A cautionary tale: the “Raw Vegan Village”

Taliferos

In early 2008, Gerald “Storm” and Johanna “Jinjee” Talifero, pictured, announced that they were selling homes in a “Raw Vegan Village” – a community they were building in the Upper Ojai Valley in Southern California.

The Taliferos are the couple behind the popular Garden Diet website, and the homes for sale were to be no ordinary homes, but state-of-the-art luxury green homes set in a stunning location on nearly 120 acres of fertile land.

Here was a unique opportunity to live in a community of like-minded people, growing food together, and earning a good income from the Village’s green businesses, which would include a world-class raw spa.

As a local newspaper article on the project began, “The dream sounded nothing short of a utopia.”

At least 27 individuals, couples and families followed that dream and made home down payments to the Taliferos (average amount: around $30,000) between mid 2008 and mid 2010. The Taliferos also sold shares in the planned spa.

But the dream very quickly turned into a nightmare.

Seven of those who lost their money share their stories below.

Contracts show that those who bought homes were told that the Village would be completed by summer 2011 latest.

But at the time of writing, building has not even started, and the Taliferos own no land, have no permits for building and no funds for building (it is estimated the Village would take well over $20 million to complete) and it doesn’t look likely any of this will change.

Some who made down payments had already realised something was seriously amiss before 2008 was out and started requesting their money back. In the coming months and years, many more followed suit. The Taliferos had agreed with many if not all who signed up that down payments were refundable.

But at the time of writing no one has yet received their money back. The Taliferos say they spent it all, though they have yet to provide any financial statements showing where it went.

However, they insist that they plan to repay everyone. As Storm Talifero told me, “It is our foremost goal to make these repayments. We are completely committed to this in our every waking hour.”

But some investors have now endured several long years of being led to believe by the Taliferos that the return of their money was, at all times, just around the corner.

Lives have been turned upside down with unimaginable stress and anguish. Some have lost their entire life savings and are left struggling to make ends meet.

Nobody but the Taliferos knows what happened to the “little over $900,000” they admit to collecting.

As one of those who lost money observes below, “Somebody needs to deal with the facts here. They’ve collected an enormous amount of money that has never been accounted for.”

In emails sent by the Taliferos between 2008 and 2010, to parties desperate to get their money back, the Taliferos repeatedly stated they were unable to make repayments as every dollar they had was tied up in the Village.

And they did spend around $400,000 on attempts to get the project off the ground. But in November of last year, Storm Talifero made a shocking admission in an email to one home buyer.

He wrote that of the $900,000+ collected, “We reinvested about five hundred thousand back into the business which is The Garden Diet.”

Not only did no one I spoke to give permission for their home down payment to be used in this way. Around the same time the Taliferos also made available a document which showed that they consider their rent, food and other personal expenses “Garden Diet expenses”.

Late last year, some of those who lost money decided they could no longer stay silent, and as they began sharing their stories with me I realised I couldn’t stay silent either. Seven who made down payments on homes in the Raw Vegan Village share their stories below, followed by a statement from Storm Talifero.

NOTE: The seven people quoted below asked to remain anonymous to protect their privacy. I thank them all for their courage in sharing their stories and I must also thank my friend and colleague Anna Rodgers for her assistance with this report. Anna writes, “As soon as I started reading documents connected with this, I could see that there was something very fishy going on, and the more evidence I saw, the more shocked I was.”

Home buyer A, a single mother from Los Angeles, paid the Taliferos $170,000 towards a home in the Raw Vegan Village.

“Our home was to be built on a creek-side site which I chose in January 2009 when I visited the land. The home was to consist of a 2800 square foot main house, a 1000 square foot guest house, four acres of land, and a pool.

I was promised that building on my home would commence immediately, hence the big down payment ($170,000). My home was to be built first on the land. My husband and father had died and I was left raising my son alone and was looking for a community in which to raise him so I was vulnerable in making this decision and acting on it.

I cannot tell you how saddened this makes me. I feel so naive and so abused in this lie all the way around 360. My son played with theirs and we spent time in their home on several occasions. All while deceiving and stealing from us all and even talking about karma and spirituality…just blows my consciousness to see such blatant audacity.

I was patient and understanding for three years but I cannot tell you my frustration at Storm and Jinjee’s cavalier attitude. It appears they are not bothered by their past actions nor the fact they continue to make promises they’ve been making some of us since 2008 about paying us back. Nothing continues to be done with this situation. They are holding us in limbo and I am truly baffled by their behavior and irresponsibility.

My son is 15 now and I am in my fifties, alone in providing for his education and expenses. I was recently contacted by a member of the group who wants to make a documentary about everyone’s experiences with this. I thought he was kidding. How we were taken and ripped off? Maybe that is what he meant.

The thought of continuing this to other innocent people looking to get off the grid and make a better life for themselves…just sends chills of disgust down my spine. May the consequences flow where they need to be for the lessons to be learned.”

Home buyer B sent the Taliferos a $10,000 deposit on a planned home for himself, his wife and their three young children.

“I made a down payment of $10,000 in early May 2008 and shortly after visited the Taliferos in Ojai. I requested my money back within two weeks of that visit, but to date I have not had a cent of it returned to me.

The Raw Vegan Village sales page had the following to say about our down payments:

SNAG CONTROL

Q: What if you run into a snag and can’t complete this village for some reason?

A: If for any reason things don’t work out, we will refund your down-payment.

DOWN-PAYMENT

Q: What would happen if someone paid a down-payment but was unable, for whatever reason, to go through with a purchase?

A: If you decided not to buy, we would refund your deposit.

People have continued to give them the benefit of the doubt and yet…somebody needs to deal with the facts here. They’ve collected an enormous amount of money that has never been accounted for. It seems this “core group” spent far too long buying into their stories while Jinjee and Storm just dug deeper and deeper and deeper.

I wish I’d said something to “someone” sooner, had I only known who that might be (I was one of the people the Taliferos kept out of the communications they sent the rest of the group). So I feel it’s very much in the public’s best interest that the story be told.

And maybe the story is, “How could ANYONE possibly be happy with this experience?!”

I was the first person to actually send them any money. But I was led to believe, by Jinjee, that there might “only” be a spot or two remaining open, and that there was a sense of urgency around making a decision

As a result I sent them $10,000 with the understanding that it would be applied to my down payment if we decided to buy and would be refunded if not. In essence they needed to ensure I was serious if they were going to hold a spot for us.

I visited the land with Storm and later met Jinjee. We spent most of the day together and they took me out to a rather expensive meal (it was about $110 for the three of us, with items to go for them). After the meal we went to meet with the realtor when they were to submit the official offer on the property.

What?!

That was a surprise to me and when the paperwork had been filled out the realtor asked for a check to escrow to show the land owner this was a serious offer. Storm wrote a check for $11,500 – that would be $1,500 they had to put up and my $10,000.

I left the meeting feeling I’d been punched in the stomach.

Upon returning home my wife and I discussed the situation and felt the risk was too high and that we’d be looking at two years or more to make a move. This was *before* we knew anything else about how little had actually been done on this project. To be honest I feel quite foolish about it now, but at the time it just seemed like a dream for us and we trusted Jinjee and Storm having been long-time subscribers to their email list – that and hearing so many other people in the raw food community speak highly of them.

So within about 2 weeks I told them we’d decided against going forward. This would have been mid May of 2008. We waited. And we waited. And in August I wrote Jinjee to ask when we’d get our money back. She responded by saying something to the effect of “Oh! We didn’t realize you wanted your money back. We thought it was a gift to the community. I’m so sorry, we’ll get it back to you as soon as we can.”

We were thinking “Really?! You think we just GIFTED YOU $10,000?!” Maybe if they’d written us a note saying “Thanks for the money” we’d have understood there was a misunderstanding, but I really don’t think there was any misunderstanding.

A month passed and nothing. I wrote again. Got another story about how it’d be another two weeks. Six weeks passed, I wrote again. They said they’d be selling the water rights to the property and they’d pay me as soon as that happened.

And then there was another excuse, and another, then the promise I’d be paid back soon with 10% interest on top of what I’d paid them. We had promises of being paid off after producing movies, other projects, selling websites, etc.

And even after all this, things still continued to be published (videos, articles, etc) as if this was all proceeding. The farce grew larger and larger, and included more and more people.

In Sep 2009 I wrote to Jinjee, “In good faith I sent to you $10,000, not wanting to make the trip to California if a spot was not available and with the understanding that my money would be refunded if we decided against joining the community. I was sorely disappointed, after being led to believe spots were filled up and only one place was left, to discover that my $10,000 was pretty much it at that time. Not a good sign, and not particularly honest on your part. I have been patient for this past year with repeated promises that in a month or two months or whatever that our money would be returned to us, as promised – even with interest. None of it was true.”

I also threatened them with legal action around this time. Jinjee’s response was that any legal action was my choice but it would certainly jeopardize any remaining chance the project had of succeeding. Well, that weighed heavy on my conscience as I surely didn’t want others to lose out on all they’d invested. But that’s been a key part of their strategy in dealing with us, I believe.

I think that Storm and Jinjee have somehow created a fear on the part of us that by blowing a whistle we might somehow jeopardize the return of our money.

I long ago accepted that there is not any sincere effort on their part to return the money. I suppose, in ways, they remind me a little too much of some people I’ve known well in my life who freely spend other people’s money and think of it as some gift deserved for their awesomeness.

It’s also clear in Jinjee’s language that this is all someone else’s fault. They have not accepted any responsibility for this result.

I think we’re all decent, peaceable, loving people here – and sometimes people can use that against us. I’d love to believe Jinjee and Storm are good people, too, but I think the reality is closer to wolves among sheep.

I don’t know if this is a story of metaphysical goofiness gone badly awry – I mean perhaps they just kept up this “if we just think positive it will all work out” routine? Or if it’s a matter of people authentically trying to make something happen without realizing how ill-equipped they were and not being willing to get in touch with reality, or if it’s a situation of outright fraud and theft.

Anyways, I count myself fortunate it wasn’t $40,000 and my life savings.”

Home buyer C did not wish to disclose any identifying details.

“Based on my personal experience with the Taliferos I have found them to be entirely without honor or integrity, and I believe they should be serving time in prison for their actions.

Instead, they insist they had every right to use our money for any purpose they chose and have never even apologized for losing a million dollars of other people’s money. In their minds they are always the victims.

My inquiry into the laws of the State of California has revealed it is highly illegal to advertise homes for sale and declare completion dates for a subdivision of homes and a village when you own no land and need $20 million to get started and you don’t have it (that’s the amount Storm Talifero told the Ventura County Star he needed to build the village, NOT including land payments).

There appears to be no legal or reasonable explanation for why 27 people were sold homes to be built on the land they claimed they owned, but did not.

They advertised the Raw Vegan Village as a “community”, which in everyone else’s minds meant the individuals would be part of any and all decision making, especially where finances were concerned. Never did any of us agree to just turn our money over to them for them to use as they pleased. Yet they have provided no factual documentation showing what they did with our money, other than to say they spent it and it is now gone.

They stole my money, committed other serious acts of deception and blatantly lied about many details of this project…of that there is no dispute. They never had the ability to fulfill the terms of the contracts they signed with investors in the project.

These truths need to be told now to the 500 people the Taliferos claim are on the waiting list to get into the “Raw Vegan Village”, if and when they move forward with it, and to the thousands of health seekers searching the internet for a better way of life for their families. Based on the fact that they continue to tell the public they are raising funds to build, it is essential this warning go out to spare others unnecessary losses.

I have also since met several people who say that they were defrauded large sums of money in the years prior to my decision to purchase a home from the Taliferos. If any one of them had made a public statement disclosing the details of their experience with the Taliferos, I would have been spared, along with many others, the same incredible financial loss and emotional and spiritual agony.

I’ve had many conversations with others who fear speaking out against the Taliferos. It seems they have effectively “bullied” people into silence insisting they will just file bankruptcy and not pay anyone back.

I want this story to be available to anyone who considers giving them any amount of money. Then, if they still choose to do business with the Taliferos at least I will not be responsible for remaining silent. As much as I want my money returned, I do not want it to come from another innocent person or family losing their life savings on this scam.”

Home buyer D is a health educator from California.

“I invested $24,000 in 2008. I’m 68 years old and intended to retire there. Every time they had a “setback” I actually believed they were diligently working to honor their promises. After the 3rd or 4th “setback,” I began to feel that Jinjee and Storm are professional scammers.

What’s that saying? “First time you screw me, shame on you, second time, shame on me.” Well, third time I just say “mercy.” Someone stop these two. They are too good at convincing people to invest and instead of repaying them they take the money and invest it in other things and then try and convince everyone that it was the wise thing to do, even though they had promised to repay.

