13 Reasons to Reject Jordan Belfort (Wolf Wall St)
Comment/Essay (2014) by Neil Jenman,
Australian Author and Consumer Advocate
Jordan Belfort is one of the world’s most infamous white-collar criminals. In the 1990s, he stole more than $200 million by devising a sales method (that he later called ‘The Straight-Line System‘) which he boasted could “persuade anybody to do anything”.
Jordan Belfort built his scam empire (which he refers to today as his “sales empire”) into more than a thousand mostly young men who followed his methods to cheat thousands of investors out of their savings. He called his stock-broking company, Stratton Oakmont (because it sounded secure and respectable). He later admitted that it would have been more appropriate if it had been named Sodam and Gomorrah. The most honest name would have been ‘Grab It and Run’ because that’s almost exactly what Belfort and his team of highly-trained con artists did – they cheated naive (but decent and trusting) people and left them financially poorer, many financially devastated.
Jordon Belfort will be in Australia in June 2014 for a series of paid speaking engagements and seminars. Incredibly, he will be teaching the very same system that he once used to fleece hundreds of millions of dollars from thousands of investors. This time, however, Belfort insists that those who learn his persuasion methods use it “ethically”. He has even placed the following words on his web-site: “WARNING: In The Wrong Hands, These Persuasion Tactics Could Be Used To Manipulate Your Customers And The People In Your Life…” Of course, as the master conman himself surely knows, his “mock” warning brings agents to him like ants to honey.
Jordan Belfort gave himself the name, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ when, in 2007, after his release from a ridiculously short prison sentence (I mean, come on, have you ever heard of anyone stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and getting a prison sentence of a mere 22 months?!). Jordan Belfort’s respectable sounding company, Stratton Oakmont, did not even work on Wall Street. Once again, that was something his salespeople told investors to make them feel safe. In reality, Belfort began his scam operation from a decrepit warehouse built on reclaimed swamp land in Long Island. Rather than ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, he should be known as ‘The Rat of Long Island’. Anyone who does any reasonable amount of research into Jordan Belfort will soon discover that he is indeed a rat – of the worst kind.
Belfort’s first speaking engagement in Australia will be on behalf of Sydney real estate auctioneer, John McGrath at McGrath’s annual real estate seminar which is being held on the Gold Coast from June 1 – June 2, 2014. In response to criticism that he could hire someone such as Jordan Belfort, John McGrath sent an email to his data base attempting to justify his decision. McGrath described Jordan Belfort’s past as ‘colourful’.
But even Belfort himself is seldom so soft on himself. I don’t know what’s colourful about mass fraud, ripping-off investors, hiring prostitutes and charging them to the company or having group orgies with prostitutes in the office or severe drug addiction or the mistreatment of a child or the assault of his wife. Jordan Belfort’s past is not colourful, it’s evil. Or, as Jordan Belfort described himself: “despicable”.
But what does it matter to agents who are hungry to make more sales, whether or not they hire the world’s most notorious stock market swindler? No need to do a public survey and discover that about 90 per cent of all people who submit comments after they have read an article about Jordan Belfort range from shocked to vehemently opposed that anyone, including estate agents, in the business world could even consider hiring a person with such a shameful and shocking history.
Here’s a couple of common examples of what the public is saying about businesses who hire ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
– “Why in hell are people making a hero out of this thief? Society has reached an all-time low in creating superheroes out of liars, cheats, thieves and gangsters. This fool is just one of many who are being idealised (sic) when we don’t outright condemn them.”
– “This guy is an unashamed unrepentant crook. The only people who would be interested in hearing him speak would be aspirants to his way of life.”
And. on May 27, Catherine Cashmore, writing for Smart Company.com.au, an on-line magazine which provides some of the finest business advice and information in Australia, described the decision to hire Jordan Belfort to “educate real estate agents at the biggest industry training event of the year” with one word – “diabolical”.
In his email, in which he laid out his reasons for why “we engaged Jordan”, John McGrath said: “A number of successful salespeople I know (several I have worked with for many years) attended his [Belfort’s] training seminar a few years ago & declared it to be ‘the best sales training they have been to'”.
McGrath said he then “viewed a clip of Jordan’s training” and saw that Belfort was “a very skilled sales coach (also one of the best I had seen)”.
Well, of course he is, John. You don’t get to fleece $200 million from two thousand investors unless you are a highly skilled sales coach (read “persuader”). Con men are great talkers, mate.
Well, please Mr McGrath; no one is disputing the fact that Jordan Belfort is not a good sales coach. It’s his character that’s of such great concern. In the sentence where he wrote that he had viewed the “clip” of Belfort, John McGrath then wrote the following words: “Secondly, he had turned the corner & was living a new life of integrity, far removed from his dark past.” But, how do you tell, from a video “clip” that a man is living a life of integrity?
Agreed, Jordan Belfort is certainly not living the same life as his “dark past”. But, according to Belfort himself, he’s going to earn more money now, in the year 2014, than he ever made during the darkest years of his past!
And where and how is he earning his money these days?
From you, Mr McGrath and the 3,000 salespeople who are, as you proudly state, giving you the “best ever” bookings in your history. Well, that’s terrific. You’ve never hired a speaker whose ethics have ever been so low and yet you boast that your bookings have never been so hire.
Tell me, if Bernie Madoff (another Wall Street crook) was on the speaking circuit, would you consider hiring him – if it meant “record numbers” coming to your conference? If he told you he was now “ethical”. Remember, when Jordan Belfort was swindling investors, he was advertising that his company had “integrity”. He’s saying the same thing today as he travels the world teaching his “persuasion system” to business people.
But, these days, he also gives advice on “ethics”. Yes, seriously, he does. That’s a bit like Ivan Milat giving travel advice.
But, by far, the statement that I found, well, simply insulting in John McGrath’s email this: He said “it would be a minority of those who have never been off track, and those that come back ‘from the brink’ can teach something of great value, including the reasons not to stray.”
