Longmont Man Indicted On Suspicion of Charity Fraud - Page 22 - AVS Forum
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post #631 of 1523 Old 03-08-2010, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by remodeler View Post

One other thing, I keep hearing people say the charities were robbed or stolen from and this is not the case. The people who gave Mr Schifter donations were conned and robbed. A technicality I know but robbing a charity to me seems much worse than conning people.

Your distinction is true as I have stated previously as well on this thread. However, what you are missing is that the raffles were not only raising money for charities, but for specific cases of need as well, notably the AV123 supporter whose daughter was suffering from type 1 diabetes and had failing kidneys. Mark had created raffles SPECIFICALLY to raise money for her medical treatment, and which many people participated for the precise reason of helping one of their own. In the end, Mark kept most if not all of this money for himself instead of passing it to the family in need, as the raffle money was intended for. I think this certainly puts everything in perspective. What Mark did was not only conning people that trusted him, but robbing from and devastating actual people in need.
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post #632 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 05:02 AM
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Well...I'll just say this...as a customer of this man's company...I feel partly responsible for the whole mess. I started this hobby via the cheaper price of outsourced goods.

I don't see any customers as being responsible for this whole mess. There are plenty of reputable companies that outsource goods and products and these companies are not all located in the US or North America.
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Yes...the amount of strategic outsourcing (low cost) manufacturing of goods needed to meet American demand ultimately combined with a sizable profit for all companies involved.

For all companies involved? I think not. Virtually every company or organization that did business with Schifter lost money unless they were paid up front as a consideration of doing business with him. Those that chose or were deceived into giving credit terms by whatever means lost considerable amounts of money. Like a vampire when he was done with one victim he moved to another.
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Tis modern day capitalism folks. The funds probably went to supplement available capital once the dollar tanked...the global economy was never supposed to be this bad for so long. The money was supposed to be recouped...he didn't make enough to loose in fines and "making things right"...no way a person would cut off their nose to spite their face when such consequences are inevitable.

I'm sure that a superficial analysis such as this can be appealing to many. It is easy to blame economic conditions outside of one's control for the failings. Yet, this is not supported by facts which are separate and apart from the raffles. Plain and simple, Schifter liked to live large. He lived considerably beyond his means and considerably in excess of the profits the business was capable of generating. He was fiscally irresponsible and reckless and funded this largely by not paying suppliers and investors. The raffles are also involved but the sums are not even 10% of what people and companies lost doing business with him. Plain and simple he was a crook and a charlatan. You'll find crooks in any economic philosophy and in every country on this globe.

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What a lesson...so be careful how quick you condemn this man...it's kinda like throwing stones from a glass house...as we were greedy too. Unless it's DIY...getting something for less than the 5X markup common in this hobby won't usually equal good....and is probably too good to be true.

No customer that bought in good faith is responsible. Schifter is responsible. Frankly, most of his goods were overpriced. Marking up speakers 5x their costs is not unusual and considered more or less the industry norm. A well run business should be able to pay all its expenses and still generate a profit. This was not a well run business and its captain was a thief.

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post #633 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by gonk View Post

That one got me a bit ticked off, too - as my posts there (as "Jim Prillaman") suggest. I was very disappointed with his remark, tone, attitude, and desire to place more priority on finding a "medical justification" for Mark's crimes than concerning himself with the facts of the situation.

When I read this I signed up to post just to respond (I'm SimpleTheater over there as well). Once the post got locked, I deleted my shortcut link as I will never go there again - unless someone links another interesting story. But my days of checking it out every week or so are over.

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post #634 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 06:30 AM
 
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What a lesson...so be careful how quick you condemn this man...it's kinda like throwing stones from a glass house...as we were greedy too. Unless it's DIY...getting something for less than the 5X markup common in this hobby won't usually equal good....and is probably too good to be true.