I’m more disappointed than angry. These people have acted in a very dishonorable way and have taken advantage of others who trusted them. So far as I can tell from their latest correspondence they are still acting/planning in the same unethical manner.”

Home buyer E is a pilot from England. In May 2008, he and his (then) wife sent a $45,000 down payment on a promised 2,250 square foot home in the Raw Vegan Village.

“My wife and I entered into this project excited about what community living would mean for us. Four years later on, this excitement has long since disappeared, to be replaced with a very different set of emotions.

I very much identify with the emotional and spiritual agony of which others caught up in this have spoken, and I believe it is essential that we do something to attempt to get what we can back, and also to warn others about this destructive couple.

A major reason for my decision to participate in this article is this: shortly after our investment in this project, I mentioned it to a well known raw foodist who happens to be known to me. His response was deeply shocking. He said, “You have been sold a dream, nothing more. You will never see a house, nor will you ever see your money again.”

This left me feeling shocked to the core, but of course, I did not want to accept it. Later on, I learned that his horribly accurate prediction was based on his own experience of doing business with Storm and Jinjee. How I wish he had made his experience public; had he done so, we and others might never have been defrauded out of our money.

The stresses of this have already hurt me a great deal. The anger created by the Taliferos’ actions created a lot of stress in the lives of my wife and I, and have in my view made a very significant contribution to my marriage breaking up.

In May 2008, in what was a substantial leap of faith for us (neither of us are natural risk takers), my wife and I instructed our bank to send $45,000 to the Taliferos’ account as a 10% down payment on a 2,250 square foot home in the Raw Vegan Village.

By early July, due to a change in our financial circumstances, we notified the Taliferos of our need to downsize to a smaller home, so as to qualify for having $20,000 of our down payment returned. We also at this time informed them of the reasons we were dealing with financial challenges: I used to be a corporate jet pilot but after a contaminated cabin air incident some years ago, my health deteriorated to the point I could no longer work. Although food has helped me to regain my health, I will never be able to return to that line of work, and this continues to have a major effect on my finances.

On 11 July 2008 Storm wrote back to say they would return it, but could not at that time, adding: “It is our plan to start a few internet projects that will give us an immediate cash flow.”

On 23 July 2008 Jinjee wrote to us, “Regarding getting the $20,000 back to you, we will be happy to do that as soon as possible!”

On July 31 she wrote, “We are doing all we can and should have the money very soon!”

On August 28, “We are still working on the whole funding thing, and are getting close!”

And on it went…

In early November 2008 we wrote to tell them, “The delay in returning these funds fails to acknowledge a fundamental truth – this money belongs to us, and it is not yours to decide to hold on to. This is all the more disappointing because we made it clear on several occasions that this really is an urgent matter for us. The stress of this has now got to the point where it is affecting our health. The unreasonable delay and other concerns have now caused us to run out of enthusiasm for the project and we no longer wish be a part of it. Accordingly, we are hereby informing you that we wish to have all of our down payment returned to us.”

Both wrote to apologise to us at this point and Jinjee assured us, “We will do our best to get you back your $45,000 this coming week.”

We replied after that week had elapsed to say, “We are sure you both agree that it is crucial that business is always done with integrity. Surely it has already gone well past the point when you must accept that the right thing is to just return our money. Please note that for as long as you choose to continue to retain our money, our rights continue to be violated and we continue to suffer.”

But they did not return our money, and still have not to this day.

In their marketing of the Raw Vegan Village, the Taliferos presented themselves to us as a married couple with five children. We (and others) had no idea until much later that their family also included Storm’s girlfriend Julie Pitcher, and their two children.

From a business perspective, as well as a personal one, this information was extremely relevant as they were offering community living. We would never have knowingly chosen to join such a community. People’s personal domestic arrangements are their own business, but in this case it should most definitely have been divulged to prospective village residents.

The lack of transparency about this issue is yet another example of the way the Taliferos operate; in this respect, as well as others, the project has been dishonestly represented.

We have to ask why they were not open about this to prospective village members, and the answer is surely that they knew that it would put people off joining them and entrusting them with their money. I wonder what else they have withheld that we have yet to find out.

It was in early February 2009 that we first requested financial statements showing what they’d done with our money. Jinjee replied to say, “Storm will be scanning in some financials for you shortly.” Well over three years later we’re still waiting. This is despite numerous requests from myself and from others who made down payments.

In early March 2009 we wrote to them, “Many would call spending money that belongs to someone else simple theft. Every time we push for the return of our money, you reply with some reason or other why it’s not possible straight away, and mention a future possibility. These platitudes have been a theme for many months now, and are now starting to sound very hollow.”

We later learned that they never owned the land on which the Village was to be built. But they did spend nearly $400,000 of homebuyers’ money on payments to a landowner they intended to purchase from, before defaulting and losing all of that money.

And after telling us again and again that our money was all tied up in the land and the village project, to the point that they had literally nothing left over for making repayments, Storm Talifero recently admitted, in an email to me, that of the over $900,000 they collected, “We reinvested about five hundred thousand back into the business which is The Garden Diet.”

In other words, they used my money for their own purposes. At no time did I give my consent for them to spend my money in this way. Today, I feel like my life savings have been stolen from me by Storm and Jinjee.

I have only recently begun communicating with others caught up in this. I now regret not taking action sooner but I personally just was not strong enough to deal with this before. I now know from experience that there is considerable embarrassment at having been a victim of something like this, and this probably accounts for the reluctance of some who have lost money to become involved in efforts to recover it.

I don’t hold out a lot of hope for getting our money back, but I’m not about to give up either.”

Home buyer E is the only party featured in this report to have had a portion of his down payment returned. To date, he has had $1,500 of the $45,000 returned to him.

Home buyer F, from England, made a large home down payment and also invested in the spa.

“I sent the Taliferos a home down-payment of $40,000 in early 2010 and in addition I paid $5,000 to be part of the spa investment group a year earlier. My life had been very hard as my husband had been battling a serious illness for 10 years. When he died I was left with inheritance money from his family. What better way to spend it than to be part of a community like this? I had dreamed of living in an environmentally aware community with like-minded people for a very long time.

When I started reading Jinjee’s emails about the Raw Vegan Village project I didn’t have the money to buy in, and it also wasn’t the right time for me – I had too many family crises to take care of and my sons still had not left home. I also didn’t want to be involved in all the practicalities of getting it off the ground.

So I waited and waited and when I finally expressed interest, Jinjee approached me offering me “the last plot” after someone had dropped out due to the recession. The second time she offered this I was finally in a position to accept.

But I learned on a recent conference call with others in my situation that many people were offered “the last plot ” – in fact it seems it may have been offered 27 times. Jinjee promised me many things about the status of the project that I later learned were false. For example, I was led to believe that Jinjee and Storm owned the land – they showed me around it and said I could pick the exact spot where I would like my house to be built.

Jinjee and Storm were both driving big SUVs on this occasion. I have to admit I was taken aback, but then my mind started coming up with excuses like, well, they have so many children and they live in the mountains, etc, etc.

I asked for my money back in July 2010 after I heard from a group member who emailed me out the blue that there was no planning permission for the land and never had been and sent me a copy of the detailed results of her investigations.

Jinjee and Storm have not replied to any of my emails requesting my money back. I have been feeling completely isolated in this whole sorry business and I still have absolutely no idea what is going on.”

Home buyer G did not wish to disclose any identifying details.

“I have always had the fear that to speak up would negatively affect the chances of seeing my money returned, I still have that fear and ask that you do not share my name or any personal details that could be lead back to myself.

I first invested in the Raw Vegan Village after receiving Jinjee’s daily e-mail which made me feel I’d be stupid not to, it sounded like such a great opportunity. I had to take a second mortgage out on my home to afford that. I invested immediately to secure our spot before talking to family who thought we were crazy and it could be a scam.

I said that Storm and Jinjee were two of the most famous raw foodists and it would hurt them too much to scam us, if it ever went public. We put our money and our faith in them. We were told that there would be a raw spa on the land and the income we’d earn from that would be enough to pay our house payments.

I was shocked to later discover that Storm had taken on a second wife-like partner Julie who was in her early twenties. Her and Jinjee both had a baby by Storm that were relatively the same age. I found this disturbing and didn’t want to be a part of that. Also, I soon realized that they were all dreams with little to no resources to make this happen. I also had concerns about earning an income if the spa didn’t pan out.

I was told that if I wanted out I could have my money back immediately as they could resell my spot no problem.

Anyway, when I asked to no longer be a part of it I was reassured my money would be returned to me within a week or two. That led to next month, next month, next month, with big dreams of how they’d raise the money and nothing ever being realized. They still owe me thousands of dollars. The group receives an e-mail every few months now with an update of their plans to raise money, always big dreams that are doubtful to ever be realized.

Now they almost seem to be threatening us – if an article is published we will receive at most $149/month…this would be better than the nothing we’ve been receiving for the last 3 years. I found out about a year after withdrawing that my spot had been resold but rather than give me my investment back they used that money towards land payments (supposedly), to benefit the group as a whole rather than us as individuals (they said).

We are completely unhappy with the project. The loss of the money has us in a rather desperate situation. I still owe thousands of dollars, am struggling to make ends meet, and the return of the money would bring me out of the hole and bring much happiness and relief.”

*End of statements*

The Taliferos accuse me of having an “agenda” in publishing this information – as did, they say, the Ventura County Star reporter who wrote an August 2010 article raising some of the concerns outlined above.

In an email to me while I was working on this report, Storm Talifero referred to it as “your petty little nit-picking article”, and added, “If you feel that you are writing an unbiased article asking a lot of people how they feel about losing their money in a failed real estate deal then go for it.”

However, he and Jinjee Talifero did take the time to communicate with me at length about what happened. Go here to read an email Storm Talifero copied to me, in which he outlines their side of the story.

While the Taliferos admit they made some mistakes in the way they handled things, they say they did the best they could in the circumstances.

In summary, they say that various factors and parties contributed to the collapse of the project, including the global recession and the Ventura County Star article (link below), both of which, they say, caused sources of funding to dry up.

They stopped soliciting or accepting new Raw Vegan Village investors around the time the article was published, but state that once they have raised the necessary funds they will proceed with the project.

As mentioned earlier, the Taliferos say they’re committed to repaying everyone. However, they maintain that they acted in the interests of the group when, instead of making large repayments when they still had the funds to do so, they “diversified the investment” by channelling – according to Storm Talifero himself – $500,000 of the $900,000 collected into their Garden Diet business.

During the two-year period when they were collecting down payments, from mid 2008 to mid 2010, this $500,000 equates to an average cash injection of nearly $21,000 a month into their business. What did they spend the money on?

Only they know. Last November, Jinjee Talifero sent a back-of-the-envelope summary of average Garden Diet monthly expenditure for 2010 to several investors.

On the itemised list, “food”, “rent”, “gas”, “car payment” and other apparently personal expenses account for over half of the stated monthly total. And even with the inclusion of all of these expenses, the total falls far short of explaining what they did with all of the money they say they channelled into the business.

But it’s as close as the Taliferos have yet got to explaining how the $500,000 was spent, and commenting on this document, Jinjee Talifero wrote to me:

“Understand that we have a family of 10. Multiply your own expenses by 10 to help you to understand how that might add up. In addition look at the size of the business. A larger business takes more money to run. It takes money to make money. A lot of our income goes back to our affiliates, and in 2010 we had three staff members.”

A few days later, and on the topic of these same expenses, she wrote, “I know you say these expenses were not the responsibility of the group, but we were working for the group, to generate the funds to buy their land and build their homes. I think many in the group would understand that we felt we were doing the right thing to invest these funds in the way we did.”

In August of last year, a woman from Colorado who made a $20,000 home down payment sued the Taliferos for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among other things. That person is not featured in this report.

What about the 19 others the Taliferos say made down payments? I have been unable to contact everyone as only the Taliferos know the identity of all who invested. (They are also the only ones who know for sure how many home buyers there were and the total amount collected in down payments, and how many spa investors there were and the total amount collected in spa share sales.)

A list of email addresses provided to me by home buyers featured in this report contained only home buyers, not spa investors – and some understandably did not wish to speak.

However, in addition to the seven people who shared their stories here, four others told me of their unhappiness – two in some detail – but declined to be featured in this report.

Not everyone involved shares the opinions expressed here, though. Two who bought into the Raw Vegan Village wrote to tell me that they still support the Taliferos, but they did not wish to make their statements public, either.

