By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
GlobalTec doesn't want you to read this, so you probably should.
The Dallas company peddles investment software on infomercials, luring naïve customers to seminars in hotel rooms throughout the country, where evangelistic salespeople preach the gospel of get-rich-quick.
GlobalTec's flagship software, Wizetrade, purports to make users rich by telling them when to buy or sell a given stock. This is done through red and green lights. If you can understand a traffic light, where you have to deal with threecolors, Wizetrade is supposed to be a cinch. The company also runs a radio talk show and "Traders Television Network," a satellite TV channel where GlobalTec instructors talk about the products.
GlobalTec's legal threats started immediately after the Houston Press, the Dallas Observer's sister paper, asked the most basic questions, and, after reading this story, you'll understand why. But if you want to heed GlobalTec, here are some do's and don'ts the company would like you to follow:
DO: pay $3,000 for software that purports to get you rich through trading in the stock market.
DON'T: read the fine print in the contract, which says the software doesn't come with instructions or training. And when you do finally receive the instructions or training, you automatically forfeit the right to a refund.
DO: believe that GlobalTec's brain trust has securities expertise that makes Warren Buffett look like a drooling baboon.
DON'T: try to verify the brain trust's credentials.
DO: pour thousands into additional books, DVDs and seminars that tell you how to make even more money off the magic lamp you already spent $3,000 on.
DON'T: read this story, because this is where you'll find out what GlobalTec is really about.
The fundamental flaw is the same for every infomercial: If a dude has a sure-fire key to fortune, why would he travel around the country selling it to people when he could just use it for himself?
But, as with all get-rich-quick schemes, you must check your logic at the door. And when you do so with Wizetrade, you will enter the world of George Thompson, a financial wizard who built a Dallas trading firm (never identified) before founding GlobalTec and inventing a piece of software that "levels the playing field" for individual day traders. Wizetrade contains a "proprietary algorithm" capable of "thousands of calculations" a second, telling you when you should buy or sell a stock. It dumbs down the process so much that all you have to do is watch the lights: If the light is green, you buy a stock. If it's red, you sell.
As shown on the infomercial, this wizardry allows Thompson to tool around in his Magnum, P.I. Ferrari and race motorcycles. Then come the testimonials from regular schlubs who have been able to quit their jobs and live the high life, thanks to Wizetrade. To augment the look of authenticity, GlobalTec operates a radio talk show and satellite TV channel. When you buy Wizetrade, you're buying into a whole system--these guys are here for you, and they won't let you down.
Don't give your money to self-interested brokers, the ad says. Don't count on your retirement plan. Wizetrade is the way to go. And, lucky you, there happen to be a few freedemonstrations at a hotel near you this week.
The Presswent to a demonstration in the Clear Lake Hilton near Houston last December. More than 30 people, mostly older white men, made their way into the convention room, where an exuberant man named Fred Mansfield stood before a projection screen showing the Wizetrade software.
Mansfield is from Orlando, where--though he doesn't say it--GlobalTec's corporate parent is located. He was never a stock wizard, only a restaurant manager.
"It's time to take control of your life!" he says. Mansfield speaks only in motivational sound bites. He says Wizetrade has "given me control of my time...you can't TiVo time!"
So Mansfield has oodles of free time for his family, who appear on the screen: his wife, son and two girls with flowers in their hair. The next picture is that of the adorable Mansfield puppy, at play with a neon-green chew toy.
"Red light, green light, that's all we need to know!" Mansfield barks. It's like it says on the Wizetrade Web site: It takes all the guesswork out of trading. It's so easy that his 7-year-old daughter loves it. And now Mansfield takes some time to go on about how much he loves his daughter, who just brought home a wonderful report card and whose baseball team just won some Florida championship. Here's a father who definitely loves his daughter. How could you not buy software from this guy?
And he's looking out for the audience too. Ordinarily, Wizetrade costs $3,995. And if you want the "boot camp DVDs" and the training class thrown in, that would cost $6,285. But today, Mansfield's going to give it all away for $2,995.
"That's it!" he yells.
Some in the audience are less than impressed at the price. So Mansfield does some mental kung fu. He asks how many in the audience think $3,000 is a lot of money. A few hands shoot up.