Internet Marketing on Life Support

Are Internet marketing “gurus” just a den of thieves? And is Internet marketing itself now on life support as a result of their unethical business practices?

The reason I ask these questions is because recent events have forced me to ask them.

Internet marketing “gurus” are being called out left and right, new advertising rules are going into effect, people’s merchant accounts are being terminated without notice — it’s probably the biggest shake-up to hit Internet marketing since the first big “Google slap.”

Let’s take a look at some of the “recent events” I’m talking about:

Event #1: Perry Belcher “Retires”

Here’s the short version: Perry Belcher sold fraudulent health supplements through his company called Selmedica. When it was discovered he was committing fraud, authorities seized Belcher’s assets, auctioned off his home, cars, and other possessions, and gave him a 10-year probation.

In what appears to be an attempt to side-step the terms of his probation, Belcher partnered with Ryan Deiss to promote products on the Internet again. “Get Money from Google,” “Social Media Blueprint,” and other programs followed.

But after much dogged persistence by Salty Droid, Perry Belcher pulled the plug on all his online businesses, deleted his Twitter account, and announced his “retirement” from Internet marketing. (Or, more accurately, forced retirement.)

Event #2: Eric Graham Fails to Deliver

Eric Graham and Ryan HealyEric Graham is known as the Conversion Doctor. He helps people improve the conversion rates of their web sites. In the past, I’ve been impressed with Eric, and even went to an event in Denver specifically to meet him. (That’s where I got the picture at right.)

Anyway, I was surprised to learn that over the last year or two that Eric has continued to make big promises, but — according to the testimony of multiple customers — has not delivered fully on those promises. Worse, he has denied refunds and not honored his own guarantee, which he features prominently in his sales process.

I wouldn’t even have been aware of these issues had not Fred Black written in detail about his own unsatisfactory experiences with Eric Graham. I respect Fred and his work, so I take this issue fairly seriously.

Turns out, Fred is not the only one who’s spoken out against Eric Graham. There seems to be a pattern of negligence. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.”

Event #3: StomperNet Descends into Chaos

Ken McCarthy (an Internet marketer who has my utmost respect, by the way) introduced Brad Fallon to the Internet marketing community back when I still had a job.

I bought the first “Stomping the Search Engines” program, listened to it in my car, and used what I had learned to build a site that’s been cranking out $20 to $70 a month for more than five years now. The methods described in the program worked for me, so I thought highly of Brad — at first.

Well, Brad went on to partner with Andy Jenkins and formed StomperNet. They did a big launch, claimed to make millions — and from the outside, everything looked peachy.

Here’s what I found interesting: With the exception of giving Brad Fallon his initial credibility, I don’t think Ken McCarthy ever promoted him again. I had always wondered why.

Now I don’t wonder so much.

Andy Jenkins (no saint himself) ended up suing Brad Fallon. They haven’t paid affiliates from the first StomperNet launch. And now Brad has sued his own wife (Jennifer Fallon) over ownership of their wedding favors business. (Oh, they’re getting divorced, too. No surprise there I guess.)

And just so you know I’m not making this stuff up, you can read all about the StomperNet shenanigans on Salty Droid, links to legal docs included. (Warning: Strong language.)

Event #4: New FTC Rules Go into Effect

On December 1, 2009, new FTC rules went into effect. As you may know, these new rules were a backlash caused by “flogs” — fake blogs — being created and multiplied by certain Internet marketers.

The new rules say that if you feature testimonials that include specific results, then you must also prominently describe what “typical” results are. Disclaimers like “Results not typical” are no longer sufficient.

For an in-depth review of the rules, what they mean, and how you should respond, I recommend listening to the Easy FTC Compliance Seminar posted on Robert Skrob’s blog. (There’s also a handy PDF download in case you prefer to read.)

Event #5: Visa & MasterCard Crack Down on Merchants

On January 14, 2010, I received notification from PowerPay (my merchant account provider) that Visa and MasterCard are cracking down on what they consider “brand damaging” business practices.

Behind the scenes, Visa and MasterCard provided merchant account providers with a master list of “worst offenders.” Merchant account providers were told to immediately terminate the merchant accounts of these worst offenders — or face $100,000 fines per infraction.

As you can imagine, faced with $100,000 fines, merchant account providers acted swiftly. And a client notified me on January 16 that the merchant accounts of four major Internet marketers had been terminated. (It’s probably no surprise that three of the four have been targeted by Salty Droid.)

What Does It All Mean?

First of all, let me say that I think there are many Internet marketers who’ve crossed the line and should not be followed, supported, or endorsed. Enough is enough.

Let me also say that I believe there are many ethical Internet marketers who deliver fair value for a fair price — and do not engage in high-pressure sales, deceptive marketing methods, or the outright fraud I’m now aware of.

What this means is this:

  • You must choose your mentors and teachers in the online space wisely.
  • You must be especially wary of outrageous, hyped-up claims. (If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)
  • When possible, you should get a second opinion from someone you trust when you’re tempted to spend a large sum of money for an event, coaching program, home study course, etc.
  • And, possibly most important of all, you must protect your reputation. Because, in the end, your reputation is the most valuable asset you have.

Internet marketing is not going away. The Internet will continue to be a marketing medium. But how that medium is used will most definitely change — possibly more dramatically this year than ever before.

Ultimately, I don’t think there’s any reason to panic. But you should certainly be proactive about complying with the new rules and making sure you’re dealing with reputable online business owners. (This advice is as much for me as it is for you.)