And Jinjee Talifero forwarded to me the following email from a third supporter, sent in September last year:

“Greetings Storm and Jinjee, 
____ and I are sorry for this rift in your lives and ours as a group. I hope no one sues since you guys were as open as possible, whatever miscommunications people felt were common and a part of a group’s growth and learning. We support what you try to do for the best of the group. We understand people being in need and situations, we have them also. If someone does sue it is not in their best interest or ours. Hurting one member hurts us all including the one reacting to their own struggle.

We wanted you both to know that is how ____ and I feel. We understand these things take time, and not to loose faith or vision. ____still talks and feels very strongly about the community. I just know from experience these type rifts are common and it takes a long time to find a supportive steel minded group that does not turn on one another in doubt and change. ____ is a hard core loyalist. I am … I do not know the word. I felt your heart and all things in perfection.”

On the topic of their continued failure to provide financial statements – first promised well over three years ago – Storm Talifero wrote the following in November 2011:

“It is going to take us a while to round up all of the financials because we are no longer working with the main book keeper; there were two. So we have three years of papers in boxes that we have to sort through plus the main bank that we started working with folded and we are not quite sure how to go about getting those bank records. The former land owner is suing us and I don’t think he’s going to be friendly about furnishing us with records of our payments.”

At the time of writing, no one has received their money back. Most of those I spoke to have yet to have a single dollar returned to them, and to my knowledge the largest repayment anyone has received is 3% of the amount owed.

The fact that this remains the sum total of repayments from the Taliferos despite numerous “full repayment with interest” promises, spanning back nearly four years, raises the strong possibility that those who trusted them may never get their money back.

In communicating with those who put their faith in the Taliferos, I have been struck time and again by what thoughtful, caring and honest people they are, and what a remarkable community they could have forged together.

My heart goes out to all caught up in this and I sincerely hope that this situation will soon, finally, be resolved to the greatest good of all involved.

I would love be able to report some good news about this soon – and as and when any large repayments are made, I will update this report to that effect.

In the meantime, please show your support for those who shared their stories here by leaving a comment below. Let’s show them that we are all right behind them.

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

The Ventura County Star article “Vegans’ Dream Hits Gritty Reality“.

Marketing the Raw Vegan Village to home buyers.

Marketing the Village’s “Raw Spa of Ojai” to investors.

Storm Talifero’s statement.

In late August 2011, a woman from California who made a $20,000 Raw Vegan Village home down payment sued the Taliferos for fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. A copy of the complaint is here.

Around the same time the owner of the land on which Taliferos planned to build the Village sued them, and Julie Pitcher, for unpaid taxes. A copy of the complaint is here.

The outcome of these legal complaints is (briefly) outlined at Thomas Billings’s excellent BeyondVeg.com website, in his article “Investigating raw vegan and other diet gurus: can you trust them?” The Raw Vegan Village is the first item covered in that report.

145 Comments

  • This is truly shocking. There seems to be a huge amount of emotional manipulation here: telling an investor they thought his money was ‘a gift to the community’ although he had asked for it back (as though it ‘should’ be, or that it’s in some way indecent to want his money returned); keeping some of their investors in the loop but not others; telling 27 people that theirs was the ‘last plot’; playing on people’s decency and dreams, then threatening them with not getting their money back should they take legal action or talk about the truth of the situation to anyone…

    So, is it fair to say that if the Taliferos have invested $500,000 (or thereabouts) in The Garden Diet – and include their own living expenses as part of The Garden Diet scenario – then they have been, in effect, living off the money these poor people invested?

    It looks like (a) investors’ dreams and their willingness to give the benefit of the doubt and (b) their fears and embarrassment, have been used in different ways to keep them quiet.

    It is clear that your report is very well documented, Sarah. I think you have done people a huge service in publishing it.

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    • I remember hearing about this on their website or youtube channel a few years ago and thought it reeked of deception. I don’t think either of them are ignorant as to what they were doing so the fact they could have been completely fraudulent in their dealings with all these people is just sad. So sad for the people naive enough to buy drink their kool-aid and dole out their hard earned money. I see Storm at the Santa Barbara farmers market and he’s a tiny man (much tinier than he appears from videos/ pictures) and Jingee on their youtube videos is looking rather haggard and as if she’s well into her 50’s. Living proof raw, vegan foods won’t make you glow if you have greed and selfishness in your heart.

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  • This contents of this report are totally shocking and something must be done to bring these people to justice. No more excuses from them. It’s easy to see from the article thats what they have been doing, just making excuses and telling lies. Anyone that believes them now is just plain stupid!!! Come on people wake up and see what these two are doing! They have STOLEN almost a million US dollars. And that means they should be in jail. Anyone that defends them needs to read this article again and again until they GET IT

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  • i doubt the Talifero’s entered into this with the intent to scam people. they are maybe the only ones who really know what their motives were, but whatever they were the situation as it stands is one where legal action should be taken by those who lost money, to get that money back.

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  • i feel bad for them, but you have got to be pretty naive to invest in a home and not even know where it will be. since the couple held no land, no precise location could have been given. or the couple gave a fake location and the investors simply took their word for it. either way….pretty stupid!

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    • Tone – to cut a long story short, many who made down payments wanted to see the land first. In mid 2008, the Taliferos began the process of purchasing a large piece of land. As a result, they had access to this land, so were able to show prospective buyers around it. They allegedly led people to believe that they owned this land.

      I do agree it was naive to take their word for this, and with hindsight many of those who did so see that now. No one should have handed over money without hiring a lawyer to check this out. But several told me that it didn’t occur to them that the Taliferos would be anything less than 100% honest – their guard was down and they did not exercise the caution they ordinarily would.

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  • Wow, that is terrible. I feel sorry for the victims. I hope some justice is served. I had actually considered investing in their community a couple of years ago, but thought something wasn’t quite right about them and the land. I am glad I listened to my instincts. Thanks for sharing.

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  • wow – a few years ago i had bought some online books from jinjee and storm, paid and never received them, wrote numerous emails, and never got a response… it was so strange. thanks for sharing.

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  • I think there’s an inclination among people who are into holistic health, eco-community-living, raw foods, etc. to believe that people who are (or appear to be) into the same ‘caring’ things are, by definition, decent and ethical.

    I can well see how people might have suspended caution and critical thinking when dealing with the Taliferos, in a way that they probably would not have had they been dealing with people in the wider world of commerce.

    Force of reputation is a big thing. If they had heard from others they trusted that the Taliferos were sound, then I can understand why that might have carried a lot of weight … naive as it appears in hindsight.

    That is why it is so important to tell others when things like this have happened, and not to deny or conceal it out of shame, or because one is afraid of being seen as ‘not nice’ or ‘judgemental’.

    What is ‘not nice’ here is the disregard the Taliferos have shown for the rights and interests of those who put their faith in them.

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  • I feel sadness for all who lost their savings in such a fraudulent manner. It should be investigated by the Attorney General and dealt with in the legal system. I am surprised reading the comments not to see it mentioned. Unfortunately, criminals are everywhere.

    The intentional communities I have observed are very much a business venture established by professionals. Yes, they may be united by organic food, green living, etc. but building such a community from the ground up deals with city planning committees, codes, architecture, zoning, etc. much like any other neighbor. Just because it was for raw vegans would not exempt it from any building codes. I saw this ad when I visited their website on occasion. I did not see anything but a dream.

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  • My only comment is I am NOT at all shocked by this. Way back when I first heard about it all…my gut feel was cynical and I wouldn’t have touched any negotiations with this couple with a barge pole. I feel a deep compassion for all those whose hearts trusted them.

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  • Sarah – WELL DONE! These people are running scared because of your efforts. At last, someone is exposing them for what they are – thieves. They are using every trick in the book to make people believe they are still, after all this time, acting in the interests of others. They clearly are absolutely not.

    When I heard of this now-exposed fraudulent scheme, I thought it sounded great, IF the right people were running it! Clearly “Storm” and “Jinjee” (personally I never trust people who give themselves silly names) were the worst people imaginable to get this done, and have at last been exposed and need to face the consequences of their dreadful actions.

    Funny isn’t it, that in the raw community we just expect everyone to be lovely and honest. They are absolutely not, as I experienced first hand at one of the UK’s Fresh Festivals when my wallet and mobile phone were stolen from my rucksack. Approach EVERYONE in life with caution. I would truly love to be able to trust everyone I meet and believe that they act with the highest intent for good. Life is not like that, raw vegan or otherwise.

    Great praise and support to the people brave enough to share their stories here and speak out against this fraudulent couple who are still trying to play on people’s emotions. May justice finally be done.

    Just an idea, but maybe we could set up a fund? Sarah, I don’t know how many people subscribe to your newsletter, but if everyone donated ¬£1.00, we wouldn’t even miss that small sum and these people’s financial struggle might be eased until payouts from the fraudsters are finally forthcoming. I, for one, would be happy to donate some proceeds of, for example, sales of my e-books and CDs to this cause.

    Max. xx.

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    • Max, thank you so much for these words, and also for your wonderful suggestion. I must say that in my 14 years as a journalist, this has been by far the darkest, most depressing story I’ve ever worked on. I felt sick to the stomach at times, and can’t imagine what it must be like for those going through it.

      I had the very same idea that a small donation apiece from the large number of people who will feel such empathy here could make a real difference.

      I also wondered whether there is anyone out there who has an ebook, PDF report, MP3 or other digital product they’d be willing to donate to this cause (not on an exclusive basis). I had a thought that a website could be set up where people make whatever monetary donations they can in return for a choice of cool resources…so that those who are kind enough to help out can get something back for their generosity? If anyone out there thinks this is a good idea, or has any ideas of their own, please leave a comment or send me a message via the contact page of this site. And Max – I will email you.

      Thanks again xx

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    • These people need to be put to shame…they ruin it for others that have interests in starting communities like this! Let’s do it – start a Facebook page and give donations through paypal!

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  • Wow! Wow! In a world that is full of deception. Who would have thought that this would have happend from Storm and Jinjee.
    I suppose much worse has happened to honest folks along the way.
    Thats why Attorneys are necessary.

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  • These are professional con men! Its written all over their faces. You can see it in their eyes. Nevermind feeling it from their energy if you tune in. Their actions and comments are typical of scammers. Not any of their excuses are true. It is very sad for those that have got themselves sucked into it. BUT, meant in the nicest of ways, this is an experience they have attracted due to their own vibration and beliefs around money and abundance and a valuable lesson they have chosen on some level to learn. If not, they would no way have got caught up in this.

    What is vital now is that everyone gets together who has been affected and that they take legal action collectively. There are amazing lawyers out there who can work on a no win, no fee basis and someone who would be passionate about this kind of case. Seriously everyone needs to speak up for it is the fear and lack of belief in oneself that got them drawn into such an experience in the first place, and is why these people are con men – they are the most fearful of all. Don’t be afraid of them for they are really afraid of you. Bullies are victims of victims. Without victims you have no bullies. Best of luck xx

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  • my heart aches for these victims and I think a small donation from each of us to help them is a great idea. I had read about this Raw Vegan Village and being the naive person that I am I wished I was rich and could live in a community with like minded neighbors but after reading this I feel blessed that I am poor. Also, I am in complete agreement with Home buyer E: “People’s personal domestic arrangements are their own business, but in this case it should most definitely have been divulged to prospective village residents.”

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  • Why in God’s name did these investor’s not take the time or personal effort to thoroughly investigate the Talifero’s and their claims to build green homes in this idyllic community prior to handing over such substantial down payments, and in some cases their life savings? It seems as though someone could have easily investigated whether the appropriate county permits, documents, etc., were in the public record before taking this leap of faith and trust?

    We live in the Information Age where it only takes a few miniutes to check out backgrounds, personal/professional and access public records.

    It’s a sad, unfortunate story for the people who put their trust and hard earned dollars into the hands of such unscrupulous individuals.

    Let us always stay mindful of the sage old advice “If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!

    I wish everyone involved every success in recovering their monies.

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    • Thanks for those good wishes, Phyllis, and all who have taken the time.

      Those I have spoken to see only too clearly with hindsight that they should have hired lawyers to check out the details. But the Taliferos made the whole thing sound like a done deal, misled them about key details, and also played on these people’s intense desire to be part of such a community by telling them that they were down to the “last spot” thereby putting pressure on them to act immediately. Led to believe the down payments were refundable, people felt they could safely take the leap of faith and get their money back later if things didn’t check out.

      Those who had these large down payment sums available only had them because of a success and resourcefulness that enabled them to build up savings much higher than the average person has as their disposal. But as a few shared with me, their guard was tragically down in this situation – it didn’t occur to them that the Taliferos might be anything less than honest about such important details, so they acted in a way that was very out of character.

