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Stop Falling For Scams

Posted by on Jun 20, 2011

Last week a TV pitchman that I’ve seen from time to time was indicted on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, promotional money-laundering, and transactional money-laundering; nice laundry list, eh? His name is Donald Lapre, and he sold and franchised online what he called “The Best Vitamin in the World”.

major league creep

I see this stuff on TV all the time, all these commercials telling us how great something is that frankly looks pretty ridiculous. It seems to take time for law enforcement to decide how to handle these folks, and often their commercials disappear and they’ve moved on before criminal prosecutions are made. Still, I always wonder how people get scammed by this stuff so often.

I’ve talked about certain scams on this blog. I mentioned secret shopper scams, survey scams, website money making scams, internet marketing scams, domain name scams, Craigslist scams, SEO scams, and affiliate marketing scams. Frankly, I assume that most of the folks that read things I’ve said about scams can count themselves among the educated and aren’t falling for scams anymore; can I get a witness?

Yet, it’s not always so clear. Man, some stuff just starts sounding really good at times, doesn’t it? I’ll go on record and talk about MLM, most of it, as being some of the biggest scams on record. Some of you might not see it this way but in my mind, the Mary Kay model is a scam, and if you do the math you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s just a scam with an air of legitimacy, and most women that sell Mary Kay will come to that realization in an epiphany one night as they’re getting ready to put in their next mandatory monthly order, even though they still have lots of inventory on hand, and feel, well, what’s the woman’s word for emasculated?

Most of us get scammed because we want to be trusting of others. We really think that most people are out there to help us. Yes, there are a lot of people ready to help us, but sometimes we need to be more circumspect in who we trust. Goodness, we have the internet; we have Google! Everything imaginable can be looked up online. The internet is replete with websites telling you about scams, just as it is with websites proclaiming that these scams aren’t scams at all, at the same time they’re trying to sell you something from that company.

The thing is that one has to do a few things not to be scammed. First, you have to take the effort to look stuff up. Second, you have to take the effort to sort out who’s trying to make money off something and who’s actually telling you the truth. Although this was a rant about hamburgers, it’s something that happened to myself and a friend of mine, it has pictures, yet there are a number of people that say “I love that place” or “that didn’t happen to me”. Yet, as I described in that post, the majority of people writing online had the same view I had. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, in this instance we’re probably both correct, yet a reader will still gain pretty good perspectives and know what to expect by reading both good and bad things about it if neither of us has an agenda.

And that’s how you avoid a scam; you have to determine the writer’s agenda. If there’s an affiliate link read with a bit of doubt if you don’t know the writer. If the person hates on a product or company but doesn’t give any specifics, don’t get all absorbed. But if you see multiple people in multiple places ranting about the same thing over the over, stay clear, run away fast, and go wash your eyes and your brain. Forget you ever had the thought about purchasing or joining whatever that was and go back to enjoying your life.

Heck; now I have to go wash as well. 😉

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Some of the scams you can see around here are SO evident I can’t really feel sorry for who falls for it, and are mostly about magicians and so. Sometimes, enough is enough, really. Things are quite clear in the eyes of someone with an average intelligence, and while I don’t justify those behaviors, I can’t fully sympathize with the victims either.

June 20th, 2011 | 11:15 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Gabriele, I’m not sure I sympathize with them as much as just want to give them a good shake. You’re right, some just seem so blatant you’re surprised people fall for them. However, there are some that seem quite legitimate; I know you’re not from here but maybe you’ve heard of Bernard Madoff? Sometimes some folks just don’t know.

June 20th, 2011 | 3:30 PM

I agree. Most scams are apparent. It is hard to feel bad for anyone falling for a scam. However, it IS very annoying having to even deal with all the scams. E-mail, blog, pop-ups….ugh Stop the spam!

June 20th, 2011 | 12:54 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’m with you on that one Jasmine, but I think scams will always be around and more people just need to be more circumspect in what they’ll fall for.

June 20th, 2011 | 3:31 PM

Great post here! It is hard to not get scammed online. Some sites paint prettiest pictures. Make six figure incomes overnight, those get me, impossible! However they make it seem so simple. Truth is nothing is ever free, there is no miracle product that will make money for you. A lot of hard work and dedication will gain you success. That being said, you’ve given some great ways to avoid the fraud here. Thank you 🙂

June 20th, 2011 | 2:40 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Lynda. I’ll say that it’s hard to figure out who to follow and who not to sometimes, but that’s why we have the internet, so we can research this stuff.

