What Ever Happened to Dave Del Dotto?

The early 1990s saw a proliferation of infomercials by real estate gurus peddling their get-rich-quick systems: Tom Vu, Carleton Sheets, Ed Beckley. Among those gurus fighting for the attention of late night TV viewers was one Dave Del Dotto.

Del Dotto’s infomercials were notable for taking place in outdoor, scenic settings, such as Hawaii and for having actor John Davidson (best known from the TV show “That’s Incredible!”) as host. Dave Del Dotto also had a penchant for hideously loud clothing. I particularly remember one infomercial where he came out wearing a blindingly bright canary-yellow blazer.

So what ever happened to Dave Del Dotto? It turns out that Mr. Del Dotto ran into legal trouble (surprise!). In 1995 the FTC filed a complaint in federal court alleging that Del Dotto “made false and unsubstantiated representations” and “misrepresented the guarantee accompanying a home business package sold at the seminars by failing to inform purchasers that there were conditions to receiving a refund,” among other things. As part of the settlement of these charges, Del Dotto paid a $200,000 fine and was “prohibited from making any representation about the performance, benefits, efficacy or success rate of any product or service…unless the representation is true and the defendants can substantiate the representation” (i.e. he had to stop telling lies on his real estate infomercials).

But like Tommy Vu and his poker playing success, Dave Del Dotto shows former real estate gurus everywhere that there is indeed life after hawking money-making schemes on late night TV. Del Dotto is now the proprietor of Del Dotto Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley. You can see the way Dave Del Dotto looks today in this video where he gives a tour of his “wine caves.”


  • 39 Responses to “What Ever Happened to Dave Del Dotto?”

  • I know this is vague, but there was another one whose name I can’t remember now. He was young, had this smug look on his face all the time and some sort of modified spiked hairdo… looked like a little twerp. That’s what we used to call him — little twerp, or, for some reason, Skippy. He was all over the late night real estate infomercial scene in the mid-90s. Haven’t seen him in a long time, and always wondered what happened to him, hoping that “prison time for a scam” was the answer.

    Comment by Dan on January 31, 2008 at 7:26 pm

  • You might be thinking of Don Lapre. He had an infomercial in the 1990s telling people that they could make big money with classified ads and 900 numbers. Later he did an infomercial for a vitamin.

    Here is his picture:

    Comment by Paul Lucas on February 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm

  • Don Lapre, along with the 900 scammers, helped decimate a business that has been very successful all over the world except in the USA. We still do a lot of business in 900 numbers, but nearly what we used to. The reputation of the industry was ruined by the get rich quick scammers like LaPre.

    Comment by Bob Bentz on April 8, 2008 at 10:39 pm

  • del dotto filed for bankrupcy??? selling over 500,000 not down payment seminars at 300 bucks a pop?? add it up. he is hiding money somewhere

    Comment by rick mann on January 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm


    Comment by GARY on February 19, 2010 at 2:27 am

  • I bought his package way back then and if I had listened to him and not taken the advice of someone who talked me out of it then I’d be a lot better off today. IMHO

    Comment by nick on November 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm

  • I saw his late show and bought the package for $300.00 in the mid-80’s. I never did buy a house with nothing down but it motivated me to start investing in real estate. I’ve been investing for over twenty years now. Thanks Dave! Best 300 I ever spent.

    Comment by Rick on November 15, 2010 at 7:42 pm

  • Dave so good to see you are still at it ,( can you really do that?)
    looking forward to cking out some of your wine.
    thank you so much.

    Comment by gary fusari on February 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm

  • Dave made his goal. When I went to a seminar his plan was to have a wine vinyard. Way to go. I thought he was a good teacher.

    Comment by jim h on May 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  • I bought Dave’s guide to Real Estate riches in 1986 when I was 22 yrs old and living in the US. It taught me a lot and was a great inspiration in helping me build my own fortune in Golf Courses (I bought my first with no money down just like he said). I also own a small vineyard in France so am definately planning to visit Dave in Napa one day and personally thank him.

