Friday, December 25, 2015

How a MLM cult is like ISIS, and how to defeat both of them

A recent episode of NPR's Hidden Brain that talked about terrorism, and how does the psychology of radicalization work, got me thinking, as the cult psychology of ISIS shares many similarities with cult psychology of a MLM cult, and this new angle to take on how a cult gains control over its members provides some very interesting insights into how it works, and some idea on how to combat it.

How is ISIS like a MLM Cult?

ISIS is like a MLM cult in that they entice members into self-destructive behavior by convincing them they are doing it for the greater good.

According to Scott Atran, an advisor to UN and the White House as anthropologist, explained that most ISIS fighters genuinely believe they are fighting for a "great cause", i.e. establishing a Caliphate, and generally it is the people in their 20's that were enticed by promises of glory, adventure, and purpose. They also believe that world is a disasterpeaceful change is not possible, self-sacrifice is honorable, ends justifies the means, and utopia is possible. ISIS recruit by leveraging idealism in naive young people already ostracized from society.

Now think about how MLM cults leverage a very similar mindset... MLM cult believers genuinely believe they are building a better world by spreading the "great product and great opportunity" among the masses. Many MLM cult believers do believe they cannot succeed in a regular job market. Indeed, that is a mantra often repeated in MLM cults, like "J.O.B. = just over broke" and so on, and MLM promises glory (recognition for accomplishments), adventure (travel all over, often exotic places) and purpose (spread the gospel of prosperity). There's also belief that traditional job CANNOT allow one to be financially secure, and utopia (financial freedom) is possible. In many ways, MLM cult preys on idealism of people who can't get a regular job (often through no fault of their own) and ostracized from society.

So to summarize:

  • Both ISIS and MLM cult tell followers to believe in a great cause
  • Both ISIS and MLM cult promise followers glory, adventure, and purpose
  • Both ISIS and MLM cult tell followers world is a disaster
  • Both ISIS and MLM cult tell followers existing ways do not work
  • Both ISIS and MLM cult tell followers utopia is achievable
  • Both ISIS and MLM cult leverage idealism in people  

It's scary how similar they sound, if you break it all down and get to the core message.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Breaking News / Woo Files: Nu Skin Taiwan head accused of illegally importing medical devices

News from Taiwan via Malaysia, original Chinese and English translation provided. (Thanks to JusticeAlwaysLate for spreading this bit of news)

台灣.新北市18日訊)在馬來西亞、新加坡和汶萊都設有分公司的著名直銷公司美商如新華茂(NU SKIN)台灣總裁姜惠琳與多名幹部、高階直銷商,涉嫌明知產品“BODY SPA機”是未獲衛生機關核准輸入的醫療器材,仍在2012年間從香港帶1萬多套回台販售,獲利約1600多萬元台幣(下同.約210萬令吉)。新北地檢署昨依違反《藥事法》等罪嫌,起訴姜女等31人。
(Taiwan, Taipei Dec 18th) Well-known direct selling US company Nu Skin, with branches in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, has its Taiwan CEO Huilin Jiang, along with several officers and high level members accused of knowing that the product "Body Spa machine" is an "not permitted as import" medical device, yet brought back over 10000 kits from Hong Kong for sale in Taiwan, profited over 16 million NTD (almost $500000 USD). Taipei Public Prosecutor's Office has now officially charged 31 people, including Ms. Jiang, with violations of "Drug Regulation Act". 
Nu Skin is founded in the US in 1984 and operates via direct sales of cosmetics, and is now in 54 markets around the world. Taiwan branch was established in 1992, and Ms. Jiang took over as CEO in 2007. Nu Skin Taiwan was a sponsor of the 101 building New Years Fireworks and festivities 2013. 
全案起因於前年,一名林姓賣家在網路上販售號稱能緊緻肌膚的“BODY SPA機”,被檢舉未經核准,林到案供稱是向如新直銷商購買後,獲緩起訴。
The case started three years ago. A "Lin" advertised a machine online for sale called "Body Spa" that claimed to tighten muscle tone, and was investigated as the device is not legally permitted for sale without Taiwan FDA approval. Lin cooperated with investigators and said he got the machine from Nu Skin reps and had his case continued. 
不過檢調追查,發現衛生署早在2011年,就曾以未附安全證明文件等理由,禁止如新進口“臉部SPA機”,但姜惠琳仍在同年底,未申請主管機關核准,就另外核可BODY SPA機行銷策略,由如新的寰宇領袖、藍鑽級主任等高階直銷商,向下線會員推銷,稱可向海外預購BODY SPA機,然後趁集團在香港舉辦大中華區年會時領貨。
Further investigations show that the Taiwan FDA had denied Nu Skin's import of Body Spa back in 2011, due to various reasons including "no safety documents included". However, Ms. Jiang went ahead, later in 2011, and approved sales strategy of Body Spa kits by (Cosmo?) leaders, Blue Diamond level execs, and such highest level members to be promoted to lower level members, claiming that the high level execs can pre-pay for these new machines and stock them overseas, and everybody can pick up their stock when Nu Skin held their convention in Hong Kong later. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Scam Psychology: Idiot's Guide to Idiocy... and how to avoid it

It is very often in scam psychology that the victim refused to accept that they have been victimized, and they often square off against the critics. However, here are some questions they should be asking themselves... Are they *really* arguing best evidence... or merely best "intentions"?

1. What exactly are you arguing for? 

Often, proponents of a scheme have very different arguments. The ones I've seen are:

(Scheme name) is [mostly] legal!
(Scheme name) pays me [and that's good enough for me, never mind legal!]
Go pick on some [bigger evil] and leave (Scheme name) alone!

Some folks even managed to do all three at once.

But think about it, only the first item is a real "defense" of the scheme. The other two are tacit admissions that the scheme may indeed be shady, if not outright illegal.

2. Are you arguing or merely denying? 

There's a big difference between arguing, and denying.

Arguing means both sides present their best argument, and analyzes the other side's argument for flaws.

Denying simply means you insist that the other side is wrong, wrong, and wrong, without analysis.

Don't see the difference? Watch this comedy skit "Argument Clinic" courtesy of Monty Python:

3. Does your argument SOUND weak? 

A lot of scheme defenders, when trying to defend certain potentially illegal parts of the scheme, end up sounding like a whiny cat, because their argument end up as...

