This week, Toronto area residents will be treated to a “unique opportunity” to learn how to grow their personal wealth by buying and selling real estate.

Participants in this free workshop will discover the ingredients for success in real estate, sources of money to fund investments, locating deals in the hidden market, and creating multiple sources of cash flow.

Related: Spotting the crooks

The seminar, put on by Rich Dad Education, a company endorsed by Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki, teaches participants how to take control of their financial future, escape the rat race, and join the financial elite on the fast track to success.

Rich Dad Scam

The Rich Dad series has an inspiring and entrepreneurial message for some, which is fine. Unfortunately the books are also full of lies and dangerous advice.

Kiyosaki made up a story about his “Rich Dad”, a neighbour who never finished eighth grade yet went on to become one of the richest men in Hawaii, while his “poor” real dad struggled to get by.

Typical of the self-help scene – jobs are for suckers, and so are retirement plans – it’s all based on the idea that the rich know something you don’t, and that you can only become wealthy by using other people’s money (i.e. borrowing) to invest in appreciating assets (i.e. flipping houses for profit).

Kiyosaki says you don’t need a high income to be rich; you just need to make your money work for you.

In 2010, CBC Marketplace investigated the Rich Dad seminar and exposed it as a scam for consumers to avoid.

As it turns out, the “free” one-day event is really just a sales pitch for a different three-day course that costs $500. At the three-day workshop, participants were offered even longer courses – called Real Estate Advanced training – priced between $12,000 and $45,000.

Marketplace went behind the scenes at a Rich Dad seminar and then managed to corner Kiyosaki himself to question him about the training program. It’s fun to watch him squirm.

Here’s just some of the “advice” offered in the Rich Dad workshop:

“You’re going to need your credit card to buy things that make real money – renovations and home down payments. Call your credit card company now and get your limit raised to $100,000. It doesn’t take your money to make money; it takes someone else’s money.”

I have no problem with experts who espouse solid ideas and advice on how to improve the financial situation of others. Heck, even I encourage people to become more entrepreneurial and pursue their passions in their spare time.

Related: 4 big rip-offs to watch out for

But millions of people spend their hard-earned money on books, products, and seminars because they want to believe there’s a way to escape the rat race and follow in the path that authors like Kiyosaki have shown them.

And instead of getting rich, they hear about some basic ideas that could have been found anywhere for free (i.e. pay yourself first, don’t use credit for consumer goods), plus a whole bunch of hype, marketing spin, and bullshit to keep you coming back for more.

The best free advice you’ll get this week? There’s no magic formula to getting rich, and no free lunch along the way. These seminars are designed to play on your emotions, manipulate you to buy-in to the concept, and then, once you’ve invested enough of your time, get you to open up your wallet. Avoid them like the plague.

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17 Comments

  1. Scott on April 6, 2015 at 6:49 am

    Very well said. There used to be a similar seminar by Tony Robbins with a similar message It followed exactly the same path. The ironic thing is the company went bankrupt.

    • Echo on April 6, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Yeah, I wonder if Tony will push out a new seminar now that he’s published a personal finance book.

  2. Barry @ Moneywehave on April 6, 2015 at 7:51 am

    The worst part about this is people still buy into his crap. They assume that since people are paying money to go to his seminars, he must be legit.

    • Echo on April 6, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Absolutely, it’s his name on the poster that even gets people into the free seminar in the first place.

  3. Rob on April 6, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Rich Dad did one thing well – the game “Cashflow 101” is a good basic teaching tool for learning to manage your finances. I use it all the time – and have used it with my kids.

    However, when I let clients use it I’m careful to warn them that it has it’s bias’ and that it’s a general education tool to learn the importance of Balance Sheets and Income statements.

    BTW, don’t buy the game new, you can pick them up on ebay for cheap.

    • Echo on April 6, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Rob, that’s interesting. I’ve heard of the game – just never seen it in action. Then again, I feel the same way Kevin O’Leary does about board games.

      • John Ryan on August 14, 2015 at 7:44 am

        You can play if for free at http://www.richdad.com/classic

        I’m ambivalent about the game. It’s not great from either a game perspective or a financial education perspective. The physical version is WAY over priced.

        Worth giving it a try for free though! =)

  4. Wes on April 6, 2015 at 10:48 am

    In the early 90s, there was a Vietnamese immigrant who made it big selling real estate in the Florida, USA area. He was very ‘successful’ with his ‘system’ that he was on the major TV networks surrounded with scantily clad, bevy models, cruising around on his yacht, pointing to a number of his ‘mansions’ along the shores selling his successful ‘system’.
    I attended his ‘free’ seminar when he came to Toronto but as soon as I heard the first few words out of his mouth that his ‘system’ would cost me around US$1500, I just got up and walked out. I wasn’t going to be one of his suckers that day.
    He preached the same message as Robbins and Kiyosaki, I think.

    • Echo on April 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      @Wes – thanks for sharing. Interesting that it’s mostly real estate / house flipping seminars – must be something about real estate that brings out the greedy and desperate.

      Did you get any flack for walking out?

  5. The Money Spot on April 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    That was one of my favourite episodes by MarketWatch. It was interesting to see the intimidation tactics that were being used to get people to part with more of their money. I agree with Barry that it is still sad that he is still able to make money holding these seminars.

    Robbie

  6. Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet on April 6, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    I immediately get suspicious of any seminar that uses flipping houses as a way to make money. Flipping houses is like taking all your money and plunking it down on a penny stock. I don’t understand why anyone would think it’s a good idea

    • Echo on April 6, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      But Dan, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s like taking other people’s money and plunking it down on a penny stock 😉

  7. Jimmy on April 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I almost got sucked in at one of those seminars years ago but came to my senses before parting with my money. On a link that Barry Choi just RT on Twitter I just read a list of Financial bloggers favourite books and you were quoted as saying that The Wealthy barber Returns was your favourite and That the original Wealthy Barber was a must read for beginners. This post seems to contradict that? Here is the link to that post. http://ow.ly/Lj2Zh

    • Echo on April 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Jimmy, I’m not sure what you mean. This post is about Kiyosaki, his Rich Dad book series, and the Rich Dad Education seminar that he endorses. It has nothing to do with David Chilton and The Wealth Barber. Chilton went 20 years between his two books, rather than pumping out the same crap over and over again.

  8. Jimmy on April 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Chalk that one up to a newbie being overwhelmed with a plethora of information! I got the books/authors mixed up…I’ll do a little more research before I pipe up next time! I guess I have some reading to do! I hear the book “My Poor Rich Dad was a Wealthy Barber” is a great read! Thanks for clearing that up Robb!

  9. Ramsey on April 10, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    These legal scamsters are required for a market or economy to function well.

    I am sure most, if not all, of the people who lost their money in this could have afforded to lose that money and were just greedy to make more in a short time.

    For other average folks, these free seminars are an opportunity to test their resolves and check their greed.

    Keep them coming!

    • Ggg on February 3, 2017 at 11:15 pm

      Just left one… They specifically coach you on how to raise your credit card limit, that it’s good to have 50 different cards in your name and that a bad credit score is meaningless.

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