    Comment by Max Isaac on September 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  • I bought Dave’s package in 1988 for $300 and within 2 months bought my 1st no money down home. I bought my second in 94 and still live in it. My only regret is that I let my wife hinder me from making more deals. Dave well earned my money. Glad to see he’s still living the dream.

    Comment by Darius on September 23, 2011 at 11:50 am

  • I don’t remember Dave’s infomercials, but I’ve been to Del Dotto Vineyards a number of times. It’s a great experience and the wine is over the top (and incredably pricey). Dave is still making a killing. Good for him.

    Comment by Dan on September 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

  • I remember Dave`s infomercials with the ocean in the background in Hawaii and Dave wearing the loud shirts. I, too, ordered his package and never regretted it. I used some of his methods to buy and sell real estate over the years and it worked out well for my wife and I. I wish him nothing but the best. It was the best $300. I have ever spent on educating myself on buying, selling, swapping,etc. in the real world of real estate. Dan Rinehart

    Comment by Dan Rinehart on October 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

  • I bought the seminar from Dave and never did much with it. then the govt changed some laws. I liked the idea of the auctions that he had and there was money to be made then. The internet made all that change. Winery. now that is interesting…

    Comment by Chaplain Bob on January 8, 2012 at 1:44 am

  • I bought Daves package in or about 1982 and it inspired me to buy multiable real estate properties and really changed and enhanced my life. Thank god i was watching late night tv that one night! Its good to see old Dave living his dream,making fine wine sure beats sheet rocking like in the early days right dave?

    Comment by joseph ferenczidoubleagent on January 13, 2012 at 2:09 am

  • Did he buy his vineyard with no money down?

    Comment by Dave on February 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

  • when will Dave return to tv to help people
    with their dreams? doesn’t have to be real estate, buy just a mentor to encourage people
    to do something with their lives. kinda like bob proctor, and tony robbins. i always found dave inspiring to go after whatever dream we
    had, and i miss that!

    Comment by kevin genest on April 22, 2012 at 9:42 pm

  • I too bought Dave’s real estate books and tapes. Along with Robert Allen’s Nothing Down book, I bought or controlled (lease options) 12 homes in 9 months! I bought until the bank said I couldn’t buy anymore and then lease optioned several more. He actually flew me and my wife out to Hawaii to be taped but I never did see myself on TV (some of my friends did!). All in all my life was infinitely better due to my RE investments as after my wife made me stop, I sold my rentals one by one over the years when we needed the cash the most…and now I’m in my fifties and have made a great standard of living for my family. Thank you Dave!!

    Comment by Joe Lunchbucket on August 11, 2012 at 3:15 am

  • I spent the $300 and then buried my nose in his books for the next 2 weeks.

    Then I did the weirdest thing… I went out and actually APPLIED WHAT I LEARNED!!!!

    I purchased my first 3- unit building in 1992 with no money down and no credit and I received about $2K cash back at closing…

    I, then, went on to purchase several more properties using the knowledge I gaied from Dave and his books.

    I’ve learned over the years that people would rather have a scapegoat to blame for their failures or lack of success or dissatisfaction with life, rather than take a long hard look in the mirror at the person truly responsible!

    and speaking of looking in the mirror – To this day, I remember Dave playing the Michael Jackson lyrics over and over:
    “I’m starting with the man in the mirror
    I’m asking him to change his ways – And no message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself and then make a change”

    Dave Del Dotto made a huge impact on my family’s well being.

    Comment by Paul Serwatka on August 11, 2012 at 3:27 am

  • Good Morning!!

    I just finished listening to a collection of 16 cassette tapes that I found in the basement of my grandmother’s home. Although there were only 12 audiocassettes, they were in good shape. The audiocassette are the seminar audiocassettes from the Dave Del Dotto collection. The titles included:
    – How to make money at Postal Auctions, IRS auctions, Treasury auctions, Marshal sales and Customs auctions
    – “7” audio cassettes on foreclosures sales
    – “3” audio cassettes on credit and financial statements

    So far, the guy sounds like he knows what he’s doing. My gripes are that the audio sound is subpar. I guess this should be accepted because most of the audiocassettes (especially the government auction ones) were recorded in seminar rooms in various hotels throughout the state of California. The length of the audiocassettes were only 23 minutes long. On one of the foreclosures cassette, Dave had a speaker phone set up in the seminar room and actually called “for sale by ownwer” classified ads from the real estate section of the newspaper and talked with the seller of the property as the seminar audience listened in. Dave asked all of the right questions about the property and at the conclusion of the phone calls, he always solicited feedback from the seminar audience.