Really, it all boils down to these three things:

  1. Guard your mind.
  2. Guard your wallet.
  3. Guard your reputation.

Simple, for sure. But as most principles go: easier said than done.

-Ryan M. Healy

P.S. So far, my 4th business prediction for 2010 — “The End of the Internet Marketing Guru as We Know Him” — is happening a LOT faster than I expected.

P.P.S. Would love to get your comments on this post. Were you already aware of these issues? How do YOU think all these changes and revelations will affect Internet marketing?

P.P.P.S. In case you are interested, here are the new merchant account terms as spelled out by Jud Smith of PowerPay:

PowerPay cannot accept merchant applications for products and/or services employing “Negative Option” enrollment, in addition to the following practices:

Marketing models that employ “Free-Trial”, “Deferred Billing” and/or “Shipping Only”. Customers must be receiving a tangible good or contracted service in exchange for charging of payment cards. Incentivized discount offers are acceptable when the cardholder is receiving something in exchange for payment, however we will be unable to support accounts engaging in hidden or delayed charges and ‘free’ offers that are not truly free.

“Cross-Selling” and “Up-selling” business practices. All sales should be directly between the business entities (merchant) processing the transaction and the cardholder, with cardholder authorization for all purchases.

Per Payment Brand guidelines, the use of multiple merchant accounts, billing descriptors and merchant processors may be viewed as an attempt to avoid chargeback monitoring programs and is prohibited. Perceived non-compliance has led to termination of processing relationships. PowerPay will review the business consideration for opening multiple merchant accounts to ensure compliance with Payment Brand guidelines.

Transactions generated from internet traffic and all other lead sources must be managed and monitored for potential fraud using an approved system. Third Party service engagement may be a requirement for account approval.

The FTC has recently published guidelines regarding “Negative Option” enrollment programs and is taking a very aggressive position against merchants utilizing/employing this business practice. Recommendations take in part from the FTC’s website may include but are not limited to the following:

Material terms should be disclosed in a clear, concise manner. Unnecessarily long or inconsistent terms are viewed as an attempt to mislead the consumer.

Terms should be disclosed in a conspicuous manner, clearly placed and labeled on websites in a location that indicates the importance and relevance to the transaction. Fonts and colors must be easy to view.

Material terms must be disclosed prior to completion of the transaction and before a financial obligation is incurred by the consumer.

Customers must provide affirmative consent to any offer, examples include a mandatory “I Agree…” statement checkbox, where the customer is acknowledging the Terms and Conditions of the offer and consents to be entered into continuity program as a result of completing the transaction. Pre-checked boxes do not qualify as affirmative consent.

Merchants must not discourage or make difficult in any way the disclosed cancellation procedures and all cancellation requests must be honored in accordance with the stated terms of the transaction.

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and

dhudiburg - January 19, 2010

Rick, while I agree with the overall sentiment of your comment, and totally agree with Ryan, I find myself wondering why you chose to specifically name Lynn Terry.

I've followed Lynn for quite some time and consider her to be quite the opposite of a 'guru' wannabe. She has never appeared to want to be anything but Lynn Terry, who, by the way, was one of the people who took the StomperNet people to task for their failure to resolve the problems they had with their newsletter launch.

Brian Ochsner - January 19, 2010

Ryan – Great article, you've definitely done your homework. Whether you're doing business online or offline, the fundamentals are still the same:

1. Find qualified prospects who want/need your product or service
2. Provide value and build a relationship with them
3. Be up-front and honest about how you can help solve their problem(s)

I'm glad to see the trend (hopefully) for 2010 is getting “back to basics” in Internet and offline marketing. Fundamentals are critical in business and life success – if you get away from – or get sloppy – with them, it'll come back to haunt you sooner or later.

That's my two cents, hope 2010 is starting off well for you and family.


Ryan M. Healy - January 19, 2010

Doug – Thanks for bringing this up. I actually just got a private email from somebody who was upset about Lynn being named.

I responded by saying, “So far, nobody has spoken up for Lynn Terry — I don't know a whole lot about her, but she seems to be a good person.”

Anyway, I'm glad somebody who knows her better than I do said something. So thank you.


Duff_McDuffee - January 19, 2010

“It's almost to the point where the only experts I will allow myself to trust are the dead ones”

Probably good advice for spiritual goo-roos too.

Duff_McDuffee - January 19, 2010

“sociopaths are attracted to direct marketing, politics, sales, law, etc. (wherever persuasion skills take one to “rock star” status)”

Also spirituality–note James Arthur Ray's recent headline news.

Ross - January 19, 2010

Brother Ryan, what I'm impressed with is this: in an IM world where every lame blog post, webinar, etc is sold as “controversial”, you've penned a legitimately controversial post.

More power to you.

And not just for calling people out, but for giving them a professional atmosphere in which to defend themselves.

Ryan M. Healy - January 19, 2010

Thank you, Ross. Trust me, this degree of controversy was unintended. :-)

dhudiburg - January 19, 2010

Thanks Ryan. Ed Dale calls her “The Ralph Nader” of Internet marketing, which I think is a fair description.

JosephRatliff - January 19, 2010

I have to at least partially agree with you here Michel (and I imagine Sylvie is reading this too)…

It's that old saying “Don't focus on the person, focus on the behavior.” To me, it doesn't really matter “who's” doing it, they will meet their maker eventually for their sins (pun intended for Michel and Sylvie LOL).

All that really matters is that as a community, we do the best that we can to correct the bad behaviors that are negatively affecting our industry…and quite frankly, giving it a bad name in many mainstream circles.

