If DealStreetAsia (DSA) is correct, it means that mainstream news reporters and various trade media alike were to some degree ‘taken in’ by the smoke and mirrors illusions woven by Revolution Precrafted Properties in what Philippines based ABS-CBN News reported like this. “Robbie Antonio, son of Century Properties chairman Jose Antonio, is being probed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for allegedly duping several businessmen of P150 million through questionable deals.”
Currency Rate Today says that the conversion value is P150 = $3.09 U.S. dollars on 3.7.2021. That would be $4,854,368,93, or close to $5 million dollars (Inverse: 150.00 USD = 7292.61 PHP Selling 150.00 PHP you get 3.09 USD.) Far more than that is said to have apparently vanished as the promise vs. reality took shape. For historic reference, a prior report from 2018 is linked below.
Here is one of several interview clips by CNBC, apparently beneficial to Robbie Antonio and his firm.
If DSA, ABS-CBN News and other Asian news sources are correct, this looks like yet another instance where mainstream news, government officials, investors, and numbers from the public were taken advantage of with some measure of success; at least for a while.
Revolution reportedly asked DSA to remove their damning report. DSA responded by doubling down and elaborating on their concerns. Design Boom previously said this about Revolution. “Revolution Precrafted Properties”…“are a collection of limited edition dwellings, ranging from functional pavilions to modular homes.”
When accessing Revolution’s website today, Google’s browser issued warnings for each attempted access.
However, on LinkedIn, Revolution claims this. “REVOLUTION is a collection of limited edition, pre-crafted properties, including pavilions and homes. The project unites more than 30 of the world’s pre-eminent architects, artists, and designers to create a series of prefabricated living spaces.
Utilizing cutting-edge technologies and cost-efficient production systems, Revolution is democratizing high design and architecture by introducing designed spaces in exclusive collaboration with industry leaders.” Their LinkedIn profile makes it sound like they are still doing business as before…
With negative focus bearing down, consumer complaints, public officials, and apparently investors now backing off (or sounding off), the details will emerge. A follow up on the once-promising sounding firm may be warranted.
But for now, it is already a stark reminder of how a once highly respected person and firm, with a carefully crafted message, can nevertheless prove to be a scam.
- Bernie Madoff.
- WorldCom (or WorldCon as some later dubbed it…).
Those too were major scams. Billions were lost. But for a time, each of those enjoyed a positive limelight too.
The combination of once successful smoke and mirrors presentations, once glowing news, and public officials buying in ‘worked’ with Madoff, Enron, and WorldCom. The various scams worked until they didn’t work anymore.
One sobering takeaway is this. For all the posturing that it should never happen again, it still does.
What happened to the agencies tasked with oversight of those once giant U.S. names/brands? Why did years of tips about Madoff or others get ignored?
Then, apply that pattern to this question.
What About MHI and Berkshire?
The question isn’t whether or not Berkshire is a scam in the sense that Revolution PreCrafted, Bernie Madoff, WorldCom, or Enron might be all proven to be ‘scams.’
Rather, the question is this. Is Berkshire, Clayton Homes, and their associated lending or other units a monopolistic scam that violated RICO and other laws?
Legal researcher Samuel “Sam” Strommen, in a report for Knudson Law, thinks yes.
If that allegation turns out to be so, to what extent is the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) a scam?
Strommen’s research raised that concern too.
MHI began authentically enough. But once the Berkshire team moved into manufactured housing, perhaps at some point in time, their influence at MHI takes over. Their purported game or moat-building scam would work something like this.
- Keep the manufactured home industry underperforming. That is done in a variety of ways. Some of those are covered in new reports, linked in our weekly recap, below.
- That underperformance of manufactured housing during an affordable housing crisis slowly but steadily forces competitors out.
- That underperformance of manufactured housing, to the degree that it may seem like the industry has lost its mojo, may well deter newcomers from coming in. After all, if volumes are low, why bother entering a low volume industry?
Meanwhile, there is lots of happy talk at MHI.
- Photo ops.
- Slick videos.
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are enlisted to make promises on programs that go nowhere slowly.
- An occasional public admission is made that for those paying attention, that might if noticed and acted up could blow the purported scheme up. That might be a parallel akin to warnings given to public officials about Madoff, et al.
- But for those who are skim reading, not reading at all, or trust in the smiles of those who are picking their pockets and are undermining other people’s dreams, what happens to them?
MHProNews has and will make periodic formal complaints to public officials. Until the process plays out, caveat emptor. Let the buyer of purported lies beware.
