So…. Remember our ol’ pal Anton who we featured here last month for hitting a million dollars before 27? And then it went viral on social media and other finance blogs, eventually landing him on the home page of Yahoo! Finance?
Yeah, apparently he duped us. While he is a legitimate millionaire, it seems the route he got there was anything but “self-made.” Here’s what Yahoo originally posted on their site:
Ivanov claimed he was a self-made millionaire who began investing at age 18 after watching his parents mismanage their finances. On Monday, Ivanov admitted to Yahoo Finance that 75-80% of his wealth consists of an inheritance that was left to him by his parents, who died several years ago. He would not specify the dollar amount, but he also said that one of the two properties he owns, which he said is valued at more than $600,000, is also part of the inheritance from his parents….
In response to queries made by Yahoo Finance on Monday, Ivanov shut down his blog, Financessful. He had already deleted Twitter and Facebook accounts affiliated with the blog.
And then here’s the newly updated story with full details: The truth about the 27-year-old “self-made millionaire”
Dayuuuuum. According to this he lied to millions of people in his Yahoo interview (which turned out to be one of the biggest of the year, btw), which means he also lied to thousands of people here on this blog too. And for what? A little exposure? Lame… How you think you could get away with it on one of the biggest sites in the world is beyond me, not to mention the flaw in character.
As pissed as I was to learn this, however, I reached out to Anton personally to give him a chance to respond, but sadly I received no comment… And not “no comment” like journalists get, but literally no message back to me despite being what I thought was friends for over a year and a half. But who am I but a lowly blogger, eh?
Here’s the biggest shame of it all though: his tips were legit!
Everything he shared in both of his articles on this site (What I learned about money growing up in former USSR and 10 Habits That Made Me a Millionaire at 27) were not only spot on, but highly encouraging. Take a look at these wealth-growing habits – would would disagree??
- Setting detailed and actionable goals
- Religiously tracking net worth
- Having the discipline to save 60% of your income
- Avoiding expensive things
- Always paying yourself First
- Completely avoiding consumer debt
- Actually having an emergency fund
- Saving ahead for large expenses
- Investing money no matter what happens
- Investing when others panic
So while it’s unfortunate to hear this guy tried to pull a fast one on us, at least he was peddling good lessons. Which we can now add to the list: Liar liar, pants on fire – you’ll always get caught in the end!
In a strange way, this also loosely relates to our post from Monday too – on my financial blogger friend being in trouble with money despite giving advice to people on how to be good with money. Completely different situation here – and one that I side with my friend B. on 100% because he’s not purposely trying to defraud anyone (he’s just in a crappy phase) – but it still elicited some raised eyebrows from fellow commenters as well.
Here was one of them (shortened a little):
“This post really highlights the fact that you have to be careful who you’re taking advice from and who you’re getting help from (esp. in the blog world)… I would be really struggling to write about finance if I didn’t take control of my own personal finances. It would be like going to a hair stylist who had really bad hair – I just wouldn’t do it! I’m reminded of T. Harv Eker’s book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”, where he says to someone who wants to help him with his finances “send me your income reports first”. The point is – if you’re going to help me with money, I expect you to have your finances together.”
And here was part of another:
“This article really got my thinking and kinda-ticked off to be honest. Really… how can you buddy be a finance blogger and “expert” as you call him/her if they are an avid money-spender, was completely clueless about there 401k match, and in $20,000 of debt???”
Valid points, right? And it’s true. You always need to consider the source of the information you’re getting before taking action on anything – whether financially, or in life in general. You can usually spot a few of the smoke blowers from the get go (*ahem* politicians), but every now and then we get caught with our pants down low like with Mr. Ivanov here. We’ll never be able to vet everyone, but we can surely try. (And admittedly I took him for his word because, well, why wouldn’t I? I know plenty of millionaires online that have reached these goals through dedication and hard work, and we’d been friends for a while now. Plus, again, his tips were spot on.)
This also brings us back to the same notion we touched on above:
If someone doesn’t follow their own advice, does it make the advice wrong?
Let’s look at the hair stylist example mentioned. Can someone with bad hair still give a kick-ass cut? Of course. They may not get as many clients because they don’t come off as a trustworthy source, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the two are connected. They mainly have a marketing problem (also – do hair stylists really cut their own hair anyways?? Haha… Isn’t that hard???)
Here’s another I like to use in friendly debates like this – The overweight/smoker doctor. If you went in with a sickness and the doctor gave you advice, would you not listen because he/she doesn’t take it him/herself? Perhaps… But it’s not like their years and years of medical training has anything to do with their personal decisions they make with their own body.
And the same can be said for people in the finance industry too (the non-defrauders, at least). I have a different friend whose job it is to travel to businesses and help their HR departments set up 401(k) plans for their employees. He preaches to everyone on how important it is to invest in retirement, but to this day – half a dozen years later since starting the gig – he has yet to contribute a single percentage point of his own. Does that mean we shouldn’t invest in our 401(k)s?
If it seems like I’m trying to back up these non-advice takers, I’m not. I just find it rather fascinating and want to open it up to discussion today :) And “non-advice takers” are completely different fyi from those who purposely defraud people – ain’t nobody got time for that.
Would I go out of my way to seek financial or life advice from someone not following their own? Most times not. I’d be biased from the start and wouldn’t be able to overcome it quick enough to listen to the advice coming out from them even if I wanted. But to me it doesn’t necessarily mean the info they’re giving is incorrect. It’s just a poor match up between the two (and in some cases REALLY poor!).