      Let the stories shared here warn us all not only about the two individuals who are the subject of this report, but also about the importance of being cautious in ALL dealings with people we don’t know.

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  • Thanks Sarah and these six brave people who came out to tell us their stories. I feel so sad they lost their savings in such a fraudulent manner. I feel they should get together and file a suit. Also this should be sent out to all Raw Food people who have subscribers, and have them send it out to everyone on their list. I’m a subscriber to Storm and Jinjee’s newsletter, I’m going to unsubscribe myself from their list and never ordering anything from them again.‚ÄÇPlus, when the donations website is a runner, let me know. I think this website should have more stories from people who put their trust in these two Taliferos and are still waiting for their hard-earned money to be returned.

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  • Wow. I had absolutely no idea about this. I think the whole thing sounds really strange. I want to think the best of people and thought that Storm and Jinjee seemed like really great people, but now I am not so sure. Thank you for the article, it is really eye-opening.
    Cheers.

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  • You’ve done a great job, hope to read more articles like this soon, because they’re not the only two in the raw and vegan world to lie to customers/followers. The worst thing is that they’re still selling their transition programs and doing their things like nothing has happened.

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  • Sadly, there are unscrupulous people in all walks of life – even churches. Thanks for the information, and hopefully we can spread this information fast enough every time, and minimise their access to funds that are not theirs.

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  • Congratulations on this article, Sarah. I know how hard you worked gathering all of this information. The hard work was worth it.
    I would encourage anyone out there who has raw or holistic horror stories to share them with Sarah. There are many people doing great things so let’s not let a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us.
    Keep up the good work xxx

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  • Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for publishing this.
    My husband, son and I were going to invest in this project a few years back. We were finding it difficult to transfer such a large sum of money overseas and when we were literally within minutes of sending the money we received a phone call from an ‘informer’. This person told us some things and it all just didn’t add up. I am so glad we decided against it. I am really sorry to those who have lost. And I had been wondering what happened to the project as it all went very quiet.

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  • What a shocking article! Unfortunately I don’t foresee a happy ending as the money appears to have gone. I’m not sure if it was complete naivety and incompetence – or a deliberate scam. They do not appear to realise the enormity of what they have done – or the far-reaching consequences of their actions.

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  • Unfortunately, suing will only guarantee no one gets any money. You can’t bleed a stone, and lawyers will suck up everything in fees.

    The best hope for the people who lost money is that the Taliferos business is successful. They’ve been able to pay what little they have paid back only because of that business. In fact, all of the people who lost money basically became de facto stakeholders in that business when the village fell apart, and it would behoove them to help it thrive so they can get their money back faster.

    Never attribute to malice what can be more easily explained by naivete and basic incompetence. What no one realizes (or perhaps cares about) is the fact that the Taliferos are bankrupt and homeless from all of this. They have not fled the country or even changed their phone number. The ecovillage was their dream too, and still is.

    I can’t imagine what the stress must be like of knowing that not only did your dream fall apart despite your best efforts, bankrupting you and your 7 children, but also that you lost the money of people you care about, planned to live with, and never intended to hurt. I think if Jinjee and Storm had the money they would gladly pay it all back tomorrow. As it is, they have to earn it from the profits of their business.

    For the sake of the people who lost money, I hope they are WILDLY successful.

    Though I think a donation fund is a great idea, there were over 25 people invested with over $500,000 owed. I can’t see how you could manage this without detailed knowledge of the people/investments, etc. But it’s a nice sentiment I’m sure the folks who lost money appreciate.

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    • Thank you for providing an alternative view. However, for the sake of transparency I must ask whether you are one of the small group of village members who remain supportive of the Taliferos? I believe you are due to the content of what you’ve written, and from certain phrases I also believe I know your identity. I mention this only because I think that if comments are coming from parties directly involved in this, that is relevant and should be disclosed.

      If their family is in the financial situation you describe – as I had heard – that is incredibly sad. But it begs the question HOW it can have happened, when they admit to having an extra $500,000 to spend on their business and other expenses between 2008 and 2010, and have (to my knowledge) given less than $10,000 of that back.

      Although you are all de facto shareholders in their business now, what legal rights does that give you? As far as I know they still 100% own and control the business, control the finances and have yet to make a dividend payment?

      Setting up a fund would be a big undertaking and would have to be done 100% properly, but if enough people indicate they would support such a fund, wouldn’t it be worth doing even if it only paid people a small amount of what they’re owed? When most have received nothing back so far and no one’s received more than 3%? This would not be instead of any payments the Taliferos make, but as well as…

      This is a decision those who lost money must make between them – no one else can make it, though many of us will support you if you decide to go ahead with it.

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      • Sarah, with all due respect, examining HOW it happened is what your article should really have been about! I’m sorry, but evil, malicious con artists just out to rob people don’t go bankrupt, lose their home, keep in touch with their victims after the “scam” is over, use their real names and addresses, or continue to run legitimate businesses, much less comment on blogs, as Jinjee did above. They just don’t.

        As with all Big Ideas that fail horribly, there are usually a complicated series of internal problems and external events that combine tragically to bring them down. And ecovillages and intentional communities are NOTORIOUS for their problems with funding, developing and establishing themselves, and most face numerous obstacles along the way that kill and/or bankrupt the project before it can come to fruition. Intentional communities have a higher failure rate than first year small businesses!

        That would have been far more interesting, truthful and useful story, in my opinion. But, of course, such an article would be far less controversial–and after all, controversy, cynicism and soundbite smear is the American Way.

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        • Aurora, I understand you are the closest to the Taliferos of the group and are working with them on the Garden Diet website at this time. Just to put your comments in context (and please correct me if I’m wrong).

          Have you read the report? The six testimonials tell how it happened – and by the way, the six people who wrote them have never to my knowledge met and most of them had not directly communicated with each other, either, at the time they wrote them. But they all tell the same basic story – just in different words – and most of the others I’ve heard from, directly or indirectly, do too.

          I do appreciate that not everyone involved had the same experience. But I think it’s sad that you are too busy defending the Taliferos to really acknowledge any compassion or concern for fellow village members whose rights and interests clearly have been sorely neglected here, even if you don’t feel yours were.

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    • No, but I believe strongly in letting go of pride, anger and fear, and taking the most enlightened path available in a tough situation. What it really comes down to is the FACT that if their business doesn’t succeed or can’t be sold, the investors lose their money. Period. That’s not fantasy.

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  • Of course it is beyond description how awful it feels to have lost these people’s money. We began the village project right before the real estate bubble burst, and we had assurance of funding. We were blind-sided by the recession and rather than admitting defeat we tried everything we could to keep the project going. It is our plan to sell The Garden Diet in order to repay the core group. We put it up for sale in February and had an offer for $400K. It is our hope that in a year we will be able to sell it for enough to make full repayments.

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    • “Storm” and “Jinjee” don’t even use their real names. Also, “Jinjee” allowed her “husband” “Storm” to be in an open relationship and conceive two children with a woman named Julie Pitcher who lived in the same house with the so-called married couple. Who even knows if “Storm” and “Jinjee” are legally married? They have so many kids and a lifestyle they can not afford. How are they able to pay for it without real jobs? That is the real question.

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  • I had heard rumours of this. I wish people did not invest emotionally with people who are not business managers or investors. They should have asked how they could purchase such a large tract of land and to see more official paperwork.

    Honestly, scamming and abuse happens all the time in the raw and natural health community. It’s really sad as you have people so emotionally invested into gurus and wanting to hang on their every word and live the dream lifestyle of having a tropical paradise for their own and they don’t realize it’s all too good to be true.

    So many people are hurt by MANY of the raw gurus who take advantage of them or blatantly lie and it affects their health or their finances and they are too afraid to speak up, as if they are the only one who had a bad experience. Little do they know it keeps happening.

    Someone has to speak up to stop the chain of abuse. There are many wonderful trustworthy people in the raw and natural health movement, but many of the big names people are familiar with are unfortunately self interested and take advantage of newcomers to the scene.

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  • Also I would like to draw some attention to the ludicrous claims Storm has about his website being able to sell for millions of dollars or 16 times the amount of sales he gets in a year.

    I looked up thegardendiet.com on alexa.com, a traffic ranking site. Remember they have had their website for YEARS!

    This is what it ranks as (the lower the number the higher the ranking):
    http://www.thegardendiet.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 594,572 Traffic Rank in US: 328,973

    Here is my website:
    http://www.LowFatVeganChef.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 540,288 Traffic Rank in US: 123,675
    (I have only had traffic going to my site since November 2011!)

    Other raw/vegan sites to compare it against:

    http://www.RogerHaeske.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 201,258 Traffic Rank in US: 58,083

    http://www.FredericPatenaude.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 128,955 Traffic Rank in US: 49,851

    http://www.VegSource.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 70,193 Traffic Rank in US: 20,883

    http://www.RenegadeHealth.com
    Alexa Traffic Rank: 46,982 Traffic Rank in US: 14,348

    So if the Garden Diet’s website is worse than all of these top sites, and those sites would only get twice as much money for the sale of their sites as what they generate in yearly income, there is no way Storm would get 16 times this amount as he claims in his letter Sarah was CC’d on.

    My site http://www.lowfatveganchef.com is brand new and gets about 30,000 page views in a month and over 10,000 individual unique visits a month and my site still has WAY more traffic than http://www.thegardendiet.com.

    I don’t think people should believe what he’s saying. None of it makes sense and the numbers are coming out of thin air.

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    • Thank you for taking the time to put into plain to see truth their pie in the sky estimations about how much the Garden Diet website is worth – this is another reason not to believe any of their past and present promises.

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  • This is an appalling story. Here are 2 people who put themselves up as caring individuals in the raw food movement but have quite literally wrecked the lives of people who trusted them. How can they face themselves each day knowing what they have done? I wonder if they have ever considered the link between people losing their life savings and suicide ‚Äì maybe if they are reading this they should reconsider their actions. Well done Sarah for highlighting this so well, I really hope it pricks their conscience….if they have one.

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  • Sarah, I can’t put into words the admiration I feel for you exposing and publicising this. I was tempted when I first heard about it. Luckily, husband wasn’t interested, and I feel SO much for those who have been involved. I would also like to contribute to a fund set up to help those who have not had their deposits refunded. Although of course I still want the Taliferos pursued all their lives until they pay every cent of the money back. Presumably they’ve sold their SUVs? I doubt it.

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  • Sarah, you are truly a crusading angel, and you do all this without any regard to financial reward. I thank the Lord we didn’t get involved. I’m sure at the time I would have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. There was a time when I was SO idealistic and trusting where anyone in the raw food community was concerned.

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  • Brilliantly researched and balanced article. To assign naivety to the Taliferos is in my opinion too generous. This has all the hallmarks of a scam. I feel very sorry for those who have invested large sums of money and it is difficult to proffer any advice. I fear they are likely to lose most if not all of their investment, but perhaps should get together and choose the time both to launch civil proceedings and to press the criminal (fraud) authorities to move against the Taliferos.

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  • I want to commend you for your courage in putting out this article on the disaster in our raw food community with the Talifero family and their Raw Vegan Village. One would never think that this family, being a part of the raw vegan community for so many years, would be so callous as not to respond to all these investors in the land that was to begin this wonderful ecological village.

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  • We work very hard and have remained steadfast in our commitment to not selling supplements and superfoods, which is how most raw educators become financially successful. So it is really hurtful to see a mob mentality crying “scammers” based on a story that doesn’t tell the whole truth and has a few outright mistakes. (The 2nd SUV that never existed, the so-called 27 “last spots” which I’ll explain below, the nature of our family structure which I have never chosen to make public in any way — I will have to write an ebook to tell the actual story after everyone is paid back. Until then my focus is to earn the money for the repayments, and no amount of telling my side of the story is going to make that happen).

    But I do want to answer some of the charges. Yes, we feel terrible. Yes, we update our core group regularly with reports on our progress in recovering their funds. Yes, we did make mistakes. In hind-sight I can see each one with crystal clarity. Yes, of course we have apologized profusely on numerous and regular ocassions to the group individually and as a whole. We are not cavalier or evasive. I apologize to the member in the article who was left out of the loop. We have the whole core group on an email list and we must have an old email address for her. I hope she’ll email me so I can fix this. No, we don’t blame anyone other than ourselves for the failure of the village. However there were some unfortunate events that made things far more challenging than anticipated.

