Consumers’ Buyline – A Revisionist View by Raniere’s Attorneys – ‘Keith Was a Victim’ of Walmart

Keith Raniere did not mention on his bio that Consumers' Buyline was sued by several Attorneys General in various states and that he stiffed thousands of affiliates who sold for him when he went out of business.

Lawyers for Keith Alan Raniere have submitted to Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis an 86-page sentencing memorandum on behalf of their client.

They seek to persuade the judge to sentence Raniere to a sentence of 15 years, the minimum required by federal law for Raniere’s conviction on sex trafficking charges.

In an earlier last post, we spoke about how his lawyers described Raniere’s youth. In this next post in our series, his lawyers tell the tale of his Consumers’ Buyline, a business that went belly up and almost got Keith indicted back in the 1990s.

Here are the first two parts in our series:

Raniere Attorneys Memo to Judge Seeks 15 Years in Prison Instead of Life: Raniere ‘Maintains His Innocence; Stands by ESP, NXIVM and DOS’ 

Raniere’s Childhood as Told By His Lawyers — It’s So Sad It Will Make You Cry

Let us quote again from the memorandum. The [red parenthetical remarks] are from Nancy Durkin, who worked with Raniere during the time he ran Consumers’ Buyline.  My comments are in [brackets and bold].

Raniere’s lead attorneys, Marc Agnifilo [l] and Paul DerOhanessian [r]

By Marc Agnifilo and Paul DerOhannesian II

Consumers Buyline

In 1990, Raniere started a business called Consumers’ Buyline, which sold groceries and consumer goods at a discount to people who became members of the organization. (Nope.  The company actually sold nothing other than overpriced memberships, which afforded one the opportunity to then save money on consumer goods, through a real organization called Purchase Power, Inc.) 

[Purchase Power was the company that actually offered the discounts and arranged any savings. Keith did not own Purchase Power. All he did was make an arrangement to use Purchase Power’s agreements with vendors. All Keith’s company did was sell memberships that gave access to Purchase Power and Consumers’ Buyline {CBI} charged a high markup for essentially being a middleman. ]

The premise was that through membership in the entity, a person could acquire the buying power of hundreds or thousands of people and command better prices for household items. In addition, the company served as a sort of agent for the consumer, putting the consumer more on par with the large corporation selling the goods.

(CBI served as nothing but a membership sales group. The ideas and structure behind Purchase Power, which was real, were those of its owner and creator, who started the company in 1964, when Keith was 4 years old.  CBI created NOTHING.)

The idea, in a nutshell, was that whenever a consumer enters a Walmart or a Target, the consumer is at the mercy of a large corporation’s pricing structure as well as other protocols designed to benefit the corporation at the expense of the consumer.

Consumers’ Buyline was created to level the playing field, giving consumers greater leverage – which, in turn, led to lower prices and the availability of consumer goods that better met their needs. 

(Nope.  CBI was created to sell memberships.  As long as a person wanted to pay $250 a year for that “opportunity.”)

[This is true. Raniere or CBI made no efforts to lower the prices of anything. They merely sold $250 memberships and paid Purchase Power about $35 to allow CBI members to use Purchase Power’s buying power. If the same people had joined Purchase Power directly, they would have saved almost $200. In fairness to Raniere and his selling ability by making the sales of membership a multilevel marketing scheme, he wound up bringing a lot of business to Purchase Power that it might not otherwise have had. But CBI was 100 percent an MLM. It had no products. It sold memberships at a high mark up to support the pyramid scheme.]

Keith Raniere founded Consumers’ Buyline. Here he is presenting to his affiliate members how they will make a fortune with him, the smartest man in the world. He must have been persuasive in that very smart sweater.

However, by standing up to some of the largest corporations in the United States, Consumers’ Buyline ruffled feathers and disrupted the hold these corporations had on the American consumer.

This resulted in investigations by several government entities, the expense of which served to strain the company economically. 

(Laughable.  CBI’s membership level never reached a level to threaten the Walmarts of the world.  If so, you would have heard of it. Betcha didn’t.  The state investigations were actually into the company’s questionable multi-level marketing practices, involving membership sales and promises of commissions on those sales by gullible “Affiliates.”)

