In February 2022, an eyebrow raising summit called Alpha Con came to Salt Lake City, hosted by Jeremiah Evans, the brash, Utah-based entrepreneur who calls himself “The Bull.”

The conference garnered ridicule online for its flashy antics, steep price of admission and its promotional poster featuring an all-male speaking list. It also came about three days after Chad Goeckeritz, a dentist in Draper, says he invested in Alpha Influence, one of Evans’ companies.

“I was like, ‘oh my heck, what did I get myself into?’” Goeckeritz said.

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Now, more than a year since the conference came to Salt Lake City, companies associated with Evans that claim to set up and manage e-commerce ventures on Amazon for a $40,000 investment are racking up complaints and allegations of fraud.

Dozens of former clients say they were misled, describing a similar experience — they claim they made a fraction of the money promised, if any money at all, their stores were frequently shut down for violating Amazon’s policies, and Alpha Influence would not respond when its clients started to ask questions, they said.

The Deseret News obtained 51 separate complaints filed with the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection since March 2022 against companies associated with Evans, most naming Alpha Influence LLC. The company’s registration with Utah Division of Corporations expired in July.

The other companies include Alpha Automation and Alpha Financial. One complaint was filed against Alpha Credit Solutions, describing a near identical situation spelled out in the other complaints, though no company has ever been registered in Utah under that name.

Meanwhile, 73 former clients, many of whom did not file a complaint, say they’re gearing up for a lawsuit, according to Greg Christiansen with the Draper-based firm Guardian Law.

In an emailed statement to the Deseret News, Evans described the company as “an e-commerce platform that managed a drop-shipping arrangement through a signed contract that allowed for products to be listed on Amazon.com, then purchased from a third-party retailer to ship directly to the consumer after an order was placed.”

“This arrangement did not require purchasing or holding inventory in advance of the sale and was a very popular business model for all during the first few years of Alpha’s business. Indeed, many of the stores Alpha managed were very successful in generating significant profits for customers.”

That is until Amazon “changed its policies,” Evans said. “In an effort to provide a remedy to Amazon’s policy changes, Alpha assigned these contracts and business assets to a third party who agreed to transition customers to a preferred platform at no additional charge. Unfortunately, that transition has not been successful.”

Evans’ statement did not elaborate on how or why the transition to another platform had not been successful, and did not address the Division of Consumer Protection complaints. Evans did not respond when asked to elaborate.

‘I think I’ve been scammed’

Many of the complaints name Evans, claiming he used his social media presence to recruit clients for Alpha Influence, which was registered in Springville. The complainants claim that for $40,000, the company promised large, monthly returns in passive income through dropshipping, a form of e-commerce where a business doesn’t actually own inventory, but instead acts as an intermediary, purchasing goods as needed from another party.

Alpha Influence would set up an Amazon store, telling the client it would manage logistics for a cut of the profits, usually around 30%, according to former clients and documents shared with the Deseret News. They would see a return on that $40,000, Alpha Influence told them, within 12 to 18 months, although in some internal documents they said it could be as soon as seven months.

The 51 complaints obtained by the Deseret News levied against companies associated with Evans add up to more than $2 million invested. However, former clients and Christiansen with Guardian Law say that likely represents a fraction of the company’s overall clients.

Goeckeritz, the dentist from Draper, said he learned about Alpha Influence through a former employee who claimed to be making up to $7,000 each month with the company. He consulted his accountant and his financial planner, and spent about three months learning about dropshipping and e-commerce. The investment seemed solid — “his company would completely monitor the store. There was zero requirement for me other than paying the monthly bill and making sure there was a working capital. That was all I had to do,” Goeckeritz said.

By mid-March, Alpha Influence helped him onboard, setting up several profiles for online vendors.

“And then from there, it was pretty much silence. There was very little communication,” said Goeckeritz, who told the Deseret News he was then put in touch with Ecom Partners, described as “a division within Alpha that automates and manages your Amazon store,” according to Alpha Influence documents shared with the Deseret News.

