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Longmont Man Indicted On Suspicion of Charity Fraud - Page 9

post #241 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark F View Post

For the sake of clarity "Bob" wasn't involved in my purchase but I did exchange several pm's with goneten while we were both awaiting deliveries and the picture was as ridiculous as he paints it.

Apologies. I thought he was part of your 'experience' too but then my memory is not that great. However, I haven't forgotten what you went through. But man, no one should have to experience the things we did.

Regards,
post #242 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Poindexter View Post

Wow, those are some beautiful cabinets. Seeing them makes me long for my old Brazillian rosewood speakers.

Yep!! That finish was the key to AV123's short lived success IMO!
post #243 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

Yep!! That finish was the key to AV123's short lived success IMO!

I agree, their beautiful veneers are what first drew my attention to AV123 and their rockets/MFW's--that combined with their low prices and excellent reviews. When the MFW problems persisted for so long it was a red flag for me. And now we have this? It's a shame, because I was seriously considering upgrading to Rockets someday, but now it would be difficult to be proud of speakers knowing their un-ethical roots.
post #244 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonygeno View Post

Not only have his motives been questioned, his identity has been questioned. Mr. Sub has said that there is no person named Chu Gai. I guess he thinks it's a nom de plume.

I don't think motives are important at this point. In fact, I think Chu has earned the communities' (both audio and charity) thanks. No more will MLS be allowed to steal from either of them.

Now if only one raffle had been conducted and the money not sent, a case could be made that MLS had unintentionally gotten in over his head. But to continue to conduct raffles and pocket the money? This can only be interpreted as willful behavior that needs to be punished to the full extent of the law.

When all the raffle talk was going on, there were only two, count them, TWO that MLS admitted underfunding. Those were his words written more than once. UNDERFUNDING. What he spoke of were the following ones. There was one for Derek's daughter who was in the hospital. Juvenile diabetes and other serious complications. Insurance runs out real fast and there's only so many things you can sell and only so much in one's 401K you can borrow against. There was also one that was for Sloan Kettering on behalf of David Fabrikant's father who had terminal cancer. Most of you know Fabrikant. He's a decent and good man. Schifter reached out to both in their time of emotional distress. Any of you have kids? An older parent whose time on earth is limited and won't get to see future grand kids? That's the picture Schifter used to run the raffle scams.

In the case of Sloan Kettering, it was only when the organization was contacted was it discovered that not ONE CENT went there out of the thousands raised. NOTHING! After all sorts of excuses, a check finally made its way there with promises the UNDERFUNDING error would be rectified in due course. That never happened.

In the case of Derek's daughter, only a portion ever made its way there. Even afterwards when the amounts needed to square things away were known, what did he say privately? He said by his reckoning it was only 1/2 of what the amount actually was. On a side note consider the following if you will. Can you imagine a little girl who goes out and Google's her name only to find out her name is associated with having been used for a raffle scam? Mother******! The reckoning has started.

The third that everyone knew about but Schifter never acknowledged was Hugh's friend who was in the hospital also dying of cancer. Nothing that Schifter ever collected personally that went through his PayPal account made its way there.

With respect to all this I got involved. The more I got involved the more I found out about other matters not even related to the raffles. People who I never expected contacted me about horror stories involving money they'd lent Schifter and never received repayment. Some had contracts, some had promissory notes, and some had the HUMBLY handshake and a warm man hug as collateral. Virtually everyone has taken it up the backside.

So, given that I now suspected very strongly that the raffles weren't just an accident. They weren't just "I'll borrow from the petty cash box until I get paid then put it back and no one will know." stories. They weren't computer error. Or a PayPal screw up. So, I was faced with a decision. All the talking and posting I and others wasn't doing anything. So I thought to myself, let's give the guy one more chance. And I thought what was the one cause Schifter was unlikely to raise money for and screw it up by keeping it? After perusing the list, I settled on the very first one run back in 2004. It was a raffle to benefit The Ballet Nouveau. Why them? It was the one his granddaugher, Gracie, danced at. Surely a grandfather who has doted for years on her, written about her, attended her performances, would not use her picture as fish bait.

Hence, I took the first step. With the aid of a few trusted people not associated with any of these audio websites, contact was made to them through a form on their website. Eventually they emailed back and after a couple of exchanges, informaton regarding the amounts provided, the dates, the possible names it could've been given under was investigated by them.

What follows below, are the dates and amounts raised for this organization.

October 18, 2004
$5,250

October 24, 2005
$10,000

December 12, 2007
$7,500
Total amounts said to have been raised = $22,750

Now, the email text which was sent by Amanda Stewart who is employed by Ballet Nouveau.

Quote:


I looked through our records and we received a donation of $7,500 from Perpetual Technologies in November 2005. It looks like that is the only cash contribution we received over the years, in addition to some in kind contributions for our annual silent auction.

