Vetting Raniere Claims: Did He Really ‘Build’ 1000 Millionaires- as Damon Brink Said?

 

In a previous post, Frank Report published the letter of support for Keith Raniere written by Damon Brink.

His wife, Sally, got Damon interested initially in Nxivm and both soon became deeply involved in an organization they felt would help them become wealthy and whose teachings, based on the wondrous mind of Keith Raniere, would be beneficial to the world.

The Brinks sold their nightclub business and moved from Vermont to work full-time for Nxivm and became highly regarded members of the Nxivm community in Clifton Park, near Albany, sometimes known as Nxivm Village.

Damon became one of the leaders of the Society of Protectors [SOP] the men’s group of Nxivm.

Somehow his dream of becoming wealthy while working to promote Nxivm did not come true.

The Brinks found themselves struggling to pay bills and the cost of tuition for Nxivm courses that one needed to take to continue to progress up the company ranks [the stripe path] kept them broke.

They moved back to Vermont.

For various reasons, including Sally’s breast cancer [she is in remission] and the tepid support she got from the Nxivm community when she tried to raise money to pay for her medical care, and because Nancy Salzman told Sally that she attracted breast cancer because she was seeking attention from her husband, Sally denounced Raniere, Salzman and Clare Bronfman.

Nancy Salzman with Seagram’s heiress Sara Bronfman at the last V-Week, in 2017, about the time she learned she had breast cancer.

[It is ironic that, after telling Sally and reportedly at least one other woman who got breast cancer, that women attract breast cancer to themselves because of defects in their thinking and emotions, Nancy Salzman got breast cancer herself and had two radical mastectomies.]

Unlike his wife, Damon continues to believe in the goodness of Raniere.

Sally Brink raised $42,000 on GoFundMe for her cancer treatment. It was surprising how little of the money raised came from the leaders of Nxivm despite her being in a life or death condition.

Damon Brink helps us understand the mindset of people who helped build Nxivm and continue to believe in Raniere, despite having the rest of the world and most of his former followers saying he is evil.

To help understand this, let us go back a few years to when Brink was living in the Albany area, devoting his efforts to building Nxivm and its offshoot SOP – earning money by recruiting new members and selling existing members new courses that were supposed to build their wealth as well as teach them to do it ethically.

In a 2014 video promoting an SOP event, Brink said, “For those of you that don’t know – our founder, Keith Raniere, has built more than 1000 millionaires in his life. He has built multi-million dollar businesses in a short amount of time and at one point was making more than $100,000 per hour coaching the highest level business executives in the world.”

Before we get to the veracity of these astonishing claims, it is important to note that Brink either:

  1. Knew this was true because he had independent corroboration
  2. Accepted it at face value because someone told him
  3. Knew it was a lie and deliberately spread a falsehood.

I think the most likely scenario is Damon neither vetted the claims nor did he think them untrue. Most likely he heard this fabulous tale of wealth-building from someone he deemed a reliable source: Raniere himself, or possibly a member of his inner circle such as Nancy Salzman or Pam Cafritz.

Keith Raniere built a company called Consumers’ Buyline which rose fast –  and then imploded. Raniere said this company made him a millionaire at age 30, but it got so big so fast that it threatened big business and they got law enforcement to shut it down.

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The first claim is that Raniere “built” more than 1,000 millionaires in his life. If this is true, it is a tremendous accomplishment, one of the most phenomenal events in modern times.

B. Thomas Golisano, whose life is a rags-to-riches success story, helped make a couple of dozen people who partnered with him millionaires and, perhaps, through the rise in the stock price of his company Paychex, helped another 80-100 become millionaires, as he made himself one of the richest men in the world.

Golisano’s book Built, Not Born: A Self-Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs, is acclaimed as one of the best self-help wealth books around.

Keith, however, with his 1,000 millionaires, built more than eight times what Golisano did.

Still, it is unusual, as the man who built a 1,000 men’s and women’s fortunes headed off to prison, not one of the 1,000 millionaires came out and made themselves heard.  The court heard from Damon Brink, who was not one of the Keith-built millionaires. In addition to Brink, there were 54 other letters of support for Raniere.  I have not read one that says Keith built them to be a millionaire.

Barbara Bouchey was a millionaire when she joined Nxivm. She says Keith Raniere swindled her out of her life savings – and that by the time he was done, she was in bankruptcy court. She delivered a victim statement at the sentencing hearing of Raniere.

Reviewing the 2011 and 2017 Nxivm coaches list and consulting with those who know them or with the coaches themselves, there seem to be very few millionaires built in Nxivm.

