But shame on fools at REIWA for gross stupidity!
Comment by Neil Jenman.
Here is something I never thought I’d say: “The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has made a brave and ethical decision.” The Institute has chosen not to support an American motivational speaker who has spent time in prison for fraud and money-laundering and who is coming to Australia to teach his methods to agents.
Now, you may think, “So what? Isn’t it obvious that any business concerned with its image would refuse to support a convicted fraudster?” But no, not when it comes to some segments of the Australian real estate industry and not when it comes to this particular convicted fraudster.
You see, this man is one of the world’s most notorious businessmen but he has recently been glamourised by having Hollywood make a now-famous film about him with a good-looking movie star playing him. The star is Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ and the fraudster is Jordan Ross Belfort.
Jordan Belfort is the infamous American stock swindler who gave himself the nickname ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ when he wrote a book of the same name. Belfort was released from a Federal prison in 2006 after serving a mere 22 months. Had he not co-operated with the FBI, he could have faced up to 25 years in prison. But Belfort’s light sentence was a reward for ratting on his mates.
Based on research I’ve done into the life and crimes of Jordan Belfort, I believe he should still be in prison. But, instead, he’s heading to Australia right now to teach real estate agents what he calls “the most powerful business system ever devised.” It’s the same system he used in the 1990s to steal around $200 million from thousands of investors. Yes, I know, it defies belief.
Belfort considers himself pretty smart, referring to himself these days as, “The Number One sales trainer alive!” But the Judge who sentenced him in 2003 said, “He is not as super-talented,” as he thinks. As one reviewer of Belfort’s book, put it; “He’s not super smart, he is a super liar”.
Incredibly, Jordan Belfort openly admits that the system he’ll be sharing with real estate agents in Australia is the same system that he used to swindle investors in the 1990s. The system that landed him in jail. He does “insist” that his system be used “ethically” these days. Despite his fleeced investors still being out-of-pocket for more than $200 million, Belfort also considers himself ethical these days. At a conference in Dubai this week, Belfort boasted to the audience that he expects to make “north of $100 million this year” from his seminars and book sales. This is more, he bragged, than he ever made in one year as a swindling stock broker. He then told the Dubai audience that he’s going to repay all his cheated investors this year. I don’t believe him. I don’t trust him. Many other people, especially the US regulatory authorities, don’t trust Jordan Belfort. They claim he has broken past promises to repay investors whom he swindled as far back as 20 years ago.
In essence, then, the Jordan Belfort story works like this: Devise a system to steal more than $200 million from investors. Live a life of debauchery (“I partied like a rock star and lived like a king,” are the words on the cover of Belfort’s book). Get caught. Rat on your mates and get a low prison sentence of 22 months. Write a best selling book which becomes a Hollywood movie giving you more than a million dollars in royalties. Become a motivational speaker. Travel the world and earn more than $100 million a year by telling audiences at seminars how you swindled investors out of $200 million. That’s the Belfort deal.
A brochure for an annual real estate conference (being held at the Gold Coast from June 1-2 this year) founded by Sydney auctioneer, John McGrath, says, “The year Jordan Belfort turned 26 he made $49 million through building a sales empire.” But, of course, Belfort did not “make” $49 million, he stole it. In trying to attract agents to the conference, the brochure also says, “Jordan will tell you how he did it.” Be quick agents. Only 250 seats left!
But some agents are angry. They don’t like the idea of the public seeing them taught by a man who is perhaps today’s most notorious corporate crook. Others are keen to learn from Belfort. Perhaps they accept the line he always used to sprout, “No one got killed.” If so, I’d warrant he’s ignoring the increased suicides that often accompany mass fraud schemes. Or perhaps some agents accept Belfort’s line – which is disputed by many people – that he only targeted rich people. But, as one battling investor told Liz Hayes of 60 Minutes on May 11, this year, “So what? A thief is a thief.”
To its great credit, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) – whose role is to look after the interests of agents – has publicly opposed Jordan Belfort as a trainer for real estate agents. The Institute said that “it’s an extremely disappointing choice” to have ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ “speaking at a major conference” (John McGrath’s AREC). Further, the REIV does not think that it is “a good look” for Australia’s real estate agents to be associating with Jordan Belfort. I congratulate whoever in the REIV made the decision to publicly oppose Jordan Belfort. I hope their CEO, Enzo Raimondo, influenced this noble decision. Well done. You have done your members (and the real estate industry) proud on this occasion.
Meanwhile, however, in West Australia, the Real Estate Institute (REIWA), has taken the opposite approach. They are publicly supporting Jordan Belfort! Seriously. They’ve virtually climbed into bed with the shyster. They have arranged for its agents to pay $499 (instead of $849) for a ticket to learn the former fraudsters ‘persuasion system’ (as Belfort says, his system teaches anyone to persuade anyone to do anything). The Western Australian Institute are openly boasting about saving their agents $350 per ticket. But no consideration of the cost of potential lost business through associating with someone of Belfort’s reputation.
On its web site, REIWA is describing Jordan Belfort’s life as “inspirational”. Well, you fools, you should hang your heads in shame. Try and explain just one thing that’s “inspirational” about fraud, wife-assaulting, massive drug taking, prostitutes in the office paid for with your clients’ money, money-laundering and deliberately designing a sales system to swindle investors.
Those agents who are members of REIWA (which includes most in that State), if you care or understand anything about ethics or your public image (as the REIV does), you’ll stay away from Jordan Belfort and condemn REIWA who are putting your reputation at risk by supporting one of the world’s most infamous fraudsters. Shame on REIWA!
But, again, well done to the REIV and many agents across Australia who are rejecting Jordan Belfort – the self-titled, ‘Wolf of Wall Street’.