I made a mistake and signed up for a newsletter with Stansberry Research. I thought that it may teach me about investing as it advertised.
Instead, it was a list seller and an advertiser for more expensive newsletters. I have regretted the decision ever since. I have found "free" investing information services on the web that have significantly better information, without the constant subjection to the next sales pitch. I was transferred to a website for "Income On Demand", a newsletter and service that is part of Agora Financial.
I ended up there after seeing a headline about where to invest $20k if you have it now. This was a "sponsored ad" from Stansberry Research. I find it very interesting that Agora Financial and Stansberry Research are headquartered in the same city, Baltimore, MD! Very similar to the Palm Beach Letter, Newsmax, Inc., Casey Research, and the whole slew of other newsletters printed in the same city of West Palm Beach in Florida.
These companies are in the business of selling newsletters of very little value to the uninformed and the uninitiated. The come-on I found on that site said that if I spend a mere $1,500.00 (which is the "lowest price this newsletter has ever been offered to the public", apparently), I will receive regular emails that tell me exactly how to make "perpetual income, instant income and flash income" for the rest of my life! I could do this by spending just a few minutes a week making "simple trades". In just a few keystrokes, I could be collecting checks for a few hundred dollars and I could do this to the tune of well over $100,000.00 per year.
Well, who wouldn't want that?? Sounds great, if it works! The big names that were dropped, like Warren Buffett (he always has a place in there somewhere), and other billionaires, who have used this system for making millions of dollars every year, make it seem like I will have access to insider, sophisticated investor information. Without any training, I can make thousands each month, with the only risk being the $20,000.00 investment capital that I have in my trading account.
The problem is that you have to have a large amount of money to invest if you want to make any return at all. The bigger problem for me is that I have to spend thousands of dollars, on a "non-refundable" offer, just to find out what the program is. That's the problem with all of the newsletter offers. They spend a significant amount of time on the sales pitch without any real information ever being given.
Then the inevitable newsletter subscription offer follows. The minimum amount for any of the offerings that seem worth anything is $1,500. The range that I've seen thus far is up to $3,000.00 That IS cheap compared to professional advice offered by an investment manager, no doubt. There is a very good reason for this.
Excellent information is very valuable and therefore is easily sold to those who can afford to spend more. You get what you pay for has never been truer. If you spend less than the few thousand for the newsletters that these companies sell their information for, you will receive a very general newsletter, with more opinion that fact, which is nothing more than a way to get your name on a list so that they can go after you for the more expensive letters. Again, you get what you pay for.
(Would you pay someone to put you on a list, so that others can come after you to sell you something else? That's what you are doing by signing up with any of these guys!) I have seen this type of offer already and sadly, I bought one of them, which is how I began to investigate the similarities between the offers and the fact that they all seem to originate from newsletter mills. The quality of the information that I received from the author seemed to be very poor. It was mostly, political tirades and opinion, with a very little actual financial advice of any consequence.
It has been very disappointing. Additionally, it opened the floodgates of follow-on ads from every scheme and scam to come down the pike. They sound great to the neophyte, which I readily admit to being at the time. Otherwise, they never would have gotten any of my money in the first place.
However, in the final analysis, I realize that if they actually had any real actionable intelligence, they would be using it to make money themselves, rather than putting it into newsletters to help me get rich. Alternatively, they would be selling it for millions, which is what it would be worth. Each of these news services (that's what they say they are, NOT INVESTMENT ADVISORS) are proud to say that none of their writers or employees are allowed to invest in any of the information that they recommend or write about. This is supposed to reassure me that they aren't selling me a worthless stock, for example, in order to drive the price up artificially, then sell their shares before the bottom drops out.
That doesn't make me feel better though. Firstly, that kind of shenanigans is against the law, which is why First Jersey Securities is no longer in business. Secondly, if the information was any good, then the guys who do the investigating would be using it to run a hedge fund, not to write a newsletter. Some of them actually brag that they used to work for hedge funds but have seen the light and now want to offer their valuable information to the public, to help the little guy get his slice of the pie.
How noble! I am skeptical. Truth to the publishers: you are making a good deal of money selling worthless newsletters to the unsophisticated because you couldn't cut it on Wall Street, or more likely because you can make much more money this way without any of the risk inherent in the markets. You have no risk of losing your own money based on your advice because you have no money invested in your ideas.
Nor do you risk losing your income when your advice doesn't work, as you would if you were managing a real investment portfolio because you are selling subscriptions, not advice. To get back to my experience, I realized that I was just being scammed again, so I left the site without ordering. However, my autofill feature had entered credit card info, etc. onto the order form first.
Why would I go to the order form? That's where you HAVE to go to find out what the real cost is going to be! Not only did not I find out, but I was immediately subjected to an attempt to sell me "lifetime service with the possibility of passing this on to my heirs." I felt confident that there wouldn't be any problem because I never placed an actual order, no email was received, which confirmed an order, nor did I see any order confirmation screen. Safe, right?
Not so fast! A few days later, I got a congratulations email for my wise decision and when I looked at my bank mobile app, my credit card had been billed for $1,500.00! I was incensed because I thought that this kind of thing was not possible without a confirmation. I thought only hackers stole credit card numbers and put false sales on other people's credit cards.
I would have liked to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the email arrived days after I visited the site. This seems to indicate a human intervention HAD to take place. Computers don't take days to react to an order in my experience. I immediately reported the incident to my bank and they started an investigation.
Then I called Agora (that's how I found out for certain who was behind the scheme, the customer service was Agora, not any of the entities that I had seen up to that point) to protest the use of my credit card information without authorization. They cheerfully agreed to give me a refund "because you called right away". I did not take them at their word, however and continued to report everything that happened, including each contact with Agora to my credit card company. Although it took a few days, I did get a refund, but I was left to wonder what may have happened had I not called my bank immediately after noticing the email.
It would have been very easy to ignore it as just another attempt to hook me in since I had visited their site once. I informed Agora, in the first call to them that I had contacted my bank and started an investigation so that they would be aware that I wasn't going to allow this to happen. I also checked my bank statement when I got the first email but certainly haven't done that every time I've visited sites and decided against ordering. What happens to those who weren't as lucky as I was?
A couple of days after speaking with Agora customer service, I got a package in the mail, with all of the information, books, a pen, a memory stick, a DVD, and a minuscule gold coin (touted as a $5 gold piece in the ad). It was $5 worth of gold, which is why it had to be microscopic! Truly, you need a magnifying glass to see the detail on the coin! It all came in a very impressive box, but the contents aren't worth much according to Agora.
This must be true because I called them to ask for instructions on how to send the package back to them. Naturally, I was worried that they were trying to force me to take the newsletter by saying that my acceptance of the package was a tacit approval of the transaction. What they said was, "don't worry about it, you can keep it!" In other words, it isn't worth the cost to ship it back. Summary: Forget what any newsletter is titled, what it is selling, who the author is, or whatever market they are telling you that you need to learn about from them.
All you need to do is look to see if it was written in Baltimore, MD or Palm Beach, FL. If it was, RUN!!!
Review about: Agora Financial Income On Demand Subscription.
Reason of review: Not as described.