So, all this to say there’s good information out there and there’s bad information out there, just as there are trustworthy and non-trustworthy givers of it. In a perfect world the great info would come from the great preachers so everyone can live happily ever after, but sadly the universe we’re in is full of greedy shysters so you have to always watch your own back. If something doesn’t feel right, walk or click away.
At the end of the day, the whole Anton situation is a shame, and I apologize to anyone who’s been affected. I’m all for transparency and being for real in life despite having a pseudonym (which ironically let’s me be more transparent with money on this site), and I think the best thing that will come from this is the reminder for all of us to be conscious of who we’re following, and why.
The last thing I wanted to do was bring any negativity to your lives, and I’m sorry this wasn’t caught earlier. It’s disappointing to learn someone I liked and trusted turned out to be something else…
Again, you can find the full story now over at Yahoo Finance if you’d like to learn more.
We’ll be back to our usual peppy selves on Friday with a fun “Would You Rather” question I’ve been dying to ask you :) No in-depth thinking required.
[Photo cred: aisletwentytwo]
Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!
Weird… what did he stand to gain from it apart from a bit of self-publicity?
Ouch…Any time anyone who wants to do business with Anton Ivanov in the future and googles him, they will decide against dealing with Anton.
As Buffett says, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to lose it.. And for what?
Financial Samurai had a different take on this. He just wrote an article on “why are people ashamed to admit inheriting a ton of money.” Two very different and very interesting view points! I tend to agree with this one though.
its not that you should feel ashamed its that u sell people a persona that u did hardwork to get to where you are today and apparently it isnt
Oh gosh, I can’t really imagine someone would do that! Maybe he is seeking for a public attention right?
I’m a firm believer in practicing what you preach, I don’t deal with real estate agents who rent yet tell me it’s always a great time to buy. Financial advisors who preach long term growth yet are in all cash. The worst is Robert kiyosaki who had an extremely influential finance book about getting rich, yet got rich because people bought his books. When asked about the source of his riches he can’t cite his actual wealth using the excuse that he doesn’t want to reveal his money because he s afraid to get sued. Yet he builds his persona as someone with a ton of assets and a really rich man.
I think it’s good to know what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not :)
And Robert Kiyosaki is actually a perfect example here of this stuff. Rich Dad Poor Dad was one of my favorite books and really got my wheels turning – it was what sparked me to start paying attention to wealth from the beginning. And it helped millions of others too, and still is!, or else the book wouldn’t be so popular.
So now that there’s this this debate on whether he’s legit or not (I really don’t know much about it to be honest outside of what I’ve seen people say in passing), does it void all the help and motivation the book gave? Am I mad that I read and believed it??
Nope. I still think it’s a killer book regardless. I just wish (and still hope in the back of my mind) that Robert K. is indeed as genuine as he puts himself out there as. At the end of the day you always want the source and the info to be legit.
I read that book. I never understood why people loved it – I thought it gave some of the most irresponsible finance advice I’ve ever heard! He said to spend like you’re rich so that you then have no choice but to increase your income to match. Crazy! I know that people loved his advice to become entrepreneurs, but not everyone can do that! Or wants to. That was the sum total of his advice – work for yourself. Don’t let someone else make money off your hard work. I’m glad that it motivated you, and clearly you have done well.
Hah – I don’t remember that part. I literally read it like 10 years ago before I had any ounce of financial or business/entrepreneurial knowledge whatsoever. Perhaps that’s why it motivated me so much? To know there was a different world out there I had no idea bout?
I’m with Scooze on this one. J, we’re close to the same age, and I responded the same way as you did. We probably read Kiyosaki before we hit 20 (Your dreaming if you think it was only 10 years ago…you’re getting old) and were super impressionable. Trust me that if you re-read the book again, you’ll see that this wasn’t a case of giving good financial advice, but more so building a cult following, which I was a part of (I even bought the rat race game!).
One of my favorite book themes out there are where they tell a fictional story to give advice. That is the way to go. “Be Unstoppable” is a great example of that, as is some of our favorite classics like “As a Man Thinketh” or “The Richest Man in Babylon”.
Hah! I remember that game! (I did not buy though, I wasn’t that hardcore ;))
You could be right – I haven’t picked it up since. But I HAVE read The Richest Man in Babylon since and it’s in my all-time top 4 fave finance books. Loved it!
By the way not a millionaire if you do a little research you he inherited his first house the second house is actually bought by his girlfriend and not currently his. also if you listen to what he has to say is you would realize that it wasn’t true because his finances did not add up correctly. Shame on you for not doing it to due diligence
I think your comment about a realtor is very judgmental. You may not know all of the details of their situation. Maybe for them renting makes sense at that point. If the renting realtor tells you it’s a good time to buy, that should be based on your financial situation.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, J$. I knew I had seen him first here before Yahoo Finance and was wondering if you had any more info on the motivations behind the scam than I had seen elsewhere.
As for advice I think it’s definitely possible to take advice from folks that aren’t following it if their goals are different, but you need to know the goals are different. For example, we have a financial advisor we talk to on occasion and he knows we want to retire before we hit 40. That’s not his goal, but he’s still excited to help us research and plan and do everything we can to reach our goal because he loves his job and doing what he does. To me it doesn’t matter if he works until he’s 70 – he’s got a different goal.