But that doesn't detract from Ryan naming names either…it takes “gumption” like that (when it's factually based and properly stated) to start and/or help along the process of correcting the bad behaviors.

Ryan M. Healy - January 19, 2010

Thanks, Dan.

Since the names were shared with me in private, those stay private. :-)

The stuff I put into this post was already available in public, on the Internet, for everybody to see. All I did was consolidate it into a single post with a single theme.


PerryD - January 19, 2010


Social media is really showing its usefulness. The ugly truth can't be hidden from the people that need to hear it anymore.

Sadly, there are always more unsuspecting folks just discovering the world of IM.

Thanks for shining a light down a dark hole that needed to be brought to exposed.

Doberman Dan - January 19, 2010

Great article, Ryan.

But I'm really curious. Who were the three Internet Marketers who got their merchant accounts shut down? Please, oh, please… name names!

(Just kidding.)

All the best,
Doberman Dan

Doberman Dan - January 19, 2010

“Consider a post that rounds up a list of the good guys, too.”

That's a good idea.

They're out there. I know a few.

If I named names, you'd probably be shocked how few there are. Most of the guys you know would NOT be on that “good guy” list.

A couple years ago, after meeting some of these big name IM gurus, I realized I've had more real world “in the trenches” direct response business experience than most of them.

I've always made my money running a REAL direct response business selling REAL products to real people… in a REAL market (NOT the make money market).

Most of the IM gurus can't claim that. They might have made a couple grand a month selling products to a REAL market… but they started making the big bucks when they entered the make money market.

So I started my blog to share all the marketing/copywriting stuff I learned working with Gary Halbert… and from 15 years of running successful direct response/online businesses.

After I started getting some really positive response about the content on my blog, I thought maybe I should sell products teaching what I know and make a little money at it. After all, unlike many of the “gurus” I know… I run REAL businesses with tried and true direct response principles. Not black hat temporary “trick Google” schemes that a lot of them sell.

What kept me from selling marketing products was the thought that I'd automatically be associated with the “gaggle of gurus”… and that's the LAST thing I want.

So I give it all away free on my blog and continue to make my money running REAL businesses.

I once asked Gary Halbert, “Since you know so much about making money, why don't you do it yourself instead of having other people pay you to teach them how to do it?”

He replied, “Because it's a helluva lot easier TELLING other people what to do than actually doing it yourself.”

Nuff said.

Doberman Dan

Michel Fortin - January 20, 2010

If you re-read my comment, I did say naming names is fine. It just wasn't our goal, and why *we* didn't. It's a personal preference.

Ryan M. Healy - January 20, 2010


Information travels much more quickly these days, doesn't it? Hopefully, newbies will do their due diligence before investing hard-earned money.


Stephan - January 20, 2010

I know to which products you were referring – my point was simply that it is irrelevant whether he knows how to get money from google or not. He was on probation. There are many intelligent criminals in prison who know a great deal that any of us could learn from but we don't demand their teachings! Because probation and punishment do matter. When you gross $50m, or whatever it was, selling fake medicine, no doubt you are qualified to teach people how to sell things – but it doesn't mean that it's right that you should. Perry avoided jail by doing a deal – agreeing not to sell information products online was part of that deal.

The product may have worked for you – that's great if it did – but within the big picture you have to ask: Should he have been selling it? Is it OK that he flaunted a fair/leniant punishment and profited from his 'success story' of having ripped people off? Should he have included the Selmedica figures in his sales pitches? (i.e. claiming to have sold $50m+ as an online marketer)

I'm also trying to see both sides of the story here – I've read a great deal of information from Perry – but I find it hard to escape the conclusion that he was willfully violating his parole, and using the sales of a fraudulent and harmful enterprise as proof of his success in marketing.

It is for this reason that I wouldn't spend my money with him – and why I can't understand your cavalier attitude to his parole terms and past life. (Hence my somewhat adversarial comments, which have obviously muddied the waters around what I was trying to say)

I don't have the diseases or products either, but do either of us need to be the victim of a criminal to understand that they've committed a crime? (And that their punishment ought to be enforced?) You have to admit that's a worrying proposition.

frankdickinson - January 20, 2010

I too have followed Lynn for quite some time and reel at the notion that she has ever acted in any way like: “desperately want to be gurus and relentlessly continue to preach the guru gospel and faithfully haul their junk out to flea market at each launch.”

This assessment of Lynn lacks the facts.

Like Ryan's pronouncement that: “Event #2: Eric Graham Fails to Deliver,” we now see that maybe a personal contact with Eric would have gleaned the full and true facts.

The same holds true of Rick Butt's derogatory pronouncement against Lynn Terry.

Get your facts straight boys – or you simply become part of the problem.

David Jackson - January 20, 2010

This is the first post of yours I've ever read. Why that one Mr Butts is picking on Lynn Terry, I don't know. I've always found her to be quite transparent. I do agree that I'm tried of seeing Mike Filsaime leave a testimonial on a site, only to see (I wish I could remember the product Easy Video Producer maybe… not sure) that same guy on Mike's site leaving a testimonial. I've done the direct opposite of your article (no research). I just know you see all the same faces on these websites. Lots of back scratching going on. I've always known it, and it was nice to see someone do the math, and report on it.

JosephRatliff - January 20, 2010

Oh, I read your comment, I guess I “read into”/mis-read the context you surrounded “naming names is fine” too far then Michel… for that, I apologize. I fully understand and can see your point of view now. ;)

GinaParris - January 20, 2010

Woo-eee!! No kidding. This post has my head swimming, since I am really not that into this whole IM niche. However, I have to agree with David here about Mr. Butts' bone to pick with Lynn Terry. She happens to my neighbor and one of my best friends and the only reason that I'm open to the true possibilities in this crazy online world. I can assure anyone that nothing in her cares to be a “guru!”

