The Interstate Traveler Company, LLC:
A Pie in the Sky or Scam (fraud)?
About the Company
The Interstate Traveler Company is a Detroit based company founded and owned by Justin Sutton (51%), his father H Frank Sutton (8%), and Lark L. Samouelian (8%). The remaining 33% of the shares are distributed between “Partners” (or “Members” according to the agreement) who invest cash and/or time in the company. Sutton says there are around 200+ partners, although indications are that many of them are not active or have lost hope since investing. The corporate offices are at 300 River Place, Suite 5550 Detroit, MI 48207 Phone 313-393-2400 (currently disconnected for the last couple months for non-payment). Sutton lives in Whitmore Lake, MI & has a home office there.
The majority of “Partners” are every day citizens with little or no technical background in the High Speed Rail industry. Some have invested personal cash in amounts ranging from $500 – $2000, while others invested in much larger amounts.
Interstate Traveler Company presentations by the founder, Justin Sutton, are often in Town Hall format across the country. Typically the company message is delivered in a PowerPoint 38-slide presentation that has a beginning message, a middle, but no end or conclusion. Sutton claims he “never asks for money,” but after each and every presentation he waits for private citizens to approach him and ask how they can get involved, and Sutton follows up with a membership contract for those willing to invest in his company. Recently Sutton seems to have gotten more desperate & has made these presentations to high school, college & university aged kids instead of business people.
Sutton claims to have raised $3 million since he incorporated the company in 2003 and issued 381,000 shares. I have yet to meet a Partner who has seen an accounting of how the funds were spent or where they came from. If you have seen an accounting, please contact me at the email below.
NOTE: The price per share for the Interstate Traveler Company has increased from $20 originally, to $100, $200, and as of Fall 2009 to the current $400 per share. The basis for this increase is unclear. How has the value increased? The company has created no hardware, has no installations, and has no customers for its maglev concept High Speed Rail transit system.
The Interstate Traveler Company claims to have developed a maglev High Speed Rail (HSR) system that will run on its own power, and will transport people, freight, and cars at over 200 mph alongside Interstate Highways, all powered by electricity from solar panels affixed close to the rails. The system also claims to produce hydrogen from electrolysis of water and stores the hydrogen in storage tanks at 3 mile intervals. The rail section would be supported by 12-14 foot stainless steel stanchion poles, driven or screwed into soil and bedrock, with a load capacity that can handle commercial freight containers which travel over 200 mph. A conduit cluster pipeline between the rails would carry things like water, sewage, gas, hydrogen, superconducting electrical grid cables, fiber optics, etc.
In a Nutshell
Why you should think twice before investing:
No Deliverable/Unrealistic Timeframe: Sutton promises a fully functional maglev HSR in 3 years, a time frame that includes developing a prototype. This is impossible, considering that it took the Germans 22 years and the Japanese 34 years to develop their maglev HSR. A commercially available maglev HSR that carries passengers will take years to develop and be fully tested by public regulatory agencies.
No Usable Engineering/No Prototype: Sutton claims that engineering has been done on his maglev HSR, enough to build a prototype. That's not supported by evidence. No sufficient engineering or engineering documents have been presented to governments who signed non-disclosure agreements. One engineer said, “I can't build anything from this,” another said "this is a crock" and several others voiced similar concerns. There may have been some engineers who dabbled in some aspects of Sutton’s ideas, but overall, his maglev HSR is still a concept and there is no proof it is a viable concept.
Sutton’s former Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Adam Nehr, indicated that Sutton’s system is still a concept, just as the moon project started with JFK’s speech and a concept. Clearly Sutton’s claims are in conflict with Nehr’s claims. Take a look at the link http://www.interstatetraveler.us/products.htm for artist conceptions of Sutton’s maglev train.
The lack of a prototype has been an obstacle in signing deals to build the maglev HSR. Also, with no prototype since the company was incorporated in 2003, the company has lost credibility, and cannot bring in serious investors. Sutton’s claim that a prototype will be built soon is based on his unsubstantiated claim that the engineering for his maglev HSR has already been done. He has been making this claim for 5 or more years, yet no hardware at all has been shown to partners, not even a small model.
Sutton estimates his prototype might cost about $10 million (range I've heard is $6 to $20 million), yet the Germans & Japanese each spent between $1 - $2 billion on their development & prototypes according to an industry expert I talked to. Doesn't it seem suspicious that Sutton could produce a working HSR maglev prototype for less than 1% of the cost that real companies did it for?
