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.