Oh, please, how can you possibly imply that the majority of the population have been “off track” to the same extent as Jordan Belfort?! That’s offensive to everyone. In my entire life of studying business and businessmen, I have never discovered any that have been “off track” to the same extent as Jordan Belfort. Name one businessman who held midget-tossing competitions in his office once a week!
McGrath says, “I strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to reinvent & redesign their life and get back on track.”
Everyone?! You cannot possibly be serious. There are some people who have hurt so many people and behaved so badly and told so many lies and stolen so much money that, I firmly believe, they can never be trusted again. Especially when, twenty years after their fraud, they still owe countless millions to their victims.
To make matters far worse, Jordan Belfort is now openly boasting that he’s making more money for teaching the methods he used to commit his crimes than he made when he was actually committing the crimes. In Belfort’s case “crime pays” but “talking about crime pays more”. Last week, at a seminar in Dubai, Belfort told his audience that he expects to make “north of one hundred million dollars” this year. When he was swindling money, he made half that amount – $50 million a year.
The entire argument about whether or not John McGrath (or many others) should hire Jordan Belfort can be summed up in seven words – “This man is profiting from his crimes!” If he was an Australian, he’d be breaking the law. We don’t allow someone to steal $200 million, order them to repay $50 million and then allow them to earn another $100 million a year. That’s the American way; it’s not the Australian way.
And that’s just one of many reasons why I believe that Jordan Belfort is playing people for suckers. If he was serious about repaying investors, as he claims, he’d have taken his you-beaut-business system and gone into a legitimate business a long time ago. But, clearly, by far the best way for Jordan to stash dollars these days is to talk (and teach) about how he stole dollars yesterday.
In your brochure, Mr McGrath, you make this statement about this Yank crook, “The year Jordan Belfort turned 26, he made $49 million through building a sales empire”. You then say that “Jordan will tell you how he did it & how he lost it”.
But, John, he didn’t “make” $49 million. He stole it. He even admits as much in the movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ and in his book. I am sick of seeing people who are promoting Belfort, boasting about how much money he “made” when he was a young man or how “successful” he was in business.
People who steal lots of money should not be deemed to be successful or to have “made” money.
But there is something else that’s very important. It’s probably the most important point of all. Did you know, Mr McGrath, that your email outlining the reasons you “engaged” Jordan Belfort had one major point in common with Martin Scorsese’s film of Jordan Belfort’s life, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’?
Can you guess what that point was, John?
It was this: No victims!
That’s right, there was no mention of any of Belfort’s victims in the movie (other than a brief reference to them as “garbage”) and there was no mention of any of Jordan Belfort’s victims in your email. It makes me want to ask one question: “Why not?” Why do you and so many other supporters (or “fans” as Belfort calls his supporters) hardly ever (or never) mention the thousands of people he ripped-off and who are still unpaid?
Did you know that a lot of white-collar crime, especially fraud, causes far more long-term pain than ‘normal’ crime? And while you are shaking hands with Jordan Belfort this weekend and your “record” audience of 3,000 (plus) agents is laughing at his jokes and giving him thunderous applause as he tells them how to make more money than they’ve ever made in their life, spare a thought for Dorothy from Florida.
Twenty years ago, in 1994, when Dorothy and her 88-year-old husband gave Jordan Belfort’s “sales team” almost all the money they had in the world, $252,000 (a lot of money back then), they had no idea that they’d never see it again. They had no idea that their travel plans would be crushed. They never got their money back. Today, they’re probably dead (or 108!) but not Jordan Belfort. He’s alive and well. He recently told Liz Hayes, from ‘60 Minutes’, “Life is great. I’m happier today than I have ever been in my entire life. I have never been happier.”
Yes, John, just remember Dorothy and the thousands of other people – many of them still alive and still suffering – who are the victims of Jordan Belfort.
Back in 2001, when the US authorities were still prosecuting Jordan Belfort, which was before he went to prison – and long before he decided to call himself ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ and write his bestselling books about his crimes and long before the 2013 movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, would make Jordan Belfort known around the world, Susan Harrigan, a journalist who had investigated Belfort a lot more thoroughly than you appear to have done, wrote the following words that I urge you to consider: “The lavish lifestyles of Jordan Belfort, Daniel Porush and other top brokers at Stratton Oakmont were paid for by the broken dreams of tens of thousands of individual investors.” Broken dreams. Thousands of shattered investors.
Here’s my message to you, John McGrath, and anyone else who is responsible for making the decision to “engage” Jordan Belfort as a speaker at your seminar. I believe you have made a big mistake. Oh, sure, not in the minds of the agents who have been attracted to your seminar in record numbers to see and hear Jordan, but in the minds of people who really count – the public. Real estate agents have got a bad enough name without hiring someone for your real estate conference who has been in prison for fraud and is going to teach those agents the exact same persuasion methods that he once used to cheat investors.
Now, I will agree with something that applies to “everyone”. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s what we do when we become aware of those mistakes that really tests our characters. (And, please, do NOT fall for Jordan Belfort’s line that he, too, made “mistakes” or “strayed from the ethical path”. Fraud is deliberate, not a mistake).
It’s not too late for you to change your mind. With what you know now, I really believe you have no choice. You must fire this former fraudster. Please, I implore you.
I have been in the real estate industry for 42 years and I have never felt as ashamed with something in our industry as I am over your decision to have Jordan Belfort as a headline speaker at your 2014 seminar. Hiring a convicted criminal who is going to teach his crooked ways to agents (on the laughable condition that they “agree to use it ethically”) makes me cringe.
Yes, I know agents need to make more sales. But, this morning, I felt so sad about this ‘Wolf of Wall Street‘ character coming into our industry, that I actually asked myself the question: “What’s the real estate industry coming to?”