[This last statement by Raniere’s attorneys is surprising – insofar as they put their names on this. This is bullshit that Walmart etc. were threatened by CBI and so they got the Attorneys General of numerous states to go after CBI.  What’s most surprising is they assert this without evidence. Not a document, not even an estimate of CBI’s total buying power that would show that Raniere’s company conceivably could have put a dent into the big retailers. This kind of unsubstantiated assertion might, I think, have the opposite effect on the judge, who will see it for what it is a dishonest, self-serving claim to make something bad Raniere did in a lifetime of evil look as if it were something good and he was a poor victim.] 

Before he became Vanguard, Keith Raniere started a business called Consumers’ Buyline. It failed and went out of business. His lawyers present a theory on why that happened.

Significantly, however, there has never been a factual finding by any court that the company engaged in fraudulent conduct of any sort.  Nonetheless, due to the investigations, the company was being run out of business by the large corporations whose unfettered control over the consumer was being challenged. 

(No, it was run out of business by the states seeking to clamp down on illegal pyramid schemes.)

On September 3, 1996, Raniere, Karen Unterreiner and Pamela Cafritz, each of whom had executive positions with the company, entered into a Consent Order and Judgment with the New York State Attorney General 
(I think his Dad,  James Raniere signed it too.  Embarrassing…), stipulating that the representatives of Consumers’ Buyline deny improper conduct and that no finding had been made of any such conduct, and that Consumers’ Buyline will pay the Attorney General $40,000 to resolve all claims.

[It also stated that they would stop operating CBI and that Raniere would never engage in illegal MLM or pyramid businesses in New York state ever again in his lifetime.]  

Similar settlements were made with other states. However, not only has there never been a finding of fraud, on those occasions where a court was asked to pass on the merits, there has never been a factual finding adverse to the company. 

(There has never been, at least to my knowledge, satisfaction of the $40K fine Raniere agreed to pay – unless somebody else later paid it on his behalf.)

[Actually Raniere never paid the fine. He went out of business and stiffed the state of NY, then years later when he wanted someone indicted and wanted help from law enforcement, he got someone else to pay the fine.  He not only stiffed New York but he stiffed thousands of affiliates out of their commission.]

To this extent, where the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report falsely states that Consumers’ Buyline was shut down because of fraud, this is simply not true. There was never a finding of fraud nor an admission by anyone associated with the company that a fraud or other crime took place. Rather, the company agreed to modest fines and to cease conducting business in a number of states as a way of ending expensive civil litigation. Ultimately, the company sold its book of business, paid its creditors and was administratively dissolved.  

(Paid its creditors?  That would be interesting if true.  Also, “book of business” implies a commission driven enterprise, such as insurance.)

[By saying CBI was “administratively dissolved” means that the NYS Secretary of State dissolved the business due to CBI’s failure to comply with its obligations of the business entity statute. In short, Raniere just walked away from CBI leaving everyone who was owed money holding the bag. To present this ugly story as “Raniere is a victim” is just not going to play well with the judge.]

The little rascal with Eddie Albert. He hired the aging actor to introduce him and call him a genius and to bring some trustworthiness to Raniere’s infomercial about CBI.

When we think about the CBI period of Keith Raniere’s life, we tend to think about state attorneys general shutting him down, about the scam itself and how he stiffed so many people who trusted him out of money.

But we should not forget another person who trusted Keith that was victimizedbut not out of money.

Rhiannon was 12 when Keith stole her virginity.

Consumers’ Buyline’s offices in Clifton Park. One thing Raniere’s attorneys did not mention is that Raniere brought Rhiannon to the building and had dozens of sexual encounters with her when she was 12- 13 years old.


Consumers’ Buyline’s offices were on the second floor. Keith Raniere invited the 12-year-old Rhiannon to help with the work at Consumers’ Buyline after hours. Once in the elevator, Raniere had sex with the girl.


Rhiannon was 12, when Keith persuaded her to have sex with him. She later said she felt her childhood was stolen.


Here is the police report Rhiannon signed. Note that she said she had “sexual intercourse with a man named Keith Raniere. This occurred when I was approximately 12-13 years old and occurred either at Keith’s townhouse at 3 Flintlock Lanes, Clifton Ny or his business located at Rome Plaza Clifton Park, NY”

Let us remember Rhiannon and other young girls, girls like Gina Hutchinson and her friend Gina, when we think of CBI.

No, Keith was not the victim of the CBI saga.


About the author

Frank Parlato


Click here to post a comment

Please leave a comment: Your opinion is important to us! (Email & username are optional)

  • SIDE NOTE: Keith Raniere Does Not Deserve Life in Prison

    As y’all know, I am neither a fan nor an apologist for KAR. I do not like him. I believe he raped 12-year old Rhiannon, and possibly had a hand in the alleged murders of Pam, Barbara, Gina, and Kristin. He certainly helped tank my former company, Purchase Power, Inc., through false altruistic promises and bullshit.