    I was trying to locate his “real estate company” so that my I could order an updated version of the program but on CD’s. The mailing address that has been screenprinted on each side of each cassette is as follows:

    (c)1987 International Corporation for Financial Security, Inc.
    P.V. Box 61 – 1001
    San Jose Costa Rica

    On one of the foreclosure audiocassete, another Real Estate, late night Informercial Guru made his appearance but as a Real Estate Investment Attorney. The name: John Beck. The same John Beck that was selling a Tax Lien Real Estate program a few years ago. He too has run into some trouble with the FTC.

    Comment by Crannon Stringfellow on December 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

  • Dave Del Dotto is incredible! I bought his package in the early 80’s and read, studied and looked. I almost immediately refinanced away from an 8 7/8 loan and started looking a properties. The first 3 I missed and afraid of risk I backed off. I won property at one of his seminars, bought property in Hawaii, and came away with more of understanding about property than I could have learned anywhere else. Years went by and when the market crashed I again began to look. I picked up a 5 acre parcel with a 3500 sq. ft. 5 bedroom house with and attached 1100 sq. ft. garage with another 3600 sq. ft shop in the back yard. It had sold in 2007 for 734,000 and in 2009 I purchased it for 210,000. I now have 3 homes and all the payments are covered by the rent on 1 house! Based on what I knew before Dave I would still be in a junky house in a depressed neighborhood. One of my bucket list endeavors is to show up at the winery in 1 of my restored antique cars with a Fuentes Opus and a great big THAN
    K YOU

    Comment by Gene Cole on April 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

  • I purchased Daves system around 2:30am after a night out drinking.I paid $297. I purchased a empty lot for $800 dollars just as he told me in his book. Then I sold it on lease option and grossed $9,100. I was hooked. Been Buying RE ever since. I am now a RE Broker, but the $$$ is in what Daves books teach you. Thanks Dave.. I need to check out the wine.

    Comment by Eric Schulman on November 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

  • Dave Del Dotto is the best guru , I learned a lot from him.

    Comment by David Calderon on December 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

  • Is utopia an achievable goal? And if it were, do you think everyone would finally find happiness, whatever their definition may be? Just like Charlie Brown’s inability to kick that football, at least he tried – and died trying. When a real estate course sells hundreds of thousands of copies, the only beneficiary at that time will be the seller of that course. The people who bought it have a very good chance of having some stiff competition from other people who bought the same course and are also applying those lessons. This is assuming a minority of these actually read through the material and mastered it. The three little words Tom Vu talk about are “Don’t give up”. A fitting message to support his sales, even when people report complete failure at finding a distressed property and even less successful at buying it for no money down. People in debt may be desperate for money, but not so desperate that they’re going to sell it for such a ridiculously low amount that they end up with zero cash at the end of ethereal. Banks may be stuck with over leveraged properties, but they are not in the business of losing money. They may pay attention to you as you buy 100+ properties at huge discounts, but not when you are there to buy only one and expect a 90% write-off. That will not happen. It does not matter who’s in the White House: Republican or Democrat, prosperous times or hard times. And while those 90% write-off deals may indeed exist, not only will you have competition from other people and firms on the same trail as you, but also you’ll waste your time and effort chasing after something that everyone is after. The poor become rich by either luck or intelligently and patiently searching out a low priced property and holding on to it. There are no formulas for instant overnight success. If they ever tell you there are, they are lying to you.

    Comment by Manolo Konosko on April 13, 2015 at 6:44 pm

  • Bought the course. He exuded extreme kindness and sincerity. In the end, the course material was junk and outdated. Photo copied forms and deals. The so called secrets were snake oil. In a numbers game, some would just be so lucky- they might close a few deals.
    Unbridled enthusiasm can be very dangerous by making people overly opportunistic in their zeal. And without proper legal or technical knowledge – it can lead to lawsuits or at the least, just losing your 350 dollars on his course. I resent his pyramid scheme and he was eventually shut down for fraud. The so called refund, was poison-pulled with restrictions.

