows she can't write.” (Link 6-10) What do you think Urban meant?
People involved with the Occupy movement were so happy to see someone with Orman’s influence supporting their efforts that they posted, tweeted, and forwarded the article with a positive implicit endorsement of Suze Orman herself.
That was the plan, after all. The PR publicist for this card was none other than famed political lobbyist, BP Oil spill protector, media broker Hilary Rosen, who from what I’ve seen, is quite proficient with planting stories and spreading them through the media and social media.
Yes, that’s forty-four thousand results.
With a knack for seeing Orman’s scammy scenarios, having experienced them up close and personal, when I saw the Huffington Post article, I could tell that Orman’s “Occupy movement” article in October 2011 was certainly one more setup for something that would benefit Orman’s pocketbook, likely to the detriment of others. When Orman admitted, “Everything I do is a source of income to me,” she meant everything. Just because you’re not a sociopath who would ever do such things doesn’t mean good people should remain ignorant and complacent about those who would and do cause harm to benefit themselves.
The Huffington Post piece came out just three months before Orman was going to announce her “Approved” prepaid debit card, so I wasn't sure exactly how Orman’s headline saying that she “Approved!” the Occupy movement was going to fit into her next price-for-advice scheme or product offering, but I knew it would.
It would be educational for journalists and researchers to go through the archives of these news flurry headlines by and about Suze Orman over the past fifteen years, and look into the correlations of those headlines with her webs of deceptions.
Supporters of the Occupy movement were flooding the news media with tens of thousands of positively framed reposts of Orman’s “Approved” headline, unaware that their good intentions were being used for nefarious reasons, making them unwitting co-conspirators and subliminal social meme implanters, as they promoted the false impression that Suze Orman supported the poor and middle class.
All of Orman's big “People First” revolution was just an advertisement for another usual, crummy, fee-laden prepaid debit card, the kind of product most experts agree would be admissible to only a very few whose credit is so terrible they are unable to get even a secured credit card or a free checking account with a credit union, or for monitoring uses such as a parent giving their child a prepaid debit card to keep track of where the money is being spent.
It was an interesting dynamic to see that while one limb of CNN News was hosting Orman’s prepaid card scam, another was trying to stop the damage. CNN Money ran an article in May 2012 titled, “Prepaid cards: Don't be misled,” with the byline, “watch out for cards that are loaded with fees or that claim to help you improve your credit score.”
The CNN Money article even mentioned Orman’s card by name: (Link 6-10a)
"Suze Orman's Approved Card, issued by Bancorp Bank (TBBK), says prominently on its website that it is “the first prepaid card in history to share information with TransUnion, a major credit bureau.”
It also discloses that the information is anonymous and won't show up on a customer's credit report, meaning it won't be considered in a FICO score.
But some consumers still think the prepaid card will help their credit—something that is evident from numerous messages posted on online forums and credit card comparison websites.
“FICO will do an evaluation to determine if they can give you a score ... throughout the time you have the card your information is shared with the 3 credit score companies. Cheers!” wrote one consumer on CardHub.com.
Because of comments like these, CardHub responded: “Unfortunately, the marketing promotion around the Approved Card has all of us confused ... the truth is that this prepaid card will do nothing for your FICO score.”
…TransUnion said “it is too soon to offer up any insights” about its review of the Approved Card's anonymous data…
The Approved Card didn't respond to requests for comment.
Again, what this and most other articles didn’t expose is how Orman’s card held poor people’s checks hostage while parasitic fees eroded their accounts, how card holders who paid two dollars for each call to Orman’s customer service in the Philippines found incompetent representatives who offered little assistance and set up hoops that required them to make more of those two dollar calls while customers languished, unable to access their own money. These articles also didn’t mention how, even after canceling the card, users’ accounts would continue to be charged fees that would diminish their remaining balance as they waited to have access to whatever amount of their own money was left after being scammed by Suze Orman.
Orman's Failed Attempt to Plunder the Philippines
Now I’ll share some indications of Suze Orman’s plans to use the banking and journalist systems of the Philippines to fool and plunder Filipinos. Orman’s tainted advice was, as usual, mixed with common sense advice, headline slogans, and questionable advice to muddy the view.
