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#1
Old 03-07-2005, 03:08 PM
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how bogus is Matthew Lesko?

I've got a friend who is ready to order that spaz Lesko's books from a tv commercial, the kind that promises info on tons of gov't grants that give everyone a chance to have the gov't pay their rent, go on vacation, etc.

Anyone have any info on these books I can pass on? My gut says they're full of crap with the occasional bit of decent info if you have a legitimate grant reason, not the cornucopia of free cash they seems to be. But real info would be appreciated.
#2
Old 03-07-2005, 03:28 PM
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My recollection from when this was last answered was that the information in Lesko's book is real, it just doesn't apply to everyone. The government programs he describes are real, but chances are you don't qualify. Your gut is essentially right. My guess is that if you were 10 different people, all with different financial circumstances, you could probably turn a profit on the book.
#3
Old 03-07-2005, 03:39 PM
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I'm not sure where you are, Filmyak, but you might wanna check your local library to see if they have the book instead of buying it. A quick check in Chicago's system shows a bunch of Lesko's books.

I'm curious if Lesko just kept writing to that Pueblo, CO address for info, then stuck it all in a book, got some felt question marks on a suit, and then began tormenting late night TV.
#4
Old 03-07-2005, 03:41 PM
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The big thing about Lesko's book is that all of the info is readily available from the Government Printing Office for free or cheap. Imagine paying somebody $10 for all the tax forms you need (which are free at the Post Office,) and you'll get the picture.
gpo.gov
#5
Old 03-07-2005, 03:50 PM
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Umm, secretly imagine my 2000th post up there but with the words Pueblo, CO looking like this:

Pueblo, CO

I guess I'm getting senile as my post counts go up...
#6
Old 03-07-2005, 04:10 PM
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This topic has been covered before:

http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...d.php?t=241286
http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...d.php?t=292733
#7
Old 03-07-2005, 04:56 PM
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Perfect. Thanks, everyone!
#8
Old 03-07-2005, 05:29 PM
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The book is a compilation of grants and loans that the government provides. We found that if you were a non-white or a woman, it had tons of information for you, but there were few programs that would help us.
#9
Old 03-07-2005, 06:45 PM
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One other piece of advice--see the local library has a copy of his books. Your pal can cead all the info Lesko's compiled without writing to Pueblo, and without sending more $$ to Lesko. If the book is as good as promised, then he can get his own copy.
#10
Old 03-07-2005, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan
One other piece of advice--see the local library has a copy of his books. Your pal can cead all the info Lesko's compiled without writing to Pueblo, and without sending more $$ to Lesko. If the book is as good as promised, then he can get his own copy.
Eerie. This reminds me a lot of post #3 in this thread.
#11
Old 03-07-2005, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stockton
Eerie. This reminds me a lot of post #3 in this thread.
I'm only seeing with one eye these days; I guess I focused on all the "write to Pueblo!" talk and completely missed stpauler's earlier mention of the public library. Apologies.
#12
Old 03-07-2005, 11:13 PM
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Most public libraries have theft problems with Lesko's books. If you find one on the shelf, you would be lucky.

Lesko has made people think that the Federal government is in the business of giving people money for half-baked business ventures that have little planning or chance of success.
#13
Old 03-08-2005, 01:46 AM
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You could probably save money by going online to governmentgrants.com It looks like they'll give you similar information for less money and you get the info instantly. I see they also have links to the Lesko grants books.

-NobleBaron
#14
Old 03-08-2005, 11:46 PM
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I know this isn't GD, but in terms of Matthew Lesko bogus-ness...

While Lesko isn't exactly scamming anyone (his book is a convenient collection of info that's just normally available separately) the tone & essence of his pitch and the so-called 'testimonials' from his readers that appear in the commercials seem to all fall under the category of, how shall I put this, low-life scum who'll do absolutely anything to avoid getting a real job and earning an honest living!

IOW, Lesko's trying to show lazy, quasi-dishonest people how, with a few white lies and/or half-truths, you can take advantage of programs that are really meant for other people who truely need them (and he's making a nice living doing so).

So in essence I think he's a sleazeball.
#15
Old 03-09-2005, 12:07 AM
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Also notice that out of 60+ reviews on Amazon, he gets only 2 stars. That's one of the lowest ratings I've ever seen for a book so heavily reviewed.

Go to any library and ask for the most current Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance for most of the same info and it's free.
#16
Old 03-09-2005, 02:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail Ants
(his book is a convenient collection of info that's just normally available separately)
True, but then so is an encyclopedia or the SDMB. There's something to be said for editing or compiling in a handy way.

