"The Suze Orman Problem: Scams, Shams
A New Documentary Film Exposé
A labor of service for the public good
Do you think you know who Suze Orman is? This film and article give undeniable proof that Suze Orman is a sham and a fraud who has used her undeserved public trust to harm the lives of millions of people and cause serious damage to the United States economy, all to up her “public influence” score and increase her income from troubling deals with a long line of banks and corporations over the past fifteen years. What started as a blog post warning some years ago has ballooned with a constant stream of Orman's scams, shams, and shenanigans into several webpage articles with hundreds of links and a full two-hour documentary film. As you will see, I feel a personal responsibility for having helped to create this Suze Orman sham that has caused so much damage to individuals, the economy, and the fabric of society.
In this documentary film, you will see more than enough to exemplify these claims, plus many alarming examples of Orman's serious personality aberrations that have caused significant damage to the discourse of society. Oh yes, along with all that mess, Orman has given some basic general finance advice that may have been helpful for some and may be right about some issues such as the obvious need to improve the student debt system in these country. But these benefits are not worth the cost. Suze Orman is someone who used, abused, and conned her way to to the top, who loves to brag that she took many extra years to get a BA in social work, without taking a single finance related course, and that she never got a grade above a "C" in any college course, ever. You will see Orman proudly making these claims in the documentary, showing her glee at having pulled a big one over on the whole world right in front of all the journalists and regulatory commissions who are entrusted with protecting the public from such scoundrels and scams.
All this was bad enough before Orman began her biggest con game of all, the "Approved" prepaid debit card scam, which fooled poor and middle class citizens into moving their money from banks and credit unions onto her shoddily run card that lost people's accounts right and left, stole user's money with improper fees, and required an untold number of $2 calls to Orman's incompetently run call center in the Philippines by frantic card users who were unable to buy food for their children, all because Suze Orman's widespread media fraud and outright lies had convinced them that using the "Approved" card would improve their FICO scores, until the card went bust in 2014 without a single word from Orman, leaving many users unable to access their hard earned money at all, while Orman posted photos of her luxury yacht vacation in the Cayman Islands. You are, of course, free to disagree with my assessments, however the documentary and article give clear evidence with Orman's own words and actions.
Play the full documentary film here, or you can click here to play on YouTube
Watch Excerpted Clips of Orman's Prepaid Card Scam here or on YouTube
In this documentary, you will see how Suze used her undeserved trust and extreme influence to derail the 2008 economic stimulus and intentionally distort and damage the United States economy, resulting in more millions of dollars in her own pockets and headlines such as the Wall Street Journal's, "Crisis Makes Suze Orman a Star," and Time Magazine's, "Suze Orman: Queen of the Crisis." You will watch Orman lie through her teeth throughout the media landscape with a media wide fraud campaign that fooled mostly the poor and middle class to throw away their hard earned money on a predatory piece of plastic, filled with fee-laden land mines and many instances of losing people's entire accounts of money.
You will watch as Suze created a huge fervor to buy gold in 2011 as she reaped big profits and left all those who took her advice to watch their investments disappear. You will watch as Orman distracts from the deadline of her prepaid debit card scam with a Change.org petition scam directed toward Senator Elizabeth Warren, who certainly knows better than to think the government should step in and tell a private company that they have to use completely irrelevant information to determine someone's credit history. It's a scam upon a scam, within a scam, also known as a Suze Orman con artist special.
Even in the tip of the iceberg that is covered in this film, you will see why Suze Orman’s name should go down in history right next to Bernie Madoff's, except that while Madoff plundered the wealthy, Orman has slopped up and stolen a fortune directly from the pockets of the middle class and the poor, while causing damage to the economy of the United States of America.
With Suze now starting to perpetrate her financial scams on other countries, it is time for us to clean up these shenanigans and turn toward more trustworthy financial experts who, unlike Suze, have actual financial educations. It is time to choose non-sociopathic financial experts who don't sell the content of their advice to the highest bidder, but have helpful intentions to guide the most important decisions of people's lives at this important time in human history.
I invite educators, journalists, government agencies, and others to freely use this film and the additional information presented here to stop the Suze scams and to help guide our society into better choices.
Update: One more Suze Scam goes bust after plundering the public
The Suze Orman "Approved" card closed all accounts as of July 1, 2014, leaving many who fell for her debit card fraud unable to access their own money. But don't worry about Orman's overly stuffed coffers. "Suze Madoff" let The Daily Beast know that she had already made back the millions of dollars she invested in the card and then some, money she stole from the pockets of poor and middle class victims who were fooled by Orman's media wide fraud campaign into thinking that moving money from their banks onto Orman's prepaid card would improve their FICO scores.
Go Banking Rates: "Why Suze Orman’s Approved Card Will Soon Be Denied"
Beginning on July 1st, 2014, a whole lot of people who trusted Orman's fraud found themselves unable to access their own money to pay rent, buy food, medicine, gas, and other necessities, not to mention the stress of wondering if they will ever see the money they saved on the card again. If card users set up direct deposit from their employers, as the card encouraged users to do in order to avoid a few of the many fees, Orman's "Approved" card has been keeping some additional paychecks sent to them after they abruptly closed users' accounts in too short of a time for people to change their deposit choices. This woman's plight is just one example of the damage this card closing is surely causing to many lives who have already been victimized by the overall high fees and shoddy management of Orman's "Approved" card that they thought was going to improve their FICO scores:
This disabled vet is asking Senator Elizabeth Warren to help get his money back from the "Approved" Card, which already stole a lot of unnecessary fees from his limited income, due to Orman's successful media widespread fraud that convinced many that using her card were going to improve their FICO scores:
Unfortunately for that disabled vet who is asking Senator Warren for help in getting his stolen money back from Orman's card, Warren seems to be entangled in what Chris Cuomo recently called "The Orman Cabal," More on the Senator Warren/Orman Cabal part of the "Suze Orman Problem" here.
More than a month after Orman's card closed, users still have no idea if or when they'll get their money back, and Orman's strategy for dealing with the corrupt mess she created to steal from the poor and middle class has been to disappear without saying a word other than what her representatives are posting on social media on her behalf to pitch her show.
Not a peep from Orman to all the users who were fooled into buying and pouring their hard earned money into the fees and planned obsolescence mistakes of the card that generated a whole lot of those $2 customer service calls to Orman's incompetent call center in the Philippines, and who were just told by US Bank to spend all the money they'd placed on the card by July 1st. As of August, still no word from Orman, who instead posted photos of herself and her partner in crime enjoying those fees and improper charges stolen from the poor and middle class on her luxury yacht vacation.
In September 2014, two months after the card closed, with still no mention of the card closing by Orman or on the Approved Card website, Orman posted this:
August 2014: A letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (click to read)
Here's what Orman said to The Daily Beast in an article from November, 2013, less than six months before US Bank informed customers that the card was going to close:
While Orman was pitching her fraudulent frenzy throughout the media landscape in 2012, TransUnion also gave a cagey answer to one of the few Orman-friendly journalists about their little "experiment" with Orman's Approved card -- the very "experiment" she used to give a false impression that using her "Approved" card would improve users' FICO scores.
"TransUnion is committed to supporting Suze's efforts to understand the impact of pre-paid card use on an individual's credit health. Our goal is to help Suze understand whether including this data in a consumer's credit report would impact access to credit products." It doesn't say a word about being interested in the research themselves or about any interest in this information from FICO, rather TransUnion is "supporting Suze's efforts," and "helping Suze understand." That is a far cry from Orman's mediawide fraudulent claims that TransUnion and FICO were looking to see if her debit card can create a FICO score. See the scam?
This iCNN article by an unhappy "Approved" card user includes a frame showing the letter he received from US Bancorp, dated May 1st, stating that the card would be completely inoperable by July 1st, and encouraging users to spend all the money they have on the card by that date, which in some cases may be thousands of dollars these fraud victims placed in the card's Goal accounts. If anyone missed or misunderstood this single letter of notification, tough cookies for them; they'll have to wait until US Bancorp muddles through Orman's Approved card mess that has already lost many users' accounts to eventually, hopefully, send at least part of the users' money left on the card to them via check.
The US Bancorp letter begins: "Our records indicate that you hold The Approved Prepaid MasterCard issued by The Bancorp Bank. This is a prepaid card and thereby not reported to any credit reporting agency (which is the main reason most card members got the card after being fooled by Orman's fraudulent mediawide scam)...This letter is to notify you that The Bancorp Bank will discontinue all services in connection with these Cards, effective July 1, 2014...Use remaining balances before July 1, 2014...we encourage you to bring your available balance to $0.00 prior to your expiration date. If you have any balances in your Goal Funds you will need to transfer the balances to your primary account..." How many people will not understand or open the single letter from US Bank about the card closing and will simply find themselves unable to access any of their money, including whatever they had moved into the card's sections for long term savings as recommended by Orman herself? Sounds like there is a whole lot of room for those already victimized by Orman's high fee card to get fleeced a little more on the way out.
Here is an example from social media of how Orman's media blitz fraud fooled many viewers into believing that using her card was going to increase their FICO scores -- completely false information that these victims then spread to their family, friends, and followers, who then got onto the train to Approved card hell.
In stark contrast to Orman's wild headline blast through the mainstream media that fooled poor and middle class people into falling for her "Approved" card fraud, this card closure was done so quietly that there was not even a peep in any press about the closure, until I sent a Twitter message to New York Times finance journalist Ron Lieber, who wrote an article about it. Even if the closure has not been publicly announced, the "Approved" card is clearly closed; the links no longer work on its website, and customers have been complaining about their accounts being closed.
Now that the Senate's Consumer Protection panel has questioned Dr. Oz about his overly enthusiastic recommendations for some questionable weight loss products, it is time to clean up a much bigger Oprah protégé problem. If you think Senator Claire McCaskill, chair of the Senate's Consumer Protection panel, should be asking Orman, her "cabal," and those who are blocked from speaking up by Orman's ironclad confidentiality agreements, about all the millions of people who have been ripped off by her prepaid card and other scams, please send a message to Senator Claire McCaskill here:
Let's get one thing straight here. In spite of Orman's widespread media hype and outright lies, there was never a chance that her "Approved" card was going to do a single thing to help anyone's FICO score, certainly not in the first two years, and certainly never with the very limited information TransUnion was looking through about where card users spent their money, with no access to any other individual facts about users, since the information was anonymous. When asked about Orman's claims, FICO's spokesperson, obviously trying to be honest but gentle so as not to upset their biggest proponent (although Orman still took revenge on FICO a few months later), nevertheless told the Baltimore Sun, "In our (FICO's) experience, spending is not actually a great indicator of the thing that the FICO score tries to measure, which is the likelihood you're going to default on a credit bill."
It was all a big Suze Scam that fooled people into paying big fees and money from every transaction they conducted with the card, into Orman's pockets, with victims of her fraud actually paying to give their spending information to a corporation. Even usually savvy people were fooled into moving money from their banks onto Orman's card, certain that they had just heard her say that the card was going to increase their credit scores. You'll see "Suze Madoff's" latticework of claims and disclaimers about her "Approved" card that she repeated throughout the media landscape in both the full documentary film and the debit card fraud clips video.
The Fees on Orman's "Approved" Card
Beyond the Fees
As bad as these twenty fees listed in the card's fine print are, "Approved" card holders spent a whole lot more than that due to the gross sloppiness of Orman's card that charged improper fees at every turn.
The big bucks especially flowed into Orman's pockets from those $2 per call customer service calls, coupled with extremely incompetent card management that lost many users' accounts and charged a whole lot of inappropriate fees.
I found all those complaints from a few web searches, so you can imagine how many more examples of Approved card theft took place in the past 2 1/2 years, with a massive scam that was publicized by some of the world's favorite television shows. Where is a lawyer to file a class action lawsuit to question those involved and get these financially victimized people their hard earned money back?
Personally, I'm not as concerned about Orman receiving long overdue justice for her schemes as I am in stopping the continuing damage she causes on so many levels of society, due to her extreme, Oprah-bestowed influence. If Orman receiving proper justice for her fraudulent schemes would help to erase some of her previous damage, then I hope for that. Many have gone to prison for doing far less damage than "Suze Madoff" has done. I do think that the opportunity for a government agency to question the “Orman Cabal” and others who may currently be bound by confidentiality agreements would yield abundant facets that should also be cleaned up, for the good of the world.
Here is the response from Suze's spokeswoman, Jill Zuckman, managing director specializing in strategic communications for Hilary Rosen's SKDKnickerbocker, to questions by a finance journalist from Bloomberg about Orman's prepaid card scam, with not a shred of accurate information to refute their claims, because the whole "Approved" prepaid card is a case of greed-fueled smoke and mirrors:
As for what TransUnion might be getting from this deal, aside from free access to a whole lot of personal spending data, "Mr. Consumer," Ed Dworsky points out, "If you only read the headlines about the free TransUnion credit score, report and credit monitoring benefit, you may miss the fact that the service is only free for the first year. After that, if you want to keep it, it is $143.40 a year."
Again, this $143.40 per year charge is for credit score information that can easily be accessed for free on sites such as Credit Karma, which also gives access to the other two main bureau scores, along with TransUnion, all 100% free. It won't take too many uneducated users of Suze's card trusting her enough to pay this ridiculous, completely unnecessary annual fee of $143.40 for Suze to plunder more big profits from the poor and uneducated for herself, US Bank, and TransUnion. It's a "scamducken": scams within scams, covered with scams.