Not only do I think that bringing Jordan Belfort to your seminar is the wrong thing to do, I also think, in the future, it will bring bad luck to you and all the agents who listen to him speak. In case I haven’t given you enough reasons to change your mind about Jordan Belfort, I have listed below another 13 Reasons to Reject Jordan Belfort.
Thank you for reading my points of view. I truly hope you consider my comments and act favourably (and quickly!).
ABUSE OF WOMEN.
I despise men who abuse women. I agree with the football star, Dermott Brereton (now, there’s a good speaker for a conference!) who said something like: “Any man who hits a woman is a coward.”
Jordan Belfort didn’t just hit his wife, Nadine; he kicked her down a set of stairs. And then, after he was arrested and Nadine told him that she wanted to divorce him, he felt that he could “strangle her to death”.
After he was charged with multiple crimes, he told his wife (after she said she wanted to leave him): “What kind of f——- person are you? Tell me! Are you trying to set a world record for lack of compassion?” The irony seemed to be lost on Belfort who felt no compassion for the thousands of victims from whom he had stolen more than $20 million. The world record for “lack of compassion” had already been set – by Belfort himself.
Aside from assaulting a woman, Belfort abused many women simply by the appalling way he treated them. Aside from his wife, Nadine, who told him, “You mistreated me for years,” there was the truly despicable way that Belfort and his cronies treated prostitutes. He admits that he “classified them like publicly traded stocks”.
There were three types of “hookers” – the Blue Chips who, although beautiful, were desperate for cash. “They’d do almost anything imaginable for a few thousand dollars. Next came the NASDAQs who were just below the Blue Chips and cost Belfort between three and five hundred dollars each. They all wanted him to wear a condom, but he says that he always gave them “a hefty tip” to exclude the condom.
Finally, there was the third type, what Belfort called “The Pink Sheet Hookers”. He said that these women were “the lowest form of all”. They often cost a hundred dollars or less. In the movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, Belfort’s brokers are openly depicted having sex in the office with tattooed girls.
While many people seemed to think these scenes were funny – and Belfort himself often laughs or smirks when discussing his “debauchery” – these scenes were both revolting and dreadfully sad at the same time. As journalist, Helen Razer, wrote in Crikey.com.au soon after the film was released, “Women are just objects to these immoral people.”
Jordan Belfort claims that, in reality, things – the prostitutes and the drugs – were “far worse” than depicted in the movie. “Worse?” Well, just how low did this man sink?
But today, he’s different. Well, sure, it would be hard to maintain the level of depravity in his past. But Belfort, I feel, seems to have scant respect for women even today. He’s always loved using the F word. The movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ contained the use of the F word on 569 occasions, more than any movie ever made.
As for his book, my Kindle isn’t capable of counting past 500 and it just told me that Belfort used the F word “more than 500 times”. In his second book, which was only written in 2009, Belfort used the F word 286 times. Even today, Belfort “unashamedly” admits that he constantly uses the F word.
But to use the F word even once in front of a woman, especially one you don’t know, is, in my opinion, “abuse”. And that’s exactly what Jordan Belfort did on May 16 this year. On the previous Sunday, May 11, Belfort had appeared on the Australian television current affairs program, ’60 Minutes’. He was expecting a nice friendly interview. His shock, when he came up against one of Australia’s most admired journalists, Liz Hayes, who had clearly done some research into Belfort, was obvious. Indeed, he became so annoyed when Liz Hayes asked him questions about his two least favourite topics – his victims and his money – that he did what cowards usually do when faced with tough questions. He got angry and stormed off. He raised his voice in what was quite a nasty manner.
Clearly, the “real” Jordan Belfort had emerged.
But then, a few days later, on a Sydney talk-back radio station, he abused Liz Hayes. He called her a “F-WIT” and claimed that ’60 Minutes’ was such a bad program that he called on all Australians to “boycott” the program. As if he really believed that Australians would put a convicted fraudster ahead of one of Australia’s most well-liked journalists – towards whom he’d thrown his F word.
To show just how much notice the public take of Jordan Belfort – who did get plenty of publicity for his call for the public to support him and boycott ’60 Minutes’, the following Sunday (18/5/14), when the next edition of the program went to air, ’60 Minutes’ increased its audience by 240,000 people!
Sure, it’s obviously tongue-in-cheek (or I hope it is), but Belfort ends his first book by saying that he’s going to figure out a way to kill his wife “without getting caught”.
Considering that, in the world, a woman is killed by her male partner about every hour; even joking about violence against women is a low act. But that’s Jordan Belfort for you.
Jordan Belfort is a liar. He was a liar when he was fleecing investors and he’s still a liar today.
In just one of the many advertisements for his modern-day motivational speaking career, he uses a headline which says, “The truth behind the success of the real life wolf of Wall Street.” But no dictionary in the world could possibly describe mass fraud, drug-taking and abusing women as “success”.
So that’s his first lie. Instead of being the former success, as he and his deluded supporters claim, he was a fraudster and a loser who ended up in prison.
On Sydney radio on May 23, Gus Worland from radio station MMM arranged to surprise Jordan Belfort by having one of Belfort’s victims, Ken Minor, confront Belfort live-on-air. Belfort did the same as he did with Liz Hayes – he ran (well, he hung up the phone). Later he accused the radio station of doing a “hatchet job” on him, the exact same accusation that he’d levelled at ’60 Minutes’.
But Belfort’s victim didn’t hang up, he stayed on the line long enough to tell Gus Worland’s audience that he considered Jordan Belfort “a liar and cheat and he’s preyed on not just the rich, he’s also preyed on the poor people and the middle class.”
It’s one of Belfort’s most common claims – that he targeted rich people only. But Liz Hayes interviewed Bob Shearin, another of Belfort’s victims who said that he was certainly not a wealthy person. But then Mr Shearin made an interesting and important point about Belfort’s [false] claim to have only robbed the rich. “So what?” he said, “A thief is a thief.”
