Saturday, November 3, 2012

5 Secrets of the Top Bullshitters (and scammers)

English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Psychology Today came up with 5 secrets of top bullshitters, by sampling the techniques of Bernie Madoff, Alan Stanford, and Donald Trump. Here's my summary and some counter-tactics:

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.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lookism's Links to Scams

Cover of "Lying"
Cover of Lying
People who are skilled at deception, and has an ability to look sincere will be able to fool people most of the time. They are the scam artists, and often, not even the most skilled people can tell if they are lying.

Yes, there are physiological signs of lying, but it's NOT that easy to spot, and if you manage to look sincere enough, you can fool most people, even cops, and even experience cops.

To tell a lie, you need to know both truth and lie, and how to separate the two. Most cops are good at telling who's telling the truth, but they are HORRIBLE at telling liars who are telling a lie but look very sincere.

Scientists tested a lot of people by having multiple groups with these variations:

  • Sincere looking people telling the truth
  • Sincere looking people telling a lie
  • In-sincere looking people telling the truth
  • In-sincere looking people telling a lie

Thursday, November 1, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Zeek Receiver Subpoena FAQ is now online

Zeek Receiver Ken Bell has published an FAQ regarding all 1200 folks who got a subpoena.

That's right, they know you got more than you should, and you need to cough those up!

You better produce documents that you have them, and what you did with them ASAP, as well as think about how much to pay back!

Sure, go hire a lawyer if you feel like it, but he'll probably just tell you to cooperate, so you spent that few hundred dollars for nothing.

It ain't your money. You didn't earn it. Stop deluding yourself.

10 Things They Don't Tell You About Network Marketing (

Market Watch put out a list of 10 things they don't tell you about Network Marketing:

Here's a summary: 

1. You'd do better slinging French Fries

That's right, VAST MAJORITY of people in MLM earn VERY LITTLE PER YEAR, a few hundred ANNUAL income is the rule. 

2. We may put you into debt

That's right, VAST MAJORITY of people in MLM actually OWE money, since the "income" above does NOT cover expenses like meetings, printing brochures, and other necessary expenses. After you deduct all that, the NET income even less. 

3. Selling ain't easy

It never was. Only personality and practice will help. 

4. Recruiting ain't in your best interest

When you recruit your best friends and family into the MLM, they become your COMPETITORS. 

5. Success is fleeting

Your first few sales are easy because you can use social capital (i.e. promote to people who'll buy from you because they know you), but soon that runs out. 

6. This stuff might not sell in stores. 

That's right, what sounds exciting in a seminar is much less exciting when YOU try to sell it, and in the modern age, people comparison shop. Your product is NOT unique (despite claims) and it WILL be compared to something, and high pressure sales tactics (BUY NOW!!!) turns people off. 

7. Prepare to alienate your friends 

Some people avoid network marketers like the plague. They are often right, as most network marketers come across as pushy, way too confident (faking it), and such. 

8. This product won't really cure cancer

Feds, esp. FDA are always watching for outrageous claims, esp. nutritional supplements. FTC is always watching for pyramid scheme, and SEC is on the beat for the foolish companies pretending they are not investment. 

9. You are not necessary

Some companies makes it easy for customers to buy stuff from them directly, bypassing the sales force (that's you) and their commissions. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This one is rather iffy, as the commission is often assigned to the most recent rep. You can't really order from Amway's website unless you know the affiliate ID, for example. 

10. "Amen"

MLM is very cult-like, and use a lot of cult-tactics. 

The article is by Kelli B. Grant, and it is very much in line of the problems I explained MLM has before. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Zeek Receiver subpoenas 1200 top earners for clawbacks

According to latest letter from the Zeek Receiver, 1200 subpoenas went out to the top earners in the scheme, and the only reason he would is for clawbacks... for those people to return their ill-gotten gains so the rest of you can get your money back.

