Airport-security gimmick Clear is just the latest example of Steven Brill failing investors (see also: Brill's Content,, etc. etc.). But this time the mogul is just stone-cold ripping off customers, too, pocketing their half-used $200 membership fees.

It's not that Clear is bankrupt; according to a FAQ on the company website, it's not seeking legal protection from creditors. It's just that right now "Verified Identity Pass, Inc. cannot issue refunds due to the company's financial condition."

Translation: If you think you're legally owed a refund, we're going to make you sue, as we have a "senior creditor" to worry about.

Of course, Clear customers were already used to poor treatment from the company; as software entrepreneur Joel Spolsky points out, Clear required customers undergo detailed background checks, even though this was a pointless waste of time, since the customers ended up having to go through the same security inspection as everyone else (after they cut to the front of the line, the reward for paying $200/year).

Right about now the customers are wishing they had run some background checks of their own. Brill, who left the company in February, says customer data submitted to the company is safe. Probably.