In the Acknowledgements section of his book, Jordan Belfort gives his thanks to someone he refers to as his “good friend”, a man called Bo Dietl. A former New York police detective, Dietl was once Belfort’s chief of security. Commenting on Belfort’s character and claims, Dietl calls Belfort a “punk” and says, “He understands about one thing – greed.” Dietl calls Belfort “a rat”. He says that Belfort was “a damn thief. He set these people [investors] up, that’s the facts. I’m angry at him.” If this is how his “friends” feel about him, what about his enemies? Well, there are plenty of them – and they hate him.
One of the biggest lies that Belfort tells these days is that he started off as an honest businessman whose ethics, over a period of time “went down the tube.” But Belfort was clearly dishonest from the beginning.
In both the book and the movie, there’s a scene where Belfort makes his first sales call at his new company. Slowly, as Belfort reels the victim in, the other brokers in the office gather around to listen in awe as he exaggerates and lies and deceives the potential client.
Finally, after he ‘scores’ the sale, he is applauded. People ask him how he managed to “sell” like that. But Belfort’s sale pitch is built on deception. It always has been, and it probably always will be. And these days, as he tells the ‘fairy-tales’ about his past, it’s clear that this man is such a consummate liar he doesn’t seem to know when he’s lying and when he’s telling the truth.
When grilled by any well-researched journalist, Belfort will stutter and stammer and contradict himself until he realises what a fool he’s making of himself and then he’ll ‘cut-and-run’ as he did with the two Sydney journalists who grilled him. Later, when those journalists are long gone, Belfort will accuse them of doing a “hatchet job” on him. Or he’ll say that they were engaging in “sensationalism”. What he fails to realise is that what he’s done in his past – ripping-off thousands of investors – and what he’s doing today – going around the world pocketing even more money than during his swindling stock-broking days – is a sensational story.
Belfort often states that he’s giving all the money from his talks and his books back to his victims. But not according to the US regulatory authorities. They’ve had to drag him back into court to get him to honour his obligations. But “honour” is not a word that should ever be associated with Jordan Belfort.
Forbes Magazine – who were the first to ‘cotton-on’ to Belfort being a crook as far back as 1991, wrote in 2014, “Jordan Belfort, the stock manipulator, is now trying to manipulate words.”
For example, lately, he’s been saying that all the ripped-off investors will be paid back this year. I don’t believe him. In fact, here’s what I’ll do – if Belfort keeps his word (i.e. tells the truth) and repays all investors who lost money through dealing with him, I’ll donate $100,000 to the White Ribbon Foundation PLUS I’ll take full-page advertisements in every major city daily newspaper in Australia saying, “I’m sorry, Jordan!”. Ha – as if that’s going to happen!
DELIBERATE MASS FRAUD.
As we’ve already seen – from his chief of security, Bo Dietl – Jordan Belfort deliberately set out to steal from investors. Despite describing himself as having “choirboy looks” Belfort was never some good lad who, through too much ambition which morphed into greed, became a crook. He was always greedy. He was always a crook.
As former Assistant US Attorney, Joel Cohen (whom Belfort hates with a fury; indeed, if you want to see the real hidden anger emerge from Belfort, just mention the name, Joel Cohen) said: “If he [Belfort] is trying to create the impression that he is basically an honest guy who stepped over the line a bit, that is dead wrong. This is a guy who woke up every day, seven days a week for many years, and said, What crimes can I commit today? He was looking to rip people off on a daily basis.”
USES “MISTAKES” EXCUSE.
Belfort – and his supporters – use a word that many criminals use to explain-away or make light-of their past serious crimes. They refer to their crimes as “mistakes”. But there’s a vast difference between ‘deliberate intent’ and a ‘mistake’. A mistake is an ‘accident’ and you don’t accidentally abuse your wife and kick her down the stairs. You don’t accidentally steal $200 million.
As mentioned in the introduction, crooks such as Belfort use the word “mistake” to make us think that they are just like the rest of us. We’ve all heard the true saying, “Everyone makes mistakes,” and we all know that we have all made mistakes.
And so, when a crook or a con artist is seeking redemption, he’ll infer that he’s just like us, he “made mistakes” and now he’s sorry and he’s trying to redeem his life. And those who get taken in by this “mistakes” excuse will say things such as, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” And those who refuse to forgive the crook will be painted as lacking compassion.
Well, that’s right; I have zero compassion for Jordan Belfort while he travels the world in luxury making millions of dollars talking about his crimes. My compassion is for his victims.
VICTIMS STILL SUFFERING.
Jordan Belfort’s victims are still suffering today because of what he did to them. He made them poor in order to make himself rich. And he’s still rich today and his victims are still poor today. How can that be justified?
John McGrath said that he didn’t know the “intricacies” of Belfort’s like, which must mean that he has not read Belfort’s books (and he certainly wouldn’t have spoken to any of Belfort’s victims). He wouldn’t have read the part in Belfort’s book where he said that, basically whatever happened to him: “I still had enough money squirreled away to emerge from jail a wealthy man.” Yes, he admits it, he’s still got the money he stole from his victims who are still suffering today.
Today Belfort boasts that, for him, life has never been better. And yet, in one interview after another, you’ll never hear Belfort mention two words – “my victims”. On the contrary, if any interviewer raises the subject of Belfort’s victims, he will instantly clam up. If you push him to talk about his victims or reveal what he did with the money, he’ll do what he’s done to the only two Australian journalists with the courage to confront him – Liz Hayes and Gus Worland – he’ll run away or hang up the phone.
I just can’t stand to see Belfort living the high-life and being welcomed to Australia by John McGrath and other agents while he still owes around $200 million to his victims.
Put simply, Jordan Belfort is a thief who got almost completely away with one of the biggest heists of the 20th Century. Let’s be honest: in the type of world we live in today – a world of selfishness and greed – what percentage of young men would love to have lived Belfort’s life? To have raked in more than $200 million and spent the majority of his life “living like a king and partying like a rock star” – and all at the “cost” of just 22 months in prison. What a deal!
