Credibility is a lifestyle thing, it’s not an event or a task that you switch on like an actor. Building credibility is a mission but is successful from time, not necessarily long periods of time but certain sequences of events that build over time. Conmen groom their victims by fast talk but also by gaining trust, even when it is not due. In this third post in my investigation, I explain how the prime whistleblower in the BBX revelations gained my trust. It’s important because the ‘BBX family’ have, to a man, essentially used credibility as their defence, attacking the man and not the issues. I discuss the whole process I went through to establish reality using actual examples. Apart from the BBX expose it is also a good lesson in applying logic, something that all genuine truthseekers need to know and apply.
[ORIGINALLY POSTED in February 2017 at http://www.dennis.co.nz/2017/02/2-war-erupts-within-bbx-barter/index.html]
When I first received the email letter via my Tipline, I spoke with Cameron McKean and re-established a working relationship. I had spoken to him previously quite a while ago. I did some basic due diligence via the Internet and Social Media and then called him. I went through his email communication and specifically the points he had raised by way of [largely] open questions.
I found him amiable, perhaps a little emotionally involved; certainly very sure of his position but he made perfect sense on the surface. Having heard directly from him about the questions in the communication, I knew then that, yes, indeed he did exist; that he was the author and that yes he was prepared to supply any evidence that he had to back up his claims. When I asked for certain things that he didn’t have he gave me plausible reasons why he didn’t have it.
I had some form of validation at that stage but still had a lot of work to do. It wasn’t a slam dunk case by any means but apart from the potential motive of revenge, there was nothing obviously out of place. His take, that BBX was doomed seemed reasonable to me, especially in light of my extensive knowledge gained from working with Michael Touma and BBX in New Zealand previously. With Michael gone, and if the core claims stacked up, then indeed the writing would be on the wall, and things could happen sooner rather than later.
Next step was to contact BBX CEO Carolin McDonald, Michael’s second daughter and the one who was ‘now’ calling the shots. I introduced myself:
I am currently following up on a list of questions I have received via my Tipline which I understand originated from BBX Thailand and I seek your comment and responses please. It appears that Cameron has identified some issues that do on the surface appear to have some validity and as I want to get things right wish to cross-check with you before posting.
Can we talk via Skype sometime soon please? If not by email is fine. I am considering posting something over the weekend although I do not have a fixed date and/or deadline.
Top marks to Carolin as she did respond quickly and professionally:
Absolutely we can talk as all claims by Camron Mckean are false, he has conjured it all up in response to the legal action we have taken against him, clubbarter and safepayme in the terminiton of his Master Franchise Agreement in Thailand.
Im free 10am or 11am syd time today for skype
I noted that straight off the bat Carolin stated that “all claims … are false”. I found that interesting to say the least because immediately prior to that I had established in my own mind that there was a high degree of validity apparent, certainly at an early stage of investigation.
Then to say that “he has conjured it all up” I strongly suspected that this was false as I had at least some things that did stack up. I then had before me two seriously conflicting stories. Someone was telling porkies. Either the Thailand guy was a VERY clever man and had covered his falsehoods up very well OR BBX was hiding something and defending themselves. The issue Carolin spoke of (a legal claim against three entities) was news to me. Again this was either BS on Carolin’s part or Cameron was concealing important information. If he was doing bad things then of course it would be HIS story that I would tend to doubt.
So we Skyped. Carolin claimed again that she was always available to me, would be open and honest and so I started. I picked Question 10 to start with:
10. Is it true that Magali Russo has been banned as a Director of a New Zealand company?
I considered this a simple easy initial test case. It was a binary issue – Magali was either banned or she wasn’t – very simple. The New Zealand Companies Office lists banned directors. No Russo is on the list; neither any alias by that name or firstname. I knew this from having researched already so asked Carolin why Mags got taken off the NZ operations in 10 January 2017 (and when Carolin was appointed). I guess it was four, five, maybe six times that I tried to get a direct answer. All Carolin would say was basically that this was all part of their Global Expansion plans. Nothing more. I tried and tried and tried but struck out. Carolin ways evasive, did not answer, nor even address the question so that was it. I then went through the motions with all the rest of the questions and got total blanket denials and ad hominem attacks on the dude who had written them.
After the Skype call I received some information from her that I had asked for, which was great and showed me that BBX was still trading in Australia but then when it came to verification of an email from Mereile (Michael’s widow) and Carolin’s mother, I got a curt, “No you can’t speak to my mother; no Magali has not been banned in NZ”, now bugger off please, sort of response. End of story.
Ive provided all info currently that I believe is required, all contact can come through myself as its my position to manage BBX International, you can also imagine my family is fragile already since the loss of dad.
Fair enough. Her call. So I spread my wings and contacted other people within BBX. Same thing. “Cameron is a bad boy.” “The Toumas would never do anything wrong. End of story.”
This left me with the distinct impression that things were bad, and probably getting worse within BBX. It took a little while and a bit more time and discussion before I got the whole big picture, but get it I did. India is dead. NZ is a remote operation run from Australia. Malaysia and Singapore gone or appeared to be going. Some Franchises are doing OK – the UK and in NSW, but China was a real mess and Thailand had gone and numbers were down.
Investigating The Whistleblower
Just because things were bad; just because the whistleblower had a coherent story that stacked up didn’t necessarily mean that he was blame-proof, after all we all know that there are two sides to ANY story. I then had to determine to a reasonable level of proof what the story was in regards to the counterclaims. Did the claims against Cameron McKean stack up or not, and if they did, to what extent.
If he was a heartless crook or nutcase himself then this could be a case of tit-for-tat and clearly if there was a court case then this could be highly significant. I then started investigating the whistleblower. To put it bluntly, nobody likes being investigated. Everybody thinks that they are entitled to their own existence unhindered from being examined by a nosey investigative blogger, and especially when they have a very good idea that they will be talked about ‘out there’.
As I dug and quizzed and put him on the spot, I found an extraordinary consistency with his message and his approach to the whole thing. When I got something wrong, or doubted him unduly he responded with grace and in the way that I would expect from a guy who was exactly who he said he was, playing with a straight bat. OK he tells me not to use “straight” in the same sentence as his name because he’s gay, but there was a huge level of integrity demonstrated in not only what he said, but how he said it. The more I quizzed and asked for validation of his story, the more this became obvious. To me this guy was very clearly playing things ‘straight’.
In all the many hours of research I had found nothing that was actually wrong or at fault in the whistleblower’s intel and story – nothing. The only thing that I could see that may have been factually incorrect or answered with a “No!” with the question No 10, was the fact that Magali had not been banned. Even with that one though I came to the conclusion that there was indeed a debt to the authorities; that Magali could be unable to come to NZ again for fear of getting held up at customs and the informant was quite open about how he heard this information – from Magali herself. If he had been given incorrect intel from the girl herself then he was off the hook as long as he never claimed this as an undisputed fact. He never did as he simply asked a question and reported the source as the source and refused to be drawn on lack of verification. He just took her at her word and ran with it, simply asking the question.
One of the many pieces in the jigsaw puzzle that I had to piece together was the counter-claim that Cameron had reacted badly to being found out for establishing an competing barter operation and his BBX Agency subsequently terminated. I asked for copies of key communications between the two entities and got them. I asked heaps of questions about his business and personal life and financial comings and goings and sought verification. He answered unhesitatingly and in full. He provided me with explanations and evidence that I asked for usually on the spot.
He’s built his credibility with me very strongly. It took time and might not have been particularly comfortable for him in the process, but unless he’s one of the smartest conmen out there and a lot smarter than me, my take is that Cameron McKean is absolutely the sort of guy who does produce the goods. He has integrity to die for.
There is more though. One can be a fool as well as an honest man. Why was he in this predicament, extricating himself from BBX having clearly ended up in an unsavoury situation not of his wishes?
There should be and is in his story much more than, “he’s a nice guy” or “he can be trusted”. His story has to make sense in the bigger scheme of things and this gets a little personal so I will summarise it only briefly . . . Michael Touma was a salesman, and a very good one at that. He could sell rice to the Chinese and ice to the Eskimos.