"But you don't *have* to do that... It's optional."

For example:

"But you don't have to recruit more sellers (It's just that you make more money if people you recruited also recruit more sellers)"

"But you don't have to buy stuff every month (If the people you recruited buy enough so your "group volume" qualifies you for commission)"

Now repeat that in a whiny kid's voice, and you'll see how weak that argument was.

It's also a bogus argument, because it's tacit admission that the scheme has at least one potentially illegal / amoral component. It's roughly equivalent to "I smoked (pot) but I didn't inhale".  That's a VERY weak argument.

4. Are you arguing from "might" or "meek"? 

Are you using "might" or "meek" for your arguments? Or just whatever that suits your argument? Are they even relevant?

Many promoters often invoke bandwagon fallacy (i.e. X people joined, Y amount of money spent, Z celebrities endorsed, etc.) That's the "might".

Many promoters adopt the "meek" attitude when they whine about government persecution, conspiracy of rich, and so on and so forth.

They are NOT relevant! Those are WEAK arguments! Find better ones!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Scam Tactics: Attribute Transfer

Scammers want you to trust them, and they usually try to invoke something that we respect and revere, then use "attribute transfer" to get you to transfer the respect and reverence onto the scammers. Many scams invoke religion, patriotism, celebrity, and such, in order to transfer authority, sanction, and prestige to their scam, so that the victims are more likely to accept it than reject it out of hand.

What is Attribute Transfer? 

Attribute transfer relies on easily recognized symbols linked to popular and accepted concepts. Cross, Jesus, Flag, Cartoon, Prayer, Military Service (in some areas), large and old companies, famous investors with loads of money, scientists and doctors (in white lab coats) and so on. They wish you to associate the attributes of the popular concept or symbol with this new scheme that they have.

It can be summarized as "we are kinda like that more popular thing".

This is related, but not the same as excitation-transfer theory in psychology, which is defined as "how residual excitation from one stimulus amplify the response to a different stimulus". One of the most often given examples is the cliche advice "take a girl on a date to do something really exciting like roller coaster in hopes of she associate the excitement with you".

Profitable Sunrise brochure
using Christ the Redeemer image

Example: Profitable Sunrise 

Profitable Sunrise is an international ponzi and pyramid scheme shut down in 2013 that supposedly operates out of England and solicited investments with slogan "profit with every sunrise" (which is itself a symbol) and also used the symbol of the "Christ the Redeemer statue" in Brazil (see right).

Profitable Sunrise promised payout of 1.6% to 2.7% DAILY and justified these profits by claiming that they make short-term usurious rate "bridge loans" to large businesses. Yet nobody in Europe can track down this company. The executive, "Roman Novak", apparently does not exist, as no one seem to have ever met him.

In the US its most notorious promoter of Profitable Sunrise was Nanci Jo Frazer of Ohio, who used a church / charity called "Focus Up Ministries", which was later renamed "Defining Vision Ministries" for her recruitment purposes, along with her husband and another co-conspirator.  As a part of settlement with state of Ohio, they are to pay back $108146.61 over the next TEN YEARS, AND have her "ministries" dissolved. The fine is substantially reduced from original judgment of 710000 dollars.

Nanci Jo Frazer and gang was also known to have released fake news that claimed she had been exonerated. You can still find it when you Google her name. It's bogus.

Scammers invoked attributes of religion, Jesus, sunrise (a generally good symbol), and so on to make their scheme look more realistic than it is.

Example: USFIA

USFIA started back in 2012/2013 when it infiltrated China as "American Mining 美洲犬業" claiming to offer amber jewelry at discounted prices, but will pay people if they invest money in "amber units" AND introduce yet more investors. Its owner, Steve Chen 陳力 had several previous ventures including Amkey and NGTalk that had failed or withered. Chinese government caught on in 2014 and arrested over a dozen local representatives in a nation-wide raid, but failed to stop the scam as Steve Chen operates out of the US city of Arcadia, in the suburbs of Los Angeles and based his USFIA (and various other entities, such as AFG) there. Two of the suspects escaped China to Thailand, and was repatriated as a part of "Operation Foxhunt 2014". However, the root of the problem was not destroyed, and USFIA quickly rebooted itself by late 2014 by adopting a new American name: US Fine Investment Arts, and a new Chinese name 富豪集團 (Royal Group), and shifted to "investment in Gemcoin, a new cybercurrency backed by amber". It then proceed to claim their cybercurrency is "approved" by California law, and just look at Bitcoin's meteoric rise.

USFIA was closed in 2015 by coordinated raid between SEC, State of California, FBI, US Marshal Service, and so on. A receiver took over the company and fired all employees immediately and proceed to take inventory of all assets.  Receiver's first report shows that they were barely able to find about 20 million, and Steve Chen has chosen NOT to provide a list of his assets, claiming his 5th amendment privilege to not incriminate himself. All the supposed amber jewelry with astronomical prices are vastly overpriced, and supposed inventory of amber to "guarantee value" is worth "nominal value", i.e. souvenir grade, not gem grade. The "law" that Steve Chen and minions claimed permitted Gemcoin actually repealed a law that says business may ONLY use US dollars and in no way validates or approves "Gemcoin". There are even rumors that one of the VPs in the company claimed to be related to President Obama. There was no proof that Gemcoin is actually a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. So far the only proof appears to be a PDF file that contained screenshots of "transactions" online.

USFIA is also famously used several celebrities at its events, including former mayor of Arcadia John Wuo who appeared in multiple events singing praises of the scheme and its leader. In 2015 John Wuo was a city councilman and quickly resigned after USFIA office was closed, citing "health reasons".

Scammers tried to invoke attribute of state government, bitcoin and cybercurrency in general.

How to See Through Attribute Transfer

To see through attribute transfer, you have to look through the examples and stick with just the facts and general idea, such as

  • What does the speaker want? 
  • According to the speaker, WHY should you believe the speaker? 
  • What attribute are they trying to transfer onto themselves from the symbol? 
  • Is there any LEGITIMATE connection between the speaker and the symbol?
  • What's left of the speaker's argument AFTER you cross out the attributes?   