Great example! I wish I were smart enough to have used one similar to that, hehe…
And no, I don’t really know anything more about this whole Anton thing outside of what Mandi from Yahoo wrote. Her and her team did all the research and investigating, and I just helped answer a few questions w/ the limited knowledge I had. I just feel bad that I helped push his message everywhere when the whole story was bunk :(
Interesting point about expertise and advice being valid even if not followed oneself. For example, I’ve written about repairing bad credit even though mine is good (although, I’ve never pretended to have bad credit myself ).
I think the trouble here is lying (obviously) and creating skepticism in a community that is built upon a shared trust between writers and readers.
Yup! Lying does you no good in the end w/ trust and community building. Always best to be real.
Thank you for the update. It’s an interesting story, and a real shame.
I think in an ideal world, we would follow the advice of only people that can fulfil what they preach. With that said, I’m as guilty as the next guy for giving advice to people and not sticking to it 100%. Apart from not being able to substantiate when someone is following through on their advice or not, I think we could be missing some great advice, like you summarised in your post above, if we were always dismissive.
I think there is a distinct difference between lying/misrepresenting your situation, and failing to live up to the standards you set ALL the time.
The internet age is full of ‘information’, and huge chunks of it are Bull. To get the truth we ideally want evidence. In the absence of proof, we should consider, discuss, contest and practice what is being said to see if it works or not.
A very interesting read. Thanks again for sharing!
I’m glad you enjoyed it :) Wish it could be under different circumstances though.
Wow! That’s a pretty crazy turn of events!
I personally want people giving me advice to practice what they preach. In your example with the doctor, I would find a new doctor straight away if my doctor was an overweight smoker. If someone knows exactly what is good for them, and then does the opposite, it makes me question their character a little.
Same applies for people giving real estate advice who don’t own property, investment advice when they don’t invest, etc etc..
That’s a shame. Considering he had inherited most of his worth through his parents is an obvious lie.
However, if we’re lucky enough to inherit some money at what point can we say that we’re no longer a good example to be showcased here at Budgets Are Sexy? If someone inherited $100,000 out of their millions, does that mean they still don’t embody similar values? Considering they saved up the rest of it? Does the $1 million have to be completely self-made?
How do we define self-made? It’s impossible to divorce the help we get from family/society from our own hard work. For example, if you were born before 1977 in the UK you got free university education right up to PhD! Can you compare a Brit who has no student debt to another person who had to pay for their own university fees in the USA?
I think what this guy did was wrong, because he was selling himself that he was self-made. But the truth of the matter is none of us are. We are all products of family and society that may have helped us along the way. What’s more important to me are people who instead of feeling proud and gloat their accomplishments are people who realistically see where they had a hand up and discuss how they reached their goal step by step. I no longer believe in the rockstar who claimed they made it on their own steam.
Best comment of the day right here – thanks GPS. None of us are self-made all the way, you’re exactly right!
And honestly, if Anton or anyone else pitched me an article on Top 10 ways to rock your money and listed the same ones here, but with a different hook, I still would have ran it. What’s important to me is mixing an interesting story along with solid financial tips – and I’m sure Anton had plenty of others he could have used that were actually real. Just as he had done last year on his original guest post on the site:
Hell, I would even accept one on what it’s like to inherit a ton of money! Not everyone gets to experience that! :)
Great comment. I will thank my father again on Turkey Day for teaching me about money. I think I have tithed and invested at least 10% of everything I have made as an adult. Twenty years later, the $$ start to add up nicely. Keep following a good plan. Time is your friend :)
I’m a fan of practice what you preach for the most part, but, sometimes my actions legitimately differ from the advice I give. I’m thinking of credit cards–I use them almost exclusively to reap rewards, but I advise people NOT to use them if they have a spending problem related to plastic money.
I agree with your unhealthy doctor analogy, it is possible to know what’s best and not do it yourself for a variety of reasons (i.e. I ate a free cupcake at work the other day because I was stressed and tired. I know I shouldn’t have, and I would advise that others don’t, but I really wanted a dang cupcake.) I think ultimately it comes down to being genuine and admitting your own shortcomings. That’s a tough thing for us humans to do, but I always trust a source much more when they’re seemingly transparent about their own challenges.
I always thought his story was a little suspicious, but I never cared enough to try to follow up. He is the one who was telling his tale and who am I to judge. In the end, the real reason I read all these PF blogs is because I find them entertaining… I take everything I read with a grain of salt and realize that the people writing these articles are just people.
Great way to take it all in :)
I am calling foul on those people who were pissed about your blogger griend asking for outside opinions when he was in a stressed-out situation. Things get away from us. I am an expert in what I do, which is a database administrator. You don’t think that when problems occur I will tackle them all by myself, do you?
If they are simple and I know exactly what to do, sure! If they are complex and I know exactly what to do? No. I will get a second pair of eyes on my solution, even if I KNOW it is the correct one. Why? Because “what I KNOW” sometimes may miss a step, may not take into account another chain of issues, or even something as simple as I misspelled something in my fix that would have completely ruined the solution and made things worse.
I see what your blogger friend did as exactly that: He had a solution and he wanted new eyes to make sure his solution was the RIGHT one and did not miss anything he assumed. Kudos to your friend. I would get advise from him and trust it, because he does NOT assume he is the be-all and end-all and is willing to ask for help himself.