No Funding: Sutton boasts that the Interstate Traveler Company is 100% funded or 100% funding is guaranteed. He claims these funds will become available as soon as a deal is signed, but a deal will not be signed without complete engineering or a prototype. As yet, there is no evidence that Sutton has any guaranteed funds available to develop the system. Clearly his system is not credible enough either for a deal or to raise enough money for a prototype.
Unrealistic Cost Estimates: Sutton claims that his HSR maglev system can be installed at about $10 million per mile for track only, or $17 million per mile including traveler cars, pipeline, traveler stations, etc., which is also impossible considering that other proven maglev systems cost several times as much. The Baltimore-Washington corridor of 39.1 miles (62.9 km) was estimated to cost about $95 million per mile in 2002 dollars using proven Transrapid HSR maglev technology.
Note: Some “Partners,” whether mentioned in this opinion or not, are being duped and are caught up in the promises ITC makes. These HyRail "Partner" investors are left high and dry and asked to support bogus projects with their own time, expertise and dollars
(all volunteer - no pay - no contract).
The Name HyRail
Sutton uses the term HyRail to refer to his maglev HSR train. HyRail is trademarked by Harsco Corporation whose trademarked product is used in its worldwide railroad industry. Harsco have stated plans to enter the High Speed Rail industry. I honor that trademark. I occasionally use the term HyRail below, not in violation of Harsco’s trademark, but to more accurately describe verbal or written exchanges regarding Sutton’s system.
Note that Sutton has been made aware of his trademark violation, yet he continues to use the name HyRail.
I believe that choosing a name and securing a trademark should have been taken care of years ago, if Sutton was serious about bringing this concept to fruition.
What is also disturbing is that Sutton has been court ordered not to use “ITC” in public documents as a short form for Interstate Traveler Company because “ITC” is also trademarked.
The lack of thorough forward planning is consistent throughout Sutton’s concepts.
Why the timeframe for the deliverable is unrealistic
HSR experts and engineers I have talked to, believe that Sutton’s 3-year timeframe to develop a commercial maglev train that carries passengers is insanely short, unless virtually every single component was already developed by other companies and tested in combination, and was truly plug and play. Justin Sutton & Adam Nehr, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), have admitted at least 20% of the hardware, including the linear magnetic nacelle propulsion motors & the levitation hardware for HyRail, have not yet been developed.
The JR-Maglev by Central Japan Railways Group (CJR) said that their HSR maglev version, which they hope to start building in 2014 or 2015, will take about 10 years to install to make the first section commercially operational in 2025, so they were looking at 18 years to roll it out from first announcement in 2007 of commercialization (after the prototype had been developed) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/business/T100307003093.htm
The Japanese JR-Maglev started research development in 1969. By 1979 their first prototype was really fast but was destroyed in an accident in 1991. By 1997 they were starting prototype #2 on a new test track & by 2003 they set a new manned world record speed for HSR of 361 mph (581 kph). They know it works, but from concept to full commercialization it will be 56 years, or from the beginning of the second prototype to full commercialization it will be at least 28 years, or from beginning of announced commercial implementation it will be at least 18 years or more.
Central Japan Railways Group companies also operate the steel wheeled HSR Bullet train which they made operational in 1964 & have made improved versions since, so they have some experience in HSR, unlike Justin Sutton who has no experience in HSR and isn't even an engineer.
The German Transrapid maglev HSR first started constructing test facilities in 1969 which were completed in 1987. They achieved technical readiness approval in 1991 & developed an operational prototype test track in Germany. In 2000 they began construction on the first & only 18.6 mile (about 30 km) initial operating segment production model which went into service in 2004 in Shanghai China. It came in at a cost of at least $64 million per mile using Chinese labour (some estimates are even higher at $71 million/mile in 2004 dollars). Estimates using the same system in the Washington D.C. to Baltimore corridor are at least $94.9 million per mile & quite possibly much more (using American labour) & in current dollars.
Recently the Chinese announced they have been working on their own HSR maglev based on the German technology, but with substantial changes. It is built by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Company, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The Chinese have digested known German maglev technology over the last 10 or so years and it will probably take several more years until the Chinese system is commercialized. It is rumored to cost 25% less than the German system, which is several times the cost estimates of Sutton's ITC HSR.