Monday, November 9, 2015

PSA: Victims of WCM777 and related fraud must file claim by December 24th (Deadline extended)

If you were a victim of Phil Ming Xu's ponzi scheme WCM777 and its related entities, you need to gather up your paperwork ASAP and file a claim before December 24th, 2015.

This is the URL of the receiver’s site:

This is the URL of the site to file claims:

Among the defendant companies, affiliated entities or receivership entities are World Capital Market, Inc.; WCM777, Inc.; WCM777 Ltd (d/b/a WCM777 Enterprises, Inc.); Kingdom Capital Market, LLC; Manna Holding Group, LLC; Manna Source International, Inc.; WCM Resources, Inc.; To Pacific, Inc.; and ToPacific, Inc.

You do not need a lawyer, but you do need to be online and have paperwork ready, and ability to use an English website and follow instructions.

Any delay in filing a claim may result in you not getting any compensation from this fraud.

UPDATE: After a motion filed by the receiver and agreement by the judge, the deadline has been extended to December 24th, 2015.

Now you have NO excuse not to file if you are a victim.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

MLM Basics: Is there such thing as "good MLM"?

The MLM Skeptic has been asked repeatedly, "is _____ a good MLM?"

The short answer is: I don't know.

The longer answer is: I don't know. I can't do your due diligence for you, as I am not you.

But perhaps here's a more philosophical question... Is there such as thing as a "good MLM"?

Almost every MLM claimed they are good, and some may go as far as point out a few "bad apples" that had been stopped by government action, but they won't name a running company, unless the company's so egregious nobody is surprised they got shut down, such as Monavie head outright stated that Zeek Rewards is a ponzi scheme.

But first, we have to answer the question...

"What is a 'good mlm'?"

Good for the participant, good for the society, or good for the owner(s)?

I am going to assume that by asking this question, the asker is looking for the right company to participate in, and therefore, 'good mlm' means a company that justly compensates the participant for the effort put in. The other two factors (good for owner, good for society) are not really relevant for the participant, but they'd be nice to have.

But what exactly means "justly compensates participant for the effort put in?" While it may be "obvious" to everyone that one wants to be paid the maximum amount for doing minimal work, the real world is exactly the opposite... companies want you to do the maximum work for the minimum pay. The actual amount of work and pay is somewhere in between... at least, that's what's supposed to happen in a real job. Nobody want to be paid peanuts for hard labor, and no company will pay 1M a year for doing something that can be done in a few minutes with minimum skills.

The next question we have to answer: in MLM, are you rewarded for your own efforts?

But you're only PARTIALLY rewarded for your own efforts. Depending on how many levels of downlines you've developed (and how well they sell), you may make practically nothing based on your own efforts (your PV, personal volume is bare minimum), and you live mostly on the commission based on your group volume (GV) generated by your downlines.

In other words, the longer you spend in the business, the more you're rewarded for OTHER PEOPLE'S EFFORTS, as you build up your team. In fact, many MLM participants only knows how to recruit downlines. They can't sell the products they are supposed to be selling, and just buy the products themselves for self-consumption just enough to qualify for commission based on group volume.

And that's assuming you are in a real MLM selling real products

Keep in mind those "real product" MLMs can be illegal too. Just look at FHTM and Vemma.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scam Psychology: Misconstruing quote from Zig Ziglar about Positive Thinking

Every once in a while, you'll see some MLMer pull out this quote as a reaction to criticism:
Positive thinking will let you do everything better better than negative thinking will. 
Remember, this is in reaction to criticism, not "general application", that the quoter basically threw the quote out, meaning "why are you so negative? think positive!"

Live video feed of Zig Ziglar speaking at the ...
Live video feed of Zig Ziglar speaking at the Get Motivated Seminar at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some of the folks may have even gotten the source, Zig Ziglar, correct. Zig Ziglar is a almost legendary salesman and motivational speaker. He has left a lot of positive legacy when he died in 2012 after decades in the field.

I have a lot of respect for Zig Ziglar, which is why I need to point out that this is a total mangling of the original Zig Ziglar quote, and is taken out of context.

In other words, Zig Ziglar NEVER meant for this quote to be used in deflection of criticism. And to understand this, you need to read the ENTIRE quote by Zig Ziglar, which will prove it was taken out of context.

Follow me...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Scam Psychology: The Pressure to Excel and Conform (and the courage to turn away)

People from all walks of life join MLMs, often without sufficient due diligence. Even if they did, they often convinced themselves (Semmelweiss Reflex) to suppress their own feelings of revulsion and doubt to keep going, even if it involved stepping on the back of other people to success, as well as lie, tell half-truth, and other things that are soul-crushing.

Listen to this former Mary Kay sales director (one rank away from the highest: national sales director, top 2% of all participants) when she walked away... Because she realized her success came at expense of other participants.

You can read the rest at, or watch the full 20/20 episode here. Skip to half way point to get to the story directly.

The sad truth is some people NEVER wake up from this self-denial, because they crave outside approval so much, they were willing to forgo their ethics for outside approval.

Let this be a warning to all... "success" may come from stepping on other people's backs, even if they were smiling when you do it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Scam Psychology: Victim Mindset is all about asset recovery, not justice

JusticeAlwaysLate, a FB blogger in Malaysia who primarily blogs in Chinese / Cantonese, recently relayed a little anecdote which I thought was rather... illustrative of the victim mindset. The scam name is not important, but it's a pretty big one in China that resulted in arrests earlier this year called Nanning (南寧) any way, it goes like this:

有个南宁受害者来找哦,丈夫倾家荡产相信兄弟,投资了下去。先是云数贸, 然后圆梦都亏大本,兄弟建议他用南宁回本,有事他包。
A certain victim of Nanning scam came to tell a sob story. Husband is about to go bankrupt, believing in a buddy, invested everything, against and again, first it was YSM (a scam fronted by a Chinese guy), then YC and lost big in both. Buddy told him he can make it back with Nanning, and the buddy claims he'll cover the losses if it happens.  
Thus, this husband threw everything that's left into the Nanning scam, leaving wife and parents with nothing. She asked me, what should she do? Family needs money now to live.  
I said, go to the cops, have the perps arrested.  
She said, no way, can't get the money back that way. Buddy promised that he'll make up the money later. What should she do now?  
I said, give me their information and background. I'll reveal them so they can't hide anywhere.  
She said again, no way they'll return the money if you do that. Now what?  
I said, why are you thinking for these crooks? THEY owe YOU money!  
She said, It's not that she's not going to the cops, she had to get the money first, THEN she'll go to the cops.  
I said, so why are you here? Chitchat?  
Her final answer was, alright, guess I was mistaken about you. 

