Ed. Note: It is wonderful when people come out and, using their own names, tell their stories of Keith Raniere and his doings. One good story leads to another and in time, we get a fuller picture of the depraved criminal who hurt so many people. Here is a story from Nancy Durkin, a woman who not only met Keith Raniere during the time of Consumers’ Buyline [CBI] but also once spent the night at 3 Flintlock Lane, the home he shared with Karen Unterreiner, Kristin Keeffe, Pam Cafrtiz and Barbara Jeske [all of whom subsequently contracted cancer].
By Nancy Durkin
Keith Alan Raniere was and is – first and foremost – a greedy scam artist. Here are my observations from the 1990s for what they’re worth:
I used to work for the company that supplied Consumers Buyline with its buying club in the 1990s (Purchase Power), which was a legitimate operation. In business since 1964, it was the precursor to Amazon, etc. You would call a toll free number to order an item at a members-only discount.
We sold annual memberships on a wholesale basis to clubs and associations. CBI convinced us to sell them our memberships. They were just another MLM startup but portrayed themselves as “revolutionary,” headed by a man who was a bona fide GENIUS with a wish to help the masses.
Just watch the Eddie Albert promotional video with Keith Raniere and you’ll see what I mean. [See link to video below]
The owner of my company was the definition of the eternal optimist. He agreed.
CBI purchased memberships from us at maybe three dollars per month, and charged more than $20 per month to its members, for the “opportunity” to save money. They had a couple of add-ons. I thought the numbers were askew. If one is looking to save money, laying out over $250 per year to do so seems a steep price. Nowadays, Amazon Prime is something like $120 per year and provides free shipping.
Anyway, we had plenty of other client companies at the time.
We would get calls nearly every month from members whose bank accounts had been “double debited” for the membership fee. We would call the main CBI office (which did the debiting) and be told it was some kind of “glitch” and things would be fixed.
Going to CBI conventions was a weird trip. I was newly married and stunned to see dozens of people (including me and my boss) milling around the lobby of a hotel, waiting for an audience with the great one, Keith, at 1:00 in the morning.
My new husband called my hotel room and could not understand why I was out of my room after midnight on a “business” trip. (This was in the pre-cell phone days.)
In late 1990, I was sent by my company to Albany to do a client visit. I wanted to stay at a hotel, but KAR and company INSISTED I stay at 3 Flintlock. I was not bad looking but was slightly cross-eyed like Keith, and poised to move out of state to get married – so not likely any kind of candidate for the “club.” Plus, I was mildly hostile to their MLM scheme, which at my age, I did not disguise well.
The visit was uncomfortable. This is long ago so I am not sure how many were living there other than KAR, Pam, and Karen. The place was pedestrian and I saw nothing that would clue anyone into what was going on at the time (namely, Rhiannon, as I have come to learn). I was made to sleep upstairs. The night before, I was told they would all be out “running” in the morning and indeed, when I got up, the house seemed empty so I gladly left.
At some point when Purchase Power was based in Austin (pre-1995), I was summoned to a lunch by our General Manager (sadly now deceased – a nice man who got sucked into KAR’s crap), a rabid Austin CBI member, and his father, who was a prominent Austin attorney.
I was told that “they” planned to take over my company, and wanted to know if I would go along. I said absolutely not. I had great loyalty to the company owner, who had been very kind and generous to me over the years. That quickly ended the lunch. I firmly believe Keith was behind that. Typically – he sent others to do his bidding.
As everyone knows, CBI was shut down as an illegal pyramid scam. This didn’t shock me, as I had seen so many MLMs go down before them. What was interesting was that Raniere and company spent millions to fight the various state governments. They hired a Washington DC mega-firm, Patton Boggs and Blow, to carry out the fight. CBI and company lost. But I’ll bet PB&B got some hefty fees. Is that where KAR started to develop his taste for pointless litigation?
For a long time, I was afraid to speak out on any of this, which, in reality, is minor in the grand scheme of things. No longer. The years have gone by and I now live in a safe place with a great deal of self-protection. I have not much to add to the conversation other than that KAR was and is, first and foremost, a greedy scam artist. He cares not one whit for the welfare of anyone else on the planet. I don’t want that message to be lost.
The remarkable video where Keith Raniere appears [briefly] with Eddie Albert.
I vividly recall a phone conversation in, I believe 1991, of a woman on the other end asking me was I going to purchase a numerous appliances in the next year, etc and how I could save lots of money by joining this buyers club.
I don’t recall if I originated the phone call from a tv ad but I don’t think it was a cold call. I probably saw the ad on tv and called because I was in the process of purchasing a house.
Quickly it got to the hard sell where she was going to switch me to a closer.
I hung up.
Next thing I know a male voice comes on my answering machine from said company. Somehow they knew my telephone number (I believe this was before one had the ability to see the number calling though business may have had access to such technology via AT&T at that time.
Looking back I firmly believe this was CBI, Keith’s company.
Frankly I didn’t see how paying a membership fee to a business that didn’t have a store front or a known track record would save me enough money on purchases I might make in the coming year.
Needless to say I did not pick up the call.
Odd how there is truth to 6 degrees of separation.
My being in touch with CBI.
Two co workers who either came in contact with Keith and Nancy and whom Nancy frequented their business.
Boy he’s got creepy eyes.
Thank you, Nancy. You’re lucky you didn’t awake to the ‘Incubus’ in your bed at Flintlock, attractive as you are. Keith was prolly preoccupied with his underage teen girls that night.
Raniere ET AL, sadly, DID win out by spending those millions on a big name, D.C. law firm. They avoided prosecution in 21 States — all but New York — and NYS only gave them a slap on the wrist. They were fined a mere 50k and the CBI principles signed an agreeement to stay out of the MLM business thereafter.
Of course, they did not abide by that agreement or even bother to pay the fine.
Instead, they went on with ESP / NXIVM to grease and extort political clout, relying on private practice firms that control the courts to cover their ass-ettes and on-going illegal, immoral activities — from the Evil Empire State to Mexico to Libya to the Isles of Fiji, without a hitch until Parlato broke the branding story.
Even murder may have been among the crimes they got away with through the purchase of Justice and political clout —starting with CBI’s success in defrauding millions from millions.
So sorry for what you went through and had to carry the fear of with you for so many years.
I hope you sharing your story inspires others to come forward. That’s been my main goal on here, FR, from the get-go and I’m elated it’s finally happening!
The dam is cracking trickle by trickle and the floodgates of truth will soon roar open!
Thanks, Heidi. I had no idea Keith “won” with his PB&B legal team. My personal fear is now gone as but at the same time it seems every day reveals a new horror. That he may well have encouraged suicide, poisoned, and even murdered, is still too much for me to grasp. I’ve known many greedy scammers, but they usually leave their bad acts at the financial door. Not to say that doesn’t destroy lives.
I am so sorry for what you’ve gone through. As we can now see, Raniere hurts those who love him. I have no doubt he had a hand in your sister’s untimely death.
NXIVM Prosecutor Renews Bid To See Seagram’s Heiress’ Documents.
From the Times Union story:
“Garaufis referred Hajjar’s motion to (Magistrate Judge) Scanlon. On Nov. 26, Scanlon ruled that anyone opposing the government’s effort to seek the documents in Bronfman’s email may file so by Dec. 11.”
Today is December 5, 2019.
Expect Bronfman lawyers to pop up if they have not already and object claiming that “NXIVM lives”.
Thank you so much for writing this article Ms Durkin. It’s wonderful to get first person accounts of early interactions with Keith Raniere. I’m just wondering if this was during the time Toni Natalie was with CBI
Toni states she met Raniere in 1991, so then yes. My time period was 1990 through about 1995. Purchase Power was sold in June of that year. I don’t recall meeting Toni although I suppose it would have been possible at one of the conventions.
You would remember her. She’s very pretty. Just ask her.
Thank you, Ms Durkin.
Nancy, does this mean you’ll (finally) come on my radio show?
Scott, what you read above is pretty much “it” from my perspective, so I’m not sure what we would talk about. However, I could attest to the fact that MLMs of all stripes suck in general. But you are better qualified to expound on that.
Hearing something is much more impactful and less subject to interpretation error than the written word.
What was it like to sleep under the same roof as them? Details please!
Really, nothing out of the ordinary. I slept alone in a plain room, upstairs. It was a plain condo in a plain suburban area. You also have to realize this was about 30 years ago so I’m sure I’ve forgotten more details than I remember.
“Albert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995.” (Three years after the video with Raniere was filmed.)
No wonder Eddie Albert was so taken with Keith Raniere’s charm in 1992.
Not only was the 86 year old Albert being paid mucho dinero for a 20 second TV ad but Albert was already in the early stages of dementia.
The phrase mucho dinero is appropriate because like Keith Raniere Eddie Albert was attracted to Mexican women.
Albert’s wife Margo was a Mexican born actress and what they called in the fifties a “fellow traveler” of the Mexican Communist Party.
As Nancy Durkin is well aware no MLM scheme is based on “Honest Principles”.
They are all scams that work by selling over priced pots of gold at the end of the Rainbow.
(Scott Johnson of Texas please take note.)
Patton Boggs is now named Squire Patton Boggs and it is a powerful white shoe Washington DC law firm.
The Boggs in question was Thomas Hale Boggs, the son of Hale Boggs who was an influential Democratic Congressman from Louisiana back in the sixties.
Boggs’ sister was Cokie Roberts the TV journalist who passed away recently.
It is good that the greasy, weasel-tongued Raniere did not take over Purchase Power.
Everything Raniere did inevitably turned to crap.
A Raniere-owned Purchase Power would have had its fingers in numerous MLM scams all over the country.
Thanks, Shadow. You’re right – it was sad to see CBI gradually consume all of Purchase Power’s limited resources to the point where CBI was virtually the only client. I kept warning my boss not to put all our eggs in one basket, but he really believed CBI was onto something new and that they would outlast all the other MLMs. I thank God he was able, finally, to sell the company at a profit and at least get out with his skin.
PP was a dying business anyway, facing the advent of internet shopping. We were the coolest thing in the 80s but were slated to become obsolete. We served a purpose at one point in time.
I always hated MLMs. The old argument that they saved customers money by eliminating the brick-and-mortar stores is out of date. It was never true in the first place, because that overhead costs are simply replaced by the MLM’s markup to cover commissions. I didn’t even know about the “tool scams” used by Amway and the like, until I read some of Scott’s stuff.
With NXIVM, KAR took things to a new level, introducing money laundering, cash smuggling, tax avoidance, abusive litigation, and indentured servitude. Honestly I never suspected things would escalate so far. I watch this story unfold with awe.
Mr. Shadow, you don’t have a clue what makes an MLM legitimate or not.
If Vangone will grant prison interviews to the media in the future. Methinks the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ as his ego will need it once sentenced and he realizes he will slip in to forever obscurity in his dank cage.
That assumes the media will be interested. I wouldn’t count on it.
Scott, it would be amazing if Vanguard called your radio show in a decade’s time
Raniere is welcome to come on my show. The only person I’ve banned for life is Hutchinson.
I bet he will, years from now, when all the appeals are exhausted. He is used to a lot of attention and he loves to spin his tales. I’d bet ID network would run it.