June 20th, 2011 | 3:31 PM

I remember how naive I was when I first came online. I believed a lot of that stuff and still did for a few years. It took me awhile to really “get it”. Last year I told myself I wasn’t buying anything else for quite awhile. When something came across my radar that I thought was even a little bit interesting I made sure I researched the heck out of it. Then I would make a decision but not any sooner.

It’s really a shame there are still people out there like that Mitch. Really a crying shame. But you know what, their time will come, it always does.

Thanks for sharing, love your rants. I think we have that in common. 🙂


June 20th, 2011 | 4:59 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Adrienne. I know that these posts aren’t for the people that come here often, whom I hope are ahead of the game in general, but sometimes I know we all get tempted by something that should be setting of alarm bells. I just hate seeing people getting scammed.

June 20th, 2011 | 9:05 PM

You’re quite right, and particularly in saying that people need to look things up. It find it astonishing that with all the resources online, people still fall for things without doing any research into them at all. I’ve known people to fall for scams and mostly they’ve fallen into the ‘over trusting’ category. Good post, Mitch.

June 20th, 2011 | 5:01 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Val. You know, I get asked questions all the time, and some of them have been covered hundreds of times already online, yet people think Google is only to look specific things up. All search engines are wonderful tools for finding what we need to know, especially about the biggest scams.

June 20th, 2011 | 9:06 PM

Hi Mitch,

Hmmm … I’ve run into quite a few scammers in my time on the Internet. Imagine my shock, to come read your post today, only to learn that I myself, might just be one of them … simply because mine and Ana’s candle business uses a network marketing compensation model. Yikes, I guess I should go apologize to our neighbors and offer to buy back all the stuff we’ve been scamming them into purchasing from us over the years … lol .. and the really sad part is, every couple of weeks, they come knocking on my door, with $20 bills in their hands … some suckers never learn 😉

Keep havin FuN my friend.

June 20th, 2011 | 7:43 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

You’re killing me Todd! lol I think that some of these things, if people look at the numbers, really do turn out to be much harder than what they’re being told. Sure, some people will succeed, but the levels they have to reach to succeed can be overwhelming.

June 20th, 2011 | 9:08 PM

lol .. yea Mitch, for somebody who’s been doing this for about 10 years, I actually have a bit of an “anti-mlm” streak myself. Not a fan of the hype. Becoming a millionaire in mlm is really just slightly less unlikely than winning that much money in the lottery. That being said, for many, it’s a fantastic way to become a “thousandaire” … earning extra money every month. But as you pointed out, anybody who thinks that ANY home business is “easy”, is in for a big time let down. Oh yea, and anybody who tries to tell you that a sales business (which mlm is) doesn’t require selling, is a liar. 😉

June 20th, 2011 | 9:37 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly Todd. Kind of like Adsense; you can make decent money if you get lucky enough to hit on the right niche, but in general you’re never going to make millions, and anyone promising that should be a red flag to run away as fast as you can. Same for most MLM; I know so many people that bought travel agent sites thinking they were going to make tons of money and all they might have done was save some money on their own trip once or twice. Opportunities abound, but so do MLM scams.

June 21st, 2011 | 9:54 AM

I am really afraid Mitch, wherever I look I see scam, shops, TV, banks, restaurants, emails. I don’t want to mention politics. I don’t see bright future, scam alerts are more and more.

June 20th, 2011 | 9:41 PM

If you don’t pay attention, Internet can be a dangerous, even more dangerous than real life, because you can’t really know if the persons who is promising you success is true or not. Luckily Internet has a great memory, so if you take the time and research a certain person/product you might find out some valuable pieces of information.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:54 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly Mia, and it doesn’t take that much time to check these things out either.

June 21st, 2011 | 9:56 AM

It is a good thing I take extra precaution whenever I see something that is too good to be true. And it is also nice to be informed by watching news on television and being updated online. There are many scams online but people shouldn’t be tempted on any offer until they know that it is legitimate.

June 21st, 2011 | 5:22 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

True Lola. You’ll see different types of scams being outed on TV, such as the Nigerian scams, but many others can easily be researched.

June 21st, 2011 | 9:57 AM

Sadly, I have to admit being a victim of some scams online. You’re so right about our default mode of trusting others, and that people really want to help us. The last one I fell into is about a webhost that advertised ‘free domain for life’ but did not deliver on their promise saying that the offer has been pulled out and thus is no longer valid.

I am more careful this time around, and really take the time to do research on a product before going for it.

June 21st, 2011 | 8:56 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

James, I might be paranoid to the extreme, but I think that saves me from getting caught up in something that I’ll regret later. I’m so glad there are so many other people willing to “test” these things first to help weed out the scam from the reality.