Thank you for your patience while I researched this,

Amanda

This strongly suggests that MLS entirely diverted the results of both the 2004 and 2007 raffles. Only 3/4 of the amounts of the 2005 raffles went to their intended recipients. There is a total shortfall of $15,250!

I don't know how you all count it, but I say that brought to four the number of people/organizations who were either underfunded or not funded at all.

After that, other organizations were contacted among those the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Jimmy Fund and the American Red Cross. Much more work went into those. Some of you who've followed matters over at AH know about this. Some I've spoken or written to personally about it. Suffice it to say I gave them everything I had. I gave them dates, summaries, links, I archived webpages for fear they'd be lost, amounts. We correpsonded by email and phone over a period of months. They ran their own investigations and cross checked things on national and regional levels conducting interviews if need be. They ran it through their legal boards. And they were pissed. I mean, they were Phucking pissed. To expedite things, I put the two in contact with each other and I won't say which did it first, but one and then the other contacted the Longmont cops, State AG, State Secretary of State, and I hear other organizations were also contacted. Just remember how they nailed Capone.

I was nothing more than a facillitator with a lot of information. I put people in contact that ought to be talking. I cooperated with the investigations. I didn't have a list of 707 names. All I could do was identify those who I thought were friendly. By friendly it meant they were no longer associated with MLS nor were they predisposed to be overly friendly and talkative with those who might be still friendly to MLS. They had all the receipts. I didn't. They were able to provide additional sources of contacts. I didn't. They're the ones who were directly affected. I wasn't. I never contributed and I've never owned a product sold by them. You all and that includes me, should extend your deepest thanks because they've provided information I never could. They've got their PayPal receipts to MLS's Graham Company. They kept the records. They were the nails, each and everyone of them. They found others. Hell, I didn't know everybody and I certainly didn't know a lot of people over at AV451. I appreciate the thanks but the thanks should go to the charities for what they do and did. The thanks should go to the government agencies who so wonderfully dealt with the investigations. And the thanks should go to everyone who has chosen to provide information and even a willingness to testify against the horror show that's been going on in Colorado for a great number of years. I salute all of them and I love them.
post #245 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandarf View Post

Actually I was thinking about this bolded part. You say evidently, but are we really 100% sure? I mean, there was never any supervision about the raffles ticket draw, probably one of the reasons these things are supposed to be regulated. The winner could have been handpicked, or could have been an fake account created by MLS to save the prizes being delivered to a real raffle participant... I'm not saying it was the case for the 27 raffles, but I think we have to be cautious about anything being evident with Schifter... Anyhow, sending them cost him pretty much nothing anyway, since he pretty much stole the entirety of the donations and got his prizes at cost... So really not all too relevant...

I doubt it. The whole thing works better if the poster that wins is known by several people. In other words if he has been around awhile. This would encourage others to participate. Without a doubt in my mind I think the guy is guilty, but I will say this. His intent at first, may have not been to defraud people. It looks that was his intent from the start, but I have seen people that I thought were honest and good, do some surprising things once they were in money trouble. It is a shame that he went down this road because it is obvious that he has the ability to sell himself and ideas to others and many of his products were good. The looks alone of many of his products made many sales. Pure Evil's MFW-15 pictured in post #224 is beautiful.

Added
I posted before I saw the above post. From that it looks like it was a con from the very start.
post #246 of 1523
Grandarf, to the best of my knowledge, and from actually speaking to people who by no stretch of the imagination could be called pro-Schifter, the winners were selected randomly and most prizes were delivered. There was a fellow who posted at AV451 that he'd still not received his MFW-15 but that post was deleted quickly some time ago. Now, record keeping was sloppy so it would't surprise me if there were people who ponied up cash that were never entered.
post #247 of 1523
My picture was deleted.

Regards,
post #248 of 1523
As I believe, Craigsub was one of the winners in the raffles and I don't remember him mentioning ever that he never received his prize. I think at the very least Mark gave out the prizes, even if it was to throw people off the scent of what he was really doing.

About Craigsub, I think he's been pretty honest and geniune about his dealings with Mark and it's pretty far-fetched to somehow paint him as an accessory to Mark's scams. I think with him having met Mark in person, most people with good intentions would want to believe in the best in people, especially someone they've met. That's quite different than being a rabbid "loyalist" that's attacking and slandering other people who had legitimate complaints, like in the thread I highlighted earlier. Don't forget a lot of people that have had dealings with Mark has talked about his "smooth" personality, and having read his posts on his forums addressing all the debacles that have happened with AV123, he is a guy that knows how to work people's emotions in his favor. I can't recall how many times I've read that his disappearances has been because he's been ill or in the hospital, or a close relative is like his mom or son-in-law. He knows no one wants to press on about their speakers not having been delivered for 5 months when there's a life-and-death situation on hand. How much of those situations were true or just exaggerated is debatable, but what's not is that Mark used those situations to his advantage in not addressing issues with delivery or money. In the end, if there is a villain here, it's the guy that's been indicted for 5 counts relating to the charity scams, and perhaps a handful of unreasonable "supporters" that for whatever reason, took it upon themselves to belittle those AV123 customers that were being mistreated, but let's not paint with a broad brush and condemn anyone that's had some sort of positive feeling on AV123 in the past.
post #249 of 1523
If Craig won, he'd kick back the prize.
post #250 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonygeno View Post

Not only have his motives been questioned, his identity has been questioned. Mr. Sub has said that there is no person named Chu Gai. I guess he thinks it's a nom de plume.