Dan Sherman - January 20, 2010

Spiritual goo-roos require a much older expired date. Anyone who has been stuck in a loop reading more and more modern day spiritual goo-roo goop should pick up Marcus Aurelius's meditations or “Letters from a Stoic” which is a collection of Seneca's writings. Tell me that those don't cover everything worthwhile the modern day bums teach and more without resorting to garbage like LGAT and I'll know you're a fool.

Nathan Hangen - January 20, 2010

It is tricky, and I'm not saying I have an answer, but is he supposed to go work at McDonald's?

Should Michael Vick be playing football? Does a man have a right to earn a living? I don't know, but I'm far less skeptical of marketers than most, and I believe a customer needs to do their research before buying something.

And if he really was violating the terms of his probation, why did the FTC not pursue further action?

I'm just not a fan of scapegoating and attacking in the manner of the Salty.

Bill - January 20, 2010

“Scapegoating?” What a curious, non-substantive defense of Perry Belcher you have, contrary to a mountain of irrefutable facts that show him to be a very bad apple over a period of many years.

A “scapegoat” is someone who takes the blame for others. That implies that Perry Belcher was the unfortunate victim of circumstance, which he was not. To say that is to insult all the real victims who had serious medical conditions and who relied on Belcher's fraudulent, worthless pills.

It sounds like you are simply digging in your heels (or burying your head in the sand). Why the passionate support (beyond reason) for felon Perry Belcher? There must be some reason beyond logic, because you have yet to present anything that explains away his years of criminal activity, his victims, his conviction, and the “misrepresentations” he continued to make while selling his “social media” rehash “products” through the willing aid of Ryan Dei$$.

You asked if Perry Belcher is supposed to work at McDonald's. The answer is: that's his problem. He made his bed. He was a blatant crook for YEARS. He didn't make a simple mistake. He was a long-time, intentional criminal. He stopped only after his arrest. That's a huge distinction.

You also asked “if he was violating the terms of his probation, why did the FTC not pursue further action?” Actually, it would be the courts, and not the FTC in such a case, although the FTC could have an interest in any fraudulent marketing as well. Your implication is that because he has yet to be hauled back into court and sent to prison, that he must not have done anything wrong. However, sometimes criminals are simply not caught. Just because a criminal is not caught or prosecuted does not make them any less guilty.

Stephan's assessment above is entirely correct and your repeated “affinity” for felon Belcher still doesn't change the reality compass.

Ryan M. Healy - January 20, 2010

Frank – Did you read my response to Eric's comment? Did you read Fred's response? Did you read what past customers have posted on Complaints Board?

Bill - January 20, 2010

Exactly what do you mean by: “we now see that maybe a personal contact with Eric would have gleaned the full and true facts.”

I think most would beg to differ! I think what we've seen here shows that the full and true facts were gleaned. Ryan did a fine job of ferreting out the truth.

As for Lynn Terry, I noticed that she posted on her blog that she intended to send Rick Butts' comments to her “lawyer.” I wasn't even familiar with her until I read about her here, but I certainly wouldn't consider following her after reading that little snarly remark attached to a cumbersome, winded post. Knowing more than just a little about the first amendment, I don't consider anything Rick said even remotely actionable, and he is fully entitled to his opinion. Of course, various sheep of another mind are now starting to dribble in here, as directed…

frankdickinson - January 20, 2010

While I still wish you would have talked beforehand with Eric Graham – I do now see the trail of problems and complaints against him. My error was in not doing what I posted here -not getting all the facts.

Based on my experience with Lynn Terry over the last year, both on her website and her forum – I stand behind my comment regarding Rick Butts.

frankdickinson - January 20, 2010


1. Please read my reply to Ryan concerning my comment about Eric Graham.

2. Lynn has the right to pursue any legal recourse she so desires – no matter what you or I, or a dozen other people may presume to know about the First Amendment.

3. “as directed” eh? I come here of my own accord. I enjoy Ryan's blog. This “sheep” can think for himself.

Ryan M. Healy - January 20, 2010

For those who question my judgment in mentioning Eric Graham in this post, I offer the following collection of links:

Links to Customer Complaints:

Cathi Adams and David and Caramia Hartley have been among the most vocal former customers to speak out against Eric.

I have also received a private email from a former customer of Eric's confirming the validity of what I've written here.

It is one thing to provide a product or service and have an unsatisfied customer. Happens all the time.

It's another to take a person's money… and then not provide the product or service that was advertised. That is theft.


Nathan Hangen - January 20, 2010

Bill, I'd love to talk more about this, but not here, as I feel this has gone beyond the scope of the post and I'm not interested in abusing Ryan's blog. I'm registered on Disqus, come and find me if you want to talk more. I'm easy to reach.


SaltyDroid - January 20, 2010

“It is about being real, being transparent, and not BSing people.”

Exactly :: and just as a for instance :: don't call yourself the “six figure blogger.”

Hey David :: remember when you belligerently defended Perry Belcher to me even though you already knew the facts? I never forget things like that. Just so you know.

SaltyDroid - January 20, 2010

Eric :: Isn't it a shame that you got mentioned on a post that mentions me?

Let me answer that for you :: yeah … it's a shame. A real doozey of a shame.

I think you are confused about what you should be “praying and soul searching” about. Maybe I can help you straighten that out.

