An Employment Scam in the Financial Services Industry
A Warning for Recent College Grads and Others New to the Financial Services Industry

Considering a financial sales job? To future financial consultants, finance management trainees/associates,
financial services sales professionals, financial executives, investment advisors, financial planners, and the like:
There is a scam you should be aware of.



How The Scam Works

Fighting Back



Contact Author

A Short List of Financial
Services Companies

Thinking about a career in the financial services industry? Listed below are just a few of many companies you may work for, pulled from popular job search sites like, Yahoo!Hotjobs, CareerBuilder, and Many have advertised the same positions for years on end. Which are seeking to fill positions due to legitimate expansion, and which are just churning through naive recruits to mine commission trails on their referrals? Everyone needs experience somewhere; reading this site will help you at least go in with your eyes open.

FOR THOSE WHO NEED YET MORE CLARIFICATION ON THE ABOVE: THIS SITE HAS NEVER IMPLIED ANY OF THESE COMPANIES ARE RUNNING A SCAM. THIS LIST ONLY INDICATES THE COMPANIES BELOW ARE EXACTLY WHAT I SAID THEY ARE: FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES I FOUND ADVERTISING JOBS ON POPULAR JOB SEARCH SITES. If a court decides they're running a scam, then they're running a scam, but they are innocent until then, as I state and restate on this site. That is why it is so important for victims to get their cases on the books. Please also realize that occasionally two or more completely separate companies may share the same name, so be fair in your research.

(Use CTRL+F to find a company on this page, as some have advertised under multiple names over time.)

21st Century Financial
AIG Retirement Services / VALIC
AllState Insurance Company
American Classic Agency
American General Financial Services
American Income Life / Altig International
American Life & Health Group
Ameriprise Financial / American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA)
Amscot Financial
AXA Advisors / AXA Financial
Bankers Life and Casualty
Charles Schwab & Co.
Citi/ Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
CUNA Mutual
David Lerner Associates
Diamond State Financial Group (DSFG)
Direct Capital Corporation
Edward Jones
Farmers Insurance Group
Financial Foundation Group
First Command Financial Services
First Investors Corporation
Guardian Life Insurance / First Financial Group
Independent Capital Management, Inc (ICM)***
John Hancock Financial Network
JP Morgan Chase / WaMu
Liberty National Life Insurance Company
Lincoln Investment Planning
MassMutual Financial / Pastore Financial Group
Merrill Lynch
MetLife / East Penn Financial Group
National City
National Planning Corporation - Guardian Life
New England Financial
New York Life
Northwestern Mutual Life
North Star Financial / North Star Resource Group
PNC Financial Services
Primerica Financial Services / AL Williams
Principal Financial Group
Prudential Insurance Company of America
Raymond James & Associates
Renaissance Financial Corporation
State Farm Insurance
Strategic Financial Partners (NOTE: This does NOT refer to Strategic Financial Partners in Colorado Springs, Colorado whose website is, which is an entirely separate company)
Tax & Financial Group (TFG)
Trilogy Financial Services (TFS)**
Wachovia Securities / Wells Fargo Avisors
Waddell & Reed
World Marketing Alliance / World Financial Group (WMA/WFG) / National Lending Corp. (NLC) / Aegon Financial Group World

By the way, I've noticed companies increasingly using employment agencies or job sites that permit them to remain anonymous in their job postings, or they post through an employment agency. Use even more extreme caution with those! And you should always use caution with any financial services company that cold-calls you about the resume you posted publicly on job search sites. (Hint: Use the option to keep your contact info PRIVATE. This way you will avoid resume-miners, and the only people contacting you will be those you contacted first about the open position they listed.)

