Ever since “The Wolf of Wall Street” came out, everyone wants to know what I think of the main character’s real-life inspiration, Jordan Belfort.
After all, he was involved with penny stocks, too. My life must be just like his, right?
Jordan Belfort broke the law. He defrauded his investors. He was arrested — and pleaded guilty to — money laundering and securities fraud.
Nope. I’m not a fan of Jordan Belfort.
In fact, I hate that people associate his schemes and thievery with my niche — penny stocks. It keeps people from taking advantage of the crazy spikes that penny stocks can experience in short periods of time. My strategy for trading penny stocks is completely legal.
I’m no scammer. The companies offering penny stocks might be sketchy and dishonest, but I’m totally transparent about who I am, what I do, and how I trade.
And I use trading as a means to teach my Trading Challenge students my strategy. I don’t scam people out of their money.
Let’s take a look at my problem with Jordan Belfort — why I don’t believe him when he says that he’s changed, and why his story should inspire you to become self-sufficient.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Problem With “The Wolf of Wall Street”
- 2 What’s Jordan Belfort Up to Now?
- 3 Jordan Belfort: I’m Not a Believer
- 4 Fact vs. Fiction: What’s True About Jordan Belfort?
- 5 The Bottom Line on Jordan Belfort
The Problem With “The Wolf of Wall Street”
In case you’re the only trader in the world who’s never seen the movie, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a movie based on Jordan Belfort’s autobiography.
It chronicles the founding, heyday, and eventual downfall of his investment firm, Stratton Oakmont.
Belfort and his partner, Danny Porush (portrayed as “Donnie Azoff” in the movie to avoid a lawsuit) used the oldest trick in the penny stock book to lure in unsuspecting investors. They pumped up stocks to inflate the price — then they’d unload their own shares, leaving people holding the bag.
Yup, a classic pump scenario.
The problem? The movie paints a drug-and-prostitute fueled picture of large-scale financial scamming … But I don’t think it tells the whole story behind Jordan Belfort’s activities.
Giving Penny Stocks a Bad Name
Does the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” give penny stocks a bad name?
Well, the staff of Stratton Oakmont allegedly used deceptive tactics to pump up low-priced stocks for their own benefit.
In watching that, people who don’t understand the stock market might think, ‘oh, penny stocks are illegal and dangerous. Better stay away.’
Trading penny stocks is not illegal.
The companies offering penny stocks might often be sketchy … but these stocks can still experience massive gains in short periods of time based on informational inefficiencies.
I don’t trust these companies any further than I could throw them.
I don’t invest in penny stocks. But I’m happy to trade them for very short time periods to capture those big price moves.
It’s all about your approach. You’ve got to understand the penny stock game.
That’s what I teach students in my Trading Challenge. Trading penny stocks isn’t about finding a company you believe in. It’s not about getting in on the ground floor. It’s about taking advantage of short-term price fluctuations.
Trading penny stocks isn’t the problem. It’s what pumpers like Belfort did that’s a problem.
What About the Victims?
Another problem? I don’t think the movie did justice to the victims.
People seem to think that Belfort only took money from wealthy people.
But in reality, that’s not the case. According to the New York Times, many small business owners are still trying to recover financially from Belfort’s scheme…
This makes my blood boil. I’ve had my fair share of scammers pretending to be me — I’ve witnessed firsthand how scams can harm individuals and small businesses.
It’s a terrible thing. Jordan Belfort took advantage of people. I find that unforgivable.
What’s Jordan Belfort Up to Now?
In 2003, Belfort was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $110 million.
He ended up serving 22 months. It was during his time behind bars that he got the idea to write his memoir — an idea fueled by his cellmate, comedian Tommy Chong. Nope, you can’t make this stuff up.
These days, Jordan Belfort makes his money in different ways — through motivational speaking engagements and sales training programs. Apparently, he can command as much as $100K per day…
But he still gets really touchy when people start asking him about his fraudulent activity. During one 60 Minutes Australia interview, he got angry, called it a “hatchet job” and walked out.
Belfort claims to have reinvented himself for the better and that everything’s on the level…
I’m not buying it. If you ask me, he’s still a wolf — only now, he’s dressed in sheep’s clothing.
Jordan Belfort: I’m Not a Believer
As Jordan Belfort told the New York Post, “It’s easier to get rich quick when you don’t follow the rules.’’
Nice, right? But what do you expect from a guy who’s been compared to Bernie Madoff, the operator of a Ponzi scheme and considered to be the largest financial fraud in U.S. history?
Here’s why I’m not heading up the Jordan Belfort fan club…
Restitution and Money Woes
In 2003, Jordan Belfort was sentenced to pay about $110 million in restitution.
But despite the fact that he was ordered to pay 50% of his income to victims once free, his payments haven’t made a huge dent.
After an initial chunk that he paid with proceeds from selling property, his succeeding payments haven’t been exactly fast and furious. This has put him in ‘deadbeat’ territory.
As of 2018, he still owed about $97 million.
The government noticed — and tried to pin him down to start paying back his 1,500+ victims.
Prosecutors believed that Belfort earned “at least $9 million in speaking engagements between 2013 and 2015 but pocketed it all.” They also claimed that he was collecting income from a design business.
And what about income from the wildly successful book and movie?
In a Facebook post, Belfort insisted he’s “not making a dime’’ from the movie, saying all of his profits from the book and film will go to paying back the investors he cheated.