The biggest way that ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ glorifies his crimes and his lifestyle is with the name “wolf”. He claims it was one of many nicknames given to him. But no one who worked with him at any stage during his years of thieving and debauchery can recall him being referred to as “the wolf”. It’s a name that Jordan Belfort himself invented because it sounds slick and sexy. But, as we have seen, Jordan Belfort should not be known as ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, he should be known as ‘The Rat from Long Island’.
In today’s business world, I am no longer part of the ‘young set’. In my fifties, I am constantly told, by those in their twenties and thirties, that I am naive about what goes on in today’s business world, even in my real estate world which I think I know so well.
A few weeks ago, a young agent who works in the inner-city areas of Sydney told me that I’d be “horrified” if I knew just how many of today’s younger agents live. “If you think the drug-taking and the coke snorting in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ was bad, you ought to see how many young agents behave today. Lots are ‘coke-heads’. And as for the love of money, they just adore it. They worship money. The way that commissions have risen during these real estate glory days, many agents are being paid upwards of $25,000 for every home they sell. Lots of them are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Some are raking in a million plus.”
“Jordan Belfort is like a hero to these guys. I’m not at all surprised that John McGrath’s getting a record attendance to his annual seminar. Hiring the Wolf of Wall Street for a real estate convention is like hiring the Pope for a Catholic convention.”
Well, even if this is how much of today’s real estate world thinks and operates, it’ll never be how I think and operate. If Jordan Belfort follows form, this weekend, more than three thousand agents at John McGrath’s convention will be yelling, in unison: “I love money.”
It makes me sick.
Jordan Belfort lives in luxury today while his victims suffer. He lives in a beautiful home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. He drives a $140,000 sports Mercedes. He’s got “fans” all over the world who’d just love to be like him. They’d love to live his life-style, that’s why they flock to see him, emptying their wallets to fill his pockets in the hope that they, too, will one day live the luxury life-style of Jordan Belfort.
Even today, Belfort still hires private jets, saying he doesn’t care what it costs. Do you know how expensive it is to hire a private jet? And this from a man who claims to be full of remorse for his victims. What a slap in the face for thousands of investors who lost so many millions.
How does he afford to hire those private jets these days? Oh, that’s right; he says he’s earning $100 million a year. But has anyone done some simple sums? If he gets $30,000 a speech, he’d have to give more than 3,000 speeches a year to be earning $100 million. Something doesn’t add up. But what was that he wrote about “squirreling” money in his books. Look, here’s a tip: Don’t start asking Jordan Belfort too many simple questions about his financial position. He’ll get angry.
Let me share something with you: The way the real estate industry is structured today, almost anyone can earn a huge income; it depends on what they are prepared to do.
In the short-term, if they lie and cheat, agents can be richly rewarded. Indeed, it’s often the case in the real estate industry that the more you lie, the more you earn. Honest agents often get trampled to death by dishonest agents.
Each year, hundreds – probably thousands – of agents leave the industry in disgust; they refuse to tell the common lies which many agents think are “essential” to success; they refuse to use systems that have been designed for one reason – to get the sale and get the most money for them. Client service? Client care? Client satisfaction? Forget about it, in most cases.
Real estate is a selfish industry polluted by selfish people, the sort who worships Jordan Belfort.
They call it “the Magic Bullet” and almost every agent is constantly seeking for it. It’s that way of making a sale by doing less work, by beating your competitors more easily and by making the maximum money for yourself.
And, basically, this is the number one reason that people are flocking to see Jordan Belfort. He calls himself “The #1 Sales Trainer Alive!” and he promises that he can show anyone how to easily persuade anyone to do anything. To most agents, such a promise is almost irresistible. It’s the “fairy dust” they dream of finding. To urge them to come along, Belfort tells them, “This system is the closest thing to magic I’ve ever seen.”
But little do these agents realise that they are trying to break the ‘Laws of Life’ – you can’t earn large quantities of money without doing two things: working hard and taking care of your clients, not if you want to keep your integrity intact. But then, I suppose, who cares about integrity at a seminar conducted by a convicted fraudster? These people don’t even know that they are committing one of what Gandhi called, ‘The 7 Greatest Sins’ – “Wealth without work”.
But, hey, do you want to hear something really funny? Jordan Belfort developed a “system” which enabled him to “make” (steal!) $50 million a year.
Today, by selling his “system”, Belfort makes (according to him) $100 million a year. But if you really want to know about Jordan Belfort’s “system” you do not have to pay him hundreds or thousands of dollars. You can get his entire “system” off the Internet for next-to-nothing. Other crooks are ripping it off and selling it for a mere pittance! There are even a few books that you can buy for as little as $4 (yes, FOUR dollars!) from Amazon or Kindle.
This is almost the Number One reason that you should stay away from Jordan Belfort.
Honestly, what do you think your prospective customers (and your current clients) would think of you if they knew you were paying one of the world’s notorious convicted fraudsters to train you? You know the answer to that question.
Anyone who knows anything about Jordan Belfort – and who even remotely cares about some of the points made in this article – would be disgusted with you for wanting to learn a convicted fraudster’s methods.
Picture a poster in the window of a real estate agency. It’s got a large photograph of Jordan Belfort. It also has these words:
“This man stole more than $200 million from more than 2,000 investors using his “system” that he boasts can convince anyone to do anything. He recently came to Australia and trained thousands of agents. Our agency refused to be trained by him, no matter how many extra sales he promised we could make or how much extra money he promised we could earn. At our agency, our Number One goal is to take care of our clients. We do not go to seminars and yell out, along with thousands of other money-hungry agents, “I LOVE MONEY!” No, we love our customers – and it shows! Call us today and experience what it’s like to deal with an agent who attends training courses on customer care and client satisfaction. Thank you.”