You have got to be kidding me! He offered seriously nice speakers (Rockets) and a fantastic sub (when working) for sale prices that were no brainers and you're saying we somehow "should have known"? Sorry but it didn't cross my mind at the time that maybe he had half a mil of others money in his pocket. I wasn't looking to get patted on the head by MLS so I never really bought into the raffles. Why would I send money to some guy I've never met?
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post #635 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by remodeler View Post

One other thing, I keep hearing people say the charities were robbed or stolen from and this is not the case. The people who gave Mr Schifter donations were conned and robbed. A technicality I know but robbing a charity to me seems much worse than conning people.

I disagree. Years of statistics have shown that if a charity attempts two fundraisers within three months for the same need (Hurricane Katrina, for example) the second fundraiser nets a smaller amount.
Once the money for the girl with diabetes never got to her, if you went back to the same people and asked for a second donation, you would receive a significant amount LESS than the original fundraiser. This is stealing from a charity.

It would be no different if I went to every person in 50 square miles and asked for a contribution for Haiti victims in the name of the Red Cross. Then I blew the money on my own personal gain. When the real Red Cross showed up, they would get a whole lot less from those people. Not only do I disagree morally with your assessment, I disagree TECHNICALLY.

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post #636 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 07:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

I don't see any customers as being responsible for this whole mess. There are plenty of reputable companies that outsource goods and products and these companies are not all located in the US or North America.

Yes...we are...there was/is a reason why the company's speakers were available with such quality and appearance that was only equaled by a few others at their price points. The bottom line was forecasted with taking advantage of people in mind. Those that were taken advantage of demanded more in the end...combine that with the decreased value of the dollar and...failure. And for the record...America leads the way on taking advantage of outsourcing. Other countries take more pride in what they produce and sell to their citizens. RE: Germany and BMW...any outsourced parts are spec'd above what we require and a fair price is paid for said part...that equals quality vs. product recalls.

For all companies involved? I think not. Virtually every company or organization that did business with Schifter lost money unless they were paid up front as a consideration of doing business with him. Those that chose or were deceived into giving credit terms by whatever means lost considerable amounts of money. Like a vampire when he was done with one victim he moved to another.

If they bought in early...they made a killing...if they came in later...they got caught in the crap rolling down hilll...pure and simple. Greed my friend is a terrible thing.

I'm sure that a superficial analysis such as this can be appealing to many. It is easy to blame economic conditions outside of one's control for the failings. Yet, this is not supported by facts which are separate and apart from the raffles. Plain and simple, Schifter liked to live large. He lived considerably beyond his means and considerably in excess of the profits the business was capable of generating. He was fiscally irresponsible and reckless and funded this largely by not paying suppliers and investors. The raffles are also involved but the sums are not even 10% of what people and companies lost doing business with him. Plain and simple he was a crook and a charlatan. You'll find crooks in any economic philosophy and in every country on this globe.

Not superficial...just reality...TARP will help to explain this...the program was used to sure up our markets after other countries saw through our greed and united to make the dollar plummet. Without TARP...we all would be in line for food and water. WE would feel what poverty is as a nation. The man bought some toys based on initial profit forecasts...that was the American dream remember? And then his decision to carry on with the front in order to seem relevant in order to have a positive image for the company's sake hoping it and the economy would rebound so original profit forecasts could be realized...will cause him to start from scratch...like so many others have. So many companies rob from peter to pay paul every day...that's how businessis done. Do some reading on our agriculture industry and how cattle for instance are bought and sold. It will make you sick to your stomach...but it IS the american way. This man will be back...and will probably try to make good on his mistakes in order to get back in with the movers and shakers of the industry...they will let him back in becasue he is good at the audio craft...no questions about that. Again, no person would cut off their nose to spite their face when such repercussions are inevitable.

No customer that bought in good faith is responsible. Schifter is responsible. Frankly, most of his goods were overpriced. Marking up speakers 5x their costs is not unusual and considered more or less the industry norm. A well run business should be able to pay all its expenses and still generate a profit. This was not a well run business and its captain was a thief.

