Hobo Prince scam

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Portlanders should take heed of local scam artist

If a complete stranger promises to give you over $300,000 in exchange for just $25 up front, one or more gigantic red flags should go up in your head. But apparently that doesn’t always happen.

Washington resident and author Shelby Bell is the founder of the so-called “Hobo Prince Economic Project.” He claims to have access to over $350 billion, and he wants to share it with seven million people by paying them $900 a week for the next seven years. The first 10,000 people to sign up will even be rewarded with a free computer! There is just one catch: participants are required to pay a one-time, $25 “administrative fee” when they sign their contracts.

Most people know that when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Despite that common adage, over the past several months, hundreds, possibly even thousands, of people have given this man $25 in hopes of achieving financial security for themselves and loved ones.

Perhaps not surprisingly, as far as is known to date, no one has received a free computer or any money in return.

The only evidence Shelby Bell discloses of his supposed $350 billion is a convoluted graph on his website that literally has arrows going in every direction, sometimes even in loops, around words like “bank,” “clients,” and “insurance companies.”

This is presented, along with speeches about wanting to help those who are struggling and wanting to rebuild America’s economy, at seminars all over the Northwest in malls, conference halls and even churches. He must be pretty convincing, considering that he’s leaving a long line of perplexed people in his wake, each of whom are out $25, waiting for their weekly debit cards to be mailed.

Not too long ago, KATU’s Problem Solvers did a bit of investigative reporting on the Hobo Prince Economic Project. They found that “the Hobo Prince contract says a company named Dashwood, Brewer and Phipps in London is carrying out Shelby Bell’s financial scheme—a complicated insurance plan.

But Dashwood, Brewer and Phipps said they have no business with Shelby Bell. Bell, who has yet to be charged with any crime, also failed to appear for an interview he had scheduled with the station to discuss the story.

It appears that the Hobo Prince Economic Project is essentially a kind of Ponzi scheme, wherein clients are promised a substantial profit or payoff based on a relatively smaller initial “investment.” The only real business model such a financial venture has is the one that puts the participants’ money directly into the leader’s pocket, which is why such scams are illegal in many countries, including the United States.

Bernie Madoff, a former Wall Street chairman, was sentenced to 150 years in prison (the maximum sentence allowed under law) in 2009 for creating and maintaining the largest and most elaborate Ponzi scheme in American history over the past few decades. He was believed to have made at least $18 billion from it.

But we aren’t talking about some rich guy getting even richer stealing other rich guys’ big bucks on Wall Street; Shelby Bell is deliberately preying on people who are already vulnerable—low income households, those out of work, the elderly, etc. He’s tapping into their wishes for a better life, and taking advantage of their dreams by selling them smoke and mirrors.

The most recent update to his website, posted on Jan. 7, assures his followers that the confusion has been taking care of and that “based on the latest correspondence the debit cards will go out by Jan. 20.” I have no doubts that by then, yet another excuse will be posted extending this caustic illusion even further.

It might be tempting to hold an attitude along the lines of “Well if someone’s that stupid then they deserve to lose their money,” or even “At least losing $25 isn’t that big of a deal.” A person likely to buy into this scheme, however, is probably a person already in a desperate or approaching desperate situation.

No one in an absolutely desperate position deserves to be taken advantage of. And for someone living paycheck to paycheck, or without a paycheck, the slightest loss of money is significant.

As a self-described starving college student, I hesitate about every dollar I spend. I don’t imagine I’d feel much better about my situation if I realized I basically threw $25 in the trash. Shelby Bell deserves to be in jail for what he’s doing; hopefully he finds his way there sometime soon.

Ponzi schemes and their cousins, pyramid scams, are all over today. Though they’re technically illegal con games, fraudulent dealings and motives can sometimes be difficult if not impossible to uncover and then prove.

Awareness is the best way to protect yourself from falling into such a trap. Remember that nothing in life is really free. Remember that the only people who truly “get rich quick” are those with rich parents (through inheritance), or those who win the lottery (through sheer dumb luck). Question everything, and when opportunity knocks, ask for its credentials.

And remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Please give me move info on the October 1996 surge at Dashwood Brewer & Phipps Ltd and where the money truely came form….and if those funds are in rem Thank you.

  2. As I posted on scambook re: the hobo prince economic project, the billions that the self-proclaiming “billionaire” Shelby Bell has, to back his so-called charitable project, is the basic LIE that ought to tip people off.

    Bell cannot be found in any billionaire records anywhere.

    Sorry to say it, but the fact is that the possibility of a relatively young African American man to be a billionaire, without a huge amount of accompanying press and fame is highly unlikely. There are absolutely NO public records about Bell, his wealth or verification of his business success, or personal history. If he were that wealthy, it would be impossible that he would NOT be well-known and lauded for such an accomplishment.

    This fact should be all the proof anyone would need to see that the whole Hobo Prince thing is a lie. But neither Bell, nor his advocates will even say from which industry Bell accumulate his billions, or who he really is.

    The little information found on the internet mentions a tiny company, with two employees and no other data. His company and/or home address reveal a tiny house in a working class neighborhood. If no one has ever heard of a company called Be’Rio Transports, and there is no corporate website for it, such a company does not likely exist.

    The gobble-DE-gook in the responses from other Hobo Prince Economic Project members and supporters is just silly: they claim it does not matter if there is no proof or verification of Bell’s billions?

    Why, I beg to differ! Yes it does matter!

    Finally, the very idea that this man has the idiocy to claim he has many more billiions than any of the known billionaires on Forbes’ lists (Billionaire Bill Gates is a pauper compared to Bell, because Gates only has a paltry 60 billion or so!). This is the ultimate clue – no one had ever heard of Shelby Bell until he created this incredible Hobo Prince “opportunity” to become relatively comfortable with $900 practically free dollars per WEEK for SEVEN years, all for the mere price of a couple of movie tickets, or a (cheap) dinner out.

    Like you, I wonder what Shelby Bell’s next excuse (i.e; delay tactic) for not delivering the promised goods to his investors, will be. It is truly unconscionable to intentionally swindle those who are poor, desperate, sick, elderly and under-educated.

    Thank you for your article making this scam and the person behind it, more visible to the (often naive) sector of the public that needs help and money the most, as well as the authorities.

  3. I knew it sounded too good to be true. I would appreciate it if you could email me where Shelby’s next appearance is so that I can ask him a few simple questions. I live in the Milwaukie, Oregon area, near Portland. Thank you, Greg

  4. They just had a LIVE seminar today Fed 4th..he is not hiding..if u would go to the website and KEEP checking 2 see when he has live seminars u could go..he is not hiding

  5. We’re scammed everyday! Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, what’s the difference? This may or may not be an elaborate scheme. Maybe this has not been brought to the public just as the black woman who wrote the Matrix and The Terminator lawsuit..she allegedly won over $5 billion from copyright infringement..CNN won’t cover that..they are hooked to People Rag, NY times rag, and other publications.

  6. Because in america you can get away with scaming people. In other countries you get shot on line if you’re a scammer

  7. After loosing a thousands to the ponzi scheme of wallstreet. I could only wish it would have been with the ponzi scheme of hoboprince. Which is the worse of the two evils

  8. Kristen, it is hard to accept how quickly you jump your guns before making proper research in order to make a more knowledgeable description of your accusations. Yes ,it is true that anyone that even attempt to do something to help will have more chances to end up crucified… Just go and look at Hobo Prince web site the last webinar, that last two hours, which I have seen twice; so I will not be given my findings to lazy people.