In November 2013, Orman told The Daily Beast that her card broke even within a year and a half of launching, which means it has taken in millions of dollars of fees, lost paychecks and accounts, and a whole lot of those $2/call customer service calls -- fees that Orman stole directly from the pockets of the poor and middle class who were fooled by her media-wide fraud campaign. TransUnion also continued to obfuscate. Someone needs to question Orman, TransUnion, and FICO under oath!
The "Orman Cabal" Spin Begins!
US Bank, who is closing Orman's card, has refused to give journalists any information about why it is closing, just as TransUnion has refused to give any details about their little pseudo "experiment" with Orman that fooled so many into pouring their hard earned dollars into the pit of her card. The spin coming from Orman's damage control PR experts, the same team who has been covering up the BP oil spill, who destroyed Napster ("Hilary Rosen banked millions destroying Napster"), and who represents companies that are moving from the United States to take advantage of tax loopholes, is that the "Approved" card fees were so low, and that Orman was being so generous, that the card couldn't sustain itself. This is a load of baloney, even though New York Times journalist Ron Lieber spread the B.S. through this quote that has been requoted in many other articles: Says the New York Times, “Ms. Orman’s consumer-friendly tactics may have undermined the profitability of the venture, according to experts. At first, Ms. Orman had hoped to offer the card with no monthly fee at all, and it is possible that her customer-friendly $3 fee proved too low, given all the associated costs." Note that the expert he is quoting was the manager of another prepaid card (the Rush card), which had even larger monthly fees, but none of those scandalous $2 fees to call customer service that Orman made a bundle from. Maybe Mr. Lieber is afraid to take on "the Orman Cabal."
Click here to watch a May 2014 clip of CNN journalist Chris Cuomo bravely bringing up a need to take on the "Orman Cabal."
In his New York Times article about the card closing, Lieber -- who was the first journalist Orman went to when she launched the "Approved" card -- added many overly generous assumptions about all the good Orman wished she could have done, hoped to do, or was proud of wanting to do, using a supportive quote from the same "expert" Lieber quoted in his first article that introduced the card, the manager of another exploitative prepaid card. Since Orman did not respond to Lieber's or anyone else's requests for comment, he must have been assuming good faith to an extreme degree, especially since Lieber has seen this webpage and likely watched at least some of the documentary film -- he follows me on Twitter, where we have shared some direct messages. Even with his overly positive view of Orman's motives regarding her "Approved" card scam, the facts in Lieber's article point to some of the problems beneath the surface, including this: "It is unclear exactly why Ms. Orman’s venture is ending. A spokesman for Bancorp Bank, which ran the back-end systems for Approved, declined to comment, citing a policy of not making statements about its partners. Ms. Orman could not be reached for comment. The website for the card does not appear to have been updated recently, and as of Monday night, had no mention of the card’s status." Notice how similar US Bank's response is to the noncommittal response by her other partner in this scam, TransUnion:
Although I appreciated him giving me a tip of the hat, Mr. Lieber left off a mountain of facts that you can see quite clearly in this article and in the video above, where Lieber also has an interesting cameo, in which Orman insults him by mistake, forgetting that he is one of the"friendly" journalists whom she doesn't consider to be one of those "Suze haters" who "yap, yap, yap, right at my little feet" -- something you'll hear Orman say in this clip with sociopathic relish:
Click here to play the clip of Orman's interview with Arianna Huffington that Lieber is referring to, with other telling information that helps to explain why her card is such a mess.
That exchange was from January 2012, when Orman was rolling out her prepaid debit card scam. While overly generous to Orman, Lieber's recent article about the "Approved" card closing did bring some facts to light:
"Suze Orman is quietly getting out of the payments business. Starting July 1, Ms. Orman’s Approved card, a prepaid debit card aimed at budget-challenged consumers, will no longer work, according to a letter from Bancorp Bank, her partner on the product. Bancorp is encouraging cardholders to spend all the money on their cards before that date. After that, it will send checks to people for any remaining balances. It is unclear exactly why Ms. Orman’s venture is ending. A spokesman for Bancorp Bank, which ran the back-end systems for Approved, declined to comment, citing a policy of not making statements about its partners. Ms. Orman could not be reached for comment. The website for the card does not appear to have been updated recently, and as of Monday night, had no mention of the card’s status."
One inaccuracy in his opening sentences is where Lieber calls the Approved card, "a prepaid debit card aimed at budget-challenged consumers." As you'll see repeatedly in the film, Orman was asking people from all walks of life to "join my People First Movement," and to leave their banks and move their money to the Approved card. You will see her tell John King that she envisions a world where all transactions take place on prepaid card -- i.e. hers. Obviously Orman thinks the American public is easy to fool into anything, and her assumptions would likely have once again proved accurate if not for well over one hundred articles by finance journalists top to bottom, warning the public about Orman's prepaid card scam in 2012. Note that these warnings about Orman's fee-laden card and the FICO scam that went with it didn't take into account that Orman's card was going to be run in a completely slipshod and incompetent manner, losing people's accounts, charging extra fees, locking many people out of their accounts, and costing users a whole lot of those $2 phone calls to customer service.
But don't worry about Orman, she made her money back, plus more, and is enjoying spending all those fees on her luxury vacation, strategically taken just as the card closure was going to inevitably be discovered, with no way for any journalists or card users to contact her for an explanation.
Huffington Post, in which Arianna herself did a video interview that allowed Orman to fool and scam her readers (you'll see clips of this in the documentary, or you can view longer clips here) once again hosted space for damage control now that the card has stolen what it could from customers and is closing without giving anyone the credit score boost they were expecting. This Huffington Post article is written by someone who runs a website that recommends prepaid debit cards, which most financial experts describe as one of the worst financial products available, due to the unavoidable fees, even aside from the complete incompetence of Orman's card and the exploitative $2 fees to call customer service. The title of this ridiculous article is: "Suze Orman Nixes Her Prepaid Debit Card; It Appears Her Dream of Helping Millions to Establish and Build Credit Is Dead." A more accurate subtitle would have been, "Although Orman earned back all of her investment and more in fees plundered and outright stolen from 'Approved' card users, it appears her dream of breaking the banking system and fooling millions more into moving their money to her fee-laden card is dead." This Huffington Post article is an example of how PR spin can turn a fraudulent money grab that stole millions of dollars from the poor and middle class and should have landed the perpetrator in prison into an altruistic disappointment.
Upstart Business Journal also joined the obfuscation spin, by actually writing an article titled, "Suze Orman prepaid debit card too good a deal?" that has already been republished and retweeted by other media outlets. This homage to Orman's good heart starts by saying, "You can't fault Suze Orman for trying to help people..." The same publication, Upstart Business Journal, also appears in our larger presentation page section that shows how a negative article about Orman in Portfolio Conde Nast was rewritten three years later to appear to be positive, after Portfolio was bought by none other than Upstart Business Journal. Oh the shenanigans! See the original and rewritten Portfolio and Upstart articles here.
Remember that "Saint Orman" didn't just endorse this card as most celebrities have with their prepaid cards; she created and owns it, and told the Daily Beast that the card broke even a year before it was closed -- making back Orman's millions of dollars of investments off the backs of the poor and middle class who were fooled into thinking using Orman's shoddily run card would improve their FICO scores.
During the past two and a half years, every time her employees made a mistake, the result was more money in Suze Orman's bank; a con artist's dream come true, $2 for each call to straighten out problems when the card loses people's money. The card would also hold people's money for a long time and hold an additional 20% when people use the card at restaurants, and oh so many other "Approved" card twists and turns, after Orman repeated throughout the media landscape, "This card will only cost you $3 a month if you use it how I tell you to." Most people ripped off by Orman's card were just quietly victimized, without posting about it online or knowing about other steps to take to get justice.
Orman and her partner in crime KT were probably hoping this fiasco would go under the radar as most of their other busted scams have, but if this "Bonnie and Clyde" team ends up being called to justice for their crimes, we just might see them disappear at sea. If you knew Suze, you'd know that is not outside the realm of possibility, especially given her repeated claims that by the end of 2014, she's going to close down her website and "go fishing." Well, who knows. Here they are boating around the Cayman Islands while the card was being closed -- intriguingly the very place that some criminals go to hide their money from things like monetary judgments for fraud.
As one of Orman's recent business partners told me, all the information I've shared in this film and article is not even the tip of the iceberg of the Suze Orman problem, nevertheless it is a big chunk. This public service effort is not about whether Orman's advice about investing in stocks is good or bad, but about something more important and insidious that needs to be addressed for the good of humanity, not to mention the economy and the pocketbooks of the poor and middle class.
A journalist recently asked if I had a "bone to pick" with Suze Orman. My response: "I do have a bone to pick with anyone who is harming the country and people's lives, but am especially moved to act on it when I bear some personal responsibility for helping the person onto the public stage, in spite of clear indications of her severe personality issues that I mistakenly overlooked at that time."
As one of many who have been personally scammed and ripped off by Orman and her deceptive and depraved ways as she clawed her way to the top, it is easier for me to see her scams in progress when she fools and plunders the public. Therefore, I have been moved by personal responsibility to use my skills as an author and filmmaker to make this information available as best I can.
On a personal note: I was a friend to Suze and helped to start her career at a time when she was unpublished, unknown, and deeply in debt. We had hundreds of hours of conversation during our two years of association, which ended right as Orman's first book was at the printer, with double thanks to me in the acknowledgments. The fact that Suze stole a lot of money from me and caused significant harm to my life, as she has done to many of her other associates, is not my motivation for creating this documentary and presentation. I want the best for everyone, however it is not possible for me to stand back and watch silently as Suze Orman rips damaging holes through the economy, through many people's lives, and through the fabric of society.
A wisdom quote that is generally attributed to the Sufi path says, "Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself, 'Is it true?' At the second, ask, 'is it necessary?' At the third gate, ask, 'Is it kind?'" What I am sharing in this film and article is truthful, is necessary, and of course it is kind for people who may avoid being fooled, conned, and harmed by Orman's scams and shenanigans. Speaking necessary truth can also be kind toward the person who is causing serious harm to the world, giving them a chance to repent and choose a better way.
I have many positive projects to work on, however this one has become important to address at this time. No matter how many times I've resisted speaking up about this matter, there would always be another Suze scam to remind me of the very real damage being caused by a serious problem I mistakenly helped to create, damage that I could possibly help curtail or stop by speaking up, regardless of how others might view me or the presentation. This exposé is also intended to be a gathering of evidence for journalists or government agencies who might like to take it from here. The video is free to play above or on YouTube.
Many have gone to prison for causing far less damage than Orman has caused just in the last two years with her blatantly fraudulent "Approved" prepaid debit card misinformation scam that has stolen millions of dollars from poor and middle class people who trusted Orman's snake oil pitches, insinuations, and outright lies that they saw on their favorite television shows. Social media exploded with fooled people telling their friends and relatives that using the "Approved" card was going to improve their FICO scores and "only" cost three dollars a month. In this documentary film, you will see Suze Orman blasting throughout the media landscape spreading false claims and insinuations that only a financial expert could see through, as she fooled millions of mostly poor and middle class people into pumping their hard earned money into her fee-laden prepaid debit card that was also filled with obviously planned obsolescence where every mistake by the card cost users big bucks in two dollar calls to the card's incompetent customer service that also in many cases misplaced users' accounts and took all of their money.
When a longtime con artist who has scammed her way up from waitress to "financial expert of the world" is supported by corporations, banks, billionaires, behind-the-scenes experts, ghost writers, and media figures who knowingly or unknowingly host and perpetrate Orman's scams, this is what society ends up with -- a shyster who has fooled and plundered the public and intentionally distorted the economy with a long list of shams and shenanigans over the past fifteen years.
Is this hard for you to believe? Watch the film and make up your own mind about this matter. The video is free to play on YouTube.
Imagine helping someone get invited to a party, in spite of the person showing troubling behaviors from the day you met, and then having to watch as she steals money from the pockets of everyone at the party, including the house owners, guests, and wait staff. Imagine knowing she is a fraud as she fools them with flattery and extravagant false promises, and charms them with uber-confidence and the techniques learned from many years of fooling and plundering people as a con artist from the South Side Chicago hood, as you'll hear Orman intriguingly brag in the film, "where all the murders take place, that's where I grew up, everybody."
Imagine watching this scoundrel you helped gain entry to the party as she denigrates and brings down the level of discourse, watching as she bullies people, shouting and proclaiming what they must do, even though she has neither the personal nor professional credentials to be giving such advice. That is the regretful predicament I and others have been in for the past fifteen years, while watching Suze Orman use the public platform we helped her achieve to cause serious harm to individuals, the economy, and the fabric of society.
Since I produced the video that helped Orman get her first book deal after her proposal had already been turned down by over thirty publishers, it is my hope that producing this video with examples of the Suze Orman problem will help to stop the damage. Although Suze stole a lot of money and caused a lot of troubles for me after I spent two years helping her on to the public stage, this film and presentation are not a matter of revenge or unforgiveness. I forgive and surely would have all but forgotten, if not for seeing Orman cause continuous damage and feeling a sense of personal responsibility to speak up and share my experiences and observations.
Many have additional information and insights to bring to light regarding the Orman phenomenon; if the requirements of Suze's ironclad confidentiality agreements were to be released, more would be able to tell what they know. One of Suze's recent partners did not sign an agreement in spite of daily pressure from her lawyers, and will hopefully be sharing his information in an upcoming book. Even an astrologer who saw this new documentary had some insights to share in a forum about how being deceitful to the public can be seen in Orman's chart, although the astrologer is wrong about Suze not caring about astrology; when I knew Suze, she was hopping from one astrologer and psychic to the next, and had quite the occult flair.