**/*** LAWSUITS HISTORY. Around 1995 I worked for Independent Capital Management, Inc (ICM) *** for about 3 months, under Branch Manager Art Villar. I met Villar's manager, Jeff Motske, during a commission dispute with Villar after I'd quit. (I wish I hadn't felt intimidated and let the statute of limitations expire, as a "GUILTY" verdict would have vindicated the very allegations I was later sued for making. Learn from my mistake!) Around 2000, I found both Motske and Villar working for Trilogy Financial Services (TFS) **. Around 2003, I mentioned details of the commission dispute on an Internet message board, and Motske, Trilogy's president, sued. Ignorant of California's anti-SLAPP law and just wanting to end Trilogy's financial harassment, I accepted an injunction forbidding me from doing things I'd never done anyway, plus not mentioning Trilogy/Motske's name in ANY capacity whatsoever for two years (they tried to make that criterion permanent but were denied). After that period ended, I legitimately added Trilogy's name to this website's sample list of financial services companies I'd found advertising jobs (above). On October 13, 2009 Motske sent me a Cease & Desist letter; note missing page 17, which contained the clear disclaimer (green). Their complaint amounted to my site harming their ability to recruit, but I don't control what people search for on the Internet, and some 200 people per month type "Trilogy Financial Services SCAM" into Google [a few stats: Aug, Sept, Oct], which produces a hit on my site, in fact to the point that my "keywords" showed it was the top search term that hit this entire site (as of November 11, 2009). Less than a month after Trilogy sent their C&D letter, ICM's CIO/COO, Ross Gerber, sent me an email assuring me I would not "survive a legal battle" if I didn't take down this entire website within 10 days. ICM's own C&D letter followed, courtesy of [what appears to be] Ross Gerber's attorney brother Seth, citing as their reasons words that were never spoken by me to begin with (see Section 230.c.1 of the Communications Decency Act) and that came with clear disclaimers (green). Motske/Trilogy followed through and sued again. This time I did defend, though I couldn't use the anti-SLAPP law because of the prior injunction I'd naively agreed to. In the ensuing bench trial, Judge Andrew P. Banks issued a judgment against Trilogy. ICM has not sued, presumably because they know their case WILL be a clear-cut SLAPP suit in which I'll additionally be entitled to all attorneys' fees and court costs (and other damages) should they choose to pursue it. I stress that though this site mentions over 3000 companies, Trilogy and ICM are the ONLY entities that have EVER threatened me and/or this website with legal action, and I remind all that companies that are not running the scams detailed on this site have NOTHING to fear from this site.



BIG FAT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This site represents my OPINIONS, i.e. what I have come to BELIEVE based on over a decade of research, and should under no circumstances be construed as condemning any company of wrongdoing unless I've so noted a legal case or opinion that indicates such. Only a court is qualified to make such a decision, hence it is so important for victims to get their cases on the books. Such legal notations here should not be interpreted as being all-inclusive; I've quoted only enough to make my arguments. Nothing on this site should be construed as taking the place of the advice of an attorney. It is up to you to do your own research, come to your own conclusions, and make your own decisions. Lastly, the opinions of all sources quoted remain theirs and do not necessarily represent the views of this site.

BIG FAT LEGAL THREATS: As of October/November 2009, this site was threatened by two legal threats, the first ** alleging I've somehow directly accused his company of running a scam despite the many disclaimers clearly stating that this site personally accuses no specific company of running it, and the second *** alleging that this entire site is somehow illegal and thus must be taken down. In January 2010 I won the first case. It remains to be seen if the second case actually materializes given it's a virtual carbon copy of the first.


A stable job with a future, or a scam that will leave you penniless? Sometimes it's not so easy to tell!

Financial Consultant

Due to expansion, nationally respected firm is seeking career minded individuals who desire training in all aspects of operating a branch office. Excellent career opportunity to earn $50,000 first-year management income. Prior experience desirable but not necessary. Call (XXX) XXX-XXXX for immediate interview.

