Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Issue 154 – Conversations with the Dead Scandal

By Kirby Robinson


Paranormal Ambush Smackdown ~ Every Monday

Stop by every Monday this summer for a PAS as we expose the lies and deceptions of some of the leading so-called para-celebrities. Below is our first issue about the Conjuring chaos.



Conversations with the Dead Scandal

"Thank God we can't tell the future, we would never get out of bed."  August: Osage County

Life has an odd way of bringing you back to the beginning of your journey.

We began investigating Ryan Buell and his team, the Paranormal Research Society, [PRS], back in 2008. We uncovered numerous deceptions that they perpetrated. We were able to write four books documenting their trickery. Yet like any successful con artist, they continue to deceive people.

Did the 2011 cancellation of their reality TV show Paranormal State bring them to stop? No, they just changed their focus. It was no longer about ratings, faking evidence, or leaving their clients hanging after the cameras stopped rolling. Now they had other places along Para-Celebrity Boulevard to explore. And here's what they did.

They learned that their fans, some brain dead, some not, would part freely with their money to be in the presence of Ryan, Sergey, Eilfie and anyone connected with PRS. Such money making schemes included field trips, paranormal investigations, and webinars. For the dedicated fan base there was even membership to some "organization" called The Bureau. Those fees ranged from $100 to $1,000. However, Ryan and his team quickly learned that you really didn't have to live up to those promises by actually having the events. You could spend the money on whatever you wanted from fast cars to fast men or women, depending on your taste, to drugs, booze, travel, etc. Those involved in the scam knew that you had to refund the money only if you cancelled the event. So, instead of cancelling, the event went into postponed indefinitely status. If you did give a refund, you made it as difficult as possible. Should anyone go public with complaints against Ryan and his team, you send your B#$%Hs after them to slander their name.

Here are a few examples:

~ The Lizzie Borden home was to be the site of a PRS field trip that never took place. What many don't know, and it's been confirmed, is that someone did call the Borden home about hosting an event there. However, no one bothered to make a deposit! But such little things like that never kept them from selling tickets for their events. One woman flew in for the Lizzie Borden Lockdown event and ended up sleeping in the attic.

~ Field Trip 15, aptly titled The End, was to be hosted in Orlando Florida. Then it was moved 300 miles north to Savannah, Georgia.

~ Webinars have been postponed so many times that people have never been able to complete them.

Now we come to the Conversations with the Dead tour that was supposed to take place in April, yet PRS cancelled it.

Next week we'll hear from the voices of those left holding their worthless tickets.

But don't just take my word for it. Let’s see what's been posted on Ripoff Report. http://www.ripoffreport.com/

Here are some of the reports that have been filed.



DON'T SIGN UP FOR AN EVENT. I was a huge fan of the show, drove to Atlanta to meet them on a PRS new season tour, got there and no was around and waited for about an hour for them to come back from eating with Chip Coffee. I signed up the last PRS field trip 15, I did the downpayment plan, paid for a plane ticket and within a few weeks of the event I wrote them to them asking how I can pay the payments, there was just the first payment.
I got no response then a week before the even since every email about where to go, I had no idea it was even being held at I cancelled my flight and just 3 days before the event I got an email saying I had to pay the full balance. I said forget about it and wanted a refund, they said they couldn't, eventbrite said they wouldn't either so I waited a year and put the amount towards a paranormal photography webnair. As what I expected the first class was pushed back a week then the next class was pushed back a few months then the last class never happened.
I've come to believe the problems are at the top, I contacted everyone, no response. My questions where deleted from facebook. I'm lucky I was able to use the airplane money on a different trip but I lost all faith in PRS. I deleted their shows from TiVo, very sad as they were my favorite show but they showed no respect to the people paying. They have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars from just a few events I saw cancelled, no telling how much money they have. I'm afraid to buy anything from them espically events.
Anyways this is my first ripoff report ever, I just wanted to share my experience. I was a huge fan and now I don't trust anything they say or do. I've heard rumors of drug abuse, I know Ryan deals with cancer but there is better ways of paying those bills then ripping people off. An actual fundraiser would be a great way to do it. I know people with cancer and I think Ryan has used it as an excuse to keep people's money. I own my own business, I would have to refund people's money, they should too if they don't show up and provide what people are paying for. 