The victims have primary emphasis on recovery of money. They realize they had been deceived, but they don't want justice done. They want to be made whole first. This greed (what got them scammed in the first place) lead them to believe that they will get the money back, either someone promised them so, or they decided to lock their morals in the basement and went all out recruiting (i.e. turned judas goat) so they can get their money back.

They don't realize that the money is GONE, and they've just seeing excuses after excuses.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Scam Psychology: the echo chamber effect (and how it turns you into a recluse)

That's sheeple. Does that look familiar to you?
(Photo credit: hermetic hermit)
MLM is all about your "team", team spirit and camaraderie, don't let the team down, we'll be there for you, blah blah blah.

But have you ever considered the NEGATIVE effects of a team environment?  (Or is that merely "negativity" to be avoided?)

When you are in a social group such as a team, clan, whatever, you automatically try to fit in. You will conform yourself to the team, just as the team will conform to you. You will all have to same position, same opinion, etc. You may have differences in minor details, but you will go along on the "big stuff".

You are suffering from the "echo chamber effect", because you only hang out with people that you think have similar ideology to yours. Your ideas are echoing back to you, and other people's ideas are passing through you, and being echoed back to them. Soon everybody think alike, and like seeks like. Such things does NOT happen when you have a mix of people holding opposite views and have a nice proper discussion of the issues.

The advent of internet only made it EASIER for like to seek like. You can find all sorts of bull**** on the Internet nowadays, and forums hosting such. If you can't find one, start one yourself. People will agree on absurd topics such as "ISIS has infiltrated every church in America" to "school shootings were staged with shill mourners".

After a while in the echo chamber, you will suppress your own thoughts because you reasoned that the your group would never accept your "anti-group" thoughts. That's known as the Semmelweis Reflex.

That's fine when the ideas are logical and proper, but when they are not, it can be very dangerous.

Scammers have understood this for a long time. They are out seeking sheeple who hadn't gotten wise to the schemes, esp. when the scheme caters to one of an universal wants: trying to make one's life better.  However, scammers will pervert such wants into feeding your fears and sell you a bogus solution.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scam Tactics: The Galileo Gambit

Does everyone remember who Galileo Galilei is? He's the one who taught heliocentrism (the sun is the center, not Earth) and was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church because heliocentrism ran counter to the Biblical literalism of the time (that Earth is the center and everything revolves around Earth).

So what is Galileo Gambit? An argument tactic that combines three separate fallacies (appeal to minority, appeal to authority, conditional fallacy) in one concise package. 
They made fun of Galileo, and he was right
They make fun of me, therefore I am right.
Galileo Gambit is generally used to dismiss the "widely held truth". Creationists and Climate change deniers often use Galileo Gambit and claiming persecution. (Indeed, Rick Perry sparked controversy when he claimed that science on climate change was 'not settled yet' in 2011 and added "Galileo got outvoted for a spell")

There is a variation called Semmelweis Gambit that was often used by "alternative medicine", or otherwise known by its less complimentary acronym, SCAM (supplemental, complementary, and alternative medicine).  Ignaz Semmelweis was a doctor that provided the start of germ theory in 1800's Vienna, but his views were not accepted during his time and he died a broken man, with his views only came into acceptance after his death.

Another variation is known as "Three Stages of Truth" often misattributed to Arthur Schopenhauer (who never wrote such a thing). Let us look at an example:

Here is one form of it used in a recent... suspect scheme (that had since collapsed.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Commentary: How MLM affects the current presidential campaigns

While politics is usually quite far from the world of multi-level marketing, presidential campaign is big enough that anything anybody ever did figures into the equation, and in this case, two of the presidential candidates have direct ties to MLM... Donald Trump, and Ben Carson.

Those of you who had watched "Celebrity Apprentice" should recall that ACN, the MLM telephone company, was featured on the show... twice.  And Donald Trump even had his own MLM, "Trump Network", which nobody hears about any more.

What you may not remember is Ben Carson previously offered testimonial that Mannatech stuff helped him in his battle with prostate cancer... since 2004.

And let's not forget how big some of these MLM businesses are... and they donated HEAVILY to Republican candidates of all levels. It's already documented that co-founder of Amway, Richard DeVos and two family members donated 25K per person to Scott Walker's campaign AND unknown amounts to Jeb Bush's campaign. When Mitt Romney ran he had support of Amway, NuSkin, and Xango, all big name MLMs.

So, what are some facts about ACN and Mannatech, and perhaps, related to Donald Trump and Ben Carson, that you don't know, but should?

Let's start with ACN and Trump

ACN / Trump

Did you know that in 2010, the average ACN Canada participant takes home about $41.00 per month? That's directly off their website:

"The average ACN Canada active IBO in 2010 earned approximately $500." -- ACN Canada website 

As it is 2015, and there is no update, clearly the figure had not risen (and may even have FALLEN!)

Did you know that despite ACN having sponsored Celebrity Apprentice twice, Donald Trump was quoted by Wall Street Journal of saying, "I (Trump) know nothing about the company (ACN) other than the people who run the company, I’m not familiar with what they (ACN) do or how they go about doing it, and I make that clear in my speeches."

This is also interesting considering that Trump allegedly boasted to WSJ that for a speech at an ACN event he got $2.5 million back in 2008, and pocketed another $1.3 million for 3 more recent (and presumably shorter) talks at ACN events.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Jeunesse banned in Malaysia, website blocked at national level

According to users in Malaysia, as relayed to JusticeAlwaysLate on Facebook, any one attempted to access Jeunesse Global website ( from Malaysia is greeted with the following message: blocked in Malaysia by government order
for violation of Control of Drugs and Comestics Regulations 1984
Jeunesse lists an office in Malaysia on their contact us page. The status of that office is unknown at this time.

MLMSkeptic will bring you the latest news as soon as it becomes available.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Scam Basics: Do you "Google" your upline, the company leader, and so on?