Well...if a person bought in bad faith...they went through the same steps the good faith folks did to make said purchase. Not understanding how things work will not excuse a person from liability...read up on things before taking the plunge. We Americans are oblivious to how the WORLD is being ran...and how WE are taking advantage of people on a daily basis. That is why huge product recalls affecting a large portion of our daily diet have occurred. We want something for nothing and then we get mad when the quality of the goods is crap.

As I said earlier...I claim my portion of this mess...there's a set of $2000 speakers that play far above their price point in this industry sitting in my living room. Let's say I can't get the replacement part that the speakers require...tough luck. I should have know better...fairness, respect, and stability are not cheap.



My take on things is explained a little better in red.
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post #637 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 07:39 AM
 
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Also...let me say that I have had another screen name here...and I did attack people based on my inability to control my emotions. At that time, I simply could not put into words what I have explained thus far...and resorted to being ignorant. Just recieved a PM about my other account and I own up to being very immature while posting under that screen name.
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post #638 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 07:54 AM
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So many companies rob from peter to pay paul every day...that's how businessis done.

I'm fairly certain managers that steal money go to jail. It's not a viable way to do business. More directly, it's not how business is done.
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post #639 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 07:57 AM
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Basically your point is that there have to be willing participants in a con, which makes sense in many cases. The con artist builds on the greed of the conned.

What about the raffles? Was there greed involved there? I suppose you can say it was the prospect of winning speakers which motivated the giving, but that only explains a small portion of the motivation.

There is nothing you say that justifies this outright theft.

I will leave discussion of the business side to others understand this better.

In the interest of fairness I think you should reveal your previous screen name. I admire you admitting you posted under another name, but your apology does not have credibility when you hide behind a name.

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post #640 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by bcjbcj View Post

My take on things is explained a little better in red.
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Yes...we are...there was/is a reason why the company's speakers were available with such quality and appearance that was only equaled by a few others at their price points. The bottom line was forecasted with taking advantage of people in mind. Those that were taken advantage of demanded more in the end...combine that with the decreased value of the dollar and...failure. And for the record...America leads the way on taking advantage of outsourcing. Other countries take more pride in what they produce and sell to their citizens. RE: Germany and BMW...any outsourced parts are spec'd above what we require and a fair price is paid for said part...that equals quality vs. product recalls.

I have to totally disagree with you here.

As audio consumers we are seeking the best value possible and that often leads us to ID companies.

We expect those companies to operate legitimately and provide the best product possible at the best price. If we like the company and the product and they needed to charge more in order to be profitable we would likely pay the increased price.

When the owner of a company resorts to fraud and non payment of suppliers that is certainly not the fault of the consumers seeking best value in any way, shape, form or manner; irregardless of whether the motivation of the owner was to save his company or nefarious intent.

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post #641 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mziegler View Post

Basically your point is that there have to be willing participants in a con, which makes sense in many cases. The con artist builds on the greed of the conned.

What about the raffles? Was there greed involved there? I suppose you can say it was the prospect of winning speakers which motivated the giving, but that only explains a small portion of the motivation.

There is nothing you say that justifies this outright theft.

I will leave discussion of the business side to others understand this better.

In the interest of fairness I think you should reveal your previous screen name. I admire you admitting you posted under another name, but your apology does not have credibility when you hide behind a name.

atltx was my screen name and most of my comments were erased...they were very disrespectful. In no way am i saying what was done is right...but it is the american way...the basis of the american dream...and we all have done something similar...just not so noticeable or to such an extent. I think this is an excellent opportunity to learn...we should all examine our lives...figure out what is wrong with the things that we label as just "o.k." We doubt those things for a reason...just saying we all need to dig deeper into what morality is as a country.

Thanks for reading...
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post #642 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 08:17 AM
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The economy didn't ruin Schifter. Schifter ruined Schifter.

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post #643 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

The economy didn't ruin Schifter. Schifter ruined Schifter.