2http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/PRS-University/Raleigh-North-Carolina/PRS-University-Ryan-Buell-Sergy-Poberezhn-Took-funds-for-classes-never-completed-cl-1134223


 signed up for the Demonolgy class to be given by Ryan Buell. We made it through two classes. Ryan kept cancelling due to illness. Being patient and awaiting a new start up date. Broken promises came every month from him. Msny of us waited. Then we began seeing tour dates and new ventures, travels, vacations etc. We all began to write asking when the classes were resuming. No answers. Some did get really rude responses. Meanwhile, there have been two sets of classes that never resumed. We are talking many students with payments totallying over $35,000.00 plus. This does not include those that paid for memberships that varied from 100.00 to 1000.00 per membership! They were to get set merchandise, calls from the crew pf PRS. This never happened. The tours that never completed and never refunded. We were all promised merchandise for signing up, never got it. Their are several that bought the movie CD, many never got that either. So we are talking thousands of dollars.
We have written emails, sent facebook messages. We have sent messages via twitter, reponded on threads he bagan. Still no response. After several attempts, many are so frustrated. He has exchanged a lot of money. In the policey for sign up it states no refunds. So he has stood behind this policey. SO anyone can offer anything online and state no refund and get away with taking thousands of dollars without any back lash? This is fraud! When one enters into an agreement and takes the money for a set service. This is  contract. If they void the contract and not deliver what was written, doesnt this void the no refund policey? It should! They did not fulfill their end of the bargain. I will not take any of his classes at this point. I am disgusted with his treatment towards all of us. Last year I would have been happy to pick up the classes again. Now , I have no desire. 



3http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Paranormal-Research-Society-LLC/Raleigh-North-Carolina-27612/Paranormal-Research-Society-LLC-The-Bureau-Ryan-Buell-Sergey-Poberezhny-Defrauds-custome-991071

 Ryan Buell is the director of Paranormal Research Society (hereafter referenced as PRS) and for 5 seasons he had a show on A&E TV called Paranormal State.  It's been off the air for about a year.  He makes money now by scheduling, selling tickets to, and sometimes having events people pay to attend. In this capacity, he has proven himself to be a thief and a liar, defrauding ticketholders of thousands of dollars and costing them even more in travel fares and hotel expenses they have paid for events he has cancelled at the last minute.

Field Trip 15 The End Orlando, Florida


    On 9/14/12, my daughter bought a ticket for PRS Field Trip 15 - The End, an event which was to be held 9/27/12 - 9/30/12 in Orlando. She paid $308.49 (including the $8.49 service charge from the online booking site, Eventbrite).

     Since the site did not show much information on where to go for registration or where to stay, my daughter thought the information would be provided either on the ticket or in an email once she purchased the ticket.  It was not.  I tried Facebook messaging Ryan and emailing them.  I was not getting a quick response and we needed to plan where we were going to stay.  I had seen one of the events was supposed to be at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando. I called the Hard Rock Hotel and was told that although other ticketholders had been calling and asking about the event, they knew nothing about it.  I then got a Facebook message back from Ryan's Facebook account from someone named Cereza who told me that some of the events and speakers were to be at the Hard Rock Hotel. I wrote a Facebook message back to Ryan's account letting them know I'd called the Hotel but the hotel staff said they had not heard of the event other than through ticketholders. 

On 9/23/12, my daughter got an email stating they were moving the event to the Castle Holiday Inn.

We booked a room at the Castle Holiday Inn in Orlando where PRS stated they would hold part of the event. We arrived at the hotel on 9/27/12 and checked in. However, the hotel staff told us that the event had been cancelled. We stayed the one night and the hotel let us cancel the rest of the reservation.  My daughters additional expenses amounted to the 1 hour of travel to the hotel, the one night hotel stay, and 2 days off from work.  My daughter was lucky as we lived close by.  Others were not so fortunate, having arrived by plane from places like Oklahoma and Illinois and Ontario, Canada and having to stay at their hotels until their planes departed, their trips were far more costly.

