Google Ripped off Don Lapre's 'Tiny Classified Ads' Idea...

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I was just watching an infomercial and it made me think of Don Lapre...

Do you remember him?

He was selling a 'get rich' scheme that was in essence giving you the resale rights to promote the same information he was selling as your own through 'Tiny Little Classified Ads' in newspapers/magazines/etc. whatever was available in the early-mid 90's :

On TV infomercials that ran during the early-mid 1990s Lapre claimed that by placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers he was able to make $50,000 per week from his one bedroom apartment.

Isn't google exploiting this same business model?

In 1992, Lapre began broadcasting The Making Money Show with Don Lapre, which promised viewers that they could make money as easily as he had. For several years the show was ranked among the ten most frequently broadcast cable television infomercials. The principal product was Lapre's "Money Making Secrets," a package of booklets, tapes, and common sense tips for placing ads and operating a 900-number business. The product was sold through New Strategies, whose parent company was Tropical Beaches.

Where is Don Lapre now?

- Jared
#don lapre #making money
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Sol
    Originally Posted by webdesignhq View Post

    I was just watching an infomercial and it made me think of Don Lapre... Do you remember him? He was selling a 'get rich' scheme that was in essence giving you the resale rights to promote the same information he was selling as your own through 'Tiny Little Classified Ads' in newspapers/magazines/etc. whatever was available in the early-mid 90's :

    On TV infomercials that ran during the early-mid 1990s Lapre claimed that by placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers he was able to make $50,000 per week from his one bedroom apartment.

    Isn't google exploiting this same business model?

    In 1992, Lapre began broadcasting The Making Money Show with Don Lapre, which promised viewers that they could make money as easily as he had. For several years the show was ranked among the ten most frequently broadcast cable television infomercials. The principal product was Lapre's "Money Making Secrets," a package of booklets, tapes, and common sense tips for placing ads and operating a 900-number business. The product was sold through New Strategies, whose parent company was Tropical Beaches.

    Where is Don Lapre now?

    - Jared
    What was the infomercial you were just watching? a Google infomercial?
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  • Profile picture of the author ThomM
    Originally Posted by webdesignhq View Post

    I was just watching an infomercial and it made me think of Don Lapre... Do you remember him? He was selling a 'get rich' scheme that was in essence giving you the resale rights to promote the same information he was selling as your own through 'Tiny Little Classified Ads' in newspapers/magazines/etc. whatever was available in the early-mid 90's :

    In 1990 Lapre and his wife, whom he married in 1988, started a credit repair business called Unknown Concepts. Lapre then began selling a 36-page booklet explaining how to recover a Federal Home Association insurance refund after paying off a home mortgage. He also began offering "900" phone lines.

    On TV infomercials that ran during the early-mid 1990s Lapre claimed that by placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers he was able to make $50,000 per week from his one bedroom apartment.

    Isn't google exploiting this same business model?

    In 1992, Lapre began broadcasting The Making Money Show with Don Lapre, which promised viewers that they could make money as easily as he had. For several years the show was ranked among the ten most frequently broadcast cable television infomercials. The principal product was Lapre's "Money Making Secrets," a package of booklets, tapes, and common sense tips for placing ads and operating a 900-number business. The product was sold through New Strategies, whose parent company was Tropical Beaches.

    Where is Don Lapre now?

    - Jared
    Talk about a blast from the past.
    My guess is he's on one of those tropical beaches laughing his butt off
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  • Profile picture of the author KimW
    I am pretty sure I have actually seen one of his infomercials recently (as in within the past year).
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  • Originally Posted by webdesignhq View Post


    In 1992, Lapre began broadcasting The Making Money Show with Don Lapre, which promised viewers that they could make money as easily as he had. For several years the show was ranked among the ten most frequently broadcast cable television infomercials. The principal product was Lapre's "Money Making Secrets," a package of booklets, tapes, and common sense tips for placing ads and operating a 900-number business. The product was sold through New Strategies, whose parent company was Tropical Beaches.

    Where is Don Lapre now?

    - Jared
    Don is a serious scammer. The "info." he sold was worthless.
    Took me almost four months, and dozens of phone calls to get my "prompt no-hassle refund" So yeah, my guess is beach.
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  • Profile picture of the author espacecadet
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    • Profile picture of the author KimW
      Originally Posted by espacecadet View Post

      If Don's not locked up behind bars, he's probably still squatting in Scottsdale, Arizona and planning his next big moneymaker.

