Saturday, June 8, 2013

Why Scammers Hate Skeptics

PolySkeptic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scammers are expert bullsh**ers. They are experts in appearing trustworthy that you accept their word as believable without verifying the information they give out. They play the confidence game extremely well.

Previously I've highlighted 5 secrets of expert bullsh**ers (and scammers) based on article from Psychology Today. Most scammers know not to take on the skeptics directly, because skeptics are NOT vulnerable to the 5 secrets.

Secret 1: Skeptics are NOT afraid to challenge Scam Leaders

Sheeple are afraid to challenge the leaders. They will either clam up or just "go along with the crowd" even when they don't really agree with the leader.

Skeptics are not afraid to challenge the leader for answers. If they don't get an answer, they'll find a way to get an answer. They are very much like scientists... devising ways to get at the data to analyze.

Secret 2: Skeptics do NOT accept tales told at face value, but always seek verification

Sheeple are easily impressed by titles, alleged experience, and even association with titles or alleged experience. MLMers thus often claimed "top rank in multiple companies", "decades of experience", and so on. Or have hired the biggest lawyers or associated with the biggest companies.

Skeptics never accept titles or experience at face value, but instead, figure out how such titles and experience are earned (or faked). Skeptics know having X years in an particular industry doesn't mean much. And titles and degrees can be faked. Even hiring of lawyers can be faked. Skeptics prefer to see proof, not "I told you so".

Friday, June 7, 2013

How many stock photos can a fake university steal?

A fake university, with no campus and no students, usually resort to stock photos to create the impression that it is a real university.

The fake "Riverbanks" university is no exception. We've highlighted them before for their fakery. (see the end in "related posts")

Just on the home page, you'll find that virtually every photo they have is a stock photo. I've cut their homepage into 3 sections to give you a visual breakdown.

Part 1: "above the fold".

Looks impressive, except it's stock photo:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: More Potential Ponzi Schemes Flee US, while Ponzi Pitchmen get SEC Subpoena

John Scheppcoff, presenting yet another "opportunity"
on a Youtube video after Profitable Sunrise was
declared a scam. This one supposedly is
"1000%  better", according to the guy with bad
judgement and picked a scam.  
Relatively slow day in the news department... except two items...

Ponzi Pitchmen Get SEC Subpoena, Round 2

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. -- George Santayana

James Scheppcoff also known as John Scheppcoff, had been involved in various Ponzi schemes, but was probably best known for his involvement in Profitable Sunrise, where he used his gray-haired old man in a suit appearance to pitch it as profitable opportunity.

In April 2013, after collapse of Profitable Sunrise, he quickly switched gears and went on to pitch something else, which he won't say unless you contact him. Though it's believed to be "Better Living Global Marketing", operator of a Zeek Rewards-like program out of Hong Kong.

Zeek Rewards was a $700 million Ponzi scheme closed by the SEC on August 16, 2012.

Court documents (which is public info unless sealed) revealed that he, along with 2 others (Melton McClanahan and Don Gillette), have been issued an SEC subpoena to appear in court as a part of ongoing investigation into Profitable Sunrise ponzi scheme, which had already collapsed and its reputed owner missing (and is believed to be a fake person) back in March 2013. Two other ponzi pitchmen had already appeared before the SEC back in May 2013.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bad Argument: The "Instinctual Reaction"

This blog has discussed many times that MLM seem to rely people using emotion, instead of logic, to conduct their business, leading to rash decisions. One of those rash decisions, when combined with confirmation bias, will lead to some very stupid actions such as spreading someone else's lies.

In a lesser case, a supporter of a particular suspect scheme, upon reading something that he considers to be "derogatory" of that scheme, will often leave a nasty comment complaining about some issue that was actually addressed, as well as use plenty of bad arguments discussed in this blog.