    Firstly, the numerous problems with the land were not disclosed to us when we purchased it. And yes, we did have deed and title to the 117 acres in Ojai with owner-financing during the time that we sold spots in the village. The moment that we lost the land, we stopped selling spots. We continue to receive inquiries after spots in the village to this day, and continue to turn people away. We maintain a waiting list for the day when we may actually be able to build a raw vegan village.

    This would happen after the repayments. And it would happen without the use of other people’s money. And of course we now know how to evaluate the land, choose land that is buildalbe and not in the midst of a water war, avoid proximity to a neighborhood or land tract where people will oppose development, know all the costs before beginning the project, have your entire budget in place, build the village and then sell the finished homes after they are built.

    But you have to remember the climate was very different before the recession. Real-estate funding was everywhere and relatively easy to obtain. Equity was constantly going up, up, up. So all we had to do was build one home on the land and the equity in the land would go up to the point it could fund the next phase of the project, and so on. We had a promise of as much funding as we needed from a hedge fund in Utah, and a developer in the UK wanted to invest a million in the project. These people didn’t officially drop out at any point, but become harder to reach, probably dealing with their own fallout from the global real-estate recession.

    At the same time, what happened to a lot of our core group members who had made down-payments in the village is that they lost all the equity in their homes when that real estate bubble burst. So the same thing that ruined the village ruined these people’s finances. At the time they invested, 30K was maybe a small part of their equity in their homes. After the recession, it was the only chunk of money still available to them.

    And we will work as long and hard as necessary to get it back to them. These are not just investors to us. They are kindred spirits, like-minded families and individuals who shared our vision for a healthy way of life. The love that I feel for many of these people is like for family. I would be honored to live in community with them in the future if there is a way we can make it happen without risking their or other people’s money ever again.

    And here was our next major mistake. Once we realized what was happening, we should have given up, cut our – and everyone else’s – losses. We should have admitted defeat. But we did not know how. How do you tell people, we put your money in to a piece of land and now we aren’t going to be able to pay that land off or build your homes. We had made a promise to do those things, a guarantee, and we had to stand by it. So, yes, we dug ourselves in deeper. We tried one thing after another to generate the funds to move forward with the village despite the recession.

    We heard about a community in Ventura that had just received $50,000,000 in green building grants. We researched them and their grantors. We spoke with grant-writers about our project. However, the recession started trickling down to the granting sector and most of those funds dried up too.

    We dug in and worked really hard on 2 different film and sound-track projects. We developed relationships with some abundantly prosperous raw enthusiasts who were potentially interested in helping to make the village dream a reality. When the ranchers in our neighborhood began calling core group members saying “Did you know the raw village is a scam?” and the first article calling us “scammers” came out, we quickly realized it had killed any chance of us getting those private investments.

    I understand the core group members’ frustration but I’m trying to understand why people would think this is a scam. And I’m guessing it is because someone said that several people got the “last spot” and thus assumed that we probably offered “the last spot” 27 times. (It would be nice if any villagers reading this who did not have that experience mentioned that in these comments).

    Here is where that misconception comes from. We started out with 6 intended homes in the village, 2 of which were to be the smaller and more popular guest-house sized homes. From the day after we announced the idea for the village in our newsletter we had over 200 interested parties and that built up to well over 500 eventually.

    At one point we expanded the plans to 12 homes, again with only 2 of the popular smaller homes. We later learned from the County of a way to zone the property that would allow us to put 24 homes on it. However we didn’t want to over-build this natural paradise and so we only added spots as it became an absolute financial necessity. Whenever we added a new spot we put it out to the waiting list and usually had a handful of people interested in each spot.

    Later, many new spots opened up as core group members who had invested dropped out due to the recession, and due to the first article, and their spot became available. These would each have been a last spot at the time I sold it.

    So, there ended up being several last spots and last-of-certain-desired-sizes of homes, and I think when some villagers heard that others were given a last spot too, they must have believed that we were not being honest with them, as they couldn’t see the whole picture. I did let Sara Best know about this.

    Regarding the idea of manipulation, it is not blackmail but rather simple math that publishing an article like this will hurt our business, which is an honest business in which people buy our raw menu plans and lose weight eating real raw foods with no supplements and superfoods. By publishing this article, the damage to our business can only delay the core group repayments, in my view.

    The core group had had a conference call during the time Sara was writing this article and had decided together that they would rather not begin action in the legal system and jeapordize The Garden Diet as some of them have done due diligence and know that this business is our only possession of any value. They would like for the business to continue to grow as their investments are tied up in it.

    If I could turn the business over to them today and they could run it and share the funds between them, we would gladly facilitate this. I have offered them the business. Unfortunately what it would take to pay a few people to run it, is what it takes for us to run it, and there simply are not the profits left over yet to make a significant difference to the core group repayments. One of the core group members is helping to automate the site and make it less personal to our family so that it will generate more money, be more sellable, and/or at some point the core group could take it over.

    We are just a few months away from launching a site redesign with a completely upgraded infrastructure that automates much of my daily work so I can focus more of my time on marketing. After a year of focused marketing efforts, I believe that we will be able to sell the site for enough money to finally pay back these good people.

    I don’t know how to do anything other than continue on, one foot in front of the other, and do our best, with as much positivity as possible. This is a huge shadow over us every moment of our lives – and it is our own fault. We got in way over our heads, way too quickly, without proper planning. We should never have risked other people’s money. We were excited, inspired, and on fire after the vision of the raw village and the land presented themselves in quick succesion along with massive interest in the project and apparant funding sources to make it happen.

    I have become a more cautious person. I wonder now what boldness possessed me to begin such an enormous project.

    Expensive lessons. Devastating lessons. Lessons that were hurtful and damaging to others whom I care about. I am grateful I am still here, still able to work, and have not given up. I am grateful for the love and support of the core group members who have gone through this with us and who still believe in us after all this. I am grateful for the success of The Garden Diet and the experiences of almost selling it twice now. I am grateful to our customers and our readers. I am grateful for a deep knowing that one day soon this will all be behind us and behind the individuals and families who are a part of the core group.

    Amen.

    This will be my final post. I will not be reading additional comments, in the interest of getting back to work.

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    • The other victims in all of this are the seven children “Storm” has with “Jinjee” and Julie Pitcher. They have to be raised by these three. These three adults as well as other people need to realize that morality is not contained in the food you eat but by what you allow into your heart. Actions speak louder then any food you can eat.

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    • ‘morality is not contained in the food you eat but by what you allow into your heart. Actions speak louder then any food you can eat.’
      Very true. I believe Storm and Jinjee started out with good intentions but got lost along the way.

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    • It’s too bad Jinjee won’t be reading any more comments. My heart goes out to all who lost money with this “project” but my experiences with this family and their website tells me they will never try to pay any of this back.

      A few years ago, I decided to try a raw foods diet for my health. I wanted some motivation and found their magazine. I ordered the sample copy for just under $10. But once payment was received I didn’t get the automated link to view the sample issue.

      Wanting to read the magazine, I figured this was just a glitz and decided, being late at night that I would go ahead and order the yearly subscription and then request my money back on the single copy.

      Unfortunately, the same thing happened when I ordered the second time. I sent an email to the garden diet explaining what I did. I was given the code to receive my yearly subscription. When I asked about a refund, remember this was for just under $10, I was told the boss would have to approve a refund. I then was told they would refund it through paypal. I agreed. No money was ever returned, I began to hear from Jinjee directly who said the money was coming, I would give it a couple of weeks and ask again. They stopped answering my emails and I took this as a lesson to be more patient when purchasing something.

      I received two more issues of the magazine one was of good quality and what I had initially paid for. The next was one jinjee put together stating that the woman who ran the magazine had left and she would do her best to publish the magazine. Then it stopped. Jinjee said she had too much on her plate to also publish a magazine.
      I knew what would happen, but I asked for the balance of my subscription cost returned I heard nothing. My loss was for less than $50 all combined. Yet I received the same kind of emails promising my money returned then an abrupt stop in all communication.

      At this point I ended all business with the garden diet and have never once gone back to view their website.

      These are people who don’t believe in good business practices and are in my opinion scam artists as well. Good luck to all of you.

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      • Very sorry to read of your experience, Kaiskye. After I read your comment (and as Jinjee indicated they would not be reading any further comments) I emailed it to her and Storm to draw their attention to it and invite a response.

        I haven’t received anything back yet, but trust that they will address this, as several readers have now recounted similar experiences as customers of their website.

        This is certainly not the only raw food business known to have issues with its customer service. As just one example, there is another raw magazine that hasn’t come out since 2010 yet the owner has not to my knowledge made any customer refunds, nor (to my knowledge) even informed customers the magazine has folded.

        Any company can occasionally fall down in its customer service. But if a business is being run ethically it will be only occasionally, if at all – as it will be a top-level priority of the owners to ensure that customers get what they pay for and that they receive prompt refunds when they’re entitled to them.

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  • If the Taliferos really had an offer to sell their site for $400K, they were fools to not accept it. Valuations for http://www.thegardendiet.com from two online website valuation tools, done on Saturday 28 April 2012, are as follows (format: valuation site URL, followed by value):

    http://www.yourwebsitevalue.com/

    $8,180

    http://www.siteworthchecker.com/

    $5,512

    In my opinion, available evidence suggests that the claim of a $400K offer for their website is yet another lie.

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    • Well put Tom. Has anyone actually seen this website? I had not, until now, but if they genuinely poured some of the $500,000 of investors’ money into this website, they need a refund from whoever set it up! It is one of the least professional sites I have seen. Who on earth would be interested in buying this business, by looking at the way that the site presents it? I think your calculations above are on the very generous side. I’m sorry, I appreciate the Taliferos say they are trying to avoid the “get rich quick” route of selling supplements, but in their case, if they are trying to generate income, this is yet another poor business decision. Sadly, this “business” looks like little more than a hobby, not something that generates much income for even its owners, let alone these unfortunate investors. I do hope that no one is really expecting to get any money back from them. If this is genuinely all the Taliferos have to offer, it’s a sorry situation for all concerned.

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  • If there was an awards night representing the raw/vegan community then Sarah would win the ‘best investigative journalist’ award hands down! I was shocked at Storm’s comment about your work referring to it as “your petty little nit-picking article”, his attempt at minimizing your report is nothing short of intimidation and gives us an insight into how he deals with people and his attitude towards them. Congratulations Sarah on your courage and professionalism in writing this article, may you continue to share the TRUTH with others.

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  • Jinjee, “the last spot” issue is NOT what is making people conclude that this was a scam. It is the fact that 27 people and families lost large sums of money, while you and your family ended up $500,000 RICHER.

    If you had put every cent into the village and provided financial statements showing that, it would be different. But you spent HALF A MILLION DOLLARS of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY on your own business and personal expenses and haven’t even provided those people with financial statements showing WHAT exactly you used the money for.

    And you say Sarah is nitpicking? What about the people who lost their money because of your irresponsible and inexcusable behaviour? Are THEY nitpicking? I wonder how a courtroom is going to view this? If you think they are going to listen to your excuses – think again – because you have broken the law.

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  • Jinjee Talifero writes:

    “And of course we now know how to evaluate the land, choose land that is buildalbe and not in the midst of a water war, avoid proximity to a neighborhood or land tract where people will oppose development”

    The preceding describes most (possibly all) of Ventura County and surrounding areas. Where is it easy to build in the Ojai/Ventura County area?

    “After a year of focused marketing efforts, I believe that we will be able to sell the site for enough money to finally pay back these good people.”

    Highly unlikely given the actual value of your website, currently valued at well under $10K. The website is tightly coupled to your status as raw gurus, making it very difficult for someone else to run it – and decreasing the sale value.

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  • Raw gurus in general tend to promote themselves as examples of perfect health achieved through the perfect diet they promote. Not only is the guru the example, but he or she is also the “teacher” who will lead you to the “promised land” of perfect health and healing from any/all diseases.

    Unfortunately, many raw gurus start to believe their own marketing hype (even though many raw vegan gurus cannot/do not follow the diet they promote), and they end up believing that they can do no wrong, and/or that harmful and hateful means can be used to promote their diets because “the ends justify the means”. The gurus who fall into this trap can be very nasty, hateful, dishonest. [Check my article on raw gurus for multiple examples of this type of behavior — updated Sunday 29 April 2012:
    http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/special/raw-vegan-gurus.shtml

    Some raw fooders – especially those seeking healing; they are the most vulnerable – may believe the hype and can grant way too much authority to the raw gurus. The end result of this process can be a small, de facto cult of personality, with the raw guru as cult leader.

    The behavior of gurus in this situation can include blatant corruption, as well as sociopathic/psychopathic behaviors.