Can I get an amen?
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post #644 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 08:44 AM
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Amen.

And thanks for 'fessing up. Adds to one's credibility.

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post #645 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bcjbcj View Post

My take on things is explained a little better in red.

I guess what you're saying here is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, and that we all have a dog in this hunt. We've become so demanding as a nation of consumers that we want something for nothing and in the end we all get what we deserve. Nowhere in here do I see anything referencing right and wrong with regard to one man. That's sort of like the-I want my cake and eat it too argument, and in the end all you get is confused. Maybe you should frame your argument around philosophy instead.
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post #646 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:07 AM
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I wish I knew how it was that I was able to sniff out the Shifty BS early on while others did not. My bulldar (a phrase coined by one of my students which I had accepted by urban dictionary) started going off with all the posts ending with "humbly." It is just that when someone tries to make claims about himself, such as "I am honest," I tend to reach for my wallet to make sure it is still there.

As I was researching a speaker purchase I found the av123.con forum, and I was further turned off by all the "way to go Mark" comments. The fawning really turned me off. Again, alarms were going off. The incessant self-promotion was also another alarm to me. I remember when Shifty posted pictures of his visits to recording studios, where he would give them his speakers and imply that the studio was not going to use them. My bulldar meter hit the red zone at that point.

There was also a train wreck atmosphere there. Someone would post something about a problem, or some customers would comment that their own x-series did not sound as good as a competitors, and all hell would break loose.

Shifty clearly created a personality cult, and many people fell victim to that. And I would like to emphasize "victim." I think more often than not Shifty exploited people's decency, rather than their greed.

People also enjoy feeling they are in the know when it comes to their purchases. I know I feel somewhat superior to those who love their Bose systems (not an admirable trait), and it is fun to be part of a club that, from a certain point of view, is smarter than the average bear.

I certainly do not feel superior to Shifty's former customers. I fully understand how people can feel enthusiastic about a company that actually had a track record of producing good products for a lower price, and I understand how any of us can be blind to others.

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post #647 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:23 AM
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As has happened before during discussions of Mark's crimes, we seem to have two wholly separate issues under discussion going on in bcjbcj's posts. One is international manufacturing. The other is fraud and theft.

Manufacturing overseas can be done well, and for things like speakers and consumer electronics it can typically be done for cheaper than US/Canadian manufacturing. I doubt that any of us would disagree with that. At the same time, no matter where you build your product (China, California, Massachusetts, Germany, etc.), you need to pay attention to your product's quality. That is always something that takes some effort and some investment, whether it is happening in China or the US.

We all have personal budgets to contend with, and most of us are therefore forced to take some care in picking what to purchase. We do our research - that's a big part of the reason sites like AVS exist, in fact. We read reviews. We talk to other owners. We try to demo products before we buy. Often, we find that an internet-direct company can provide us with a better deal than some more traditional retail channels. That better deal could be solely a lower price, or it could be better performance at a comparable price. The pursuit of these "better deal" products pushes some of these internet-direct companies to get creative in their product designs, development, manufacturing, and marketing. We can and should still hold them to some legal and ethical standards along the way, though, and frankly most ID companies work hard to earn our trust. In my opinion, what AV123 has offered has never been so completely beyond the norm to suggest that they were going to have to lie, cheat, steal, or break laws to fulfill their promises (although some of the sales in the last several months have edged toward a sort of "fire sale" level that could generate some suspicions). They have worked to build consumer trust using a combination of reasonable quality (as long as it doesn't require 120V power), an attractive appearance, a good price, and a vocal salesman who adores superlatives. It was a formula that, while somewhat sketchy at times, didn't inherently equal "disaster." That's why I don't see a reason to suggest that consumers are somehow complicit in Mark's actions simply by buying his products.