  9. well you may wanna gunder (look) at this
    http://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/2012/4-03-2012.shtml
    http://www.katu.com/news/problemsolver/134022158.html

    maybe its not a scam bu NOT saying what “ITEM” he’s waitingon b4 sending out debitcards + lieing that Phipps company is helping his insurance scheme + not showing up for interview on Saturday to tell of the so called intel property BS = fishy

    Ive got better irons in my fire to start branding cattle to market

  10. Look at the 3rd paragraph of this article. How could someone say…”over the past several months, HUNDREDS, POSSIBLY EVEN THOUSANDS….” Folds when you read something like that, you are dealing with a person or blogger that don’t have ANY facts. They are simply reporting what state officials and govt depts(who get it wrong all the time) are ACCUSING a man of! These blogger are simply gambling on the possibility of making a name for themselves in the event that the accused either is found guilty or decides, without being guilty, to discontinue the endeavor. And the blogger can spin it either way when dealing with a dumped down society. Read the article again folks and tell me what in it do YOU know that is factual. And lets stop allowing our fellow citizens to be slandered and drug through the mud without holding the slanderers legally accountable

  11. People, I feel for all of you who have been hurt by Shelby Bell the “hobo prince” Since the real Shelby Bell wont stand up..Let me for a moment, and take you back to the recent past. I and many others have offered him employment. He doesnt want to work. Rather, He wants to come up with the big score. Uses executive words that make it sound like he is educated in business and finance. He is not. He has some books with terms. And he tries to use his “special knowledge” to convince you he is special and brilliant.

    He will refer to things that sound legit but since I didnt read that book who am I to say its not true. Anyway, he convincingly shrouds the big financial plan in hard to understand ways. It makes you feel like he is smarter about the subject than you.

    He and his wife Anya and 4 kids have always been on welfare. She was actually trying to work to give the kids a little better life. His laziness, being demeaning to women, arrogance, lack of virtue and scheming is why she left him couple years back. He likes to brag about Louis Farrakhan and his henchmen and his dads dealings with them. Likes to talk about mystery men who come in the night to threaten him to stop working on ” the project” ETC..

    Further proof? Ask him about the following scams he perpetrated:

    Cottonwood Island,

    The green house project,

    Trying to scam the wealthy Annabell Jewell, (she was too smart for that..why would she listen to a part time limo driver anyway?) Okay, he did have 1 job..

    The revolutionary new boat house, many others..

    And do a google map search of his Belrio Transportation address 9209 NE 116th Ave, Vancouver, WA.

    You will see a typical Shelby Bell place of residence. And certainly not worthy of a self portrayed Trillion air.

    Cant seem to find his best seller on amazon either…..or anywhere else for that matter. He better take good care of “the copy” he has.

    He has no virtue, you wont see your money back because he is using it to bank roll the next earth shattering venture..probably convince some poor people he is smarter than Tesla and he can give free electricity to orphans in Uganda.

    Your $25.00 admin fee for that will generate you $1,000,000.00 a month as soon as he can get the correct paper work right, and if the Ugandan president ever forgives Shelby for not saying goodbye after the giant party they surely threw for him in his honor. Blame it on Farrakhan’s men, they needed to get him to his gulf stream 5, otherwise he would be late for his hobo meeting in the break room at goodwill.

    The money will get him into a new suit, He can finally get the trillion air station wagon off of the blocks and back on the road, and will read a book on tesla, add to his vocab. words like half wave rectifier with articulating derivations.

    So get your $25.00 ready for the ride of your life!

  12. Dear Virtue:

    I disagree with a couple things you said about the amazing Shelby H. Bell. You said that Bell “convincingly shrouds the big financial plan in hard to understand ways. It makes you feel like he is smarter about the subject than you.” And also that Bell “Uses executive words that make it sound like he is educated in business and finance.”

    Well – first of all, he is NOT convincing, because his big financial plan is SO hard to understand, that once one has heard the plan, one immediately recognizes it for the ludicrous b.s. that it is, and secondly, his executive words make no sense either! Someone who is educated in business and finance actually CAN MAKE SENSE when talking to less educated people.!!

    But I totally get where you are coming from – exposing Bell for the b.s.-ing fraud that he is and apparently has been for a long time. Thank You, Virtue! It was fun to read about Bell’s past follies – and your other comments were quite entertaining too!

