Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bad Arguments: Shill Reviews / Astroturfing

Fake Eyelashes
Fake Eyelashes, better than fake testimonials
EDIT(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
EDITOR'S NOTE: An expanded version of this post with even MORE "proof" can be found here.

Sometimes supporters of a particular scheme will basically write a review of a particular MLM, then at the end including a recruiting link, i.e. "join as my downline!"

That's about as smart as Nokia reviewing a Nokia phone.

Yes, that did happen. Nokia's advertising agency had an employee "Adam Fraser" who posted a positive review of Nokia Lumia 620... on Nokia's website. When questioned, he said the review is 100% true.

Buddy, the very fact that you WORK for Nokia's advertising agency should have stopped you from posting anything for Nokia purely due to "conflict of interest".

But that doesn't stop tens of thousands of various MLMers from doing exactly the same thing: review the scheme they're already in, use various bad arguments to imply it's not a scam, SAY it's not a scam, AND you'll make bazillion bucks with almost no work, and you should join as their downline (so they can make money off of you joining).

Welcome to the world of shills and astroturfers.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Reload Scam and Three Types of People Most Vulnerable to Scams

The Victim (novel)
The Victim (novel)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you know the three types of people most vulnerable to scams? You should. They are

  • people who enjoy taking risks / gamblers
  • people who were recently traumatized / grievers
  • people who are doing not so well financially / debtors

If one person has more than one of these risk factors, they are far more likely to wade into scams.

People who recently learned that whatever suspicious scheme they had been engaged in was a scam and their money had been lost are especially vulnerable, as they exhibit all three factors.

1) They had to have enjoyed taking risks to join a suspicious scheme to start with. Either they are naive to start or they just don't know enough about the "scamworld" to know better.
2) Their ego had taken a tremendous shock upon realizing that it's a scam and they fell for it. They are eager to "prove" (either to themselves or to the world) that they can do better.
3) Their money loss can be significant, and they are eager to somehow "make up" the money. Maybe they didn't tell any one they had lost the kid's college fund or the "nest egg" they had been saving for years and was trying to make up for it in secret.

The three factors combine to make them ESPECIALLY vulnerable to scams, and both scammers and scambusters know this. Scammers have special scams just to target these vulnerable people. Scambusters call these "reload scams", where the victim got shot, but makes no attempt to escape, so the perp was able to reload and shoot the victim again (and again).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Kansas Also Slapped Down Profitable Sunrise, and names promoters that scammed its citizens

Kansas Securities Commissioner issued a warning to all Kansas citizens that Profitable Sunrise (as named by all the other states thus far) is an international pyramid scheme that worked through US promoters. It specifically named two: operated by David Cozzocrea out of Florida... and NJF Global Group operated Nanci Jo Frazer out of Ohio. All victims in Kansas are urged to contact the Kansas Securities Commissioner's office immediately.

You may recall that Naci Jo Frazer was named in Toledo Ohio's Channel 11 as head of the local "ministry" that lead its members into this pyramid scheme as a path to prosperity and God's abundance. (See below for "religion and betrayal" link)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: opens Claim Process!

If you have a claim (i.e. you lost money and you can prove it), go file your claim ASAP!


Do NOT accept any substitutes. Go to the REAL SOURCE.

Don't Sue If You Don't Want It Bite You Back

My Double Big Bite
My Double Big Bite
(Photo credit: erinblatzer)
As a skepticism site, this blog gets its share of hate mail, often from fans of suspect schemes. Generally, you can classify them by the type of scheme they're in and their fanaticism.

However, this site, and the head skeptic here, had also received more than a few comments that threatens lawsuit, with the comment-er that throws around terms like "defamation" without really understanding what they are. Another claimed "right to privacy" when I dug out his own picture from Google cache and threaten to sue me if I don't remove it. (which is hilarious, and the post is still there)

Recently there was another "opportunity" that is all buzz, no substance (other than promises). When a few critics pointed out the problem, fans of this opportunity apparently complained on Facebook, with suggestions like "You should sue the critics for defamation!"

