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BIZZIBIZ Franchise Founder Jim Piccolo Defrauded 105 Investors, Says AZ

( BIZZIBIZ franchise founder Jim Piccolo announced that at the end of last year he was divesting himself of his previous businesses, including his controversial multilevel marketing scheme Nouveau Riche University.

Piccolo claimed he wanted to devote all his time and energy to the Bizzibiz digital marketing franchise venture, which he then launched January 2, 2011.

Not all of his previous business dealings could be so neatly left behind.

Allegations that Piccolo’s Nouveau Riche University was a scam are numerous and widespread in blogs and forums across the Internet.

And in February, 2011, just a month after the launch of Bizzibiz, his real estate investment seminar business came back to haunt him in a big way.

BIZZIBIZ Founder James Piccolo Must Pay Nearly $6 Million for Defrauding Investors

In a February 17, 2011 press release, the Arizona Corporations Commission announced that Jim Piccolo and his business partners must pay nearly $6 Million in restitution and fines for defrauding 105 investors with unregistered deed of trust investments.  In part, the press release reads:

In the first case, the Commission ordered James Piccolo of Scottsdale, Craig Cottrell of Tempe

and Michael Roberts of Scottsdale and their affiliated companies to pay $5,577,226 in restitution and a

total of $300,000 in administrative penalties for defrauding 105 investors with unregistered deed of trust


The Commission found that the men promoted the unregistered deed of trust investments at

real estate education seminars where they convinced students to become investors, promising them

double-digit returns. The Commission found that Piccolo, Cottrell and Roberts misrepresented that a

second deed of trust or lien on vacant lots would be secured for the investors and that the investment had a

corporate guarantee behind it. Additionally, the Commission found that the respondents failed to record

any liens for the benefit of the investors.

The Commission found that Piccolo and Five Star Capital Markets, LLC solicited potential

investors to buy the unregistered deed of trust investment while not being registered to offer or sell

securities in Arizona. The Commission found that, during part of the time he was a registered securities

salesman, Cottrell fraudulently offered and sold the unregistered deed of trust investments without the

authorization of his securities dealer. As a result, the Commission revoked his securities salesman

registration. The Commission found that Roberts and his home development company, Charlevoix

Homes, LLC, received investor funds solicited by Five Star Capital Markets, LLC, Piccolo and Cottrell,

but Roberts and his company were not registered to offer or sell securities in Arizona.

In settling this case, Piccolo, Cottrell and Roberts neither admitted nor denied the Commission’s findings, but agreed to

the entry of the consent orders.

The full impact that Jim Piccolo’s sanctions will have on the fledgling Bizzibiz franchise program are not yet clear.

It appears that references to Jim Piccolo may have been removed from the “Team” page of the Bizzibiz website, but elsewhere Piccolo’s name has been inextricably linked with the Bizzibiz franchise.

In April, Bizzibiz Franchising Inc. filed a lawsuit against its franchise attorney, Director of Franchising & Board Member Kevin B. Murphy for legal malpractice (READ: BIZZIBIZ Suing Mr. Franchise Kevin B Murphy and Franchise Foundations PC ).

The question remains:  Will the new digital marketing franchise survive its founder’s controversial past, or has Bizzibiz lost its sting?



26 thoughts on “BIZZIBIZ Franchise Founder Jim Piccolo Defrauded 105 Investors, Says AZ

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  • I have been involved with the team accused of fraud. I worked with the Nouveau Riche sales team, and I was a student. I also invested in a number of properties that they presented.

    Since that time, my partner (from the NRU college) and I have built a number of business, both public and private, and in the process had our own ups and downs.

    It is my feeling, that the gentlemen accused in the case, did not intentionally commit fraud and they are not crooks. I think they made some very stupid basic filing errors, which they should have all known better, especially because some of them were actually licensed!! How they did not file the offering, and raise capital through a registered BD is beyond me. Maybe they tried to take a shortcut, or were planning to, but did the deal prematurely in order to win it over another bidder, all behaviors I have seen all over the business community, but it does not mean they are crooks.