Here is one such example, as posted to my blogpost of Lyoness being investigated and sued in its home country of Austria as potential Ponzi scheme. I'm showing a redacted version, though you can see the original through the link:

or in text form, with a few numbers added so I can refer to different sections...
Can someone please show me a legitimate news article on this topic, an article written and published by a real news company? (1) The only articles discussed in threads like this are ones written by blog writers who primarily want to attract readers for their own gain (i.e. advertising and affiliate revenue). (2) There is no proof of what you've written, just anecdotal heresay. (3) Substantiate your claims and I'm sure the traffic to your website, and subsequent revenue, will go through the roof! Then you'll be providing a real service to the world, and not just spreading lies and rumors so you can make a profit. (4)
Okay, let's see if the comment makes any sense...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Did Herbalife Have Third-Party Marketing Organizations, When It Already Has Affiliates?

Ever heard of ""? No? Okay, that's all right.

If you listen to a lot of talk radio, such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Dr. Laura... these names should be familiar to you. What do they have in common besides that they are radio personalities?

They all endorse this thing called "Income At Home", which is remarkably vague about what it really it.

Now do you recall anything about it? I'm sure one of those personalities read some ads about it. In fact, they all did.

All it says is start your own business at home, earn income quickly and legitimately, on your own terms, blah blah blah. And getting started is remarkably simple: pay the $9.95 for this "Internet Business Starter Pack".

Guess what this starter pack contains? 12 brochures, and one very short sales DVD, that does NOT tell you what exactly you're supposed to do with this "business".  And it does NOT cost $9.95, but $49.95.

Turns out this entire "income at home" thing is really one guy's attempt to feed his Herbalife downline churn.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The MLM Test by Rod Cook of MLMWatchDog

Image representing UPS  as depicted in CrunchBase
Is your "business" based
out of one of these?
A UPS Store?
Image via CrunchBase
Rod Cook, who runs the MLM Watchdog website, has been a long-time player in the MLM scene, and he's well known for his blunt style when it comes to suspicious schemes. His website reflects its style, in that it looks like it came from the 1990's.  None of the flashy menus or such.

He has a list of 12 questions you should use to check into any MLM company you want to join. It's a good list, but there's a few items I don't agree with. Let's take a look at his test, and see what we can learn from it.

1.  SIMPLEST MLM DETECTIVE INVESTIGATION: LOOKING FOR THE BEST? Get into the "BRAIN & PUSHBUTTON" When you are look for the Best or Good MLM or Nework Marketing Company!  A friend told you that MLM Company XXX is the very best. First Look at the MLM Company’s website.  First GOOD suspect clue would be no street or city address, worse yet, only an email address, no phone number.  Then look for the pictures and names of the owners of the company.  Not having these on a website is a quick absolute reason  NOT to join. Also A GOOD TOOL in your search for a good or the best MLM - Networking company:

A. DRIVE BY THE OFFICE  - Wise, seasoned MLM distributors doing their good Due Dilligence Investigation will use Google street view to save gas.  Go to Google street maps and do a good electronic drive by!

 B. A really good clue the Picture on Google above not the same as website = run!  Address = trailer house or home?  That is a 911 = Run!

This is a good tip, though I do have one thing to add... Search the address and make sure it's not something offered by Regus as a "virtual office". In general, if it doesn't have a suite number, it's somewhat suspicious. If it does have a suite number, make sure it's not a Fedex or UPS Store.

Also keep in mind that increasing number of these shady companies are registered overseas. Cyprus, Malta, British Virgin Islands, Belize...

Then search the owner's pictures through TinEye and/or Google Image Search and/or Bing Image Search to make sure it's not some random photo stolen by scammers to look legitimate. Once I found some scammer who used picture of Pepsi's CEO as some random "testimonial" picture.

2.  RUN FROM A COMPANY TAKING ONLY BANK WIRES, MONEY ORDERS OR CHECKS: Use your MLM Detective Investigative "BRAIN." Only use a Good credit card that will accept charge backs.  Returns? Good honest companies allow refunds within 60-90 days (8 states require a year)!  It is NOT GOOD to allow deductions from your bank account unless the company passes every test on this page for a Good or the Best MLM - Network Marketing Company!

A. Money by Fedex - UPS only?  Yikes! Best Scam Time not any good MLM!  A good trained MLM Dectective will tell you the scam artists do this to avoid USPS Postal Fraud charges!   Many good MLM - Network Marketing have found that U.S. Postal mail is the best way to ship products! 