This is an initial documentary, produced with a small production budget. Eventually, we may produce a more substantial version that will include interviews and personal stories from those who have been harmed and ripped off by Orman and her scams, along with other additional materials, including more about the "Orman Cabal" CNN's Chris Cuomo referenced on CNN. Certainly, it would also make for an intriguing and educational feature film, a la "The Devil Wears Jackets." Until then, the evidence in this initial film is nevertheless abundant and alarming.
Even in the tip of the iceberg that is covered in this film, you will see why Suze Orman’s name should go down in history right next to Bernie Madoff's, except that while Madoff plundered the wealthy, Orman has slopped up and stolen a fortune directly from the pockets of the middle class and the poor, while causing damage to the economy of the United States of America.
With Suze now starting to perpetrate her financial scams on other countries, it is time for us to clean up these shenanigans and turn toward more trustworthy financial experts who, unlike Suze, have actual financial educations. It is time to choose non-sociopathic financial experts who don't sell the content of their advice to the highest bidder, but have helpful intentions to guide the most important decisions of people's lives at this important time in human history.
I invite educators, journalists, government agencies, and others to freely use this film and the additional information presented here to stop the Suze scams and to help guide our society into better choices.
Note: This was an older version of the article
The earlier article:
Welcome to this article, which began as a shorter post on my Spiritual Social Commentary blog, but has come to require it's own very long page. Over the years, I have been blessed to help quite a few famous and nonfamous people into greater careers, however, in the case of spending two years assisting Suze Orman in beginning her public speaking and writing career in the early 1990s, at a time when she was unpublished, unknown, and deeply in debt, I feel that I seriously missed the mark and ended up helping to unleash something really troubling into the world. Feeling obliged to write an article like this is just one of many burdens that resulted from my personal and professional association with Suze Orman. Somebody tweeted and suggested that I hate Suze, but that is not the case. It is natural to assume an angry tone when reading honest criticisms that are not sugar coated, but if you spoke with me about this matter, you would find a gentle and kind tone, with a motivation of personal responsibility and care for the well-being of the world.
I've discovered that it is not possible to be fully at peace while remaining silent about what needs to be said regarding someone who is at face a financial advisor, with the barest of credentials for that. Suze took many extra years to finally get a B.A. in social work, taking not a single finance class, and often bragging as if it were a badge of honor that she never received a grade above a "C" in even a single one of her classes. Suze also acts as a completely unqualified psychologist, marriage counselor, lawyer, bossy lifestyle advisor, and is now in the midst of a big gay rights activist media blitz, which has clearly been orchestrated by Suze's PR/manager/agency teams (that include ICM and Hilary Rosen, who also represents the BP Oil Spill), who always find big headlines to cover up and play the public as fools whenever Suze is called out by journalists, to out-publicize and protect her from the bad press. Suze's current gay rights media blitz has clearly been launched in response to Helaine Olen's new book "Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry," in which Suze is prominently featured as the most damaging figure in the personal finance industry, and perhaps to also make it more difficult for government agencies who have been looking into Suze's recent shenanigans to file charges without it looking like a response to her gay activism.
QVC Infomercial: Don't spend money unless it goes to me!
I more or less stopped watching Suze on TV years ago, but she does ubiquitously appear on many shows I record or watch, with barely a time that I haven't heard her say something problematic along with perhaps some useful information. I occasionally tune in with a now-very-thin strand of hope that the leopard will change her spots and behave in a positive way that will ease my sense of personal responsibility for having helped her into the public eye. Suze does adjust her behavior based on the media outlet she is on, so many who watch her yelling at people not to buy a bowl of soup on Oprah's show or acting like a politician on CNN, don't get to also see her pure salesman side, with QVC continuing to sell her products in spite of customers complaints that they did not receive what had been promised.
Several times over the years, I've happened upon Suze pitching her wares (and occasionally other things) on QVC, where it seems that she likes to use hypothetical and actual disasters of the day to scare people into buying her products.
In this clip from January 2011, Ms. "don't spend money unless it goes to me" uses her mother’s hypothetical death (around two years before she actually passed), the QVC host and his wife’s hypothetical deaths, and the previous week’s real-life national tragedy where Representative Giffords and others were shot – with six people killed, including a nine-year-old child – as a way to spook QVC viewers into buying her silver box, which is apparently better than the blue box or the green box.
Click the screen to play a sample of Suze's QVC hard sell
Someone who doesn't have usual human feelings of compassion also doesn't know where to draw the line naturally, such as this example of capitalizing on imagined and actual disasters by using her mother's hypothetical death, her co-host and his wife's hypothetical deaths, and the actual shooting and deaths in Tucson just one week earlier to sell her silver box, all within about fifteen minutes of QVC selling time.
Remember, even though she berates people for spending a small amount of money on something they really want, Suze considers the products that put money into her own pockets as needs, not wants:
It would be one thing if Suze was just hawking her wares on QVC and an occasional other show. However, she has been named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Oprah, are you listening? Actually, it is unlikely that Oprah would listen to me when she completely rebuffed the sincere concerns by her top notch staff of producers about Suze's advice and behavior, as shown in the Oprah clip below.
Oprah’s Biggest Blunder (in the original article)
Oprah has offered shows on thousands of topics and has brought many important issues to the attention of the masses. She has been entrusted with a great deal of power to wield in today's society, and has done much good with it. Of course, Oprah too is human and fallible, as was publicly highlighted in the cases of James Frey and James Arthur Ray. I would place Suze Orman along the lines of James Arthur Ray, whose controlling communicative abilities convinced people to pay $10,000 to sit alone in a drawn circle in the desert for thirty-six hours with no food or water before going into an X-treme Survivor version of what is meant to be a holy event in the Sweat Lodge - causing, in the name of spirituality, three deaths and many other health-based repercussions for the participants. In my view, this is what happens when someone with charm, ambition, and personality aberrations is given too much authority and unwarranted trust. My personal experience and observations of Suze lead me to believe that she is someone with severe personality aberrations, a sociopathic level of ambition, and a knack for controlling certain kinds of people, especially if they have been told by Oprah to obey her boldly delivered, ever-changing whims.
Such great power comes with great responsibility, including the responsibility to say you were wrong with certain endorsements if that is the case, difficult as that may be to do. Even a multi-billionaire must go through life’s tests and lessons and take responsibility for their actions.
The video clip below is a clear example of Suze Orman's problematic company, as Oprah - who really should know better - allows and participates in bullying behavior toward an unstable woman who is already experiencing extreme anxiety while dealing with her mental health issues plus an immensely burdensome responsibility of taking care of fourteen young children, one with autism. Suze and Oprah show no observable concern for the well-being of the children as Suze commands this fairly unstable woman to get rid of all her nannies and take care of fourteen young children on her own. Oprah meekly confesses that she didn't fully agree with Nadya having zero help taking care of these fourteen children while trying to also earn enough money to support them all - all done while Nadya is a neurotic mess - but Oprah says she was afraid that if she spoke honestly, "Miss Suze" would give her a smackdown!
Watch the problematic behavior of Oprah and Suze
Seeing this kind of behavior put forth as an Oprah-sanctioned example of how one should treat someone with a serious burden and obvious instabilities, and knowing that my good work, coaching, personal and professional contacts, time, energy, skills, and other resources played a significant role in helping Suze onto the public stage brings waves of regret. Therefore, I do feel obliged, guided, and pushed to speak up and share my experiences, observations, and thoughts about this matter.
Along with this fiasco of cruelty that clearly didn't end up helping Nadya, based on her continued struggles, came a misleading cover-up article that was obviously submitted through Suze's usual PR channels to be distributed to tens of thousands of media outlets through the Associated Press, giving a very different impression as though the show was fairly tame and very helpful to Nadya. Here is the article at the Washington Times: "Octomom concedes she was baby addict on ‘Oprah'"
Oprah received thousands of complaints from viewers about this show, including these. Oprah ignored those complaints, replaying the nasty show many more times on her syndicated broadcast and then on her OWN network, where she continued to push Suze into the public consciousness and give her a forum for pitching her products. Oprah also swept aside the concerns of her entire producer staff about Suze's troubling behavior, as you can see on this "Behind the Scenes" clip:
Watch the Behind the Scenes clip:
Oprah seems to be in need of an intervention, for the sake of the world. Look at Oprah's nervous and angry mannerisms, yelling at her dogs, and showing visible distress as she disregards the heartfelt, intelligent, and honest concerns of her highly respected team of producers who have helped to make her show such a great success. This is how someone behaves who is defending something they know is wrong.
A number of our website guests have found the main "Problem with Suze Orman" page by searching for information about what they generally typed in as, "Suze Orman money class winner scam." Suze went on countless shows promising to give $50,000 and a number of $5,000 prizes from her own money to OWN show viewers who watched her shows, within which the answers were given, a move that was obviously intended to get more viewers and pump up (ie. bribe/pay for) better Nielsen ratings. When asked in a recent interview how she gives back, such as charitable giving, this payment that was announced throughout the media landscape as a ploy to increase ratings for her own show was the only specific example Suze gave:
In another example of how Suze inspires her supporters to be deceptive and fool people like she does, Oprah sent out a Twitter message asking her followers if any of them need more money as a deceptive pitch for people to watch Suze's "Money Class" show on OWN, which drew criticism from followers and a few brave media sources:
But were these widely touted prizes even paid? And if so, were they paid to random viewers or not? Throughout her media appearances, Suze pitched watching her show as a way for viewers to win money by taking a quiz at the end. Part of the contest was for viewers to submit an essay about what they like most about Suze's show (also giving Suze Orman and Co. the right to do anything she wants with their laudatory essays of praise for Suze).
Based on quite a few searches that brought guests to this page, some apparently think the prizes may not have been actually given properly to contest entrants, which is not surprising based on this clip where Suze rattles off a few first names with a style that did set off my "Suze-Scamdar."
This would be one more place for an investigative journalist or agency to look into, although it would be hard to imagine that OWN would allow Suze to promise winnings in a contest and then pretend to give them, or give them to people she knows, although that's exactly what I'd expect the Suze I knew to do.
Oprah, you gave this woman her platform. I feel some personal karmic responsibility for having significantly helped to begin Suze's career in the early 1990s, when she was unknown and deeply in debt. Oprah's inexplicable over-the-top pushing of this person onto the media landscape turned my mistake into a worldwide blunder, and has kept Suze all but "untouchable" from media scrutiny of her obvious problems as a trusted advisor. And Oprah has continually given Suze air space to behave rudely to her viewers:
From the New York Times article "Suze Orman is Having a Moment," in May, 2009:
Beloved for these tough-love dressings-down, which Oprah calls “Suze smackdowns,” Orman says she actually never genuinely loses her patience but “acts it up for television.” Her real wrath, she says, is saved for the people in charge who let all those mortgages go through. But if that's true, since the meltdown she has given an Academy-Award-worthy performance of someone truly peeved by the financial recklessness of average Americans. On “Oprah” on Sept. 23, an episode that was shot near the peak of the credit crisis, Orman unleashed her fury on a couple featured on the show who had no health insurance, a home that was worth less than what they owed on it, had endured a layoff and were living off of 29 credit cards.
“I wish I could sit here and feel sorry for you,” Orman told the couple. “I wish I could sit here and have some empathy, truthfully, that the fact that you lost your job, you were under stress, that you don't have health insurance for your children. You are two proud people that kept the lies going by putting your expenses for this home that you say you can afford.”
Orman's syntax was starting to get bollixed up as she worked herself into a frenzy of indignation, letting the couple know it was high time they sold their home: “The fact that you were never late on those credit cards because you were borrowing money from credit cards to pay other credit cards to pay your mortgage. . . . ” She raged on and on. When the wife tried to defend her behavior, Orman dismissed her arguments. “You are talking to Suze Orman here!” she said.
When I spoke to Orman months after the episode was taped, she acknowledged that she lost her cool. “I was freaked,” she said. “You can tell I was freaked. I freaked Oprah out. Because I knew it was possible that by the time we came off that show that the entire United States economy could have collapsed. Our credit had frozen — I wasn't sure we were going to be able to get money out of our A.T.M.'s. Our entire system could have come tumbling down that way. I let her have it, all this angst I was feeling about what was about to happen.”
The wife, whose mouth alternated between a humiliated frown and a we're-on-TV-smile throughout the tongue-lashing, and her husband told the producers afterward that they wanted the segment edited out. (The segment ran.) It was an awkward situation for Orman, she says, “because you better believe the producers of their show care about how their guests are treated.” In the end Orman spent some time on the phone with the wife, explaining why she reacted as she did and giving her more detailed financial counsel. “And it was all O.K.,” Orman says, supremely confident as ever in her ability to help. “She actually got more out of it in the long run.”
All these years I've watched, thinking, "People, use your brains; use your intuition! Does this woman sound like someone who should be telling you how to be? Does her bragging and shaming others really look like how you'd like to behave in this world? Would you allow your children to behave as Suze Orman behaves? Does all the cross-marketing not make you realize that you are customers first, then perhaps people?
From the New York Times article "Suze Orman is Having a Moment," in May, 2009:
Orman has strong opinions in general. She won’t speak before many doctors’ groups, because they get on her nerves (doctors always think they know better, she says). Until recently, she didn't like to speak at universities, because they generally don’t charge students to attend her lectures, and she says that people don’t value things they haven’t paid for.