Justin Sutton’s claims:
Justin Sutton figures in his literature that he can build a maglev HSR for $10 million/mile or $17 million/mile including traveler stations, some traveler cars, side tracks, a pipeline, and solar panels with storage. How can he do this so cheaply? I've personally heard him say (in January 2010) that he can do it much cheaper than that. On the day he made that statement Sutton was in one of his more frenzied moods where he was throwing around facts & figures more wildly than most days.
What does Justin Sutton know about building maglev HSR systems that the Japanese, Germans, & Chinese don't know? If the Germans were 35 years from concept to operating production of their maglev HSR in China (17 years if you count from completion of prototype test facility) & the Japanese expect to be 56 years from concept to commercialized implementation or 18 years from announced commercialization, with all the experience & engineering they have,how is Justin Sutton going to do it in 3 years with no experience, no money or guarantee of money, no engineers on his staff, no prototype, no modern marketing image campaign, no contracts for rights of way, & only a concept that looks like a sci-fi cartoon?
More Unrealistic Claims
Many times I have heard Sutton state that the Return On Investment (ROI) for his HyRail is 2 to 4 years (25% to 50% ROI per year), once the first piece of the system is up and running. There is a 34-page booklet on his web site in which he states on page 30 that the ROI is less than two years, compared to “Conventional Mag/Lev Rail” which is “50+ Year return on investment.” I am not aware of any high speed rail anywhere in the world that has been able to pay for itself with passenger fares alone, except perhaps one in Japan that turns a slight profit after many years of operation in a high density corridor. All other high speed rail has been subsidized by governments because it is so expensive. So what does Sutton know that the rest of the world doesn't, that will make his system so profitable?
From the Interstate Traveler Company home page, you can find a link to “Latest HyRail Booklet(2009)” or you can click here for a direct link to the booklet. Turn to page 30 where you'll find a comparison chart of ’Conventional Mag/Lev Rail” versus “Interstate Traveler Construction.”
These comparisons are made by Sutton, and some of the claims have already been debunked by engineers and HSR industry experts.
Sutton frequently claims to have contracted with several engineering firms to receive engineering documentation to build HyRail. So recently I contacted one of them, Integrated Engineering Software in Winnipeg, and they confirmed that all they had been paid to provide was very basic or preliminary magnetic load possibilities. This is NOT engineering documentation, it is only basic virtual reality analysis to be eventually confirmed in several stages of prototype testing. This is an area of magnetism that the Germans, Japanese, and Chinese have spent many years perfecting in real world tests, so Sutton has significantly embellished the importance of these early stage tests. It surprises me that nobody else has bothered to check out such claims from Sutton.
Justin Sutton fabricates or misrepresents stories. On March 17th on a WJR760 Detroit AM radio show Justin Sutton said "High Speed Rail, these steel wheeled things, well they've got some of the worst killing records of all". It's my understanding that no paying passenger has ever died in a HSR accident since the first one ran in 1964 (those HSR systems that cruise over 125 MPH with secured fences & no crossings). Many have died in low speed rail accidents with at-grade crossings. Andy Kunz from the U.S. High Speed Rail Association said "Japan has carried something like 9 billion passengers without a single fatality, and France has a similar safety record." Does Sutton not realize that some people will know the statistics of the industry? Why does Sutton embellish the truth or outright make false claims?
Sutton lures unsuspecting people to invest and promises jobs
Sutton lures people toward investing by claiming that there is a deal (government signing of a contract) just around the corner that will go through in a few weeks or a month or two, and the building or launching of HyRail will soon start in the U.S. or abroad.
Sutton promises jobs to people who take interest or invest in his company. He keeps people’s lives hanging (opportunity costs) through these false promises, which also makes these people more willing to work for him for free, in order to get the jobs. He promises shares in lieu of cash for personal business expenses related to ITC, but, as far as I know, he usually doesn't provide those shares either. Not that the shares matter, they're not worth the paper they're printed on, and never will be.
How does Sutton maintain the appearance of progress?
He makes the following claims in official company brochures and PowerPoint presentations to marketing associates:
Company is 100% funded and will require no government grants or taxpayer dollars to deploy magnetic levitation high speed rail, or HyRail. (There is no evidence of operating budget or assets in the company, in which most, if not all, workers are volunteers.)
