Friday, September 16, 2016

Scam Tactics: Whip Up Fear, Provide "Solution", Take Your Money under false pretense

A lot of so-called "entrepreneurs" (read: MLM noobs) are so fond of repeating marketing speech they don't ever stop and wonder WHY are they doing what they're doing, and whether it makes any sense. One of which is the "mystery tease", where there's practically NO public info about the company, or the promoter is trying to keep things VERY VERY vague. You pretty much have to join, get the info, then consider canceling in order to get ANY information on the company.

When questioned why does the company operate this way, the rep, either stammer "so don't join" or retorts with insults such as "you're obviously not an entrepreneur".  The implication for both is "if you want to know about the company before you join, you're obviously NOT ready to join."

Isn't that just faith, i.e. "I am willing to join without knowing what I am joining"?  Does that even make sense? 

But this just reminded me of the infamous diamond scams during the late 1970's in the US. 

The scam is simple... The sellers claim to be sourcing diamonds and are offering them as investment instruments to folks who are afraid of the stock market fluctuations. The concept is simple: "everybody loves diamonds", "it only appreciates because supply is strictly controlled by a monopoly", "all diamonds are sealed with certificate guaranteeing their quality", and so on. And all of these statements are even... true. 

Sufficiently convinced, the buyer sent off a check for thousands, and in a week or so, he gets diamonds... sealed in plastic with the certificate guaranteeing their quality... Except for the caveat: the quality is only guaranteed if the plastic is NOT broken. I.e. any attempt to have it appraised means it's no longer guaranteed. And many customers did break the seal only to find the diamonds are inferior or even worthless quality. It was bad enough that New York's Attorney General has to establish a "Diamond Task Force" just to process the hundreds of complaints of fraud.

This is related to the modern "shrink-wrap contract", i.e. "if you break the seal, you accept the licensing terms", usually for software. And it's in a legal gray area. 

But these diamond hawksters also book hotel or resort ballrooms and hold "diamond investment seminars" where they prey upon fear of the audience ("at this inflation, your stocks and bonds are not keeping up"), and esp. seniors ("if you don't have some easily liquidated assets like diamonds, your kids can seize your cash assets and ship you off to a nursing home")

Doesn't that just reminds you of the modern equivalent? 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Scam Psychology: The "Hard Work" Narrative vs. the Luck Factor

The words "hard work" often appears in the MLM supporter's arguments or narrative trying to discredit their "opponents". Any one who failed can be explained away as "they didn't work hard enough".

The problem is technology has shrunk the required competence in skills that makes a difference. It has "leveled the playing field", so luck now plays a much larger factor than any one realizes.

This is total anathema to network marketing / MLM, whichever name they choose to go by. Indeed, luck and success are almost opposites in the MLM mindset. Those who are successful and "self-made" never want to talk about luck, or even want to HEAR about luck.  This is a cognitive bias known as luck blindness. And MLM feeds into the self-made narrative directly. Most MLM pitches involves "entrepreneurial spirit" "be your own boss" "get away from the J.O.B. (just over broke)" and so on. These people are taught that any success they had is due to their "hard work" and the brilliance of the system (despite the same system, in another breath, claimed "anyone can do it")

This sort of mentality leads to some truly amazing (in a slow train wreck sort of way) claims. One of such claim is how some net winners in the ZeekRewards ponzi scheme are claiming they provided "value" to the business, and thus they are entitled to their ill-gotten gains and thus not have to hand them back to the receiver to be redistributed to the victims.

Let's forget for a moment that ZeekRewards ponzi scheme head Paul Burks was just judged guilty on all four counts in July 2016. How did these ZeekRewards Ponzi net winners claim they are working hard and thus entitled to be compensated, according to their brief, worth $50K to 80K a year? They are pasting 10 short text ads per day on anywhere they can get away with it (i.e. "spamming"). For the record, while they are required to copy the URL where they posted the ads back to ZeekRewards for "verification", no such verification was ever done. In other words, they don't even have to be done. Their work were worthless. It can be done in minutes. For this simple work, they they claim such to be worth 50-80K a year...

Right, and pigs can fly.