Great comment – thanks for chiming in here :)
It’s unfortunate that his story turned out to be fake. He did offer some solid advice, but it seems he was trying to earn income off the sensationalism of his story. While his methods may be solid Most people won’t be able to look past his fraud.
If you look at the ‘success’ that happens in the personal finance blog world it’s about a hook and a story-usually a very personal one-that’s what draws people in and gets them to stay. This guy had that and that’s what people get excited about. It’s much less sexy to say you inherited some funds and made some smart financial choices since most people won’t relate.
In the end I think it’s about honesty and transparency. My own site focuses on my choices and my advice stems from that experience, but I’m also honest that we’re still digging out of debt. We didn’t get into debt overnight and even making smart financial choices (and the occasional mistake) we weren’t going to get out of it overnight. Those kind of ‘success’ stories are full of ideas most families can’t apply to their lives.
For sure, having a hook and standing out from the crowd definitely helps. The self-made millionaire one was a great one, but I’m sure there were other qualities/events in this guys life that could have helped him grow his blog too. We all do, we just have to figure out what it is and then run with it. All about branding, right? :)
There are lots of Antons in personal finance, they just make more believable claims. I know one in particular, and it irks me to no end seeing this person succeed by misleading others.
People who make bad personal choices can give good advice, though. I see that all the time. I think it’s best when knowledge comes from experience (particularly when doling out advice), but it doesn’t have to.
Actually misleading others is a big deal, though. These people have no idea how people get discouraged and beat themselves up when they can’t attain the same (imaginary) achievements.
That’s a good point you made at the end there. When I read Anton’s (imaginary) story it made me feel like crap because I realized that he must be within a month or so of my age and my net worth was just a little more than a 10th of his (and I’ll admit that I recieved a few thousand dollars of help from my parents my first year of college, which has come back to kind of irk me that I accepted it). He made me feel like I was really behind the eight ball. But now it is helpful to know that I’m not too far behind where I should be.
It def. sucks if you leave a site feeling crappier than when you got there. I put out my monthly net worth updates to help people and motivate them, but along these lines I reckon it also has the opposite effect too – if they’re comparing their own situation to mine and are way off. So this is a good reminder to try and not compare ourselves to others too – especially when we’re all in different phases with this stuff, even if our ages align up!
Oh, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting help from your parents when you need it :) They LOVE helping their kids and I’m sure their parents helped them too – it’s the circle of life at least in my eyes… I can’t even count the times they hooked me up when I was trying to get out on my own. I’ll def. be passing it on to my boys too.
I think transparency is key. As long as the smoking doctor acknowledges it and knows its a dumb move health wise, I’m ok with it. They just need to show me that they understand the impact of their decision. Like me, I bought a house and had a kid even though it negatively impacts my finances in the long run.
For me, the emotional benefits outweigh the financial hit. But the important thing is that I actually thought about the decisions and understood what I was exchanging. I didn’t just do it because everyone else says I should! Financial advice is similar. Take it all with a grain of salt and actually think about how it would work for you.
Wow, I can’t believe he took the lie so far. And what would he have to gain other than some ad revenue from the referrals? So sad because, as you mentioned, he really actually had good advice! I don’t think I’d have a problem with an overweight doctor, depending on what type of doctor they were. One of the smartest and nicest doctors I ever met was a children’s cancer specialist who was pretty overweight. I would not hesitate to take my child to her (but I really really hope I never have to!)
Exactly – so many other ways to gain exposure and he was doing just fine at his age anyways with $$, even w/out any inheritances.
I think this guy was just rehashing stuff he got off the hundreds of finance websites, in hopes of monetizing his own website. Who really knows about the “truth” about most of the personal finance bloggers? One can never tell apart a charlatan on the internet. One has to assume that everyone on the internet is potentially a dog typing away at a computer. That way, you won’y be too invested in their stories or monetizing greed.
Here’s the New Yorker Cartoon reference.
Good one :)
Not sure what he had to gain by lying, the fact that is tips were good advice made his story seem believable, but crushes his future creditability. I like the practice what you preach approach, but certainly opinions can change over time. When getting out of debt I would have never considering having a credit card, now being debt free we have one to take advantage of possible rewards. As long at the advice is honest and all the details are on the table all parties involved can then make a decision that’s best for them.
Good example with the credit card stuff. I remember one blogger friend finally nixing all her debt years ago and then deciding it was time to buy a car (w/ a loan) and she got so much $hit for it online… But life and priorities change, you have to adapt and do whats best for your situation at any given moment in time or else you’re sticking to ideals that aren’t true anymore from back in the day. Gotta adapt to grow!
Boom boom boom, boom-boom-boom boom-boom. Another one bits the dust.
Wow, that’s some stone cold lying. He’s not the only one out there, unfortunately.
Wow!!!! I am in SHOCK! Anton and I had emailed a few times back and forth, too. He had some investing advice for me which I really appreciated. I even forwarded everything to my husband so we could put his advice into action (which, like your post mentions, is actually good advice!!).
What’s a real bummer is this guy is actually very smart and seems to know what he’s talking about when it comes to finances. Why didn’t he just go about offering advice the honest, legit way? It would have taken longer to grow a following but if someone has valuable advice and a friendly personality, I believe they WILL eventually connect with people and grow their business. Such a shame he went about it by lying.