In 2012, with Orman’s card being criticized throughout the United States, Orman set the stage for her big con in the Philippines.
At the time, I could see that Orman’s media blitz in the Philippines was a ploy in preparation for bringing her fee-laden prepaid debit card and other exploitative schemes to the Philippines, disguised as “altruistic” visits to help the country, using the same kind of manipulative techniques she’d used stateside.
Suze Orman wanted to be the prepaid card Queen of the world, and even though the media outcry about her “Approved” card in the United States was bigger than she’d expected, Orman was going to go through with her previously planned plot to move money from the Philippines into her accounts.
Orman's troubling visit began with spreading her money obsession and heartless doctrine of not helping even family members, with the main article's troubling headline: “Suze Orman to Filipinos: Money means almost everything.” (Link 6-11)
MANILA, Philippines - Suze Orman was hard to miss. The frosted blonde in a zebra-print frock and nearly peso-sized earrings easily caught the attention of the over 1,000 Filipinos who flocked to Taguig's NBC Tent on Saturday, February 25.
Her magnetic personality pulled their focus and held it on the sometimes bland topic of personal finance.
This personal finance guru is Oprah Winfrey's go-to gal for money, a New York Times best-selling author 9 times over, and one of Forbes 100 most powerful women in the world in 2010.
“Money means almost everything,” she said, not mincing words.
I assumed she was setting the stage to bring her predatory, “Bank of Suze Orman” prepaid debit card to the Philippines. This headline gave some confirmation of my theory:
“American personal finance guru Suze Orman says Filipinos can learn from the mistakes of Americans and remain financially successful. All they need to avoid is falling into the trap of credit card debt” How simple is that? Just avoid credit card debt and everything will be great. That’s “all” the country of the Philippines needs to do. If only there was a fee-laden prepaid debit card available to help Filipinos avoid that credit card “trap”!
Watch the news video: “Suze Orman advises Filipinos on avoiding Americans' mistakes”: Link 6-12
Four months later, my “Suze Scamdar” was proven correct:
It looks as though Orman got so emboldened by the U.S. government letting all of her plundering shenanigans go on for years with nary a peep that she wanted to move her scam to other countries.
Orman’s trips to the Philippines were hosted by the Bank of the Philippine Islands. She painted herself as practically a saint for coming to help these poor Filipinos get their money together by offering free programs and gave the same basic talk she has given nearly every time she speaks for the past 15 years, with additional “brilliant” advice that Filipinos should stop buying lattes, stop buying cosmetics and toys, stop helping family, and - what's that?
During her visit in May, Orman brought a new focus to the Philippines, that Filipinos should invest their money in stocks, especially via ETFs. ETFs didn’t even exist in the Philippines at the time, although she was at the same time pushing gold ETFs through “her” Money Navigator Newsletter. See how the webs of Suze Scams get intertwined?
One reporter, who Orman has primed with flattery and many public compliments to keep him loyal, said in his interview that Orman, “urged Filipinos to invest in exchange-traded funds once they are available locally.” (Link 6-13)
Who might have paid for Orman to give this advice to avoid investing in the United States in an article titled, “Drowning in credit card debt? Here's Suze Orman's advice”: (Link 6-14)
“At this point, I would be saving in pesos. If they save in dollars, and the peso continues to go up, they will lose money in the long run. You have to believe in your country. You have to invest in yourself. If you don't believe in PH, in your own peso here, what does that say? I would be investing right here in this country. Forget the US,” she said.
With Orman’s splurges into the Philippines hosted by the Bank of the Philippine Islands, one must wonder if and how they also paid Orman to bring more dollars to their coffers with her schemes?
Another May 2013 article, titled, “Invest in Stocks - Suze Orman,” says: (Link 6-15)
MANILA, Philippines - Amid low interest rates regime, investing in stocks and so-called exchange trade funds (ETFs) would be a wise choice, according to financial guru Suze Orman. “I still believe that the place to be is in stocks, or exchange trade funds which you don’t have yet here that pay high dividends because interest rates are so low,” Orman said, in a press briefing.
