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13 April 2007

The Secrets of Hans Jakobi

An in-depth review of a self-crowned wealth coach.

Opinion by Neil Jenman

Get-rich-quick property spruiker, Hans Jakobi
Get-rich-quick property spruiker, Hans Jakobi

Hans Jakobi calls himself “an educator”. Best of all, he likes to be known as “Australia’s wealth coach” – three words he claims to own.

That’s right, according to Hans, no one else is allowed to call themselves a “wealth coach”.

The truth, however, is that Hans Jakobi is a get-rich-quick spruiker. Typically, like all spruikers, he does not like being called a get-rich-quick spruiker. He gets most offended.

But Hans Jakobi is almost a classic get-rich spruiker.

We all know the kind. Today, they promise to make us rich quickly. Tomorrow, they deny they are get-rich-quick spruikers.

Well, you can’t have it both ways, Hans (and all the other like-minded spruikers).

If you tell us you have “super secrets” that will “propel” us “to becoming a millionaire!” we think that “propel” and “millionaire” means we can become millionaires quickly. If we first pay you several thousand dollars.

That’s just the way it works in get-rich-quick spruiking world. Spruiker makes big promises; spruiker claims to have secrets; spruiker asks for big money in return for his secrets.

So, there’s no point denying it. The evidence is incontrovertible. Hans Jakobi is a get-rich-quick spruiker.

Now that we’ve got the question of his profession out of the way, we come to two more questions.

First, can Hans Jakobi do what he claims he can do – make us rich quickly?

Second, what are his “super secrets” – does he really have any or is he just sprouting the standard spruiking huff and hype?

We’ll begin with his claims.

Hans Jakobi’s wealth claims.

You’d think that a man who claims to have a degree in economics and who is also a chartered accountant, would be conservative. But when he’s chasing your money, Hans Jakobi screams like a raucous sideshow-alley spruiker.

His ultimate goal is to persuade hopeful millionaires to part with $3,497.00 for his ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ course.

His sales pitch, however, is a mix of heavy-hype, half-truths and, well, there is no other way to say this, some of the dirtiest deceit I have ever seen. I believe that Hans Jakobi is lucky not to have been charged by the authorities over his claims.

Jakobi is big on ‘secrets’; so big, in fact, that he has registered the words ‘super secrets’.

So, not only does he own the words ‘Australia’s Wealth Coach’, he also owns the words ‘super secrets’.

And that’s what he tries so hard to make you think you’re getting – “super secrets” to “make a fortune in real estate and walk away from your job forever”.

He promises to show you “the closely guarded secret of the rich” and strategies that are “only reserved for the rich and wealthy”.

That’s right, it’s the old conspiracy theory again – to make us think that the only difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich have access to secrets – in this case Jakobi’s super secrets.

And it doesn’t matter who you are; according to Hans’s hyperbole “anyone can do it”. You can be on the bones of your bottom, unemployed, bankrupt, disabled, it doesn’t matter – with Hans’s‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ you can “build your very own safe and secure real estate empire, quicker and easier than I did!”

You see, once you pay him, Hans will reveal “the greatest real estate secret known to man!” Not just a super secret, understand, but this time the “greatest” secret.

And then there’s the “jealously guarded secrets” on how to inspect properties. Plus “the jealously guarded secret the banks don’t want you to know”.

You can almost see those bloated bald-headed bank managers banging their boardroom tables in frustration because Hans Jakobi is revealing their jealously guarded secrets.

In a pitch that goes for more than 15,000 words (many books are 50,000 words), Jakobi pummels hopefuls with promise after promise about the power of his “super secrets” course.

The first time I read his spruiking spiel, there were times I found myself – almost against my will – getting swept along. I was like a swimmer caught in a rip.

It’s easy to see how wanna-be-millionaires could be caught in this rip off. Especially when he turns up the pressure to act fast or miss out.

Jakobi says, “The full retail price of ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ is only $4,995″. But “for a VERY limited time” he’s going to sell it for “only $3,867”. He then tells us, “That’s more than a whopping $1,100 discount!!” Hans says he loves helping people.

If you’re a battler, you can pay Hans $957 a month for three months. If you pay up-front, Hans gives you a further discount of $370, meaning he pockets (sorry, your investment is only) $3,497.00.

No spruiking offer is complete without a wait-there’s-more pitch.

True to form, Jakobi pulls out the spruiking steak-knives (“bonus reports”). Using mixed-up misleading maths about the “value” of his offers, he tallies it all up as being “worth” $8,037.35.

With the spruiker-claimed savings, Hans Jakobi then says the lucky few who “qualify” (oh, yes, according to Hans, not everyone is lucky enough to pay him several thousand dollars for his super secrets), get to pay “Just $3,497! (That’s Less Than Half Price!)”

Hans Jakobi has been making his “limited offer” for years. But I believe he has NEVER sold his course for “the full retail price”. Like much of what he spruiks, the discount line is, I believe, nothing more than a cheap con trick.

Given that he thanks and admires American get-rich spruiker and notorious con artist Robert G Allen, it’s not surprising that Hans Jakobi would use some of his mentor’s malevolent methods.

Back in January 2005, I spoke with Hans Jakobi and told him that his marketing material made him look like a shonk. He wrote to me and said, “I very much appreciated your comments about the style of my sales copy and how this makes me look like the shonks. This is certainly something I am concerned about and will change.”

More than two years later, the only thing that’s changed, if anything, is that Hans Jakobi’s spruiking spiel seems to have got worse.

But, look, let’s put aside the false advertising. Let’s consider the course itself.

