What Is Nxivm? Part #1

Vanguard [Keith Raniere] and Prefect [Nancy Salzman] during a happier time, when the two were working in tandem to teach the world a new visionary method of critical thinking they called Rational Inquiry. But for the irrational pecker of the founder, and a cauterizing pen, they might be still doing so today,

 A number of people who have not been following the Nxivm story for long have asked for a basic primer on Nxivm to explain the background of the stories about Keith Raniere and his followers.  This is my response, It is sort of beginners guide to the background of Nxivm. 

Perhaps long time readers will not find this post of interest as they know most of what is contained in it. The post, which is the first in a series, is meant to explain Nxivm for newcomers so they can catch up quickly and follow the continuing story. 

The Nxivm Story

The story is about a man named Keith Alan Raniere, born in 1960, now in federal custody, having been convicted of sex trafficking, forced labor, racketeering and other crimes.

He led an enterprise that critics called a cult, the feds called a racketeering enterprise, and he and his associates maintain was a life coaching institute.

It also went by the name of Executive Success Programs.

The group became notorious when the New York Times published a story in October 2017 where it was reported that women were branded on their pubic region with Raniere’s initials.

New York Times branding story

The Times got the information for their story from a series I wrote on the Frank Report. The Times credited me with breaking the story.

The branded women were designated as “slaves”. The group collected blackmail-worthy material from them to prevent them from revealing secrets of the group and to keep them from leaving.

The Times wrote, “[M]any of Mr. Raniere’s followers learned of the secret society from a website run by a Buffalo-area businessman, Frank R. Parlato Jr. Mr. Parlato had been locked in a long legal battle with two sisters, Sara and Clare Bronfman, who are members of Nxivm and the daughters of Edgar Bronfman, the deceased chairman of Seagram Company.

“In 2011, the Bronfman sisters sued Mr. Parlato, whom they had hired as a consultant, alleging he had defrauded them of $1 million.

“Four years later, in 2015, the Justice Department indicted him on charges of fraud and other crimes arising from alleged activities, including defrauding the Bronfmans. Mr. Parlato has denied the claims and the case is pending.

“Mr. Parlato started a website, The Frank Report, which he uses to lambaste prosecutors, Mr. Raniere and the Bronfmans. In early June, Mr. Parlato published the first in a torrent of salacious posts under the headline, ‘Branded Slaves and Master Raniere.’”

Following my first stories about the branding and blackmailing of women, which predated the Times story by four months, many Nxivm members quit.

The scheme had been well hidden by the “slave” women and Raniere.

These revelations in Frank Report cratered the cult.

DOJ Districts In New York State

In October 2017, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York began an investigation into the group.

In November, I broke the news that Raniere fled from his longtime home in Albany NY to live with several “slaves” in Monterrey, Mexico. I published the address of his hideaway. Within days, the FBI appeared in Monterrey seeking to interview him.

Keith Raniere with his married slave, Jimena Garza, walking in a gated community in San Pedro Garza Garcia, in Mexico after fleeing the USA.

He fled to Puerto Vallarta. One of his slaves, actress Nicki Clyne, inadvertently tipped me off as to his whereabouts when she published a photo of herself in Puerto Vallarta on Instagram.

I published the picture and my conclusion that if Nicki was there, it was likely Raniere was also there.

Shortly after – on March 26, 2018 – Raniere was arrested at a seaside villa in Puerto Vallarta by Mexican federal police.

I obtained a photograph of him moments after his arrest and a video of some of his slaves after he was placed in the police car.


Raniere was deported that same day and arraigned in El Paso and remanded to custody without bail. He was later transferred to Brooklyn and held in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting trial for more than a year.

His repeated efforts at making bail  – which included retaining the former head of the US Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, to oversee home detention, with guards to prevent his flight  – were all rejected by the judge.

Less than a month after his arrest, one of his top assistants and a First Line “slave”, TV actress Allison Mack, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking and other felonies. I broke the news of her impending arrest 30 days before it happened.

She was arraigned and subjected to home confinement at her parent’s home in Los Alamitos, California and $5 million bond.

Allison Mack is subject to home arrest.

Three months later, in July 2018, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman, her daughter Lauren Salzman and Nxivm bookkeeper Kathy Russell were arrested on an array of charges connected to the racketeering enterprise.