That's the business side of the discussion. While an interesting discussion that can open the door to more extensive discussions of ethics, corporate policy, and world economics and politics, I don't see how it has any bearing on Mark's indictment. I dispute the idea of the economy pushing him to criminal acts based on the timeline involved. The raffles started too long ago. I also dispute the idea of economic pressure as a rationalization just as I dispute Dr. Johnson's theory that stress caused some mental illness that altered his personality and caused this behavior. He broke the law, and he broke the trust placed in him (trust that was cultivated through his calculated actions). The decision to start these raffles and pocket the money (whether it went to his personal pocket or the AV123 corporate pocket) is simply unacceptable no matter what the circumstances. It is a decision for which blame can only be placed with one person. It doesn't belong on consumers who were deceived. I admit that I find the idea of replacing my X-LS's more appealing since I learned of the raffle thefts, and I suspect that they will be around only so long as budget prevents me from shopping around for a replacement, but the hardware itself isn't to blame and neither was the act of purchasing that hardware.

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post #648 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:27 AM
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So just curious, has Mark made any postings or statements anywhere since his arrest?
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post #649 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:37 AM
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I also noticed many red flags at the AV123 forum. The one that really struck me was when I read a couple posts from MLS it was as if he was giving "orders" or "commands" to his followers. I actually posted back then saying that it was very "cultish" over there. I also had problems with MLS's posts being somewhat cryptic and hard to follow sometimes.
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post #650 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:44 AM
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To give you a picture of things, look at this.

this just goes to some login page?

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post #651 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:49 AM
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So just curious, has Mark made any postings or statements anywhere since his arrest?

I hear he said to the dog upon reentering his house, "You like me, dontcha?"
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post #652 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:53 AM
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Sorry, I'll have to work on that! For the time being, I'm going to delete the post due to technical difficulties, but if you go to AH in the Steam Vent section, you can find it in the AV451 sticky thread.

http://forums.audioholics.com/forums...postcount=3012

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post #653 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 09:54 AM
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I hear he said to the dog upon reentering his house, "You like me, dontcha?"

And I heard the dog then took a dump at his feet.
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post #654 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 10:11 AM
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And I heard the dog then took a dump at his feet.

Well, duhhhhh! That's how dogs prepay

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post #655 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 12:15 PM
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Thanks. With a toddler and another one on the way, I relented...until the next house which will hopefully happen next year.

There is hope. I was in the same situation, so I suspended all improvements until I switched jobs and moved into a new home.

I just installed a projector for the first time in our new basement, and wow!

(Kids are 4 and 2).

Keep the faith!
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post #656 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 12:18 PM
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There is hope. I was in the same situation, so I suspended all improvements until I switched jobs and moved into a new home.

I just installed a projector for the first time in our new basement, and wow!

(Kids are 4 and 2).

Keep the faith!

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post #657 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 12:38 PM
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I thought you played hockey in the NHL

Nah, he retired a long time ago!
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post #658 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 12:52 PM
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Your distinction is true as I have stated previously as well on this thread. However, what you are missing is that the raffles were not only raising money for charities, but for specific cases of need as well, notably the AV123 supporter whose daughter was suffering from type 1 diabetes and had failing kidneys. Mark had created raffles SPECIFICALLY to raise money for her medical treatment, and which many people participated for the precise reason of helping one of their own. In the end, Mark kept most if not all of this money for himself instead of passing it to the family in need, as the raffle money was intended for. I think this certainly puts everything in perspective. What Mark did was not only conning people that trusted him, but robbing from and devastating actual people in need.

I have diabetes and I can tell you how expensive it is when things go wrong. I can only imagine how much it must have cost to care for this little girl and I hope she is getting the help she needs now, hopefully the children's diabetes foundation has been able to help.

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. -- Winston Churchill
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post #659 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 03:35 PM
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So just curious, has Mark made any postings or statements anywhere since his arrest?

No statements by Mark or the company up to this point. It is business as usual, sending out emails regarding sales. In fact, I don't really follow their forum much but I don't know if there are any reps posting over there recently.
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post #660 of 1523 Old 03-09-2010, 06:37 PM
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I'm still getting emails schilling speakers.

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