The HyRail system is supported by professional certified engineering blueprints. (No one to my knowledge has ever seen anything other than preliminary ideas.)
The HyRail system can be deployed in 2 to 3 years. (There is no prototype, no working hardware, no testing has begun, no clay models, no build schedule, or Project Plan to complete a prototype, and nobody has funded a prototype.)
He makes misleading announcements to partners (investors) and potential partners that HyRail will first be deployed in Indonesia—“Project Indonesia”— or some other region of the world where Sutton might be attempting a deal (one that is sure to fail). I know for certain that the Indonesia, New Zealand, and Vietnam deals are off the table.
He claims that his HyRail maglev system can be built for $10 million per mile and the return on investment is less than 2 years versus 50 plus years for Japanese.
He sends “teasers” to partners and potential investors about new business and progress. These are meetings he sets up and attends where he presents his maglev system, but have had no outcome. For example:
Meeting with US High Speed Rail Association (this organization does not officially recognize ITC as a high speed rail company but only a concept with no working system). They will not offer ITC a membership. Sutton had the nerve to suggest the President & VP of USHSR Association become partners, which was a complete conflict of interest with their mandate of representing all HSR companies.
Meeting with US DOT, US Highway, US Railroad Association (no endorsements).
Michigan Department of Transportation (never made the meeting agenda).
Sutton’s deals continue to fail. Does he ever intend to deliver?
There has been a long series of proposed governmental deals, and they have all failed. Sutton’s excuses are more or less like this:
The states or countries who are interested in his HyRail want The Interstate Traveler Company, LLC, to sign away its rights or technology, and Sutton would lose all control.
A state won’t sign off on the right of way (to build the maglev tracks), but if they did it would be easy for him to get funding to build HyRail.
He may state that a deal is still hanging, leaving partners to think it's still a possibility when it isn't. He may tell you that a deal hasn’t gone through yet because of the contract. He always blames the language of the contract or someone else.
If you try to gather more information or raise a serious issue, Sutton will shift your attention to the future—to upcoming deals (the strategy of distraction). He'll keep you looking ahead and looking forward to the job you’ll get in the future, because, he’ll tell you, the next deal is just about to come through. There is always hype for another country that is really excited about the HyRail product and ready to sign a deal. Pakistan & South American countries like Brazil are the latest teasers, but no real deal will come from any of it, it's all just fanfare so they can keep new investor money flowing from naive investors who believe in Sutton's concept. Most of these investors are naive because they have no knowledge of the HSR industry & they don't check with experts who do have knowledge.
Sutton intentionally fails deals:
Since Sutton has no deliverable, no significant engineering (barely preliminary), no prototype, and no funding, signing a deal would reveal the truth about his company. Some people call this VAPORWARE (a product that doesn't exist & never will exist except in literature).
When I followed up with one of the $3 billion foreign deals that failed, and which Sutton continues to let other Partners believe is still on the table, I received the following response: “We were not able to reach a reasonable agreement. In my personal opinion, I think ITC does not have sufficient infrastructure experience to truly understand or appreciate the opportunity that was extended, and their claims are simply not enough to establish acceptable credentials for the investors or the authorities involved in this project.”
Following is a partial list of red flags from the day I met Justin Sutton in May of 2009 until I became absolutely convinced that his claims are unsubstantiated and his company will not be able to deliver.
The solar panels are positioned in such a way as to be significantly blocked from sunshine by the tracks.
Comments to articles posted on the web regarding HyRail in Michigan pointed to a limited number of days each year when there’s enough sun for the train to benefit from the solar panels.
I had serious doubts that the solar panels could produce enough electricity to not only power an average of 3 traveler cars per mile during the day, but also produce 3-4 times more for storage to be used at night (accounting for only 25% efficiency of storage of solar electricity by conversion to hydrogen). I also discovered experts on the UrbanMaglev list (see link at bottom of page) who did detailed calculations that showed the solar electric panels would not be sufficient to operate the maglev trains, much less have surplus for making hydrogen for other uses. As usual, Sutton dismisses these experts’ calculations.
Placing electric cables, even though they are the superconducting type, in the same conduit cluster as gas, explosive gases, and other liquids isn't a good idea. Later an engineer confirmed this for me.