I remember seeing that Pueblo address contantly on PSAs on TV in the 70s and perhaps into the 80s, but I don't recall having seen it for years since. Not sure if that says more about my TV viewship decline than the decline in PSAs at reasonable hours (or in general) but I imagine that, filling the void, he is responsible for a lot of people becoming aware of federal programs that they otherwise wouldn't be. My mother bought the book(s) over a decade ago before the internet was much of a reality for the average person, and it was somewhat useful.

I think I mentioned this in one of the earlier threads linked to above, but I actually bumped into him on the street in DC a couple of years ago and he was wearing the question mark suit, which was quite surreal.
#17
Old 03-09-2005, 02:35 AM
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The Pueblo address was for getting free government publications, not grants. You could get a government pamphlet on how to lose weight or properly maintain your car. The Federal Government doesn't like to print stuff anymore unless it has to. It prefers to point you to a website.
#18
Old 03-09-2005, 02:36 AM
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Onion take:

Quote:
Thousands of Americans receive tax-free money from the government for education, new businesses, and so on. But the problem with these money-making schemes is YOU DON'T QUALIFY. You would have to actually go to school or start a business to get a piece of that pie. But can you lie? YES, YOU CAN! You've done it a million times in your life, to a million people—your ex-wife, your parents, the departmental supervisor at your former job. With the Instant Money Invention Plan, all you have to do is lie about something else... your salary!

Wouldn't it be great to work from the comfort of your own living-room couch, sitting back and watching the money roll in? Of course it would. Unfortunately, there's no such thing. But I'm not talking about some get-rich-quick scheme. I am talking about FOOLING PEOPLE into THINKING you've gotten rich quick.
#19
Old 03-09-2005, 11:49 AM
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Well, he can probably show you how to eliminate your clothing expenses by convincing somebody to give you his hand-me-downs, using whatever approach worked on the Riddler.
#20
Old 03-09-2005, 12:22 PM
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Restating the original question. If you had a meeting with your financial advisor and he showed up wearing a yellow clown's suit with question marks, would it:

a) increase your trust in his advice
b) decrease your trust in his advise
c)make you want to shop for a similar costume
#21
Old 03-09-2005, 12:46 PM
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Lesko has to act like a clown, because all he is selling, as has been pointed out, is public information that's not terribly relevant to most people. And he is not, shall we say, selling to a sophisticated audience (I won't question their motivations or desire to avoid real work, but given that his main outlet these days seems to be home shopping networks, these are probably people not otherwise involved with professional financial advisors).

So, he sells a stupid shtick. All I can think of when I see him is that it must get old always having to be so fake-enthusiastic and mug for the camera and wear those Elton John-style getups.

IIRC, he has a somewhat conventional background as a business consultant and former military guy, and also IIRC, he used to wear regular clothes. He's obviously trying (without much success, as far as I'm concerned) to walk a fine line and avoid being a pure scam/get-rich-quick artist. Interesting that his suits have big question marks and not dollar signs -- I'm sure that was a calculated decision on his part, and that he'd be very emphatic that he is selling only "information resources." However, I suspect his audience hears (perhaps correctly) his fundamental message as being about the Wells Fargo truck of Free Government Money backing up to their door.
#22
Old 03-09-2005, 03:56 PM
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Here is a link to Lesko's blog:

http://leskoblog.com/
#23
Old 03-09-2005, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gfactor
Here is a link to Lesko's blog:

http://leskoblog.com/
Anyone else reading that in his screechy yelling voice?



Thought so.
#24
Old 03-10-2005, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huerta88
IIRC, he has a somewhat conventional background as a business consultant and former military guy, and also IIRC, he used to wear regular clothes.
Well, yeah, I suppose that would follow. I just can't picture a conventional business consultant or military guy showing up for work dressed in a Riddler costume.
#25
Old 03-10-2005, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield226
Anyone else reading that in his screechy yelling voice?



Thought so.

