By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
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By Craig Malisow
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Prior to meeting Sparks and Thompson, Dicks sold a forex system called Trade Signal Pro. His partners were two guys who had previously been accused by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of defrauding 175 investors out of $760,000. They had purchased a previous incarnation of Trade Signal Pro, called Currency Trading Systems.
One pitchman, Michael Stewart of Arizona, told audiences that he made mad money with the Currency Trading Systems when, according to his settlement with the CFTC, he actually lost $10,500 in the one year he used it. His co-defendants lost a combined $54,000 using the system. Stewart did not admit or deny any wrongdoing.
Dicks told Sparks and Thompson about Trade Signal Pro, and they added a similar product called 4X Made Easy. Dicks, Stewart and GlobalTec were sued by disgruntled 4XME buyers in a Denver court in 2004.
Dicks's deposition in that case is a fascinating glimpse into the world of hucksterism.
Before he met Sparks and Thompson, Dicks says in the deposition, he was wasting away in "hypothetical" make-work jobs for his uncle as well as an Orlando company called Dynetech, which later bought GlobalTec.
In the promotional material from archived Web sites for one of his previous companies, Dicks was described as having been a licensed professional financial adviser since 1991 whose "last project for a client grossed over 30 million dollars of new revenue." In truth, Dicks didn't get involved in finance until the mid-1990s, and records at the National Association of Securities Dealers do not indicate he was ever a licensed broker-dealer or financial adviser. His previous jobs included working at a company that sold clothes made by Oregon prisoners to retailers in Germany, and failing as an affordable-housing developer.
Dicks's interest in finance never matched his business acumen, as he had neither formal education nor raw talent. He dropped out of a Florida community college after two years (his spokesman said Dicks suffered from "a form of dyslexia," adding that Bill Gates never graduated college either) and was dogged by liens and lawsuits throughout the 1990s. In one instance, he registered a Web domain called Bank of America Forex, which drew the ire of the real Bank of America.
In all fairness, Dicks never had good role models, starting with his uncle, a onetime business partner of a moneymaking guru named Charles Givens, according to media reports.Dicks's first foray into finance came when he set up workshops for Givens. Givens wrote investment books with titles such as Wealth Without Risk and roamed the country selling suckers his get-rich secrets. In 1996, a civil jury found Givens guilty of defrauding 29,000 California investors and ordered him to repay $14.1 million. Regulators in five other states had previously challenged Givens's business practices. The year before the California case, the state of Florida filed a $1.6 million lien against Givens for failure to pay sales taxes. Givens ultimately filed for bankruptcy, although he kept his Florida palace until his death from cancer in 1998. He shrewdly transferred most of his assets to limited partnerships, making it extremely difficult for his creditors to collect the thousands they had lost investing in his schemes.
That was Dicks's introduction into the world of finance. So it may not have struck him as odd when, according to his deposition, Sparks and Thompson arbitrarily made him the "founder" of 4XME. Hell, Dicks didn't even know how to use the software. In his deposition, he says he lost money on the damn thing. But he had fresh-scrubbed Waspy good looks, and he gave good seminar.
But when the Denver lawsuit hit, Dicks quit GlobalTec and went back to his uncle. There was now a hole in 4XME where Dicks used to be. Who better to fill it than a guy who worked at two disgraced brokerages and at a firm busted for selling fake life-insurance policies on AIDS patients? Enter Blake Morrow, the new "president" of 4XME. GlobalTec's Web site makes no mention of Dicks; it's only Morrow's smiling mug on the site and in the infomercials. (See "Gaps in Coverage"; Morrow was never accused of taking part in the policy scam or the behavior that brought down the firms.)
Here's the kicker: GlobalTec is the rare company whose product lines openly diss each other. In his book, Thompson touts stocks above all else, saying "stocks have outperformed any other form of investment mechanism over the long term."
However, infomercials for 4X Made Easy describe the stock market as a baffling labyrinth that won't get you anywhere.
"No Wall Street nonsense!" the infomercial blares. With 4XME, you focus on six currencies as opposed to 40,000 stocks.
So which is it: stocks or forex? What does GlobalTec care, since it's getting your money either way.
In 2004, GlobalTec was bought by Dynetech, an Orlando-based company that also owns get-rich-quick real-estate and cash-flow systems.
All Pressinquiries were referred to Dynetech spokeswoman Dori Madison, which is a shame for Dynetech, because Madison seems to know little about GlobalTec.
When asked about the credentials of some of the company's national instructors, who work under something called the GlobalTec Training Institute, she said she had never heard of the institute. When asked specifically about the credentials of instructor and GlobalTec radio host Karl Haas, who is prominently featured on the GlobalTec Web site, Madison said, "I don't even know who these people are, honestly. You've got your work cut out for you, I think. I don't know how you're making all these connections to Wizetrade, because they're not in the history of this company."