The track poles (stanchion poles) only screw in the ground an average of 12-14 feet with an average of 35 feet above ground, and carry 100,000 pounds maximum weight. The U.S. DOT scientist that Sutton and I met with seemed to think that wasn't structurally safe.
Written claims that HyRail was intended to cover all 54,000 miles of the Eisenhower Interstate Highways, but a quick check indicated that there were only 46,876 miles of Interstate Highways. Precise details apparently don't matter to Sutton.
All artist concepts of traveler cars show little or no seats. DOT standards would be similar for aircraft seating. This train travels over 200 mph & you wouldn’t be standing as you would in a subway car.
When Andy Kunz, the president of U.S. HSR Association, did the math with me, we calculated nowhere near the people throughput (in the HyRail individual traveler cars) per section of track in a given time to what a steel wheeled HSR train with linked cars would get, yet Justin vehemently denied that our math was correct. Common sense should tell you that you need a minimum time interval for safety between trains, and therefore a series of cars linked together in a train would have more passenger throughput than individual cars.
Sutton provided with his 34-page booklet a 2-page article that appeared in the IAEI magazine in September 2005 (International Association of Electrical Inspectors), which is an article written by Edison Park, aka Jack Shulman, and riddled with inaccuracies. http://www.interstatetraveler.us/MEDIA/IAEI%20Draft.pdf
I heard Sutton routinely complain about how unsafe steel wheeled HSR is, but history tells us there has never been a single paying passenger killed since HSR started in the 1960s.
In one recent article, Leaders must see if MagLev train is on right fiscal track, dated 01-28-2010, the reporter wrote, "There were no ridership estimates, no surveys of how many people would use it, no numbers for how many people travel between Detroit and Lansing daily." >> See PDF of article.
The marketing material doesn't show side track ramps for trains to slow down or speed up from a passenger traveler station so that through traffic isn't slowed down. This is a necessity with frequent stops at each cloverleaf.
Sutton has not patented any of the technology he says he has developed. Could that be because he hasn't developed any technology?
After reading the technical & engineering specifications for the German & Japanese maglev systems, I discovered that many of the HSR maglev ideas or concepts that Sutton claimed as his own (often calling it his life's work), where actually borrowed from these existing designs, sometimes with no discernable modification.
Red Flags: From a business perspective…
Inability to deliver acceptable technical plans in many different instances when selling systems to governments such as Seattle, Portugal, Michigan, Indonesia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Pakistan, etc. In other words, there is a pattern of Sutton failing to complete a deal. I later found that he seemed to fail the deal on purpose, which indicates he didn't actually have enough engineering to produce the product.
Interstate Traveler web site that looked like a high school student had put it together & full of many irrelevant things that distract from getting a quick overview. Sutton's significant unwillingness to allow qualified volunteers to give a fresher look to the web site.
The claim that passengers would only have to pay 5 cents per minute was outrageously low by a factor of at least 10 to 45 times. At an average cruising speed of 186.4 MPH (300 KPH) that would cost 1.6 cents per mile, but the Baltimore-Washington Maglev Project using Transrapid technology estimated passenger fares would cost 34 cents per mile for commuters & 70.6 cents per mile for non-commuters (2002 dollars). That's 21.25 - 44.12 times more expensive passenger fares than Sutton's system, using real figures & a real maglev company (Transrapid). As best I recall, Sutton & Nehr claimed HyRail would be getting the energy for free from the sun so that would make it cost less, though they neglected to mention the high capital cost for the solar panels to obtain that energy. The notion that passenger fares should even be based on a per minute basis, rather than a per mile basis, showed lack of foresight. If the system is slow that day, the passenger pays more? How crazy is that?
Trademark infringement of the use of the word HyRail which belongs to another company, also a law suit for infringing on ITC trademark.
Extremely tight company CONTROL issues by Justin Sutton. I believe he is a “control freak.”
Having gone through several CEOs in recent years, Dick Chrysler, Jack Salo, Timm J Finfrock, William (Bill) C. Brooks, Jay Wilber, and currently Jim Jung. High management turnover is a bad sign.
There is often an unwillingness to cover even the barest of expenses for things relating to HyRail such as going to speak at a convention.
Sutton asked me if I could get a proposal translated into French for the mayor of Quebec city, and when I said probably and followed up again, I never received the document. It is typical of Sutton to not follow up on issues and discussions we might have had.