      Gotta hand it to the guy, the son of a gun knows how to push your buy-it buttons!
      What is it about Scottsdale that makes it an area like the Bermuda Triangle?
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      • Profile picture of the author ShayB
        I think that a lesson can be learned here. :rolleyes:

        I paid around $40 for Don's system. I read it and put it away, since I really coudln't think of a way to use it at the time.

        I kept it, and dug it out (I still have all of the books, BTW) when I thought of a way to use it.

        10 years after buying it, I am now thinking of another way I can use it. :rolleyes:

        See, here is the thing. The major newspapers in a city are expensive to place ads in, but the local freebie papers (which are hard to find in a Google search but are listed in Don's material) are super cheap - less than 2 or 3 dollars for an ad.

        I might be running some ads soon.....I will let you guys know how it works.
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        • Profile picture of the author jeswarrior
          Yeah, Don Lapre. 1996. That was what got me started into the making money other ways than working for a living. I'm embarrassed to say that I purchased the lifetime reminder service from this guy for hundreds of dollars. What a fool I was back then. I fell for this crap like an idiot. The product was worthless. Never tried to return it though. Everything is neatly packed there in a box.
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          • Profile picture of the author KenThompson
            Originally Posted by jeswarrior View Post

            Yeah, Don Lapre. 1996. That was what got me started into the making money other ways than working for a living. I'm embarrassed to say that I purchased the lifetime reminder service from this guy for hundreds of dollars. What a fool I was back then. I fell for this crap like an idiot. The product was worthless. Never tried to return it though. Everything is neatly packed there in a box.
            That makes two of us, the lifetime reminder service. What a ball of cheese that
            was. I can't imagine what kind of money he made. But at least he got something
            done, took action, etc.

            He was even cast in some movie in the mid 90s I think. Not sure what came of that.

            Yes, I noticed a trend about Scottsdale back in the 90s. Definitely some kind of weirdness
            magnet that place.
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  • Profile picture of the author blackbeltbob
    I actually have his original course on using classified ads, not very fancy course.
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  • Profile picture of the author espacecadet
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    • Profile picture of the author ShayB
      I actually bnought Don's system and used it. (But not like I was supposed to.)

      The best part about it was the newspaper listing. Yes, it was info readily available, but having it all in one book was nice.

      The system has paid for itself many, many times over for me.

      You see, I had a friend who was an insurance agent and had agents under him. They were trying to get leads in certain areas for a product they were selling.

      I took my handy list and placed ads in the local freebie papers in those areas for the agents, and they paid me an ungodly fee for doing so. (They didn't want the hassle of placing the ads - they just wanted the leads.)

      I got to work from the house and make good money in just a few hours a week. Loved it.
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      • Profile picture of the author TE2
        Originally Posted by Shay60654 View Post

        I actually bnought Don's system and used it. (But not like I was supposed to.)

        The best part about it was the newspaper listing. Yes, it was info readily available, but having it all in one book was nice.

        The system has paid for itself many, many times over for me.

        You see, I had a friend who was an insurance agent and had agents under him. They were trying to get leads in certain areas for a product they were selling.

        I took my handy list and placed ads in the local freebie papers in those areas for the agents, and they paid me an ungodly fee for doing so. (They didn't want the hassle of placing the ads - they just wanted the leads.)

        I got to work from the house and make good money in just a few hours a week. Loved it.
        Excellent Shay!

        The lesson for others is that "action is required". You took action and made money.

        Bravo!

        Regards,

        John
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  • Profile picture of the author tommyp
    The last Don Lapre infomercial I remember was that Greatest Vitamin in the World one.

    It had a couple of hot chicks talking about what a great business opportunity it was and if I remember right Don Lapre got in some trouble over that one.

    So on the second one they used one of those chicks and pushed a great money making opportunity but didn't say it was the Greatest Vitamin in the World, which it was, and Don Lapre was not seen or mentioned.

    My aunt got that. One day she just gave me the vitamins. They reminded me of horse pills. But I didn't turn into Superman so I stopped taking them and they went in the bin.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by Jared Alberghini View Post

    I was just watching an infomercial and it made me think of Don Lapre...