Keep in mind that MHProNews has given Berkshire, Clayton, 21st, VMF, MHI, inside and outside attorneys and officials documented chances to respond. Silence.
Keep in mind that a prior complaint – one before Sam Strommen’s Knudson Law well referenced legal research report – was filed with the state of New York’s Attorney General’s office. They took it seriously enough to refer it to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In our view, it should have been sent to the DOJ, but either way, the NY AG’s office thought it merited federal attention. That is significant.
Keep in mind the Iron Triangle, one of the reports for the week linked below.
Keep in mind that several ‘marketers,’ bloggers and ‘trade media’ in our profession are arguably giving them cover. That too is in the reports for the week linked below.
The case can be made that an array of scams is occurring in our nation and in our industry. Those reports are among those in the headlines for the week.
For instance. In MHLivingNews, see what Marty Lavin, attorney and MHI award winner, had to say about Clayton, MHI, and ManufacturedHomes.com backed CrossModTM (a.k.a. MHAdvantage). Hint. Is it a scam too? Keep in mind while reading that Lavin did work for Fannie Mae.
While others are cheerleading for MHI, are they by accident and/or design giving cover to a scheme that has and is costing others their dreams?
In fairness, until something begins to expose a scam, they are not always easy to spot. But once the alarm begins to sound, that is when serious people should begin to pay attention.
It has been some 3 years since MHProNews reported on a Philippines-based ‘upscale prefabs’ firm Revolution Precrafted homes. It has been over 3 years since MHProNews reported what others in media did, that a $1.1 billion dollar deal was announced by the firm. In fairness, other news impacting our industry seemed more important after several initial reports. We can’t claim to have intuited where they were heading. We simply stopped reporting on them further, until now.
Time should tell if Revolution turns out to be a:
> sophisticated scam,
> a deal that may have launched with good intentions, but flawed execution,
> or something else.
But for now, it is not living up to its hype, says DSA and others in Asia. When will others in American media alert those who may have been pulled in by the hype?
In days gone by, CNBC and others in American or international media hyped Revolution and
Robbie Antonio. The SPJ Code of Ethical conduct suggests that when such new insights
develop, updates should be issued by media that came to realize that prior reporting, for
whatever reason, became problematic. This was a prior CNBC video on R. Antonio and Revolution.
Do not miss today’s postscript. Because every dark cloud has a potential silver lining.
The allegations against Clayton, MHI, and several of their affiliates, media, bloggers, and brands should be viewed anew through the lens of Revolution Precrafted. As a teaser, MHProNews has been given a new insight on the Buffett-Berkshire-Clayton story. More on that as it is developed.
Until then, there are plenty of reports to digest about what needs attention in our industry and our nation. With no further adieu, the headlines for the week that was from 2.28 to 3.7.2021 are below.
What is new on MHLivingNews
What is new from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What is new on the Masthead
What is new on the Daily Business News on MHProNews.
The statements by Marty Lavin, and the related revelations and other reports above all point to a simple, common sense need. As useful as MHARR is to our profession – they themselves say that there should be a post-production trade group for them to work with.
The laws needed to advance the industry already exist. Which begs the question. Either MHI, and their highest power members are lame in the brain (not what we alleged, these are intelligent folk) OR they are scamming the industry for the purpose of obtaining low performance. That low performance arguably benefits the few but harms the many.
The only person who had the moxie to serious debate that question was Andy Gedo. Gedo conceded after making several useful admissions. George Allen, while ‘praising’ our questions, attempts to brush off the actual concerns. He will not debate it, based on numerous opportunities to do so.
Tim Williams from Ohio said he would debate, but then ducked out. He set criteria that allowed him to duck out, hiding behind MHI which he oddly claims they and Lesli Gooch are doing so well. Despite the public bravado, it seems that Williams is unlikely to debate.
MHProNews began inviting MHI to discuss their performance at the Tunica Show some years ago. Their then public relations person declined. They have numerous times since failed to take up the question.
A properly organized post-production trade group – working in concert with MHARR, which has been faithful to their mission for decades – could help do the following.
- Press federal officials to enforce the law. Use Congressional and legal resources if needed to accomplish that point.
- Use existing federal laws – with or without HUD’s help – to move local jurisdictions by the potential of litigation. The main, but not the only, subject would be the enforcement of federal enhanced preemption.
- Success with zoning and placement could open up tens of billions of dollars in more opportunities annually.
- Combine that with other work that a good-post-production trade group could perform, and it would have a promise of paying serious dividends.
More on many of these topics in the near term.
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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