I’m pretty new to PF blogging and actually just last week I was wondering if there were any “fakes” out there. Guess there are!!! :(
You’re right, he is intelligent. Which makes it even worse – he didn’t need a fake story to do big things! He was fine as he was… Glad you got some good help though :) You’ll come across a lot of crazy things in the blogging world as time goes on. Bloggers are just people too, only with an audience which makes some even better over time and others go down wrong paths…
It’s a shame that someone would think they can lie to the general public and not get caught. Very saddening, especially since he actually did have good advice. I am a firm believer in practice what you preach. For the hair stylist example, I totally agree that I have a hard time getting my hair cut by someone who doesn’t have great hair. It’s the same for finances. I don’t take advice from someone who doesn’t have their own financial house in order.
I feel sorry for Anton – I really do. I hope he gets the help he needs to figure out why he needed the attention in this way. Many children who receive inheritance don’t know how to handle it, but he made smart decisions with his money and could have been a great example to our community. I hope he recovers from this and goes on to have a successful life.
I’m with you, friend. I really hope he’ll write me back at some point when he’s ready to move on. The last line of my email to him was literally “whatever’s going on, I hope you’re okay man :(“. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through right now, regardless of what a horrible move it was.
It doesn’t bother me that Anton inherited his wealth if he’s doing the right things to keep it. What bothers me is that he dishonored his parents by saying they mismanaged their money when actually they left him a sizeable legacy. That, in my opinion, is more shameful than lying about how he got his million(s).
Wow, that’s a really good point. I didn’t even think of that, but you are absolutely right.
For some reason, the detail about Anton’s story that’s really sticking in my craw is the fact that he claimed he was inspired by “watching his parents mismanage their finances.” I’m guessing since his parents left him $600,000 worth of real estate when they died, they didn’t have too much trouble managing their finances. I guess it just goes to show this guy was a liar from the get-go.
As for whether his advice is worth listening to, it’s the age-old adage, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” Sure his advice is good, on its face, but he failed to take into account that the PF blogging community is pretty tight knit. It’s a real community with no room/tolerance for this level of deceit. No one will take him seriously ever again. Which, as everyone has said, is a damn shame, because he really seems to know his stuff.
All of us are, in some form or another, busting our humps to reach our financial goals, but most of us are doing it legitimately. And when we hit a rough patch, we’re honest about it (like your other friend). It’s the honesty in those moments that help us cultivate relationships and inspire others by showing them they’re not alone in the struggle.
“It’s the honesty in those moments that help us cultivate relationships and inspire others by showing them they’re not alone in the struggle.”
I think that was a little harsh about your blogging friend – a big part of the point of personal finance blogs is to show money habits from a more human perspective. Sometimes we mess up. I think he’ll be an even more influential blogger since he’s able to write from experience about what it’s like trying to get back on track, or what it’s like to consider yourself an “expert” on something only to realize you weren’t following any of your own advice.
In the personal finance world there seems to be a lot of people giving advice without any training/experience/skills in math. As long as they’ve got their stuff together, or are getting their stuff together, I think they have something valuable that I could learn.
Fraud. Ya, that’s not ok.
Hah – yup. It’s the beautiful, and the scary, part about blogs. Anyone can start one up no matter their background! Hell, I’ve never taken a finance course in my life. But that’s my fave part about blogging – it’s real people (usually) talking about real $hit. No titles or degrees needed. You either like them and are inspired to follow along and grow beside them, or you don’t connect and move to another person who you feel more. This blog wouldn’t be here if there were requirements to start one :)
This whole thing is crazy. I had a guest post that was supposed to go live from him within the next month, but have since, of course, deleted it. I think it’s sad that he made his parents sound like bad money people when in fact it sounds like they were pretty good.
Yeah, and they’re no longer around to say anything :(
Crazy story. As you and others have said, the story illustrates how easy it is to be deceived on the internet. It’s like we were financially catfished.
I feel dirty.
I read and listen to people’s opinion. I asked for people’s opinions, then I usually make my own conclusions.
It doesn’t really matter but I wonder what his motives were. I remember his older blog which he tried to flip saying that he was busy, only to start a new blog. I just figured he was trying to create blogs to flip them…wasn’t sure about his claims of being a millionaire. His advice ultimately is good, but unfortunately it’s lost because of his lack of integrity in lying. What’s worse is that the yahoo readers, many who don’t have much interest in personal finance, will point to this and think twice when other bloggers give advice and talk about their own experiences. They’ll say that saving and investing is not possible and that those who are successful probably just got lucky or an inheritance. That is what angers me the most about what Anton did.
Andrew, I was thinking the same thing. Yahoo readers seem to be looking for confirmation that following the rules of personal finance won’t work for them. This gives them fuel to further cut down any positive story featured on Yahoo Finance.
I think inheriting lots of assets and continuing to grow them instead of inflating your lifestyle and blowing through the whole thing makes a great story, and I wish he had been honest about everything from the beginning.
So true about Yahoo readers…I should really stop reading those comments. Although I have to admit that the “self-made millionaire” story has a lot more pull with readers.. You can’t deny that a “self-made millionaire” at age 27 pulls in a lot of readers which apparently is the name of the game online.
Yes!! The commenters on larger sites are incredibly different – particularly on YouTube, ugh…. 99% of the time they’re much more rude/harsh/negative than on personal finance blogs where people seem to debate much more nicely/intelligently. The haters are strong in the media.