When we got into the hotel room, it had Wifi, so my daughter checked her email and found the assistant director to PRS, Sergey Poberezhny, had sent her an email 9/26/12, one day prior to Field Trip 15,  aborting the event due to illness. I felt uncomfortable about it after reading it because it did not sound like a professional email from a reputable business.  Sergey asked ticketholders to keep what he said private about the cancellation of this event.  Red flags were going up with that. The email had gone to my daughters spam mail since she had not had a previous email from him, so she had not seen it.  We had written emails to PRS after Sergey had written this email, but before we had seen it attempting still to get more information on the event, but they had not responded.  

My daughter immediately called her credit card company and let them know that the event had been cancelled and the charge should be refunded and she was disputing it. She also let them know that we would only be spending the one night at the Castle Hotel. She then sent a reply to Sergey's email and told him she wanted the cost of her ticket refunded. We left the hotel on Friday, 9/28/12.

When he cancelled the event, Sergey asked ticketholders to give him until Friday to respond. When he did not respond, my daughter sent emails to Sergey and PRS asking if her credit card had been credited the $308.49 for the cost of the ticket.

On 10/2/12, she received an email from Eventbrite, the company that took the order for her ticket.  The email said that her refund had been processed by Paypal and to allow up to 4 business days for the refund to appear on her account.  This was followed on the same date, 10/2/12, by an email from Sergey asking for her patience as they work to process our request for a refund.   On Monday, 10/8/12 at 9:40pm, she received an email from PRS stating they had received her request for a refund. They asked her to respond with the type of ticket she purchased and afterward allow 3-5 business days for her request to be processed. This confused her since Eventbrite had already sent an email on 10/2/12 stating they had refunded her the cost of her ticket.  This was the last nonautomated email my daughter received from PRS or staff concerning her refund. From this point forward, they have failed to respond to any emails my daughter or I have sent them.

 On Tuesday, 10/9/12 at 7:35am, my daughter responded to PRS by email that she had the $300 ticket, the total (with the service charge) was $308.49. She told them about the Eventbrite email stating they were going to issue the refund and told them there had been no refund to her credit card yet.

Because my daughter had received the email from Eventbrite stating her refund was being processed, she was not too concerned at that point. As it came time for her bill to be due at the end of October, she called her credit card company and they told her there had been no refund to her credit card. She sent emails to PRS and their staff starting 10/22/12 to the 11/16/12 and they failed to respond. They also failed to respond to Facebook messages and posts. We tried to contact them by phone or mail, but they had no legitimate business address or phone number posted on their sales material or their website.  We sent emails requesting business contact information and again, absolutely no response. PRS is listed as active LLC in Pennsylvania online records.  Their business address is listed as 507 Marjorie Mae St, State College, PA 16803, Centre County. However, a prior unhappy customer sent the police to that address who found they had moved from there years before without updating their address with the Pennsylvania State Corporations Bureau, the address where they are supposed to accept process service.  The PRS website states that they had moved from State College to Raleigh, NC.  They have also started operating under the name, PRS,LLC, The Bureau, or sometimes just The Bureau and collecting annual membership fees to be part of The Bureau.    However, I could find no business listing under North Carolina Corporations Bureau.  The Pennsylvania Corporations still shows the PRS, LLC as active.

Monday, 10/22/12, my daughter mailed her credit card company copies of the documentation they requested showing the transactions and events. She also sent an email to PRS letting them know she had sent the documentation to her credit card company disputing the charge.

Friday, 11/2/12, over a month after the event, PRS still had not refunded her money or credited her credit card. She sent a demand for an explanation as to why PRS has not refunded the $308.49 price of her ticket to Sergey and to PRS.

 The last time PRS responded to her was 10/8/12.  After that time there have been many more emails that she sent to them and they would not acknowledge them. We attempted to find a legitimate business address and business phone number for them but there was none on their sales information or their website, nor would they respond to email and Facebook messages and posts for this information.

Camp Paranormal New Hope Camp, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Since they were advertising a new event, Camp Paranormal, in North Carolina in March 2013 at New Hope Camp and selling tickets for it through Eventbrite, I figured PRS would have to give the New Hope Camp their business address and phone number so I called the camp. The woman at the camp said that PRS had been there the prior weekend for an event and that they had bounced the check for that service. She said that PRS had not booked any event there in March 2013. I sent an email to the woman with the website showing their camp was being advertised for the March 2013 PRS event.  The woman from the camp wrote back that they contacted PRS and told PRS they had to stop using the New Hope Camp information until they signed a contract. The woman at the camp gave me the North Carolina address for PRS: Paranormal Research Society - Ryan Buell, Director, 4820 Smith Creek Parkway, #105, Raleigh, NC 27612.  PRS continued selling tickets to this event through Eventbrite, even though they had not booked the advertised location.