    For psychopathic behavior, the article:
    Psychopathy and the Characteristics of a Cult Leader
    http://www.dannyhaszard.com/captivehearts.htm
    presents a list of behaviors one can check for in their guru:

    1.Glibness/Superficial charm
    2. Manipulative and Conning
    3. Grandiose Sense of Self
    4. Pathological Lying
    5. Lack of Remorse, Shame, or Guilt
    6. Shallow Emotions
    7. Incapacity for Love
    8. Need for Stimulation
    9. Callousness/lack of empathy
    10 . Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
    11. Early Behavior Problems/juvenile delinquency
    12. Irresponsibility/Unreliability
    13. Promiscuous Sexual behavior/infidelity
    14. Lack of realistic life plan/parasitic lifestyle
    15. Criminal or entrepreneurial versatility

    Using the list above to examine the behavior of raw guru(s) is left as an exercise for the reader.

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  • Aurora Light wrote . . .

    “No, but I believe strongly in letting go of pride, anger and fear, and taking the most enlightened path available in a tough situation. What it really comes down to is the FACT that if their business doesn’t succeed or can’t be sold, the investors lose their money. Period. That’s not fantasy.”

    ——-

    Aurora,

    I’m an investor. After 4 years of waiting, hoping, venting, etc, for money back I am in touch with reality – my money isn’t coming back.

    I shared my story because I am beyond fear, anger, confusion. I am clear. It’s time to end this delusion. The time came to ensure nobody else gets involved. The time came to share the truth, and I can only wonder what might have been if this truth was told much sooner.

    For me, this isn’t about getting my money back – it’s about ensuring nobody else loses theirs.

    People stayed quiet, while more people sunk money into a sinking ship, because we all believed that raising the issue would harm the project and everyone involved. Please re-read my story and the decision to not pursue legal action in **2009**. That’s THREE YEARS ago. Have we made any progress? Have I recouped ONE PENNY? No.

    So Jinjee can claim that she’s back to work, but she isn’t working for me. THAT would be a fantasy.

    It’s just time – the truth had to be told. Maybe there’s still a miracle out there but that, my friend, is not our reality to perform.

    All the best to you –

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  • I am just flabbergasted by this whole story. Thank you Sarah for divulging the truth. Storm and Jinjee are surely not honest people to start with. They try to make quick money. What a scam. I feel very sorry for the people who lost their savings and their dreams!
    I would like to donate in a fund.

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  • Storm and Jinjee, You have consistently refused to account for the money you have received from those of us who entrusted it to you. I am hereby publicly calling on you to PROVIDE A SET OF ACCOUNTS – do it here, and do it without delay. Please.

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  • I wish to add something – and it’s not a propos of the comment above, nor any other individual one.

    I don’t believe in censoring blog comments but I do usually edit out any unkind ones. As it happens, those are not usually directed towards me but towards others I’ve featured, and I have a zero tolerance policy towards such sniping.

    My hand hovered over the delete key as I read some of the comments submitted in response to this article – as they are comments of a nature I simply do not usually allow here.

    But it only hovered, as I didn’t feel it was my place to censor reader reaction to the key facts this report presented.

    The most important of those facts came from seven of the people directly involved, and most of those also shared some very personal feelings about those facts.

    This is not my story and it didn’t feel right that I should decide which reactions to the above should be seen, and which censored.

    When a situation has fallen out of balance, and spent a long time stuck there, there is little more conducive to restoring clarity than asking impartial outsiders what they think.

    In this instance, I hope that at least some of the thoughts, reactions and suggestions may have proved useful to some or all of those involved.

    And to all who took the time to share them – thank you.

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  • Wow. It’s mind-boggling that Storm & Jinjee thought it was perfectly fine to spend $500,000 of the money for the village on their Garden Diet business. That money should have been kept TOTALLY separate and never should have been used for anything but the land payments. Then they wouldn’t have defaulted on the land payments and lost the other $400,000!! Crazy. I feel so bad for the 27 (or more) people that will never get their money back. 🙁

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    • I agree with your first two sentences, Debra. On the third, for full accuracy, the project was actually doomed to fail from the start due to lack of financing. The purchase price on the land was around $4 million, and it would have taken an estimated $20 million more to put in roads and other infrastructure and build the planned houses. According to “Home Buyer B”, at the time an offer was made on the land, the project was funded to the tune of $11,500…

      Although hundreds of thousands more came in over the next two years, it was necessary to raise the full amount needed upfront, and from external investors – as the Taliferos now see with hindsight. All down payment monies should have been put into a secure escrow account to be applied to each buyer’s purchase of their home, when built – and to be returned in the event of any planned home/s not being built.

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  • We were both duped by this charming couple. So many people believed and invested in this farce of a raw dream. So sad. Our investment was small but still too much to not be upset about. They’ve got some bad karma heading their way!

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  • I’d like to say Thank you ever so much for all your wonderful articles! Please keep the information coming. We are committed to RAW and love your stand on helping all those folks out there that need to understand what it takes to go the extra mile(KM) to achieve their goals.
    We love you and your staff,
    You are Blessed!

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  • I feel for the people who lost their money and I hope they get it back.
    I would have believed too and I would have never thought this could happen so I am thankful they told their stories.

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  • Well done Sarah for bringing this story to light. Many others would have simply swept it under the carpet for fear of getting involved. The public should be made aware of what can go on in this so called spiritual and conscious bubble that is the raw food world, and you were brave enough to be the one to do it.

    As in all walks of life there are going to be “chancers” that prey on the weaknesses of others for their own gain and unfortunately this seems to be one such example.

    When I first learned about this fiasco, I was shocked, horrified, saddened and very disappointed, especially for the people who lost their money and their dream. My husband on the other hand was none too surprised! I won’t repeat his words but he’s never been convinced by the so-called spirituality and consciousness of the whole raw food world and this story only confirmed his doubts. Let’s say he’s not a fan!

    The few bad eggs are giving all the good and well intentioned in the raw food and holistic world a very bad name so that the general public, like my husband, lump us all together. So for you Sarah, who are also trying to help improve the health of others, to expose this is both brave and honorable.

    I used to write for Get Fresh magazine and went to Ojai in 2008 to cover the story about Storm and Jinjee’s Raw Eco Village. I was really excited to meet and interview them and to see this Eco Village for myself. With me were two girl friends, one who was from LA and the other a potential investor from London.

    I interviewed Storm and Jinjee at length and was then given a tour of the land. There were no houses on it at that time but they had explained what their intentions were. I was also shown drawn up plans. I have to say though that my girlfriend from LA later told me that she was not convinced at all that they could own that land as she knows about land ownership in California. Being a fan of Storm and Jinjee, and also having no clue about land ownership, I took them on face value and accepted their explanations.

    A year later while in LA on vacation I contacted The Taliferos to get an update and a follow-on interview on how the village was progressing. They seemed happy for me to visit them again but they had since moved from the location where I’d previously met them, on the site of the eco village, to somewhere much further up into the mountains, another two hours from Ojai. I made a date to visit them with my husband and we drove as far as we could in an attempt to find them but we never did manage to get hold of them, we only ever got their voicemail. In hindsight, I wonder if we were ever meant to find them…

    Whether this situation will be resolved remains to be seen. I hope and pray for those involved that it one day will. In the meantime I think setting up some kind of fund is a brilliant idea and I will be happy to contribute.

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  • This is devastating for all involved. i’ve followed Storm and Jinjee on a minor scale and I remember seeing the info on the Ojai community, thinking it sounded like an amazing plan, but the investment was way out of my range. I still think it sounds like a great idea, but it sounds like it never really got past the idea stage, and as Jinjee states, they were in over their heads.

    I’m reminded of a news story I heard recently on NPR, in which a man everyone thought was absolutely honest just went to jail for fraud; similar situation–his business was in trouble, and instead of give up, and thinking it would be a one-time fix, applied and got loans based on fabricated info. He thought he’d be able to turn things around and everything would be fine. Studies show that in business, people will make decisions that they otherwise would not make, and might consider unethical in their personal lives. People like you and me. The incidence, according to the research sited in the NPR story, is very high.

    I truly believe Jinjee and Storm had good intentions, and things went truly awry, and, like Jinjee says, instead of admitting defeat (which they did not see), they fought and forged ahead, digging themselves (and their investors) deeper and deeper. Hindsight is 20/20, and everyone’s a loser here. It’s tragic on all accounts, and I hope that something gets resolved.

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  • This is shocking and so disappointing…there is no excuse for what the Taliferos have done — they cannot blame the recession, naivete, or anything else for what cannot be described as anything other than a scam. I can attest to their lack of concern for their customers — I bought an ebook/MP3 bundle from them years ago, and the MP3 would not play. I emailed Jinjee several times about it but only ever got replies about it being a technical glitch. I finally asked for a partial refund to reflect the inaccessible product, but never had a reply. Fortunately, I was only out of pocket by a few dollars, but it showed me the poor character of this couple.

    I sincerely hope that the investors will eventually have their deposits returned.

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  • People are complex, as are the situations in which we often find ourselves involved. Doing lots of “good” things, most of the time, does not undo or in any way make up for any “bad” things we may do.
    A person that performs many laudable acts must still be held accountable for anything reprehensible that s/he does.
    “Buyer beware” is not enough to prevent scamming. Silence only serves to allow law-breakers to continue to take advantage of the unsuspecting.
    Around a decade ago, I was promised a sum of money to deliver several days of seminars for the Taliferos, which I gladly gave.
    At the end of the event, I was told, “we don’t have the money right now, but we will give it to you soon.” They never did. I was scammed.
    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, there is a very good likelihood that what you are seeing is indeed a duck.

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  • I am surprised that anyone is surprised about this. I don’t know anyone (in raw food circles) who didn’t know about this long ago and it is just one example among many, a symptom of a much wider problem.

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  • ShaunChristy wrote:
    “I truly believe Jinjee and Storm had good intentions, and things went truly awry, and, like Jinjee says, instead of admitting defeat (which they did not see), they fought and forged ahead, digging themselves (and their investors) deeper and deeper. Hindsight is 20/20”

    I agree.

    I like the fact the report is very balanced -Sarah thank you for just presenting us with the facts and not judging. But having read through the comments, I see some are very quick to judge, to go beyond the facts to put their own bias on them.

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  • I wrote the following to Storm and Jinjee this week: “I’m still waiting for an answer to my last email, in which I requested a set of accounts, and an answer to the question of whether you are willing to begin a regular repayment schedule.”

    These are requests I’ve made on numerous occasions over the last few years, yet this is the response I received from Storm:

    “We are in the midst of a tax audit. As soon as the audit is finished I will post all of the information on line for the whole core group to view. It contains all of the details that you want. Sarah Best’s blog came out and she said some things that simply were not true such as we are still selling spots in the village. We have not sold one spot since we lost the land.

    I don’t know how much her blog is going to hurt our ability to either con’t to grow the Garden Diet Website or in fact to sell it. But at this point I’m ready to throw n the towel and retire from being a raw food teacher and go not the film industry where I know I can make money publishing films and books.

    If in fact we do cease to con’t with the Garden Diet website I will still honor our debt to you and the core group. I will let you know more as we see how much damage Sarah’s blog did and if in fact we should just scrap the site.”

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    • I couldn’t even find the part of the article Storm Talifero says is not true. I read it all and nowhere does it say that they are still selling spots in the village?????

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  • Oh my god. I am continuously shocked by Storm and Jinjee’s responses to their criminal and disgusting behaviour. Now they are acting like they’re the innocent parties here and trying to blame Sarah Best for their failure to pay people back? Wow, she must be extremely influential if her blog can cause so much damage to their business (“worth millions”) that now they are going to throw in the towel because of her?? Perhaps it’s really because they are, as usual, looking to blame ANYONE BUT THEMSELVES.

    I am actually getting quite disturbed reading more from these two as it’s quite clear these two REALLY do not think they have done anything wrong.