This whole fiasco is quite amusing I’d say.
Lies & inheritance aside, the fact that he managed his inheritance well (assumption) and found ways to capitalise on his new-found fortune/status actually puts him at the top of the creativity ladder.
On one hand, we all felt deceived, on the other, you have to give it to him that at least he did not squander all his wealth away, but instead decided to find other ways to grow his capital. Isn’t that in a way, the crux of personal finance?
At the end of the day, the consumption of advice found on the net is purely at our own discretion – caveat emptor
If only he used his creativity more aligned properly :) He’s obviously smart enough to do so!
(This is my same feelings towards all those brilliant folks that hack stuff and cause trouble too. It’s like “You are so damn smart!!!! Why can’t you use that towards POSITIVE things in life and actually add value to this world???”)
I agree. If he would have angled the story in a way that showed how a mid-20 year old got a large inheritance and instead of blowing it, used these 10 tips to grow it into a million bucks, everything would be fine. To me, that is just as interesting as a story as being completely self-made.
UGH, J. This is such a bummer! So sad this guy felt he had to lie about everything. Pathetic is the word that comes to mind…
Also, something that gets lost in all of this, is the fact that he dragged his parents’ good name through the mud in propping himself up. By saying he “was a self-made millionaire who began investing at age 18 after watching his parents mismanage their finances” he disparaged the very people who bequeathed him all his money. For shame!
Sorry you had to deal with this, bro. Some people…
Thanks for the update.
I guess I do see a difference between saying “this is what you should do” and “this is what I did to get from there to here.” One is hypothetical and the other is historical.
I posted last week, actually, about whether you practice what you preach. I’ve been of a mind for years that I should de-prioritize paying off low-interest debt in favor of investing (like a mortgage), but now that push is coming to shove I think I really will pay off my low-interest student loans just to get them out of my life. I don’t think my advice/discussion of the topic is bad, though, because we all have many factors to consider when making personal finance decisions. In this one, it seems emotion/hassle factor is winning over math.
How could you dupe us J! I’m never coming back! J/K
Yahoo or somewhere also ran a story about a 18 year old girl who saved up $300,000. Nobody questioned the source. I think people are used to extremes.
From a blogger’s perspective, it is clear through the writing whether the advice is legit or not. Because a lot of the stories and advice are hard to fake after a while. This situation might really help some blogs gain readership.
I’ll post a different take on this later. I love the human psychology of it!
I hope you do – I’m sure you’ve got tons of thoughts whirling in your head right now ;) And I know you’re not afraid to tell it how it is either!
I doubt if this guy has the wealth he professes. And what is the condition of the RE…what is it REALLY worth….condition….how liquid is the investment? Not a fan….
I don’t really understand the problem here. The thing that people have the problem with is that he lied about where is assets came from? Ok, so his advice was solid advice. We all know that half of the battle with anything is 20% knowledge and 80% doing. I have no problem with this, I take all financial information I glean from the internet or a book with a grain of salt. I can dole out solid advice on how to invest funds, make money, and get out of debt we all can because it is not rocket science. (Sorry J Money) It is the DOING that will set apart people at the end of the day.
Hey, I’m with you sister! All the blogs and books/internet knowledge ain’t worth squat if you never do anything about it.
I am so glad you wrote about this today!
It definitely brings up some food for thought. If I went to a doctor who was overweight and smoked and they tried to give me advice, I may just shut up and listen, but I probably would be thinking, “pot meet kettle.” There would be that voice that though, “that’s kind of hypocritical.” But like most advice, I take it with a grain of salt, but at the end of the day, the people I must try to emulate or follow are people who are walking the walk and talking the talk. Lead by example.
I pooh-pooh all the people freaking out about the blogger who’s working with you on his money. He’s just a blogger, not anyone’s fund manager. If we expected perfection from all our bloggers in their related field, there’d be none of us left.
As for Anton, that’s rough. I really don’t understand why he did it. I mean, I understand, but it’s just stupid to me. That being said, it takes a lot of courage to come clean like he did, especially knowing the huge backlash. In today’s internet, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets death threats. So while I’m upset about being duped, I respect that he listened to his conscience and confessed.
I’d have been fired as a blogger long ago if that were the case ;) The nice thing about failing though is that it makes for great blog fodder! It all goes back to being a REAL person on the other end of the articles. Blogs are supposed to be personal.
I think the only person this situation is a shame for is the person that thinks that his strategies are not good ones. Yes, they did not lead to millions, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t lead to thousands. There are plenty of “experts” out there not practicing what they preach (just look at an overweight doctor) but it doesn’t mean the advice is not good. We should not be look for saviors in individuals but for actionable goals/lessons we can apply to ourselves and worry about holding ourselves accountable.
I’m sorry that he lied about his personal situation to sensationalize the story. There are tons of us like you and I, J$, who are 100% transparent with our finances who I hope are not tarnished.
His advice though, was decent advice. I hope the message doesn’t get lost in the backlash.
I can’t believe he faked it for so long! I do have to admit though that I give damn good advice on my own blog, but sometimes I’m guilty of not following through with my own good ideas…
Actions speak louder than words.
There are people who really know how to talk well but then they have nothing to back that talk up! It’s hard for me to trust people like that because then what is coming out of their mouth is just gibberish unless they have proof they actually do what they say. It just makes that advice stronger if I can see it working!