When we look at Cameron’s story and understand it in the context that basically, “he’s a nice guy and got ripped off” everything makes sense – everything. Now I don’t want to go out there and whack a dead man for being a crook at this stage, but if we accept this reality that people (way more than just the Thailand Agency BTW) did NOT get what they expected and were told they would by the ‘big man’ then we can see a coherent story . . . one that has integrity in and of itself.
We have moved then from the current gossip, crisis, conflict into the personalities involved (and all the associated pride & passion) into the big picture that, oops, unfortunately, the Founder of BBX didn’t leave a particularly clean house when he left us all.
Should Cameron’s story stack up, we would find things like conflict that had been in existence for a long time prior to his resignation (or firing if you believed the BBX people). We would find that there were issues probably not resolved and possibly BBX’s handling of the situation unprofessional or confrontational with repeating patterns of frustration and Agencies dead or dying across the globe.
Indeed this is the case.
It is my take that, along with others both still within and ex-BBX there is resentment within the BBX family; that things are NOT going well since “dad died” and that this has brewed and festered to the point that Thailand has taken it public. It is my take that while others have jumped ship, some slunk away with their tail between their legs and others have boxed on (some fully aware that there is trouble under the hood and others yet to find out how much) Cameron actually was the only one who was prepared to whistleblow and took it upon himself to get the truth out there, even it meant that he would take a hit in the process.
My take is that contrary to any claims that this was done for personal gain or to destroy something that he was bitter about, he actually acted in this way because he cared and cares. Something is wrong. He has the evidence and the integrity; and is professional enough to do the right thing . . . report it to the appropriate authorities and let the people he knows know themselves what is really going down within BBX. If it costs him to do this by way of risk, costs or loss of opportunity (which he has explained to me very well) then that’s the sign of integrity not vindictiveness.
Interestingly, I actually made the call to go live with my public warning and analysis for totally different reasons altogether. In the next post I move on to the really big issues within BBX as I share some pretty scary stuff. Stay tuned.
The BBX Investigation Series
- PUBLIC WARNING: BBX Barter (2381 words)
- 2. War Erupts Within BBX Barter (4090 words)
- 3. BBX is Busted – Working it Out (2388 words)
- 4. BBX has big, Big, BIG Problems (1778 words)
- 5. The Demise of BBX (3489 words)
- 6. BBX – A Summary (1308 words)
- 7. Reflections on Investigating BBX (6394 words)
- 8. BBX – The First Criminal Charges (3625 words)
- 9. BBX Crimes – The Significance (2,710 words)
- 10. BBX Causes Problems for IRTA (2,251 words)
- 11. BBX: Rats Off a Sinking Ship (1,715 words)
- 12. BBX Data Security Breach (1,852 words)
- 13. BBX Threatens – Sue Me PLEASE! (1,511 words)
- 14 The BBX Knives Are Coming Out (1,791 words)
- 15. BBX Memberships – Names in a Database (2,774 words)
- 16. BBX UK & The Franchise Show (2,840 words)
- 17. OPEN LETTER 1 – BBX Members (162 words)
- 18. BBX Currency Analysis – 10c/$1.00 (1,527 words)
- 19. The BBX People Speak (11,726 words)
- 20. More Words from BBX People (15,206 words)
- 21. How BBX Did It – Lies & Theft (3,663 words)
- 22. BBX – Winding Down/Winding Up (3,217 words)
- 23. BBX New Zealand Analysis (828 words)
- 24. BBX UK Membership Analysis (1,143 words)
- 25. BBX NZ – Serious Fraud Office (1,261 words)
- 26. BBX – Thailand Member Analysis (1,165 words)
- 27. BBX Minor Countries Analysis (574 words)
- 28. The BBX People (2,290 words)
- 29. BBX International in a Nutshell (295 words)
- 30. The Raw BBX Data (4,463 words)
- 31. BBX Members React – It’s War (5,617 words)
- 32. BBX and Issues of Morality (1,363 words)
- 33. Warning to BBX Staff & Associates (1,944 words)
- 34. BBX Devaluation Helps With Tax Losses (1,269 words)
- 35. BBX Rips Open the Barter Industry (1,237 words)
- 36. MEDIA RELEASE: Barter Tax Avoidance Warning (516 words)
- 37. BBX Whistleblower: Cameron McKean (4,994 words)
- 38. The BBX Investigation Final Comments (1,504 words)