Almost daily I receive an invitation to attend a financial planning seminar aimed at senior citizens like me. My current retirement strategy involves cutting down on grocery expenses by taking advantage of the free dinners offered at said seminars. Only decision I need to make is whether a shrimp platter is harder on my already hardened arteries than, say, chicken linguini or petite filet mignon.
I have no idea why I keep getting so many invitations. I mean, I’m an impecunious freelance writer. And yet the invitations keep coming, each featuring a mouth-watering display of entrée choices.
Typically, the featured speaker is a Mormon. How do I know? Well, because the name of his investment firm contains words and phrases that were bandied about when I was a practicing Mormon. Words like “New Millennium Group” or “Latter-day Leverages” or Deseret Diversiification.” Moreover, the featured speaker will be a clean-cut white man who is married with six children—six being “a full quiver,” according to local reproductivity standards. In earlier times, investment opportunities were pitched by bearded white men with six WIVES—a full quiver of spouses by pioneer standards.
That’s why I was initially shocked to receive an invite from Nico Pesci of Cambridge Financial. I immediately pictured the actor Joe Pesci and thought, “Maybe it’s best I don’t poke fun at this guy.” I mean, nobody likes a rat.
Curious, I went online and learned that although Nico Pesci was born in a small town outside of Boston, he “ended up in Utah County thanks to Donny and Marie Osmond.”
So that explains a lot, I suppose. If memory serves, Donny and Marie were tangentially involved in a fraudulent real estate scam directed by a Mormon apostle named Paul H. Dunn. I’m guessing they, like Dunn’s investors, were probably duped. Previous to his company’s bankruptcy, Dunn had been a wildly popular public speaker, famous for recounting faith-promoting adventures that, upon closer inspection, proved to be entirely made up.
Affinity fraud is rampant throughout Utah, where investment opportunities are regularly pitched in priesthood meetings. I know, because I used to attend such meetings. Happily, I defected before I got my pockets picked; thus, faith dealers like Dunn have no hold on me whatsoever. Which is not to say that I haven’t been tempted, just a little, by Marie Osmond’s pitch for Nutrisystem. Fact is, I could stand to lose some of the excess pounds I’m gained, thanks to a steady diet of complimentary rubber chicken dinners.
Above is a photo taken at a recent investment seminar. That’s me seated on the bottom row, far right.