Do you Google your own name as well as those people you know? Come on, everybody does. People who go on dates google each other's name, or even the photo, just to make sure they're not being catfished.

So why aren't people Googling their MLM uplines, and businesses googling their customers, and so on?

(NOTE: Yes, I'm using "Google" as a verb, meaning "to search online, probably using Google search". You are welcome to substitute Yandex , Baidu, or whatever your favorite search engine may be. )

A few years ago I wrote about "due diligence", and the case of Janamjot Singh Sohdi and his scam, and how he managed play an investment advisor and defrauded about a thousand people out of 2.5 million dollars despite having a long rap sheet such as having investment broker license revoked, disbarred from NYSE, and so on.  All of which can be easily Googled.

In the same article, I also wrote about the suspect scheme of "Phil Ming Xu" called WCM777, and how Xu was linked to the "Vantone scam" in China. WCM777 was eventually closed by SEC.

How did I found out that Xu was linked to Vantone scam in China?

I "googled" it, of course.

And it seems that's way more due diligence than most people bother to exercise, even bankers who's supposed to be following Federal "Know Your Customer" guidelines.

Have you ever heard of Daniel Filho? How about his full name: Daniel Fernandes Rojo Filho? Still no? How about his company, DFRF Enterprises (named with his initials)?  Yes, it's a scam, closed by the SEC in June 2015.  But what ELSE did you find out through Googling?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Scam Tactics: Sell the Hype and the Opportunity, Ignore or minimize the Reality and the Cost

Scams usually hook you by selling you the hype and how much money you can make (i.e. the opportunity), while minimize or ignore the reality (such as risk, market, etc.) and cost.

I'll just go over some recent examples and show you what sort of **** they had to spread to generate hype about their so-called "opportunity" while ignoring reality.

The "Internet TV" biz clones

In 2015, over half dozen "internet TV box" companies popped up advertising stuff like "watch your favorite TV for free, cut your cable TV bill, watch favorite sports"... etc. They want you to pay them about $300-500, and for every people you enroll (who also pay them $300-500) you earn money, possibly $100 or more per person. They go by names that includes words like "Box" "Stream" and so on.

That's a pyramid scheme, folks. I've covered what's a pyramid scheme before, so I won't repeat that here. Let's discuss the hype instead.

The matter of fact is you can buy TV boxes like these for about $50-75 on Amazon. They are all based on KODI (used to be XBMC) any way, and wholesale from China they cost even less. You can probably hire some kid to program it for you for another $10-25 if you don't to spend time on it. So where does the extra $200+ go? To the company and whoever recruited you, of course.

TL;DR = you got something for $300 (or more).that you can buy for $60 (WTF?!)

AND you can get better and more legal boxes for $100 (Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, etc.)

They all advertise (some more blatant than others) that they can get pay-per-view programs and subscription programs for free. They tell you people are already doing this, boxes "like" this are being marketed by Amazon and Roku and others (except those don't pirate and cost less than $100). They count on you having "heard" of such stuff, but having NO detailed understanding of such. it sounds "vaguely familiar".

What they don't tell you is getting stuff "for free" is actually piracy and that breaks so many laws that you'll be personally held responsible for such.  And it's no joke, there already has been a raid in UK on seller of such boxes. And let's not forget RIAA and MPAA and so on suing grandmas and so on for astronomical sums.

The schemes hyped up the benefits (OMG FREE EVERYTHING!) and potential upside (OMG MAKE MONEY WHILE HELP OTHERS 'SAVE' MONEY!) while minimizing and hiding reality (The boxes cost $60 on Amazon) and risks (it's illegal to pirate and you can get sued).

TL;DR version:

Hype / Opportunity: OMG Make money, save money, no more cable TV!

Reality / Cost: Overpaying by 3-600%, piracy is illegal

Coming next, "cryptocurrency biz"

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Scam Hilarity: How Gemcoin Scammer "Interprets" the American Justice System (HINT: It's VERY hilarious)

In the interest of all Gemcoin sheeple or perp, Chinese or otherwise, this post will be bilingual.


Recently there were a post on Sina blog (PDF linked) that claimed "there was no FBI raid" at USFIA and "SEC was just doing routine inspection". I took a look. It's hilarious. This clearly written by someone with "motivated reasoning".

最近有在新浪博客的一篇文章 (PDF) 聲稱美國富豪USFIA “沒有被FBI調查”和“美國證券交易委員會只是做例行檢查”。我親自看一看。它真的好笑。這顯然是“有動機推理”的人寫的。

Due to size constraints, I'll just explain the important parts. I don't quote out of context.


What he wrote will be in blue.


First, the title:



UN 70th anniversary celebration invited AFG VP et al 8 people to attend

Anyone can take a photo in front of the UN building. There are even shops inside the UN building. These photos of Leonard S. Johnson and two unidentified individuals can only prove they were in New York recently. It has no other value.

任何人都可以在聯合國大廈前拍照。聯合國大樓內甚至有商店。照片只可以證明Leonard S. Johnson 和兩個身份不明的人最近去過紐約。沒有其他價值.


Translated; FBI Warriors, so fierce, so cool! This photo was published by media, claiming AFG was closed. However, those that went to AFG can see that this is not at AFG. Media use Hollywood fast cut to create false impressions, such as freedom of press in America. 

This photo is of FBI agents assisting in the Boston Marathon bombing in May 2013, when they searched Norfolk St. in Cambridge area of Great Boston.  The actual title of the photo is fbi-norfolk-street-cambridge.jpg  I have seen no American media use this photo with the Gemcoin story. If there is, please point me at the article. Otherwise, I must conclude that the blogger was the one who falsely inserted a photo, exactly what he's accusing "American media" of doing.

這張照片是聯邦調查局探員協助2013年5月波士頓馬拉松爆炸案,他們在搜查諾福克(Norfolk) 街在大波士頓的劍橋(Cambridge)地區。照片的實際名稱是FBI-norfolk-street-cambridge.jpg 我沒有看到任何美國媒體使用這張照片在珍寶幣故事上。如果有請指點我文章在哪。不然我必須定論這位珍寶幣博客才是插入不相干照片捏做新聞用來反指責“美國媒體”捏做新聞。(惡人先告狀)


Translation: This photo was published by the media claiming AFG was closed by law. This is clearly not AFG in the background. Media use Hollywood special effects creatively and we have witnessed American freedom of press. How dare "Michael Liu" and his ilk publish all sort of photos to attack AFG. American newspapers are much like the hated paper in the Culture Revolution to spread rumors and lies. 