But consider this…
In 2011, Belfort was paid a little over $1 million for the rights to his story. But government documents reveal that he only paid $21K in restitution that year.
The math just doesn’t add up…
Just this year, it was announced that Belfort was suing Red Granite, the production company responsible for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The company was later linked to a huge embezzlement scandal.
Why take legal action?
According to Belfort’s lawyer, Red Granite’s “did not disclose to Mr Belfort that they were using funds obtained from engaging in racketeering and other criminal activity.”
Interesting logic from someone who made his fortune from scamming others…
Living Large in a Land Down Under?
In 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that Belfort was living in Australia in an attempt to avoid repaying his victims.
But wait, there’s more sketchiness…
For a while, Belfort’s speaking engagements were handled through an Australia-based company called Face to Face Training.
The company reportedly wasn’t on the level. It ran into trouble after receiving millions of dollars from the government to be spent on service training and certifications that allegedly didn’t happen…
Not long after, Face to Face collapsed into liquidation.
Belfort claims he had no idea what was going on with Face to Face Training.
However, as this article reveals, Belfort had close ties to Career Pathways Australia, a company run by Paul Conquest — who also owned the majority of Face to Face Training.
Belfort apparently helped Conquest’s company in a variety of ways — brokering deals, coaching them on how to deal with media inquiries, and helping promote the business to potential clients.
What About His Partner?
As for Belfort’s partner in crime, Danny Porush? I wouldn’t exactly call him a role model.
After his federal indictment, Porush was convicted of insider trading, perjury, conspiracy, and money laundering.
He was ordered to pay $200 million in restitution and sentenced to four years in prison. He was released in 2004 after serving 39 months.
After his release, he reportedly got into medical sales … and in more trouble with the law.
In 2006, he was sued by his first wife — for not paying child support.
Then, in 2014, Porush got in trouble again for alleged shadiness with his medical sales company.
After initially being named in a whistleblower case involving fraudulent Medicare claims, the lawsuit was amended and refiled, alleging that Porush urged telemarketers to use high-pressure tactics to get people to buy medical supplies they might not need. Eventually, though, the case was thrown out.
What about his restitution? Apparently Porush, like his old buddy Belfort, has only paid a small portion of what he took from people.
Fact vs. Fiction: What’s True About Jordan Belfort?
Some of the events in “The Wolf of Wall Street” might seem a little off the wall … So what’s true and what’s not?
According to TIME, all of these things are true…
- One of Belfort’s first bosses, a broker named Mark Hanna, told him early in his career that the keys to success were “masturbation, cocaine and hookers.”
- Belfort and his partner, Danny Porush, had their Stratton Oakmont brokers aggressively sell shares of risky stocks to inflate the prices. Then, when the prices were at highs, they unloaded their own shares to earn profits.
- In 1991, Forbes actually exposed Belfort, referring to him as “a twisted version of Robin Hood, who robs from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.” Counterintuitively, this scathing profile only attracted more brokers to want to work for Stratton Oakmont.
- Stratton Oakmont did in fact take Steve Madden public. Despite the fact that the company is real, Stratton Oakmont’s brokers did their typical thing with it, driving up the price.
- The Switzerland money-laundering scheme from the movie actually happened. Belfort did indeed launder money into Swiss accounts by having his wife’s mother and aunt smuggle the money abroad.
- Belfort’s real-life partner, Danny Porush, was actually married to his cousin. But they’re now divorced.
- That infamous driving on quaaludes scene from the movie? It lines up with Belfort’s memoir — but the car was actually a Mercedes, not a Lamborghini.
- Stratton Oakmont office parties featured a “midget-tossing competition.”
- Talk about a tax break … Stratton Oakmont as a company billed prostitutes to the corporate card — then wrote off the charges in their taxes.
- Jordan Belfort crashed a helicopter in his front yard while he was high.
- He purchased a yacht that once belonged to Coco Chanel, named it after his wife … and later sunk it in Italy.
- Belfort called his second wife “duchess.”
- His prison sentence was reduced after he ratted on his friends.
The Bottom Line on Jordan Belfort
Can people change? Sure. Has Jordan Belfort changed? I’m not convinced.
Jordan Belfort has proven time and time again that he’s an effective salesperson. He can make money. But does that make him an inspiration?
I wish that Jordan Belfort would use his intelligence and influence for good.
I hope that in reading this, you’re starting to see the reason why I’m always telling you that the key to ‘success’ in trading is becoming self-sufficient.
When you rely on others to tell you what to trade and when, you’re at their mercy. Some people might have good intentions. Others might be self-serving pumpers…
It’s not just about figuring out who to trust. It’s about building a solid foundation of knowledge so you can rely on yourself and your own judgment when making change.
Real consistency in the stock market takes self-reliance. It requires time, determination, and a ton of studying.
Do you want to graduate from the class of newbie followers and become a smart, self-sufficient trader? It starts with education.
My Trading Challenge is the sum of everything I’ve learned in 20+ years in the market. I want my students to learn from what I did right and wrong so that they can do even better than me.
Not ready to take that step yet? I’ve also got a new 30-Day Bootcamp for traders. I filmed it with one of my top students, Matthew Monaco — it’s an incredible resource to familiarize yourself with the penny stock niche.
It’s my honor and my privilege to educate traders and help them find their own way — legitimately.
Do you promise to trade responsibly? Are you ready to take the next step?