SaltyDroid - January 20, 2010

Dan :: what a ridiculous way to hold such a big dog.

I do plan to name names regarding the merchant accounts … and I think it's going to be a very long list.

johnfurst - January 20, 2010


Thanks for the post and your responsible leadership in this discussion. Frankly, I was very skeptical at first whether this will turn out to be a good lesson or not. When you name names all sorts of things can happen and the thread of comments often develops a dynamic itself.

Lots of good lessons to learn here, indeed. Well done.

SaltyDroid - January 20, 2010

Here Here!! Especially when it comes to self help and personal development :: the deader the better.

SaltyDroid - January 20, 2010

Nathan :: maybe you should start blindly following someone with an axe to grind :: because whoever you are blindly following now is making you stupid.

Bob Paroski - January 20, 2010


Thanks for the informative post.

I was fascinated by all of the the comments and feedback you got. You really connected with a lot of people.

It is amazing how some deceptive marketers can cause problems for the truly legitimate ones.

Jerry Nielsen - January 20, 2010

Ryan sys in his post, “And, possibly most important of all, you must protect your reputation. Because, in the end, your reputation is the most valuable asset you have.”

You are exactly right Ryan. Rick's comments about Lynn are a direct assault on her character and reputation. I'm sure he would disagree.H

is implication is that she engages in the same unethical practices he claims to abhors and condemn. Doesn't he have the same obligation to speak truth as demands of those he accuses?

Ryan M. Healy - January 20, 2010


I'm not sure if you're addressing me or Rick, but I've already apologized to Lynn by email, on her blog, and via Twitter today. I've also updated Rick's comment with a link back to Lynn's blog so that people can see her response immediately.

As far as “speaking truth,” there are facts and perceptions. Rick made a statement about his personal perceptions. He has a right to do that. Lynn has a right to defend herself.

I've tried to correct the imbalance by linking to Lynn's blog. And I think it's clear from all the comments on her blog and mine that she has an excellent reputation. I've not seen or heard anything that would make me think otherwise.


TheBrainTeacher - January 20, 2010

Hello Ryan.

Thank you for this post. I personally have faith in Eric Graham and believe his and sites and services may help me get past the 80% opt-in barrier.

Having said that I AM sweating over a $1997 report that I expected to arrive by now… so you've made me VERY nervous!

I'll watch this and follow your Tweets with interest!


Michael_N - January 20, 2010

Thanks for a provocative piece with real meat to it.

I have to say about internet marketing that I'm so over squeeze pages with all their super hype, umpteen bonuses, countless testimonials, impending immovable deadline for purchasing, and images of checks with tens of thousands of dollars that came in within the last 30 days. If I ever sign up for the freebies they tease with it's always with a throwaway email address since I'm so leery of the person on the other end – who typically starts emailing you every other day.

If this type of internet marketing takes a header in 2010 I'll jump for joy as it'll make the road clearer for those with integrity marketing online (ahem, like me).

Joe - January 20, 2010

Lynn Terry is pretty careful about who she associates with and researches potential new alliances carefully. I heard through the grapevine a couple years ago (maybe 3?) that Rick was trying to get her attention or whatever for some jv and she passed. Maybe she didn't feel comfortable associating herself with a guy who appointed himself as “the blog and ping king” back in 2004-2005 and was charging people horrendous monthly fees to “ping their blog” before google and blogspot pulled the rug out from under him and he had to make massive refunds. Since then, Rick's been taking potshots at her so I wouldn't give too much heed to what he says.

Dan Sherman - January 20, 2010

Just remember that at no point is a person's conviction in their own beliefs stronger than when those beliefs have been proven false. In studying cults, I saw that most of the big ones didn't hit their tipping point until the members had to deal with that. Their response seemed to be that if they made enough other people believe, then it would really be true.

So be sure to distinguish between the deceived and the deceivers.

Then nail those mofos to the wall.

lynnterry - January 21, 2010

Hi Bill,

It wasn't a snarly remark. If you read Ryan's post above you'll see that the new FTC regulations put a great deal of obligation on all of us to work in a mode of full transparency. It would be negligent of me to let an accusation of this magnitude go without proper address. Proactive measures are simply required to protect my brand and reputation in the current landscape.

Being publicly named as someone who offers “false hope” is not something to take lightly given that is exactly what the FTC is attempting to crack down on.

This is not a game for me, this is my business and my livelihood. I have been working online full-time for 13 years now, and support both of my children as a single mother.

Sylvie Fortin - January 21, 2010

Oh, I couldn't agree with you more, Ryan. This one has bugged me since the first time I saw it. It's very simply, both deceptive AND stupid, all at the same time.

It teaches people not to buy the first time, close their browser, and hope for a better deal.

But most importantly…It also teaches people that the seller is not a person of honor, and when the site owner says “Buy it for __X__” they actually mean… “only the first suckers pay full price, and I'm desperate for money”

Ridiculous idea, taught by people who don't have the right to call themselves “teachers”

Sylvie Fortin - January 21, 2010

Well hello there Mr. “Angry Marketer”

I've gotten the title “Little Miss Firecracker” myself. LOL

Doberman Dan - January 21, 2010

Hey SD,

You should see the doberman now. I can't even pick him up anymore.

Can't wait for your list.

BTW, I'm a new fan of yours. Ben Settle turned me on to your blog and I've had a blast reading it.


TheBrainTeacher - January 21, 2010

No more sweating. All looking good!

Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010

Good! I'm glad to hear that, Jonathan.

Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010


After you've been over-exposed to Internet marketing, it's easy to get jaded and even disgusted with the stuff you see.