Those of you who can use Google image search will quickly realize this is a photo of the deputies in Lee County Florida. Again, I have not seen this photo in relation with Gemcoin, and again, I have to conclude that this Gemcoin blogger is the one who inserted irrelevant photos to accuse "american Media" of making up news.

那些會用谷歌圖片搜索的會發現這是佛羅里達州李縣(Lee County) 警長部 (Sheriff's Department) 的照片。同樣,我沒有看過此照片與珍寶幣報導有關,再次我必須做結論,這位珍寶幣博客才是插入了不相干照片捏做新聞用來反指責“美國媒體”捏做新聞。(惡人先告狀)

Here comes the hilarious part!


Friday, October 2, 2015

Vemma update: Vemma / BK Boreyko / Tom Alkazin said it's ALL affiliate's fault

Vemma, BK Boreyko, and Tom Alkazin each had filed response to FTC's case. From here on, it's clear what their strategy is:

To all the YPR Vemma affiliates...

IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT! (you deserved to be scammed)

Why, you thought I was kidding? 

Excerpt from Vemma's official response:
...Consumers represented by the FTC knowingly and voluntarily, and possibly unreasonably, exposed themselves to any claimed losses with knowledge or appreciation of the risk involved...
BK Boreyko's response also contained this section. 

Tom Alkazin's response is slightly shorter, but said the same thing:
...Any consumers represented by the FTC knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk of losses.
In other words, if you lost money, it's because you are stupid, not because they tricked you. 

But this attitude of victim blaming is hardly unique.  It is a frequent defense by scammers, who basically said "the victims deserved to be fleeced". 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

USFIA Update: "bank accounts show apparently NO revenue" (since 2013), and more

Official SEC press release: SEC Halts $32 Million Scheme That Promised Riches From Amber Mining

LATimes is a day late in reporting the Fed raid and shutdown of USFIA/Gemcoin, but apparently they actually read the SEC filing against USFIA, and they got a few extra details than anyone else thus far.

Here's the relevant parts:

USFIA has raised about $32 million from investors since 2013, according to the complaint. Nearly $19 million of that came from foreign investors, with $5.7 million coming from checks mostly issued by domestic investors, it said. 
The company’s bank accounts show no apparent revenue over that period, the complaint said. Instead, recorded transactions show large withdrawals to purchase luxury automobiles, entertainment and travel, as well as several transactions with various companies controlled by Chen.
and earlier in the article, Steve Chen apparently knew the gig's up, because...
Earlier this month, according to the filing, Chen attempted to wire $7.5 million out of USFIA’s account at Bank of America to a Chinese bank after he was interviewed by the Arcadia Police Department about a separate case involving alleged death threats against disgruntled Gemcoin investors. 

And it seems the politicians have nothing else to say.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

USFIA Raided by SEC, FBI, etc. on 29-SEP-2015, assets frozen, company seized

Multiple news sources, including onsite witnesses, have reported that FBI, SEC, and several other agencies have raided USFIA on 9/29/2015 and froze its assets, and appointed a receiver to take over.

San Gabriel Valley News

SGVT: U.S. Government seizes Arcadia company's assets in GemCoin fraud case (29-SEP-2015)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

USFIA Update Continued

Previously, we have covered how Amkey exited China after series of scandals (product problems, repeated changes of comp plan, sudden reversal of "opening stores" plan)  and never received the direct sales license it needed to operate in China, leaving thousands of distributors stranded and disillusioned.

What was surprising though is Amkey continued to operate outside of China, and attracted a following in Singapore and nearby countries.

Amkey and AllianceNGN 

Despite Amkey quietly withdrawing from China, it apparently enjoyed several years of continued growth, or at least fast recruitment, in places such as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and places that speaks Chinese, mainly by adding something called "NGNTalk", an IP talk product for long distance calling without the long distance fees.

NGN Talk's parent company, Alliance NGN, has a very intriguing Chinese name 美国联邦环球通which literally translates to US Federal Global Talk. Really official sounding, isn't it?

Various Chinese fan websites claimed that "Alliance NGN" has received FCC and EC certification. Searching FCC website shows no such certification.

The NGNTalk fan sites (in Chinese, example here, and here), and blogs littered all over the place about NGNTalk hinted at the level of recruiting. The deeper the tree, the higher the share (up to 20% if you go beyond level 8) as well as direct reward for recruiting per head, and so on.

If you look at the main menu of the, it was actively soliciting investments. Why else would it have "Investor Guide" on its website as a main menu item?

Alliance NGN website, courtesy of web designer MartinMa
Note the section above: Investor information
This was confirmed when one digs into Alliance NGN's innards, where you discover that you can sign up and "invest" and even trade and receive "guidance".

Alliance NGN backoffice screenshot courtesy of MartinMa
Apparently one can invest money into "brokerage accounts" at Alliance NGN, which
was supposed to be a "telecom" company... Hmmmm.... 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

USFIA Update: Turns out USFIA itself is a reload scam... Successor to Amkey

Some readers have posed the question... How did Steve Chen got so big, involving possibly hundreds of millions of dollars?

The answer is... he's been at this for much longer than USFIA. USFIA (as either "American Royal 美洲富豪" or "American Mining 美洲礦業") was only his latest scheme.  His previous scheme was "Amkey 安旗" , which started in 2004, and was basically forced to exit China after repeated scandals, but continued in Asia for many more years.

So what exactly was Amkey? According to Amkey's website...

A leading nutritional supplement products corporation, Amkey, Inc, is the provider of the world’s only cell renewal and protection products with multiple international patents. We are a US company established in June 2003 headquartered in Los Angeles, California. We are an e-commerce network marketing company combining R&D, production and the sales of high-tech nutritional supplement products, skin care products and daily sundry items.
It claims to be a member of the Direct Selling Association (US), but searching through as of today (27-SEP-2015) shows no such company listed.  Searching through news archives seems to indicate that Amkey was accepted by DSA in June 2005, but there is no press release about when it was ejected.

