“There is a price to be paid:” Milwaukee woman warns about free real estate seminars

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MILWAUKEE/BROOKFIELD — It's a pitch offering a chance to earn extra money or even make you rich in real estate. It starts with a free seminar, but now one Milwaukee woman is fighting for a refund.

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FOX6 attends a free real estate seminar.

FOX6 cameras went inside a local hotel to hear a pitch about what may sound like the deal of a lifetime. It was a free seminar showing you how to earn big money in real estate. The seminar is affiliated with the now cancelled reality television show, Flipping Vegas.

Dee Mingo and her husband were interested when they first heard about it.

"If we can make extra money or replace my income — we want to go. We want to hear what it is they have to say," Mingo said.

They attended a seminar in 2014. The seminar offers more real estate education, but it comes at a steep price.

"Yeah, $1,999 sounds like a great deal," Mingo said.

The next portion of education cost $1,999, but Mingo and her husband liked what they heard -- so they paid for the next seminar.

"We were sold on -- that these people actually know what they are talking about," said Mingo.

At the next seminar, the presenters wanted more money — a lot more.

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A portion of the education package Dee Mingo paid for.

The Mingos paid $32,000 for an education package. The package included books, DVDs and even a personal coach.

"You say, 'whew, that is a lot of money.' I said that too. Oh my Lord," Mingo said.

But the Mingos saw it as an investment into their future.

"When you go to school, you go to college. You get your degree and you are going to spend $20,000, $30,000 on that education, aren't you?" said Mingo.

After all the education, the Mingos finally bought property — undeveloped land in Florida and rental properties in St. Louis.

"We were sold into the vision of being a real estate entrepreneur," Mingo admitted.

All tolled, the Mingos spent more than $100,000 on education and property. 

"When I look at it and back at it now, it is like I want to kick myself two or three times," Mingo said.

Before long, Mingo learned her investment wasn't what she originally thought. Mingo said she paid more than the properties and the education were worth and didn't want others to end up doing the same. -- so Mingo turned to FOX6's Contact 6.

"I need to go to FOX6 because people in Milwaukee need to know," Mingo said.

FOX6 attended a seminar and found that the company that runs them, Affluence EDU, is not doing anything illegal. However, the presenters at the free seminars do use high-pressure sales techniques.

At the first seminar, they wanted attendees to sign up on the spot.

"This is our second to last day. Actually, we have one tomorrow morning and then we are out of here," said the presenter at the seminar FOX6 attended.

The presenters also made one-time offers attendees wouldn't be able to get outside of the workshop. realestate4

These are both big red flags of a high-pressure sales pitch.

"If someone truly wants you to invest in their company, they're going to give you all the information you need and they're going to give you time to consider," advised Michelle Reinen, the director of the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Reinen said if someone is pushing you to make a fast decision — you should think twice.

"If they're only going to give you a small amount of time — that's something you need to question," Reinen said.

Before you agree to invest in a business at any kind of free seminar, you should take your time to think about it and make sure you research the business.

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Dee Mingo explains her concerns with the real estate seminars to a FOX6 producer.

If you're ready to put your money down, make sure to carefully read everything you sign and make sure you know your cancellation rights.

Mingo said she's in the process of getting some of her money back for the education, but she does have a warning for anyone thinking about make this type of investment.

"They need to be made aware it sounds really good, but there is a price to be paid," Mingo warned.

The attorneys for Affluence EDU provided Contact 6 with a statement, which read:

“Our mission is to provide quality education to individuals and entrepreneurs who seek to achieve a range of financial objectives through the real estate industry. Real estate is a core piece to a balanced investment portfolio, and it is something we all have some degree of experience with. Like any education, such as with a traditional university, college, or trade school, each student must gain the knowledge and know how, and must understand the necessary time and effort commitments in order to achieve their desired results. We stand behind our motto, 'The Customer is the greatest asset,' and work tirelessly to consistently improve each customer experience with us. We have always taken care of customers, and always will. We encourage anyone who is looking to further their education to be mindful that success is highly dependent on the time and effort commitments. We continue to see our students achieving their objectives. We love to celebrate the successes of our students - it’s what drives us to do better and be better each day.”

If you'd like more advice on what to look out for at sales pitch seminars, CLICK HERE.

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