According to Hans Jakobi, his ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’program is described as “the most comprehensive program on how to make a fortune in real estate ever created.”

Is that claim true?

No, not even close.

Hans Jakobi’s “super secrets”.

In March 2006, Hans Jakobi gave me a free copy of his ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ course.

A few weeks later, following public comments I made about his misleading advertising, he wrote me a harsh letter saying: “I provided you with my $3,500 course in good faith, on the understanding that you would write an honest review and you have chosen to criticise me and the course without even reviewing the materials!”

I was NOT criticising his course, but his method of spruiking it.

Now, however, I have listened to dozens of hours of CDs. I have watched hour after hour of his DVDs. I have read tens of thousands of words.

And here is my honest review which I can sum up in the following paragraph:

Hans Jakobi’s ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ fails dismally to match its publicly marketed sales spiel. It contains little that is not readily available elsewhere in a similar (or even better) form at a tiny fraction of the price. There is not a single skerrick of information that any reasonable person could call a secret, never mind a “super” or a “jealously guarded” secret. The information is often so basic as to be almost insulting to anyone other than the most inexperienced investors. In some cases, the material is contradictory, confusing and wrong. The overall quality of the DVDs and CDs is appalling. Compared with comparably priced information, Hans Jakobi’s ‘Super Secrets To Real Estate Wealth’ course is, in my opinion, a complete rip-off.

Last year, Jakobi told me, “You relentlessly criticise anyone who charges more than $25 for their information.” Like most mock-offended spruikers, he misses the point – or pretends to do so.

In assessing information, I look at two factors – the quality of the information and how the cost of that information compares with the price of similar information.

If I see someone charging $3,500 for information and I believe similar information can be bought for $25, I will point that out to readers.

For example, I believe a book called How to Create an Income for Life (written by Margaret Lomas) which sells for $24.95 contains better information than the course that Hans Jakobi sells for $3,500.

The main difference between Jakobi’s course and Lomas’s book is the sales pitch. Jakobi uses misleading hype and Lomas doesn’t. If Lomas used the same hype as Jakobi she’d be charging $7,000 for her book.

One of the most common spruiking spiels is the one-good-idea pitch. Sure, my course seems expensive, say the spruikers. But one deal will pay for it. “Purchase just one positive cash flow property and you’ll make your investment back in no time flat!” says Jakobi.

Well, perhaps; but the same claim could be made by dozens of credible property commentators who do NOT charge thousands of dollars for commonly available information or what, in many cases, is basic common sense.

Here are some sample examples of what’s in the Hans Jakobi course.

In all the hours of DVDs and CDs, Hans’s greatest secret is what he calls his “exclusive formula” (which means no one else in the world knows it) for selecting property. He calls it his RTP formula. If you can’t find a property to fit his exclusive formula, don’t buy.

RTP stands for Rent to Buy. The super secret exclusive formula is to multiply the amount for which a property can rent by the figure of 500 and that will reveal the maximum price you should pay.

For example, if a property will rent for $400 per week then 400 multiplied by 500 is $200,000 and that’s the maximum you should pay.

This is nothing but a complicated way of saying, “Buy property with a gross return of ten per cent.”

So, why not just say, “Buy property which returns 10 per cent.”?

Well, then you wouldn’t have a super secret exclusive formula, would you?

The secret formula pitch is a common spruiking ploy. Another get-rich spruiker, who made a heap of money out of the grubby practice of wrapping, and then claimed to have some magical method, has his “Eleven second formula” – that’s the weekly rent divided by two and multiplied by 1000.

Again, it’s just another way of saying “ten per cent return”. It makes the obvious seem smart to the ill-informed.

According to Hans Jakobi, to get rich you borrow money from the bank at say seven per cent and then buy properties with a ten per cent return. This way you get to put money in your pocket every week. It’s easy.

And, of course, he trots out the common spruiking myth that property increases in value by an average of ten per cent each year.

So, if you secure $4 million of property (even if you borrow the whole lot) then because the property goes up by ten per cent annually, “you’re earning $400,000 a year while you’re sleeping.”

As I said to another spruiker recently, “If that’s true, how come those whiz-bank capitalists at Macquarie Bank don’t just buy thousands of residential houses?”

I got a spluttered reply accusing me of being negative.

And, for those who think you can’t buy houses these days and get ten per cent return, you’re negative too. So there.

And, no, according to Hans Jakobi you don’t have to go to country towns, you can buy in the big cities. He gives lots of examples of properties that he and his “students” have bought for as low as $50,000 and which were rented for $100 a week.

But, hey, that was back in the 90s before the boom. Now, now, don’t be negative.

The market might have changed, says Hans, but the principles are the same. Just consider his “12 secrets to wealth”, the first of which is, “There are no money problems only attitude problems”.

So, if you can’t find properties to fit the RTP formula, check your attitude.

But it’s when you get to Hans Jakobi’s twelfth secret that you get a real surprise.

Having forked out $3,500 to discover his “super secrets”, his last big-drum-roll secret is this: “There really are no wealth secrets, just common sense and action.”

Well said. Pity about the $3,500.

From his marketing spiel to the course content Hans Jakobi spins so many fairy tales he should be known as the Hans Christian Andersen of spruikers.

After spending several weeks – over the past year – going over Hans Jakobi’s “super secrets” course desperately (and genuinely) trying to find something new and revealing, I am bitterly disappointed.

No, it’s worse than disappointment. I feel angry for wasting so much time.

I feel ripped off.

And I didn’t pay any money.

Footnote: Prior to writing this article, I made repeated attempts to contact Hans Jakobi. Since February 23, I emailed and faxed him a list of questions. He did not respond.

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