What's interesting is that somebody brand new to the market will respond to it… until they get jaded, too.

Anyway, there's balance between using techniques that work now — and techniques that will continue to work for the long haul.

Thanks for the comment!


Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010

You're welcome, Bob. Glad you enjoyed it. I, for one, was totally blown away by the response this post got. I've been shell-shocked all week.


Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010

Thanks, John.

I've written two follow-up posts this week to redirect attention back to the positive. Because while it may good to be aware of what's happening, I would much rather dwell on positive things. :-)


Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010

David – There is a lot of back-scratching going on. I think that happens naturally when there is mutual respect, but it's gotten a bit excessive between certain folks in this industry.

The more testimonials you give out, the less valuable each one is. Testimonials, like anything else, can become a commodity. Ever seen Joe Vitale give a testimonial for something? ;-)

Thanks again for the comment.


Ryan M. Healy - January 21, 2010

Good summary of the basics, Brian. That's what's going to keep on working year in, year out.

Mark - January 21, 2010

Internet marketing is success key for any business no one can understand how does it works actually…Internet marketing is a great method to get success in a right way..It's great post over marketing tips that's most informative as well done a great deed thanks..

owenrjohnson - January 22, 2010

Bev, I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. As a newbie to online “info marketing” (but not to marketing on the Internet) I went through the same thing. While the claims of quick riches were oh so enticing, after buying a couple of those programs and getting cross-sell emails – affiliate offers – from all the gurus whose lists I had signed up for, it dawned on me that it was mostly a bunch of crap. Trick, deceive and rip off the public is the common MO. And really, all most of them are doing is promoting each other's garbage.

I wrote a short piece in a blog with my feelings on it:

chrisinprague - January 23, 2010

I'm a BIG Gary Halbert fan; Gary was always VERY open about his jail time. How many gurus publicise THEIR problems with the law?

chrisinprague - January 23, 2010

I'm a BIG Marcus Aurelius fan, but then I studied Ancient History before Marketing! 8-)

chrisinprague - January 23, 2010

Dan, I TOTALLY agree with you that you can have have an amazing library of marketing knowledge for the same price as one of these over-hyped products being launched all the time if you find all about Hopkins, Caples, Sackheim, Halbert, Ogilvy, etc. I teach about them in my university marcoms course. Waht they wrote about then is still relevant today, only the technology changes, not human behaviour. The 'gurus', IF they have REALLY studied these guys are only rehashing BUT charging unreal amounts for it!

johncounsel - January 23, 2010

Goodness me, Rick. That's quite a bellyful of bile you just vomited there.

That's the risk, of course, when you shove your head that far up your fundamental orifice.

Suggestion: if you insist on doing that bizarre trick, at least don't inhale so deeply.

Ryan M. Healy - January 23, 2010


While I appreciate the comment, there has been enough mud-slinging. Please refrain from making comments like these. Thanks.


Will Bontrager - January 23, 2010

It is with a smile of pleasure I see widely known Internet marketers acknowledging some of the ethical issues in the field. And taking a stand.

It has been my experience that prevention and recognition of wrongness are harder sells than goals and recognition of rightness. It's a long time since Sylvie Fortin's Internet Marketing Sins report was first published.

Momentum for change is finally building within the industry and changes are being enforced by government commission and financial industries.

Perhaps, after the shakeup, we'll have a year or more of little deception in sales.

TatianaV - January 23, 2010

Great post Ryan, and so well written. I followed the link to this post from Michel Fortin's blog and subscribed to your Twitter account too.

I respect the fact that you named a few Guru's, and that the revelations of yours were well researched. It is so much more convinient to not name anyone due to business interests, or some other reasons. Controversial topics always get plenty of attention as you've seen with the number of comments on this post of yours, so – when your blog becomes boring in your eyes – you know how to stir the pot again ;) Have a great weekend!

JB - January 23, 2010

When Perry Belcher first joined Ryan Deiss, I wrote to him and several other marketers as to who Perry really was and the answer most often given was ” If he is working with Ryan, he must be OK!” What a joke! All you had to do was google his name and see he was a farce! Thanks Mr. Healy for all you do!

Renee Simao - January 23, 2010

Another what I call scam are the marketers that offer you a 30 day trial but put in very fine print that your credit card will be charged monthly unless you cancel. I am a writer so I received a so called sizeable order conditioned on my joining EFAX for a month and the membership was supposed to be free. Once I joined, the client disappeared into cyberspace so I cancelled. Cancelling was a nightmare. Fortunately I had alerted my VISA holder which is also a credit union to not honor the charge and to make sure they did I transferred out my balance so the charge wouldn't clear. This is the only way I was able to handle this. That taught me a lesson so now I carefully read all the terms and conditions before I purchase anything especially a service. Renee PS And I still keep my file on the above

Katy - January 23, 2010

Thank you for exposing these scammers. I too was ripped off by Eric Graham.

Eric Graham seems to spend too much time posing as his customers. It is better to spend one's time getting results. His posts on Fred Black's sites match his writing style.

He fancies himself as so smart that no one will catch on. His defense of himself is well written. There are probably 10 to 100 X as many folks who have been ripped off.

Anyone who is ripped off by anyone needs to report it to the
Attorney General, US Attorney in the region of the scammer,
the FTC, and the Better Business Bureau.

Failure to report when clues were out there is what enabled
Ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff to take people for billions.

KonaGirl - January 23, 2010

And getting away with it. Sheeple will be sheeple.