In the months and years ahead, I hope all Australian home sellers ask one question before hiring an agent: “Have you ever been to a Jordan Belfort training course?” If the agents answer ‘yes’, the sellers should refuse to hire such agents. They should kick those Jordan Belfort “friends and fans” (as he calls them) out of their homes.
If your reputation is important to you, please, for your own sake, stay away from Jordan Belfort. You watch, here’s a prediction: As times goes on, Belfort’s reputation will get worse – and those who made friends with him or ‘hired’ him in 2014 are likely to be both embarrassed and ashamed.
This is my favourite Jordan Belfort story. It really reveals his character: When the FBI – after investigating Belfort for six long years – finally arrested him, the FBI special agent in charge of the case, Gregory Coleman, said that as soon as Belfort realised he was facing more than 20 years in prison, “he cried like a baby.”
That’s right, boo-hoo, boo-hoo, was the reaction of a man who’d spent years ripping-off investors, abusing his wife and taking huge quantities of drugs.
What bothered the FBI agent most about Jordan Belfort was that he “put so many of his friends and family at criminal risk.” And then, once he was caught – and he realised that, among other things, he couldn’t bribe the judge – he was prepared to do anything to save himself, to get himself a shorter sentence.
And how did he do that?
Well, what’s the first thing that a coward does to save himself? He hurts others. Belfort agreed to become a rat, a real rat. He agreed to ‘wear a wire’ (a listening device) and he then went out and rounded up his friends, most of whom he’d taught to use his ‘straight-line selling system’ to help him get rich, and he recorded them talking to him about how they, too, committed criminal acts. Consequently, the FBI made many more arrests.
Unlike Belfort, the FBI and the prosecutors were true to their word. They put in a good word for him to the Judge. In fact, so well did the prosecutor speak of Belfort, in return for all the ‘ratting’ he’d done on his mates, that they were shocked when the Judge sentenced him to a mere 22 months prison. Many of those good friends and close associates – whom he had ‘ratted on’ so skilfully – received much longer sentences than Belfort.
Yes, as Belfort, to his delight, discovered, cowardice paid. Or as a bitterly disappointed Greg Coleman said, “Crime pays.” He believed that Belfort should have received at least one year in prison for every year that Coleman spent investigating him – which would have meant that Belfort would have spent at least six years in prison.
Most decent Australians (which means most Australians) consider men who abuse women to be cowards. I think that men who lie to investors in order to, as Belfort describes it, “talk people out of their money” are also cowards. And, as everyone in the world knows, one of the most cowardly things you can do in your life is “rat on your mates”.
These days, we have some real heroes in our country. Why not hire a local hero for a conference instead of an overseas coward?
Recently, another Australian real estate identity hired a speaker called Ben Roberts-Smith to speak at a seminar.
There is a vast difference in character between Jordan Belfort and Ben Roberts-Smith. Jordan is a coward who rats on his mates; Ben is a war hero who saves his mates. Ben won a Victoria Cross. Jordan went to jail.
Had he wanted to, this other identity could have hired Jordan Belfort (just as anyone who’s got the money that Belfort wants can hire Belfort). But, no, he chose the Aussie hero and not the Yank coward. Granted, he didn’t get a “record” crowd to his seminar – but he got a speaker whom the audience truly loved, one who did not talk about a system he’d invented to defraud investors of millions of dollars, one who didn’t mention drugs or prostitutes.
No, instead, Ben Roberts-Smith spoke of those great (but perhaps old-fashioned) values such as honour, mateship, courage and love of country. I adore Ben Roberts-Smith. I despise Jordan Ross Belfort.
I’ve got a suggestion for you, John McGrath: Why not put a ‘hero-test’ on those you invite to speak at your seminars? Okay, I agree, you may get fewer agents to attend, but I’ll bet you anything that you’ll feel better. And, finally, who do you think is going to make the real estate industry look better – a convicted Yank fraudster or a decorated Aussie war-hero?
John, if you get rid of Jordan Belfort, I’ll be happy to contact Ben Roberts-Smith for you. He’s a friend of a friend and he once sent me his book with a lovely message in it. I might be able to get you ‘mate’s rates’. I promise you that your audience will adore Ben Roberts-Smith – and for all the right reasons. I know that time is tight and your seminar starts soon, but it’s not too late to fire the Yank coward and hire an Aussie hero.
I’ll help you. I’ll tell you what: In consideration of you losing the money you’ve paid Belfort, I’ll pay the speaking fees for the hero. So you’re no worse off and, as I said, you’ll have an Aussie hero not a Yank coward. And if Ben Roberts-Smith is not available, I’ll contact another Aussie hero, like Dermott Brereton or Shane Crawford (oh. the guts of that guy in raising money for breast cancer. What a hero!). Come on, Australia is full of heroes.
CREATES MORE CROOKS.
We’ve got enough crooks in real estate without hiring a convicted American fraudster to come here and teach agents a method that he admits was the method he used to rip-off more than 2,000 people.
Here are Belfort’s own words from his own web site: “I once used these same tactics for the wrong reasons. To be honest, I was carried away by the crazy sums of money I was able to generate using the System I’m about to show you, and being only 26 years old at the time, I lost my way…”
Yea right Jordan, you never “lost” any way, you “chose” a way – a way of deliberate dishonesty. And now, you’re raking in millions by “selling” your admitted dishonest system by telling people about this ridiculous condition: “In fact, I insist you use it ethically.”
Jordan, it’s easy to see why your “good friend”, Bo Dietl, calls you a “punk”. Tell us, Jordan, you know that there are thousands of young “punks” who, incredibly, admire you; but, more than that, they strive to be like you during what you now call your “darkest days” when you did things like check into London’s Dorchester Hotel’s most magnificent suite – at a cost of about $50,000 for the night. When your wife called you from America, little did she know that you had a call-girl with you. A lot of young men see such behaviour as amusing. But even you said: “The Wolf was a despicable character; he cheated on his wife, slept with hookers, spent obscene amounts of money, and viewed securities laws as nothing more than shallow obstacles to be hurdled in a single bound. He justified his actions using absurd rationalisations.”