    Do you remember him?
    Don Lapre is my role model. I bought his tiny classified ad product four times. The fourth time I ordered it, he had left a personal note on my customer record that said "I like this guy."

    He was selling a 'get rich' scheme that was in essence giving you the resale rights to promote the same information he was selling as your own
    Not precisely accurate. He did recommend strongly that you sell an information product... but not the one he was selling. He recommended that you create your own. I myself wrote a guide to producing an information product, because it amused me to make such a circular offering. I sold almost 600 copies of it at $20 apiece (over the course of six months) before I started doing the math on how far I could take this.

    What Don didn't tell you was that there was a major hurdle in getting from a few hundred a week to thousands a day - and that hurdle was scale. While he did, in fact, drag several million dollars a day into his business... he also paid several million dollars a day in expenses. Out of the $25 million a day that came into the business, he got to keep less than ten thousand of it.

    Which is still six figures a month, so nothing to sneeze at. But to make this sort of thing work took either a large amount of time, or a massive initial investment. Don's greatest skill was (and is) the ability to sit down and convince someone that they should invest a hundred million in his latest business idea. If you don't have that particular skill, building up to that point CAN happen, but it takes a massive amount of work and investment.

    Don was pretty closely following Mass Control, incidentally, although Frank Kern was not yet on the map. Analysing Don's infomercials from that standpoint will pinpoint all the same critical factors Frank discusses, and Don is masterful in the way he employs them.

    On TV infomercials that ran during the early-mid 1990s Lapre claimed that by placing "tiny classified ads" in newspapers he was able to make $50,000 per week from his one bedroom apartment.
    The order is very important here.

    By placing tiny classified ads from his one bedroom apartment, he was able to make $50,000 per week.

    But what he did from his apartment was acquire the social proof that went into a business plan that he showed to an investor who wrote him a massive freakin' check.

    Now, it's also important to note that he was telling the truth. Don never lied. Not exactly. He misled, so you'd think he said something he didn't say, but when you backed up you realised he didn't really say that. And the clues were still there, too: at some points in the infomercials, Don would be walking through his office, filled with dozens if not hundreds of people busily working. That was the setup which was bringing him $50k a week. If you wanted $50k a week yourself, you were going to need that many people, too.

    Where is Don Lapre now?
    He was starting a new business venture, but it never quite got off the ground and has essentially folded. My contact information for him is no longer good, and I haven't been able to get in touch with anyone who can refresh it.

    One of these days, I'm going to do a JV with Don.
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  • Profile picture of the author seasoned
    Why are you saying it was lapres idea? You might as well say writing your name, to identify something as yours, is copying my idea! I mean I may be older than many on this board, and did it before they did. Maybe I suggested it a few times! But it is NOT my idea!

    I ALSO once had the time, etc.. to try ONE tiny ad. LONG BEFORE Lapres commercial, and it was before the internet was opened up. I got ONE response. Interestingly, the guy is supposedly on this site! Anyway, he sent me a multipaged letter saying how he was so great with selling, etc... and for only about 500-2000 times the cost of my ad(NOT including HIS fee), I could do better. DUH!

    BTW I guess that paper didn't match my demographic. 8-( At the time, my product was WITHOUT A DOUBT the best in its class. And $20 to learn all about the important computer hardware specs of the day, from such a SMALL book, and possibly save thousands of dollars? And get software that was worth maybe $300 at the time!?!?!? Sadly, today, such a book could quickly become outdated, and would be HUGE. So I never even bothered to update it. 8-(

    Anyway, the simplicity and cost were the best selling points, and I couldn't see paying THOUSANDS for an ad. I was VERY risk averse at the time. And selling it for over $20 would have made it harder to sell.

    I ALSO thought about doing the Linux CDs apparently before redhat. Other companies certainly did it earlier, but THEY charged a lot less, and offered no real support. But some of the licenses were restrictive, as to how much you could charge, and I didn't want to end up on the wrong side of a court case.

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by seasoned View Post

      Why are you saying it was lapres idea?
      Primarily because what you've said here was "I tried that once and completely failed," instead of "I did that on a massive scale and got filthy rich."

      What made Lapre's idea his idea was not that you could place a tiny classified ad, but the way he effectively distilled the meat of Hopkins' Scientific Advertising into a three-page process not unlike PPC campaign blasting.