KonaGirl - January 23, 2010

Opinions are just like assholes, everybody has at least one. I for one like Lynn a lot. She has always been upright and honest with me and I've known her for several years.

KonaGirl - January 23, 2010

Right on, Joe!

KonaGirl - January 23, 2010

WOW! This has been some ride reading all of this when I really have better things to do! Ryan, thank you so much for the exposing these lower than pond scum marketers. You have gained another fan! It is about time that these scum bags are being exposed for what they are. Fortunately, I haven't been taken in by any of them, but it is always good to have the information filed to warn others that are planing to be taken to the cleaners.

Perhaps with the FTC rulings, more and more of these sorts will crumble to the wayside or be smart enough to go into “instant retirement”.

Thanks again for the great service you have provided here!


VA - January 23, 2010

I have been unsubscribing to all emails from these so called guru's recently.
A lot less noise now in my inbox, and not tempted by these get rich offers.

Hope everyone else starts doing the same.

carlon - January 24, 2010


I nice post. I followed your discussion and Michel Fortin's reaction to it. Some people think it's unethical to name names, but I don't. I thought the issue strikes at the heart of the human condition. The fact that you named names says something. Even though my blog is not about internet marketing, I think the naming-names issue is important for everyone. So, I posted on this. Feel free to read my post on naming names, which I linked.

carlon - January 24, 2010

You're 100% right, Ryan. It takes courage and conviction to name names.

chrisinprague - January 24, 2010

What the 'gurus' call 'forced continuity' is unethical at best and theft at worst! Anyone who uses such practices should be named and shamed.

chrisinprague - January 24, 2010

Bob, that is precisely the problem, the good marketers suffer as they are tarred with the same brush as the 'Incestuous Inner Circle' of 'Get Rich Through Internet Marketing' 'gurus'!

chrisinprague - January 24, 2010

KonaGirl, I mainly blame the perpetrators NOT the victims. Sure, laziness and stupidity play an important part but, nevertheless, that's no excuse for unethical behaviour. A quick Google session will bring up plenty of free (or reasonably priced) valuable info. by the likes of Hopkins, Caples, Sackheim, Halbert, Ogilvy, etc. Alas, because most gurus won't make money that way they don't talk or write about them. Those that do are, often, the ethical ones!

ryantmalone - January 25, 2010

I have always been somewhat skeptical about who I learn from, and am lucky to be learning from some people who have literally created great products and have always promoted ethics.

I personally dont believe the notion that the Internet Marketing guru will die in 2010, they will be around for some time, I just think that the idea of making a living online through affiliate marketing, or even selling your own product, will just be made much harder.

Whether or not this limits the number of those who are out there marketing anything and everything, who knows, only time will tell. More than anything, I think that 2010 will be the year that the “honest” internet marketer will take their stand, if anything.

Great post by the way, thoroughly enjoyed the read!

Holly Cotter - January 25, 2010

Ryan, I want to give you kudos for outing these guys. I've always said “your reputation for integrity is your most valuable business asset” and it's nice to see that message being reinforced.

I was around when some of the biggest current-day goo-roos were just starting out… and I watched their rise from the inside (many times I spoke alongside them at events).

Early on, I realized I didn't belong in their circle… and not just because I was missing that essential organ below the waist that seemed to be a prerequisite for being part of their “incrowd.”

I've shared this story with a few of my closest buds… and now, it's time to go public:

Back in 2001 or 2002, I was a speaker at a large event featuring some of the more well known internet marketers (I won't name names but, over time, I've found 99% of the well known ones out there share this mindset). They were sharing stories about the crappy stuff they were selling at top dollar to the “rubes” … and how, if the rubes were stupid enough to buy that junk, then they deserved to be swindled.

Needless to say, I didn't find that funny at all. That was the defining moment when I started to separate myself from the others… realizing that we had very different ethics. I've always said “I want to make money WITH other people, not OFF of other people”… and I'll stick to that motto to my dying day.

Another thing I've noticed is… a lot of these guys sell products teaching you how to do something (1) they've never done before in their life, but sounds good in theory , OR (2) they've been making money at, but things are about to stop working, so they want to eke every bit of profit out of it they can before it goes defunct.

Now, I love learning new things, but I want to know that the person teaching me is making money doing it themselves, and that it is something that is going to continue working for a couple years at least.

Anyhoo, in closing, I want to say there ARE a few good ones out there… people like Ken McCarthy, for whom I have the utmost respect (who, by the way, has been shunned for years by the inside-crowd goo-roos because he won't play their unethical games). And, I want to send thanks to Salty Droid and people like you, Ryan, who are shining the light on the so-called goo-roos who put profits in front of ethics. It's about time!

Chas - January 25, 2010

I met Belcher at Yanik's conference when he did his “From China With Love” presentation. I joined his mastermind group and later was an affiliate for one of his products (not the Selmedica stuff). When he got closed down he still owed me about $1,000 in commissions. Multiple attempts to get paid go unanswered. Even getting affiliate checks each month before he was shut down was a pain – always late and you had to rattle their cage all the time. Rich Linder, who ran much of his operations, was in the middle of it with him.

Too bad, too. There was a lot of potential there – but greed can cause a lot of problems.

Bob Marconi - January 25, 2010

Mom used to say “…money is the root of all evil…”. Well only when it becomes 'Your God'!

