Is Dani Johnson a cult?

A friend of mine has received mail from a man who says he is a “follower” of danijonhson (dot com) and I looked up this site and read some things and it seems to be just another cult culling money from gullible followers who will somehow learn how to become millionaires.

Does anyone know any facts about this woman and her enterprise? My friend wants to know if it is safe to get to know this man but my personal inclination is to distrust all “true believers” and “followers” of anything. The man my friend is writing to said he is going to Belize with Dani and 100 other followers to build an orphanage for 700 orphans. When I heard that, I had immediate flashbacks to the Jonestown cult mass suicide in Guyana in 1978.

Anyone out there with comments/answers, etc?

It does seem like a Get Rich Quick scam, not sure I’d go so far as cult, even in a colloquial sense. As far as I can tell, she’s legit and and big name enough to have been featured on a TV show on ABC as well as having (short) articles in Forbes, NPR etc talking about her.

I haven’t found any grand indictment of her. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money on her merchandise, but as far as these things go she seems pretty harmless.

I will mention that she has a lot of those clearly fake news articles around the web praising her business. Most of the articles on reputable sites are about her and her history (which is pretty innocuous – homeless unwed teen mother becomes millionaire in early twenties), not her get rich quick empire.

On further review, she was on Oprah and stuff, and she seems to be in the Moderately-Spiritual Self Help Media business. Which, while better than the Pyramid Scheme business, probably does somewhat support the “cult-ish” accusation. Still, seems pretty harmless, I’m not even getting The Secret level vibes from her stuff,

Thanks for your comments Jragon.

What worries me in part is that I cannot even find a Wikipedia article about her. That tells me her followers or her attorneys have policed the web for her. If you check the anti-scam sites, the followers inundate the skeptics and poo-poo their skepticism with all this fawning praise of the woman. That too reeks of cultism to me.

On the internet there is at least one video of her baptizing converts in a pool. So the religious aspect is definitely there. IMHO Americans are particularly prone to following such charismatics (real or self-proclaimed) and are easily vulnerable to their pleas for money to do “good works.” Like building “an orphanage in Belize” which I suspect is actually cover for some other projects down there like real estate and perhaps building a private estate/compound for the inner circle to enjoy in relative privacy.

Or that she’s not well known enough for people to go and make a Wikipedia entry about her. I don’t think lawyers would be able to intimidate Wikipedia to take down an entry about her, and if her followers were defacing articles about her, Wikipedia editors would just block editing of the entry.

@Marley23; She’s “famous” enough to have been interviewed on Oprah’s TV show and various network interview shows. That should suffice to prompt someone to start a Wiki about her. I suspect her follower’s are dissuaded from doing so because the entries could be contested and the last thing a woman like this wants is any controversy surrounding her name and activities.

Wow. She’s worried enough about the accusation to publish this website:

That throws up big red flags in my mind. (Not that the other stuff didn’t too, but peppering Google with sneaky “I’m not a crook” sites are the icing on the cake.)

@DrCube: I saw that as well. The Nixon reference really hit home to me as well. Google’s few negative links all end up being forums where the naysayers are verbally beaten to a pulp by the true believers who post and praise her to high heaven.

At this point I’m telling my friend to be very cautious with this guy who wants to meet her. My friend’s not the proselytizing, religious type and definitely not the MLM type either.

Possibly. But I doubt everybody who has been on Oprah has a Wikipedia page. Not everybody is Wikipedia-savvy enough to start entries, and if her followers tend not to come from pro-Wikipedia segments of the population, it’s possible they just wouldn’t start one. It’s true that she evidently hasn’t been fit to do it herself, but that could mean she doesn’t want the attention OR it could mean her people don’t think it’s worthwhile.

Never having heard of her before, I wouldn’t know. But you were saying the lack of a Wikipedia entry is worrying, and there’s really no reason to take it that way.

There’s actually a lot more of those links than I thought!