She has been reluctant to work on school curricula on personal finance, because she says students can’t learn empowerment from people who aren't empowered, and teachers, she says, are too underpaid ever to have any real self-worth. She told me: “When you are somebody scared to death of your own life, how can you teach kids to be powerful? It’s not something in a book — it ain’t going to happen that way.” She once delivered pretty much the same message at an anniversary celebration of a private school — she seems to recall calling the school a “travesty” — and was all but escorted to the door when she was done.
In my opinion, Oprah and others have given Suze a platform such that her deceptive and warped ideas and behaviors mixed with useful financial advice have ultimately impacted our society and economy negatively, even if some individuals have found her general financial advice and products helpful in their personal finances. Obviously Suze is not responsible for all the ponzi schemes, mortgage misdeeds, mismanaged funds, and corrupt CEO bonuses that have practically destroyed the U.S. economy, but she certainly set the stage for what has taken place, touting the all-important "courage to be rich," teaching fear, shame, miserliness, and a focus on money as being the most important thing in life (her few superficial quotes to the contrary notwithstanding in the face of her advice and actions).
Yet, what are the same people who have served up Suze's irresponsible views for all these years doing in the midst of the current disaster that has been created in part by her? Like someone suffering from an allergic reaction who continues to eat bowls filled with the allergen, they are enthusiastically throwing more Suze on top.
Click the ad to enlarge and read Suze's advice about how milk is a great investment
Suze’s History of Shams and Shenanigans
Studying Suze Orman's disturbing path to fame and fortune as an example of success might be inspiring for someone who is looking to climb to the top, even if it would mean ruining the lives of many people and damaging the United States economy to do so -- in other words, for narcissistic sociopaths like Suze Orman.
However, for those who are not interested in being con artists in training, there are important warnings to be gleaned from the Suze story, including how someone with neither education nor ethics managed to scam her way into position after position to become a "trusted financial advisor" for millions of people. This con artist actually has the clout to direct and distort large streams of income to benefit her own pockets and those of her many behind-the-scenes partnerships and liaisons with corporations and big banks.
A whole lot of people have been fooled, plundered, used and abused for Suze to get to where she is today. Suze proudly describes her ruthless climb to success in this clip from Anderson Cooper's AC-360 show, saying "Because I didn't care what other people thought, because I knew what I wanted and I was going to go after it at all costs, I got what I wanted." It's not that Suze hasn't told us who she is, but that not enough people with the avenues to say something about it are either noticing or choosing to speak up.
In terms of being a finance expert, Suze Orman didn't have "too little" financial education, or not a "good enough" financial education; she had zero financial education. Suze had spent many extra years to get a B.A. in social work after receiving not a single grade above a "C" in any of her classes - something she brags about regularly in her appearances and lectures, as though it were something admirable that everybody should aspire to do. Suze then became a waitress, as she says, living in a van while earning $400/month, but at the same time, honing her scamming skills to the point that by the time we met, she would often brag that she could talk anyone into anything.
Suze worked as a waitress for many years, before "inspiring," or perhaps conning her Buttercup Bakery customers into loaning her $50,000. She took the money to Merrill Lynch and asked her broker to generate as much as he could from it, probably pushing him to do so against his better judgment. When the broker's investments lost the money, Suze used a legal loophole that I would guess she was just waiting to use if the broker's actions (that she had almost certainly requested) lost money -- weaving the web like a a good con artist. She threatened to sue Merrill Lynch, and ended up negotiating a deal where Merrill Lynch would give her some free financial training and a six-month position that would bring a huge raise in income from her Buttercup Bakery job. Suze often acknowledges that both Merrill Lynch and subsequently Prudential, were only hiring her to fill those new women's quota laws that had been enacted at just the right time for Suze to ride them up the ladder. Knowing Suze's methods personally and from the stories of others, she likely used her usual tactics of promising all kinds of benefits to people that she never intended to keep.
Merrill Lynch brought Suze on for six months and gave her some training in financial investment and more than a 400% pay raise. As thanks for that, Suze sued Merrill Lynch anyway, which she timed exactly to take place just as her six month employment was about to end, with the result that they couldn't legally fire her due to the pending litigation (eventually, they willingly repaid Suze with interest and sent her on her way to whatever shenanigans she ran at Prudential, who Suze also says hired her to meet their new women quotas, which were a big stepping stone for Suze to get jobs for which she was not really educated or qualified).
Only after she became wealthy did Suze finally repay the Buttercup Bakery customers who had loaned her a significant amount of money, apparently without a cent of interest or gratitude. As she herself describes, Suze sent the $10,000 repayment to one of the customers, Fred, but never heard back from him and didn't take any further steps to see if he was even alive or well. Several years later, Suze received a letter from Fred saying that he'd suffered a stroke and had unable to write until then. He also let Suze know that he was proud of having helped to spark such a successful career, and also let Suze know that the repayment of his loan to her so many years earlier had come in extremely handy due to his money challenges since having the stroke. Did Suze offer to add in some extra funds to help Fred back? Did she even include the tiniest percentage of interest? As far as I know, she did not.
Watch Suze tell this part of her story, including suing Merrill Lynch when they hired her for six months to fill their women's quota, so they couldn't fire her:
Suze has given nearly the same talk nearly every time she speaks for the past fifteen years, based on the occasional ones I've heard through the years, nearly all of which have been basically the same talk, with the same story and slogans, but focused on whatever price-for-advice con she is pulling at the time. Since she basically gives the same talk over and over, it is no wonder that Suze doesn't even have to make the minimal effort of preparing a talk in a responsible way - after all, she's magic, right? (Magic in an Emperor's new clothes way)
Here is another example of Suze sharing her not so illustrious resume of scamming her way to the top -- the same story she tells in almost every talk she gives -- with her usual sociopathic swag.
Note: In the above clip, Suze shares the same story she's told in almost every lecture she gives with the Hispanic community, right before she tried to plunder the Hispanic community by lying, deceiving, and literally begging them to buy her fee-laden prepaid debit card.
Suze usually ends her "illustrious biography" just after she first entered the financial field in this dubious way, but she plundered many more people after that to get to being a published author. Suze received extensive and generous assistance from Cynthia Oti, a successful stockbroker and host of a popular San Francisco radio show called "Financial Fitness." From what Suze told me at the time, Cynthia had helped to educate Suze about finances, helped to build Suze's initial financial platform, and gave Suze her first experiences of being on radio, just as I got Suze booked on her first two television shows. One thing Suze has no problem with is asking, even begging, people to do things for her.
Eventually, after thanking Cynthia (and me) in the acknowledgments of her first book, Suze intentionally caused serious damage to Cynthia's life, as she has done to the lives of many others who helped spark and expand Suze's public speaking and writing career. One of the ways Suze caused harm to this woman who seriously helped to begin Suze's career was to start a false rumor campaign about Cynthia in our mutual spiritual community, just as she did about me several years later.
Suze eventually denigrated Cynthia Oti's memory on CNBC after Cynthia died in a plane crash, pushing a guest whose ex-fiance had committed suicide to say that she felt relieved that he is gone, while Suze described her experience of Cynthia's death as, "I didn't feel bad about it, and everybody was saying to me, 'Suze Orman, what is the matter with you?' And I was like, 'What do you want me to do? I didn't like the person! The person screwed me over! Why should I like this person — I don't care, that's their problem." (see it yourself, toward the end of this clip) This is how Suze speaks about a woman who seriously helped create her success. I saw this disgusting clip at a time when I would occasionally record Suze's shows because she would so often trash her ex-friends on television. In a sense, this presentation, though primarily intended to help protect individuals, the economy, and society from more damage from Suze Orman, is also an offering on behalf of Cynthia's memory.
At the time I met Suze in the early 1990s, Cynthia was still helping Suze, who at the time was borrowing massive amounts of money from friends. Soon after meeting Suze, I was present as she argued on a phone call with her wealthy ex-girlfriend, who had loaned her $50,000. Suze was arguing that she was not able to pay back the money according to their agreed-upon schedule, yet, at the same time Suze was claiming to be unable to repay the borrowed money from this friend and many others, she was spending huge sums of that borrowed money on a long list of ongoing extravagant, unnecessary luxuries, including leasing a BMW, getting weekly maid service at $70 a pop, going for frequent visits to salons for hair frostings, manicures, pedicures, massages, and waxings, purchasing expensive clothes and jewelry, eating out sometimes several times a day at expensive restaurants, and more. Suze Orman has never followed the advice she gives, and like most narcissistic sociopaths, thinks she is better and inherently deserves more than other people.
The only reason Suze got out of her extreme debt in the early 1990s was because PG & E paid her large sums of money to encourage their older employees to go through an early retirement process, a position she got in part through my efforts of getting Suze on her first two television shows and helping to give her the prestige of a media presence. I also flew up to San Francisco to film Suze's PG&E presentation on my dime, since Suze had hid from me how much money she was making from PG&E, and claimed that she was still in debt.
From an interview with the New York Times Magazine:
“As soon as I started to tell the truth, and everyone knew what the situation was,” she said, “the phone rings and it’s Pacific Gas and Electric having another early retirement.” The company hired Orman to advise its employees, and “in one month I got a check for $250,000 and went, ‘Oh, my God,’ and paid off all my debt. I started getting checks like that again, and my whole life turned around.”
I can assure you from personal experience that even though Suze claims in this quote that she had "started to tell the truth," it was like Jodi Arias saying she had started to tell the truth about how her boyfriend was murdered. Suze Orman was not telling much truth at all at that time, but was continuing to weave her usual webs of lies, which included having me continue to pay for all the expenses to create the video in spite of her secret windfall. At the time, Suze was still making big promises about how extravagantly she would repay me in the future, including the oft-repeated, "If this book takes off, I'll take care of you for the rest of your life." Instead, she tried to destroy my life and used my help to set the stage to plunder individuals, the economy, and the fabric of society.
During the seminar, as you'll see in the clip below, Suze told the PG&E retirees that she wouldn't charge them a specific fee for the consultations, but that they could decide how much they wanted to pay her for the consultations. These early retirees, who were already going through enough with this major life change and many decisions to make, had no idea that Suze had already been paid $250,000 from PG&E, with more to come, for giving several presentation meetings and to consult with the early retirees.
As far as I recall, part of Suze's deal with PG&E was that she couldn't bill the retirees for personal consultations, which were meant to be covered by all the big checks PG&E were sending her way to give the retirees information as PG&E wanted her to give it, an early version of Suze's "price for advice" schemes. If the retirees wanted to give Suze a gift of gratitude on top, that would be okay according to the contract, as long as she didn't bill them. So it appears that Suze was playing a little con on these retirees, telling them - without the background information about how much she was being paid by PG&E - that they could pay her as much or as little as they wanted to pay, and that if they didn't want to pay her anything for the two-hour consultation, they could just stiff her. Of course, Suze was already receiving big pay, and depending on the investments she recommended, would also receive additional money in commissions, etc.
In the clip, you'll hear Suze lying about several things regarding her career history. Two minutes into the clip, one gentleman from the retiree meeting could clearly tell that Suze was a shyster. Since Suze was the person PG&E set up for them to consult with, the man was trying to be polite as he persistently asked Suze to tell him how much he should pay her, or what range would be appropriate, or how much others have paid her, also asking where does the money go? This "financial advisor" tells the man that she never even knows how much any client pays, because her secretary deposits all the checks anonymously into her personal checking account, and that she has no idea how much has been deposited or any range of what people have paid. It's a bunch of Suze Shenanigans, and you can tell that this fellow smells the scam.
Watch the earliest known recording of con artist Suze Orman in action:
I was so innocent and naive at the time that I missed most of Suze's scams, including this "pay me what you want while I'm already being paid by your company" game. I did, however, make the serious mistake of using my Hollywood contacts, time, resources, and skills to get Suze Orman onto her first two television shows and then knowingly producing, filming, scripting, and editing the video that gave a false impression of Suze’s media presence and financial expertise. This deceptive media presentation gave Suze the tools she needed to get her first book deal after her book proposal had been turned down by over thirty publishers. It is certainly possible that without my skills and help, the world would have never even heard the name Suze Orman. For my part in creating this damaging sham, I deeply apologize, while attempting to help clean up the mess I mistakenly helped to create.
I made the mistake of helping Suze onto the public stage with assistance that included producing a video that misrepresented her financial and media experience and helped her get her first publisher after her book proposal had been turned down by over thirty publishers. But then Oprah took my mistake and turned it into a worldwide blunder (God bless you Oprah for the good you've done, but the series of decisions that led to your pushing Suze onto the public and keeping her there in spite of thousands of complaints from your viewers and serious concerns from your entire Oprah Show producer team have been as harmful to individuals and the world as your spiritual and charitable works have been helpful).
Of far less concern than the significant damage Suze has caused to the world is the nevertheless revealing fact that she broke her word on every single one of her frequent extravagant promises of repayment that included, "The first thing I'll do with any money that comes in is to buy you a ($150,000) editing system," and "If this book takes off, I'll take care of you for the rest of your life." At the time, I assumed that Suze meant "take care of you" in terms of sharing some financial benefit from the career I'd helped to build, but it seems she meant she would "take care of me" in a South Side Chicago, mafiaesque way, based on the serious damage she intentionally caused to my life after I spent two years helping to make her greatest dreams come true - and I'm certainly not the only one who has experienced such troubles from Sociopathic Suze.
You can see the next spark of Suze's sham that came after the deceptive video I produced in this description of Suze's first meeting with top ICM agent Binky Urban, who took the sham to the next step, bigtime. Suze walked in the office to hear Binky tell someone to f*** themselves, which in Suze's eyes made her a "great woman." Urban's first words upon meeting Suze in the mid-1990s were: "Kid, those eyes of yours will make us millions of dollars but you've gotta lose 30 pounds," which is a far cry from, "Do you have any education or credentials to be writing finance books." Urban's response to Suze's concern that, "I don't know how to write," was to say, "Great. Finally an author who knows she can't write." One more piece of the Suze Orman Problem puzzle.
In Suze's own words, from Woman's Wear Daily:
When Binky Urban said, "Great. Finally an author who knows she can't write," does that mean that she's glad to be able to send Suze off to writing school? No, Suze Orman gave her representatives a chance to create a pseudo writer, who also happened to be a pseudo finance expert. But as Binky said, "Kid, those eyes of yours will make us millions of dollars but you've gotta lose 30 pounds." That led to a series of scams, shams, and shenanigans that led to Suze Orman being named one of the 100 most powerful people in the world. No wonder the economy is such a mess.
The Suze I knew personally and have observed publicly is a pathological liar with some alarming personality and behavioral disorders that have caused significant damage to to our economy, as well as to individuals and the social fabric. My goal in sharing my personal experiences and offering this presentation is to help stop the continuing and escalating damage from Suze's misuse of her extreme public influence.
Carrying the power and extreme influence that comes from being endorsed by some of the top media personalities of our time carries a responsibility, and Suze Orman has failed in that responsibility again and again, proclaiming her heartless, miserly, judgmental, dishonest, disrespectful, and selfish sociopathic personality aberrations as economic and social decrees. And that’s just the portion of Suze Orman’s advice that is not bought and paid for by a long string of corporations, with old shenanigans - including all but ignored discoveries by Forbes in 1998 that Suze had lied about her licenses and credentials - all but erased as Suze's new shenanigans come into play, with many shown in the abundant links within this article, which are still just the tip of the Suze Orman Problem iceberg that has caused, and continues to cause, significant damage to individuals, the economy, and our fabric of society.
From The Wall Street Journal, 2008: "Crisis Makes Suze Orman a Star"
One thing that came from my experiences with Suze is an ability to fairly easily tell when she is being deceptive, whether about her products or herself, which IMHO is most of the time. Life would be much more peaceful and less regretful for me if I couldn't so easily see Suze's shenanigans and deceptions. I don't take credit for Suze's success, because many others contributed to creating this sham, however I do feel a sense of personal responsibility and regret for the significant part I played in helping Suze onto the public stage. I invite others who have personal knowledge, experiences, and observations about these matters to also speak up and help clean up this troubling mess of Suze Orman's extreme influence on society and the economy.
Is this the face of an intelligent, trustworthy financial advisor who is trying to help someone make good financial decisions about whether to purchase a computer laptop, presumably to help upgrade the person's life and work in some way? Dear reader, have you ever made a face this angry, except perhaps in a dire emergency situation? I hope to never make a face like this in my life. With this as the ugly face of personal finance, spewing shame, fear, and anger to keep people buying her wares, it is no wonder today's economy is in the mess it is in.
Suze hasn't even hid her almost complete lack of credentials – in almost every talk for more than a decade, she tells the same “inspiring” story about how she barely made it through school to get a B.A. in social work after many years, never received above a “C” in ANY class, grew up in the South Side Chicago hood, lived in her van and was working as a waitress for $400/month. Of course, it is intriguing and in a sense for some inspiring to see how someone with no credentials has made her dreams come true, until you realize that her impressive con artist skills have placed her in a position where she has enough power over the economy and society to be named one of Time Magazine's 100 most powerful people in the world in two recent years, thanks apparently in part to her mega-supportive team of billionaires Jack and Suzy Welch, who wrote the essay about why Suze deserves to have so much influence.
After convincing her restaurant customers to loan her $50,000, Suze's Merrill Lynch broker lost much of the money, after she probably begged him to get her the most and quickest return possible, based on the Suze I knew. After the money was lost, Suze convinced, or perhaps threatened, Merrill Lynch to hire and train this waitress with zero financial education for what was supposed to be a six-month program that Suze claims was arranged due to their need to fill a new quota regulation for women employees.
Just as the 6-month employment was about to end, Suze sneakily sued Merrill Lynch, creating a situation where they couldn't legally fire her as the case sat for the next two years. Finally, another manager came to the company and apparently realized it was worth it for them to pay Suze her $50,000 investment plus 18% interest to get rid of her. After Merrill Lynch, Suze was hired by Prudential-Bache, she’s said it was again because they had a woman’s quota to fill. Then came more shenanigans that Suze doesn't include in her narrative, including conning, using, and abusing various financial and political expert devotees of our mutual spiritual path, and convincing me to get Suze on her first two television shows and to produce, film, and edit the deceptive video that helped her get a first book deal.
In 1998, Forbes tried to warn people about Suze's deceptions, and corrected quite a few lies and inaccuracies in her story and bio, including this bit:
You'll find the first part of this narrative included in almost every talk Suze has ever given - nearly every Suze talk I've seen or heard has been almost the same talk over and over for the past ten-plus years, with the same "epiphanies" such as "Women fake orgasms; men fake finances," Suze's intriguing quote that "Truth creates money while lies destroy it" - intriguing given Suze's financial success due to her long string of deceptions. Then come "Suze's five laws," which, along with much of Suze's other "wisdom," she has plagiarized and presented as though her own wise thoughts. Suze and I both heard about and discussed these five laws from Mikha'il Na'ima's Book of Mirdad from the same spiritual course in the early 1990s, even though she claims them to be "Suze's five laws," while giving the impression that they have come from her own "brilliant" mind - and they'll probably go down in history that way, if Suze has her druthers. More on Suze's extreme plagiarizing of spiritual wisdom here.
You don't have to take my word about Suze's questionable resume - she shares bits and pieces of the story in nearly every talk, interview, and QVC appearance. The video clip below is an example of Suze's "illustrious" resume in her own words, given at the 2012 NCLR Hispanic Conference right before she tried to exploit the Hispanic community with her prepaid debit card scam. Note that there is zero mention of achieving her success through anything resembling hard work, dedication, a motive of wanting to help anyone but herself, or any admirable quality aside from ambition, ruthless perseverance, being bold enough to play various legal games, and suing the company that hired her so they couldn't fire her. Suze has stated in hundreds of talks that when her Merrill Lynch broker lost her money, she decided to go into a financial career, "because I realized that brokers just make you broker."
As per her usual modus operandi, Suze is still giving public kicks to that Merrill Lynch manager who gave her a first entry into the financial world by hiring her for six months when she had not a single whit of financial education or experience, and giving Suze her first financial training of any kind, before she forced her way into two years of employment there by suing the company just as the six months she was hired for to meet women's quotas was about to end. In the clip below, as in most of her talks, Suze further embarrasses the manager who opened the door to her financial future, humiliating him by name two decades later with a sadistic relish, because he made a joke while hiring Suze for those six months to help fill the company's woman quota that in his opinion, women should be barefoot and pregnant, which he probably said with a twinkle in his eye while hiring this waitress who had zero financial education or experience to work as a broker at Merrill Lynch. Here Suze tells some of the story:
This was from Suze's talk at the 2012 NCLR conference. National Council of La Raza is ironically the largest national Hispanic civic rights and advocacy organization in the United States. After extolling her dubious resume, Suze proceeded to fool those attending this Hispanic conference, and practically begged them to trust that her fee-laden prepaid debit card was a good banking alternative for them, which reminded me of how begging was one of the manipulative ways Suze used to get me to help her in the early 1990s, when she was also learning to use various psychological "mind control" word combinations and methods to get people to do what she wanted (with some examples below in the section on Suze's behavioral problems).
This situation has brought many life tests to my door, including the challenge to do what is right above what is easy - to speak up when it might be more safe and convenient to stay silent. I deeply regret helping to create the Suze Orman problem in the early 1990s,when I used my Hollywood contacts to get Suze booked on her first two television show appearances, and then used clips from those shows and other pieces I filmed to produce and edit a professional video that, in contrast with my usual commitment to honesty, portrayed a deceptive image of Suze’s financial knowledge and media presence. At the time, we were trying to fool a publisher into thinking Suze was a bonafide financial advisor. Who would have thought those deceptions would grow to make Suze one of the most influential financial advisors in the country, if not the world?
Imagine if Dr. Oz hadn't taken a single class on medicine, and was being propped up with ghostwriters and behind the scenes advisors, while also reading books and watching medical shows to give a semblance of being an expert doctor. That's what Suze Orman is doing, and fooling you all. Well, not all, since nearly every single person I've discussed this with could already see that there was much wrong with her. Almost all of them have specifically said that they turn the channel whenever Suze comes onscreen, but obviously many others are tuning in, and it is difficult for anyone with any media exposure to avoid Suze Orman completely.
Obviously Suze is smart enough to have gotten good advisors and listened to CNBC enough to figure out certain financial information and trends, in spite of her almost total lack of finance education and her inability to achieve above a “C” in even a single class while spending many years getting her Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Work before working for seven years as a waitress and then running her shenanigans on Merrill Lynch. Over the years, Suze honed her BS skills with her naturally sociopathic nature to the degree that she can pass a lie as though it were the truth. Here is one example of how readily Suze admits lying when caught – more examples below in the section about Suze’s behavioral problems.
Suze has used the same kinds of dishonest and manipulative tactics she used on me to fool and plunder individuals and the U.S. economy, filling her pockets and those of her long list of corporate and bank industry sponsors, often with funds from those who are struggling financially. It is no coincidence that Suze's shams and scams have been supported by many of the top 1%ers, as she pushes deceptive plugs that are often paid for by banks and corporations, in the guise of trustworthy advice. The Suze Orman "Approved" prepaid debit card fiasco of 2012, documented below, is a clear example of Suze taking her usual scams onto a whole other level of what is clearly outright fraud. In my opinion, Suze is acting as a tool for the 1% to bring down the poor and the middle class.
Problems with Suze Orman's Financial Advice (in the original article)
I am not a finance expert by any means, although you can click on this link for some specifics about Suze's lack of finance credentials by Eric Tyson, author of Personal Finance for Dummies, Investing for Dummies, Mutual Funds for Dummies, Real Estate Investing for Dummies, Mortgages for Dummies, and other books, including links to other articles on the same topic by other finance experts.
Along with giving many incorrect predections that have had her fans buying real estate at the top of the bubble and being sure to lock in a 7% interest rate before rates fell to 4%, also instructing them to buy stocks before they fell, while she kept her own money in municipal bonds that went up, using all kinds of media to practically beg people to buy gold in 2011, when she herself did a quick buy and sell before gold plummeted, and many more examples of Suzes bad advice, always given with the confidence of a sociopathic con artist who never took a single college course in finance, Suze's reckless use of her extreme, undeserved influence has caused problems, not only for all these individuals, but also for the U.S. and world economy.
How Suze intentionally derailed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008:
Here is one example of the financial aspect of the Suze Orman problem, with her widely publicized, reckless and irresponsible advice regarding the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 that may have significantly contributed to the economic decline:
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 with a stimulus check, usually from $300 to $600 per taxpayer, that he asked every recipient to go out and spend that freely given money to help jumpstart the economy.
Along came Suze on all the shows, instructing -- actually demanding -- that people not spend their checks, but to save them. Perhaps this might good advice for some on an individual level, but when the masses follow it, the economy is not stimulated and nearly everyone loses (except for Suze and perhaps some others who would gain from the deteriorating economic balance).
If millions of people hoard their stimulus checks based on Suze's very emphatic advice as you'll see in the transcript excerpt below, then the stimulus doesn't stimulate and the economy goes down. This is just one of the many ways Suze's irresponsible and corrupted advice has harmed the entire U.S. economy. From the interview transcript below, it sounds to me as though Suze is intentionally trying to derail the economy and create the economic crash that followed.
Larry King Live, January 27, 2008:
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.
I care about what's happening with your life. And the truth of the matter is we don't need anymore 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 Suze'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 necessary for people to give themselves a special treat and spend these funds in the marketplace, because that was the whole purpose of sending you that extra three-hundred dollar check - it was not being sent to millions of people to be stashed away, or even to pay old bills.
A case can be made that some people might have done better personally by using the stimulus check in other ways than its intended purpose. However, what Suze did here is akin to telling townsfolk in a village that is being threatened by a big flood, who have been given sandbags to help place along the coastline, “I don’t want you to place those bags at the coastline. I want you to use them around your own house, or to store them in the garage in case they are ever needed in the future, but do not go and place the sandbag you were given where it was meant to be placed. Even if you have plenty of sandbags already, do not put your stimulus sandbag by the shore.” Then the big flood came (the economic downturn) and wiped away many homes, because not enough people had placed the sandbags they were given (the stimulus checks) on the shoreline where they could have perhaps cumulatively helped to save the economy from the oncoming flood. Such an approach is miserly and unwise, as is much of Suze's advice.
Suze's practice of giving financial advice as blanket statements is a dangerous one that disregards the importance of knowing an individual's situation. In this case, her irresponsible blanket statements may have also derailed the stimulus check plan that was meant to save the economy before it collapsed.
In this clip, President Obama explains why commanding everyone to cut back extremely on their spending all at once has been harming the economic recovery:
A year after this Larry King Live appearance, with the economy in much worse shape after the failed stimulus check program, Suze was quoted in a Time Magazine article titled "Suze Orman: Queen of the Crisis" as saying, "I'm very, very sorry to say that my business is skyrocketing." It is hard to imagine that someone would intentionally contribute to an economic collapse even if it would give themselves more money and power, but having known Suze personally, I believe she has a sociopathic and greedy makeup, and have witnessed her intentionally causing harm to others and to me as almost a sport. I certainly would not put it past Suze to harm the economy just to enrich herself.
Here is a video Suze published in October 2012, regarding her inability to meet certain weight loss goals. It is intended to be a humorous public message to her friend Jullian Michaels, but also gives a sobering glimpse into Suze's general approaches to solving problems, including financial ones:
Note also in the same Larry King interview above, Suze pushing the FICO score without disclosing that she was making huge amounts of money from sales of the Suze Orman FICO kit. Knowing Suze's tactics, I would guess that "Stuart from Dana Point's" real name just might be Suze Orman or one of her promoters for this CNN Larry King Live infomercial moment to top off Suze'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 the recommended website?
Everything Suze recommends to others is pretty much the opposite of what she herself does. In this 2007 New York Times article, Suze says a number of troubling things, including these responses regarding her personal investments:
From "She's So Money," A New York Times interview by Deborah Soloman:
Even though Suze 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 probably did care about the money they lost. Still, Suze Orman, Inc. kept plundering on, with major media publications aptly calling her "Queen of the Crisis."
The updated article that includes the "Suze Orman Prepaid Debit Card Fiasco of 2012" gives a list of links to many of the 200-plus articles warning people about Suze's prepaid debit card scam, written by finance experts, many in financial journals. Within the hundreds of comments in those articles, you will find a wealth of complaints by financial professionals about Suze's present and past problematic advice and behavior that include a long string of unethical and bad advice, such as this comment in Bloomberg's article about her prepaid debit card:
For fifteen years, Suze has given a public semblance of being a finance expert, tapping actual behind the scenes experts for well-rehearsed information and sound bite headlines that Suze puts out in her television interviews, articles, and social media posts. The result of this is that a whole lot of people followed Suze's ever-changing, often incorrect, but always profit-motivated advice and lost a lot of money as a result. This includes people who listened to Suze in 2003 when she told them to buy houses and pay extra money to lock in a 7% mortgage rates - that was a few years before interest rates plummeted below 4%, leaving many who followed Suze's advice ending up with their homes in foreclosure.
Then you have the Suze Orman Gold Rush of 2011, where all the Twitter followers and viewers of shows where Suze advised, and practically begged people to invest in Gold ETFs lost a whole lot of money, when the price of gold sank, in spite of Suze's assurances that she knew it would go way up. Suze bought a lot of gold stock right before gold rush and almost silently sold it all for a big profit, immediately after broadcasting her "buy gold" commands, without also issuing a suggestion that people sell their gold stock like she did (here is some documentation of that scam).
Due to the Oprah-given platform that inspired Time Magazine to name Suze as one of the "100 most influential people in the world" for two years in a row, Suze's whims have distorted national and international streams of commerce through shouting out rigid rules, often based on her behind-the-scene deals, instead of giving honest, helpful information and respectfully empowering and guiding individuals to follow their own intelligence, integrity, generosity, and sense of greater destiny.
Suze's simplistic advice for the masses, hosted by some of the most respected television figures and news stations of our day, played a role in distorting the natural balance of commerce, and placed unnatural blocks in the natural economic flows.
In the late 1990s, just as our culture was about to get swept into a higher level of generous spiritual holistic mentality, Suze - who had only recently been deeply in debt while spending tens of thousands of dollars of borrowed money on extreme extravagances - came along wagging her finger and shouting that wealth is good, greed is good, money is spirituality - you must have the “Courage to be Rich!” But aside from buying Suze's products, be afraid, be shamed, hold off on enjoying life. Don't pursue your dreams. Don't take that vacation, don't change your career to something you would love to do if it might disrupt your finances. Don't help your friends, family, or anyone else but yourself. Don't tell your husband that you want a divorce, because if you stay with him for one more year, you'll reach ten years of marriage and possibly get an increased portion of his social security payments one day - oh and during that year, steal and hide away money from your unaware soon-to-be ex husband, so when you leave you'll have some savings. I watched Suze give this advice to a woman on her CNBC show, and it took my breath away - with no journalists stepping forward to reprimand her for giving such unethical advice. In my opinion and observation, Suze's edicts and messages remove heart from the world.
Here is an article with links to other articles about certain specific problems with Suze's financial advice: "Suze Orman Bankrupts a Reader - Without the Benefits." 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 Suze.
Here is one comment about how Suze contributed to creating the housing crisis that contributed to our economic collapse. Remember that Suze on Oprah reached millions of people, but due to her Oprah connection, Suze was also invited to give the same information, often misinformation on many shows, resulting in a public influence extreme enough for her to be named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for two years in a row.
Here is an example of Suze telling people to lock in a 7 % rate, before interest rates plummeted below 4%, an example of misinformation from an overly-confident, uneducated, so-called "financial expert," who in this article does at least mention the name of one of her behind-the-scenes expert:
Here is one example of millions of people who lost a lot or everything due to following Suze's bad advice:
As just one example among many, it is good advice to tell people to be careful about loaning money, and to expect that it is possible a loan will never be repaid. (March 2012 CNBC: Suze Orman's Rules for Lending Money) However, finances should not be a set of black and white, hard and fast, denied or approved rules, because each individual has different aspirations, potentials and destinies. If nobody helps each other when they're on tough times, what kind of world will we have? What kind of family and friends? What people need is the guidance and information without the shaming, bullying, dictates, sociopathic behaviors, and - for those who knew Suze before the fame and fortune - extremely hypocritical advice. Suze received large loans beyond the one she tells about from restaurant customers in her official story. I remember in December 1991, hearing Suze arguing with a friend who had loaned her $50,000, because Suze said she wasn't able to repay the money according to their agreed-upon schedule. This was at a time when Suze was spending that borrowed money on a constant string of luxuries, including leasing a BMW, getting weekly maid service at $70 a pop, going for frequent visits to salons for hair frostings, manicures, pedicures, massages, and waxings, purchasing expensive clothes and jewelry, eating out sometimes several times a day at expensive restaurants, and more.
One successful financial adviser wrote to thank me for writing this article and explained his frustrations with Suze's advice, saying, "It’s a lot more than just about money – it’s about quality of life and using money effectively and efficiently for things that are important – and what is “important” is different for each one of us."
It is surreal to see such miserliness being preached and turned into a shame-based dogma by someone who - when I met her in the early 1990s - was at least $50,000 in debt to one person that I knew of, and yet was spending that borrowed money on an constant string of luxuries, including leasing a BMW, getting weekly maid service at $70 a pop, going for frequent visits to salons for hair frostings, manicures, pedicures, massages, and waxings, purchasing expensive clothes and jewelry, eating out sometimes several times a day at expensive restaurants, and more. The only reason Suze got out of her extreme debt was because PG & E paid her large sums of money to guide their unwanted employees through the early retirement process, as seen in this video that I flew up to San Francisco to film nearly two years before Suze's first book was published.
In her pre-fame years, the "Suze smackdown" was just Suze being an irrational bitch, as she would fly off the handle, triggered by something as simple as a person not holding their eating utensil the way she thought they should - several of our meals in restaurants looked a little too much like the utensil scene of Helen Keller's life movie, with Suze filled with criticisms about all the little dining rules she'd learned from her trust fund baby girlfriend.
Now Suze gets paid to humiliate and disrespect people (while tossing a few "girlfriends" and "boyfriends" on top), under some strange assumption that being humiliated and disrespected, shamed and filled with fear by this person with almost zero financial education and zero psychology training will help people feel more powerful about their money. As Dr. Phil might say, "How's that approach been working for you, U.S. economy?"
This extravagant spender of borrowed funds is the same person yelling "Denied!" at people who work hard and want to buy something that they deeply desire or are guided to purchase - even forbidding people from getting a pet, marrying someone they love, or pursuing their desired career, unless they meet Suze's arbitrary standards. Of course, curtailing overspending is common sense good advice, however it is a ridiculous caricature to see this advice be given with a nasty sneer from someone who has indulged her every whim and desire, even with borrowed money that she was unwilling to pay according to the agreed-upon schedule - based on the argument I overheard between Suze and the friend who had loaned her the $50,000.
Many people may feel that Suze's financial information has been useful in improving their spending habits and finances - the problem is that this useful guidance is wrapped in some of Suze's problematic world views and ways of relating to people. Of course, it is common sense 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 with the wrong person can increase their feelings of dependence and keep them from achieving the strength to make it on their own. However, Suze turned not helping others into a virtual commandment, advising parents to not help their children with college, nor to help friends and family in need.
Here is one example of a self-proclaimed fan who regrets having trusted Suze's advice without knowing more facts about her personal life, from a comment on Tammy Bruce's blog after Suze stopped hiding her 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.
The woman who shared this story is one of many to whom I sincerely apologize for not being more forthcoming earlier with information you could have used to make better decisions about whose advice to trust regarding your family and relationships. Over the years, seeing Suze put forth bad behavior and advice, my heart would sink, knowing that I'd used my God-given skills and creative power to help bring someone so harmful into public prominence, knowing it was my responsibility to speak up, in spite of my resistance to doing so. It is true that many people have found Suze's generally basic financial advice to be useful in structuring their budgets and investments, but at what overall price to society?
As the economy fell in late 2008 and early 2009, Suze's "rescue remedy" was to ask society, through Oprah's stage and others, to cut their spending in half, specifically asking them to cancel their newspaper subscriptions and to take an actual pledge to stop eating in restaurants, two areas of society that were barely hanging on at the time.
Of course it is general good advice to curtail extravagant spending when funds are low, however when given as a "pledge" through Oprah's platform and Suze's other media venues, targeting specific business sectors that are already on the brink of failing and asking people to cut spending in sometimes absurd and petty ways across the board without exception or individual discernment (aside from the exception of buying wares that will put more money into Suze's bulging pockets), this kind of reckless cookie-cutter advice has the potential to ruin many businesses and ultimately cause harm in various ways to the U.S. economy. At the same time that Suze 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.
President Obama addressed the need for spending to continue through this recession in his address on the economy on April 14, 2009, saying: "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."
Business Week 9-2011: "Bernanke puzzled by weak consumer spending"
On the same day that the stock market fell and the country's rating was downgraded, Suze quickly used the opportunity to promote her brand with a newsletter she has been pitching and giving away free for months - a newsletter through which she clearly intends to control more streams of income.
To register for this newsletter, people are required to submit a considerable amount of personal information. I've also had concerns about Suze's CD programs, through which millions of people have stored their most private identity, financial, and relationship information online while making "Suze Orman wills" and other documents.
UPDATE: CLICK HERE to read the update of Suze's Money Navigator Newsletter scam that has drawn the concern of journalists and government agencies, with investigations into its untrue claims and other problems, and how Suze separated herself from it and claimed to have had nothing at all to do with writing the newsletter (after she had called it "her" newsletter and made a ton of money from it).
But these scams and shenanigans are nothing new for Suze. From the New York Times article "Suze Orman is Having a Moment," in May, 2009:
Contrast that with what Orman said to The Chicago Tribune a few years back, when she was criticized for shilling a zero-percent-interest campaign for General Motors in a television ad that ran for a few weeks. Critics charged that she was compromising her objectivity (and that she hurt her credibility by implicitly endorsing the purchase of new cars, which she, like most financial planners, characterizes as a money-losing proposition). “You think they don’t know I was paid to do the G.M. commercial?” Orman said of her viewers. “I'm not in this for charity. This is a business, and anybody who thinks that it’s not a business is an idiot.
Preparing to Plunder the Philippines
Here you can watch Suze's snake oil scam-in-progress as she uses the banking and journalist systems of the Philippines to fool and plunder Filipinos with tainted advice (mixed with common sense advice and bad advice, as usual), setting the stage for her fee-laden prepaid debit card and other exploitative shenanigans, disguised as "altruistic" visits to help the country.
2012: Suze sets the stage for her big con in the Philippines:
Suze says, "All they need to avoid is falling into the trap of credit card debt." How simple is that? It's all the country of the Philippines needs to do. Gee, Suze, if only there was a fee-laden prepaid debit card available to help Filipinos avoid that credit card "trap"!
I originally posted a POP QUIZ in this article in early March 2012 after Suze's troubling visit spreading her heartless doctrine of not helping even family members, with the press's main article's troubling headline: "Suze Orman to Filipinos: Money means almost everything."
Suze's behavior during her visit to the Philippines in March 2012 once again set off my "Suze Scamdar," because she clearly was setting the stage to plunder the Philippines with her prepaid debit card, though she probably had to change some of the plans due to the outcry of finance journalists across the United States who were warning readers not to trust Suze's misleading card pitches.
But Suze knows all too well that articles noting her scams, shams, and shenanigans all but disappear with a few months of her PR team's media blasts. She clearly was using her visit to the Philippines to give advice specifically geared to set the stage for putting big Philippine pesos into her pockets with her prepaid card, for which she has most likely partnered with the Bank of the Philippine Islands, who was her host for the visit.
Just remember, Philippines, "free" events with Suze Orman are not necessarily free, and even though your journalists might be thrilled to have a brush with fame, they may be giving Suze a more trustworthy sheen than she deserves.
Here is my Suze Scamdar prediction from March 2012, which would prove correct several months later.