As soon as the judge approves of the plan a claim form will be setup and all affected affiliates will be able to fill it out. Hopefully this happens soon (within the month?)

The letter can be read here:

It takes two to be gullible

It takes two to be gullible, really. And the youngest and the oldest are most at risk.

Think about it... One has to tell you a "tale", and you have to believe it, for you to be "gullible". It is a lot like lies. It takes a liar, and it takes a victim to accept the lie as true.

Researchers have found a portion of your brain that controls gullibility, and it's only fully developed at middle age. Really.

The youngest are at risk because they don't have the experience to tell what's true and what's not believable (or at least, questionable). That's why baiting kids with tall tales like Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy is so amusing.

The oldest are at risk because their mind is not as sharp as they used to be. Most societies discourage that by imposing additional penalties for senior abuse.

Even if you are middle-aged, you are probably easily mislead because you rely on INTUITION, NOT LOGIC, to determine what to trust, and what not to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Funky Shark is no more: realized it's going to die like Zeek (not the way you think)

News just spread that Funky Shark, a venture that is supposed to be penny auction done right, legal, and such, everything that Zeek wasn't, decided to refund all founders and apparently, close up shop and NEVER launch their business.

The following e-mail is now being spread:

Please read this communication in it’s entirety as it contains important information crucial to your business with Funky Shark.
Today marks a sad day for us all here at Funky Shark. I’m sorry to report that we’ll be cancelling the launch of Funky Shark. We’re sorry to those of you that were excited about the launch. We want to ensure everyone that we will be providing refunds for everyone, making them completely whole.
Funky Shark is a unique twist on the idea of being able to qualify for commissions resulting from penny auction profits and bid sales. But based on advice from our legal counsel, we have recently discovered that the way we executed our Founder program may violate certain securities laws in the United States.
While this news has come as an extreme shock to us, our immediate response was to ensure that all Crown Members be made whole. The goal is to restore all members to their original situation before starting the program. This means the following:
Any Crown Member who paid the $1,000 and has not received any commissions from the Founder program will be refunded their entire $1,000 payment.
Any Crown Member who has received commissions from the Founder program will have the difference between commissions collected and the $1,000 Crown Member fee reimbursed to them. The sum of our reimbursement and collected commissions will total $1,000; thus, rendering the member whole.
As for the Crown Members who have received more than $1,000 in commissions from the Founder program, they’re not due any additional funds. The sum of collected commissions have exceeded the $1,000 fee paid; therefore, they’ve gained from the program, not lost.
Regarding the administrative fees collected when you joined, those funds will also be refunded in similar fashion.
Due to these actions that we’re taking to remedy this error, in conjunction with our business model, our confidence in the future success of Funky Shark as a penny auction is greatly reduced. We really cannot in good conscience move forward with the penny auctions. In order for the penny auction to be profitable, there needs to be a lot of activity with the auctions. We lack confidence in this regard.
The Business Manager web site will remain live so that you can receive future updates from Funky Shark and it will remain live until all members have been refunded.
We ask that you please remain patient and give us the opportunity to work with our legal counsel and payment processors to devise a plan to get everyone accommodated. Our commitment to you is that we will work quickly and diligently around the clock to resolve this matter.
Please log into the Business Manager (Back office) for refund instructions and details.
We will keep you well informed of our efforts and progress.
Funky Shark
Funky Shark was supposed to be Zeekler done right, none of the illegal Ponzi like ZeekRewards. So what did it do, and why would it attract the wrath of the SEC much like Zeek?

Another Zeek Victim Files Report with Judge of Case reported that another victim has filed an affidavit with the court supervising the disposal of Zeek assets.

Bad Argument: Magician's Choice

Top hat as an icon for magic
Top hat as an icon for magic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ever heard of the term "magician's choice"? No?

It's a way to trick you thinking you have influence over his act, when you don't. It's an illusion of choice.

It's pretty simple, if I show you an example.