    I must say I also really worry about their children growing up in an environment like this. What are they learning? That it’s ok to steal and lie to people whose lives and health and relationships have been ruined – and if you just can make a great excuse, it means that you have done no wrong??? Very very sad‚Ķ.shameful and digusting

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  • I received this message from Jinjee yesterday:

    “Our audit is almost complete. Our next and possibly final meeting with the IRS investigator is on Friday. Shortly thereafter we will have a clear idea of whether we need to re-file our last three years’ taxes claiming the investment income. It will make more sense to send you those amended tax returns rather than the ones we have now. Apparently the accountant who did those years’ taxes may have been wrong in telling us not to claim the investments as income, and we are not sure how she balanced the books as she did not claim them. We are looking forward to gaining more clarity as regards all the financial details and sharing them with the group in the near future. This is not our forte. We simply did our best to keep the village project moving forward and thought the accounting and record-keeping was in good hands. It has been really hard to take the time to delve in to all this as it is such a mess with all the parties involved, different bank accounts, and different paypal accounts – while we are also struggling with a hand-to-mouth existence at this time — but we realize the importance of doing so, only we felt it was more important to actually focus on raising money for repayments. Answering questions about how the money was spent is not going to make the debt go away. However now our hand is being forced because we are being audited by the IRS and so it is just a matter of time until we have the type of documentation you have been requesting, so that at least certain questions can be answered to everyone’s satisfaction and we can perhaps return to a full focus on money generation.

    Calling the police will do you absolutely no good unless it is revenge you are out for. There is no way for us to get you any money from jail or wrapped up in time-consuming and costly legal actions. Just like there was never any way to get any money by having that article written. Think about what you are doing man, for the good of the group. The group decided together to allow us to make the money to pay them back, on their own conference call, and to not participate in Sara’s article. A few people went against the group and participated in the article, to the detriment of the whole group. Sara Best never cared about any of you. She cares about having a controversial article up that will forward her career and her position in the raw movement. She is also part of a movement to discredit anyone who stands up for 100% raw. Please consult a lawyer, have them do discovery on us, we own nothing, listen to their advice – they will tell the only thing to do is to allow us to continue to work and get the business to the next level, sell it, and get everyone their money back – which will happen probably in about a year’s time if not sooner, if we are allowed to continue to operate the business.

    We already offered the business, our sole asset, to the core group. It was decided that it would cost as much to pay a couple of core group members to run it as it costs us to run it. The business currently operates at break-even, though it is growing. By automating, which we are currently in the midst of, and thereby lowering expenses, while continuing to grow, we will have it profitable within a year.

    I pray you can find the patience to do what is the best thing for everyone, yourself included.”

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    • People who own little after many years of work are probably not the best people to trust with large sums of money. If one doesn’t learn how to save and live within their means, they certainly cannot do it with “free” money from others. Used wisely, money is a tool. Some find it easy to spend other people’s money.

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  • Again, oh my god. This is just never ending isn’t it? I am glad these are emails are being posted here as it’s just proving that these people are incapable of ever being able to take any sort of responsibility.

    By the way Jinjee its SARAH not Sara!

    And YOU are the ones who took this money – that was YOUR decision. So many people losing such large amounts of money was YOUR doing so HOW can you sit there judging anyone else or accusing them of not caring about these people??!

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  • Sarah, you did such a great job of expressing this ordeal in your article. You covered the scenario with grace, love without judgement, understanding and truth. Much love.

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  • How disturbing these two scam artists really are? This makes me sick. How sad to take people’s money and have no intentions to do with it what you promised. How can these two even talk about spirituality when their so dishonest. What about “thou shalt not lie” and “provided all things honest in the sight of man”. Someone should report them to the police. You do the crime, you do the time. I read about them before i even knew this and just knew they were fakes right away. I’m planning on going raw vegan (80-90% already) and I’m so sickened by so many raw fooders scamming so many people. All I can say is be wise and do your own research from reliable sources before forking any money over to these people. My heart goes out to the victims.

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  • Something very similar happened to me in 2006. The case is now going to court after the creep was finally arrested. No matter what the court outcome, nothing will ever be the same. At my age, starting over isn’t an option. Never dreamed I’d live in poverty in old-age. And it’s not just about the money, either. My trust in people is gone. Too many stories of being scammed. It’s getting worse and authorities can’t keep up with all of them. Protect your money. Don’t trust anyone.

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    • I’m so sorry to hear about your experience – my heart goes out to you.

      I think so many of us believe that there is a “system” there – both criminal and civil – that will protect us should anything like this happen. Reporting this story really opened my eyes and I 100% agree with your advice. Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m sure others who read of it will join me in wishing you all the very best.

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  • You know if they would start selling supplements on their website business would be booming. I understand that they want to show people that supplements are not needed but at the end of the day it’s up to the individual buying it.

    Also Julie Pitcher who used to live with them and had 2 girls by Storm does not live with them anymore. She moved to Utah and is avoiding contact with both of them. I wonder what happened in that interesting relationship.

    I invested a couple of thousand of dollars and every now and again I receive “update” on how they plan on paying us back. I really wish they would hurry up especially since they have programs to helping you go raw and lose weight. It seems like it is making money but who knows.

    I am sad for losing a small amount of money compared to what others have lost. However, I am glad it was a small amount of money.

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  • Hi there. I just read parts of the article and I am appalled by the way people have been dealt with. I also feel sad for Storm and Jinjee and Julie because they must be going through hell to. The worst part though is there are children witnessing all this. As we all know kids are so vulnerable and impressionable…. i wonder what will come of these gorgeous angels. So, we’re on July now…. did anyone get anything back??

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  • When this village was being promoted I sensed it was a crock and emailed jinjee saying so. She gave me a nonsense reply. All it was – Lots of pretty pictures of houses and a crazy pyramid scheme of how everyone would make $$ on shares at the spa. Apparently this couple scammed in Canada too, so this is not new.
    I think an investigation is necessary but I do fear that they will end up in jail and the kids will be put into care.

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  • Hello all

    I receive the Garden Diet daily inspirations. I recently came across the article written by Sarah Best and I was shocked at what I read. Here is what Jinjee sent people today. There’s nothing in here about paying people back the money they owe them.

    “We want to grow! But as we don’t monetize our traffic by selling supplements and protein powders which is how most diet and exercise programs survive, we have to get creative! Fortunately that’s something we love to do! So we’re asking you to check out our Fruitful Fund-Raiser Page to see some of the innovative projects we are working on to help us take the Fresh, Balanced, Raw Food Diet to the masses!

    If each of our 25,000 readers donated just $5 we would more than reach our goal to help Storm make a demo of his next film (you’ll want to see the clip at the link below!) with which we believe we can then generate the money needed to fund the infomercial campaign and other projects such as The Raw Research Project all of which are designed to take RAW to mainstream acceptance!

    I learned from a special friend in my early 20’s that what you give freely and with love, you receive back 10-fold, and I have always found this to be true! Join us in this circle of giving so we can expand and grow this energy organically in to the world!

    We are offering some generous Pledge Reward Packages as incentives and we hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to get some incredible value while helping us immensely at… http://thegardendiet.com

    Gratefully Yours,
    Jinjee”

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  • I’m not surprised all these raw vegans got scammed again, 1st time being when they chose their new diet. The first person I ever knew that went raw (20 years raw), died of cancer when he was 43 years old.

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    • Without wishing to sound like an apologist for the strict 100% raw diet – as I do not follow that diet myself nor think it is the right diet for most – that is a sad story, but it doesn’t prove anything. It’s possible to die of cancer at 43 no matter what diet you follow. Our health is about a lot more than what we eat. It is about many other things that are also within our control, and it’s also about certain factors that are not.

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  • We put a deposit down and then went to visit in Christmas 2010. After visiting Storm and Jinjee, I knew it was a scam. My intuition told me that my deposit was gone and that it was spent on food, rent, et cetera. I think they were desperate for money. I do not think they had good intentions for the money. I think they knowingly scammed people. Storm says after the fact that he is not good with money and things like this – then why in good conscious would you take money from honest hard-working folk. The deposit was a lot of money to me and my family. We do get e-mails of pie in the sky ideas that are somehow going to make them able to pay back the money. They are con-artists and criminals and I think they should be prosecuted. They misrepresented what they were using the money for. Criminals should be prosecuted. If you do a web search on them, it looks like they have taken advantage of relatives, also. I wish I would have listened to my gut.

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  • These investors need to talk to a securities lawyer. The sale of land plus some sort of investment promise can be the sale of a security, in certain circumstances. This sounds like the textbook investment contract situation. If you sell a security without registering it with the SEC then, well, let’s just say that you’re in a world of trouble. The investors may be able to get their money back, with interest, and the perps will get hit with federal and state fines. Plus, there may be jail time since they spent the money on themselves. And…you don’t have to prove that they intended to do anything against the law. Just the fact that they didn’t register with the SEC prior to the sale makes them guilty. Get these people to talk to a securities lawyer ASAP! The statute of limitations may be about to run out!

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  • Wow. Wow. WOW.
    I had a terrible customer service experience with them and found this by googling “Garden Diet Bad customer service”, just to see if there was anyone else out there who had one, too. I am dumbfounded & yet, somehow all of this isn’t shocking.
    I had paid $130 for a “Lifetime membership” to their two raw food programs (21 day raw cleanse & 28 day transition to raw). The only thing is, I never received anything on the 28 Day program. I sent a friendly reminder.
    Silence.
    5 days later, I sent another query. Yoo-hoo? Anybody there?
    A week later, sill nothing.
    Then I was really angry. What kind of business survives by blatantly ignoring their customers? Suddenly I realized how full of doo-doo all of their “Love and light” nonsense was. But this article….
    My prayers for the victims and their families, their hearts.

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  • Whoa. I found this article after typing in “talifero garden diet review” since, like Melissa, I was about to purchase the two-part Garden Diet program for $137. So glad I found this first! Thanks to Sarah for the article and those who have shared the truth about this. I have nothing but sympathy for those who were taken in by the land scam; it makes my stomach hurt to think of your losing all that money. I hope you are able to recoup at least part of it.

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  • I read this last year when I was waiting for a reimbursement (for months…) after paying for the program and then doing a testimonial. Was kind of hoping for an update. For those that stumble upon this and are looking to get that program reimbursement after the testimonials, it might take a REAALLY long while. Jinjee kept in contact, but there were weeks where I had to nudge her. She paid in 2 installments and talked about not having money, etc, etc. She was very courteous and professional each time (though adding the little guilt trips). I DID get it all, eventually. But it was over 6 months after the fact.

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  • This is hilarious. How does one expect an uneducated and unhealthy sickly thin couple with a massive family of scrawny kids to even be able to pull this off. I know men who studied this type of project for 20 years and required 5 highly skilled associates to pull things like this off. You’d have to be out of your mind to hand over your hard earned money to Raw Vegans.

    P.S.

    I sent this article to Jinjee Garrick Talifero and a guy that seems to be her brother replied this:

    James Garrick:
    Yeah, I have money invested in them too but I have to admit that I think your article is a little one sided if not false in many supposed statements you’ve collected.

    James Garrick:
    Most of those funds were lost when the opposition to the development delayed them so much that they couldn’t raise the funds to coninue payments on the property. I know my mortgage wouldn’t be refunded to me if I defaulted on my house payments….would yours? I figure, it’s my fault for not getting a contract for the investment with any guarantees. I still have faith in the project and the garden diet…it’s improved my life so much. Just one’s humble opinion.

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  • Isn’t this what all scam artist do? Always divert attention away from the actual crime itself?

    As far as I’m concerned each victim here who does not file a complaint with the police department for bunko is just as guilty as these crooks. A special thank you to those individuals for allowing these people to keep stealing from other unsuspecting fools. Civic minded people you are not.

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  • Well Sarah, I read your article with interest, somewhat one-sided though it be. There is more to this than is being stated. I know Storm and Jingee fairly well, have for years, and I think they got into something more than they could deal with, and mishandled the entire matter unfortunately. Everyone loses in a situation like this: the investors their money, the Talifero’s their reputation, the raw vegan movement its image.

    Although listing the “excellent” BeyondVeg.com was a mistake. That erroneous caustic website is nothing more than childish propaganda for the hyper-orthodox medical establishment, proudly displaying ignorance and arrogance. Nothing of any merit whatever there. Which says much about your own awareness and understanding of this entire situation.

    You may mean well but aligning yourself with such elements does no one any good, least of all the injured parties. Health and diet are not on trial here, it is a matter of fiduciary trust which Storm and Jingee lost either through intention or incompetence. I can only hope that this situation is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, yet there is so much bad feeling about, that it is doubtful such will be the case. In this matter there are lessons to be learned. let us hope that people do just that. Thanks for the article.

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    • Hello Kacy – This report covers a situation that involved well over 30 parties. Seven of them shared their stories here and if it appears one-sided that’s only because all of their experiences in this, and basic conclusions about it, are/were so similar. Since posting this article, I’ve received updates and to my knowledge there is no longer anyone in the group (of 30 or so who made home down-payments) supporting the Taliferos. The only distinction appears to be between those who believe the Taliferos deliberately scammed them, and those who merely think they, as you wrote, mishandled the entire matter. Last I heard, all parties were still waiting to be repaid.

