‘Wealth Seminar’ Man Sued for Millions

     SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – A woman claims in court that a wealth seminar operator bilked her out of $12 million; and news reports indicate that Get Motivated Seminars owes $1.7 million to its speakers, including (nonparty) Laura Bush.
     Amy Wolfe sued Joseph Johnson, seven companies, and 20 Doe entities or individuals, in Salt Lake County Court.
     Defendant companies are Booker T. Equity; Real Estate Investor Education dba WealthRock; LifeWin; Endowment for Social Entrepreneurship; Get Motivated Seminars; Coventry Acquisition Group; and Mercy International Foundation, an alter ego of Endowment for Social Entrepreneurship.
     Wolfe claims that Johnson “operated and controlled” defendants Wealthrock, Get Motivated, and Booker T. Equity.
     Wolfe says she was “raised without extensive experience investing large amounts of funds,” and that she met Johnson at the seminars, which she attended after selling a portion of her parents’ stock.
     “For most of plaintiff’s life, plaintiff was not in the business of making large loans or investing large amounts of funds,” the complaint states.
     “However, a few years ago, plaintiff was able to sell some stock she inherited from her parents and she received a sizeable amount in return for the stock.
     “After receiving the money from this inheritance, plaintiff began attending wealth instruction/education seminars in an effort to develop and refine her knowledge and skills associated with investing and managing large amounts of money.”
     The events featured keynote speakers including nonparties Powell, Bush and Forbes, and high-profile financial authors and investors, Wolfe says.
     “Johnson created the impression of having extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise in handling and investing large amounts of money, and he created such an impression for his own monetary gain,” according to the 80-page complaint.
     “Due to the impressions conveyed by defendant Johnson and his association with well-known, successful individuals, plaintiff was led by defendant Johnson’s actions to believe that defendant Johnson could teach her how to be successful and appropriately handle her inheritance money.”
     Though “thousands” attended the seminars, Johnson and Wolfe “developed a personal friendship and relationship … akin to a teacher/student relationship,” Wolfe says in the complaint.
     Johnson agreed to help Wolfe learn about “hard money lending,” she says, and asked her to help him acquire defendant Get Motivated, a so-called personal training and development company launched in Florida in 2002 by Peter and Tamara Lowe.
     Johnson told her she could learn about lending “by providing funding for a substantial portion of the purchase” of Get Motivated, Wolfe says in the complaint.
     She claims Johnson asked her for a $12 million loan to fund the purchase of the company, and gave her “a letter of intent concerning the use of her funds and his promise to provide financial mentoring.”
     Johnson told her that Get Motivated was “flush with cash,” and referred Wolfe to one of his speakers to confirm the assessment, the complaint states.
     Johnson said he could repay the loan after operating Get Motivated for one year, “because he could replace her loan with bank financing, which he represented was more conventional financing with more favorable terms,” the complaint states.
     They did the loan deal in October 2011, Wolfe says. However, “Almost immediately after wiring funds to defendant Johnson’s control, plaintiff learned that there were internal complications at defendant Get Motivated as the principals had a serious division arise among them,” according to the complaint.
     Peter and Tamara Lowe divorced in April 2012, according to a Bloomberg News story. The Aug. 29, 2012 story about Get Motivated was headlined: “Laura Bush May Go Unpaid in Investing Seminars’ Shutdown.”
     According to the Bloomberg story: “The Washington Speakers Bureau was owed $1.7 million for speeches made between November 2011 and February 2012, according to claims in legal documents. The bureau represents well-known people who spoke at the events, including Giuliani, a former New York mayor, Powell, a former U.S. secretary of state, and former first lady Laura Bush, who made their last Get Motivated appearances on Feb. 16. …
     “Speakers were supposed to earn $35,000 to $125,000 an appearance, according to the documents. Most speeches lasted 20 minutes. Giuliani netted $1.8 million from January 2006 to February 2007 for more than 20 Get Motivated events, according to disclosures he filed while running for president in 2008.”
     Get Motivated drew as many as 400,000 people a year before it collapsed, according to Bloomberg. Citing its own reporting from a May 2, 2012 story, Bloomberg said: “The seminars were actually vehicles for investment firms to sell courses in stock options and other trading tactics from the same stage where luminaries held forth.”
     In her complaint, Wolfe says she learned that “Johnson had been a major part of a major business failure earlier in his career and that he had a felony conviction on record.”
     Johnson told her she had mistaken him for another Joseph Johnson, and assured her that he was holding her money to buy Get Motivated, the complaint states.
     Johnson eventually did buy Get Motivated, but Wolfe “never received a single loan payment from any of the loan defendants,” the complaint states.
     “Plaintiff also did not receive the instructions/education on hard money lending that she had been promised by defendant Johnson,” the complaint states.
     Wolfe claims she agreed to modify the loan in May 2012, but that the money never showed up. She claims that Johnson assigned her the assets of unspecified loan defendant entities during mediation, but they too failed to yield the funds.
     “Plaintiff took possession of the assets of the loan defendant entities, but by the time plaintiff gained possession of the assets, most of these assets were worthless, were damaged by the loan defendants, or still have professionals seeking to access their contents as many files were deleted or otherwise made inaccessible to plaintiff,” the complaint states.
     “The assets so far have only produced negligible amounts of income for plaintiff.”
     Wolfe seeks for $14.4 million in damages for securities fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
     She is represented by Cole Cannon.

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