    That being said, we, as citizens of this greatest country, must follow the law of our land. KAR was convicted of only what the EDNY could make stick, within their jurisdiction. No murders or rapes were ever charged or proved. (HELLO, NDNY…)

    Please consider – people have been executed by some states and later proved to be innocent through DNA testing. Too late to take it back, right?

    I believe KAR should be punished only for what has been proven, and not for what else he did do or might do upon his release. That’s not how it works.

    “My Good People; I know I am inviting your wrath” – Nancy Durkin, Observer

        • Either you forgot or you are LOL.”-NutJob

          Awesome new insult!!!!

          Are you “LOL” or something…

          It’s like calling someone a retard in a politically correct way.

      • Fair question – Number one, they consumed most of our company resources serving their constant demands. Then, because of their double debiting practices (for membership fees), our hotline flooded with calls from irate members. This made it hard to court and service other clients. Finally, they dragged the company name through the mud when they were targeted by the various states.

    • Raniere can be sentenced to enough years that in practical terms is a life sentence. One of his felonies comes with a minimum 15 year sentence and there are six other felonies he was convicted of, and he is 60 years old now.

      • Exactly. Getting sentenced for what he has been convicted for should turn out to be a life sentence. The hundreds (thousands) of conviction years that are sitting on the table waiting for NDNY officials to do their job are simply chilling in the background.

        Noble of Nancy to recognize the Rhiannon travesty and the possible murders, and still find it in her heart to defend poor asthmatic Vanguard.

        • Thanks, NJ. However, I am not defending KAR but the rest of us. We can’t set a precedent in sentencing people for things for which they’re not been convicted.

          Did Ted Bundy deserve the death penalty? Yes. But the states have proven they have wrongfully – or incorrectly – sentenced an innocent defendant to death. So, unfortunately, in my book, that means they cannot be trusted to execute at all. It could be you or me on that gurney.

          • I’m quite sure there is plenty of precedent regarding this situation that the judge will follow. If the judge gives Clare Bare a long sentence, it won’t because he added time directly for the other crimes, it will be because he developed an overall impression from all of the input that she needs more time in prison to give her time to think about it, protect society from her, discourage others from doing similar things, and to discourage her from repeating her ways if/when she gets out of prison alive. That’s why there are ranges of possible sentence lengths, is the person mostly good and screwed up once, or are they a dirtbag who shows a pattern of bad behavior? Personally, I would have preferred the DOJ provided input regarding Clare Bare lying under oath in previous trials. Judges don’t like liars, it makes their job much harder.

  • Many thanks, Frank, for reminding everyone of the rape allegations concerning Rhiannon, a 12 year old. I think they need to stay at the forefront, not because they were proved, but because they help us understand with whom we are dealing. I have never heard one iota of argument from KAR, et al to challenge them or support that they were fabricated.

    A clarification: The discounts Purchase Power, Inc. arranged were through actual RETAILERS, so Raniere’s argument that CBI and/or Purchase Power posed a threat to RETAILERS is nonsense. The “vendors” (retailers) who agreed to discount in return for extra customers, did so voluntarily.

    It saddens me that the actually brilliant and altruistic ideas of my former employer, the founder or Purchase Power, are being usurped and besmirched by (IMO) a disgusting, lazy, self serving, hedonistic creep.

    And you’re correct, Frank: CBI did add a large number of members to our base, which we could not have done otherwise. No one could “join” Purchase Power directly – they had to come through some bona fide organization.

    People: Can’t you see the cute, greedy lil’ car salesman in the above pictures? What…was he trying out different personas before he landed on an all-knowing, Jesus-like guru? (I LIKE Jesus, BTW. I think that He, as a rough-and-tumble carpenter with no access to power tools, would have kicked KAR’s pillow ass in a heartbeat – for the greater good.)

    Note: I feel a little more free to speak now, given that James Raniere has passed. I felt bad for him and still do. “Your only child did WHAT??”

    • So PPI didn’t provide anything, either. PPI was not much different than CBI in this respect, just another middleman, the major difference being CBI added the MLM scam in order to increase volume with new members instead of merely adding those in an existing organization.

