Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bad Argument: The "We shall see" parting shot and how it's linked to cultism

When defenders of a certain scheme ran completely out of viable arguments, they will often depart with a throwaway comment:
"we shall see"
It has several variations, like
"Time will tell"
"History will be the judge"
"Truth will prevail"
and such.

This is a pretty lame departing shot, as it basically demonstrate they have *faith* that they will be vindicated eventually, but they don't have any evidence to support their opinion right now, which makes that a BELIEF.

  1. 1.
    complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
    "this restores one's faith in politicians"
  2. 2.
    strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
    synonyms:religionchurchsectdenomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideologycreedteachingdoctrine More

Note definition #2... "based on ... apprehension rather than proof".

That's exactly what happened here... they have only their own apprehension of how the scheme will make them rich, rather than actual proof. It's religious, rather than evidence-based.

The fact that many scheme promoters behave in a religious fashion have lead to cult experts in calling such schemes "commercial cults".

Friday, August 1, 2014

News Update 01-AUG-2014: Zeek Refund Coming 30-SEP-2014; More Zeek Winners Get Sued; Zeek Heads Reach More Settlements

Yep folks, this is turning into an all Zeek Rewards Ponzi aftermath update. And yes, I have links, which you should ALWAYS CHECK to make sure I'm reporting stuff accurately. (And if you don't see links, ask)

Zeek Refund Round 1 May Be Coming 30-SEP-2014

According to court documents as reported by ASDUpdates, Judge Mullens has approved the first distribution of refunds for Zeek Rewards, tentatively scheduled for 30-SEP-2014

Stay tuned to the Zeek Rewards Receivership website for actual announcement. Speaking of which...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Scam Psychology: How Scammers Push Your Buttons through your personality disorders

The Age of Uncertainty
The Age of Uncertainty
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the MLM Skeptic, it is rather interesting to see many people who are defending their particular scheme from criticism suffer from personality disorders (not that I am a professional of any sort regarding psychology). They are often self-obsessed and arrogant as well as intolerant of ambiguity, and lack of empathy.

Many unscrupulous multi-level marketers and scammers play to these personality disorders by claiming they are VIRTUES, not disorders. These disorders are, instead, presented variably as confidence, conviction, certainty, and "they are not us".

People develop coping mechanisms when their self-image was diminished. One of the most common coping mechanism is retaliation: when they feel devalued, they devalue others as a response. Scams often play up this personality disorder by encouraging it with "they are not us; they don't think like us; they just don't understand us". It is then followed with epithets like "They have JOB -- just over broke", or "they will stay wage slaves while we achieve financial independence".

Any one who questioned the person's choice (the scam, in this case) will be devalued, even if they are best friends and family, and even spouse. That's why "intervention" when it comes to scams rarely succeed.

Another coping mechanism people develop is equating conviction with certainty. Conviction is a collection of your strong beliefs about the morality of your choice and/or behavior. If you don't really have much conviction, you'll often adopt certainty as if it is conviction. Thus you'll also develop certainty about other people (and what you believe to be THEIR conviction or lack thereof). This comes across as arrogance and intolerance. Scams play up this aspect by creating fanciful stories about the critics asking questions, such as "you're just jealous; you're just out looking for hits for your blog; you must have hated the owner; you're the 1% out to fleece us the 99%".  After Zeek Rewards ponzi scheme was shut down in 2012, some started floating fanciful stories about "SEC doesn't have a case because they privately admitted to our lawyers". Others even explained to newspapers that Security and Exchange Commission does not know what securities are.

However, what people don't understand is very often, certainty is an ILLUSION.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scam Detector: What is "Cockroach Theory", and how does it apply to suspect schemes?

cockroach (Photo credit: TomSpinker)
Ever heard of the "cockroach theory"?

It's quite simple, actually. When you see one cockroach, there's probably a lot more hiding nearby.

When applied to investments and companies, it means when you see one problem, there's probably a lot more problems that you are not seeing. (And you should jump ship ASAP)

The theory is also applicable to potentially shady opportunities, actually. If you are smart enough to read the signs, and not ignore them.

Let's take one very obvious example: Zeek Rewards. They were shut down by the Feds in August 2012. But signs had been there for MONTHS that it was in trouble.

Zeekler, the auction, had been in operation since 2010 (as FSC auction and later Zeekler) without an auction license (required in North Carolina, their home state). They did not obtain an auction license until March 2012! But nobody checked. That may have been a roach but nobody saw it. Because everybody assumed it's all legal.

Did you know that Paul Burks, head of Zeek, was performing as "the singing magician" before he retired from performing and started MLMs instead? You know magic is just deception for entertainment, right? That may have been a roach but nobody saw it, because they've been distracted. 

In April 2012 Zeek Rewards suddenly banned a dozen or so European countries from participating, and gave several bogus reasons, one even blaming the US State Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) uttered by the head Zeek Paul Burks himself. However, this was all proven to be lies only weeks later. Turns out they were both hit with thousands of stolen credit cards and by Denial of Service attacks. And their system can't handle it. The lie was pierced by BehindMLM within two weeks. Is that a cockroach you see? Did you miss it?  

By June 2012 they apparently got a local TV station to report on their "success", and even got the reporter to state that the North Carolina's Attorney General office had deemed the business legal. (Wonder whose palm they had to grease to have that happen?)  AG's office was so shocked, they demanded the video be taken down and the text changed on the TV station's website. Oh my, another roach! Did you miss this one too? Or is that "I see no roach (negativity)?"