I don't think motives are important at this point. In fact, I think Chu has earned the communities' (both audio and charity) thanks. No more will MLS be allowed to steal from either of them.

Now if only one raffle had been conducted and the money not sent, a case could be made that MLS had unintentionally gotten in over his head. But to continue to conduct raffles and pocket the money? This can only be interpreted as willful behavior that needs to be punished to the full extent of the law.

Chu deserves nothing but respect and kudos for his work in this matter. While many of us sat, bitched, and thought only of ourselves, he took the ball and ran with it. I commend him and feel embarassed that I didn't contribute.

Tom
post #251 of 1523
I've been loving my Onix Rocket speakers for a few years now but this news is shocking.

What the heck is going through this man's mind to rip off charities? We live in some greedy seedy times.
post #252 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

If Craig won, he'd kick back the prize.

You mean as in "kickbacks"? Maybe this was a "kickback" from Mark to Craig (without his involvement, of course), but I doubt Craig owed Mark anything.
post #253 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by KyaDawn View Post

Maybe this was a "kickback" from Mark to Craig

On second thought, I remember it being weird that part of Craig's raffle prize included bass traps. Not sure if it was circumstantial irony or a misguided attempt at humor by Mark, if the raffle was somehow rigged. Either way, I doubt highly any of the winners had any knowledge if Mark did manipulate the results.
post #254 of 1523
Chu,

Much respect from my end for your efforts to uncover/facilitate the appropriate communication. MLS has clearly taken advantage of people and should be punished for his criminal actions.

The relationship between MLS and 321VA and the customers has always been cult-ish to me with some David Blaine mgic mixed in. It's amazing that so many people could buy into the health cop-out so many times - it was clearly a subterfuge to take the heat off the problems at hand. I suspect AV123 will be folding shortly.

While not nearly as scary, the Emotiva forum shares some traits (expunging the negative posts, airing the dirty laundry in public) that serves as a warning re: the internal instability of that company as well.

Bob
post #255 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lhasa-lover View Post

Chu deserves nothing but respect and kudos for his work in this matter. While many of us sat, bitched, and thought only of ourselves, he took the ball and ran with it. I commend him and feel embarassed that I didn't contribute.

Tom

You did contribute. You told me your story long before you told others. When put together with other stories, it painted a different picture of Schifter's and AV451's level of customer service and suggested that depending upon the level of a problem, it came down to money. As we've all come to understand, this was not a positive cash flow company unless we consider his pocket and spending habits positive.
post #256 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by KyaDawn View Post

You mean as in "kickbacks"? Maybe this was a "kickback" from Mark to Craig (without his involvement, of course), but I doubt Craig owed Mark anything.

Heaven't no! I mean he'd refuse the prize and toss it back in the ring so it could continue to be bid upon thereby generating additional funds for the intended recipients. It didn't work out that way but he was generous in that respect.
post #257 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob53 View Post

While not nearly as scary, the Emotiva forum shares some traits (expunging the negative posts, airing the dirty laundry in public) that serves as a warning re: the internal instability of that company as well.

Well, Emotiva and VA321 / MLS were in business together for a while years ago so maybe their bad habits rubbed off on each other.
post #258 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by bayn View Post

The worst part is not that I (or others) lost money, its that I thought someone in need was getting it.

Apparently MLS was the one in need of your money more than the charity. You just didn't know it.
post #259 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob53 View Post

Chu,

Much respect from my end for your efforts to uncover/facilitate the appropriate communication. MLS has clearly taken advantage of people and should be punished for his criminal actions.

The relationship between MLS and 321VA and the customers has always been cult-ish to me with some David Blaine mgic mixed in. It's amazing that so many people could buy into the health cop-out so many times - it was clearly a subterfuge to take the heat off the problems at hand. I suspect AV123 will be folding shortly.

While not nearly as scary, the Emotiva forum shares some traits (expunging the negative posts, airing the dirty laundry in public) that serves as a warning re: the internal instability of that company as well.