At this point, my daughter filed a complaint at the PA Better Business Bureau as the PRS is listed as an active LLC in PA. The Better Business Bureau listed PRS as believed to be out of business.  Joyce, the woman handling the complaint, told me that PRS had 4 previous complaints and that he failed to answer any of them. She suggested that we file a complaint with the Attorney General immediately.  Ryan also failed to answer our complaint.  By continuing to show PRS as out of business, the Better Business Bureau does not display the rating for the PRS, which is a disservice to people still being defrauded by this company which is very obviously still in business.

     Ryan had moved PRS to Raleigh, NC this year so we filed a complaint with the NC Attorney General online. Their phone number is 919-716-6400 and they are located in Raleigh.  To file an online complaint or for more information, this is their website: http://www.ncdoj.gov/complaint.aspx


Lizzie Borden Lockdown

 Having not booked the Hard Rock Hotel for Field Trip 15, and now being told that they had not booked the New Hope Camp for the upcoming Camp Paranormal,  and because of their continued silence in response to the many emails and messages that we sent, I began to do an internet investigation of PRS business practices and found that in November 2011, PRS had sold tickets for a Lizzie Borden Lockdown at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, MA. I found several posts on line even into May 2012 of people complaining that Ryan had cancelled the event and they still had not gotten refunds 6 months later.

I called the owner of the bed and breakfast, LeeAnn, at 508-675-7333. LeeAnn told me that PRS had called her and discussed the event with her, but when told that they would have to leave a deposit to hold the rooms, they said he would get back to LeeAnn. She said as the time grew near, PRS had not called her back so she tried to contact them, but they would not respond. She said that finally she had to take reservations. She said they never did call her but the date of the event a woman flew in from out of town for the event not knowing PRS had cancelled it. The woman was stranded there until her plane departed. Lee Ann said she felt so bad for the expense that the woman had made to get there that she let her stay free in an empty room on the 3rd floor until her plane departed.

I was told by one of the Lizzie Borden ticketholders that Ryan had told them he would rebook the event in March, but he never did. I was told he told the ticketholders that LeeAnn had double booked the hotel when in fact he had never booked it at all. I asked LeeAnn if PRS had attempted to book again in 2012 and she said after that one time, she did not hear from them again. I told her that I had heard Ryan said that she had double booked the site and she said it was not true.

The woman whose post I read on Ryan's Facebook who still had not gotten her refund from this Nov. 2011 event in May 2012 got back to me and told me she still had not received a refund.  I have been in contact with three other people who said they still have not received their Lizzie Borden refunds and have heard of a fourth who said she did not get her refund, either.

 I am in contact with other members of Field Trip 15. They, too, asked for and were told they would receive refunds for their tickets and they never did. As with me, PRS is ignoring their emails.

My daughter realized she was dealing with a company and with people who were defrauding their customers.  She filed a complaint with the FBI Cyber Crime Site on their online website at: http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

Since Ryan has moved his PRS to Raleigh, North Carolina, I contacted ABC investigative news team there.  They agreed to look into the business practices of PRS. 

Since I am not an investigative reporter and I have found out as much as I have about PRS through public sources, I would think from September 2012 to January 2013 that one of these agencies could have made more progress with the resources they have available to them to help put PRS out of business, charge the officers of PRS with the crimes of theft and fraud they have committed, and start moving them through the criminal justice system toward the ultimate outcome of restitution for the victims for travel expenses and ticket costs and prison time for fraud and theft.

 My daughter did get her $308.49, but not through a refund by PRS.  She got the funds back through a charge back by her credit card company due to her disputing the charge.  PRS never refunded the money as they have not refunded the money to the many others who have lost thousands of dollars in airfare, hotels, and costs of tickets. Two women came to Orlando for the field trip from Oklahoma and spent $2500 each and as one said got nothing for it. Another woman flew in from Ontario Canada and had $1500 expenses and as of the first of the year was still waiting for her refund.  A young girl and her parents came from Illinois and are out $900 just for the tickets alone.  A woman in Massachusetts is out over $600 for her 2 tickets to the Lizzie Borden Lockdown.  And on it goes.