    But press is press, and everyone wants to hear of another thief ripping people off. I am interested to hear the outcome of this case.


    -”Extremely satisfied Nouveau Riche graduate, and thriving, young, international businessman.”

  • james writes “It is my feeling, that the gentlemen accused in the case, did not intentionally commit fraud and they are not crooks. I think they made some very stupid basic filing errors, which they should have all known better, especially because some of them were actually licensed!! How they did not file the offering, and raise capital through a registered BD is beyond me…”

    So, james, what you’re saying is that Jim Piccolo, Craig Cottrell, & Michael Roberts are incompetent, sloppy businessmen whose careless approach to business and investing not only cost those who trusted them dearly, but also resulted in fraud convictions and multimillion dollar fines?

    Great point. Whether or not they were intentional fraudsters, what their long-time associate james is saying leads one to conclude that investors should avoid doing business with Jim Piccolo, Craig Cottrell, Michael Roberts… if not for their deviousness, for their incompetence.

    Sound right, james?

  • Eaaasy “Guest” .. if you’re going to get your panties in a bunch, at least stand by your words and put a name up.

    Piccolo is kinda a douchebag who lucked into a bunch of money by putting Nouveau together at the right time. Like a lot of douchebags they start cutting corners and getting greedy and start doing stupid things.

    Whether or not he’s an idiot or a criminal idiot is not the point that James is trying to make. I think the point is that Piccolo created a space that a lot of people found valuable and made the best of. What was going on behind the scenes, who knows, but there are a lot of Nouveau “grads” out there who are singing the praises of what they learned.

  • Mr. Piccolo while doing some good with Nouveau Riche has also made hundreds of thousands of dollars disappear relative to Piccolo University (PEDU stock ticker) by marketing this IPO to Nouveau Riche followers. The stock is now as close to worthless as is possible $0.002/share. That I’m aware of Mr. Piccolo has never been held accountable for this “theft” of hard earned funds, not his hard work mind you. In my opinion he is a thief and not to be trusted.

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  • This story is one sided. did anyone interview Jim Piccolo and try to find out what happened? Maybe someone did and Piccolo declined to comment on a touchy legal brouhaha.

    Piccolo was caught in situation where he, Craig Cottrel and Michael Roberts did not proceed properly, it appears. However appearances can be deceiving. often the whole story is not seen and cannot be told.

    I know Jim PIccolo and attended Nouveau Riche and Picollo International University. The ideas and the execution of both learning centers was EXCELLENT. I was a veteran Real Estate Trader when I went in, I learn a great deal and met a netowrk of other Real Estate Traders with whom I am now associated and with whom I am doing business. I am not super successful yet but what I learned and the access to others of the same ilk was invaluable and I believe that I will soon climb the ladder to a big success because of Nouveau Riche and Piccolo International University.

    I know people well. Jim Piccolo is a person with high ethics. He doesn’t just talk about it, he lives it. Perhaps he depended on others that deceived him. I do not for a moment believe that Picollo intentionally deceived others.

    I doubt that there are many business people out there that haven’t made mistakes of trust or technical mistakes. The most successful of those people climb that success ladder, learning from their mistakes.

    We don’t even know who really to pin this on, but, yes, Piccolo was the top dog on this and needed to know; so was Cottrell and Roberts. I’ve met Cottrell, too and have high regard for him as well.

    This should not destroy a good man’s career and life. Jim Piccolo is a good man.


    Jimmy Israel asks “This story is one sided. did anyone interview Jim Piccolo and try to find out what happened?”

    Thanks for your comment, Jimmy.

    On, all companies and individuals discussed are invited to respond with clarifications or rebuttals, and can participate by either leaving comments or furnishing a statement for publication or both. Mr. Piccolo provided the following statement that covered multiple issues.

    BIZZIBIZ Franchise Founder Jim Piccolo Responds to Criticism

    Here’s an excerpt pertaining to Jim Piccolo’s fraud charges:

    Jim Piccolo responds: “Now to address the fraud charges against me… I was named in the Arizona Securities Division’s investigation of Michael Roberts, Charlevoix Homes and Five Star Capital, despite any direct activity with the company or wrongdoing. I agreed to settle the issue rather than fight the Securities Division, which would have lead to more harm and frustration for the investors—many of whom are friends of mine.

