Thursday, August 28, 2008

Neil Jenman; Pedophile, bully or protector of the people?

In the past, being defamed in the press or on television was to some degree a temporary experience. Once the next day’s edition of the paper hit the stands or a week passed by, it was old news and the claims were all but gone from the memory of those who saw or read the story, but these days it’s a whole new ball game. Through websites like Neil Jenman’s, a self-appointed consumer advocate, you can not only ruin someone’s life on an ongoing basis by making false claims that you don’t need to justify, but thanks to the efficiency of Google, you can serve up your damaging lies at the precise moment that the opinion is most damaging to the victim, over and over, for free. Some call it ‘cyber bullying’ because like bullies, these peddlers of misinformation only work in environments where they cannot be fairly challenged. They also know precisely how effective their form of bullying is.

Clearly, calling someone a pedophile or even implying it, is highly damaging to someone’s reputation, even if it’s not true. Once the issue has been raised though, especially in a wired world, it is there for everyone to think about and discuss without recourse until such time as the claim is physically removed from every dark corner of the internet and that’s not such an easy thing to do. In the book “The World Is Flat” a New York Times best seller and winner of the prestigious Goldman Sachs “Business book of the year” award, author Thomas Friedman identifies the rise of Google and its power to instantly discredit a person by finding content published by sites such as the one Neil Jenman runs, as one-of-ten of the most powerful influences of the enormous change the world has undergone in the last ten years. This power to discredit or damage other people was ranked up there along side such events as the dot com boom, the emergence of internet telephone calls, and the outsourcing explosion that forever changed the commercial landscape of big business the world over. It is a serious issue.

On the surface, transparency and freedom of information can be a good thing. If there is in fact a convicted sex offender living in your neighborhood, then it is in the public interest to know, but what if you woke up one day and a friend sent you an email with a link to a website that published your name as a convicted sex offender? Really, what would you do? In June 2008, a 22 year old Florida man, Morris Williams was convicted and sent to jail for having sex with a 13 year old girl who posed as a 19 year old ‘divorcee’ on her MySpace page. She used the internet to lie. When Williams found out she was underage, he went to the girls parents who proceeded to press charges against him. Some would say that ignorance is no defense (as the judge did) but when you learn that this is the second man to be jailed for sleeping with this same teenage girl using the same deception, then you have to start to wonder. Despite two young men now being in jail because of her deception, the ‘victim’ still maintains her My Space page and still claims she is 19 describing herself as ‘a sexy divorcee.’

It is much easier though to pass judgment when the damage done has actually broken a written law and a trial has taken place, but many of the ‘alleged’ crimes that operators like Jenman propagate, never really happened – it is just Jenman’s opinion that they happened because that opinion advances Jenman’s agenda. Unlike a court of law though, victims of a Jenman style “online crucifixion” have no right of reply because spineless bullies like Jenman hide behind computer screens and control every word that goes back in protest, whether it's written or spoken. The only legal recourse they have is through the courts under the defamation act and this is the ace in Jenman’s hand.

If you seek legal advice, the first step of course is to have a cease and desist letter sent which Jenman simply laughs at. In some cases, Jenman further ridicules his victim by boldly publishing his mocking remarks relating to their attempted defense. “If what I said is really untrue then sue me!” This bold response from Jenman gives the impression that he must be telling the truth about his victim, but actually like most intelligent and pre-meditated doers of evil, Jenman knows that the chances of a conviction are slim. Defamation is one of the most expensive and high risk areas of law to defend yourself against and if you lose you have to pay not only your own legal costs (which can vary between $100,000 and $300,000) but you have to repay around 65% of the other sides costs as well. Even if you do win, damages are hard to quantify and there is no guarantee that you will get them. On top of that, it can take 1 – 2 years to get a result. Is it any wonder that most people Jenman defames never go past their first letter of demand? They have little choice but to remain guilty - unable to prove innocence. They suffer in silence or they change their name. The simple fact is, Jenman can say what he likes and unless you have the cash, the time and the will, Jenman wins.

For Jenman though, all this cost is of little consequence to him because he uses other people’s money to do defend his dirty work. He is so prolific in his defamation of others that he has established a fund where ‘the poor old investors’ he purports to protect are asked to cough up in the name of protection, not unlike the mafia or other bullies.

So what is his agenda? While Jenman claims that he is a constant frustration to the ‘dodgy seminar spruikers’ and ‘evil real estate agents’ he ruthlessly defames because they simply don’t understand how noble he is or how anyone could actually just exist for the benefit of others, the truth is much simpler. Jenman himself is the king of the spruiking game. The ultimate study in conning other people into giving him their money in exchange for some benefit. Wealth creation spruikers sell the idea that they are protecting us from a life of poverty and unhappiness. Real estate agents are supposed to sell us houses honestly, but what Neil Jenman sells is simply fear. Fear that without him, we are all vulnerable. Enter the Jenman System.

Like a pedophile in a schoolyard who lures their victims with lollies to gain trust, Jenman used similar tactics to build his business back when he was still in the game. Just like those he criticizes, Jenman used free seminars under the guise of helping the poor old consumer to avoid the perils of buying and selling real estate. With bold signs and phrases like “Don’t sign anything!” posted around his auditoriums, you immediately got the feeling that you were dealing with someone who is on your side. After the first hour of telling everyone horror stories of poor investors that have been ripped off by every real estate agent except those within “The Jenman System”, and generally scaring the living daylights out of you, Jenman would then give his unsuspecting victims a copy of his book…for free. “What a great guy,” you think, “he didn’t even charge me for it.” Like a lamb to slaughter, Jenman then proceeds to reveal his agenda, which is to get property listings for the members of his real estate franchise network and to recruit new franchisees into the fold/faith – all of which financially flowed back to Jenman’s pockets. Interestingly, these fees were far in excess of any course even the likes of Henry Kaye sold through seminars - Neil was just a little more cunning.

Like those he attacks, it is all about the money for Neil Jenman, and now that he has it, he sits back ruling his own little kingdom from behind his desk, making friends of the weak minded at the expense of others. He attacks seminar spruikers for making money by selling information on how to make more money yet he openly admits that he made his first million by doing just that himself. He also admits that most of his small fortune can be attributed to the sale of his training business which essentially was a spruiking outfit that focused on training real estate agents who were too weak to resist his clever method of manipulation through fear. “If you’re not with Neil Jenman then you must be a crook.” So in short you have a guy that was a seminar spruiker and real estate agent running an ongoing war against seminar spruikers and real estate agents. What is it they say about people who over-compensate in one area of their life because they are quite often trying to hide indiscretions in another?

These days, Neil has become somewhat of a go-to-guy for ambulance chasing TV shows like Today Tonight and A Current Affair. Commercial TV stations who live on ratings love him as do lazy journo’s who want to tell a great story, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Sadly we are yet to see the full impact of the flagrant disregard for the consequences shown by our media outlets and people like Neil Jenman who routinely destroy reputations and in some cases openly embarrass the very people they rely on to get their ratings and make money. How long will it be before we see an Australian Idol contestant go home and take their own life after being humiliated on national television by ruthless, self-serving judges who think nothing of crushing a young persons still-forming self-esteem?

So is Neil Jenman a pedophile, bully or a protector of the people? Well he clearly isn’t a pedophile (unless there’s evidence I don’t know about), but a bully and protector of the people are open to debate. What do you think? Comments welcome.