Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy 50 Million Downloads to WOT

Web of Trust, or WOT, recently celebrated their 50 million-th download.

WOT is a browser plug-in that you install, where you can see what other users say about this website you will be visiting, and the links. You don't want to visit any of the "red" ones, for example.

Actually, that happened back on October 29th, 2012, but I just found out, okay?

Previously, WOT was mentioned here as a way for you to cut through the **** that was all over the Internet, and basically has four grades: red, yellow, green, unknown.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of MLMers out to abuse this system.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zeek Defenders Finally Moved... Hilarity Ensued

On November 30th, Dave Kettner, his wife, and one other person filed a paper through the Fun Club USA attorney Michael Quilling to the court that wants an "examiner" appointed as voice of the Zeek members affected.

This is quoted from their court document:

According to the Receiver this case is the largest case of its type ever filed in the United
States in terms of the number of potential victims and participants. According to the Receiver’s
estimates there may be 2.2 million Affiliates located around the world. Many of the actions being taken and proposed by the Receiver may substantially and irreparably impact their rights. It is impractical for the Affiliates to each retain counsel and appear in this case. Many of them cannot afford to do so. The Affiliates need representation of their interests in this case and Movants request that the Court appoint Michael J Quilling as Examiner in these proceedings to represent the collective interests of the Affiliates and all creditors of the receivership estate and that the Examiner and his counsel be compensated out of the receivership estate.
We've previously identified Dave Kettner as an early participant in Zeek (first documented July 2011) and scams such as TVI Express, and its clones such as Diamond Holidays. Kettner had been releasing plenty of comments hostile to the receiver along with Robert Craddock, through Twitter and other avenues for the past several MONTHS.

Consider the simple question... Who Benefits from appointment of examiner, ignore their version of explanation for the moment?
Examiner -- An official or other person empowered by another—whether an individual, business, or government agency—to investigate and review specified documents for accuracy and truthfulness.  
FACT: You'd only need an examiner if the receiver's NOT doing his job, and needs to be audited/verified.  Examiner is an ANTAGONIST to the receiver.

FACT: There was no call for examiner UNTIL he started sending out pre-clawback subpoenas.

Thus, it's quite clear that when Kettner wrote "collective interest of the affiliates", he meant "those who benefited from Zeek" (about 100000 of them, per Receiver's October 31st, 2012 update), not all 2.2 million Zeek victims as he was implying.

After all, there are TWO kinds of affiliates... those who gained money and those who LOST money. Receiver's job is to make things equitable again: take money from those who gained, and give them back to those who lost money, so everything is back to the way it was (or as much as possible).

So what is the examiner supposed to be doing again? Is it implying that receiver is NOT representing the affiliate's interests?  Or is doing his job TOO WELL and needs to be shackled?

Who benefits? (by creation of an examiner) The beneficiaries of Zeek Ponzi.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Zeek Reward's Victims are All Around the World

Zeek Rewards was touted as such an easy way to make money that it attracted victims from all around the world. This article was printed in World Journal, a Chinese newspaper, on 18-NOV-2012. I'll make a paragraph by paragraph translation, as the Google translate is a bit stiff.


Ponzi Scheme is a Meeting of the Rats

November 18, 2012 06:00 AM | 7565 次 | 0 0 評論 | 27  | 電郵給朋友 | 打印

二○○八年金融危機爆發以來,美國失業率一直居高不下,有許多失業的人久久找不到新工作,最後投入多層次行銷MLM (又稱為直銷或網路營銷)的事業,因此這幾年來經營多層次行銷的公司數目大幅增加。現在包括哈佛大學、史丹福大學在內,有大約兩百所高等學府提供多層次行銷學的課程,可見多層次行銷已經成為資本主義社會的主流經濟活動了。

Since the 2008 FInancial Crisis, the unemployment in the US remains high, and many unemployed cannot find a job for a long while, and many jumped into MLM (also known as network marketing or direct selling), and thus there is an explosion of MLM companyes in recent years. Now, including Harvard, Stanford, and about 200 other higher learning schools offer MLM related courses, thus MLM is now a part of capitalist society's mainstream. 

但是多層次行銷公司水準參差不齊,如果不懂得怎樣判別,很容易掉進陷阱之中。今年六月,我高中時代最要好的同學從台灣打電話來給我,要我替他查查一家名叫zeek rewards的美國多層次行銷公司。他說在台灣很多人加入,只需要每天上網點擊幾分鐘,公司就發獎金,什麼貨都不用買,他的朋友催促他趕快入會賺錢,他要我看看這公司是不是在搞騙局。

However, there is no standard of performance among MLM companies. If you do not do your own due diligence, you will fall for a scam. In June of this year, one of my high school buddies called me from Taiwan, asking me to help him look into a US MLM company called "Zeek Rewards". He said lots of people in Taiwan have joined. Just go online few minutes a day, click on something, and the company pays! You don't need to buy ANYTHING, and his friends are all asking him to join. He wants me to check if this company is a scam. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How did Bernie Madoff Got Away with His Ponzi For So Long?

