Raniere-cycle: Students kept in debt for classes; then made to work at low wages to pay for more classes

Keith Raniere AKA Vanguard

By Frank Parlato

In case you’re interested, NXIVM is looking for new students. The NXIVM courses, also known as Executive Success Programs, are secret and students sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from revealing the lessons they learn.

NXIVM offers intensives for five to 16 days. For those who do not have the $2,500-$10,000 to take the course, NXIVM will barter by allowing a student to work for NXIVM or Clare Bronfman [the present leader of the cult, while leader Keith Raniere is in jail] at minimum wages or somewhat lower.

By the time a student works off one course, they should be ready to take the next one.

In this way, NXIVM/Bronfman employ people to work without having to bother reporting wages or pay payroll taxes or report income from Intensives to the IRS.

People who work for NXIVM/Clare Bronfman do not have the burden of costly health insurance either. Employees of NXIVM are usually required to attend all the classes [called intensives]. People take classes because they are afraid of being fired, or labeled a suppressive by the group, so they take more classes.

It’s a vicious Raniere-cycle: The more someone goes in debt, the more the company gets her to work under market value and the less opportunity she has to earn money in the outside world and escape the recurring debt/classes/work for NXIVM.

Many have said the actual classes taught in the intensives have the earmarks of classic brainwashing techniques. Most people who take them become stupendous failures unable to think rationally or clearly. It is a fine joke on humanity that Raniere calls his teachings “Rational Inquiry.”

Sources say employees rarely get 1099s if they ever earn money over and above the cost of classes. Even women Raniere chose to make part of his harem are often manipulated into debt by his assistant, Nancy Salzman, or Clare Bronfman.

And they say Raniere isn’t a genius?

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Just wanted to add something to my previous comment…

    Using students as “independent contractors” rather than employees (to barter/pay off debts for classes) doesn’t change the fact that the IRS still requires both parties to report the transaction.

    The only difference would be that the “employer” wouldn’t pay employment/FICA taxes obviously……but they’d still be required to report the FULL payments credited to the students using form 1099. *And the contractors/students would still have to report the full amount on their tax return and pay self employment taxes in addition to income taxes.


    Labeling indebted students as “contractors” (instead of employees) probably won’t pass the smell test with the IRS…..since a true “contractor” (in the eyes of the IRS) must be truly “independent” in several ways.

    For instance, (generally speaking) a contractor must have learned their skills on their own and not be trained by the client.

    Also… A contractor must generally use their own equipment to complete the jobs and not be provided this equipment by the client…….they must also usually make their own schedule and not be given a schedule by the client

    Also… A contractor should generally not be taking “specific instructions” from the client as to how to perform their jobs. The client should only provide “general guidelines”, similar to if you hire a plumber you wouldn’t tell him the technical details of his job, you’d only tell him that you want your toilet fixed and leave the details to him.

    If the client is dictating everything to the “contractor” (and providing the training, equipment, schedule, etc) then the IRS won’t hesitate to “reclassify” those contractors as “employees”…….this happens all the time. It’s called “substance over form”.

  • Frank, not sure where you got the idea that bartering can be done off the books.

    Try reading this page on the IRS web site:

    If you barter or trade services with a customer, you must usually report the fair market value of what you’re receiving to the IRS.

    If that rule didn’t exist……then everybody could just give their employees free services/merchandise first to create a debt, then have them work off the debt afterward….and the IRS would never get any taxes from the employees (income taxes) or the employers (employment taxes), LOL. That’s not how it works bro. That’s why bartered services must be reported in most cases by BOTH parties.

    Employees must pay income taxes on their earnings before they can pay off the debt with the remaining balance, and the employer must pay employment/FICA taxes when crediting the money to the “debtor” for services performed.

  • As it happens, I published a blog post this morning about how Nxivm University, a course that charges Ivy League tuition rates to learn punctuation lessons appropriate to 7th graders, has some parallels to a Scientology fundraising scam from a decade ago, where the sudden “discovery” that L. Ron Hubbard’s books were filled with punctuation errors so pervasive that they actually endangered members’ health. Scientology raised $100 million from that scam.

    The description in this article of how Raniere kept people hooked by allowing them to work off courses showed me that his punctuation-based scam was superior to Scientology’s semicolon caper.

    Post is here: http://www.reasoned.life/2018/05/what-is-it-with-cults-and-punctuation-nxivm-and-scientology-spelling-scams-revealed/

  • There was never an end to the classes.

    The classes were a Bridge to NOWHERE, and an UPSIDE DOWN LADDER. The further you went in, the worse things became. The deeper in debt you were, the more isolated from society you became, and the more your personality was lost.

    Kind of like the mythological Sarlaac pit from Return of the Jedi. Except Jaba the Hutt was played by Keith Raniere…

    “In its belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a…thousand years.”
    C-3PO translating for Vanguard the Hutt

    • In your book, you went through one 5-day intensive, and didn’t mentiin even Ethos classes after that.

      So how are you so sure about the effect of the next level, of classes? Observing the behavior / rationality of those whomhad taken more classes isma valid answer. But please fill in the details.

      • I already explained this in the book, when I talk about when Christine Collins slipped and said…

        Plus Nefarious Nancy and VanGrifter were always developing more classes. No student ever achieved the final rank, because there was no ultimate rank. It was just a way to keep the con going.

        ESP was a scam from the beginning. There is no ultimate realization, no final level, no great awakening. The additional classes were just to scam people for money.

        Wake Up. You got taken.

        • Christine Collins is such a scum bag. She is the one who cornered me, and pushed me into a full blown panic attack, just so she could bring me down to try to get control over me. I think I was supposed to credit her with the feeling of elation over being able to breathe again, but I was smart enough to realise she caused it deliberately.
          Fortunately for me, it kept me from going further in the courses, instead of sucking me in for more abuse.

          • I’m very curious to see how all of this pans out for Christine. She was recruited into NXIVM when she was 21 and has no idea about how “real life” works.

  • I hate to defend Raniere but talk to college students who graduate with student loan debt in the low six figures and work as baristas in Starbucks to pay it off.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com