One would think that if there was any place one could find Keith “built” millionaires, it should be among those who were on the stripe path.  They enjoyed the fullness of his teachings. After all, the very name of the company was “Executive Success Programs.”

One of the points of the Twelve-point Mission Statement, which was read at the beginning of every Nxivm class, was “People control the money, wealth and resources of the world. It is essential for the survival of humankind for these things to be controlled by successful, ethical people. I pledge to ethically control as much of the money, wealth and resources of the world as possible within my success plan. I will always support the ethical control of these things.”

The Twelve-point Mission Statement by Keith Raniere hung on the wall of every Nxivm classroom. At the opening of each class, students would recite the 12 statements.

Scouring the coaches list, I found a handful of millionaires: Sara Bronfman, Clare Bronfman, Emiliano Salinas, Alejandro Betancourt, Edgar Boone, Omar Boone, Rosa Laura Junco, Vera Autry, and a few others from Mexico.

All of these inherited their money. Keith did not build them into millionaires, their fathers did.

Allison Mack and Kristin Kreuk were reportedly millionaires when they joined Nxivm, so Keith cannot take credit for building them into millionaires. Allison actually lost most of her money in Nxivm.

If Raniere really made 1,000 millionaires, he did not do so in Nxivm.  Perhaps he did this before Nxivm when he ran Consumers’ Buyline Inc.

That seems unlikely since Consumers’ Buyline worked with middle-class members lured by the promise of becoming wealthy in a multi-level marketing program. The company rose fast but before any millionaires could be built, the company was closed down by the NYS Attorney General for allegedly being a pyramid scheme. When the company closed, there were thousands of members who were not paid commissions due or were owed refunds on membership fees. Reportedly, in Texas, some of them were ready to lynch Raniere prompting him to absent himself from appearing there, sending Toni Natalie instead.

A class-action lawsuit was commenced against Raniere and the company and when it closed its doors, it had zero assets and no one was paid. It seems unlikely that Raniere built any millionaires out of that business failure.

Before that, back in the 1980s, Raniere himself was struggling to make a living, often living off his girlfriends’ income.  Karen U, supported him for several years.

I am not chiding Brink for repeating these dubious claims, claims that most mature, thinking adults would question carefully before repeating, as Brink did as he sought to persuade SOP members to spend thousands to take an SOP course.

Damon Brink

The point is Brink did not question the claims. To ask for proof, to investigate, would be to question Raniere’s integrity and show a lack of honor.

Damon is told that Raniere built a thousand millionaires [unnamed], built multi-million dollar businesses [unknown] and once made $100,000 per hour coaching the highest level business executives in the world [who?] and he accepts it as an article of faith from his leader and passes it on to other followers.

Damon might have sought to vet this to be prepared for normal, rational people who might question these fantastic claims. But he did not, perhaps because he knew no one would ask any questions.

In Nxivm, they accepted the claims of Raniere. Some even attributed all sorts of supernatural powers to Raniere based on hints he gave, possibly reinforced by his harem women, such as that he could control the weather (e.g., walk in the rain and not get wet) or that his teachings were so powerful that it could cause unusual weather-related disturbances when he released his teachings, or that his brain was so electro-magnetic that technology-related changes like computers going haywire or radar detectors going off would occur when he thought too hard or drove past them in a car.

To believe in the leader Raniere is the mindset of Nxivm followers. They did not challenge him and blindly accepted his claims of vastly remarkable accomplishments.

It is ironic that they could do this without necessarily losing their ability to appear rational in non-Raniere aspects of life.  They were not zombies. They were not mindless. If you met them casually, you would not immediately know they had any association with a cult. They seemed bright and engaging.

According to Raniere’s followers, the rest of the world is wrong about him. Raniere has been smeared and abused by dishonorable people and a prejudiced media, starting with the Frank Report and this writer.

In order to find the truth, the followers of Raniere, including Damon Brink, are invited to vet the claims Raniere made and also the claims made against him.

Most are susceptible to vetting. If Raniere is truthful and innocent, the truth will emerge and his legions of detractors will have to sit up and take notice. Conversely, if Raniere lied, if he is a conman, and a grifter, if he did the horrors people say he did, his followers will have to either denounce him or defend his actions. Or continue to ignore that which contradicts their leader’s statements.

This is the experiment that has not been done.