The meetings I attended with Sutton often seemed to have no significant purpose, and he didn't stick to the agenda. Normal business people set agendas and define a purpose for their meetings.
Finding out that American Computer Science Association Inc. (ACSA) owns HydrogenSuperHighway.com which is on loan to Sutton. ACSA is owned by Jack Shulman. If you are serious about doing business, you should own your own domain name.
Realizing that there were no reasonable expectations of a sale & that there had been no actual significant hardware development from ITC over the previous 5 years or more.
In August 2009 at the 4th Michigan Task Force meeting in Detroit, Sutton avoided direct questions about where his financing would come from. He claimed that he already had guaranteed financing, but I now know that he doesn't.
Learning that none of the many partners I met, including several core partners, have seen any accounting of income & expense statements, despite Michigan LLC laws stating that investors have the right to request production of documents.
Having the ITC downtown Detroit head office phones and cell phones turned off for extended periods of time because of nonpayment. It's hard to imagine that ITC can build this wonderful new future with this maglev system when they can't even afford to keep the phones turned on. HO phones have been disconnected since February 2010.
I do not know of a single High Speed Rail expert or association that supports or endorses the ITC concept. In fact I have spoken to several industry experts who identified Sutton as a fraud as early as 2003.
Red Flags: Exaggeration & bragging…
Sutton exaggerated the significance of almost every person he came across who was enthused about HyRail. This is part of the hype, hope & sensation to give the appearance of credibility & that real progress is being made.
Sutton’s announcement with fanfare of new people who represent HyRail in various regions, such as Manny Oceans (real name Manuel Williams) in California. Seeing his web site raised serious red flags. Click here for screenshots of his web site captured in February 2010.
Sutton’s constant bragging about how expert he is in so many different areas, only to find out that he's not even an engineer, but has only a 1 year course in Mechanical Engineering from a vocational school which tends to be hands on rather than advanced theoretically compared to a bachelor of M.E. degree. It appears he has taken other college level courses, but has not obtained a degree.
Sutton frequently said things like “trust me”, “take my word for it I'm right,” “the numbers are correct,” “I did the math,” etc, and is resistant to expert opinion.
The so-called coveted “Sir Isaac Newton Award” isn't so coveted since no one besides Sutton has ever received it, as far as I know & no one seems to want one. It was issued in 2005 & none have been issued since. The award is Jack Schulman's attempt to give Justin the appearance of credibility. Later I realized that Shulman is a deceiver too in many ways & they support each other with fabricated credibility. I first wondered why Peter Perez (Chief Security Officer) didn't check Shulman out, then realized that Shulman and Sutton are good friends, a big time red flag.
There comes a point in every business where there's a balance between output and awards. The longer the company is successful and the more products it has put out, the more awards or endorsements it will have received.
Strangely, the Interstate Traveler Company has many "apparent" endorsements and no output or product, not even a prototype test track on a model.
The Sir Isaac Newton Award or NEWTY
and ACSA (American Computer Science Association).
Google “coveted Sir Isaac Newton Award” or listen to the phrase “coveted NEWTY award” in YouTube interviews with Justin Sutton. This is a strange award, given by ACSA, The American Computer Science Association, run by Jack Shulman. To my knowledge, there is only one recipient of this award: Justin Eric Sutton, and there is nothing coveted about the award.
According to Sutton, "the URL HydrogenSuperHighway.com belongs to the American Computer Science Association and is on loan to this company [Interstate Traveler Company]." If Sutton were serious about this concept, wouldn't he at least want to own the domain?
Note that Jack Schulman, the founder of ACSA, has his address in Cranford, NJ.
Dr. Addison Bain’s advisory role (not an endorsement)
I got the impression from what Justin Sutton, Adam Nehr & Corbett Kroehler said, that retired NASA hydrogen expert, Dr. Addison Bain, fully endorses HyRail, when in reality his interest is in only the safety aspect of the project. It does matter whether reputable scientists & engineers support or endorse an entire system as opposed to advice on just one aspect of it, as it helps investors determine the viability of a project as they vet it out.
