I think I was a senior in high school. I didn't go out much and hung around only one friend. I slept a lot. I'd be home late nights on the weekend watching bad TV and infomercials. I was probably depressed as I had nothing to really take pride in. By this time, I'd seen many of grade school friends (most of which were assholes) fade away and become better athletes than me, as I was still suffering with chronic bone pain issues. College was on the horizon and I had no strong passion towards anything, except maybe art related stuff, but that was discouraged in the house. I was doomed to a life of mediocrity, living pay check to pay check, most likely doing something I hated. There seemed to be no way out of this hell.
Then came Don Lapre.
An enthusiastic, probably 30-something, if not younger, entrepreneur, selling his plans for success. There were many of these guys floating around on late night 90s television. Some of them dealt with profiting from classified ads and others with real estate or auction sales. I was oblivious to all of them, but Don's energy and charisma was quite contagious. He really connected with my down and out, go nowhere, ready to die, heart. He offered something. It was a plan leading to financial independence. It all seemed so easy to the pathetic soul as I was.
We all know, when times are tough, and in your head you feel desperate, you can cling to anything that offers a positive plan. Whether it's religion, a political leader, or a slimy salesman selling bullshit business plans promising riches. Watching Don became an almost weekly occurrence. It was the same infomercial with the same testimonials and the same sales pitch that never got boring. There was an entertainment value to it too. But it was hopeful.
Don's plan revolved around placing classified ads for selling a service and/or a product, like shitty books and whatnot. He also had a plan for purchasing 900 numbers. Back then 900 numbers seemed way more popular than they are today as I can remember all the ads for adult and gambling hot lines. I think there was also a plan for buying things really cheap and selling them for a higher price. Don's popularity grew so big, that SNL did a bit on him. It was David Spade who played his part.
Let it be known, I never purchased any of his materials, though I did briefly romanticize and dream about the prospects of being successful at it. In this case, being lazy paid off for me. I took no action on any of it. I'd moved on to something else.
Eventually the law came down on him, along with the Better Business Bureau. Inside Edition or one of those tabloid news shows did a story on his legal issues years ago. The video clips of him in court were far different than that bright-eyed, hustling, passionate businessman we'd seen years prior.
For more detailed background info: