It’s early 2015 in a Paris conference room and nerdy men in suits are shouting: “I’m sassy, I’m sexy, I’m sensational!” The words, indecipherable if not for the video’s caption, are a part of a warm-up game during a life-coaching retreat—one aimed at shaping the world's best life coaches.
A company called The Secret to Life Coaching (TSTLC)—one that’s now under government investigation—hosted the retreat. Founded in 2008 by Coral Rose Grant, TSTLC’s stated mission is to help people “live their best lives” and, ultimately, make a career out of teaching others the same.
This week, it is the subject of a major class-action lawsuit led by two former clients, Cheri Lucas and April Fisher—the latter of whom taught classes for TSTLC. Together, the two allege that the company was part of a Ponzi scheme devised by Coral and her husband, Mac, in which they pocketed investor money totaling anywhere from $8 million to $20 million, using it to “live like royalty.”
Charging people hundreds of dollars to help them find the “life of their dreams,” they instead used it to live out their own. The mastermind behind the scheme, the two claim, was a “career fraudster and federal felon” Kevin Trudeau, the “infomercial king” who is serving time in prison for diet books. Coral, they say, not only visited Trudeau in prison, but spent money trying to get him released.
Filed on behalf of “all persons who have entered into ‘coaching contracts’ or ‘investor contracts’ with any of the defendants,” Lucas and Fisher are asking for $30 million total in damages for fraud, theft, and racketeering, as well as gross negligence and deceptive trade.
The claim paints a grim picture of scam, with the master coaches turning clients into players—stripping them of hundreds of thousands of dollars and feeding them lies about “happiness.”
On TSTLF’s website users are greeted by the words “Become a Life Coach” in enormous white letters. Below is a picture of Coral, bronzed and beaming with platinum curls falling over her (you guessed it) coral sweater. Her bio describes her as a “true humanitarian” whose mission is to “create peace on our planet.” Beside it is a recent video of Coral titled How Riches Come to You.
Her husband, Mac, appears beneath her, a tall, dark-haired man donning a suit and soul patch. He’s identified both as the Chief Operating Officer as well as a “successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, Master Coach, and a leader in a network marketing company.” Beyond enjoying life with Coral (his “soul mate”), he loves “coaching people on stepping into their true power.”
Coral, who claims to have “learned the secrets to be able to live every day on purpose and manifest her absolute dream life in every way,” spreads the word through radio and TV. Underneath details about her television program, The Secret to Life Coaching, she writes to “Tune in every week to the Oxygen network!”
A spokesperson from Oxygen told The Daily Beast that no such show airs on the network.
The core of the company’s mission comes from its certification section, which poses banal questions such as, “Do you like helping people?” The course is said to last 90 days, consisting of weekly 60-minute classes with small groups of “like-minded people.” On Facebook, the Grants seem to frequently change the price, sometimes offering it for $15 per month, other times asking close to $300 for the first course alone.
Their definition of “living your best life” seems fairly broad. “From a middle aged soccer mom looking to lose a few pounds to an upper level executive looking to negotiate a seven-figure business deal, you will possess the confidence, skill and knowledge required to make you an invaluable resource in the lives of your Life Coaching clients,” their certification page reads. “As a Life Coaching Professional, you can demand anywhere from $75 to $500 per hour.”
Where the breakdown seems to have happened, according to the complaint, is what the Grants’ call a “commission agreement.” Essentially a “coaching contract,” the lawsuit explains it as a “commission percentage or fee” rewarded to coaches who either recruited coaching clients or taught coaching classes themselves. It’s money, they say, that never came.
On top of this, the Grants also “invited people (coaches, members, clients) to become ‘investors,’ i.e. give them flat sums in exchange for non-specific future returns.” Returns that, according to the plaintiffs, never panned out. Instead, Lucas and Fisher said the Grants pocketed the money owed to coaches and the money given by investors.
“The Grants live a lavish lifestyle with their ill-gotten gains. They lease multiple mansions around the United States, fly around the country in chartered private jets, and lease or own luxury vehicles (Bentleys, for example),” reads the complaint. “Put simply, Coral and Mac Grant are con artists living high on the hog with the millions they have stolen from their unsuspecting contractors and investors.”
After spending all of the money that they’d pocketed from investors and commission fees, the Grants allegedly started opening up smaller companies and telling clients to direct their money there. Before doing so, they canceled previous contracts, citing “recent events,” and noting that investors would not be able to collect their money.
But the shady activity doesn’t stop there, according to Lucas, who alleges that Coral was given a roadmap for her Ponzi scheme by Kevin Trudeau. A former infomercial salesman, who was at one pointed deemed the “best salesman of all time,” Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a book called Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About.
Lucas says she has proof that Coral got her ideas from Trudeau, prompting the master life coach to donate funds from her company to the Kevin Trudeau Legal Defense Fund. She also alleges that the scheme eventually became too large for Trudeau to support, alleging that he “told [Coral] to stop.” Quotes from Trudeau sometimes appear on the company’s Facebook page, most recently this one: “Attitude is more important than facts, because facts are usually just opinions!”
If the Grants set out to help people live their best lives, they may have gotten lost along the way. According to the plantiffs’ attorneys, the two went as far as to steal from clients’ life savings. “Coral and Mac Grant took advantage of a lot of people,” they told The Daily Beast. “They took millions of dollars with no intention of giving it back.”
When emailed, TSTLC sent back a response saying the company has been “dissolved.”