Bob

He'll have his day in court with respect to this. In fact, I think the future will see more than one court appearance, IMO. Not too long ago, he was successfully sued for a substantial amount of money. Let's say around 6 figures. Sean Parque has filed a small claims suit for products paid for and not delivered. Unfortunately, the health thing put some delays in but we'll see how that plays out.

The health angle has been used over the years. Even before there was an AV451. Someone was always sick. And boy, do I have behind the scenes stories on that one!

It was definitely cultish over there. Even over here and elsewhere with respect to AV451 products. Hell, at one time I thought he was as good guy too! If you're of the mind to, there's an excellent book that speaks to the topic of cults: Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer. Good examples and a thoughtful outlining of the signs that you're dealing with a cult. I can see examples of that in EMOTIVA, gentleperson.
post #260 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

Heaven't no! I mean he'd refuse the prize and toss it back in the ring so it could continue to be bid upon thereby generating additional funds for the intended recipients. It didn't work out that way but he was generous in that respect.

Right, totally opposite then! I agree that Craig would do that, though don't know if the raffle was extended or not. For the record, he won:

1 pair LS-6 demo set from the 2007 RMAF
1 set of Complete Acoustic Room Treatment Set: 2 Bass Trap Tables and 4 Veneered Framed Acoustic Absorption Panels.
post #261 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by KyaDawn View Post

Right, totally opposite then! I agree that Craig would do that, though don't know if the raffle was extended or not. For the record, he won:

1 pair LS-6 demo set from the 2007 RMAF
1 set of Complete Acoustic Room Treatment Set: 2 Bass Trap Tables and 4 Veneered Framed Acoustic Absorption Panels.

I thought he didn't buy raffle tickets. Or did he send money directly to the charity, showed proof, and then MLS entered him into the raffle?
post #262 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjg100 View Post

Quote:


he winner could have been handpicked, or could have been an fake account created by MLS to save the prizes being delivered to a real raffle participant...

I doubt it.

I doubt you doubted Schifter's scams were of this magnitude too! While I agree with your post about the benefits of real winners, given everything we know today, I don't think it's paranoïa to doubt the impartiality of the raffle draws. I mean we're talking about Schifter here, who's schiftered hundreds of people, the fact that he didn't actually randomly select a couple winners would not surprise me in the least. I personaly don't doubt that it happened. I mean, it would be a very small thing compared to the other wrong he's done. And I remember reading on AH about Schifer getting upset about 200$ sales... Prize money was more than that... Plus as Chu mentioned, I'm sure not every name was entered anyhow...

And I absolutely agree with the other posters, congratulations Chu! He's being modest but he had an instrumental role in all of this

(EDIT: Not that this should reflect negatively on any winner, if that was the case... Even IF they could have been rewarded because they were liked by Schifter for example, doesn't mean they were 'in' on the scam or anything...)
post #263 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

It was definitely cultish over there. Even over here and elsewhere with respect to AV451 products. Hell, at one time I thought he was as good guy too! If you're of the mind to, there's an excellent book that speaks to the topic of cults: Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer.

I agree with you regarding the "cultish" comment. I would also suggest the backlash exhibits some cult like characteristics.

I also agree that is a very good book and should be required reading for "audiophiles". The boutique audio product market would need a bail out
post #264 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by KyaDawn View Post

Right, totally opposite then! I agree that Craig would do that, though don't know if the raffle was extended or not. For the record, he won:

1 pair LS-6 demo set from the 2007 RMAF
1 set of Complete Acoustic Room Treatment Set: 2 Bass Trap Tables and 4 Veneered Framed Acoustic Absorption Panels.

What? No Ginsu knives or a turkey?!
post #265 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

What? No Ginsu knives or a turkey?!

I think they ran out Turkeys and knives, so they threw in some tiger stripe printed Snuggies. You know, the blanket that has sleeves
post #266 of 1523
That is NOT approved prison wear even if it's made from fleese!
post #267 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

What? No Ginsu knives or a turkey?!

Mark would never offer that, if anything, it would be steak knives and prime rib.
post #268 of 1523
I am so very happy that this man has been indicted. I hope for a speedy trial and that he rots in jail. I was on that forum as DigitalDude and something over there just didn't seem right. It became OBVIOUS very quickly that this guy was a crook and I was bewildered by the zealotry that was on display.

This is really gonna hurt ID dealers.b I know one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch, but it will make you think twice before taking a bite.
post #269 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by lhasa-lover View Post

chu deserves nothing but respect and kudos for his work in this matter. While many of us sat, bitched, and thought only of ourselves, he took the ball and ran with it. I commend him and feel embarassed that i didn't contribute.

Tom

+1
post #270 of 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by TKYR1967 View Post

This is really gonna hurt ID dealers.b I know one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch, but it will make you think twice before taking a bite.

I do not agree. AV123 operated much differently than the other ID dealers. SVS, Aperion, Ascend, Outlaw, Hsu Research all provide top notch customer service and good products at honest prices.
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