      Of course, at the time I hadn't read Hopkins and there was no such thing as Google. But Lapre was definitely ahead of his time.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
        Ah Don Lapre. That was my first inkling to the world of information products and a direct mail business.

        I never pulled the trigger but was very tempted. I did end up buying the course on eBay years after the the course was off the market. I was so curious about it.

        It appears his main money-maker was the backend of selling his 1-900 line business and getting his extra services (shocking).

        I ended up selling it to someone else on eBay. I should have kept it for my info marketing museum. Haha.


        Maybe Larry and Sergey where up late one night in the 90's while at Stanford and got the idea on how to monetize their idea for this search engine thing they were going to call "google".
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      • Profile picture of the author KenThompson
        Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

        But Lapre was definitely ahead of his time.
        I'll go along with that, I think. My knowledge of the history of who did what and
        when is all over the place. What he did was really nothing new. But - I'm not sure
        if there was anyone else doing it like he did, selling the biz ops via infomercials, and
        on the scale he was. I'm trying to think back, and I don't recall anyone else doing it
        on late night TV.

        Anyone else remember anyone?

        Another thing about Don is he was a helluva salesman. I watched his infomercials
        a hundred times. They were absolutely mesmerizing. One thing that struck me
        about him was that he wasn't an outwardly high energy guy. He just seemed really
        kinda laid back. But he had a delivery, and a unique tone of voice, and even the
        way he talked. And he was relentless. He also had that cadence and rhythm thing down.
        I'd be curious to know his background and who he learned that from.

        As much as people love to bash him, he's someone you could learn something from.
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  • Profile picture of the author KenThompson
    Tommy Vu rings a bell but don't remember watching any, but I
    certainly could have. Wasn't into real estate back then.

    When did Carlton Sheets come on the scene? I believe he was
    early 90s. Not sure.
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  • Profile picture of the author plstar
    he sounds like a really cool guy Gonna have to dig a bit deeper on this guy.
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    just in time

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  • Profile picture of the author LookB4Leap
    Don was ahead. No question. Young guy marketing to lots of people as inexpensively as he could-sound familiar. I mean that's where I got the kernel idea from, then had it cemented a few years later when I read Rich Dad Poor Dad. By '99 I had an online dating site and was trading links with Rosalind Gardner.

    As for his delivery-I think it as a "shouted whisper." He always seemed very excited but like he had to keep the noise down. Presumably from complaining neighbors in that one bedroom apartment.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by LookB4Leap View Post

      As for his delivery-I think it as a "shouted whisper."
      That's a good way to put it. I always viewed it as sort of a midway point between the boardwalk barker and the professional hypnotist. He didn't SHOUT YOUR HEAD OFF like Billy Mays, but he wasn't putting you to sleep with his droning monotone either.
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    He used to have Don Lupre's 1-800-CAN'T-GO-WRONG... as a telephone #..

    Didn't he go to prison for awhile?
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  • Profile picture of the author mbenton
    I love it when an old thread comes back to life...

    Can't forget these two...



    What are they doing now? Last time I seen them on tv was in a commercial for a pest-control business...dressed up as cockroaches or termites or whatever!


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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Don Lapre was a big influence on me too.

    I didn't buy the course, but a friend did. The course wasn't very good and really could have been great had he added more resouces.

    But his concept of tons of "tiny little ads" was a big factor in creating my own strategy for search engine doorway pages way back before it was cool. If the engines are going to give free traffic, why not have tons of tiny little pages?

    Maybe Lapre didn't originate the concept, but he's the one that told me about it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zerk Bizkit
    I'm sure his 'tiny classified ads' methods worked at the time, it was a question of how many actually worked enough to apply them and make some money. Same goes today working an online business.

    However, those other products he came out with later, like "The World's Greatest Vitamin'! Whoa! Not gonna work Don! Here's more info on what's going on now with Lapre according to quackwatch.org:

    Consumer Protection Actions

    In July 2005, the FDA ordered Lapre to stop claiming that his vitamin product can prevent or cure a long list of diseases [20]. Although Lapre made superficial changes in his product descriptions, the FDA warned again in 2006 that consumer testimonials and other statements on his Web site still evidence that the product is intended to treat, cure, prevent, or mitigate diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and other diseases [21].