The above ad is NOT real. The author made it up as an example.
Any resemblance to anyone's actual ad is coincidental

Sounds reasonable enough. You apply. Your interviewer advises you that the average rep in the industry makes over $100,000 a year, not just the low-end $50,000 advertised, and the firm will help you get there quickly. The risk sounds reasonable. You agree to pay over $700 for your licensing/background check, and in spite of your lack of experience, you are hired. You note upon the first day of the training class that the ten other new hires are primarily young and inexperienced. You stick it out and pass your exams; now you are told to create a list of friends and family that will serve as your leads, and you memorize a sales script. After six months of being a "star performer" slaving 60+ hours a week, you have grossed less than $5000, and a good portion of that has been depleted by "business costs" revealed to you only as they cropped up. Your leads are drying up. The help you were promised is now minimal as your manager focuses on attracting and training new reps. The vast majority of your original class has left (as well as even many reps hired after you), and you finally decide that the job involves far more risk than was represented to you. Although you signed a Non-Compete Agreement indicating that you must leave your clients behind when you leave, you still expect the commission trails from those clients' investments to continue to help support you while you seek new employment. You quit. The commission trails never come.

You're not alone.

I've just described one victim's experience*. In fact, this is one of the less extreme examples.

Some reps leave heavily in debt because they've been convinced to pay as much as $75,000 for the licensing/background check as well as the firm's "exemplary" training classes. They may even have been advised to "fake it till you make it" and maxed out credit buying expensive business attire and a car beyond their means just to project a successful (but false) image.

I am not describing the many legitimate financial services positions in which it takes months to establish a clientele but ultimately pays off. In a legitimate job, the risks are disclosed up front. With a scam job, the scammer deliberately misleads reps about the job's true earning potential and then profits on them till they are forced to quit for lack of income, and then continues to profit even after on their commission trails. In fact, it sets up the recruits to fail, much like many of today's illegal MLMs and pyramid schemes, continuously mining an inexperienced work force who is willing to pay to get "trained" to make a "fabulous" income and leave their hard-won clients behind as they fail. When the above-mentioned rep and over a dozen others sued the firm for fraud, the firm defended itself by pointing to its official corporate literature, which described an average rep being expected to earn only about $12,000 his first year!* Of course, each rep claimed to have never been informed of this. The Internet is rife with such complaints.

And the scammers don't just mine new college graduates and similarly inexperienced job hunters. Victims have included seasoned former attorneys, IT professionals, and even financial industry professionals seeking an exciting new opportunity. Perpetrators of these types of scams have become increasingly clever to avoid detection, and ultimately, prosecution. The law has yet to catch up.

While I can take no responsibility for a decision that is ultimately someone else's to make, my goal is to help NEW COLLEGE GRADS and THOSE NEW TO THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY to enter the field forewarned with what I believe to be critical information, to aid those who have been defrauded, and to do my part to help end the scam.

Note that if you came here looking for evidence that a particular firm is involved in the scam, you will not find absolute proof here. I am not interested in getting sued (hence I have NEVER accused ANY company on this page of running this scam)**/***; I am interested in imparting information I believe is helpful to researchers, and guiding potential fraud victims. The next pages describe an overview of the scam and then examine the components in detail as far as I can make them out.


* Cases were found in public court records.

NOTE: The financial services industry is one of SEVERAL that has been directly influenced by the MLM (multilevel marketing) industry - to its detriment, hence this site exists at all. If you are considering employment in a sales job of any sort in which you will be classified as an independent contractor (particularly in the real estate, financial services, delivery, taxi, personnel staffing, and auto rental industries), you will benefit from reading this site in its entirety and understanding the MLM connection. Chances that you will fail are extremely high, but you may miss your window of opportunity for recovery if you spend too much time blaming yourself when you have in fact been defrauded.

I've compiled the truth about MLM into this site's opinion article conveniently called "ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MLM: IS MLM A SCAM?", which educates jobseekers and consumers on the big picture: how MLM's questionable legality was established, why it continues to flourish despite defrauding millions of consumers, and how it's silently spread to other industries (including financial services) to defraud even more consumers. If you're in an MLM, you will learn how to operate your business "legally" and avoid getting scammed and inadvertently scamming others you care about. Don't miss it.

Last update January 2012. Information is intended for U.S. visitors.
(This site was previously hosted at Never use I'm not about to pay them
$2800 to buy back a domain I lost when GoDaddy conveniently failed to process my payment on time. Gee, wonder who "bought" it?)