YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Better Business Bureau is warning residents to use caution when responding to a mailed invitation to a free seminar titled, “Flipping Ohio.”
The invitations tout the seminar as an exclusive event. The local seminar was scheduled Wednesday, Nov. 9, promoted under the name Success Path and carries the endorsements of HGTV celebrities Tarek and Christina El Moussa.
When contacted Friday regarding the event, Success Path said it has been postponed, and organizers are working to set a new date for the event.
According to the BBB, Success Path has a D grade with the Better Business Bureau of Salt Lake City and has had 163 complaints filed in the past 3-year period.
Success Path also goes by the name of Premier Mentoring, Success Path Education and The Flipping Formula. Representatives of Premier Mentoring also have used the names Advanced Real Estate Education, Find and Flip, Real Estate Addict, Zurixx LLC and Top Trader, the BBB says.
The mailer that was sent to local consumers asks “Do You Have the Courage to Retire Rich?” and shows a picture of Tarek and Christina El Moussa on the front of a card. Inside are two complimentary VIP tickets, each marked as a $147 value.
A letter from the El Moussas notes, “We have teamed up with local sponsors and personal contacts who will provide you with a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Fine print on the back of the card says the event “is not affiliated with Scripps Networks, LLC or HGTV or any of its series, subsidiaries, divisions or affiliates.”
Many consumers say the business initially attracted them with tickets to free investment seminars and then charged them anywhere from $2,000 to more than $70,000 for follow-up real estate classes and personalized mentoring programs, which they said had little or no value to them.
Complainants to BBB describe the company’s onsite sales pitches as aggressive and misleading. Some said they were able to obtain partial refunds, only after contacting BBB or law enforcement.
WKBN reached out to Success Path, which issued a statement saying statements from the BBB are inaccurate:
We are aware that complaints filed against Premier Mentorship through the Better Business Bureau are mistakenly being linked to Success Path. We have filed the appropriate paperwork to correct these mischaracterizations, and we are working with the Better Business Bureau to rectify the situation.
Success Path is dedicated to providing quality education to individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Well over 99.5% of our attendees have filled out evaluations attesting that the education they received was professionally delivered, impactful, and valuable. The Success Path program is based on the very same systems the El Moussas use in their own real estate business. The program was developed in response to a multitude of requests from people interested in learning the El Moussa’s systems. The El Moussas sincerely want the program to be beneficial for all who participate.
Success Path instructors are trained and qualified to perform their jobs at a high level, and all are required to be active real estate investors. The Association for Talent Development, a certified partner of the International Association for Continuing Education and Training, has trained and certified all of the Success Path coaches – a unique accolade in the industry. It is this combination of experience and recognition that we promote when marketing our programs. Tens of thousands of Success Path students have given the program great reviews and we are proud to share the successes of our students with the public.”
Carol Potter, BBB president and CEO, said the Youngstown area has hosted several questionable real estate and house-flipping seminars in recent months, however.
“These seminars give consumers the fantasy of retiring in the lap of luxury, but they never give an accurate picture of how volatile the real estate market can be.” Potter said. “The gimmick is they only give a person a small piece of the puzzle. If a person wants to learn more, they have to pay more. The only people making money, are those who are running the seminars.”
The BBB offered the following tips to people considering attending a similar business seminar:
- Research the business by searching the internet and contacting BBB. Find a BBB Business Review by calling 330-744-3111 or by checking bbb.org.
- Before paying anything, know what you are getting for your money. Before signing any contract, read it carefully. If there is anything that concerns you, make certain the document is changed in writing before you sign off on it.
- Be wary of any oral promises that are not in writing.
- Know exactly how long you have to obtain a refund after signing an agreement. If that information is not there, ask for it in writing.
- Ask for references and contact them before entering into an agreement.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charge.