    “An important note to make here is my wife Mary and I conducted careful due diligence and received validation of the opportunity through recognition like the Arizona Small Business Association’s naming of Charlevoix as one of its 50 Arizona Companies to Watch. We invested in the Charlevoix project and our personal investment was, in fact, monetarily larger than all of the other investors in this dispute. The Consent Decree shows that I agreed to settle this dispute and that no findings of fact were made against me. My attorney, Jeff Matura is open to answer questions if you’d like to contact him.”

    Our goal is to prompt dialogue from both sides of an issue so that our readers can better decide for themselves with whom they wish to conduct business. Mr. Piccolo has an open invitation to provide his viewpoint on these controversies, as do his defenders, skeptics and detractors.

    Hopefully, this dialogue will provide those who participate in his future ventures the opportunity to do so with full knowledge and with eyes wide open.


  • Sharon

    NRU was brought to me at its inception, by energetic and eager salesmen looking for our participation, due to our heavy involvement in supporting and education investment and trading efforts. It was a no-brainer to say ‘no thank you’ as early due-diligence need not proceed, once you realize that they were opening up ‘sales’ to people who were not otherwise involved or trained! That red light kept us from participating, promoting or otherwise ‘advocating’ for NRU. Jim’s initial concept, had he stuck to the ‘training’ requirement, might have had wings. But opening to ‘anyone’ to sell the education, who had not gone through it themselves, was unwise.
    As to Jim’s own mis-steps, he knew better as did those who purported to ‘train’ the students.
    As for the students doing well….likely true but frightening as can be. They, now, believe that this is a ‘normal’ way to do business and are going forward, let’s graciously say, with ignorance, likely doing more of the same! And we wonder why the economy has collapsed; the non-accountable education of our folks….at all levels, has led to many businessmen of questionable knowledge or integrity.
    Scary stuff…..but real.
    Readers, understand…this is what goes on and is being ‘adopted’ by eager entrepreneurs looking to ‘make’ a living!

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  • I was a student of Nouveau Riche, and after seeing the Piccolo has been found guilty of defrauding 105 investors has me re-thinking as to whether I should be applying what I learned. What I do know for a fact about Real Estate Worldwide though is that he is partnered with Michael Hamburger and Brent Payne, former Chairman and CEO of Liberty League International. These two are flat-out crooks with absolutely no ethics, morals, or decency. I worked directly with Michael at LLI, and although he claimed he was making a lot of money, and claimed that he helped thousands of people make money, everybody that I worked with on Michael’s team and w/in LLI either filed for bankruptcy, got their house foreclosed on, or both. Google Liberty League International, or “Michael Hamburger scam” and you’ll find plenty of content to keep you reading for as long as you wish. As for Brent Payne, outside of his arrogant yet charming persona, he was married to one of the most beautiful, kind, warmhearted women I’ve ever met, and he cheated on her with his partners wife from LLI; no morals, and no conscience. These two are big time, smart marketers though, which is why I’m sure Piccolo brought them on board. With that said, I’m almost willing to bet that Michael Hamburger doesn’t know jack about real estate, yet he’s peddling the education and claiming to be an expert. The only thing these two are interested in is making money, and it doesn’t matter to them how it is made. They remind me of the movies Wall Street and Boiler Room. Stay as far away from these scammers as possible or be prepared to be sweet-talked and hyped into opening your wallet, credit card, or even your 401K–whatever will pay them their cash. One of Michael’s favorite things to state on his websites is “Dream Big”. Don’t let these guys fool you. Dreaming big with them will only get you into a BIG financial mess, OR, you’ll be checking your morals at the door. For the life of me, I don’t know how they sleep at night. If you choose to move forward with them despite this warning, I can only state, “You can’t fix Stupid”!