We've seen ETFs elsewhere in this book, when Orman was pitching gold ETFs in the Suze Orman Gold Rush of 2011 and 2012. That’s when she advised people throughout the media landscape to buy gold ETFs through her Money Navigator Newsletter that she later claimed to have nothing at all to do with, after making a bundle on her gold rush and the newsletter.
Once you understand that Orman is a deceiving gangster, it becomes easier to see the scams as she set up her marks—which in this case were all Filipinos—and prepared to con them and make a whole lot of money in the process, while her enablers continued to laud her as a great financial savior. It's worked so well for her in the United States; why not plunder the Philippines and other countries as well?
In 2013, I spoke with a financial investment expert whom Orman partnered with and accessed for financial information to make it appear that she knew what she is talking about financially. This expert, one of few Orman associates who did not sign one of her confidentiality agreements, told me that in 2011, Orman was seeking to start a mutual fund with him. Orman does not have the credentials to even give investment advice, much less start a fund, but she knows how to get around the rules, and knew that government agencies and the United States media had given her a total pass on all of her prior schemes. Therefore, Orman was planning to start a mutual fund using this expert’s credentials.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission at least noticed this one Suze scam and apparently shut it down, so she wasn't able to create the mutual fund in the US. Not being a financial stock market expert, I hope those who are experts can further research and explore this part of Orman’s deceitful webs to help stop the continuing damage.
It is possible that Orman’s prepaid card and other scams got shut down in the Philippines, in part, by the many Filipinos who came to my website and read information about her scams, along with the warning: “Dear Philippines, please don't be fooled by Orman buttering you and your country up with flattery and shaming you with chastisements. Don't be fooled like the United States has been fooled. Beware of Suze Orman!”
A year later, Orman actually claimed that she deserved to receive a Nobel Prize for her “pro bono” work in the Philippines, telling a reporter from the Daily Beast:
“I’ve garnered every award that somebody like me would garner. Obviously I’ve never won an Academy Award or a Grammy but, then, I wouldn’t. But I’ve garnered every award, every acknowledgment, whether it’s Time magazine, Forbes—all of it. More New York Times bestsellers? I’ve done it all. The only thing I haven’t done yet is a Nobel Prize. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes my way one day, because I am working pro bono with the Philippines, all right?”
(Orman and Travis are working with the Philippines government and BPI, its third-largest bank, to produce public-service announcements—”little TV shows,” she calls them—encouraging the nation’s working class to save more money.)
The TransUnion scam phase two kicks in
Another predatory phase of Orman’s prepaid debit card rip-off scheme came in early 2013, when everyone who had been paying big fees on the card for a year found that the free access to their TransUnion reports that Orman had touted as a benefit of her card were no longer available to them for free.
In truth, that benefit was all but worthless, because TransUnion scores plus Experian and Equifax scores are easily available at Credit Karma and other places for free.
But many of those who were financially uneducated enough to believe that Orman’s card was going to improve their FICO scores also didn’t know that this TransUnion benefit was basically worthless. For them, Orman and TransUnion had set a special trap.
After the first year, Orman’s “Approved” card customers were charged $143/year for this unnecessary “benefit,” money that Orman and TransUnion happily slopped up from the pockets of mostly poor and financially uneducated people who were fooled into trusting “financial advisor” Suze Orman.
A Suze Sham for Mothers Day
In early 2013, Orman’s “Approved” card scam continued full steam ahead, as Orman tried to milk every penny she could from anyone she could still fool into putting their money on her thieving card, in spite of the huge wave of articles that had warned consumers about the card throughout the previous year.
Orman’s publicity strategist democratic lobbyist team likes to claim they’re protecting women—after all, they represent Planned Parenthood and other women’s organizations—but it seems their quest to soak money from anyone and everyone through Orman’s predatory card scam necessarily included women, and with Mothers Day 2013 approaching, that meant getting mothers to like and trust Orman enough to blindly follow her advice to buy her card.
Here I will point out one small but significant example of Orman’s publicity set-ups that make up her webs of media-fueled schemes. Just a few weeks before Mother's Day in 2013, Orman made a surprising announcement on her CNBC show, stating that hiring a doula for childbirth is a need, not a want.