Today, your rationalisations are still absurd.
Come on, seriously, how can you “insist” that people who pay you hundreds or thousands of dollars to get their paws on your “system” will act “ethically”?
If crooked agents come to your seminar – and. believe me, the convention hall will be crawling with some of Australia’s dodgiest agents. Even one of their 2014 speakers, who’s been training other agents for years, has taught some dreadfully dishonest methods. He, together with his Dad, was once one of Australia’s most prolific user of dummy bidders at his auctions. He once told agents, from the stage – and in writing in his manuals, that “if you get an offer before auction, always tell the owners that you’ve got a lower offer. For example, if the buyers offer $400,000, tell the sellers that you’ve got an offer of $350,000.” You know what that’s called, Jordan? It’s called FRAUD! Now, granted, just like you are doing, this agent says he’s a “good boy” today. But whether or not that’s true, he can also do something that you do – teach agents to sell real estate his way. And, just as you do, he also earns a stack of money.
But what are you going to do, Jordan Belfort, when (not “if”) huge numbers of agents learn how you “easily persuaded” people to believe your crooked sales pitch, do the same as you did?
Do you really believe that if your system, that you admit you once used so dishonestly, falls into the hands of crooked agents, that these agents will use it “ethically” merely because you “insist” that they use it ethically? Wake up!
What are you going to do if some crooked agents rip-off their clients using your system? Are you going to add these new victims to your current list of victims, most of whom haven’t received a cent from you in around 20 years? Of course not!
One of the many certain disadvantages from having you in our country, I’m sure, is that, with thousands of agents in possession of your “powerfully persuasive” and “magic” system, tens of thousands of Australian real estate consumers are going to be in real danger. Honestly, I feel sick just thinking about the damage to come.
And where will you be when you’ve created more crooks who are ripping-off Australians? Flying first-class to your next five-star hotel where you’ll be spruiking to another group of wanna-be Jordan Belforts.
REGULATOR AND FBI COMMENTS.
The regulatory authorities, those hard-working men and women from the FBI and the US justice authorities certainly don’t believe that Jordan Belfort can be trusted these days. It really “galls” many of them to see him boasting about the money he’s raking in today.
These people realise a point that almost all his seminar “junkies” and “fans” completely miss – Jordan Belfort has never, not in his entire life, ever been successful in a real job or any business other than speaking about his crooked past.
The only honest business he seems to have had was in the meat business where he had a fleet of more than 20 trucks. What happened? He went bankrupt, which, to me, just proves one important point: Jordan Belfort is a lousy businessman. Oh, great con man, yes; but good, hardworking, ethical and successful businessman, not in a million years.
Belfort has bragged that if he had acted honestly from the start of his life that he’d be worth “forty or fifty billion dollars” today. Rubbish. What a joke.
If that was true, why has he cashed-in on his criminal past rather than go and start a ‘real’ business, any business other than spruiking about how he’s the world’s best sales trainer? He’s not a “salesman”. Indeed, he gives real salespeople – those millions of honest men and women who work in the sales professions around the world – a bad name. Just ask the cops – or anyone who works in law enforcement and does even the slightest amount of research into Jordan Belfort – and they’ll tell you. Jordan Belfort is a con man. Always has been and, as many believe (including me, of course), he always will be a con man.
Even though he keeps expressing “regret” that he stole so much money, especially when he’s speaking to a journalist about “losing his ethical way”, it’s a different Jordan Belfort when he’s speaking (or advertising) to people whom he’s trying to persuade to pay him money to come to his seminar or to hire him as a consultant (for a reported $50,000 per day).
He still refers to his crooked past as if it were a legitimate sales business. He still boasts that he “was earning over $50 million a year” when, in reality, he was “stealing” it. He repeats the lie that he was given the name “The Wolf of Wall Street” when it wasn’t until he wrote his first book of the same name in 2007 that anyone had even heard the word “wolf” linked to Jordan Belfort. He’d been called a rat, yes, many times; but a wolf, no way.
Many people believe he cons almost everyone he meets. He’s always conning. He’s a complete and total fake.
In January this year, Loren Steffy, a respected journalist with Forbes Magazine, wrote an article titled: “Did The Wolf of Wall Street Con Martin Scorsese?” Joel Cohen, who prosecuted Belfort, is annoyed that the ending of the movie “is basically an ad for Belfort’s ‘motivational speaking’ business”. As Steffy then writes, “In other words, Belfort conned one of Hollywood’s best living directors into helping him launch his next scheme.”
Loren Steffy, who has been researching and writing about Jordan Belfort since the early 90s, believes that Belfort is “more comfortable with lies than the truth.” He believes that the “most important part of the Jordan Belfort story is missing from the film.” He’s referring to Belfort’s constant lies “combined with a lack of conscience” that enables Belfort to con so many people, whether it’s stealing money from investors or getting himself a 22 month prison sentence, when he should have got – and, according to the law enforcement officers who knew him or studied his crimes believe he deserved a prison sentence more like 22 years or whether he’s conning a film director into giving him an almighty plug, or sitting beside one of Australia’s richest men, the young multi-billionaire, James Packer, at the Australian Tennis Open, Belfort just cons his way through life. It’s as if he can’t help it. Conning is in his DNA.
The current rumour – which may have some truth to it – is that Belfort may soon host a reality TV show. As Loren Steffy writes about that possibility. “With Hollywood’s help, it may be his greatest con yet.”
John McGrath says that Jordan Belfort has “tremendous remorse” for his crimes.
If you believe that, then here’s a question for you: “Why has he never met a single one of his victims and said sorry?” He knows who they are, he knows where they are. But he hasn’t even bothered to make a single phone call to apologise.
And he’s on his way to your seminar as I write this – flying first class, waiting to put your money (and the money of those who come to your seminar) in his pocket? Or did he require payment in advance?