June 21st, 2011 | 9:58 AM
grace @ wedding favors:

Good point, Mitch! 🙂 A good judge on the character of the person must also be considered in finding out if that person or that company is a scam. We must trust our instinct at times. 😉

June 21st, 2011 | 10:31 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Grace. Sometimes even the big names are scamming you to an extent, so you have to keep your eyes on them as well.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:32 PM

Great info Mitch! I’ve never fallen for one of these scams, but most because I grew up seeing con-artist in action, so I’m naturally a bit weary.

This is an important message because far too many fall victim to scams. It’s out greed that gets us trapped…we want the big pretty prize, without putting in the sweaty laborious work.

Thanks Mitch!

June 21st, 2011 | 1:30 PM

I also have relatives who are convinced that their MLM plan is going to be their key to wealthy retirement and just can’t understand why we won’t sighn up too. (shakes head) Defective gene pool I guess.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:34 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Allan, one of the biggest scams out there, in my opinion, is Market America. I mean, you pay a monthly premium to buy stuff at lower rates, supposedly, and you only make money if you can convince other people to sign up for it while buying from you. It’s a down and dirty description but I’ve seen nothing that convinces me it’s something else.

June 21st, 2011 | 4:13 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks JK. I can’t say I’ve fallen for many scams, if any, but man I’ve been tempted over the years. But with the internet there’s almost no excuse.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:36 PM

I’d say you pegged that one just right. Sometimes they just shoot themselves down though. I remember (when I used to watch TV) some of those late night infomercials that made some product sound like the genuine cat’s meow. – “and it’s just $29.99!” and I’d think, “Hey that sounds like a pretty good deal.” But then they start in on the “but wait; if you order now we’ll throw in a 30 piece set of indestructible Ginsu knives for FREE!” and I’d think, whoa, a 30 piece set of knives that are worth anything will cost more than that, but they’d go on… ”and if you order in the next ten minutes, we’ll DOUBLE your order – all for $29.95 (plus three-quarters of a million dollars for shipping and handling) ORDER NOW!”
I’d just turn the stupid TV off an pick up a book. Do people really fall for that? Yes, yes, they do. I have a relative with a closet full of that junk, but she keeps watching, and buying; convinced that this time she’ll get a good one. I have strongly suggested that she NEVER go to a casino.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:33 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s funny Allan. My wife and I have bought the occasional TV product, though it’s mainly her. Almost none of them work the way the ads say, although you might remember when I gave rave reviews to the Moving Men product. But that Shamwow; what a “sham” that was. lol Still, I remember those 30 minute infomercials from the 80’s, and I loved those things. Some of the ideas were actually good; I saved a lot of money at one time by raising my deductible to $500, but it’s something I wouldn’t do now. I picked up a couple of math tricks here and there. And the George Foreman grills do really work, although cleaning them isn’t all that easy.

June 21st, 2011 | 3:39 PM

Back in April, did anyone see that ad they were running here in America for a ring that, supposedly, was similar to the one Prince William gave to his (then) girlfriend – worn by his mother, Princess Diana – when he proposed? They even had a guy with a really upper-crust English accent pitching the ring product. The ring was so “authentic” and “high-quality,” it only cost $19.95.

Is it me, or was that the phoniest, most transparent scheme you’ve ever seen?

June 21st, 2011 | 4:07 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I missed that one Sonny, but had I seen it I’d have agreed with you. I also often wonder about the dollar coins they sell on TV for only $20; I mean, it’s worth a dollar if it’s legit, right? lol

June 21st, 2011 | 4:18 PM
Shivam Garg:

Hey Mitch,
Nice post.I also once fell prey to a survey site but now when I remember those events I try to find the positives in them.They really taught me how be prudent and careful while investing money and I think people don’t realize these things by reading but they understand when they go through it.

June 22nd, 2011 | 12:43 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your perspective Shivam. As it pertains to survey sites, I was able to figure out early which ones were legit & which ones were scams, though I can’t tell you how I did it. Harris, though, was a name I knew so I knew they were legit.

June 22nd, 2011 | 4:04 PM

Hi Mitch! Great and very informative post!Just want to share my friend’s story, she was once been a victim of internet scam “the pay per click scam”. The offer is very tempting that the only thing she had to do is to recruit new people and by doing the pay per click thing! And promised to get paid for a dollar per click and per person recruited! Later on she learned that she was scammed and her precious hours of recruiting and clicking where just wasted!Hope this serve us a lesson!

June 27th, 2011 | 2:35 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for the story, Jazz. So many scams out there & ways of being taken and I hope your story helps solidify the lesson.

June 27th, 2011 | 9:21 AM