|English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
1. Always remember - people are afraid to challenge you.
a) People are generally non-confrontational, and it takes a special kind of people who challenge a better known figure. Internet has helped this somewhat by giving people relatively anonymous voice, but there are "reputation" managers out there trying to squash dissent, and there's way more people who support the better known figure and shout down any critics. b) people are taught to value "confidence", and if you act with bravado and smirk and ignore challenges, many will mistake that for confidence. c) Many were taught to go by alleged reputation instead of logic. Bull**** is still bull**** no matter who spoke it, but many assume that people with alleged reputation will not speak bull****. "Fake it till you make it" is an often uttered mantra.
Why it's bull****: The people who post negative info have something to say and they believe it enough and want it to be heard, and therefore, you should at least listen to it. In other words, listen to the dissenters, then check why they say things they do, instead of dismissing their POV by reflex. You may learn something. You should be able to distinguish the fluff "buy my stuff instead" from the "this is a scam, and these are the reasons".
Counter-tactic: when you detect a sea of support for some thing you are thinking of joining, it is more important to seek out the NEGATIVE opinions and see if they are making sense. If they are talking about aspects that were NOT covered, then it's clear that the positive stuff you read is marketing material, not a review or the "whole truth".
2. Point to your legitimate successes or bona fides
Bernie Madoff often points to his LONG history as a successful stock broker, and Paul Burks of ZeekRewards Ponzi pointed to his business having been around for like 15 years (though there's a lot of fudging of the history).
Corollary: if you don't have any legitimate successes, make some up or exaggerate
If they don't have success, they point to anything thing ELSE that may suggest legitimacy, like Internet traffic stats (such as Alexa rankings), having hired services of famous attorneys and/or consultants, and so on. This is known as "attribute transfer", mention something ELSE, and try to transfer their attribute to your thing.
Another way is to misrepresent something to be bigger than it is, by encouraging a false image. For example, "Congressional Medal of Distinction" is often found on resumes, even though it's a "donation award", i.e. you get it by giving money to the Republicans, though it's often represented as "successful business leadership".
Yet another is completely misinterpret an existing law to mean something it does not. Scammers are quite fond of this tactic. One exclaimed that cable deregulation (which happened 20 years ago) to mean all cable content can be freely pirated. Another claimed that a California bill that removed the restriction of eCommerce to be exclusively conducted by US Dollars to somehow legalized the creation of their bogus cybercurrency.
Why: Andy "Ad Surf Daily ponzi" Bowdoin was known to have claimed he worked with Napoleon Hill and Andrew Carnegie when he merely sold their books). He also claimed the Congressional Medal of Distinction and claimed to have been given the Medal by President Bush himself (it's mailed to recipient). Most "successes" are merely bandwagon fallacy and/or red herrings (such as claiming "top Alexa ranking means this thing is legit!") and can be manipulated (one can buy a botnet for a few days to drive up Alexa stats).
Counter-tactic: check if the successes are really successes (some scammers are known to pad their resumes.