Another unrequested Firepower update

The major focus of attention since the collapse of magic-fuel-pill company Firepower, with which I had such fun, has been the scam artist in charge, one Tim Johnston. Tim's lavish lifestyle was as unsustainable as the rest of the Firepower debacle, so he dragged his carpet-bag full of cash off into the night some time ago.

Now, another Firepower collaborator has bobbed to the surface of the treatment pond. His name is John Finnin.

John Finnin was the guy who gave Austrade grants to Firepower. Then, as is traditional among the parasitic worms who've burrowed their way through the vital organs of the world economy for so many years, Finnin became Firepower's CEO on a $AU500,000-a-year salary, while still greasing the wheels for taxpayers' money to flow from Austrade to Firepower.

(Well, I think he greased them. It might actually have been some sort of mucus. Lab tests are ongoing.)

Shortly after golden-parachuting into Firepower, though, Finnin was accused of child sex offences, and quit the CEO job.

At the time, this was all just part of the rich tapestry of tawdry dodginess that was the Firepower saga. (After a while, I was expecting Erik Prince or L. Ron Hubbard to be involved somehow.)

Given that modern society seems to be pretty sure that inappropriately touching one small boy is a worse crime than burning down a hundred fully-occupied hospitals, I'm not crazy about the publicity that child-sex accusations always attract. If you baselessly accuse someone of having interfered with children, then even if they're found as Not Guilty as anybody ever has been, the smell of the accusation will follow them around until they die.

But wouldn't you know it - Finnin's been found guilty of a total of 23 charges, which include repeatedly molesting a 15-year-old-boy. His lawyer has courageously asserted that there's an "element of entrapment" to the case, since the boy concerned was - he says - perfectly happy with prostituting himself. That's not what entrapment means, of course, but I'm sure the court will give this argument all the consideration it deserves.

This prosecution all kicked off after some different child-sex claims, which were allegedly what caused Austrade to allow Finnin to "resign quietly and return home", and thereby stop - again, allegedly - using Australian embassy privileges to help him participate in an international child-sex ring. Austrade are adamant that they didn't actually tip Finnin off about the investigation, and that their previous internal investigation of Finnin's activities did not in fact involve a "child sex ring". Austrade just allowed Finnin to give lots of public money to a man with a previous career of fuel-pill scams who then hired him as CEO of his new fuel-pill scam. So that's all right, then.

There'd been a bit of a lull in Firepower-related news before this delectable little detail came along. Gerard Ryle, the Sydney Morning Herald journalist most likely to be depicted on Tim Johnston's dartboard, published an unassumingly-titled...

Firepower book about the company a little while ago. Ryle has been doing interviews and publishing excerpts. (He's got a blog, too. He's less than totally impressed with Austrade.)

It's possible that, a mere year and a bit after Tim Johnston skipped the country, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission will actually, finally, file criminal charges against Johnston. Don't hold your breath, though; it's got to take a while to figure out how to bust Johnston without bothering the various governmental worthies who were so proud to be associated with him a couple of years ago.

(There's been a civil case against whatever-remains-of-Firepower crawling along for more than a year now. ASIC has also awarded an eight-year ban to one of the several financial planners who told their clients Firepower shares were a great investment, when the shares weren't actually even legal to sell. The investors who ended up holding Firepower's toilet-paper shares continue, hopelessly, to try to get their money back.)

You can expect official regulatory bodies to take this long to dot all the i's and cross all the t's, and taking a while to do so certainly doesn't mean such bodies are useless. But it does serve as a reminder that you shouldn't expect the government to prevent rip-offs from being perpetrated, even large-scale and immensely audacious ones. Indeed, the bigger a scam is, the more likely it is to have some government officials actively helping it, either knowingly - as, I presume, was the case with Finnin - or as gullible marks - which I suppose the fresh-faced Stephen Moss might have been. (I bet Stephen's dad knew what was going on, though; Stephen claims he ended up being owed money by the vanished Mr Johnston, but his father cleared a 1.6-million-dollar profit when he sold the soon-to-be-bankrupt Sydney Kings to Firepower.)

The State government here in New South Wales has also recently banned four more bogus fuel-saving devices, not including the previously-mentioned Moletech thingy which is I think still technically legal to sell in NSW.

Among the now-banned gadgets are the "FuelMAX" and "Super FuelMAX", which are magnet devices, banned by the US FTC in 2005, but still apparently on sale from some Australian dealers. Then there's the "Magnoflow", another magnet, which the manufacturers say breaks down "fuel clusters" to allow more complete combustion, for a claimed "20% or more" mileage improvement. Which is of course BS, because modern engines burn 98% or more of their fuel already. The Magnoflow people seem to have given up on Australia, which is a terrible shame, since this gadget's US list price appears to be $US159 or more, but it was only $AU129 here in Australia.

Also now-banned-in-NSW is the "Prozone Fuelsaver" - which allegedly gives lucky buyers a magnet and a "catalyst"! (Astonishingly enough, the Prozone Fuelsaver never seems to have been tested by the catalyst enthusiasts at "California Environmental Engineering".)

Four down; only several dozen more to go.

In Australia alone.


9 Responses to “Another unrequested Firepower update”

  1. Stark Says:

    Hrmmm... I think a possibly new scam has just occured to me. At least its not one I've seen about...

    Did you know that the 2 biggest thieves of fuel economy for your vehicle are air friction and rolling resistance!? Now, through the miracle science of our quantum vibratory technologies you can nearly eliminate these problems and increase your mileage by up to 60%! By using our newly formulated quantum technology nano-polymer dihydrogen monoxide spray you can greatly reduce these mileage robbing issues! A quick spray over your entire vehicle and tires will make amazing improvements in your mileage!!! For the amazing price of just $199.95 you will receive a 5oz. spray bottle of our amazing product - that's enough for one compact car! (We recommend 2 bottles for full size sedans and 4 bottles for SUVs, minivans and pickups due to their increased wind resistance). If you order 3 or more bottles we'll even throw in our special anti air-friction glass cleaning cloth!! Order TODAY and SAVE tomorrow!

    No returns, refunds, or money back guarantee of any kind. Claims have not been verified and may in fact be complete bull****, but you're so gullible you'll believe anything we tell you if there's enough exclamation points in the description. Offer void where illegal (though you can always purchase it over the net because you know it's only been outlawed because of the vast govt-oil company conspiracy).


    So, how's my pitch? I'm thinking bright red white and blue packaging with a faintly US patriotic theme to sucker the gullible and patriotic here in the states... other packaging suggestions for different localities would be welcomed. :)

  2. Kiro Says:

    It's not bad but I think your improvement claimed improvement is a bit too hign. 60% is probably a bit too high even for the morons that buy into this stuff. I'd shoot for "up to 30%" to keep it manageable. Also, mention that you've run tests in Russia on big army trucks or the like and like Dan says, you can't forgot to claim your product has been tested by California Environmental Engineering and found to be just as, if not more awesome, as the Moletech Fuel Saver.

    But otherwise I love it. For added effect try selling a limited/super edition in a special wooden box and claim that it's line with a macroscopic ( ;) ) layer of super magnets that help keep the spray AND cloth in perfect condition by re-aligning their positive IONs. Oh and the box can make your car SOUND better if you tape it your exhaust. That one will get the audiophiles on board too. Gotta tap as many markets as possible you know.

    Damn Dan, you really are making is all into scam artists extraordinaire!

  3. Kiro Says:

    Dagnamit! I've spotted at least 2 grammar/spelling mistakes in there and I read it about 5 times. How about an edit feature Dan?

  4. Stark Says:

    I think I'll set up a web page for it including testimonials from average people... using the Onions regular average people pictures for them of course. Also, I'll put Vladamir Putin, Che Guevara, and Ted Kennedy in there for good measure.

    Love the Russian truck angle Kiro but I was planning on making up a nice Swiss testing agency to lend it some foreign mystique, and we all know those Swiss are trustworthy types! Hell, maybe I'll just claim that it's been tested by CERN and they've "Never seen anything like it!" I could also claim that its main ingredient (H20) is used extensively by NASA!

    All I need now is a snappy name.... I suppose SuckerSpray would be a little too upfront eh? How about DiHydroGo! ?

    So, who wants in on the ground floor? ;)

  5. huge Says:

    That's a pretty gnarly search query!

  6. Kiro Says:

    I like the Swiss angle, especially the CERN part. Perhaps you can claim they wiped the inside of the LHC to improve it's efficiency too, it no less speeds up light itself! The main ingredient is a good shout, but I'd also say it includes N2O, just for an added bit of irony ;)

  7. RichVR Says:

    Okay, Stark you've finally done it. You have breached my wall of decency. You have convinced an unemployed IT consultant that there is only one way to go.

    I am interested in your concept and would like to receive your newsletter.

    The ground floor sounds wonderful to me right about now. Heck, I'll take a refrigerator box on the steam grate next to the ground floor.

    What do you need? I'm not one for HTML or any kind of math, but I can write bullshit that would make your head spin.

    My High School internship was at an ad agency until the busted me for developing pornographic pictures through the film lab they used (on their dime). True story.

    I also used to be a bouncer and bartender. I am a jackass of all trades.

    End CV

    Call me.

  8. phrantic Says:

    Right now I get the feeling that RichVR would be an incredibly useful person to work with.

  9. Stark Says:

    RichVR - afraid I have bad news my friend. I have been found guilty of having a conscience and am therefore unable to sign you up for my newsletter. However, should you find yourself slightly (and I do mean slightly) less conscientious (and I know that prolonged unemployment can have that effect) do feel free to take the idea and run with it. Just make out the royalty checks (22.4% off the top) to Stark, Semi-Evil Semi-Genius.

    You may have to cut Kiro in on the deal as well since he definitely helped refine the pitch. Alternatively you could just have him "taken care of" and add his mysterious disappearance to the pitch as "co-inventor was silenced by Big Friction and Really Big Oil to keep their profits". Whatever works for you. Note that I keep a full time security detail about my person so the same tactic will not work on me. And yes, I did just create new cabal out of a force of physics who's goal is to keep making money in concert with the oil industry. That's a freebie for ya. ;)

    Seriously though, sorry to hear about the work situation. I'll keep you in mind if see any job leads around.

    Maybe you can get Dan to send you some of his gadget review backlog to do....

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