Current US address is the Steve Chen building... 135 E. Live Oak, Arcadia. But let's start from the very beginning...

Amkey in China

Amkey entered China in October 2004 by registering "Amkey (Beijing) Technology Development Ltd." 安旗(北京)科技发展有限公司 in a business park in Beijing. It apparently bought some factory in Shenzhen in 2005 and started selling its products after approval process. 

According to an expose penned by an ex-member (PDF of article in Chinese) , Amkey was guilty of multiple misrepresentations.

On 14-SEP-2005, Premier Hu Jintao, attending a UN meeting, apparently met with over 600 local who's-who in the Chinese community, and Steve Chen was apparently among the crowd.

This was immediately plastered all over the Amkey news channels as "Premier Hu and Wife Welcomed By Amkey US CEO, Chinese-American Elite Merchant Council Chairman Steve Chen", claiming that 7 members of the company representing the three branches of Amkey (US, Beijing, and Hong Kong) to attend "US-China CEO Summit", claiming only the top 50 CEOs of the world can attend and they got 3 out of the 50 seats.

So what's the reality? According to the expose writer, Amkey attended a "US China Commerce Summit" at the Waldorf, not the Top 50 CEO summit. As for "welcomed Premier Hu"? A photo of Hu's motorcade driving past an Amkey banner streamed along the route was the "proof" provided by Amkey's website.

Another bout of hilarity ensued regarding the 2004 "Xiamen Direct Sales Legislation Proposal Seminar" 厦门直销立法座谈会.  Twenty-two companies were invited to talk with Chinese legislators about what sort of legislations and regulations the direct sales industry needs in China. Amkey, who was NOT among the 22 invited companies, falsely claimed to be among the attendees by inflating the company count to 23 (link in Chinese). This was not done by affiliates, but by Amkey corporate website.  The officials were not amused. Furthermore, the only time Amkey appeared in the news is it was on a BLACKLIST of 20 companies that was investigated for possible pyramid schemes.

Scam Tactics: Two-Face, revisited

Previously MLMSkeptic has covered "two-face", i.e. present two separate distinctive personalities to different audiences, as an Herbalife tactic.  Tell government and Wall Street 72% of participants do NOT want income, while holding a convention cheering on those who did profit and entice those who haven't joined with prospects of income.

But there is an even simpler version of two-face... present someone NOT as who they are, by simply dressing them up as something else.

And there's an update later about how Gemcoin / USFIA is being condemned in Vietnam... but first...

Those of you who keep up with the USFIA / Gemcoin developments should recognize this guy (photo from May 29th 2015 USFIA event):

Live ammo shooting coach Security Guard Chang (Zhang, actually) Right 5, photo with fans
With a bit of help from the newspaper ChineseDailyUSA (owned by Sho Tay of Arcadia, BTW) we've determined the guard's surname is Zhang (yes, I misspelled it in the translation).

And with a different photo, where the guard is now... "international jewelry appraiser", was identified as John Zhang. / Professional Gem Appraiser John Zhang (Right 2), Company VP Leonard S. Johnson (Right 3)
international market president Alicia Gesier (Right 4)  and Toronto International Market President eric Wu (Right 7)

If you're wondering why did the translation differ... I'm just going with original material, man.

But recently I came across a different coverage of the same Toronto event... / USFIA VP Leonard S. Johnson announcing USFIA Currency Fund Gemcoin's formal release and introducing
Alliance Financial Group (AFG) background and its affiliate USFIA Currency Fund
the guy on the right is, according to placard: John Zhang, international jewelry appraiser

So we have his full name, "John Zhang", and a search at Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, who licenses security guards and investigators, and you get "ZHANG JOHN BAO PING" of West Covina, CA.

The logical conclusion is the "jewelry appraiser" and "security guard" are the same person: the security guard was dressed up as "jewelry appraiser" for the Toronto event, and possibly for the other events in various Chinatowns as well.

That is two-face, at its most basic: present one face, the guard face, to the locals, then at where people don't know you, you can be other people, like "appraiser".

And the Toronto event and its coverage belies the recent "denial" of USFIA, where they claimed they don't even operate Gemcoin.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Scam Tactic: Speak in Half-truths, or how Vemma is trying to create value out of bull****.

Speaking in half truths is the best way to scam. You sound as if you are telling the truth, esp. if that's all the truth you know. You can't be lying if you don't even know the other half, right?

That's why you should fact-check any PR claims, esp. those without any links for you to verify the claims, and if the evidence themselves need to be fact-checked.

Let's take one recent example, when a Vemma fan (what I'd refer to as a Vembot) posted basically a cut-n-paste PR speech "how dare you compare Verve to Red Bull". Okay, I made up that title, but that is accurate.  His words in blue, my comment will be in red.
For those trying to do a cost comparison with Red Bull, you are obviously missing the entire concept of Vemma.
Oh, I think we understand you all too well. It is you who don't understand Vemma... 
The clinically studied nutritional supplement Vemma cost about $2.00 per serving, if you purchased the stand alone Vemma product. 
But did you actually read the two "clinical studies"? (NOTE 1)
Verve has the same 2 ounces of Vemma, plus the components of the energy drink. Yes the price is about $2.80 a can, but $2.00 is the Vemma supplement. So the energy drink component is really only $.83.
You set your own prices. You can say it's worth $1000 if you'd like. There's nothing to compare it to. In fact, there's not even any proof that mangosteen has any benefit on the body. But more on that later. (NOTE 2)
You show me where red bull has 12 vitamins, 63 minerals, mangosteen, aloe vera and green tea. Show me where Red Bull paid 250000 to run full clinical studies to see exactly what happened in your blood after drinking it.
You show me what those "63 minerals" are, and what effect they have on the body. Show me how ECGC is not harmful to the body. Show me how two little studies in China, on self-reported results prove "what happened in blood". (NOTE 3 again)  
Until you can show me that trying to compare the to is like comparing a Ford Fiesta to a Ford Mustang. They are both Fords (energy drinks), but they are not the same thing and they dont cost the same thing.
Vemma is no-name energy drink with an unproven secret ingredient. The analogy is bull****. 
Now let's look at the footnotes...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scam Tactics: Using Cultural Preconceptions and Stereotypes for Affinity Scam

As the Gemcoin scam reached national stage, a video surfaced recently of Steve Chen and company throwing some sort of USFIA Club party at a McMansion owned by one of his real estate companies (AHome) ostensibly as some sort of reward for "top performing" USFIA participants.

