The FranklinSquires building in Provo seems almost an abandoned castle. The once teeming 50,000-square-foot office now holds but a small skeleton crew filling one area.
Inside a room that resembles the Oval Office, Koerber sits behind an oversize mahogany desk. An oil painting of signers of the Declaration of Independence hangs over a gas fireplace. Behind Koerber’s desk, the custom flag of his Free Capitalist Project stands ceremoniously next to the U.S. flag.
“I’m no Ponzi scheme,” Koerber says. “If I was, why haven’t I skipped town for Cabo? I’m still here, coming every day and kicking butt.”
Koerber turns to a wall of his office dominated by six large flat-screen computer monitors, then pulls up a taped phone conversation between a caller and a Utah securities regulator. Besides recording his discussions with investors like Steve Skuba, Koerber says he has spent the past two years documenting his encounters with securities regulators with recordings of private meetings and phone calls. He plays a static-ridden audio file on which a caller learns from an alleged securities regulator that Koerber’s investment model “is based on fraud; the whole model is based on fraud.”
Koerber says his “equity milling” has only drawn suspicion from regulators because others have commandeered his concept and turned it fraudulent. “Unfortunately, what most people understand as equity milling is somebody’s ripped-off version of my model,” he says.
“I got started in the real estate business with no money or credit, so my whole model is based on how you make money in real estate without money or credit.”
Banking on Broke
Koerber, who today banks on his “principles of prosperity,” once declared bankruptcy with debts of nearly $1 million. For Koerber, that’s a selling point.
Koerber alleges to have ridden the dot-com bubble in the mid-’90s with his Wyoming-based Internet company GlobalCentral.com. When the bubble burst, so did his business and, with wife Michelle, Koerber filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2001.
That bankruptcy is an integral part of his success story, the punch line of his motivational speech to budding investors. In his recently published Free Capitalist Project Primer, Koerber describes the chronology that led him from bankruptcy, bitter disenchantment with moneymaking, to re-emerging from financial ruin as a born-again capitalist:
“Four years ago, I was working as a telemarketer and giving plasma twice a week (along with my wife) just to have enough money to pay the bills. Three years ago, I surprisingly discovered a path to earn sufficient income, to ensure that I would almost certainly never need another paycheck again. Two years ago, I successfully generated over $1 million in revenue—enough to pay back all those debts I had previously been legally discharged from paying (plus an additional 6 percent for good measure). One year ago, I just completed my best business year ever with over $110 million in revenue!”
Koerber champions the surprise path that led him from economic ashes to grand wealth as open to anyone willing to “turn their brain on.” There’s a price: A yearlong real-estate investment course costs about $7,500.
On his Website RickKoerber.com, he testifies of his rollicking success in Wyoming as one unforged in “principles.” Subsequently, he collapsed under the stress of the bursting dot-com bubble, which led to his bankruptcy. Crushed by debt and shame, Koerber gave up the entrepreneur’s life and started selling office copiers.
In the darkness of his plasma-donating, office-supply-hawking doldrums, Koerber engrossed himself in the ancient classics and books about the founding fathers. The old Rick Koerber, living in the matrix of scarcity, soon converted into the Free Capitalist. He followed in the footsteps of revolutionary heroes like George Washington and John Adams.
By investing in real estate.