I was all set to come back and say “five out of the first ten search results on duck duck go are negative, so she can’t have all that much sway over people”, but then I clicked the links and only one, a metafilter post from 2008 asking the same question as our OP, panned out. The rest were the same as my last post. “Is Dani Johnson a scam?? Nothing could be further from the truth! She’s a wonderful human being! You too can go from a bum to a millionaire overnight and here’s a link to her website where you learn how!”

Scary stuff.

… I just searched for “dani johnson scam” instead of just her name. Every single result above the fold was the same. The even pushed out the legitimate metafilter result. She’s trying way too hard to game search engines which tells me she’s got something to hide.

Question: I’ve only spent a few minutes researching, but every site mentions how she was homeless at 21 and a millionaire by 23. But not one explains how she did it. Does anybody have any clue how she made her first millions (not counting this little racket she’s got going now)?

I like the way the About, Products, Testimonials and Contact pages are unchanged from the default, dummy pages.

So ripe for a Wikipedia entry then?

The danijohnsonscam site mentions she did it by selling weight loss somethingorothers from the back of her car (or something like that).

Thanks for all your input and interest, everyone! :slight_smile:
@Marley23: The Wikipedia thing is just something that sticks in my craw since anyone with 5 minutes worth of fame seems to end up with their own wiki page. From my looking at a few videos of her training seminars, I’d say her average “followers” are much more than average to be tech savvy at least in Internet terms. They seem to be uniformly pretty young (25-50ish) and well spoken. The “point me in the right direction, please?” type personality. Looking for leadership, inspiration, prosperity and community. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d rather not pay $1K a pop to meet my “inspirational leader” in person.

So yeah, I’d say a Wikipedia entry would be well overdue. Not that I have ever had anything to do with Wikipedia…I just use it, with the usual grain or two of salt.

So, I looked around her web site… she’s basically built up a library of get-rich-with-no-experience-and-little-work products … err… I guess they’re called “wealth building systems” now a days. Perhaps a more honest titles, since they do build her wealth up.

I would not give any real information to that site. You can guarantee that they’re monetizing everything possible and if you give an email address, you will be pestered until the day you give up the email address. I wouldn’t give a home address, real name or real birthday to them ever because who knows what sort of security they have. If you want to buy something, get a throw-away CC number.

I read some of the free articles and they are very, very, very basic… but handily they all end in an ad for her current book (which I’m sure will not be much more of an intellectual treasure than the contents of the web site)

I’ll give credit that it is a clean looking site that is more than a single squeeze page and she does seem to be doing a ‘radio’ show, so is adding content on a routine basis? (Maybe?)

I put them along the lines of that really tall guy that used to sell the self actualization stuff a couple decades ago (he had sets of tapes that you purchase?)… some people are motivated by that stuff (OR according to the sales pitches, some people made big bucks after buying their products)…

Personally, I’m a little skeptical of anyone who promotes the idea that wealth is a abeautiful goal.

I’ve forgotten how to make a link, but I have found this website to be reasonable and intelligent concerning different movements and religions.

FYI, she’s had at least four different Wikipedia entries over the years, but they’ve all been deleted:

Of course, she might still qualify for an entry. But if you wanted to write one, you’d need to make her notability quite clear in the initial draft. Otherwise, someone will probably tag the page for deletion.

Her grammar sucks “they use the word ‘scam’ to get you and I off track to get on their website.”

I doubly hate it when people use bad grammar when they half remember a rule such as it should be “you and I” rather than “you and me”.

Starting a page about yourself is against Wikipedia policy, and when they find out about it they will delete it. (I say ‘when’, not ‘if’, since there seem to be people who have made it their mission in life to patrol Wikipedia looking for pages that there’s any excuse to delete.)

and I have the straight dope. Feel free to email me, and I’ll fill you in. In the meantime, suffice it to say that lots of people get rich on promises and charisma. That’s what Dani did (and appears still to be doing). As with most people like her, I think she has convinced herself that what she’s doing is good and, although she appears to be doing some good things with “her” money, I believe that the way she has amassed that money is less than savory in that she has duped other people out of THEIR money (but, again, I don’t think SHE believes she’s doing anything wrong – she’s been drinking her own cool-aid for too long).