Parramatta shopper-stopper-sham fails.
Article originally published NOVEMBER 28, 2005 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
Shady get-rich spruiker George Mihos had it all planned this week. Have some fun then make some money.
On Wednesday, he flew from Melbourne to Sydney to join 80,000 soccer fans at Telstra stadium.
What a fun night. Happy George.
On Thursday, it was time for stage two of his plan, time to make some money. Time to roll out the George Mihos spruiking show, a three-hour seminar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baulkham Hills.
Come along folks and learn George’s secrets. Secrets that make you rich. Secrets that give you multiple steams of income. Secrets that guarantee financial success. Secrets that mean “anyone can become a millionaire!”
George and his gang of spruikers (“wealth coaches” as he calls them) hoped to attract hundreds of people to last night’s event.
But, these days, it’s not easy to lure people to get-rich seminars. Especially if your name’s George Mihos. The word is spreading about the man who once worked with Australia’s most infamous spruiker, Henry Kaye.
The Victorian Government has issued a warning about Mihos. So has the Australian Consumers Association. At least two state consumer departments are investigating him. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is watching him. The Real Estate Consumer Association (RECA) has placed him on its Hall of Shame, alongside his old boss, Henry Kaye.
Plus, there’s a growing band of past customers and employees screaming for their money back. As fast as George appeases some and gets them to sign confidentiality contracts, more come forward claiming he’s ripped them off. And then, recently, a consumer tribunal described his methods as “seriously misleading”.
If all that’s not enough, Mihos has been beset by a new phenomenon in modern day spruiking – seminar hecklers.
Back in May, in the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta, several hecklers stood up at a Mihos seminar and warned the audience.
George invited one to the stage. Big mistake.
Instead of freezing in fear, the heckler let loose with a tirade that ended with these words, “George, I have been a Parramatta boy all my life. Get out of Parramatta.”
Mihos was livid.
It was six months before he attempted to target the residents of Parramatta again. This time he was oh-so-careful. No full-page advertisements in the Parramatta newspaper. No notice on his web site of when and where his seminars were being held.
George and his gang plotted a new method to fill his seminar. They decided to use the shopper stopper sham.
Mihos hired some goons from a marketing mob and sent them to Westfield Parramatta for four days at the start of November. Their mission was simple – stop shoppers and offer them a chance to win a prize “valued at $4,797” (a three-day Mihos seminar).
Shoppers were then offered free tickets to a three-hour seminar. George’s goons pretended that most people paid $297 for this seminar, but, hey, the people of Parramatta got a special deal with “limited seats available”. Lucky people of Parramatta.
No, make that smart people of Parramatta. And make that unlimited seats.
Despite gathering hundreds of names, by kick-off time at last night’s seminar barely a handful of people were in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza.
One was a man from ASIC (good on him). Another was the heckler who had stood on the stage back in May (he was refused entry). And the remaining dozen had to wait outside the seminar room while George’s goons were frantically removing chairs inside.
Finally, the doors opened.
But there were two things missing. An audience and a spruiker.
Not only did the people of Parramatta not turn up to the George Mihos show last night, neither did George Mihos.
Compared with the soccer on Wednesday, it was a sad night for a spruiker. His shopper-stopper-sham failed to fool the people of Parramatta. Splat goes the spruiker.
Perhaps he should have remembered what the heckler told him last time, “Get out of Parramatta. You’re not welcome. Get back to Melbourne and rip Melbourne off.”
George Mihos is back in Melbourne today.
And the people of Parramatta can shop in safety at Westfield’s again.
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