  • Margaret

    I was a student of Nouveau Riche. I paid the money and took all the training I could get. I did not take advantage of some of the real estate offerings, choosing to make my own deals. Buying properties or further investing with Jim Piccolo was not a requirement. I do not regret one dime I spent. I think the training that I received was some of the best around. I have stayed in contact with many of the instructors. I am a successful real estate investor and I believe I would not have made it this far without Jim Piccolo’s vision and Nouveau Riche. Things happen and in our society there will always be the scam artists and the gullible. The idea was excellent, maybe the execution wasn’t the best. I don’t know the whole story about the whole story about the defrauding issue and really think that only those involved know the truth. I know that when people make a bad decision they have a tendency to point fingers and not take some of the blame. I would consider another venture that Mr. Piccolo was involved in. I would just do my due diligence.

  • The only opinion I have is real estate investing is not as easy as how these programs present. First, it takes money to make money. Most of these programs want you to pay up front to join them (NRU is about 18K from what I remembered) and use credit so you can sign up. Second, they present cheap homes in other states, which you don’t even know the actual condition unless you visit the home and receive home inspection so it wouldn’t be practical to buy these homes from their site. The key really is when you join the programs, you become the end buyer for the investors within. Third, the best thing to do is to read real estate books from the bookstore or Barnes and Noble. Fourth- presenters are mostly trained gurus, motivational speakers and honestly, the only person who can motivate you is yourself.


  • Mimi brown

    Jim Piccolo and his Wife Mary, were the owners and CEO’S for another kind of deceptive business practice in another of their scams called Tru Dynamics in the 1997, 1998 and 1999 people lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Jonah Ipsolopolous

    Jim Piccolo is a smart and talented man, and so are many criminals who locked up in jail currently. This guy figured how to scam many of the downtrodden, disenfranchised, and unemployed in to believe that by paying thousands of dollars for his education, tapes, etc.. they could become real estate investors or sales guru’s like the sales machines he developed. Takes real talent to develop a marketing scam like this and find the right people to help you build it to the point you can drive around in Ferrari’s and other super expensive cars.

    The education, which you can get anywhere, really, was super expensive. I believe, yes my partner and I were suckers, we paid over $20,000 for this material. My partner, through education at Nouveau Riche, thought there was a way to “borrow other people’s money” to make money. Something they recant over and over at NRU. Never did a deal and never made any significant connections through NRU as none of those guys were interested in you unless you already had money. That was apparent. They werent there to teach. They were there to take.

    It doesnt surprise me that Piccolo is involved in any type of fraud accusations. This man should be in jail and I truly hope that one day he ends up in jail for a long long time.

    Piccolo should be ashamed of himself for taking money from people that barely had the money to give. I know of many at NRU who didnt have a pot to piss in but this school gladly took their money knowing that that NRU, Piccolo and the others were spewing a bunch of crap and less than a 1000th of 1% would ever be able to do anything with their program.

    This is just the beginning of Piccolo getting his due.

  • Looks like Jim Piccolo has now partnered with NR leader Cheri Tree for another new business. Check out Global BANK Academy.

  • It appears that these two scam artists are starting their new business overseas? They have events already listed in Amsterdam in Februrary.

    Another moniker their business is using, aside from Global Bank Academy is “BANKEurope”

  • It appears Jim Piccolo already has a track record of taking other peoples money to the BANK. This smells like it’ll leave you BANKrupt.

  • Jason Scorza

    So it seems like Nouveau Riche is reborn as Renatus (in Sacramento and other places) and is up to the same kinds of BS that Piccolo was into. The person in comments defending Piccolo is James Liese seems to be the principal in Renatus – no wonder. The cheater has new clothes.

  • Hi Jason Scorza-

    How do you know of these key players? – Have you used this program ?

  • I was one of the investors that lost my retirement in the Charlevoix deal mentioned at the top of the thread, but I have heard nothing about being compensated. Does anyone know anything about the law suit, or who I could contact to find out if I can be included?


  • John Goyari

    Hallo bro . RENATUS has just started in INDIA. What should I do .. after reading the conversation I feel like to hold on .. Is RENATUS a SCAM COMPANY….

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