On the flip side there’s always knowledgable people who know a ton but don’t always do everything they know about since it would be impossible. As long as someone is doing part of what they’re saying then I think it’s enough for me. They don’t need to follow to the tee every piece of advice they give out!
I think Anton at this point has way bigger problems to fish out and fry. Only he knows why he felt the need to do this which resulted in utter public humiliation when he could have found a legit way to spread his beliefs (if it really is what he believes).
What the rest of us can and should gain from this is to blog and act with integrity and honesty. Be responsible in how we present ourselves to the world. At the end of the day, we really don’t know each other and we are hoping that what bloggers say and write are sincere reflections of what they are and believe. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.
Well, these comments are the tops and I don’t think I could say anything that hasn’t been already stated well enough. (With a community of bloggers y’all know how to write your thoughts well, suprise suprise.)
What I can say is: WHAT!? J. Money is not your real name! *turns into corner and sobs into hands about being deceived by someone on the other side of the magic web box*
Nope, sorry… It’s actually D. Money. #AnotherLie #ICantStop
This is so wild. It’s sad too. I recently posted something that said CONTEXT is everything. Yeah, he was a millionaire, yet he neglected to share a *minor detail* about how he got wealthy. I try to be transparent about how I pay off debt, and how I manage on a low salary. I’m not sure everyone is upfront about the context of their situation.
In regards to the PF blogger, I also feel like people were a bit harsh. No one is immune to bad habits, even if deep down we “know better.”
I understand both sides on this one for learning from those who have had succeeded and those telling their journey to success. Who should you go to if you want to be a millionaire, well someone with a millionaire who tells you how they did it. That advice may not be perfect for your situation or applicable at all, like lying about inheriting the money. This is something I cannot replicate nor do I want to. However if that person’s journey is leading you from their life of buying a Benz, Credit Card advances, and Student Loan Debt to their new found ways of taking the train to work, paying off all credit card debt, and making thousand dollar payments on their student loans then that is a person worth following and taking advice from.
I think the biggest thing to take from both stories is to be honest, in the end the truth will set you free said by none other than Bill Clinton, no George Washington, you know what I’ll be honest, I don’t know……
The things people do for some publicity. Well at least he didn’t hurt anyone too bad int he process.
After reading the comments, I’m feeling sorry for overweight doctors right now.
If Anton had $1 million net worth at 27 years old, and 75-80% of that came from inheritance, that means he personally earned just $200-250,000 of his wealth. That’s pretty great, but not nearly as remarkable as if he made the $1 million through his own work! He knows that, and that surely contributed to the calculus of his lies. His motivation with the story was not simply public exposure, but, as the Yahoo correction article pointed out, further financial gain: “It wasn’t until we confronted him about his Facebook confession that he revealed that he received kickbacks from financial service companies for referrals sent from his website. These commissions ranged from $10 to $75 each time someone signed up for their services from a link posted on Ivanov’s site, although he would not give other details about them or tell us how much he earned from traffic generated by Yahoo’s story.”
For sure – and the more exposure you get the more chances to earn that $$$… Most of us financial bloggers have ways to make money on our sites in hopes of stuff going viral. You’d be hard pressed to find a site that doesn’t.
One of the things I don’t like is when calculating net worth, people look at their property holdings and add what they feel it would sell for. They fail to take in commission fees (usually about 5-6%) and closing costs. I don’t think Anton did that either.
An example is that I have a $750k home. It still has a mortgage of right around 300k. Too many financial bloggers and others would say I have $450k of net worth there but that isn’t true. If you take out 5% commissions and let’s say 1.5% for closing costs I would have to subtract $48.75k thus giving me a net amount more in the vicinity of $401k then $450k.
Perhaps this is why the MSM calculates net worth separate of real estate holdings. Personally I like to add in in my real estate holdings but compute it as to the cash I could retain if I sold it today.
I’ve been “retired” for the past 2 1/2 years since 51 and am technically a millionaire now. Maybe some day I will blog about it also.
You’re of course right, but I think it comes down to why you’re tracking your net worth in the first place. For example, I do it to get an *easy* snapshot of my overall financial picture and to know where all my assets/liabilities are. When I go to sell my house or take out $$ from 401k or IRAs later will it be different? For sure. But I’m not about to try and break it down every month and guess what the future holds so I don’t do it :) For those who care about this more such as yourself, then it does make sense to do.
What a fraud. I can’t stand liars and hypocrites. Makes my blood boil.
The worst part about it all was that he was throwing his parents under the bus, claiming they weren’t good at managing money. Then it turns out they’re the ones that gave him most (if not all) his money. What. A. Joke.
That’s why I do what I do. I’m showing the journey all the way from almost $0 to financial independence from start to finish. I even occasionally include screenshots of my portfolio balance from Scottrade. No fraudster tricks going on here, not that I’d really gain anything from them anyway.
Just sucks he lied to you and you put the guy out there. What a sham.
And we love you for it :)
Thanks for sharing the update J$…what a shame. Although I have to agree that all 10 habits posted are believable and some may even say vital to anyone chasing millionaire status.
Our family practices 8 of the 10 habits constantly and sometime even 10 out of 10. Through our own experience, we certainly feel they have been huge factors in our success thus far.
