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VIDEO: Scientology rehab salesmen — Just exactly the humanitarians you imagined

LifeSolutionsAfter our story on Tuesday about the death of Amber Bullins at one of Per Wickstrom’s rehab facilities in Michigan, we received numerous tips from readers about the Narconon-style network Wickstrom runs. (Some of Wickstrom’s businesses are licensed by Scientology’s Narconon network, others just make use of Narconon materials.)

The most interesting thing we received was a video that our tipster tells us was made in 2012. It features some employees for an outfit called Life Solutions, in Battle Creek. Part of the Wickstrom empire, it’s a referral outfit that takes inquiries from members of the public who are desperately trying to find a rehab center for a loved one.

Two years ago, we showed you the kind of scripts that such boiler-room operations use to direct people to Narconon centers. They convince distraught parents or prospective patients that Narconon is their only solution. Such recruiters are also known to keep quiet that Narconon centers don’t actually deliver drug counseling but instead put patients through Scientology training. Their job is to push people to Narconon, and they typically get paid a ten percent commission on the price of rehab, which is around $30,000.

As we’ve seen many times in the lawsuits brought by Ryan Hamilton and other lawyers, people with serious drug problems, or their desperate family members, turn to Narconon in distress. Now, we get some sense of the people on the other end of the phone who get those calls for help…



One of the places that Life Solutions referred people to was Tranquillity Detox, the facility where patient Amber Bullins died in 2012. According to its 2012 tax return, Tranquillity Detox paid Life Solutions $2.5 million that year for referring patients. Our tipster sent us this photo of Tranquillity Detox and said, “Who knew that this decrepit old office building would generate over $5 million in revenue in 2012?”



New Ideal Org in Basel comes under investigation

Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, has a quick report for us on the news coming out of Switzerland this morning…

So far as I can understand from Swiss press reports, this is an investigation of the employment status of some of the Scientologists working in Basel at the new Ideal Org which just opened in April.

City officials visited Scientology’s offices there on Tuesday investigating reports that they were employing foreign nationals without having observed the proper formalities, the Basler Zeitung reported today.

Officials from the Office for Economy and Labour (AWA) arrived at Scientology’s Basel offices, accompanied by police officers, and questioned about 40 people there. (See here for an English-language summary of what they do.)

They were investigating reports that some foreign workers had not been officially declared and that their employers were not therefore making social security payments they are legally required to do.

Officials were seeking to establish first, if this was the case; and if it was the case then whether it was an attempt to systematically get around the legal requirements regarding their employees.

The investigation was ongoing, AWA chief Hansjürg Dolder said on Friday.

I’ve fired off an email to him asking for more details and if I hear back I’ll let you know. (But from what I hear, even the Swiss take weekends off.)

— Jonny Jacobsen


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Actual caption: “30,384 Way to Happiness books unloaded for Joburg Org today and another 270,000 coming…booyaah!! Ready to bring morals to Joburg.”


Actual caption: “And we are hard at work! Booklets arrived from Denmark!”


Actual caption: “Feeling fine! Studying ‘The Science of Survival’ by #LRonHubbard”


Hey, girl. Let’s do some regging!




We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, Hong Kong restaurant (1238 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge) 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)

Sept 15: Barrett the Honors College, Arizona State University, ASU in Downtown Phoenix campus, Walter Cronkite Theater, 5:30 pm

Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland, Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, 12:45 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne

Oct 28: Adelaide (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4)


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 21, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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