(CN) – A radio talk show host lured debt-ridden families to “seminars,” where he bilked them for thousands of dollars, the Colorado attorney general says. The state claims that David Burke misrepresented himself as “a top financial expert in the world,” and persuaded victims to pay up to $3,500 for his bogus services. One of Burke’s financial “coaches’ entire previous work experience consisted of fast-food delivery,” the state says.
“Defendants have convinced thousands of consumers to enroll in their debt reduction and credit repair program,” Attorney General John Suthers claims in Adams County Court. “As a result, numerous consumers have paid thousands of dollars to defendants and have received nothing in return.”
The state claims Burke, of Brighton, Colo., and Real Talk Networks promised their victims debt elimination, improved credit scores and access to zero percent credit cards.
Burke falsely represented himself as “a top financial expert in the world,” and a government adviser, the state says.
“Defendant Burke also falsely states at these presentations that he graduated from the University of Southern California, that he has a large ranch in Montana, that he recently came out of 10 years of retirement to ‘help save American families in this time of crisis,’ and that he has coached the House of Representatives and ‘a bunch of media figures,'” according to the complaint.
It continues: “In reality, Defendant David Burke has filed for bankruptcy twice within the past 13 years, and his last bankruptcy was terminated on Oct. 25, 2007, only 6 months before incorporating Defendant Real Talk Radio Show Network, LLC. That bankruptcy, which was filed on Feb. 2, 2000, involved a list of creditors to whom Defendant David Burke owed over $360,000.”
Burke used Real Talk Networks to give credence to his claims by dressing up his infomercial as a talk show, falsely describing him as a “nationally syndicated talk show host,” the attorney general says.
The state adds: “There is a brief disclosure at the beginning of each RTN broadcast stating that the show is a paid announcement, but the disclosure is not made at any other time during or after the program, such that a listener who tunes in after the start of the program does not know that the program is a paid announcement. Moreover, commercials are played during the RTN program, furthering the misrepresentation that the consumer is listening to a radio talk show rather than a paid announcement.”
At the “seminars,” consumers are subjected to sales pitches from Burke or from co-defendant Erik Sale, “and at the end of the seminar, defendants make it difficult to leave without signing a contract with RTN,” the attorney general says. “At times, defendants have physically barricaded the room exits to prevent consumers from leaving without first speaking to an RTN representative.”
Sale, of Vail, was in charge of sales for Burke and conducted the vast majority of RTN’s sales presentations,” the state says.
The victims’ agreements commit them to pay for one-on-one counseling sessions, but many of them never received them, the attorney general says. And when they did, they were not from the financial “experts” Burke promised.
One of Burke’s coaches “entire previous work experience consisted of fast-food delivery,” the attorney general says.
Burke leaves his victims in worse shape then he found them, by refusing to reimburse them for his phony services, and by passing their debts to a collection agency, the state says.
And, the attorney general says, Burke preys upon the most vulnerable: “Defendants have marketed and sold the program to consumers that are unemployed, are already in debt settlement programs, owe more money on their home than their worth, or who are on a fixed income, such as Social Security.”
Also named as defendants are Get Real With Dave, a Colorado corporation, and the Institute of Consumer Economic Education LLC, also of Colorado.
The state seeks disgorgement, an injunction, fines and punitive damages for fraud, misrepresentation and nine other charges.