Yikes! I can’t believe it. I guess I’m too trusting. Now I have to go clean up the links on my site too.
If he’d just tell us that he inherit much of his net worth, I don’t think people would really mind. I guess it dilute his message…
That’s hilarious! I read that article about him being self-made millionaire at 27 and felt a little discouraged. Now I feel like a little weight has been lifted! Like V for Vendetta says, artists tell lies to uncover the truth. Maybe that’s what we can do here. Even though the story was a lie, your take-aways are still valid.
Thanks for the update on this J$!
Haha – well glad this made your day, bro :)
That’s really disappointing. I had followed Anton’s story and was really impressed by what he accomplished by such a young age. I don’t necessarily think you 100% have to practice what you preach. Everyone’s situation is different. But at least be transparent about it. Just goes to show that if you don’t have credibility, you don’t have anything.
Honestly, I’m a teensy bit relieved that this is fake. When I first read the story, I remember being so shocked that someone so close to my own age could have accomplished something like this completely on their own! It seemed impossible, and I suppose it was after all. This honestly makes me feel a little better about myself, knowing it was all a lie.
The real kicker about this drama is that the tips he gave were actually quite good. Maybe that was to make it more believable, who knows. My guess is that he uses those principles in real life, he just was given the money he claims he earned through hard work. I took it all for face value as well (at first) but the Dreams Cash True site was actually pretty funny. Still trying to figure out what that means….
Haha yeah – was super easy to remember though! I’m thinking he was going for ‘Dreams Come true’ and just swapped in cash? Regardless, you are right – his tips were great.
My family always told me “never trust a skinny cook”. This post totally reminds me of that! What if the “skinny” cook just worked out enough or even portioned his food so it wasn’t unhealthy? Obviously, it’s hard to judge a book by its cover.
I think it’s really sad that he did this. Instead of showing how his parents worked and saved and created their wealth and that they passed some of it down to him and here’s what he did with it… he made his parents out to be spendthrifts and lied about so much that no one will ever listen to any of his advice again as he has lost all credibility. I mean, it’s still pretty impressive if he inherited a huge amount of money and DIDN’T blow it on stupid stuff and instead is growing through smart investing and saving… honestly why didn’t he make the retention and growth of said money more of the focus than “how I made my money???”
I inherited a large sum of money when my father died. I often wonder if I don’t deserve to participate in some of the discussions and question/answer stuff as I didn’t earn every penny of what have. But I would never have lied about my inheritance, because my dad worked hard to create this legacy – and I’m beyond grateful for the chance he’s given me.
But I also recognize that I’ve been working my ass off for years being frugal, saving and (blindly up until recently) investing, and the money I had “legitimately” earned was a pretty great amount too, and despite the inheritance, what I choose to do with it going forward is just as important a life lesson to myself and others as what my father did to earn his money.
So while I do get where this guy was coming from, I absolutely don’t understand why he still lied. Building any kind of relationship based off of a lie – no matter how well-intentioned – is bound to fail once the lie is discovered.
You’ll have to read this post by Financial Samurai :)
Why Are People So Ashamed About Inheriting Money?
Am the only person that’s RELIEVED?!
A self-made millionaire by 27 makes me feel ridiculously insecure. Good to know it was all a ruse. I have less than $50,000 in financial assets and I’m 28 (29 next week!), that’s complete and utter failure compared to someone that can complain seven figures. I’m happy it was all fake.
Wow, what a story! I have known a few liars in my life and they just crave attention. You have to wonder what was going through this guys head when he started getting so much attention that he knew somebody would blow the whistle on him.
I agree that advice needs to be evaluated for its own merits, regardless of who doles it out.
Ever heard of the accountant whose own finances are in shambles? Of course, we all have. I even know one who had to declare bankruptcy. But that’s where logic and emotion come into conflict. We don’t always do what we know to be right or to be best.
We’re only human. What’s important is to strive to be just a little bit better version of ourselves every day. And good advice, no matter the source, helps us do that.
As for lying? I think it often comes from embarrassment as opposed to from a place of malicious intent…unless you’re a psychopath. ;)
All I have to say is thank goodness his old friend brought the truth to light. I must watch the show American Greed too much – because I could totally see how this could have turned into a fraud type situation in the future. If he could lie about this from the beginning and he was gaining some profit from referrals already, I believe it is possible for him to have seen a potential way he could gain more $$$ from gaining the trust from people who could have invested their money in him and his advice (to the point where he could have abused it). Maybe not — maybe this was just one bad decision he made and he did fess up so good for him. But it shows a lot about his character if he could lie to that many people…
It makes me mad that I subscribed to his blog…I feel duped. I get inspired by real people – not phonies!
I’m sorry you felt duped :( I think we all did really… Now we move on and focus on the REAL hustlers out there! People like you and me and 99.9% of the rest of our awesome online community here! :)
This is incredible! I thought it was pretty amazing how quickly this dude made money without really doing anything. I was trying to think about how many times I would need the $5,000 I’m investing to double before I would get to a million. That’s a pretty great ROI in less then 10 years!
Honestly, this makes the story that much more entertaining. By the way, I’ve discovered a way to make a million in a year and I’ll write an article about it! The secret? Marry rich! lol.
Thanks for all of your great insights. It’s always educational and entertaining to read your posts.
Glad you get something out of them :) Make sure to include *where* you can find these rich ladies too in that blog post!