    Commercials aired in January 2006 did not mention Doug Grant or the specific disease claims to which the FDA objected. These infomercials offered to pay $500 each time a distributor you sign up got 20 or more people to try the vitamin. We believe that this made the finances of the entire program even more unworkable than described above, because the company would now have to pay out $1,500 rather than $1,000 for the privilege of collecting $900.

    In 2006, Grant added The Greatest Weight Loss Pill in the World Grant to his product line and begun doing business as "Saving Lives Across America," which peddled a few more products and similar far-fetched earning opportunity claims.

    In 2006, the Better Business Bureau reported:

    Based on BBB files, [The Greatest Vitamin in the World] has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to a failure to substantiate its advertised claims and a pattern of complaints. Complaints are concerning refund practices. Specifically, complaints allege inability to cancel the sale or service in accordance with the company's refund policy. Although the company has responded to complaints presented by the Bureau, the company has failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints. . . .

    The company responded to the Bureau's advertising inquiry however, they failed to substantiate the following advertised claims:
    • "Our company will pay you $1000 up front or up to $200 a month for the rest of your life every single time you get just 20 new people to try our amazing vitamin
    • "Each week we pay you on all the revenue earned the week prior! This is the easiest way in the world to start generating $1000 checks over and over again!"
    • "Our top people have made thousands and thousands of dollars doing this!"
    • "Each month you get just 100 new vitamin clients, we pay you a $5000 bonus! And the top two Independent Advertisers who create under 100 new vitamin clients also get a $5000 bonus!"
    • "Endorsed by the NBCCA representing most teams in the NBA."
    • "We use the highest grade and most absorbable nutrients known to man." [22]
    • In 2007, Lapre shut down Greatest Vitamin after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service served a warrant on the business and federal investigators served a warrant at Lapre's Phoenix home.

    In 2008, the Maryland Department of Securities banned Lapre and The Greatest Vitamin in the World, LLC from continuing to do business in Maryland. The cease-and-desist order states that the company was not registered to sell business opportunities and had failed to provide refunds to dissatisfied customers as promised [23].

    In June 2011, Lapre was charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. The indictment alleges:

    Lapre's sales pitches for the Greatest Vitamin program greatly exaggerated its income potential.

    Buyers were never told that their Internet-based businesses would ultimately be competing against more than 200,000 other "businesses" offering the exact same limited number of products in essentially the same manner.

    Although their initial investments were small, buyers were sold expensive marketing programs that had little or no potential for generating sales.
    From 2004 to 2007, 226,794 people invested more than $51.8 million and received just $6.3 million in commissions [24].

    We believe Lapre will be found guilty and receive a lengthy prison sentence.
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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    You can always argue any new business idea is simply a rejuvenation of something that had been done before, as the saying goes "Nothing new under the sun"
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Maybe it's time to let this thread - from 2008! - fade away???
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      • Profile picture of the author HeySal
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        Maybe it's time to let this thread - from 2008! - fade away???
        Our fault, Kay. We teach people to use search in here, so when they do and find something they want to comment on it comes back to haunt us. LOL.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Maschke
    I never bought that one, but I did get the one from Brad Richdale. Not too bad, it had the thud factor when it was delivered.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay_Selders
    I believe a few months ago he was arrested for fraud or conspiracy or something like that.
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  • Profile picture of the author stumpysstickers
    Don Lapre committed suicide in 2011 in prison.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by stumpysstickers View Post

      Don Lapre committed suicide in 2011 in prison.
      ...and you just resurrected a 4 year old thread to say that. You might want to check the dates on threads before you post to them. Unless you're adding significant value to an old thread, and it's still a useful topic, it's usually better to leave it buried.
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  • Profile picture of the author kevinmartinjr
    NEWS FLASH! Google is ripping off all business owners both BIG and small these days...
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  • Profile picture of the author Sumit Menon
    For a moment I thought, Jared's back! And then 2008..
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    • Profile picture of the author ShayB
      Originally Posted by Sumit Menon View Post

      For a moment I thought, Jared's back! And then 2008..
      I know.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ernie Lo
    Not excusing his behavior but I guess I can understand why he committed suicide. He obviously was like us and wanted freedom from the boss, a free life etc. Going behind the bars would of been a lot harder for his type than regular people.
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