Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Common Scam Defense: Similarity Between Homeopathy Advocacy and HYIP promotion

A frequent refrain among HYIP promotion are the following points:

  • It's a conspiracy to destroy the alternative forms of income they don't want you to know
  • You should be in control of your money, not limited to what "they" want you to know
  • Various versions of _____ had been around since ______ and we do something like that
You can find this in almost every HYIP. If they were not outright stated, they were surely implied, or weasel worded like "new and profitable enterprise", often cloaked with buzzwords like cryptocurrency, penny auction, e-commerce, VOIP, and so on. 

We've seen the collapse of various scams using such cloaks. 

TVI Express, a huge international pyramid scheme that spanned several continents (India, Australia, US, most of Europe, several countries in Africa, China, Indonesia, Philippines...) claimed to be selling travel or travel club, and promoted itself as combining internet, e-commerce, working from home, and such. Little travel was provided. 

ZeekRewards, an international ponzi scheme was truly global with net winners (and victims) all over the world. It claimed to be earning huge profits through its penny auctions, but in reality it simply shifted money from last investors to the early joiners through facade of "profit sharing". It was shut down by Secret Service and forced into receivership.

Another scam was TelexFree, where owners claimed to be selling VOIP packages which lets you talk international voice calls over the Internet and avoid long distance phone fees (and for a while, they really did) but in reality is operating a Ponzi scheme based out of two separate countries: Brazil and the US, with investors form all over the world before it was shut down in Brazil, then the US, and even FBI and Homeland Security got involved in the raids.  It is estimated that company took in over 1 BILLION dollars from 1.9 million investors

In more recent news, UFUN out of Malaysia and Thailand enticed members to invest in its cryptocurrency UTOKEN, while claimed to be investing in various enterprises that will realize huge profit for its members. Thailand started a full crackdown weeks ago and had arrested more than a dozen high rankers, with wanted notices out for 200 more, with 300000 pages of evidence handed over to prosecutor's office recently, so there's obviously more to come. Its members were also arrested in Samoa and other places for fraud. 

They all implied that they are new ways to make money, that other people don't know or don't want you to know, and they can actually do what they promise. 

This sounds remarkably like homeopathy and alternative medicine advocacy to me, as they use the same arguments:
  • It's a conspiracy of "mainstream medicine" to destroy "alternative medicine"
  • You should be in control of your health, not have a limited vision forced upon you
  • Various versions of alternative medicine had been around since _____
I'll leave the debunking of the homeopathy advocacy to Michael Vagg, while I tackle the HYIP promotion. 

First, a simple logic question. If you have a choice between paying 50% interest, vs. 20% interest on the money you borrow, which would you choose? 

Why, the 20% of course. Nobody wants to pay 50% interest unless they can't get money any other way. 

Second and final question: Extrapolating from your answer, it is only logical that a business that needs money to source the money with the lowest cost, such as bank (10% or so) or even credit card (20% or so) rather than promising to pay people 50% return on their money, is that correct? 

You better say yes, or else you need a slap on the back of your head. 

So why would an HYIP offer to pay YOU 50% interest for YOUR money (i.e. give them the money, and they promise to give 150% back in a month) rather than taking it out of their credit card and pay only 20% interest? Or less if they can get a bank loan? 

HYIP defies logic. It's nonsense. That is what they the HYIPsters don't want you to know... Not that they have a secret way of making money (they don't) , but the fact that they DON'T have a secret way of making money. Any money they make... is from you voluntarily handing it over (and hundreds or thousands like you) by believing their lies. It's misdirection / equivocation. 

They don't want your thinking to be... "limited" by conventional logic, i.e. no sane business would rather pay 50% interest over merely 20% interest. They *want* you to believe that black is white, up is down, and business would GLADLY pay 50% interest instead of 20% interest because they are nice and WANT to share their profit with you. 

Copy of a Photograph of Charles Dickens
Copy of a Photograph of Charles Dickens
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And yes, scams have been around forever. Ponzi may have gotten his name onto the scam because his scam in 1920's was so big, but the scam was described in Charles Dickens' novels back in 1850's

At least homeopathy leaves your health intact, because it ultimately doesn't do anything. (Whether you delayed real treatment and allowed your health to deteriorate is up to you)  However, same can't be said for HYIP, as rarely were funds recovered (unless you got in early and left early, lucky you).  So you were generally in poorer financial health. 

Don't fall for scams by believing in nonsense. 

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