All of them pleaded not guilty and were subjected to home confinement.

In order for her to remain outside a prison cell, Bronfman had to post a $100 million bond.

Clare Bronfman leaves court with her attorneys.

By April 2019, all five Nxivm women pled guilty to felony charges. All five await sentencing and are expected to serve time in prison.

The judge has said he is considering a longer sentence for Bronfman than what her plea deal originally suggested which was 21-27 months.  In part, the judge appears to have been influenced by the number of victims who wrote the court detailing the abuse they experienced from Bronfman.

Raniere, whose sentencing date is scheduled in April, faces a minimum sentence of 15 years for the sex trafficking conviction. Combined with his other charges, he is likely to be sentenced to life or virtually life in prison. He is 59.

Nxivm Founded With Nancy Salzman

Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman in 2009.

Keith Raniere founded Nxivm in 1998 with Nancy Salzman, 63, a nurse and a trained expert in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Raniere appointed Salzman president, declining to put his name on any corporate documents. No one, least of all Salzman, ever disputed Raniere had complete control of operations.

Their product was his patent-pending “technology” which he called “Rational Inquiry.” It purports to teach students how to revolutionize their lives. It was described as analogous to going from a typewriter to a computer. There was a hefty price tag for Rational Inquiry courses which typically ran from a five day to a 16-day “intensive” – courses that began in the early morning and continued to 9 or 10 at night.

The cost ran from $2,000 to more than $10,000 per class. In classes, Raniere was referred to as “Vanguard” and Salzman was referred to as “Prefect.”

A feature of the courses was that they never ended. One never graduated. There were always more courses to take.

Nancy Salzman teaching students in class.

Students, through taking courses, and recruiting others, advanced in the ranks which were designated by colored sashes – like martial arts with their colored belts.

It often cost a student more than $100,000 or more to move up one colored sash.

Nancy Salzman, with Mark Vicente, Alex Betancourt, Karen Unterreiner, Clare Bronfman, Lauren Salzman, and Emiliano Salinas – all wearing their colored sashes indicating their rank in NXIVM.

At ,first the courses did well. Thousands took classes, enamored by the marketing, which featured the pitch that Raniere was the smartest man in the world.

Guinness Book of Records

Recruiters backed up their claim by explaining that Raniere had once been named in the Guinness Book of Records [Australian edition 1989] as having one of the three highest IQ’s on a test sponsored by a group called the Mega Society.

A little probing on the part of the editors of Guinness seems to have led them to conclude the test was not reliable, quite possibly in part because it was a take home IQ test.

After Raniere’s inclusion in the 1989 Australian edition [he never made the US edition], the editors of Guinness permanently retired the category of “highest IQ”.  It never appeared again in any edition.

This was not known to prospective students. They were shown the book or told the story that Raniere had the highest IQ in the world.


Wasn’t there a study that showed his intelligence?

A study was made that “proved” that Raniere was one of the “top three problem solvers in the world” – with a problem solving rarity of one in 425,000,000, something always told to prospective students – without mentioning that Raniere himself authored the study.

Who wouldn’t want to learn the secrets of life and success taught by the smartest man in the world? One of the world’s top three problem solvers?

To add to the wonder that was Keith Raniere, recruiters said – and his online bio “confirmed” – he was a boy prodigy, speaking in full sentences at the age of 1, reading at age 2, becoming a concert level pianist at 12, an east coast judo champion at age 11, and, at the youthful age of 32, he had amassed a fortune of some $50 million dollars.

He could have gone on, recruiters said, to make billions, but he wanted to focus his energies on creating teachings that could help the world.

The reality was he could play a little piano. It also appears that he entered a children’s judo tournament but competed only with other children – and no record exists of him winning any prize.

And while he owned a company that grossed as much as $50 million, it was closed down by several State Attorneys General amid allegations that it operated as a pyramid scheme.

Raniere may have stashed away some cash but when the company closed, he stiffed vendors and employees and members of money they were due.

Keith Raniere hired actor Eddie Albert to be a spokesperson for Consumers’ Buyline.

None of this was known to Nxivm students. They came to learn the secrets of life and success from a super athlete, mega businessman, and astounding genius.