  13. I have not heard his pitch on the hobo project, So I only assumed he was talking business babble and tries to smoke and mirror his audience. To the educated person, he is very transparent.

    I surely wish people would do a little due diligence on people like this before throwing money at his smile.

    His greenhouse plan was to float a series of greenhouses in polluted water ways with pollution specific plants that would somehow osmotic ally absorb the funk and grow nice plants.

    He convinced some naive people to fund some of those 1 piece plastic tuff shed type greenhouses, After which they sat in his driveway in Longview WA on 32nd ave. for a few months while he decided to start making “industry changing” boats out of foam boards and resign.

    People (Friends) invested in the materials and viola! Didn’t float upright. Tried to explain it wouldnt but he insisted that when more people invested, he would be able to figure the problem out.

    Actually tried to convince one of his friends, to sign a phoney purchase order for millions of dollars worth of those unique ships so he could then show those to investors and get funded. I am reminded of his ability to create phoney docs. when I see the ones he is recently posting.

    Fortunately, some people are not quite that stupid.

    Few other ridiculous ideas around the same time, But I can only think of the people who lost money on the greenhouses and the boat thing.

    Oh, other than some bank sent him a gold card (while on welfare) and he blew it all instead of supporting his wife Anya and their 4 kids.

    That was 1995. Moved to Vancouver after the greenhouse people started knocking on his door.

    Quite a rep in Longview WA.

    His friends list at that time included:

    Phil Shanteau Builder
    Dan Estes Paramedic / coffee business owner
    Dennis Hyde RET
    Eldon Buckles RET
    Steve Mansfield. Educator
    Myself (Gary Bledso) RET

    Any one of these could verify all of these things and more probably.

    • How long have you known S. Bell? Your comments sound like someone with first hand knowlege – is this true?

      In fact what you were saying sounds like someone else we knew and was scammed by in the not so distant past.
      Wish we had listened to the one person who tried to warn us then and really wish I could warn others that may yet come in contact with him.

      Is your knowledge first hand????

  14. I’m saddened by the realization that ANY person could be so heartless as to go after people in need like this. I hope for his sake this turns out to be legit. I’m sure it would do no good, especially if he’s the bum people have described, but I smell a class action lawsuit. And if he does get convicted as did Bernie Madoff, let’s hope his cell mate is the son of some poor old lady that got ripped off by Mr.Bell. I’m sure he’ll make ol’ Shelby feel right at home

  15. I don’t know if anyone is still reading comments about the Hobo Prince Economic Project and Shelby H. Bell. But he is still out there conning the public.

    Shelby H. Bell’s latest videos (on his progress update on his site) that “explain everything” about HPEP continue the scam. At the end of the last video Shelby says something to the effect of “If you’re a Bigfoot like me, sometimes you like being taken for a ride”. Yep – that does seem to explain everything: Yep, Bell sure took a lot of people for a ride.

    It is disgusting that he never has apologized for lying from the beginning. He knows he is not even wealthy, much less a billionaire. He is arrogant and obviously has a way too-large-for his-abilities – or merits – entitlement complex. He refers to the money that is owed to him. Gosh, Shelby – WHAT on earth money are you OWED? By whom and for WHAT? For lying to good, trusting folks?

    Bell thinks he is owed money. He needs to learn that in this world, people have to actually earn it. He is not owed money for half-baked ideas that probably don’t work, but even worse, he has not legitimately tried to sell. The crazy Intellectual Property Package that he purported to sell to the highest bidder was a joke. Idiocy – just conveniently used by Bell to keep pretending that he was sincere in making the Hobo Prince Economic Project viable. Which it never was.

    Shelby, if you have a real invention that has any merit whatsoever, then sell it for real. If you can’t market it yourself or sell it to a big company to manufacture it for you, go back to the drawing board.

    Whatever you do, just stop pretending that you’re still a special, good guy and a hero. You are anything but.