    Thanks, Dave.

    The last thing I would want to do is sip his over-priced wine. He served enough poison lemonade to the masses, so he upped the card came, with really getting sloshed. Literally. How a oak wine drum can affect taste, is just more hype to con the steeple-


    Comment by Mike on August 25, 2015 at 3:19 am

  • Hi,

    I know Ed Beckley had gone bankrupt at one point. I went to a small Del Dotto seminar in the early 2000s. He took off his jacket and on the back it had a burn spot in the shape of an iron. It took this to mean that he was washed up!

    Comment by Richard Brokenshire on October 14, 2015 at 7:35 am

  • Dave Del Dotto’s seminars were in spiring..My wife and I were successful at City Auctions buying land..We puschased 2 parcels and in 2 years realized a profit by 300%..Thanks Dave

    Comment by barry zimbalist on December 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

  • Well, for the few people who did not have success after buying Dave’s information, you are the losers because you probably did not put much effort into working the principles he provided. It was a wealth of information and I must say I tried over 15 to 20 of the ideas and was successful with 17 of the techniques. I still use allot of what I learned from him now as I work in and live in Ghana, W. Africa. I listen to Dave, Ed Beckley and La Pre more than 100 times and it helped me make money in the Los Angeles for 18 years. Like everything we do in life, its not what you know, but what you DO with what you know. I am sure most of the losers tried one time and it did not work and they quit. You do not get good at something trying it once. May God Bless all of the No-Money Down Pioneers. Several of us put your info to good use.

    Comment by Art Rich on January 14, 2016 at 8:53 am

  • Hey art rich id love to hear your succsess stories on how dottos techniques worked for you, do you think his techniques would work now in days or is his teachings outdated now message me

    Comment by Jared on January 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

  • I never watched Del Dott too much, but I watch Laore several times. I actually tried his plan. I didn’t buy it I didn’t have to, he gave away all of the information in the information. He said you find or create a product, like a how to report or book, you write a classified ad and post it in a couple of newspapers. Then monitor the response u get. If the response is not that we’ll you tweak the ad until you start getting the response you want. You send people the information about your how to guide, they send a check and your order form to you and you fill the order. Now, you place 5hat working ad in several different newspapers and scale up, and that’s how you make money doing this. I did it and it worked because it made sense. People called it a fraud because they wanted a lot of money over night, and wasn’t willing to work at it. But that particular concept that Don Lapre sold works, and is the model that I have used down through the years to build an inter net marketing company that now has 47 websites, 22 blogs and makes me a substantial amount of money every week, I am living the live I want to live today because of Lapre concept. So, I guess I can say Thanks Don!

    Comment by Anthony on February 17, 2016 at 6:03 pm

  • Dave is a great guy, probably one of the most creative minds around. This guy has an IQ that is over the top! If you shold doubt it, go to Napa Valley. His wine ranks with the world’s best, and the buildings he has built and the business created could never be done by anyone even above average. Envy is a terribe thing, the writer of this article seems a bit put off over the Versace jacket, but that just speaks to his limited knowledge of fashion design. I met Dave years ago and watched him buy 28 homes in a year. Those homes were lease optioned, traded, and sold for huge profits. No wonder he decided to write books and give seminars, he was great at what he was doing. I don’t want to disclose how much I have made by being around him, but let’s just say I haven’t worked for anyone in 30 years and have beautiful homes in three countries. So, life is good.


    Comment by Dan on April 24, 2016 at 10:00 pm

  • For you guys talking about Don Lapre he Died in October 2011 in a jail cell in Arizona. he was a father of Two children and I am sad that he has passed. He did not stand trial and in our system of jstice is Presumed Innocent of the charges against him.