That was the pitch. And added to the pitch, for those sufficiently interested, was that Raniere was an ethicist, a compassionate man who fathomed the mysteries of life and learned that love was the answer.

It was said, to those who might understand, that Raniere was a celibate, a monk, who renounced the chance at great wealth that could be easily his and lived virtually in seclusion, spending his days and nights thinking about how to bring joy to the world, end needless suffering, and bring peace to humankind.

He lived to create a “more noble civilization.”

He had finally, after gleaning these experiences as a genius, an athlete, artist, mystic and above all, a lover of humanity, settled on a solution – which were these teachings – Executive Success Programs – and his patent pending Rational Inquiry – as the solution to the world’s ills and to raise humanity in the future.

He was to be the man of the ages.

It was explained that if enough people took the courses, the world would change. A tipping point would be reached, if only they could get enough people to learn the “technology” he invented.

For those sufficiently interested, this was the added attraction. Give your life to Nxivm. You could do more than just be a student and pay $2,000-$10,000 [a tiny fraction of the value it would be worth in your new, improved life] for a 5 day or 16 day intensive.

You could also, if you were keenly interested in being part of the mission, dedicate your life and find a higher purpose. You could make a living too, people were promised, by recruiting more people into the noble courses.

It was, in fact, a life coaching pyramid scheme, based on the “superior teachings” of one man, who blatantly lied about his accomplishments and, according to sources, cheated on his take home IQ test.

Click here for Part 2: What is Nxivm? Raniere’s Harem Secretly Ran Nxivm


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • NXIVM is nothing more than a multi-national gang of sex and human traffickers who engage in blackmail and terrorism.
    This gang must be smashed and all of its evil top leaders prosecuted and persecuted.

    • NXIVM is nothing more than a multinational gang of sex and human traffickers who engage in blackmail and terrorism.
      This gang must be crushed and all its main evil leaders prosecuted and persecuted.

      By the mouth the fish dies, you are always saying about the victims of NXIVM specifically about Allison, always saying about the lack of compassion and empathy about the victims, but here are these gentlemen, the hypocrisy of shadow, in their own words what they think about people in NXIVM, apparently shadow forget that NXIVM and all its companies, I have also DOS, were configured by Raenier as MLM scams, which means that all the victims and leaders were all part of the same organization, in the mind of shadow, the leaders of NXIVM should have come together as Ocean’s Twelve,.

  • We haven’t really heard much about the details of how NXIVM and ESP were promoted, and structured, as the thousands of people who initially got involved would have experienced it.

    Looking back in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I see that they kept the division of separate websites for the two. Here’s part of the pitch for ESP:

    “We provide personal and professional development programs that employ Keith Raniere’s revolutionary methodology, Rational Inquiry®. This breakthrough in human performance technology is designed to help people discover, develop and utilize more of their untapped potential.”

    Ethos bridges the gap between knowing about success, and actually having it. Practical, precise and profound, the tools offered in our on-going Ethos program allow individuals to take charge of their lives and develop the internal motivation necessary to achieve greatness.

    To understand the origin of something is to understand its nature. Our Origins program is a journey towards a deeper, more profound understanding of self. This introspective program is designed to bring you closer to achieving emotional and behavioral consistency, yielding a life of inner resolve and external success.

    For those who prefer an accelerated pace, our intensive programs offer the Ethos program’s philosophical and practical foundations with the Origins program’s in-depth emotional explorations, culminating in an intense and comprehensive journey of self-discovery and success.”


    If you are crossing the Atlantic, would you rather take a ship or fly at the speed of the Concorde? Not everyone desires an accelerated pace, but for those who do, we offer a specially designed intensive program. Our intensives combine the Ethos program’s philosophical and practical foundations with the Origins program’s in-depth emotional explorations, culminating in an intense and comprehensive journey of self-discovery and success.

    The intensive format is ideal for anyone living outside one of our center location areas, with on-going time constraints, or anyone who simply wants to fast-track their path to fulfilling their potential.”

    Our intensive trainings are offered in either a five-day or sixteen-day format. Some choose to complete only the foundational first five days, while others continue with remaining eleven days, providing a fuller and richer introspective experience. At the end of each intensive, you are assigned a personal coach for 30 days to help you apply your new tools and guide you in your journey to success!”