      I disagree with all you wrote about BeyondVeg.com. For example, I’ve seen no example on this site of “propaganda for the hyper-orthodox medical establishment”, nor of anything “erroneous” or “caustic”. Last I heard, the site’s creator, Tom Billings, follows a high-raw diet, and is vegetarian. However, he does call out the false/misleading raw diet propaganda that is ultimately helpful to no one (except, that is, those propagating it in order to line their own pockets).

      Tom and other BeyondVeg contributors back up their facts with references to the scientific literature, and to other credible evidence. The majority of websites that cover raw/vegan diets are nowhere near as thorough with substantiation – and I include my own in that – making BeyondVeg an invaluable resource. I’m grateful to Tom for the wealth of important information on his site and for the fairness, accuracy and integrity with which he curates that information, and I know many others are, too.

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  • What a scam. My daughter and I thought they were the greatest. What a lifestyle. We invested in the raw spa. I guess what we invested in was a couple of months worth of the sky’s the limit in fine raw organic foods for the family. As an investor in the spa I hope that we also are not forgotten if ever there is a group lawsuit. We will continue our quest for living the healthy lifestyle without the help of these two!

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  • Storm looks like an [edited for vulgarity]. Jinjee has [edited].

    The bigger idiots are these investors, who did not proceed with lawyers, county officials, the local real estate board to see if the project would commence. There were no legal binds (nor did they seem interested with putting these strings on these kooks).

    Just another tale of new age philosophy and how being stupid yet blissed out is so dangerous, dumb and a case of heartbreak. Just stupid. They all need years of psychotherapy and to eat a pork chop.

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    • Are you a nutritionist as well as a psychologist, NoSympathy? 🙂 It sounds like you’re very against the whole “raw/alternative” movement. My personal view is that like any movement or marketplace, this one has its issues and there’s no point pretending otherwise – this article covered some of those. I’m sure everyone who lost a large sum of money on this would give anything to be able to go back and NOT have taken the Taliferos at their word on this. But having spoken and/or corresponded with a good number of them, I can’t agree with your assessment.

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  • I somewhat agree with Leonard – I don’t understand why the people who were defrauded who have not yet filed complaints with the police do not. You’re just allowing the fraud to continue, and who knows if more people will be defrauded in the future.

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  • Wow!! I had wondered what happened with this project – and am so relieved we asked questions before parting with $$$. In 2009, a young couple told me about the Taliferos and I was intrigued. I watched their videos, listened to the sales pitch and was genuinely interested. Since I was going to invest money I had inherited, I knew my deceased parents would tell me to be very cautious. I called the city of Ojai and the more I dug, the darker the truth became. I was told the property was not even zoned for this kind of village (didn’t have enough water source and was up against protected land that would not allow such a village) and NO permits had been issued and the city knew nothing about it. I spoke to many different people in different departments. I shared this news with the young couple who was just a day away from sending Storm and Jingee 10K. I spoke to Jinjee and my husband spoke to Storm – initially both sounded so warm and assuring. DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE PARTING WITH YOUR MONEY. We all make mistakes; these people have capitalized on knowingly accepting funds when they knew the dream was dead. Why has nothing happened to them yet? I am so, so sorry to those of you who gave the Taliferos money – I doubt you will ever see it again.
    Merry

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  • I’m not surprised at all that this happened. I don’t trust couples to be fair, they’d always have themselves in mind first and foremost, and if there’s a dispute, one would side with the other rather than on what’s right. I first decided this after years of shared living. I was never living with a couple, but when seeking a group house to move to, would always shy away from the ones including a couple. If I’m going to move into a group house, I want it to be a cooperative household, run well and with more than 2 other members besides myself. And certainly no couples or even triads who are romantically involved.
    In the case of Storm & Jinjee’s village, I remember first hearing about it on a YouTube video of Jinjee talking with some folks about it. At first I thought, how wonderful, and this does sound like a great idea. The concept, outside of the couple with the dream at least, was a beautiful one. But I wasn’t at all interested in participating. I thought: not only are they only two people, but they’re a couple. That means it wouldn’t be a collective or cooperative, or an organization, which is what I would require in a co-housing situation, it would only be two people. And to make it worse, they’re romantically involved.
    My question was this: How are they trained or prepared or vested to provide this situation? Right away I thought, “Well, good for them. I’ll see how their village is in 5 years.”
    It’s the same thing I thought about the “Elements For Life” superfood multi-level-marketing scheme that started and almost as immediately after sunk a few years ago. A couple of my friends were excited about it and I even went to an event of theirs so that I could learn more and meet and have my picture taken with David Wolfe. Even after all the beautiful testimonies and the rest of the nifty features of that event, I still smelled a rat. It just was too shiny, fake, and non-sustainable to me. Also, I don’t support packaged foods, even if they’re “superfoods” ‚Äì they’re still too gourmet for me. And I don’t buy my food by ordering it online, so how I could I expect to sell enough to others to not only make up my start-up fee, but also the significant amount of money they and most multi-media-markets say you will with them?
    No, I didn’t buy Elements for Life, not their tonics, nor their berries in bags, nor their “give us money and you’ll make money if you make other people give you money, too” schtick. And, not surprisingly, they, too, have gone up in smoke, allegedly owing, I believe, many thousands of dollars to their initial believers.
    I’m glad I have a nose for sniffing these things out, and I’m sorry others haven’t been so lucky.
    Because I’ve followed and benefited from the Talifero’s career for many years, and perhaps because I did not give them any of my money, I bear no grudge against them.

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  • I was not really surprised to learn of this! Early on in my introduction to the raw vegan movement, I paid for a year subscription to the garden diet, and got maybe one magazine, and then, nothing! But, even that amount of money being lost was significant to me. If I had invested money in a home, and been robbed in the ways I have heard described in these accounts, I believe I would find some way to sue, and to make sure that they were held accountable, and also, prevented from harming others in the future. I appreciate your publishing this well-documented account, and hope that it serves as an inspiration to others to speak up when they see someone doing wrong and harming others, and to not keep silent out of a (misguided) sense of politeness, or embarrassment at being perceived as “negative,” or “critical,”

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  • Any new news? I cannot find anything on the Internet. Was there in fact an IRS audit, and did the investors ever get financials or any money? How naughty for this couple to take other people’s money ear marked for one thing, and use it for something else. I thought that was illegal… Was there ever a fund set up?

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  • I’m afraid I can’t answer any of those questions, JT. I’ve heard nothing since my reply above. I would be surprised if there’s been any substantial repayment, though. The whole thing continues to stand as a huge warning of the risks of handing over any large sum of money on trust alone.

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  • It was sort of obvious to me that these two were working with pipe dreams when I ordered a copy of their video about having a raw family years ago, and the quality was so poor and it was just sad and they spoke of themselves as artists, etc. Sad.

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  • Thank you Sarah for your huge effort on this matter . Great article . Many thanks as well to the few victims that have been so generous as to tell us their horrible experience . Some one said to me once that the only person that can cheat you is the one you trust ,it is as simple as that. So I think one more sad thing here is how life pays us : We trust others ( wise feeling), We get punished in return ……Any way i admire you for your nice soul, i wish i could still trust people my self. And very good luck in getting your money back .

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  • I was wondering if there were any updates. They seem to have disappeared. I hope these criminals suffer for what they did. I feel for the victims who parted with their hard-earned monies just to have these two cowards exploit their generosity. Also I appreciate beyondveg revealing raw food charlatans of which there are far too many. I eat raw foods but will have nothing to do with any of the raw food “gurus” who have basically killed the movement with their corrupt and greedy practices. I hope only hope that the victims have come out of the experience a little wiser and with more insight into their own judgment.

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    • Hi Donna,

      No, still no updates that I know of. I too applaud Tom Billings at BeyondVeg.com. For being the first to warn of all the false claims and corruption in the raw vegan world, and for his extensive reporting on just how big a problem it has become.

      Sarah x

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  • Dear Sarah,
    I truly admire your courage for writting this article. I am really glad someone else is telling the truth about “the raw vegan village”.
    We (my 2 children & I) visited the Talifero family for 1 week in June 2008. After this visit, I had some doubts about this project, at the end I decided not to invest any money.

    I wish the very best for all “raw vegan village” investors, who can get something in return.
    Many Blessings

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  • This is all very disturbing to me. Jinjee lives in our area and is a part of our local home school group. She has the sweetest children but now I think I need to use discernment when dealing with her.

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  • I do not see one smidgen of proof against the Taliferos here. You have written a great big story based on nothing. No names. No legal documents. No actual people. Just what ‘you’ve heard’. This entire story looks like one big fabrication. I am shocked that anyone believes any of this. Just because its written here doesn’t mean any of it is true. What a joke.

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    • Thank you for your input, Mary. The goal of this was never “proof against the Taliferos”. It began when one person who was involved approached me, and this then led to my talking to others who were involved. Those people decided that they wanted to share their stories through this report. That’s what it’s about, and most of it consists of their words, not mine. I think the report makes that clear so would assume you haven’t read it? 🙂

      More than four years since this was published I don’t know where things stand now. But I continue to have the same hope I expressed then – that the situation has now resolved to the greatest good of all involved.

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  • Greetings Sarah & Happy Holidays!

    I too was scammed by the Talifero’s (not Storm’s real last name–Gerald is from Detroit, MI). I invested in their raw food documentary which turned out to be a poorly put together home video. My children and I visited and stayed with this family over 10 years ago. Back then they knew nothing about wheatgrass, living foods, or even juicing for that matter. The children appeared malnourished, especially the youngest boy who looked like a skeleton next to my very healthy and well fed son of similar age. The kids were ‘home schooled’ but had no set structure. The oldest boy could not even write his alphabets properly.

    I expected them to have an abundant garden overflowing with home grown organic vegetables, lots of credible knowledge and research on ‘raw foods’ and be way more savvy and well versed in this field. Sadly I knew way more than they did and looked way healthier
    than the both of them.

    I am an avid juice of over 20 years. I’m a juicing expert and wellness coach. I foolishly invested $1,400 in their raw foods documentary before I met the Talifero’s as they were quite convincing and had a strong presence on the internet. Sadly I was a victim of their scams as well. After several attempts to recover my ‘investment’ I wrote the money off but knew over time that ‘karma’ would catch up with them and surely it did.

    They have a habit of constantly promising to repay investors but to date I’m sure no one has been repaid and never will. They are delusional and seem to think they are the ‘victims’ of these unscrupulous circumstances they themselves create.

    Their oldest daughter was on to them years ago and even wrote on a blog (later removed) that her parents were always trying to get rich on the internet. The kids didn’t call their father dad or daddy but referred to him as Storm. I always thought this to be quite odd. Now their living polygamous lives.

    Please keep this article on the web so others will read it and think twice before investing a penny with these ‘raw food shisters’ a title I gave them years ago. Peace & Light!

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  • Sarah I also wanted to add:

    With all the faux news out there and savvy folks on the internet, its so easy these days to create and agressively market a pretty website, get a big following on social media then offer shabby programs for large sums of money. I have encountered this same scenario by another person with a big presence on the internet. It all looks so glamorous & legit until you actually make an in person appearance, only to realize folks are creating and hiding behind these hyped up, unprofessional and low budget fantasy ‘businesses’ especially in the vegan-raw food world. Tread with Caution & use common sense.

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  • None of this surprises me. I have several Garden Diet recipe manuals/eating plans that I got back in 2009/2010. Some of the recipes are excellent and I still use them 7 years later. I do like the emphasis on food rather than supplements, the use of simple recipes that don’t require a dehydrator, and the emphasis on exercise. However, following the eating plans exactly as written would lead to major nutritional deficiencies, not to mention that they are grossly deficient in calories.

    Plus, the manuals have amateurish production values and are loaded with typos, grammatical errors, etc. Storm and Jinjee either couldn’t afford to use decent publishing software to create anything more professional or (this is what I suspect) Storm considers himself a polymath who doesn’t need copy editing. Just from the looks of the products I received from Storm and Jinjee, it was obvious that they were amateurs. The idea that these two could oversee a multimillion dollar construction project like a raw eco village is ludicrous. I’m really sorry that folks lost money on this.

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  • Why are these people not in jail? I met one of them personally and she confirmed all of this. And it was MUCH, MUCH worse than this. They had an incredible lifestyle completely funded by lying to people. There was no regret and they have no moral compass whatsoever.

    Why didn’t more people pursue lawsuits? Why weren’t the police, the IRS, and the authorities involved to make sure they don’t continue to lie to others? They completely got away with stealing over a million dollars from people and as far as I can tell they faced no consequences and no jail time. These people belong in jail.

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