      • Purchase Power sold no items and received no money from the sale of merchandise or services. What they did, however, was to negotiate good discounts with various vendors (retailers), not for kickbacks, but in exchange for those vendors getting free access to the membership base. The theory was that PPI was providing these vendors with many customers they would not have had otherwise.

        Purchase Power had no direct members of any kind – they were brought in through organizations such as association, clubs, and credit card providers. Therefore, I would not put PPI on par with CBI, which did have direct members and made its money off marking up PPI’s cost to them for the membership packages.

        • PPI didn’t need members, there was no MLM structure to keep track of, all they had to do was take the money and run. Easy-peasy.

    • So PPI was essentially an Amway “Partner Store”: By the way, the Partner Store bonus is very low and the upline would much rather an IBO/distributor buy their overpriced tools and core Amway products, but the Partner Stores do add the illusion of credibility. It used to be anyone could see the entire list of Amway Partner Stores, but no longer.

      • I would like to answer your question but this was 40 years ago and I simply cannot remember them offhand. The main appliance retailer was based in New York. The furniture vendor was based in North Carolina. The travel services were provided by an accredited travel agency. There was a musical instrument vendor, electronics vendor, etc.

        Ralph Nader was a guest at the company’s 30-year anniversary. So, there was credibility – deserved IMO. See response to Anonymous 7:51 AM for more.

    • I understand your reticence regarding James Raniere – I sometimes considered sending him a note of support. Can’t imagine what it would feel like if my son was creating such a swath of destruction in the world. I also considered that with Karen U since it must be horrible to live in that state of waiting for your “one” to acknowledge you in any real way again. Then I thought better of it – you never know how much they actually bought into the crazy. I left that crazy a long time ago, and I want the crazy to remain gone.

      • I know how I would feel if either one of my sons did that. LOL

        I would feel a very sore hand from slapping him upside the head. LOL

        Raniere’s dad was a named defendant in the Arkansas/CBI legal dustup, so he was no angel either. LOL

        Now it’s too late to confront him – opportunity lost. LOL

        • Confront who? I didn’t express any intention of confronting anyone – I can understand how a person might feel whether they are caught up in someone else’s crazy-making or not. It’s called empathy. I made a choice – that’s not an opportunity lost, that’s a decision. LOL

          Please feel free to go on as you usually do; I won’t respond again. I’ve noticed how much you enjoy getting in the last word, Scott – have at it.

          • [redacted]

            I got the last word in when I was giving a video deposition to the dirtbag Amway lawyer, Charles Bundren. He asked me a bunch of questions and the last question he asked me was whether I always had to get in the last word. I responded “yes,” and they turned the video camera off. LOL

      • Yes – despite whatever faults Mom and Dad had, I do not think they were ill intentioned. They probably would have been thrilled to see their smart, well educated son achieve great heights.

        As to Karen U, he was her college sweetheart and it must have been heart wrenching to be betrayed more bit by bit with each passing year. And, maybe if she had bailed, she would have become a target like Natalie. Plus, she was stuck co-owning a house with him.

        I deeply and truly want to know HOW THE POISON GOT IN KAREN’S HAIR.

        • Who brought up the idea that Raniere’s parents were ill-intentioned? LOL

          Unterreiner is a big question mark in my book. She kept herself in that poisonous environment, so she got what she deserved. She could have just walked away from her half of the house. We’ll probably never know about the poison in her hair. LOL

          • You think Raniere would have let her walk away with half the house? Worse, I bet she paid the mortgage on the whole thing.

            “She got what she deserved.” Really? NO ONE “deserves” to be poisoned; not even people who constantly use LOL. (LOL)

          • You misread it, I said Unterreiner should have walked away, which means Raniere would have had the entire house to himself. LOL

            She probably poisoned herself, that’s how nutty these people are. LOL

      • –I sometimes considered sending James Raniere a note of support. —

        Relax, L. Sultan already had sent a letter to Keith’s father.

        • While I am not generally a fan of either Sultan nor of ad hominem pokes to rile him up, I gotta admit – that made me laugh.

  • Everyone is a victim of Wal-Mart.
    Every mom and pop store is a victim of Wal-Mart.
    Every Amway salesman is a victim of Wal-Mart.

    Nicki, I notice that Vanguard’s love, the 12-year-old girl, was wearing metal braces on her teeth.
    Was Vanguard particularly turned on by girls wearing metal braces?

    Nicki, How come you knew the saga of Rhiannon but your wife, Allison, denied knowing anything about the lass?

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083