June 17, 2007

World's Most Hated Blogger

Financial exhibitionism, coupled with a lack of penitence for stiffing his creditors, has transformed the 24-year-old resident of this sleepy Sacramento suburb into a celebrity among fellow bloggers. But unlike other online celebrities, Serin's stardom comes from a unique source: "haters" who patronize his blog solely to learn what financial missteps he's made today.Since launching his web site last September, Serin has discovered that it can be profitable to outrage and annoy the thousands of people who visit his blog every day. He estimates he was making up to $1,000 a month through Google ads and believes he's on track to make even more through Yahoo's ad network. His notoriety has led to appearances on Suze Orman's and Robert Kiyosaki's advice shows, and he says he's working on a book and advice packet that he'll sell online.Through planning or dumb luck, Serin has managed to capture an audience by severely irritating many disparate groups: those who blame him and fellow speculators for the housing bubble; devout Christians, who urge him to follow the Bible more closely; and others who are hoping for news that his creditors are suing him and that his petite, attractive wife Galina is divorcing him.Serin makes it all public, including financial spreadsheets and bank statements, frank admissions that he lied on mortgage applications, and, more recently, his marital strife with Galina. Because her husband has refused to get a job since January 2006, the couple has been forced to move in with relatives and Galina cleans houses to pay for their food and rent.As a result, the tell-all blog entries have drawn the same kind of highly attentive crowd that might assemble to watch a train wreck in progress.

Hating Serin has become something of a sport among bloggers, who compete with each other to post the most biting critiques of his financial missteps. No fewer than four Serin-hating sites have cropped up, and many others poke fun at how he paid tens of thousands of dollars for real-estate investing courses, ran up $2.2 million in debt by buying houses on credit, and then lost most of them to foreclosure (others were sold at a loss, and Serin estimates he owes an additional $100,000 to $250,000 to the banks to cover those losses).
Serin has not filed for bankruptcy, though he has publicly mulled the option. For now, he believes himself to be effectively judgment-proof, with his only significant asset being a run-down Volkswagen Jetta that recently was broken into.