When Belfort was being interviewed by the respected British journalist, Piers Morgan, he told Morgan that he was “not going to live his life in shame”. Morgan then asked him how he felt about people who had “lost their life’s savings” to which Belfort replied that he had never heard of a single person losing their “life’s savings”. Unfortunately, Morgan didn’t have any victims in the studio who claimed to have lost their life’s savings.
It’s ridiculous – and a mighty bluff on Belfort’s part – to assert that, from thousands of investors, none lost their life’s savings.
Mr Belfort, I’ll call your bluff: I’ll bet you $100,000 (to be paid to the White Ribbon Foundation) that I can find someone who lost their life’s savings in your scam. Watch Belfort run, ignore or mock this challenge. Some people effectively lost worse than their life’s savings because, having no money to begin, they borrowed to get sucked-in to Belfort’s scam.
And what about recently when you were confronted by another courageous – and well-researched – journalist, Lisa Guerrero? You don’t tell anyone what happened with Lisa, do you?
After one of your goons put his hands on her and tried to push her away from you, this gutsy young woman yelled at him several times, “Get your hands off me!”
The goon, as cowardly as his boss, slunk away. Lisa then hit Belfort with the usual questions that get him all flustered and annoyed – questions about his current luxury life-style, the money he is currently earning and the lack of money he’s paid to his victims.
This time, however, Lisa Guerrero had something the other journalist, Piers Morgan, didn’t have – one of Jordan Belfort’s victims who claimed to have lost his life savings! When Lisa tried to introduce Jordan’s victim to him, Jordan – again, the ultimate coward, kept walking. He didn’t stop and face the victim who called out that he’d lost his life savings. Jordan Belfort didn’t even have the guts to remove his sunglasses. He was last seen scurrying into an elevator with his goons.
And this wasn’t the only victim that the tenacious Lisa Guerrero had managed to track down who claimed to have lost his life savings because of Belfort’s fraud. Lisa found another victim, a really nice elderly man, who was disgusted to watch her video footage of Jordan Belfort living a life of luxury, while his victims – those whose money he stole to fund his life of luxury – spend their lives living in misery.
Maybe I just don’t understand today’s world, but how could anyone possibly want to emulate and live like Jordan Belfort?
Judging from what Belfort writes, it seems that not only does he not have remorse for his crimes; he actually doesn’t believe that he “stole” any money.
Just read this (from his book): “… we weren’t actual thieves, were we? We simply talked people out of their money; we didn’t actually steal it from them! There was a difference.” Oh, great stuff, Jordan Belfort.
In writing these 13 reasons to reject Jordan Belfort, I realise that, instead of the thousands of articles that have been written about him, someone should write a book about him. He calls his seminars an opportunity to meet “the real wolf of Wall Street”. But I am certain that the “real” Jordan Belfort has never been fully and accurately documented in one article or book.
I strongly agree with many of those involved in the investigation, arrest, interrogation and prosecution of Jordan Belfort that he should still be in prison today, He is a bad man and if anyone ever wants to write a book about the “real” wolf of Wall Street, it should be called ‘The Rat of Long Island’.
I couldn’t write such a book – for two reasons: First, my wife wouldn’t let me “bring that evil man into our life” and, second, it could quite literally make me sick. Of all the things I despise in life, injustice is near the top of my list. I can’t stand to see good and decent people – such as the vast majority of Belfort’s victims – suffer, while Belfort is happier than he’s ever been in his life. It’s so unfair.
As I’ve said, in my 42 years in the Australian real estate industry, nothing has made me feel so ashamed as to see Jordan Belfort be invited (invited!) to our country. And by John McGrath, the real estate “guru”!
I met John McGrath once, many years ago, around about the time that Jordan Belfort would have been stealing $50 million a year. I interviewed him. He seemed a nice fellow. I can’t believe that he is responsible for my greatest real estate shame. I honestly feel certain that if John McGrath had researched Belfort, spoken to just one or two of Belfort’s victims, and also spoken to Joel Cohen, that he would never have hired Jordan Belfort. Surely he would not deliberately invite someone as bad as Belfort to teach thousands of Australia’s agents? What about his reputation?
John McGrath once wrote that one of his life’s goals is to be Prime Minister of Australia. Well, you certainly wrote a political-style explanation of your decision to hire (or “engage” as you put it) this convicted fraudster and wife assaulter; but, I’m sorry, unless you reverse this decision, I won’t be voting for you to be Prime Minister.
Of all that has been said by Australians since it was known that Jordan Belfort is coming here, I think that what Tom Malone, the Executive Producer of ’60 Minutes’ said after Belfort called his reporter, Liz Hayes, a “F-wit” is probably the most accurate for 2014.
Malone wrote: “Jordan Belfort is a sad, pathetic narcissist, who ripped off more than 100 million dollars from 1500 investors, and then ratted on his mates to save himself. His attack on Liz Hayes is deeply offensive, but true to his character. Liz Hayes legitimately questioned why Belfort only repaid $21,000 to his victims in recent years despite making millions from the sales of books and the rights to the movie, but Belfort is only comfortable with people laughing at his debauchery instead of scrutinising his deceit.”
For those agents who are planning to attend the John McGrath seminar or go to one of Belfort’s own seminars being held across Australia in June, 2014, here’s what someone called Shannon Linnan said about Jordan Belfort after his seminar in Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday (27/5/14) this week: “A master manipulator who still lacks a moral compass. Entertaining? Maybe to some, but even at the height of his hedonistic ‘success’ he accumulated only mediocre financial wealth with no stability, ruined every relationship in his circle, and will more than likely die a lonely man full of regret who completely missed the opportunity to achieve ‘significance’ in life; the real measure of a person’s success…”
Well said Shannon. If only people these days would understand that “success” is NOT about who makes the most money. It’s about who is the happiest through making others happy.
Written by Neil Jenman, May 2014
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