By Edward Snook
In a variation of multilevel marketing concepts and programs, three enterprising Southern Oregon men dreamed up the concepts behind the Lariat Group, whose motto is “rounding up great solutions.” Using the internet web site lariatgroup.comand the latest in electronic communications, telemarketing techniques, coupled with telephone seminars, Robert Chamberlain, Gary Douglas Holmes and Butch McIntyre have reportedly recruited many hundreds of members across this country and some from foreign countries as well.
A lariat can be a tool in the hands of a cowboy,
or a snare or a noose.
With a small contingent of ancillary associates (some of whom have already been charged with violating federal law) this hardy band has saddled up to single-handedly rectify the insidious injustices of the “bankster/gangsters” in mortgage banking, automobile loans, the credit card industry and other areas of debt. In short the Lariat Group and its founders believe they are God’s servants, out to fight evil.
When someone “joins” the no-membership-fee Lariat Group, he/she is introduced to a variety of services, such as the elimination of home mortgages, auto mortgages, credit card debts, school loans, hospital bills, and other debts. Members can also avail themselves of credit restoration services and overseas investment opportunities.
- Who could resist the lure of buying a house with no money down, and the owner making the payments?
- Who could resist the suggestion to max. out their credit cards, because that debt can be erased in 4-6 months?
- Who could resist the lure of buying the most expensive auto or truck that he/she can afford, knowing that obligation can be negated in 6-9 months, “kind of like having a baby.”
- Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to wipe out old medical bills or college tuition bills?
Each service has a sliding scale of fees, depending upon the amount of debt to be forgiven, or the number of credit cards to be forgiven. The fees are sent to Lariat Group and after the “broker fees” or referral fees (some of which may be double or more of the vendors’ fees) are extracted, they are sent on to the “vendors.” Many of the “vendors” have been shut down by court injunctions and other legal proceedings. Some are currently incarcerated. Lariat Group collects its fee, whether the “vendor” can provide the requested service or not. Those who have not had satisfactory results (this number would include each and every client we interviewed) are told that Lariat Group is only a referral service and not responsible for results. We are told it is a full time job handling the complaint department.
Members are encouraged to recruit their family and friends to utilize these services, as they receive a “blessing” (commission) on the front end, and another “blessing,” which is a percentage of the total dollars involved, on the back end when the service is completed. Lariat Group obviously partakes in this “blessings” program, both front and back.
According to some partakers in the programs the Lariat Group offers, they have been encouraged to “run their credit card balances to the limit, because they can be reversed or excused in 4-6 months.” When that has not happened, some have had to declare bankruptcy, or be summoned to the courtroom over such advice.
Everything is couched in religious terminology, (they even tithe the money that they bring in) insinuating that God has placed His blessing upon these endeavors. The latest incarnation is “Almighty’s Abundance Remedy Ministry (AARM),” with the scriptural motto, “The arm of the Lord is our strength.”
Members are encouraged to refinance their homes, so that the new mortgage can be forgiven, and the equity money can be invested in one of Lariat Group’s recommended programs, such as Divinus Opulentia International, (there’s the religious terminology, again) headquartered in Australia. We have been informed by highly credible sources that untold hundreds of thousands of dollars are cycled through the Gold Hill and Hugo offices and the local banks; requiring in house courier services. At times money is wired to various parts of the world from local trust accounts.
Another stream of income is the generation of common law trusts, of the irrevocable Massachusetts-type business trust. These run about $5000 and are personalized boiler plate issues. Two local banks requested that the Lariat Group take their trust accounts elsewhere.
Is the Lariat Group Nothing More Than a Scam Perpetrating Fraud?
After interviewing numerous clients (actually victims) of the Lariat Group the US~Observer has easily concluded that this group is simply involved in de-frauding “little old ladies” out of their life savings. One member stated, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. They have most of my savings and nothing has worked.” Another stated, “I just get the run-around and excuses every time I contact them. They have my money, their programs don’t work and I would like it back.”
Yet another victim of the Lariat Group states she was instructed to run her credit cards up, to purchase a new truck and that the Group would eliminate the debts within a few months. This victim nearly lost her marriage because of the fraudulent advice. We spoke with other victims, all with the same story; the Lariat Group got their money and their “programs” haven’t worked.
While questioning Gary Holmes, one of the Groups leaders and promoters, I was quite surprised when he started telling me he is fighting the injustice of the banking/finance industry. Holmes made it clear that the job of the Lariat Group was sanctioned by God, but added that the “Group” was only an intermediary between the clients and vendors. He stated that clients are told of the chance they are taking; something none of the clients would confirm.
As we go to press we are informed that some clients have already filed complaints with the Attorney General of the State of Oregon.