The real culprits - January 25, 2010

Event's #4 and #5 – Well you have the CPA networks and their affiliates to thank for those (and for any collateral damage to those selling online in an ethical manner). The whole CPA industry is a mess- from their scammy clients (with their deceptive teeth whitening, acai and Google Kit free trial hidden continuity 'offers') to their affiliates (the ones behind all the flogs/fake blogs full of lies) and the CPA networks sit in the middle raking in the money from both sides and turning a blind eye to the shady goings on of their affiliates and their clients. The CPA industry is the real den of thieves.

Good on you for naming and shaming internet marketing 'gurus' – but outside of the 'internet marketing' industry few people have heard of these gurus 'grab u rob u scumbags' but plenty more people have heard about (or been caught out by) the acai/teeth whitening/Google work at home scams etc – hence the response: legal action from Oprah and Google, the FTC crackdown, Visa and Mastercard actions etc. But by targetting Pacific Webworks, Just Think Media and the other scammers they are ignoring the other 2 key parts of the scam and fraud triangle – the 'ethically challenged' CPA networks and their even more 'ethically challenged' affiliates.

Les - January 25, 2010

Pot meet kettle.

I laughed through your post. It's very humorous. Comedy suits you.

--TW - January 25, 2010

Hi Ryan — great eye-opening article!

What I'm wondering is, how big is the GAP between the hype and the reality? Something you said chilled me! Could the gap really be THIS big?!?…

“I bought the first “Stomping the Search Engines” program, listened to it in my car, and used what I had learned to build a site that’s been cranking out $20 to $70 a month for more than five years now. The methods described in the program worked for me, so I thought highly of Brad…”

My 'chill' comes from the mental gap between, “the methods worked for me,” and, “a site that's been cranking out $20-$70 per month for 5 years now.”

I've never made a dime online — but I've never tried, yet. I'm sure that site you have is only one of many income streams. But couldn't I just skip whatever work it takes to make a site like that, and just have a garage sale once a year? I mean $20-$70 a month is a 'success?'

If so, the promises touted by gurus is MUCH MUCH MUCH further away from reality than(even) I thought!

Can you (or someone) comment on this, please.


Holly Cotter - January 25, 2010

So Les, are you calling me the “pot” or the “kettle?” Care to explain why.

Michael - January 25, 2010

I signed up for Eric's membership site early last year at $47 per month. After two months, Eric had not posted any new content. (The only content he had ever posted were free webinars he had done with other people for their list.)

So I sent an email, through his support system, requesting my membership be canceled. Since Eric had said in the sale copy that this was all that was needed, I assumed everything was taken care of. Then I got charged again the next month. So I sent another email, this time asking for a confirmation email in return. No reply. This goes on for months. Even after sending a certified letter he would not reply or stop charging my card. Eventually I had to go to my bank and cancel the card.

After describing this incident to a business consultant I work with, he told me this is not the first incident of this type he's heard of with Eric Graham.

Being the hardest person to get in touch is no excuse for bad business. If that's really true, (likely it's not and it's just a positioning ploy), then hire someone to do your support for you!

Ryan M. Healy - January 25, 2010

Holly –

Thanks for contributing here and sharing your story. There does seem to be a very high percentage of men vs. women in the “guru” circle, doesn't it?

Side note: I'm not sure if Les was replying to you or me… and I'm not even sure what he's trying to say. I do appreciate your comment and thought it was relevant to the conversation. So thank you!


--TW - January 25, 2010

Huh? Maybe you didn't see the “because I haven't tried” part. I've done plenty of marketing — just no IMing, as such. I've kept away from it, for precisely the reasons I am questioning in my post here. The gap between what is promised (the glorification of IMing), and the actual results.

When I say IMing, I do not mean 'offline'' stuff.

I've been in 'gather/lurk' mode (re: IMing) for years. Something about it all didn't/doesn't sit right with me (mrktng instinct-wise). I think there's a huge gap between the glorification of it (gurus, etc.), and the actual results.

What I'm doing here is asking Ryan if that gap is even wider than I suspect(ed). Is that alright with you, Dan?

Ryan posted (in passing) some of his results he's been happy with. I'm just trying to get some clarification.

--TW - January 25, 2010

@ Dan…

PS: If you'd have (actually) read my posts in those forums, I often question the true effectiveness of “offline gold” type stuff (too). In many cases, *focusing* on online mrktng methods should be the last thing a small biz does, not the first (often they are not even doing the basics of traditional (offline) mrktng!).

Ryan M. Healy - January 25, 2010

TW – Thank you! And thanks for contributing here.

As I mentioned in reply to another commenter, I chose a very broad “market” for my first web site: acronyms.

I was trying to teach myself how to code in HTML and optimize it so it would rank well, too.

Some months it has made $100+ dollars. Other months it has made $20 or $30. I'm not for sure because I actually don't track the site and don't do anything to it. I look at it maybe once a year to make sure it's still there.

So: Let's say $50 a month on average for 5 years. That's $3,000 for 2 weeks' worth of waking up early and working on a web site before driving to my day job. Not bad.

Making $50/mo is nothing to write home about… but it's just one of many different projects I've attempted.

That said: Is the difference between promise and reality as big as this? In some cases, bigger. Most people who take “guru” courses never come anywhere close to achieving the promised results.


Dan Sherman - January 25, 2010

You've never made a dime online? Are you the same –TW who has participated on forums dedicated to “offline gold” style consulting selling internet marketing to small local businesses? Apparently one doesn't have to be a big name guru for the emperor to have no clothes.

How does one sell something one has never successfully made work for themselves? I have had to clean up so many messes left behind by the rash of “offline gold consultants.” Let me give you a big hint, if you aren't making money with it yourself, or have had experience doing it successfully internally or at an agency under supervision, please leave this activity to those who know what they're doing.

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