Goeckeritz still wasn’t seeing much movement with his Amazon sellers account, or hearing an explanation from anyone associated with Alpha. Sometime last summer he received an email from Evans claiming they had sold every Amazon store to another company, which wanted an additional $25,000 within the next year, Goeckeritz says. That’s when he called Guardian Law and told them: “I think I’ve been scammed.”

Most of the complaints follow a similar pattern. Clients usually invest $40,000, making the payment via wire transfer or credit card, according to former customers and Christiansen. Alpha then tells its clients the Amazon stores take time to start generating income, which according to the complainants is often around 120 days — by then, the deadline to dispute both a wire transfer or credit card payment have expired, leaving the client with little recourse.

Many complainants also say their stores were shut down because they were in violation of Amazon’s terms and conditions.

“We were under the assumption that (dropshipping) was against Amazon’s policies but Alpha reassured us and promised ... they operated where it was not against any policies,” wrote one person who invested over $46,000. “Amazon does not allow dropshipping and canceled the store almost immediately,” wrote another, who says they invested $30,000, but only made about $2,000 back.

For those who couldn’t afford $40,000, Alpha Financial offered a solution, detailed by Christiansen. After paying a $4,000 down payment, the client would then apply for several credit cards using a “script” provided by Alpha.

A screenshot of a text shared with the Deseret News shows someone from Alpha giving a client instructions for applying for a credit card. “Here are somethings that they will ask for,” the text reads, before listing things like “200k annual business revenue,” “5 employees,” and “Business is 3-5 years old.”

“US bank usually asks for a specific date, put 5/2/2016,” the text reads.

According to the complaints, the company goes dark on its clients once they start to ask questions. Both Goeckeritz and other former clients who spoke on the condition of anonymity had similar experiences.

‘A flashy entrepreneur’

Evans has a large following. He’s been featured on a local Utah TV news station, where he was dubbed “the next Tony Robbins,” has a glowing profile in Forbes, and garnered an endorsement from conservative commentators like Tomi Lahren, who described Evans as “someone who is willing to stand his ground and is truly convicted in what he believes in.”

“I’m a very analytical person, I need to crunch the numbers. For those of you wondering whether you should pull the trigger, do it and do it asap,” said Dallin Pili, a former client, in a testimonial listed on an internal Alpha document.

His online presence leans heavily into the “Alpha” brand, replete with pictures and slow-motion videos of him shooting rifles, working out, sitting on a private jet and posing in front of a Lamborghini. It also features clips from his two podcasts, “The Alphas Creed” and “The Bullpen.” He has some 460,000 Instagram followers.

“Whether it’s self improvement, improving and scaling your business, or needing to elevate your mindset; AlphaCon is for YOU!” Evans wrote on Instagram in January 2022. A month later the conference was underway, and by March, the first complaint was filed with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

One of the complainants said they grew up with Evans, came across his social media presence and decided to invest; one said they learned about Evans through their son; another claims someone from Alpha Influence reached out to them over Instagram.

“A flashy entrepreneur type who promised to help people have it all: healthy bodies, thriving businesses, travel opportunities, etc,” one person wrote to the Division of Consumer Protection. “While he seemed a bit out there, Alpha had been mentioned a few times in the press by creditable publications. They had announced AlphaCon, which didn’t fare well in public, but they seemed to be creditable entrepreneurs.”

In one complaint, a former client claims Evans refused to offer a refund because he learned the client’s father was speaking to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

“He said he would not give me a refund and that we (we being my father, brother, cousin, and myself) would be hearing from his attorney,” their complaint reads.

Most say they invested $40,000, but at least one complainant says they paid Alpha $85,000.

By July a Reddit user started a thread titled “Alpha Influence Scam?”

“Did anyone else get scammed?” the user asked, naming Evans and his associate Kole Brimhall who, according to his Instagram profile, is Alpha Influence’s “Executive/Head of Sales.”

The thread garnered more than 230 replies, and the complaints to the Division of Consumer Protection kept coming. A number of users banded together, and turned to Christiansen at Guardian Law. A class action lawsuit is imminent, they say.

“It completely drained my savings,” says the man who started the Reddit thread, who asked to remain anonymous. He invested in Alpha with his mother, and told the Deseret News it will take a long time for them to build back the money they lost. “My mother, in fact, had to borrow against her house.”