B. A PMB (private mail box) address (in a mail box store) is a good indicator of dodging USPS Postal Fraud Investigators = 911 run a SCAM!  Never for a good-best MLM Company.

Just one thing to add... Watch out for people who insist on getting paid through odd payment processors such as Liberty Reserve, Payza, Solid Trust Pay, or some payment processors you never heard of... or worse... Western Union money transfer.

Also, anything that insists "no refund" is automatically suspect.

3.  GOOD EASY MLM INVESTIGATION TRICKS: Next in your search for the Best - Good Company MLM Detectives will go to the Internet and enter the following into one or two of the major search engines:

   A. The MLM Company's name (owners too) and the word "scam". Go through two pages!  Look for  forum message comments for legitimate complaints (see D below).  A good hint is that some sites have phoney information on them.

It's standard SEO tactic now for someone to register a domain name, and also the "sucks", "scam", "fraud" related domain names just to make sure nobody else does. I've even seen a few scams that even created their own "verified authentic" websites, "review" websites, and of course, the "___scam" websites that insist it's not a scam. So you'll have to go through 5 to 10 pages of results just to make sure the comments you should be reading wasn't buried under those "white noise" SEO techniques.

    B. Then do the same for "complaints, lawsuits, and news articles archived on search engines.  In this day and age of lawsuits good MLM Companies will have a lawsuit or two.  If they have a lot of MLM lawsuits this may NOT be the best MLM - Network Marketing Company to join. Another good trick is to use the GOOGLE searchengine on this website (NOTE:, not this blog) for a good search of MLM lawsuits!  What is good about it is that it is fast and we have a good collection of lawsuits.

  C. Another good trick check who registered the website domain of any new company claiming:  amazing, incredible, proprietary, never seen before in the universe, revolutionary, products, services or technologies! Check for the domain lookup (WEBSITE NAME). MLM Companies with good offerings would register a name 6 months to a year ahead of time (shows good planning).  

The date is a good point. However, earlier or later date does not add any credibility.

A lot of these shady deals use "private registration" where the domain is registered through a proxy so the WHOIS records show nothing useful.

   D. A warning on MLM due diligence for MLM Researchers for good MLM's!  There are sad sites and forums that are unfairly negative toward all MLM - Network Marketing companies.  Ignore these "Anti -MLM Zealots" and only look for appropriate information.  A good MLM Detective will ignore 99% of their B.s. in their search for A Good or "The Best" MLM Company.

There are people out there who believe ALL MLM are illegal. They are just as ideologically dumb as the people who believe ALL MLM are legal. There are legal ones, and there are illegal ones. That's why we're giving you the tools, such as what really separates pyramid schemes from Multi-level marketing, so you can make up your own mind.

4.  GOOD SECRET DUE DILIGENCE TOOLS: and are good Internet  tools because it can show you how much traffic a Best or Good MLM Network Markeing company is getting,  by individual hits.  The person you talked to may be ignorant themselves.  This trick for finding the Best or a Good MLM only 1 out of 10,000 know about.  If the traffic is headed down?  A GOOD indication? Under 2000 hits on a decreasing curve and this is supposed to be a Good or Best MLM Company?  Tell the person bye!  Go to or to see their traffic

I do not agree with Rod Cook on this one. Both are easily manipulated through botnets and viral buzz marketing. This is best used as a negative signal (i.e. low traffic? forget about it!)  It should not be used to justify the legitimacy of anything. Many scams, including TVI Express, have tried to use Alexa ratings as "proof" they are going strong.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Money Laundering Investigations Continue After Liberty Reserve Takedown

Multiple reports out of Asia revealed that more governments are following the US lead in investigating Liberty Reserve and their "local" exchanges feeding the global money laundering operation.

Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security just announced that they will be investigating the Vietnamese company that acted as Liberty Reserve's exchange agent in the region. According to the spokesman, the investigation had started long time ago when requested by both US and Turkish police into money transferred as part of online extortion scheme.

Over in Hong Kong, Chinese banks named as holding Liberty Reserve money are busy checking their own records and making sure they are properly covered. South China Sea News has discovered that one of the accounts was held through multiple shell companies.
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