(My prediction, originally posted in March 2012)
As a current example and practice in spotting Suze's shenanigans, below is a clip of Suze speaking on February 24th 2012 - one month after the U.S. financial media filled up with more than 200 articles criticizing Suze's prepaid debit card. Suze had left behind the bad press to visit the Philippines, where she started to spread her Suze money obsession in an article titled, "Suze Orman to Filipinos: Money means almost everything," and another article that fluffed the prey up with lots of praise and a glorious prediction, titled, "Philippines to shine in global community soon, says finance guru Suze Orman."
Note that the most important focus of Suze's supposedly trustworthy and caring advice to the whole country in the articles and the video clip below as the self-proclaimed "financial expert of the world" is for them to stop using credit cards and extending credit.
Does anyone want to bet this is the beginning of a pitch to bring the Suze Orman prepaid debit card to the Philippines? Oh, and her visit was sponsored by BPI, the Bank of the Philippines Islands. Of course, not getting into credit card debt is generally good financial advice, however, if my prediction is correct, this is one more example of how Suze's advice is often little more than a paid endorsement or a carefully crafted pitch for her next product.
That section was previously posted in early March, 2012.
Four months later, my "Suze Scam-dar" proved correct:
It looks as though Suze has been so emboldened by the U.S. government and the finance and other journalists who have let all of her plundering shenanigans go on for years with barely a peep that now she wants to become the Suze Orman bank of the world with a mediocre prepaid card from which she reaps huge percentages of profit.
2013: Suze's con in the Philippines continues:
Since my 2012 "Suze Orman preparing to plunder the Philippines" prediction proved to be correct, I'll venture forth with another for 2013, since Suze is apparently still looking toward the Philippines as her next conquest.
In May, 2013, Suze took another trip to the Philippines, again 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 with the same basic talk she basically has given 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? This time Suze brought a new focus, which is that Filipinos should invest their money in stocks, especially via ETFs (which don't even currently exist in the Philippines), with one reporter, who Suze has primed with flattery and many public compliments to keep him loyal, saying in his interview, "She also urged Filipinos to invest in exchange-traded funds once they are available locally."
Before you start thinking Suze is actually doing something to help Filipinos, remember one of Suze's more honest quotes:
"I'm not in this for charity. This is a business, and anybody who thinks that it’s not a business is an idiot... I'll tell you the sources of my income - everything I do is a source of income to me." - Suze Orman (Chicago Tribune)
Orman said one should also start investing money every month on a mutual fund. "After you've done that, every month set aside a specific amount and invest in that fund... It's peso cost averaging, that way when the fund goes down, your pesos buy more shares. When the fund goes up, your pesos buy less shares but over time you've averaged the cost of the share with your pesos and you won't lose money," she said.
Another May 2013 article, titled, "Invest in Stocks - Suze Orman," says:
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.
My 2013 "Suze Orman preparing to plunder the Philippines" prediction: Note that in her new advice to the Philippines, Suze is telling Filipinos that they should invest in exchange trade funds, which are not even available in the Hippies. We've seen ETF's elsewhere in this article, when Suze was pitching gold ETF's in the Suze Orman Gold Rush, which she advised people throughout the media landscape to buy as ETFs through her Money Navigator Newsletter that she later claimed to have nothing at all to do with (after making a bundle on her little gold rush and the newsletter.
Once you understand that Suze is a deceiving gangster, it becomes easier to see the scams as she sets up the marks - which in this case are Filipinos - and prepares to con them and make a whole lot of money in the process, while the victims laud her as a great financial savior. It's worked so well for her in the United States, so why not plunder the Philippines as well? Who wants to bet that the Bank of Philippine Islands or a related institution in the Philippines will soon be coming out with a "Suze-approved" ETF and mutual fund?
Just recently, I spoke with a financial investment expert who Suze has worked with and accessed for financial information to make it appear that so-called expert Suze Orman knows what she is talking about financially. In 2011, Suze was seeking to start a mutual fund with this expert, even though she does not have the credentials to give investment advice or start a fund. But Suze knows how to get around rules, and knows that the government agencies and media in the US have all but given her a total pass on all of her scams and shenanigans, so she was planning to start a mutual fund with this expert anyway, until the United States Securities and Exchange Commission at least noticed this one Suze scam and apparently shut it down. Unfortunately they didn't also shut down Suze's 2012 "Approved" prepaid debit card fiasco, with criticism from financial journalists top to bottom (the same fee-laden plundering card Suze has already said she is planning to bring to the Philippines), so she wasn't able to create the mutual fund in the US.
My Suze Scamdar says that Suze is blasting the Philippines news with advice that the Filipino people should make it a priority to invest in mutual funds and ETFs that aren't even available in the Philippines, because she is planning to put her name and grimacing smile on some new product created just for the Philippines, because she loves them so much (or at least would love to fool them into putting more money into her ever-bulging pockets). We shall see if my Suze Scamdar in this case is as accurate as it usually shows itself to be once the Suze Orman con is prepared and set. Having her own mutual fund would allow Suze to make money even when those who are investing in her fund lost theirs, just the way Suze likes it. As Suze likes to say, the reason she first decided to become a broker was because she could see that they made people broker.
"I thought, I know, I can be a broker. They just make you broker."
- Suze Orman (in almost every talk she has ever given)
Making people broker is what Suze has done to the US economy, and that seems to be what she has in mind for the Philippines, with her new focus on mutual funds and ETFs, based on her current publicity blitz, and her already announced intention to bring her fee-laden, finance journalist "Disapproved!" prepaid card to plunder the Philippines. Dear Philippines, please don't be fooled by Suze 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!
In late 2011, Suze - or her behind the scenes writers, since she can barely write in a literate way, as one would expect from someone who never received above a grace "C" in any class - "wrote" another big media blitz article about how Suze "Approved" the Occupy movement, just a couple months before trying to plunder and fool those supporting the "Occupy" movement into moving their money out of low fee banks and onto her high fee "Approved" prepaid debit card that is run by none other than US Bank. (More on Suze's attempts to plunder, fool, and steal from the "Occupy" movement she claimed to support here.)
This photo was taken just as the homes of hundreds of thousands of Suze's customers who had followed her advice to buy a house and pay extra money to lock in their 7% mortgage rates - before interest rates plummeted below 4% - were going into foreclosure.
Suze Orman has stoked the economic downturns that she has continually benefited from as a fear monger and shaming accuser, posing as a parenting expert, moral dictator, and societal authoritarian with an absurdly extreme influence that Suze acquired due to lying, plundering and stealing from people like me and many others, fueled by her bullying nature and her sociopathic ability to project extreme confidence and to tell a lie with more confidence than most people tell the truth (with video clips and other media documented examples of all these things below).
Suze's inexplicable and disturbing extreme influence, which has twice earned her a seriously concerning spot on Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, is mainly due to the "Oprah factor," with Suze being pushed since 1998 upon Oprah's millions of trusting fans on her show, in her magazine, and on other Oprah friendly media venues, which were most if not all media venues at the height of her media power. Nearly every major talk or news-based show joined the Oprah-pushed Suze Orman bandwagon, with millions more viewers assuming Suze must have the proper credentials, assuming she wrote those bestselling books herself, and trusting the many top journalists on various networks who have called Suze all kinds of laudatory terms such as expert, guru, and wizard, in spite of her serious lack of credentials or financial education. Millions have made important financial and life decisions by implementing Suze's advice and decrees that mix generally basic financial information with her harmful views, personality aberrations, corporate sponsored shenanigans, PR orchestrated headline blasts, and irresponsible predictions and decrees.
Most viewers assume that Suze's finance credentials must have been carefully screened by these trusted news outlets and media figures who have ooohed and aaahed over this empress's "delusions of grandeur" clothes. I mistakenly contributed to the facade at the beginning of Suze's career by allowing her to talk me into using my contacts in Hollywood to get her booked on her first two television shows and by producing a polished and professional video that presented Suze as more of a finance expert than she was - the video that helped Suze get her first book deal with a quality publisher who would only look at authors who already had a media presence, after Suze's first book proposal had already been turned down by more than thirty publishers.
My most regrettable mistake:
Suze has caused serious damage to the lives of at least three people whose names are on this relatively short list of acknowledgments, and at least one whose name should have been on it.
Back in the early 1990s, I didn't quite realize just how damaging Suze was, although if I had been more savvy and paid more attention, the sociopathic signs were certainly there from the day we met. While helping to spark Suze's public and writing career, I knew we were pushing it a bit to try and present her as a bonafide "financial expert" in spite of her almost nonexistent finance education and credentials, but I never imagined that Suze's mixture of general common sense finance advice with rude behavior, shaming, fear-mongering, and often conflicting, irresponsible, and profit-motivated whims and notions would be hosted by some of the most widely trusted shows and news outlets in the land, problematically guiding the economic mentality and income streams of millions of people, and contributing to the greed-based culture that has been harming our economy and world, with some generally useful financial information and a few spiritual-sounding words and unattributed quotes from our mutual guru and ashram community tossed on top to give the impression that Suze's teachings of money obsession, miserliness, and greed are spiritual.
I never imagined that helping Suze to become a more widely known financial advisor - which was already a stretch due to her almost complete lack of financial education and only a few years of post-waitress finance experience - was going to turn into a situation with Suze on a worldwide public stage, positioning herself as the judgmental boss of everyone she meets in dictating their personal affairs and life decisions, usually with a holier-than-thou sneer, a materialistic and miserly focus, and an often unloving, sometimes inhumane approach, now trying to make people think she would be a good United States president, because if she's already scammed the world this far in her narcissistic sociopath game, why not go for the whole enchilada.
The fact that this Milli Vanilli of financial experts, together with her behind the scenes experts, ghostwriters, PR teams, agencies, managers, behind-the-scenes deals, and supportive corporations may have offered some useful products and general financial information is of minor benefit compared to the troubles Suze Orman has irresponsibly caused with the position she scammed her way into, leaving considerable damage in her wake. I think of Suze Orman as a Bernie Madoff for the poor, but unfortunately she is much more of a problem than just that. Suze is certainly the most damaging person I've personally known, and if you take time to click on the linked text throughout this article, you will see clear, media-documented examples of her improper actions and behaviors that have been causing damage to individuals, the economy, and the fabric of society for the past fifteen-plus years.
I have no desire to put up a critical article like this about anybody, but to hold back from alerting people to these problems when I know what kind of person Suze is and can see her scams fairly easily would be akin to watching a thief who you mistakenly helped to get invited to a party walking through the room breaking precious items and stealing directly from people's pockets, but choosing to stay silent. It is not possible to be at peace when the results of your mistake, even from years ago, are continuing to cause serious damage to the world.
- Click here to go directly to the "Approved" Prepaid Debit Card scam with clear evidence of Suze's scams and blatant fraudulent campaign to fill her pockets and her bank partner's pockets with money from the poor and uneducated.
- Click here to go to the Suze Orman Money Navigator Newsletter scam with clear evidence of Suze's lies, defamation and theft that Suze's partner has just experienced after she used him to fill her own pockets, something she has done to many over the years, including me. Suze's still-current newsletter partner now says he is planning to write a book that will expose her lies and shenanigans with documented communications.
During the past fifteen years, I've experienced ongoing regrets while watching Suze pulling the wool over the eyes of the American public with the help of many high level media and corporate entities who have their finger in the "Suze Orman pie." The Suze Orman I knew in the early 1990s was already known around our mutual spiritual community as a problematic person who had generated numerous complaints from community members to whom Suze had behaved inappropriately, lied, cheated, or caused harm. During our time of association, Suze was extremely upset because she had been all but banished from her local branch of our mutual spiritual community, a development to which I unfortunately responded with compassion rather than alarm. I am including some of my personal experiences with Suze in this presentation, because they show a glimpse into her nature. Certainly there are a long list of people who could share their own Suze Orman horror stories - several are included in this presentation, and perhaps my speaking up will inspire others to do so.
In the early 1990s, I used my Hollywood contacts to get Suze booked on her first two television appearances and allowed myself to be talked into using my award-winning skills to produce, film, script, and edit a video that gave a deceptive portrayal of Suze’s financial knowledge and media experience - the video that helped Suze get a deal for her first book publishing deal after her proposal had previously been turned down by more than thirty publishers. I also offered a lot of other assistance to Suze over those two years, using various skills and more than a hundred hours of coaching to help bring into the public eye someone who had shown serious aberrations from the day we met. It was a case of naive and weak-willed bad judgment that regretfully became an ongoing and escalating world problem.
I had a sobering view of Suze's personality in the early 1990s, when she played one of her cons on me at a time when I'd just left nearly a decade of living a monastic style ashram life, editing and producing hundreds of videos for an international yoga and meditation community.
After moving out of the ashram to continue my journey in Hollywood, I was quickly on to a successful and award-winning career, editing and producing some of the most popular shows of the 1990s, winning local, national, and international awards, and also playing a role in helping to start or uplift the careers of quite a few "knowns" and unknowns. I was an easy mark for a shyster like Suze. Others in the ashram community have told me they knew how to rebuff Suze's very pushy requests, even though they had to do it over and over again; but there I was, as naive as could be, having been asked by our guru's ashram to work with someone named Suze Orman (who at the time was unpublished, unknown, and deeply in debt) on producing this video for our mutual guru's broadcast.
Suze quickly identified me as her next mark, as she saw that I had the skills, Hollywood contacts, and other abilities that could help her fulfill more of her apparently unending hole of desires. Along with the video production, going through manuscripts, brainstorming, requesting endorsements, and more, for which Suze thanked me twice in the acknowledgments of her first book, I also spent hundreds of hours coaching Suze regarding the many details of her past, present, and future life (I had just left nearly a decade of intense spiritual study and immersion and would later write books including Secrets of Spiritual Happiness and Spirituality For Dummies). My goal upon moving from the ashram was to use my well-honed filmmaking skills to bring light to the world. Sometimes that included editing television shows that might not be considered as spiritual, such as "X-Men" and the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers," however I always approached each project with the intention of bringing light to the world.