    Comment by Tom A on May 3, 2016 at 7:16 am

  • I had a house built about 25 years ago. The construction supervisor, who did a great job with it, told me he was getting out of construction and had bought Dave’s course and he was getting into investment RE. A year or so later I saw him in Hawaii in one of Dave’s commercials as an example of a great success story, so I know Dave’s course worked. The key, of course, which I’m re-reading about again in Dave’s book, is sticking to it, like any successful endeavor.Im glad the reviews here are good because no program works unless you really work it. Then success can be yours too.

    Comment by Steve Sage on July 29, 2016 at 12:37 pm

  • i think dave did a heck of a good job i ordered his material used it nd it worked i thank you dave you did a good job i do not care what any of these whiny people say about you best to you and yours. johnny

    Comment by johnny joiner on December 31, 2016 at 11:38 pm

  • good job dave it worked i used your info it ws great

    Comment by johnny joiner on December 31, 2016 at 11:39 pm

  • As with all the 1980’s get-rich-quick scammers and “Pilot My Plane” pyramid scam fraudsters/scammers (remember those? – I do) Davy del Dotto is just one small piece of the scammer puzzle. Much like that Tommy “Buy my books – buy my tapes – you too can get rich!” Vu (who btw was taken down by the US Postal Service Director for mail fraud – lol), del Dotto was done in by his own greed and by making the one biggest fraud claim mistake that sunk his real-estate cruise ship big time. That being – by saying that there was more VA related real-estate property in Hawaii in foreclosure at that time than anyone could ever imagine. That was his biggest mistake in hype and falsehood that would come back to bite him in his ass, and sink his real-estate scam-fomercials big time. The VA Director himself up in Washington, DC came out publicly on the TV NEWS channels with a statement saying that if there was so much VA related foreclosure property in Hawaii at that same time that he would have had his own real-estate portfolio stuffed to the overflowing Max. Truth was – there was nowhere near anywhere what del Dotto was trying to sell other than snake oil. And that is what sunk his “Hawaiian cruise ship to nowhere scam” through a federal investigation, and what shut him down permanently. “There’s a sucker born every minute!” – as the saying would go, but those of us that are highly educated and well-informed know better than to be drawn in by snake oil scammers the likes of del Dotto. About the same time in the late 80’s and early 90’s there was another “Fly by Night” scam-fomercial balding hair transplant get rich “pitcher” named Tony Robbins that was selling his so-called “coaching” books and tapes to no end. What a joke he was then and even now! A “life coach”? What a crock of crap that was or is. Who the hell would ever buy into that garbage, and pay money for it no less? I ran into one of his suckers (at a Denny’s restaurant no less) that bought his books and tapes, and tried to pitch me for $200 an hour some bullshit coaching crap on how I could be successful in my life. Unknown to this Robbin’s sucker/loser – I already owned my own Bldg Consulting business at that same time, and I was making great money for very little of my day work time input, so basically I just laughed in his face and I told him that he needed to get a life and stop selling himself as bullshit snake oil. There’s one born every day as they would say. My self-designed work model and Motto has always been – “Work smart, and not hard, and keep all the money you make in YOUR bank account, and not some employer’s!” Works for me. Living well and happy semi-retired still running a very profitable offshore fishing Excursion, and living the good life in Florida!

    Comment by Frank jr on September 16, 2017 at 5:06 am

  • I bought the Del Dotto books and tapes package back in the 90s. I tried buying a vacant piece of land from the courthouse but got outbid for it. I tried using one of his techniques to increase my profit when selling my primary residence. We got a solid offer and I asked my realtor if we can put into the contract that the buyer pays all closing costs (a Del Dotto technique). She told me any change to the boilerplate on the closing statement was viewed as a deal killer. So much for that Del Dotto idea. Oh well, at least I tried.

    Comment by Butch on October 15, 2017 at 4:50 pm

  • What was the actors name who introduced Dave at the Hawaii Hilton Seminars ?
    Jonathan – Jon – John he had blond hair and blue eyes – good looking talk host ?

    Comment by Susie War on May 26, 2019 at 10:19 am

  • I brought Dave’s $300.00 course in the early 90’s. I only listen to a few of the tapes. But just listening to him inspired me to get into real estate. I own three multi-family properties now. Thanks Dave.

    Comment by Rosa W on December 16, 2019 at 9:55 am