During the event, Steve Chen was wearing a light blue polo with some sort of a badge on left breast, a photo badge clipped on the right breast, and was wearing a gunbelt with holster (and gun), with some sort of shield/badge on the belt in public display. The caption identified him as chairman, USFIA club.  (lit: US Royal Club)

Vidcap from video, red caption by Oz,
white caption says: USFIA Club Chairman
A later picture shows the gun and the rest, belt shield, shoulder patch, and photo ID badge and its close-up, where it clearly says: GREAT WALL, photo, badge, name, number, date, and "Public Safety".

Photo of Steve Chen cutting ribbon of his own place, close up of badge
brown and green markup by Oz,,
Steve Chen is obviously dressed as security guard, ID'ed so by badge

Search of LA Area for "Great Wall" yielded a company called Great Wall Security Training Center, in San Gabriel, CA, not far from Arcadia.

Great Wall Security Training Center banner from their own website

Where, as you can guess, they train security guards, including armed guards, gun permits, pepper spray permits, billy club permits, body guard permit, concealed carry permit, and other related stuff.

Why did a chairman demote himself to security guard just to carry a gun around? On a grand-opening ceremony of his own club? For that, you have to understand Chinese culture.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Will US Recognize a new mental disorder: Cult Sales Addiction?

While researching a different topic, I came across this interesting article in Changsa, China, where the local hospital had to treat at least two cases of a mental disorder that was previously unrecognized: addiction to cult sales.

The story can be read here in Chinese, but I'll give you the gist of it:

Hunan Province 2nd People's Hospital Addiction Treatment Center back in December 2014 had to treat a patient who was apparently brainwashed by a cult sales (pyramid sales / pyramid scheme ) organization. The victim, 27-yr old female, lost her job in October 2014 when her company lost the product distributorship, and was recruited by a friend to go to Nanning where supposedly things are better. About two months later, she called home and want her mom to come along and make lots of money. Her mom went for a visit, and realized victim was in the clutches of a pyramid sales organization and had been brainwashed for two months and is totally under their control, with full personality shift.
(article continues after this break)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vemma Lost Injunction Fight. Now What?

If you haven't heard, Vemma lost its attempt to reverse the temporary restraining order put in by FTC when it was shut down. The judge found that the claims and evidence supporting such as put forth by FTC to have merit  and Vemma's counter-argument and evidence insufficient to counterbalance such evidence.

As a result, Vemma will have to change:
...prohibition of the sale of Affiliate Packs, and the linking or tying of an affiliate’s eligibility for bonuses or accumulation of qualifying points to their own purchases of Vemma product, whether through participation in the auto-delivery program or otherwise. 
The injunction will also encompass the “Two & Go” Program, which falls under the above prohibition.
In other words, buying drinks no longer counts as qualifying criteria.

What are the points to take away from this decision?

1. Affiliates are not customers

Affiliates' job are to FIND customers, and be compensated for doing so. They should not be customers themselves, who want product for product's value.

Yet there's no doubt that affiliates are making the purchases in Vemma. That leads us to the next item...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Scam Psychology: How Context Makes You Irrational (even though it made sense to you... at the time)

Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court
Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court (Photo credit: southerntabitha)
We are all affected by context of a question than we care to admit, and by presenting certain things with the wrong context, scammers lead us into making irrational decisions, such as join a scam and hand over money.

Let's take the subject "Affordable Care Act", for example, otherwise known as "Obamacare".

Did you know that more people support "Affordable Care Act" than "Obamacare", even though it's the SAME THING? 46% oppose Obamacare, but only 37% oppose Affordable Care Act. People even protested at the US Supreme Court.

[Source: USA Today quoting CNBC poll]

This is ignorance. And this is in the general public.

Scammers LOVE this, which is why there are Obamacare scams.  Just as there are scams about everything.

So why are more people against "Obamacare"? Because the term was used by Republicans as as derogatory term. Never mind that it's actually Mitt Romney (Republican) that really came up with it for his own state of Massachussetts, leading to a new term, "Obamneycare".

In short, Affordable Care Act doesn't have the "context", the derogatory meaning that Obamacare has.

The lesson is very simple: you have to be knowledgeable and ignore context to make rational decisions.

In business and investment, that's called due diligence, which is really just "fact checking" and "critical thinking". You get all the facts and look beyond the context.

And scammers want you to throw due diligence out the window... by hitting you with slogans to ignore due diligence as well as give you skewed context (that are half-truths, misunderstandings, embellishments, conflicting info, logical fallacies, outright lies, etc.) to lead you into their scam.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What is Business Porn, and Why Is It Bad For You?

Ever wonder who writes those books about MLMs? Or "how to become a millionaire" type books?

Probably nobody you ever heard of.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote in his essay The Fallacy of Success,  "...On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey."

Don't get me started on Robert "Rich Dad" Kiyosaki... As I've written about his bargain with MLM, and how his success is due to selling to MLM, not due to his own success. He had f***ed over at least two of his partners. His advice on MLM doesn't even fit his own quadrant system. And he doesn't understand what Ponzi is but managed to write about it any way for Yahoo Finance.

Yet people seem to regard him as some sort of financial genius. Why?

Frankly, Kiyosaki, and many of these so-called business advice writers, write "business porn".

Do you know what is business porn? No? Do you know what regular porn is? It's sex, with the boring parts edited out and dressed up to look the most exciting that few if any sane people would f*** that way.

Porn is fake. It's a SIMULATION of sex. Business porn is the same... books that explain to you the bloody obvious: making money is good. Stock photos that you wish your office look like, and so on. It's NOT REAL.

People who buy these books think there's "that one thing" they will "realize / get" to suddenly turn failure into "success". Often it's something about "attitude" (or mindset), or "gadget" or tool or system, or certain behavioral gimmicks that somehow symbolizes "leadership". They put up the stock photos that their business would never look like, or sprout cliche slogans like "you have to fake it to make it".

But just as porn is not real sex, business porn is not real business advice, even though they sure sound like real advice.