Two years after leaving the ashram, I was asked by its foundation to work with Suze to produce a video for their international event. Thus came into my life this experienced con artist who liked to use her "charm," extreme praise, begging, and false promises to get people to do things for her, before breaking her promises and instead causing serious damage to their lives. It's part of the Suze Orman pattern, and in a sense, it's what she is doing to the world and many individuals with her with her various shams and scams. One respected finance professional who was recently used and abused after being caught by Suze's shenanigans wrote to me after reading this article, "All in all, I must say I can relate to so much of what you've written - as I know others have as well. The promises, the feeling of being used, the backlash after the fact- it is a wicked pattern that seems to keep emerging. It is actually rather sad. And although it took me a while to recover from my experiences, I am just trying to put it behind me - and as time goes by it is becoming a more distant memory."
If someone reads the information I am sharing here and decides that it is either incorrect or inconsequential, then of course you are free to push it aside and continue to follow Suze's advice. I am aware that some criticism and who knows what else may come from sharing this offering, especially from Suze Orman "devotees" who have learned from their idol how to treat people in a disrespectful and rude way. In recent times, we have seen many troubling circumstances where fear of negative repercussions has kept witnesses from reporting misdeeds, the reporting of which could have saved many others from harm. Nonetheless, when our speaking up is apparently necessary to help spark awareness of a serious problem that is harming the world, then we have to do it
My criticisms are not so much about the specifics of Suze's financial advice, although a few examples of that aspect of the problem are given below, with some info about Suze's lack of finance credentials at this link and some commentary about her lack of business integrity here. My main concern is that Suze Orman's sometimes useful, usually basic common sense financial information and sometimes correct, sometimes incorrect, often conflicting, and always boldly-professed predictions and instructions are being delivered through a context of problematic and disempowering, often not even finance related dictates, world views, manipulations, and behaviors that are being taken as gospel by millions of people, due to a combination of Oprah's excessively lavish endorsement, the support of Jack and Suzy Welch, Suze's ability to express honesty and dishonesty with the same absolute confidence, and the fact that many media and financial corporations have their finger in the "Suze Orman pie."
Certainly there are a number of people who could speak up about this matter, but not many would want to stand up publicly and say, "Hey, there is a problem here," especially when you're dealing with a revengeful person who has a whole lot of very loyal and powerful media and corporate connections. Perhaps this duty has fallen to me because I am a writer and webmaster, familiar with the task in execution, if not substance.
Some feedback messages about this article
A financial advisor wrote:
A magazine publisher wrote:
An Architect wrote:
Finance author Eric Tyson (whose page is linked to above) wrote:
I'm not trying to suggest that Suze doesn't have any positive qualities - obviously she is very hard working and enthusiastic about what she does, and knows how to make deals and charm those whom she wishes to win over. Nor am I disputing that some of Suze's advice, information, and products may be useful in helping some individuals organize their finances. I wouldn't need to write this article if Suze were just dispensing basic financial advice.
I am also not sharing my experiences with Suze due to unforgiveness about what happened to me. I forgive, and probably would have long forgotten, if not for seeing the continuing damage I believe Suze is causing to society, and feeling a sense of personal responsibility to speak up and share my experiences and observations. I can assure you that writing this article has been one of my more difficult tasks - obviously I would rather not be judged by this one small part of my works. Nonetheless, life is a series of choices that exhorts us to do what we believe to be right, even when it is not an easy thing to do. I consider this article as a public service offering.
Some may disagree with my assessments about Suze, and that's fine. You're responsible for your choices, and unlike Suze, I don't suggest that I am always right about all things, although I do my best to be honest and sincere.
Here is one documented example of Suze's ease with dishonesty from the New York Times article, "Suze Orman is Having a Moment," in May, 2009:
Anyone looking for insight into the genesis of Orman's obsession with money, her deeply personal, all-consuming preoccupation with it, need look no farther than the first chapter of “The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.” Just a few pages in, she tells the story of a fire that destroyed her father's chicken shack when she was about 13. Her father, who was there when the fire started, escaped without harm — only to rush back in, his daughter watching in disbelief, after he realized that every cent the family had was in the cash register. Unable to open the register, he “literally picked back up the scalding metal box and carried it outside,” Orman writes. “When he threw the register on the ground, the skin on his arms and chest came with it. He had escaped the fire safely once, untouched. Then he voluntarily risked his life and was severely injured. The money was that important. That was when I learned that money is obviously more important than life itself.”
Orman goes on to talk about her quest to gain some perspective on that life lesson, and toward the end of the book, in a chapter called “Understanding the Ebb and Flow of the Money Cycle,” she returns to her father's story. Her father experienced a series of business reversals, she writes, but eventually he had two delis up and running successfully, and he stopped worrying: “For the first time ever, there was enough money — more than enough. My dad knew, too, that my mom would be taken care of after he was gone, and he was happy her brother would take over the family business.”
Not long after that, she wrote, “my father died — in his eyes a lucky man.” The point of the story: Sometimes the worst misfortune paves the way for a better opportunity.
Back in March, a few minutes before Orman was about to go live on “Morning Joe,” I mentioned to her that I had been struck by the story of her father's perseverance. Did his entrepreneurialism, I asked, inspire her?
“My father killed himself,” she said by way of an answer. “On Father's Day.” I was startled by the apparent discrepancy with her more sanguine account of her father's death in “The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom” but let her continue.
That day, she went on, when she was 30, her father insisted on getting out of his wheelchair and walking and walking even though he had a serious heart condition and the doctors had warned him against it. “He wouldn't open the presents. He knew what he was doing,” she said. “He died a defeated man. He didn't know who would take care of me and my mom.”
A few weeks later, I asked Orman about the seeming contradiction in facts, and she passed it off blithely, even likably. “Oh, who knows what I said in the book,” she replied. She added that she probably gave the story a happier ending in print to please her mother.
On the morning she first told me that she believed her father killed himself, I thought I might somehow have been misremembering the story in the book — and wasn't sure what to say. I remarked awkwardly that she had had an unusually intense life. Her response suggested that she managed to find an equally compelling, inspirational narrative from the sadder, presumably true, version of her father's history: “Thank God,” she said. “It's made me the person I am.”
This excerpt does more to explain some of Suze's personality distortions than to offer any great wisdom about the role money should have in one's life. Suze has learned, as chronic liars do, the best ways to avoid confrontation when she is caught in a lie - in this case saying something that sounds almost altruistic: "A few weeks later, I asked Orman about the seeming contradiction in facts, and she passed it off blithely, even likably. "'Oh, who knows what I said in the book,' she replied. She added that she probably gave the story a happier ending in print to please her mother."
I also have some other speculations about roles Suze is playing in shifting the wealth in this country in ways that may be harmful to individuals, our country, and the world, including her corporate connections, deals and partnerships with many large corporations and heads of large corporations, and who knows who else - with 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. However, in this article, I am focusing more on documented information, personal experiences, and tangible observations. Hopefully some intelligent and brave journalists will be inspired to look more deeply.
I would have assumed - with many of Suze Orman's problems obvious and well-documented in various media and clearly visible to most people I've met - that journalists and bloggers who are generally trusted to keep the public from being mislead or duped would have already addressed these matters and looked to see if there are related issues to reveal. If more journalists did their job in this regard, then I wouldn't have felt obliged to write this article. I've noticed that some critical articles have been completely removed from the web, as have been hundreds of critical comments about Suze's articles on Huffington Post.
Maybe some journalists are afraid of losing something if they were to speak up about the obvious problems with Suze Orman. Suze has cleverly aligned herself with powerful people in various media related areas. When I was speaking with a top agent who was initially interested in the second edition of my memoir that included some of my experiences with Suze, she very bluntly told me that no established press would ever publish a book with negative information about Oprah's protégé.
It doesn't take a genius to see that, along with having many connections in "high places" in the media landscape, Suze is a revengeful person. Perhaps some who should have, but have not called her out have ties with those who support Suze - maybe some are afraid that Suze and her friends in powerful places will cause them harm. I am aware of the potential ramifications in speaking up about my experiences and opinions, but don't really feel that I have a choice, even after having already discovered quite personally how ruthlessly revengeful Suze became over just one small and very well-deserved criticism.
Why I Didn't Share this Information Earlier
While writing the first edition of my memoir in 1997, I decided to end the narrative somewhat abruptly and wait to share my Suze-based experiences until she chose to come out as a lesbian. I didn't want to out her, even though she'd been so destructive toward me after I helped her to achieve her greatest dreams. Certainly one of the tests of having a ruthless person behave badly towards you is to monitor your own responses so you don't sink to the same level. I felt that outing Suze in my memoir, even if done with right intentions, would have generated too much negativity and more troubles on top of the ones I already had. I thought about disguising Suze's name in the book, but felt that my generally honest nature would probably reveal her real name in my first interview. To some degree, I also held back on my own career during this past decade-plus - in part because I knew that if I were to be interviewed publicly about my life journey, it was inevitable that these impactful experiences with Suze would enter the conversation.
I waited for many years, watching for the signal to end my self-censorship and properly complete my memoir. I would check out her shows every now and then while waiting for Suze to stop insulting her exes with gender-free pronouns, and stop flirting with the male callers and asking if they were single - all while boasting about how honest she was.
At the 2006 Daytime Emmy's, Suze thanked her girlfriend publicly, and had clearly decided to finally come out. Very few media paid attention, but I took it as a sign to finally begin writing the new chapters of my memoir. Suze officially came out in a New York Times interview in 2007, actually claiming to be a 55-year old virgin, which I have to say was one more shocking slap to this person who actually had been an innocent virgin fresh out of a decade of monastic life when I was sexually assaulted during my sleep by self-proclaimed "virgin" Suze Orman in the early 1990s. Yet Suze often brags about her own honesty and integrity, with few journalists discerning or brave enough to show the very accessible evidence to the contrary.
When I Knew I'd Have to Speak Up
The most disheartening time for me came when I watched Suze's CNBC show one evening and was horrified as Suze talked a woman into saying that she was relieved that her ex-boyfriend had committed suicide. On this day, Suze spoke about how she had been perfectly happy when one of her ex-lovers, a beloved bay area financial talk show host and kindhearted devotee of our guru who had loved and generously helped Suze for many years, died when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 plunged into the Pacific ocean.
What I remembered of Cynthia was that she had been extremely loving toward Suze in spite of Suze not treating her well. As I understood from Suze's own sharing before her friendship with Cynthia apparently turned to hatred, Cynthia played a significant role in helping to inspire and develop Suze's financial platform and to help bring Suze into the public eye by getting her on radio as I'd gotten Suze on her first two television shows (Cynthia was also thanked in the acknowledgments of Suze's first book). Cynthia had a radio talk show called "Financial Fitness," and was well-beloved by many. I have heard from mutual friends that Cynthia was quite devastated by Suze's damaging behavior toward her after she gave so much care and help, which also involved Suze spreading mistruths that harmed Cynthia's reputation and standing in our spiritual community, just as Suze and her gossip-spreading friends did with me.
This is the woman who helped Suze create her platform:
It wasn't enough that Suze caused serious trauma to this woman's life. Now, on CNBC, she also had to give a few more kicks after Cynthia had tragically died in a plane crash.
While speaking about Cynthia's death in the plane crash on CNBC's "Suze Orman Show," Suze told her guest, "I didn't feel bad about it, and everybody was saying to me, 'Suze Orman, what is the matter with you?' And I was like, 'What do you want me to do? I didn't like the person! The person screwed me over! Why should I like this person — I don't care, that's their problem.'" This about a woman who was one of the few names featured along with mine in the acknowledgments of those who helped to begin Suze's career with her first book.
The most troubling part is toward the end of this clip, which is troubling altogether.
Here was one more example of Suze's strange tendency to want to denigrate and destroy at least some of those who were especially kind and helpful in her initial steps of public success. I watched sadly as Suze denigrated Cynthia's memory, feeling once again the shock and horror of having spent my good life, energy, and skills to help bring this nasty person into the public eye. In that moment, I knew with hardly a doubt that I would have to write about my observations and experiences one day, and again felt twinges of regret and inner conflict about my decision to not speak up until Suze chose to come out of her closet. Even so, I apologize for having to bring up such unsavory information.
It is ultimately greed that is destroying the social fabric, the economy, the environment, and much more. And what I see is that Suze Orman, for the sake of lining her own pockets, has used some of the psychological manipulation techniques I remember her learning in the early 1990s to trigger in her viewers deep feelings such as greed, shame, miserliness, and fear, making them feel helpless and dependant on her projected "all-knowing" persona, declaring that greed for more material wealth is more important than anything else in life, pushing her personal narcissistic doctrine that helping yourself while ignoring the plight of others is actually "spirituality," and shouting at people while telling them 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.
Do I think the current economic world crisis comes in part from the pervasive nature of Suze's irresponsible and unbalanced teachings? To be honest, I do. Even if only a few people read this offering, at least I have made an effort to make the information available, and do feel some relief of this burden from my shoulders. This article has been more challenging to write than any of my books, but keeping secrets that should be shared is unhealthy, and this situation has taken a toll on my health and well-being for some time, as well as the well-being of the economy and the fabric of society. If you find this article to be helpful, you are welcome to share the link with friends.
Best wishes and blessings to all.
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