Frankly, one should not throw around the law if one does not know what the law is. It is perfectly legal for a person to criticize a business, if everything s/he wrote about the business is true.

Some idiots, afraid of negative reviews, have resorted to wield lawyers and court as a baton to beat their critics into submission and recanting the criticism. However, the courts are usually wiser than that, as one man in Virginia found to his detriment.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rippln was ripped a new one by scambuster "Salty Droid"

Patrick Stewart as Locutus, the assimilated Je...
Patrick Stewart as Locutus,
the assimilated Jean-Luc Picard
The "internet marketing" scamworld hype machine
wants you to join them... and make more of them.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Famous (infamous?) Scambuster "Salty Droid", who helped The Verge do an article on "Scamworld", has weighed in with his opinion on Rippln (warning: salty language at the link)

His conclusion is direct: it's a scam, involving the same scamworld players.

Russell Brunson had been on his radar for years, and Anthony Morrison was in the Verge article pitching products about internet scamming (marketing) that teaches internet scamming (marketing) made by internet scammers (marketers) to would-be internet scammers (marketers).

It's almost like the Borg, where "you will be assimilated".

Can you guess what Russell Brunson and Anthony Morrison were talking about recently? And posted their video online? Rippln, of course.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Jim Paris of talks about the Profitable Sunrise Pyramid Scheme

It's about an hour long but there's a lot of good info on there about the scam and how do the victims react to the scam.

Genre Analysis: Does MLM and Energy Drink mix well?

Monster Energy
Monster Energy, one of dozens of Energy Drinks
on the market  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Genre Analysis is my personal opinion on a particular genre of network marketing, like MLM + penny auction, or MLM + daily deals, and so on.  

You can mix MLM with almost any business that needs a lot of consumer-level marketing, and energy drink is no exception. There are a ton of energy drinks on the market, Red Bull being the original, but there's plenty like Monster, Rockstar, and bazillion more. It's gotten so popular that all the major beverage companies (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.) bought themselves into the market, and there are bazillion small scale imitators, including 5-hour Energy, chomping at the bits from the outside. 

So does it make sense to combine MLM with energy drinks? Yes, to a certain extent. Energy drinks are almost pure profit. It's sugar water, like soda pop, albeit with slightly more exotic ingredients (gurana! ginseng!) and sells for twice the price of same size of cola/pop. So it can support a high-margin operation like MLM, where roughly 50-70% of the cost are paid out back to the affiliates as commission. 

The main problem with Energy Drink MLM is that it is in a heavily saturated market with plenty of traditional retail crowding out any more competitors, unless you have something really unique. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why the Crowd is Not Wise: More Reasons to Disprove Bandwagon Fallacy

English: Crop of U.S. President Barack Obama s...
English: Crop of U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the press the same day the White House released the long form of his birth certificate to dispel conspiracy theories surrounding his place of birth
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A lot of bad argument relies on the simple "bandwagon fallacy", where just because a lot of people "believe" in something somehow makes it more "true". In fact, bandwagon fallacy is one of the earliest bad arguments covered on this blog, started a year ago. However, some recent surveys in the wake of Sandy Hook shooting had revealed why you CANNOT trust the crowd to do your thinking for you.

Did you know that according to a survey done in 2012, 63% of all Americans believe at least one political conspiracy?

  • 56 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans say that at least of the following conspiracies is likely true. 
  • 36 percent who think that President Obama is hiding information about his background and early life 
  • 25 percent who think that the government knew about 9/11 in advance
  • 23 percent who think the 2004 Presidential election was stolen (by Republicans)
  • 19 percent who think the 2012 Presidential election was stolen (by Democrats)

Here's another interesting statistic... Republicans believe in more conspiracies, even when they know more about the situation, not less. Democrats, on the other hand, is LESS likely to believe in conspiracies if they know more about the situation.

How that affecting your thinking? Knowing that a MAJORITY of Americans believe in something that has no proof? Do you really want to "go with the crowd"?

But wait, there's more...