Saturday, February 23, 2013

People Actually Invest in Program Based on... Astrology?

The more you read about scams, the more you wonder about the victim's sanity.

For example, the SEC just indicted a Florida man, whose investment strategy is based on "lunar cycles".

I kid you not. This is straight from the SEC complaint:

33. The primary principle underlying Persaud's trading strategy was that the gravitational pull between the moon and Earth affects mass human behavior, which in tum affects the stock markets. For example, Persaud believed that when the moon is positioned so there is a greater gravitational pull on humans, they feel down and are therefore more inclined to sell securities in the markets.
34. Persaud failed to disclose he would trade investors' contributions based on lunar cycles and the gravitational pull between Earth and the moon.
In this case, the perp basically never told any one about his strategy, and his investors never asked. Persaud lost 400000 of his clients money trading with his "astrology" strategy, and funneled another 415000 into his and his family's accounts.

You have to admit, this is pretty bogus, but this guy just say "trust me" and some people did. To the tune of millions of dollars.

Some people just have that effect on people.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bad Argument: "They are all liars!"

All Marketers Are Liars
All Marketers Are Liars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the ways the suspicious scheme perpetrators use to keep the minions in line and discredit the critics and victims is a very simple denial: "they are all liars!"

No logic needs to be presented. They are liars. Ignore them.

Clearly, this only works for "victims" who refuse to admit that they are victims, and thus are emotionally involved and thus not letting logic work through the problem, such as

  • "Where's the proof that they are liars?"
  • "Why would they lie?"

And so on and so forth.

Frankly, any one whose reaction to a customer complaint is "the customer is a lying SOB" (without even a "wow, I have to look into it") does not deserve your money.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Week After Valentine's Day... Beware of Dating Scams

There are tons of dating scams out there. While a majority of dating sites are quite legit, people on it may not be. There are plenty of posers, scammers, and fraudsters out to get your money.

The situation is serious enough that the FBI, yes, *the* Federal Bureau of Investigations, issued a warning about online dating scams on Feb 15th, 2013. 

Normally, dating scams are variations of the sweetheart scam, which is a variation of the Nigerian scam.

In a typical "Nigerian Scam", you're asked to help the perp transfer money out of where-ever the money's being hidden... by paying for bribes and fees and whatnot. In return, you'll get a split of the funds when it succeeds.

In a sweetheart scam, you were befriended online by this "sweetheart", who, after gotten you hooked, started asking for financial assistance of some sort. I need a gift for so and so, then it becomes larger loans, then outright gifts and whatnot. Though in some cases, the sweetheart scam can be merged with a Nigerian scam. I have a friend who was almost taken by one of these: the "girl" claims to be an heiress in the UK and needs about 1000 pounds to pay a barrister so she can get her inheritance so she can move to the US to be with my friend.

As people have gotten more sophisticated, so have the scammers. Now scammers have elaborate online profiles (all fake), generators that automates creation of such profiles (populated with randomly obtained pictures), and automated scripts for someone to keep up multiple conversations / marks without mixing up the references.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is Your "Leader" an Alpha Asshole?

People who run focus groups hate Alpha Assholes.

But first you ask, what is an alpha asshole? An alpha asshole is usually a guy, who, in a focus group, basically takes control by being the loudest meanest SOB about the product being tested / judged. They think this is what the sponsors wanted to hear. The rest of the group, being mostly herd animals, polite and all, just go along meekly.

Alpha assholes end up being both an asshole and an alpha leading the focus group. Sponsors HATE alpha assholes because they skew the results toward the negative because the real opinions of the group were overwhelmed by the alpha asshole's opinion.

In MLM, your upline / leader / sponsor may be an alpha asshole.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Scam Oldies: Vending Machine Scam

English: Vending machine
English: Vending machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What if I tell you that you can buy vending machines and table-top game machines, put them into restaurants, and watch $$$ roll in every day, and you just need to go collect them periodically? Easy money, right?

Except there is no such thing (easy money, that is).

Almost all the buildings already have vending machines in the strategic locations. You practically have to PAY building management (or the company occupying that space) for the right to put a vending machine there.

As for tabletop games, unless you're a cheap bar, a casino, or something closer to Dave & Busters, you can forget it. Restaurants make $$$ on food, so they don't want people to linger around and play games.

But these realities were never mentioned by the people who sell those machines. Those machines costs thousands of dollars, but you only make a few dollars at a time, maybe tens of dollars a week. So it will be a while before you make back your investment.

It's even worse when the sellers are crooks who fake references about the "success stories".

Sunday, February 17, 2013

TelexFree under investigation in Brazil for pyramid / ponzi scheme

TelexFree, which offers both a mobile phone service plan (reselling a local service) and a $299 "Ad Central" membership where you put in money, then able to make back a lot more over course of a year by posting merely one ad a day (making $20 a week). There's also recruiting commissions.

BehindMLM checked Telex Free and essentially concluded it's a mix between Ad Surf Daily ponzi and Zeek Rewards ponzi. But it's still a Ponzi, albeit mixed with a legitimate product.

Apparently Brazilian regulators agreed. Their Bureau of Consumer Protection just investigated TelexFree and forwarded the case to State Prosecutor's office and Police for legal charges to be filed. Ministry of Finance and Federal Police were also notified.