Okay, I sent an email to the boy in LA about the New Kadampa Tradition.
The way I wrote it was "I was researching what lineage I wanted to follow, and I found this info about NKT, did you know there is all this controversy?" He has never been with another "Sangha" (like church pretty much) so this is his only exposure to Buddhism he's had (a girlfriend got him into it- how else do people get into cults?) So it could be that he, like any westerner, has no clue what is normal and not normal Buddhist teachings, so if they tell you "pray to this diety and you get material wealth" they have no idea that that is not Buddhist. I can say, however, that the moment I saw the webpage he directed me to, I felt that something wasn't right about it.
If he never writes to me again, I know he's a cult member.