Let's say magician deals two cards from the deck, and says to you, pick one. Let's just arbitrarily name them L and R (left and right).

If the magician wants to show off the R card, and you picked R, he'll say "good choice".

If the magician wants to show off the R card, and you picked L instead, he'll say "let's get rid of that one".

EITHER WAY you end up with the R card. Thus, your choice is NOT a choice. It's called "magician's choice". You had an ILLUSION that you had 50% influence. The reality is you have ZERO influence.

And that's EXACTLY how a scam works: by giving you ILLUSION of choice.

Monday, October 29, 2012

UPDATE on Motor Club of America (MCA) and TVC Matrix

NOTE: There's a previous post about MCA and TVC

Further investigation of MCA/TVC yielded some results.  NOTE: Updated 13-DEC-2012

This / (same website)

However, there's this "TVC Pro-Driver" that I didn't notice before.

Further search for TVC Pro-Driver produced a website called

Trivia: TVC stands for "Trucker's Voice in Court".

However, the domain reg info is set to private. (Why?)  It's also registered through a different registrar. So this is NOT an official TVC website, but rather, an independent website selling TVC, and under "Contact Us", we got the name" Jeffrey Nagel", who leads a bunch of TVC associates in Oregon and Nevada at truck stops. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, there's barely a word about recruiting more sales associates. Good!

However, this website produced no new information. Back to and Pro-Driver. And I get...

If you go "more details", you get...

And if you scroll to the end, you get...

So what is "Advance"?

Is MLM about substance or power?

Think (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When one have an argument (not necessarily a heated one), one should be aware of one's goal, vs. the opponent's goal. Is it over actual matter of substance, or merely vying for power? The problem here is making sure which one is your opponent actually vying for, as it will affect how s/he frame the arguments, and how you approach it.

More relationship arguments are over power, not substance. Sometimes capitulation, even when you know you are "right" (substance), may not be worth the effort.

However, most financial or business arguments are over substance, unless you're talking about corporate power struggles.

You need to know what are you fighting over. If you attempt to go for power, but your opponent is talking substance, you'll sound rather dumb in avoiding the issues (of substance).

And that brings up one of the fundamental problems of MLM... is it about substance (making money), or power (controlling people)?

When critics of MLM talk about MLM, we generally talk about substance, about how many people win, how many people do NOT (and how many people LOSE), how profitable is the product, the business model, and so on.

When PROponents of MLM talk about MLM, they sound like they are talking substance too. However, often they are not. They are usually talking about power.

That illustrates one fundamental dichotomy about MLM... a fundamental contradiction of its role.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bad Argument: The Preemptive Moral Strike

Joseph Raymond McCarthy. EspaƱol: Este persona...
Joseph Raymond McCarthy
Master of preemptive moral strike
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A "preemptive moral strike" is a particular insidious tactic used by people who want to appear as if they have the moral high ground, but actually doesn't. It's surprisingly simple.

To perform a preemptive moral strike, list the underhanded way your would use on your opponent, then claim your opponent used them first.

If you will lie, accuse your opponent being a liar.

If you will blame the poor for the troubles, accuse your opponent of blaming the poor for the troubles.

You get the idea.

Is it hypocrisy? Absolutely, but at the time of delivery, if done properly such as enlisting some greater ideology like "The American Dream", "Liberty", and so on, it causes the sheeple to flock to the accuser's defense. Accuser is exercising his leadership, and most people, when lead, will simply follow.

Hitler accused Roosevelt and Churchill of conspiring the take over the world, when he's the one trying to establish the Fourth Reich. Yet he lead the German people and conquered most of Europe, by appealing to the German sense of pride and Fatherland.

Joseph McCarthy accused his opponents of being un-American, with his Committee was the one treading on people's freedoms, the most fundamental of being an American, by issuing innuendos and statements that damaged reputations of hundreds of people, and death of many (some committed suicide).

And the most advanced scammers do the same thing, claiming moral outrage when they are the ones cheating.