Business opportunity fraud victims often go away quietly, allowing the perpetrators to freely move on to their next scam and future victims.
However, a group of Revive Energy Mints vending fraud victims have formed the Revive Victim’s Coalition. They are speaking out, naming names and telling their stories to both UnhappyFranchisee.com and to law enforcement.
(Read more about the Revive Energy Mints vending fraud at Revive Energy Mints Franchise Information Center. To join the Revive Victims Coalition, email us at UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com)
Here is the story of Liz (not her real name), a software industry professional who invested her savings of nearly $16,000 with the Revive Energy Mints company that promised her ongoing support, coaching and access to proprietary mints to restock her machines. In August, 2011, the people who took Liz’ savings disappeared without a trace, leaving her without the services she paid for and no way to restock her vending machines.
Liz’s Vending Scam Story
For quite a while, Liz had dreamed of owning her own business. When Liz was off of work recovering from surgery, she started to search the Internet for different business opportunities. The franchise opportunity that caught her eye was a vending opportunity called Revive Energy Mints. Here’s her story, in her own words:
“I was searching the internet for business opportunities. I found Revive and I asked for some info…
“Well, after I sent a request for information, I got a phone call. I guess they were checking how interested I was. I talked with Gerry Porter and he said he was going to talk to his colleagues and get back to me. It took a couple of weeks to get another call. Then they asked me if I was still interested in getting samples and a business outline. I said yes to go ahead and send them. We also set up an appointment for a Q & A.”
A common technique of scam artists is what’s called the “negative sell,” where the salesperson skillfully manipulates the “mark” into thinking that there’s is a very exclusive offer with a rigorous application process. Skillful salespeople manipulate buyers into trying to selling themselves and almost begging the scammer to take their money. Says Liz:
“I was told to look everything over and make a list of questions to ask Mr. Wotocek when he called back. I then spent about an hour on the phone with him asking questions I thought pertinent. He asked for 3 character references. A man named Richard Gates called my friends to ask questions about me. Then I was told that he would call me back at a prearranged time about a day and a half later after he discussed me with his colleagues.”
Hard-sell salespeople skillfully create a “sense of urgency” to pressure the prospective buyer into making a decision to purchase. In this case, they built up the importance of the call with Mr. Wotocek, then gave Liz the ultimatum that if she didn’t buy now, she couldn’t reapply in the future. Liz recounts:
“He called me at the pre-arranged time and said they were still discussing it and he would call me back in a few minutes. He then called back and said ‘Congratulations we have decided to let you buy a franchise.’ I forgot to mentioned that during our Q & A he asked me some interview like questions as well about my character and such. As well I forgot that during this process they told me that I would only have one chance to buy a franchise. If I decided to not buy one this time I wouldn’t likely be invited to invest in the future. It was like now or never. I wish I had Never!!”
Liz sent Revive Energy Mints Franchising LLC $15,800 for 25 vending machines and an initial supply of mints. The vending machines were gumball machines worth less than $50. However, Liz paid approximately $600 per machine because she was to receive unlimited support, coaching for life, and ongoing access to proprietary mints. Says Liz:
“…at first it was good. The evening all the paperwork went through, Paul Haverstick called to introduce himself. We talked about my expectations and he sent me a business plan to fill out and email back to him. Then we discussed it and so on. I had a couple of other meetings with him to discuss vending machine placement. Then we had one meeting to discuss retail. After that I did not contact him for a couple of weeks. In the middle of August, I tried to call and book an appointment with him to discuss retail and I received no answer. No one ever called me back.
“My coaching call was scheduled, but the appointment was missed. I followed up with calls and emails but never got any calls in return.
“I’ve tried to reach Paul Haverstick and the company several times, but cannot reach anyone.”
In August, 2011, Revive Energy Mints abandoned their offices, changed their address to a P.O. box and disconnected their phones. Tt appears they took the investments of 400+ individuals and disappeared without providing the services contracted for or supplying the mints needed to operate the businesses.
According to Liz and other victims, the damage is both financial as well as psychological:
“The emotional effects have been worse than the financial ones. I am embarrassed and do not want to tell my family and friends. I am mentally kicking myself daily for having gotten involved with them. It is like I took $16,000.00 and threw it away.”
However, Liz and others are refusing to be victims. About joining the Revive Victims Coalition, she says:
“I am now feeling a bit better for taking some action. I just that I hope it is not too late to get them for something. ”
WERE YOU A VICTIM OF REVIVE ENERGY MINTS OR OTHER FRAUDULENT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY? SHARE A COMMENT BELOW OR EMAIL US AT UNHAPPYFRANCHISEE[AT]GMAIL.COM.