English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
English: Bernard Madoff's mugshot
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bernard Madoff ran the largest Ponzi scheme (in terms of amount of money involved) in US history, and it is difficult to track... just how far back did Bernie Madoff ran this Ponzi scheme?

The original thinking was that Bernie Madoff started the Ponzi after the 1987 stock crash. However, in early 2012, Federal prosecutors charged several Madoff employees in a conspiracy to defraud, alleging that Madoff's Ponzi scheme went all the back to the 1970's, and he had plenty of help along the way, despite his claim that he acted alone. Frankly, this Ponzi was so big he could NOT have acted alone.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Time Pressure, Propaganda, and Scam

Time pressure is one of the most effective tools in advertising, so it's no wonder why many scams incorporate time pressure as well.

Infomercials are the best candidate to demonstrate time pressure. You've seen infomercials, those 1 hour programs where they sell you this product,

"free gift to the first 500 callers"

"call now and get free upgrade to express shipping, and get bonus accessories!"

"this is a limited time offer! call now!"

And the most often used time pressure tool? A countdown clock, like this one on Groupon:

Time pressure alone is not going to sell anything. It simply adds a sense of urgency, like "I'm about to miss out!"  It is used on top of other persuasion techniques to force a "tip over", the final step off the cliff, the straw that broke the camel's back... so to speak.

And the best scams often incorporate time pressure as a part of their scheme.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Should Everybody Return Scam Money? Absolutely!

English: Division of Insurance Fraud Patch
English: Division of Insurance Fraud Patch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In every moral sense, if you received tainted money (i.e. money obtained through fraud, even if it's not your fraud)  you have to return it. If someone stole money and used it to pay you, it's tainted money, and it needs to be returned, for example.

In November 2012, the receiver for Zeek Rewards Ponzi sent out 1200 subpoenas to the highest earners on record, asking them to supply info to validate their own earnings (in preparation to clawback), and/or to reach a settlement with the receiver. It appears though that some people continue to float the myth that somehow the people who benefited from the Zeek Rewards ponzi can keep their earnings (which they did NOT earn)

Clearly, they did not hear about Alan Stanford's Ponzi, and how his money ended up going to some VERY big national organizations that had to give it back.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MORE DANGER of Positive Thinking / Attraction Marketing / Whatever

The Secret: cover
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ever read the book "The Secret"? I will tell you now I have not, nor would I ever want to.

Why? Because I already know all its supposed secrets, and while it has some use, the rest of the book can be described in two words: wishful thinking.

The book essentially says: if you do a lot of wishful thinking, what you wish for will come true.

Yeah, right. (I'm being sarcastic, if you haven't figured that out yet)

This, surprisingly has a lot with philosophical discussions of... God.

To many, belief in God started as "better safe than sorry". Or put it more plainly, if God does exist, and I believed in him, then I would have benefited. If God does not exist, then I really haven't lost much if anything. So it's better to believe in God.

Indeed, this became formalized as "Pascal's Wager", and all the argument's strengths and weaknesses answered in that article I linked.

"The Secret" is much the same way: it's better to believe that we have full control of our destiny. If we do, great! If not, we wasted money on one lousy book. Thus it's better to believe in believing!

Not really, because this is circular argument. I believe because I believe.

A Zeek Rewards Update, and a Lesson to All

Previously, we've reported on a Zeek Rewards affiliate who got one of the 1200 "top earner" subpoenas to report their income and perhaps come to a settlement. This guy instead decided to take a hostile approach... he filed a document with the court to quash the subpoena, and basically called the receiver (a pretty famous lawyer) a criminal who can't serve a subpoena properly.

The receiver today retaliated by sending a subpoena FROM FLORIDA, this guy's home state, and "93 miles" as required within 100 miles from the procedure. This time, it's sent via both USPS Next Day and FEDEX, so there's no excuse that he didn't receive it, and there's no excuse that it's not served with in 100 miles of him this time. Apparently this guy forgot that the Receiver works for a large lawfirm which has branch offices all over. THIS document WAS issued by a court "local" to him (within 100 miles).

Wonder if he can still mail in his response, or does he have to DELIVER it in person this time?

Which is a lesson to all: don't play legal word-mincing games with an ATTORNEY. They know the law better than you do.