    And by the way, Shelby H. Bell, in your web statements and your videos, the not-so-veiled threats to people who say negative things about you, have not gone unnoticed either by former believers or the authorities. Put your gun and your swords away, and return your fancy motorcycle and vehicles – to start returning money you stole from good people. They were not happy to see the stupid toys that you bought, or the bogus video that only further proved what a jerk you are.

  16. this man is a joke!!!!! a liar!!!!! and a fraud!!!!! i’ve checked updates on his website and now he just looks like a damn fool! i was told about this project by a relative and maybe it’s my fault for not checking into it before hand, but i read the first contract about the reverse insurance policy and of course, it sounded good. i’m a stay at home mom and $900 a week for 7 years sounded like a good deal to me. but he’s lied and changed the program so much, i think he’s sick in the head…. or at least playing that way, so he doesn’t have to pay back the $187,000 + that’s he’s scammed from people. and i know there are people out there who still support this man and believe he’s God fearing and a do-gooder willing to put up his money to help the economy, but have you seen any return on your investment??? i guess, keep the faith! miracles do happen. and maybe when i ride over your house on my unicorn, sprinkling my fairy dust, your $900 will magically grow on trees.

  17. I originated a post on Ripoff Report back in 2011 when I first got wind that this was a fraud…here it is 2013 and Saku or Mr. Bell is still sticking to his guns and standing behind this scam. After reading all the post and the documents that have been posted since my original post in 2011, I have concluded that Mr. Bell’s actions and his continued pursue for this project defines him as an “insane” individual. Initially when I concluded that I had been taken advantage of back in 2011, I was angry and wanted answers. Today, I am no longer angry and I feel I have all the answers I need. If Mr. Bell feels it’s necessary to carry out this project to this degree whether it be a scam or not is “insanity”. What’s the definition of insanity? At this point I feel sorry for him, I pity him.

    Signed,

    No Longer Angry

  18. I read hoboprince and read it again and I see no where that he required you to send in 25 dollars. It said the book was 25 dollars and if you paid 25 dollar you would get 900.00 weekly for seven years but that has not happen as of yet but he did say that at the appropriate time if anyone wanted their money back he would refund it. So what is he taking from you except you expectation is not what you deem it to be for your satisfaction. So shut the hell up and wait to see before your start trying to crucify someone. All of you that are bitching about 25 dollars, get over it

    • When people ask for a refund and they don’t get it, that’s when he becomes a thief! When people pay the $25 to opt into a program that’s suppose to pay out and they see nothing happening, that’s where the anger comes from. It’s not like we started name calling after a month. We’ve been waiting for YEARS!!! That’s where the anger comes from. “the cards will be mailed out by May 1st.” “the cards will be mailed out May 15th”…. But then…. The site disappears! Imagine that

      • You did not read the update correctly. Let me help you. It says we should get the cards within 15 working days from the first of May.

        • ok then, what about all the other dates they were supposed to be “mailed out” for the last few years? Where are the tablets promised to the first 1000 people who signed up? Where is Shelby Bell now? poof! gone…

    • yes, he said the money would be refunded if you want it, however, in 2 years no one has gotten a refund when requested. Now he cannot even be reached, he has virtually disappeared.

  19. When Mr. Bell pays out to everyone we will no longer have a problem. This has all taken way too long. Mr. Bell’s attention has been divided off to other things. Which makes clients feel as if he is not really working on the project. If it is that outside forces are the problem, fine. But If he is just dragging out a scam which will and is harming others it will end badly in hand cuffs. He has taken from others less than $200,000.00. SO! How much is your freedom worth. I would hope wanting to raise his kids mean as much to him as it did me. But if this is a scam and it never pays out what was promised he will be arrested and jailed. If it is real I would think Mr. Bell is sorely sorry for jumping the gun and making statements about his “HOPE” to do something cool. But it took much longer than he thought it would. I wish for the best for those who dared hope. Either it will pay or he will pay. End story.

  20. He sold each person a child’s book. We all received something of value for the $25. If we receive $900 per week for the next 7 years, that is an added benefit. Most people spend $25 for a dinner. Then next day you will need to eat again. At least we can read the story again.

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