If they do it honestly, they will not be able to continue, like Damon Brink, to say things about Raniere without vetting them.  Once they vet them, then it works in reverse too. People should not condemn Raniere without facts and if the facts show him to be innocent, and truthful, to have, for instance, actually built 1000 millionaires, then that will come out clearly on the record.

It would be great if Damon stood up to the plate and showed us where the 1,000 millionaires are. He said it, and he ought to be able to back it up or admit it was probably hogwash – something that someone cooked up, possibly Raniere himself, to make it seem like he was far greater than he really was just like a conman or a grifter would do.

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Frank Parlato

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  • Raniere was probably thinking that IF Consumers’ Buyline were allowed to continue, he would have created 1,000 millionaires. This is called forward-thinking “dream building” in Amway, and other MLM scams probably use it as well. Fake it ’till ya make it. LOL

  • “Damon might have sought to vet this to be prepared for normal, rational people who might question these fantastic claims. But he did not, perhaps because he knew no one would ask any questions.” WRONG. Brink was using the typical salesman/Amway/MLM game of numbers: expose an idea to numerous people and even if only a small percentage buy into it, there are not only enough victims but also the types of victims who will believe other outlandish ideas. LOL

  • There is no defense for a man raping a minor or anyone else for that matter. I don’t give a fuck if he “created” millionaires or not. The guy was proven to have raped and imprisoned a minor. End of story. Fuck Raniere and fuck those who enabled him. They all deserve to be in prison.

  • Frank, you assume that once the few remaining Nxivm loyalists find Raniere’s claims at odds with demonstrable fact, they will have to give up on their dear Vanguard. This would depend on cultists thinking rationally. But if they thought rationally, they wouldn’t have joined a cult.

    Interesting historical sidelight. Leon Festinger, the psychologist who coined the term “cognitive dissonance”, studied the UFO cult known as The Seekers. In 1954 they predicted the end of the world would come when space aliens arrived on Dec. 21. When the day arrived alien-free, most of the members went home disappointed and embarrassed. The most hardcore, though, dealt with their cognitive dissonance via a clever adaptation of the mind— obviously, the cult’s faith had saved the world!

    Festinger discovered, and through an ingenious series of experiments proved, that this adaptation of the mind is nearly universal. It’s how people reconcile idiotic faith with reality. You’ll never convince a hardcore cultist that the cult is wrong. Belief can be impervious to reason.

    • People aren’t exposed to the hard-core aspects of a cult when they join, the exposure happens slowly, incrementally, and gradually. LOL

  • About the following quote of the article above, it seems to be nuances: “It is ironic that they could do this without necessarily losing their ability to appear rational in non-Raniere aspects of life. They were not zombies. They were not mindless. If you met them casually, you would not immediately know they had any association with a cult. They seemed bright and engaging.” For instance, Sarah tells in her book that she was uncomfortable at her wedding party where she was going to meet their parents in law because most of the people there were NXIans with frozen smiles and empty eyes.

  • Thanks for digging a bit more into Brink as an example of a diehard true believer. I think it’s important to have a better picture of such individuals, in order to understand how a cult like NXIVM attracts and keeps members, and actually functions.

    From what I’ve seen, it’s fairly typical of such people that they accept things that wouldn’t pass a reality-check – such as, you point out, the improbability of an extraordinary accomplishment or the identity of just a couple of those millionaires supposedly made – much less a real fact-check. Though I haven’t seen good research on it, I suspect that cult members are particularly gullible in some way that probably goes hand-in-hand with being low in critical thinking ability (likely going towards explaining why highly educated individuals and those in rigorous scientific or technical professions are noticeably absent from their ranks, nor anyone actually successful in business except sales and marketing).

    In Scientology, you can walk into a local “org” that is about as empty as a Christian Science Reading Room, and be told in all earnestness that the group has 20 million members worldwide – each member believes that they’re all somewhere else, and that other locations must be bursting at the seams while theirs languishes. It’s a version of the phenomenon of pluralistic ignorance – one which I suspect also serves to make members feel guilty about their own failure, focusing blame on themselves rather than the group.

  • Not one millionaire created. Plenty had their millions taken and squandered. When they finally tabulate everything they will find everyone lost here. A delusional leader Keith and equally delusional followers. All ended up poorer, some in prison and none a success as touted by the program.

  • This is a very good post. People need to look at facts and not remain in a bubble of self-delusion. For example, if Brink is so sure, then he should name the 1000 millionaires even just by initials and the like.

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato Investigates

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, many others in all five continents.

His work helping 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 featured prominently on HBO’s documentary “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.”

Parlato will be featured in an upcoming episode of American Greed.

If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

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