No, you’re not getting any free money.
OK, maybe that’s not fair — but I like to put that disclaimer up front, for those who haven’t been around Stock Gumshoe very long and might mistakenly believe that the marketing craziness put out by the investment newsletters is somehow a fair reflection of reality.
Christian Dehaemer is using a spiel that’s been used by many ad copywriters, the idea of a “rebate” that will get back the cash that you’ve had to pay out for something distasteful or irritating (Real Estate Tax Rebate! Gas Rebate!). It’s almost irresistible — who isn’t sick of paying student loans, or helping their family members deal with huge tuition payments? Wouldn’t it be great if there were some “rebate” that would get you that money back?
No, not going to happen, sorry. No matter how bitter you might be about paying off $60,000 in loans for that Philosophy degree, there’s no magic form that’s going to get you thousands of dollars in “rebates” (there are various forgiveness programs, of course, often tied to doing underpaid public service work — that’s not what Dehaemer’s talking about).
But there is, as usual, enough truth in the ad to probably keep the lawyers happy — and if you don’t feel like paying $499 for a subscription to Dehaemer’s Crisis and Opportunity to get his “real” explanation, I’ll try to explain what they’re talking about in the ad as well as I can. Ready?
Here’s a taste of the ad:
“If you overpaid for college, then get your personal…
College Rebate Account
“If you went to college before 1989 or co-signed your kid’s student loan… you’re entitled to a college “cash rebate.”
“Some fortunate college grads have seen their rebate accounts swollen over 1,900% recently.”
Shall we start parsing? Don’t want to make you sit through too much of the spiel here, but that “if you went to college before 1989” part is an odd requirement… what does that mean?
Here’s how he goes into a little bit of detail on that later in the ad:
“… don’t think it’s just for the government and well-connected folks. It’s for every American who wants to get involved. Especially if you went to college before 1989….
“I am sending this to you because I believe you went to college before 1989, and that means you have the resources available to take advantage of this opportunity.
“Not every college grad can. Your position today gives you full liberty to start your personal rebate account.
“The truth is, you have to start with a small amount of money to get your account going.
“Every well-connected individual earning rebate cash begins this very same way. You’re not the only one doing this.
“You can start with $500, $1,000, or $5,000. It’s really up to you.”
So what does that mean?
Well, mostly it means “you need to be old enough to have some money.”
Investment newsletters market primarily to folks who are 50-80 years old, because those are the folks who are mostly likely to have enough money to consider spending $500 or $5,000 on a newsletter subscription a reasonable cost that their investment portfolio can bear… and enough interest (and maybe time, for those who are retired) to be excited about detailed discussions of individual stocks. Along with, perhaps, a bit of pre-retirement anxiety that they need some windfall returns to boost their portfolios in their final earning years. If you graduated from college with an undergraduate degree before 1989, you’re at least in your late 40s. I might miss that “cutoff” slightly since I graduated in 1992 (I’m 45, in case you’re wondering), but I fearlessly kept reading the ad anyway — there is almost certainly no “age qualification” for whatever this “rebate” investment is.
And yes, as you can see with the “you can start with $500” bit, this is an investment that he’s pitching. That means the “payout” is either capital gains or dividends, not a “rebate.” And you can bet your bippy that if you invest $500, that “rebate” is going to be vanishingly small for the foreseeable future.
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It’s also probably worth reminding ourselves at this point that quotation marks around key terms in newsletter ads are a good sign that the copywriter is either lying or making stuff up — I consider it to be code for “not really.” So “cash rebate” means not really a cash rebate.
So what kind of investment is this?
Well, let’s get back to the ad…
“Nixon created two things that rocked the lives of Americans, even if most people are clueless about them.
“First, he created the college loan system that has plagued the lives of Americans with hefty college debt over the last four decades.
“The other thing Nixon created was a profit-making machinery, thanks to this very same nasty student loan system.
“But the shocking thing is that this moneymaking opportunity wasn’t available to everyday individuals until four years ago.
“Today, the college ‘cash rebate’ is a low-hanging fruit… and ripe for the picking.
“But fair warning…
“I ask that you go through this presentation with an open mind before you defy it.
“Some things here will shoc