I saw Matthew Lesko waiting in line at a Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant last year. This in the 'burbs and with Lesko wearing ultra-hip threads fresh from the catwalks of Milan, circa 1968. He was quite pleased that I recognized him, asked how I knew him, murmured to his female SO. I mentioned the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Busted out in a huge grin. Wild looking shoes. Looked like a fun guy actually. Lesko knows that, in America, 50 percent of success is slick marketing.
#26
Old 03-10-2005, 10:10 AM
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I have seen a couple of his books and now, having checked out his web site, I have developed a certain kind of respect for him. His commercials are loaded with ultra-general claims about what kinds of grants are available, but when you check out the materials, he offers some good general advice. For example, see his "10 Things To Avoid When Offered A Free Money Opportunity" on the blog. Here he gives some basic advice about the realities of grant writing. The introduction to the book that I read had more nuts and bolts stuff about grant writing. Of course, all of this stuff is available on the Internet, for free. So I guess what offends me is that his claims in his commercials belie what he offers in his books. Bottom line, don't pay more than five or ten bucks for one of his books, and better yet, get it from the library (my library has it in e-book form, the paper copy has been missing for several years.)
#27
Old 03-10-2005, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
I have seen a couple of his books and now, having checked out his web site, I have developed a certain kind of respect for him. His commercials are loaded with ultra-general claims about what kinds of grants are available, but when you check out the materials, he offers some good general advice. For example, see his "10 Things To Avoid When Offered A Free Money Opportunity" on the blog. Here he gives some basic advice about the realities of grant writing. The introduction to the book that I read had more nuts and bolts stuff about grant writing. Of course, all of this stuff is available on the Internet, for free.
Well, he has carved out a niche by being the just-this-side-of-the-line I'm-not-a-get-rich-quick-or-anything-like-that-tout-but-here's-how-you-can-get-rich, quick-guy. His (legal) "legitimacy" (although the New York Consumer Protection people were apparently investigating him) is in itself one of his prinicipal selling points. Of course he's going to tut-tut about dishonest "free money opportunities" and helpfully "warn" against them. Those guys are his direct competitors in the free money scheme marketplace.

Lesko strikes me as a (possibly less culpable, but certainly more annoying) version of a guy hawking nitrous oxide cartridges or satellite receivers that can be reprogrammed to steal signals, or the like -- what he's doing is not (unless the consumer protection people find that he is factually overstating the availability of grants, etc.) technically illegal, but he has every reason to know that his audience's motive in obtaining what he offers is not pure. Lesko's blog (q.v.) quotes Rush Limbaugh (of all people) as "supporting" his claims (he provides a laundry list of government aid programs that Limbaugh supposedly read -- though I doubt Limbaugh read it in order to endorse enthusiastically these programs or their systematic exploitation).

Lesko's message here and elsewhere seems to be comprehensible principally as one of:

"Hey, I'm not a get-rich-quick-guy because there really are a bunch of government programs that promise to just give you money for no real reason, and so you should take maximal advantage of them, and can readily do so by legitimate means" -- which some would view as morally odious because it invites a tragedy-of-the-commons, look-the-other-way, legalistic disregard for the fact that this "government money" comes from your neighbors who aren't draining the maximal dole out of the public fisc;

or

"Hey, I'm not a get rich quick guy because there are lots of programs, but most of you folks won't qualify, and this is just public information, so what's the big deal?" -- which is morally odious because he has knowingly cultivated and encouraged an audience of rent-seekers to pay him and to believe that they almost certainly will qualify, by shouting about government grants and the publicly-available methods for getting them, when applicable, as though they were a big deal indeed;

or

"Hey, I'm not a get rich quick guy because I would never encourage anyone to game the system, wink wink nudge nudge" -- which is morally odious for obvious reasons, especially as his cultivation of a get-rich-quick mentality by his constant trumpeting about money can be seen as a near occasion of the sin of fact fudging by his readers when they write their grant applications.

While I've attempted above just to break out the ways people might analytically understand Lesko's real message (none of which end up being very positive), I guess this reads not exactly like GQ material, for which I apologize to any offended mod. -- but then the OP (which I thought was legit) is hard to answer without verging into GD territory because "bogusness" (bogosity?) is hard to define in existential terms.

I will only note that as a legal matter, disclosing the literal truth (i.e., government grants have qualification requirements and not everyone will meet them), at some point during a sales pitch, is not an absolute defense to charges of fraud, deceptive trade practices, or other public policy violations. I don't accuse Lesko of actually comitting such violations as a matter of law; I just suggest that his apparent belief that the equivalent of a six-point-pica disclaimer can atone for any and all of his other possibly-misleading or invidious antics may be overly simplistic as a legal matter, and probably is as a moral matter.
#28
Old 03-10-2005, 12:14 PM
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What offends me is precisely that his commercials don't mention any of the downside. He talks fast and tells of how easy it is to get rich off the government (often citing examples--$20,000 to build a tampon factory!!!!!; $15,000 to get your Ph.D.!!!!--when the specific grant is probably much more generic, and not easy to get. He never mentions any of the downside in his pitch (and I would not expect him to). If I had spent thirty bucks on one of his books, only to find out that it wasn't easy, and none of the grants that he referred to in his pitch were as described, I would ask for that refund pronto, and probably complain to the FTC and my state attorney general. OTOH, if I found his book on the library shelf, I would consider it a useful resource, specifically because it explains that this stuff is not easy and outlines some of the obstacles.
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