Eventbrite and Paypal

      Both Eventbrite and Paypal were contacted very shortly after we discovered that PRS was refusing to refund my daughters money for this cancelled event.  Paypal flat out refused to even talk to either her or me.   Eventbrite took down all the information above and sent an email saying they had started a investigation into the PRS fraud allegations.  Since Eventbrite sold the tickets for these events, there is really no one in a better position to do a fraud investigation. They have all the names and the emails of people who purchased the tickets.  They can still find my daughter by her email address.  As I told them, all they would have to do is contact the rosters of the Field Trip 15 and Lizzie Borden Lockdown and ask each of them if they had gotten a refund or had accepted a credit for these events.  I told them they should also check to see if there is even going to be a Camp Paranormal since one of the people who purchased a ticket has now gone on Ryans Facebook account complaining that she cant get a refund or even access credit for her cancelled Camp funds.  Since Eventbrite was still selling extensions for this Camp event and taking payments on time for it, I told them they should really check to see if the event had been cancelled and told them again that the New Hope Camp was still saying PRS had not booked their site for the March 2013 event as PRS had advertised.

I was assured early on by Eventbrites customer service staff that they did not want companies who defrauded their customers using their services and those types of companies were removed.  To date, Eventbrite still is selling tickets for PRS.  I called and spoke to one of their supervisors in customer service, told her I was filing this Rip Off Report, and gave her a chance to make a comment.  She said the fraud unit would send me an email that same day.  They did not.  If they are not part of the solution, as in this case, they are definitely part of the problem.  And knowing the problem, they continue to assist PRS allowing them to defraud even more people by continuing to sell their services.  I would never purchase another ticket from Eventbrite for the lack of service and support they gave my daughter and for continuing to do business with a company who is stealing money from their customers. 

I am grateful I do not use Paypal since most of the people who have not been able to get chargebacks are people who paid through their Paypal accounts.  When I spoke to the Federal Consumer Agency, I was told that the banks and the charge card companies are regulated by the banking commission and each state has their own banking commission.  I was told if you dispute the charge and the credit card company or bank will not work with you, that you can then file a complaint against them with your state's banking commission.  I was told this makes it easier to get a chargeback and get your funds returned.  However, those using Paypal have told me that even though they have filed complaints, Paypal refused to give them a chargeback.

I am pleased to see that the Rip Off Report is read by lawyers, media, and law enforcement and would welcome contact from anyone who would like to assist the victims of PRS and bring PRS to justice.  I do have the documentation, the emails, the Facebook messages, the screenshots, and contact with some of the other victims of PRS.  Also, if you are a financial victim of PRS, some of the victims have formed a group and have information on some steps you can take.

I wish someone had written a Rip Off Report before my daughter had purchased her ticket as I would have found it and she would not have purchased the ticket.   It will, however, be the last chance PRS and Ryan Buell have to steal from her.  I had attempted contacting Ryan Buell, director, and Sergey, assistant director, of PRS in every means possible.  I sent emails, Facebook messages, and mail to their PO Box, I posted on their Facebook sites until they banned me from posting, and I posted on their PRS Forum until they banned me from entering that site.  Ryan Buell has responded to our complaints in a recent open message to his PRS Forum, so I know he is very aware of this issue, and yet he still will not refund his customers their money.

 I am grateful that the Rip Off Report allows a forum so that others can see the truth that Ryan is trying so hard to hide.  I am grateful he is unable to control the content. 

May this post serve as a warning to prevent future financial victims of PRS and may it serve as a catalyst to the criminal justice system to come to the aid of the victims and to punish these criminal offenders.  Both my daughter and I will be more than happy to provide legal statements and testify against them in Court, which is the only public appearance we have any desire to see Ryan Buell at. 

  
Next week, part two of this shameful story.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness sites like this exist to expose fraudulent practices by unscrupulous peopke. Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

Pay Pal itself is a ripoff company. We have lost a lot of money thanks to Pay Pal. We have filed a ton of complaints. More people need to also complain about PayPal to get them to change their ripoff ways.

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