I wrote Dr. Bain on 3-15-2010 and asked him the following: “I have been told numerous times by Justin Sutton, Adam Nehr [Chief Technology Officer] & Corbett M Kroehler [Chief Media Officer] of Interstate Traveler Company (HyRail) that you fully "endorse" their science & business concept, in particular with regard to how they intend to manufacture, store & use Hydrogen.” To this question, Dr. Bain responded: “My name is in the hat of many concepts around the world regarding the use of hydrogen. I do so in the primary interest of safety of the public … I have no opinion of the viability of the HyRail in terms of the financial or business aspect. My role is as an advisor of the hydrogen aspect of the project.”
Letters of Support
There have been letters of support from various organizations and politicians who have taken interest in Sutton’s company. http://www.interstatetraveler.us/reference_letters.htm Note that none of these letters that Sutton chose to publish on his web site specifically endorse the science behind his maglev HSR, even though he has been trying hard to prove that there is sound engineering and science behind his concept.
A Personality Problem
Sutton is known to have had several temper outbursts, either directly at people or through email. I have observed him in meetings, he demeans, brow beats, intimidates, and disrespects those who don’t agree with him. I’ve seen his emails where he bullies partners and others who don't agree with him, which is inconsistent with the altruistic vision that he portrays.
Once I discovered that Sutton’s claims have every indication of being fraudulent, I decided to slowly make it known so that others will not fall into the same trap as I did. Relatively speaking, I figured out the problem in a short time—within a few months of my friends and I investing $2000 in Sutton's company. Unfortunately, there are too many people who are being dragged into this scheme, with unrealistic promises and no reasonable hope of return on their investment of money or time.
One of my emails about my discovery was leaked to Sutton. In response, he sent me a vile and virulent email. By reading Sutton’s words, you can judge for yourselves if this person has the characteristics of a leader who can carry the company into the future—a company that expects to invest in billions of dollars. Let me know if you would like me to email you the letter from February 22/2010.
If you want an insight into the mind of a pathological liar & how it is possible for nearly everybody to be fooled, rent the movie "Shattered Glass". It's a true story about a young journalist working for "The New Republic" magazine between 1995 & 1998. Despite how carefully everything was suppose to be vetted before it was printed, Steven Glass managed to print fabrications & lies in 27 of his 41 articles, which is journalistic fraud. Sometimes he just totally made stuff up (the entire story). In the extras they have a "60 Minute" piece where they interview the actual guy several years later & he explains how he evolved into lying. It was a fascinating story into the mind of a pathological liar.
Article: “Doesn't run in Fla. Stalled at ODU. Now maglev maven is in Georgia” http://hamptonroads.com/node/249581
This is an interesting article about another maglev entrepreneur whose story is similar to Justin Sutton’s story. He raised more money than Sutton (mostly from governments), even built a prototype, but it has yet to operate successfully. In fact I just received word that another concerned citizen is about to expose what he considers as fraud in this maglev case too.
UrbanMaglev from Yahoo! Groups http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/UrbanMaglev/ You will find maglev industry experts in this user group. (A free subscription is necessary.) If you search message history you will find posts by Sutton as well as HSR maglev industry experts who refute him such as Larry Blow, Kevin Coates & others (both are formerly with the German Transrapid & currently independent HSR consultants).
Article: “Solar Hydrogen Maglev Rail System Conceived” http://pesn.com/2005/05/27/9600102_HydroSol_Mag-Lev_Trailblazer/
Note that the first article references information provided by ACSA, which is run by Jack Shulman, and has posted articles riddled with scientific inaccuracies. Most interesting about this link is the two editorials that follow.
My early internet searches yielded mostly positive articles and videos about the Interstate Traveler Company and Justin Sutton. There were also factual articles on the activities of the Michigan Task Force when ITC was on its agenda. Eventually I noticed that most of the positive material that appeared at the top search engine results was published by friends or partners of ITC, particularly, by Corbett Kroehler (former Chief Media Officer). In a conversation I had with Corbett in October 2009, he talked about goosing the process to raise awareness. This is also known as astroturfing.
Astroturfing, as it is widely known, is becoming a popular term to mean, according to Wikipedia, “political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but designed to mask its origins to create the impression of being spontaneous, popular “grassroots” behaviour”. By “skewing” or “spinning” opinion, negatively or positively, the web researcher comes out with a false impression of the true nature of the discussion. Astroturfing often uses covert means (disinformation) to fake popular grassroots opinion. It's a form of propaganda & stealth marketing. >> Wikipedia: Astroturfing
The articles I link to above are written by those who appropriately questioned ITC and are not astroturfing, except for some ITC partners comments.