Usually the main things Orman had previously said were “needs” rather than “wants” were telling people to buy her own products. Here’s a tip for your own Suze Scam Scavenger Hunts: Whenever you hear Orman give props to something she knows little about personally and has never supported previously, you can assume there must be a scam in the air and payment of some form taking place.
CNBC featured the doula recommendation on their site, certainly by request of Orman's PR planners. Thus far, the video is still available to watch here: Link 6-16 It’s almost certain the caller in that clip was a planted shill of the kind Orman has used in other disguised infomercials, such as this shill on Oprah Winfrey’s network asking a planted question that opened the door to Orman’s fraudulent prepaid card pitch to scam Oprah fans: Link 6-17
Mothers were so happy to see Orman's endorsement of doulas just as their big day of honor was coming up. Some mixture of real and fake Twitter users blasted social media with positive posts and links to celebrate the fact that Suze Orman said doulas are a NEED not a want. Of course, this set off my “Suze Scamdar” alarm, as it was clearly a set-up in progress for Orman to plunder mothers as a special Mothers Day “gift.”
Not even one week later, the pay-off showed up in the form of Orman's Mothers Day articles pitching her “Approved” card, including one on Elizabeth Street, titled, “Suze Orman's Money Tips for Mothers.”
Even though her Approved card had been torn to shreds by financial journalists for nearly a year and a half by then, Orman had to make her investment money back, plus a profit. Not because she couldn’t afford to lose a couple million dollars, but because to Suze Orman, it is all a game to see how far she can go and come out ahead, regardless of how many people are damaged along the way.
Orman wasn’t recommending doulas as a need because she has any interest in childbearing, but to hook mothers into doing her publicity work for her as she prepared to con them into putting their money onto a proven scam. In Orman’s warped mind, and unfortunately in the eyes of many who worship fortune and fame, she came out “winning,” because she made a profit.
The Elizabeth Street article featured Orman's widely debunked “Approved” prepaid debit card as being a good deal for mothers. The interviewer asked Orman’s shill question, “What is the Approved Card and how can it benefit mothers?” Orman’s response was that the Approved Card doesn’t require any credit checks and can be used by those who have bounced a few checks and are unable to open a bank account. It was another convoluted Suze Orman pitch with technical terms that probably left some mothers thinking, “Well, if Suze likes doulas and recommends this card, it must be good.”
Note that by this time, Orman had stopped pretending her card was going to do anything to help anyone’s FICO score. She didn’t in any way let card users know that no FICO score benefit was coming, but moved on to the next set of pseudo facts in Orman’s usual tactic of subtly changing the text of her scripts and pretending that nothing she’d previously said had ever been said. I found all the scam indicators in this book and film with just some searches in media and social media. There are many remaining Suze Scams to be unmasked.
By May 2013, Orman had heard whispers from the CFPB about looking into prepaid card problems and creating new laws that seemed to be in response to Orman’s “Approved” card shenanigans. Maybe this was the CFPB’s way of letting Suze Orman get away with committing various kinds of fraud with impunity, while making sure others didn’t follow her example.
The snake oil salesman knew it was soon going to be time to get out of Dodge, so she did this Mothers Day pitch to milk whatever more she could from the disappointing prepaid debit card scheme (disappointing in terms of not bringing in the hundreds of millions she’d expected).
Here is part of the CFPB’s legal filing about prepaid cards, which reiterates the fact that even if Orman’s card ever did affect credit scores, that scoring would likely result in negative effects on most low income card users’ scores:
8. The Bureau Should Be Vigilant Against Deceptive Claims About Building Credit
We support the Bureau’s inquiry into the efficacy of credit building features on prepaid cards and urge the Bureau to consider rules to prevent deceptive credit building claims. Credit building features often do not deliver in the manner that the consumer expects, whether because the data is reported to a little-used agency, the data does not impact credit scores, or the data has a negative rather than a positive impact…we fear that, in the current environment, credit building claims are more often deceptive than accurate.
The last line again from the CFPB, who is supposed to apply justice to scammers and get restitution to their victims: “We fear that, in the current environment, credit building claims are more often deceptive than accurate.”
Go to Chapter Seven:
"The Scam-Ridden Card’s Demise and Cover-up"
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