| I, the crown prince of Nigeria, offering you|
Matthew Lesko (born 1943), known to many as "that question mark guy," is something like what would have happened if the Riddler had dropped out of villain school and turned to a life of infomercial-driven financial fraud. Lesko has been hawking his books that can show you how to get FREE* MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT on the talk show and late-night infomercial circuit since the 1980s. Most Lesko books can be identified by his mug on the cover in addition to the title formula "Free money for x!" The general formula for writing a Lesko book is as follows:
- Write a book containing publicly available information about government grant programs and how you too can be a welfare queen!
- Peddle it on infomercials while acting like a five-year-old on a sugar high.
- Sell off your customers' private information after they buy the book.
Lesko offers a money-back guarantee on his books, but customers have reported getting a dead line when they call the number for the refund. He also claimed to be a columnist for The New York Times, but in fact had only had a column syndicated by the New York Times Syndicate from 1992-1994. The Times got him to remove this claim from his website. Besides just rolling already available information into brick-sized books, he generally misrepresents how much money you can get by gaming the numbers using programs a normal person wouldn't have access to. For example, he often gives instances of multi-million dollar grants, but "forgets" to mention that it was a grant from an organization like the National Science Foundation for some high-level research project. The New York State Consumer Protection Board has this to say about him:
“”"(Lesko is) profiting from the false notion that the government has billions of dollars available to help people pay their credit-card bills and other expenses," the agency says in its report. "This is due, in part, to the exaggerations and misleading claims spread by Matthew Lesko and the nationwide network of Lesko distributors."
His main distributor is called Information USA. He also offers "Lesko mentoring services" through his website. No one is sure how a man in a silly question mark suit got people to trust him with their money.
Lesko also claims that he likes to wear his suit "off-duty" as well.
- Lesko's website
- Classic Lesko commercial
- Lesko attempts to rap
- Lyle Tillman's Guide to Free, a parody of Matthew Lesko.
- Lesko talks about how to get "free money." If you do your income taxes and get a refund, that is.
- Free Money? Don't Think So, Consumer Affairs
- Review of Matthew Lesko; "Free Money to Pay Your Bills", Consumer Fraud Reporting
- Agency calls TV money man's claims deceptive, MSNBC
- Questions for Matthew Lesko, the Question Mark Man, The Black Table
- #109, to be exact.