    That’s actually pretty minimal for such an organization. The pages, while cleanly laid out, just have short bits of text like that, and don’t include any graphics or the typical pictures of participants and sessions. To me it’s telling of their relying primarily on selling themselves in person, and their underlying amateurism. Compare it, for instance, with the much better developed and engaging site for the Landmark Forum, where they actually provide an overview of the structure and content of their courses, offering people an idea of what it is like:


  • Raniere never would have started Consumers’ Buyline had he not learned about MLM scams when he was in Amway, the largest MLM scam on the planet: Do your part and copy/paste this message all over social media (unless owned/operated by current Amway IBOs or the Amway scam company), and encourage them to do the same, and so on, à la network marketing/MLM. Also, submit a complaint to the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/?utm_source=takeaction#crnt&panel1-1 If you don’t, then you’re part of the problem. Amway has 2 major problems, and most MLMs have at least one of these issues:

    1. The products are overpriced, which makes them almost impossible to sell to customers and results in Amway being an illegal pyramid, according to the FTC and SEC websites and previous court decisions and settlements; and

    2. The Tool Scam is hidden profit for the top level distributors only, and the vast majority of distributors operate at a net loss as a result. This is RICO fraud.

    For recent examples, google “FTC” along with the following companies, one at a time: FHTM, BurnLounge, Zeek, TelexFree, Vemma, Advocare, Neora, and Herbalife. Make a complaint on the FTC website: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/?utm_source=takeaction#crnt&panel1-1

    Although there is no federal law defining pyramid schemes, the FTC has a long and successful track record of using its Section 5 law prohibiting “unfair and deceptive” business practices to go after MLM scams: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/multilevel-marketing which states, in part, “Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s probably not. It could be a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money.”

    Read about these and much more at these websites: http://www.StopTheAmwayToolScam.wordpress.com and http://www.AllMLMFacts.org, and email stoptheamwaytoolscam@yahoo.com to help shut down Amway and other MLM scams.

    Watch this video about Amway and other MLM scams, then forward it to everyone you know, except for current Amway IBOs, and encourage them to do the same. When enough people know, these scams will collapse:

    English version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MwGeOm8iI

    Spanish version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy-O4myeUzg

    • Scott, you owe us an answer to the following 11 questions about Amway.

      1) How did you originally get suckered into the Amway lifestyle? Be specific.

      2) Did you and your wife TRULY envision yourselves becoming so rich that you could one day “walk the beaches of the world”?

      3) Do you remember using that Amway slogan (about ‘walking the beaches of the world’) when trying to recruit/sucker other idiots into Amway?

      4) How did it feel to attend the yearly Amway conventions ——- when 50,000 like-minded idiots fill a huge stadium that’s rocking with excitement, where everybody’s thinking about how rich they’ll become in a few years? Tell us about the excitement you felt.

      5) How many yearly conventions did you attend? Did you ever bang any younger Amway newbies at said conventions? Or were you too flaccid?

      6) How did it feel to sucker your friends and family members into Amway? …Every Amway person is encouraged to speak to every friend and family member they have —– so you at least ATTEMPTED to sucker them into Amway. Tell us about it.

      7) How many FRIENDS and FAMILY MEMBERS had their lives ruined & bankrupted because of you and your wife suckering them into Amway?

      8) Did you make amends with your friends and family members after you destroyed their lives?

      9) Would you like to apologize for your behavior to FR readers?

      10) Do you think you’re a good person after all the harm you’ve caused to so many innocent people?

      11) Have you ever considered improving the world by using Seppuku as a penance for your past sins? 🙂

      I’m guessing that you don’t have the balls to answer these questions about yourself.

      You fucken pathetic, coward.

      …and NO, I won’t go on your walkie-talkie show (i.e., your ‘pretend’ radio show) to ask you these questions.

      Fact is, I value my sleep time and can’t wake up at 4am to fill your time slot. Plus, I don’t have any walkie-talkies on hand to join your show.

      But I may consider sending ‘Niceguy’ to visit your radio show in my stead. Would he be acceptable? What about his fat, Sicilian whore with C-cup titties? Is that fat bitch welcome on your show?

      Have a nice day. 🙂

    • Scott nobody read your post, but I bet everyone read Bangkok’s post….

      ….At least he is funny and sometimes informative……Scott you are always just plain-old-retarded.

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