Photo: Don Winner aboard a sailing boat belonging to financial con man and money launderer Monte Friesner.
"DON WINNER should be prosecuted for fraud" - that is, in short, what a growing cabal of unhappy customers have to say because they feel ripped off by Winner's Panama Guide subscription scheme.
Winner put most of his content behind a paywall already a while ago, and readers have to pay $20 a year to read his articles copied and translated from Panamanian media and poached from the news agencies, as well as his "insights" and relentless scam pimping.
However, his publishing routine has lately become erratic, to say the least. Between January 7th and the 13th for example, not one single article was published - almost an entire week. And this was no exception, but occurs regularly, according to angry subscribers venting on Yahoo group "Americans in Panama."
On Christmas day, one Tim wrote that there had not been any new stories for quite a while, no new files, no new comments, and the Panama Guide website appeared dead.
Thomas Creighton, another subscriber, said:
I also request the return of my $20. I had not given you permission to collect recurring payments from my PayPal account.
This is another example of how the greatest dangers to expats in Panama are other expats, not the locals.
A day later, aforementioned Tim responded again:
So Don why don't you address the the lack of effort to continue to add stories? That was not the case before you started $20.00 fee. I don't think anyone is hurt by the fee, but upset over the fact that you basically quit doing your job. If I were an advertiser with PG I would be wondering what the heck happened. So yeah some of us didn't realize the 20 bucks would continue to go to you annually, I have gone in and changed mine. Won't make that mistake again. It is a shame really, you had a good and informative publication. I would have preferred to read the staff articles when you first started messing with real estate, rather than see how it is going now.
The Panama Guide runs on the not-so-safe Geeklog CMS. Winner hasn't done anything since he started publishing about his horrendous site design, and that alone should be reason enough for people to complain. Panama Guide started as a supposedly non-profit venture, but nobody believed that and soon enough, Winner announced that he was going to make money off of selling expats pirated content and shady penny stock in Panamanian mining scams. But, what is going on with Winner that he now hardly publishes at all?
For one, Don Winner appears to have left Panama. His emails originate from the US and he signs off listing a US mobile phone number, +1 845-800-6925. Why is he not here? There are rumors about health troubles, possibly to the extend of him joining his good friend Clyde Jenkins sooner rather than later. No laughing matter, but certainly nothing to cry about either.
It could of course also be that he left Panama for other reasons, just like his scammer friends have done before him. Or maybe he started drinking.
Meanwhile, Winner himself responded to the litany of complaints in the way he knows best: by bullying his customers.
Wrong. Impossible. You subscribed (with your knowledge) not met. Manage your account. Or not. Whatever. (...)
I’m at the point where I don’t have either the time nor inclination to manage subscriber’s PayPal accounts for them. If you want to subscribe then great. If you want to unsubscribe, then bye.
However let’s be clear. PayPal charged the annual subscription fee, because you asked them to when you subscribed.
I can’t charge anything on anyone’s credit card. I don’t have access to that information, nor do I want it.
In short, you figured out how to subscribe, so please manage your subscriptions.
And in the meantime, please stop trying to blame your inability to read a computer screen on me.
It was, however, merely the inability to read any fresh content that prompted the complaints.
Will the Panama Guide come to an end? It certainly looks that way. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.