This article will look like it’s all over the place; it just might be. What I’ve found in life is that even a rambling post has lessons for everyone to learn. Thus, I’m going to share things about scams old and new, promoting oneself and of course social media. Let’s start with promotion.
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”.
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.
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.
It’s amazing how things sometimes just build upon themselves. Case in point, I’ve written a couple of articles in a row that indirectly tied into each other, and suddenly something else comes up that, well, just flows into each other in odd ways.
I thought about linking to both of the past articles, but I do that often enough and this time I’m going to let it go for a moment. It’s just easier to do a rehash here without it and then get to the new stuff.
The quick recap. On my local blog I wrote a review about a restaurant that wasn’t good. As a sidebar, I noticed that some bad reviews that had been written on a site called Yelp seemed to be hidden. Then I learned that Yelp filters reviews based on participation on the site, which brought about questions, at least for me, as to whether sites like that could be trusted for their reviews because maybe it was possible that companies paid to have those reviews removed or hidden.
Then I get an email from ConsumerAffairs.com pointing to a news story from April 15th that talked about small companies that get bad reviews and how SEO companies are contacting those companies and saying they can take care of these bad reviews. That’s what the article, titled Bogus ‘Complaint Removal’ Sites Prey on Small Businesses, talks about, mentioning how many business fall for this scam and then try to report them, but there’s no real place to report them.
Here’s the thing, if I may. We all have the ability to try to control how we’re portrayed online. If we’re not online and not managing our profiles, if you will, someone else can come along and put something up that will take over the search engines and put you at a disadvantage. If you’re a business, that could end up being a very bad thing indeed. For instance, if you go to Google and type in “Village Burger Liverpool Review” my original article comes up 4th, behind 3 reviews on Yelp, and I just wrote that last week. You can’t just type in Village Burger and find it because it seems that business name is all over the place; so much for originality.
There are many reputable SEO companies in the world, and I hope I’m considered as one. Sure, there are things you can do to help recover your reputation. But bad reviews will probably always be there, even if you have enough money to buy every person off that ever says something bad about you. Anyone that tells you something different is lying; don’t believe the hype.
By the way, there’s a brief follow up to what happened at that restaurant, if you will, and I’m writing it here instead of there because I got this information from a source that would be easily identifiable if I wrote it there, and I know none of those folks will come here because they don’t know about this blog. Anyway, someone mentioned that blog post to the owner and said they saw the picture I put up on the article. The owner’s response: “I need to buy smaller buns.” So much for customer service, a pattern that just keeps coming up more and more.
If you like late night TV infomercials and girls wearing low cut tight shirts with lots of cleavage, then you’ve probably seen at least one of the commercials for Jeff Paul’s Internet Millions program. It promises to teach you how to make literally thousands of dollars a month with almost no effort so that you can live the life you dream about.
The first thing a buyer will realize is that there are a lot of DVDs to watch, which takes away the ease that’s promised in the commercials. The second thing, once you start checking out the videos, is that the “easy way” of making a lot of money is to spend a lot of money building a lot of websites. This means that most of the people who buy the program are already going to be at a disadvantage because they may not know anything about HTML or coding. They may not have thousands of websites of knowledge to create a bunch of websites. And folks, buying domain names, even if they’re relatively inexpensive, can get pricey if you continue buying a lot of them, and it’s not easy for one person to keep their eye on a lot of websites.
Having said that, one could argue that what Paul teaches in his program does offer people the opportunity to make money online. I don’t disagree with that. What I disagree with are a couple of things. One, the promise of easy millions that get people to pay exorbitant amounts of money on his programs. What, you say it’s only around $50 for his program? That’s just to get you in the door. Once you buy, you’re going to continue getting lots of phone calls with promises of making even more money as long as you’re willing to pony up more money for the right of better education. And it won’t stop until you get tough and get yourself off the list. There’s even one guy who set up a blog just to talk about the things he was getting from them without buying anything except the very first thing, and how often they were calling him to pitch their products; what an idea for a niche blog, eh?
Two, the commercials are so enticing that I’m surprised they’re not happy just raking in the money that those commercials have to be making and leaving people alone later on. And I know something about late night commercials; I used to be kind of a junkie for these things, no matter how good or bad they were. However, these commercials are lying. If you sat down one night and wrote down, then calculated, all the money that these people say they’re making, you’d realize that there wouldn’t be any money problems anywhere around the world because all you’d have to do is tax the few people in the commercial and every country would make a mint.
For instance, one guy said he made $125,000 in 10 days. Others were more “modest,” making that much in a month, or at least $50,000 a month. And, if you’ve paid any attention to the disclaimer, those results aren’t indicative of the kind of money that most people will make.
I’m sorry to say this, but I have to put this one in the category of a scam. There is no easy way to make money on the internet unless someone else is building your website, doing all the work, and it costs you almost nothing to pay for. This one will end up costing you way more money than you’ll ever make back; stay away.
There was this infomercial on, and it was touting this guy named Jeff Paul and his Shortcut To Internet Millions program (this is NOT a link to the program). In the commercial were numerous people telling their stories of how they got rich off the program, and all but one of them was purported to make more than $50,000 a month on the internet. Two of the sales people were young, “healthy” women, so of course eye candy was a big part of these commercials. 😉
My skeptic meter went up drastically because his course was selling for only $39.99, plus supposedly they gave you 10 “money making” websites off the bat, and if you joined his monthly program (they didn’t say for how much) you could earn as many as 120 free websites within the first year.
I thought about this commercial in relation to a seminar I got talked into; twice of all things! The first time by my wife, the second time by a friend of mine, and that second one was my fault because I hadn’t remembered the name of the company the first time around (and don’t remember the name now; isn’t that a shame?).
Both times the room was packed, as in way over 200 people, and the sales went through the roof as they offered immediate financing for everyone, no questions asked (at 18%; no wonder), at a very high price for 6 websites, monthly maintenance, and of course a support group (but no guarantees; everyone is sure to state that up front). As someone who’s purchased domain names and has a hosting package, plus someone who builds websites on the side, I can easily say that these folks were literally being robbed. I knew that because none of them, well, maybe one or two, were ever going to come close to recouping their investment.
It’s why I get skeptical with all the products that are out on the internet purporting that they’re going to teach me how to make millions. It seems many of these things have some good ideas, but not a single one of them actually ever answers the big questions that most of us have. Thus it leaves us dangling and still not understanding how to get it done correctly. Luckily, for most of us, it costs relatively little for us to give it a shot, outside of our time.
Today for instance, I was inundated by at least 7 websites offering to help me get wealthy on the internet. Three of those came through Twitter, so I guess it was my choice to read them, but only one of them even mentioned getting rich online, so they were sort of deceptive.
All of them had that same “scammy” looking template of big letters, seemingly “fast talk” language, standard testimonials, and the trick crossing out of one price so that, if I bought today, I’d be getting it for the low price of $_____, as long as I acted pretty fast since, after XXX number sold, they were taking it off the market. Yeah, right; almost all of them come back on the market after saying they weren’t if they made any kind of money.
You never really know who to believe anymore which is why, for the most part, I purchase few things. There are a few I have purchased that I’ve found pretty good, in that at least I learned something. One is called Rich Jerk. Another one some time back was Brad Callen’s Search Engine Optimization Made Easy. I also purchased 20 Ways To Make $100 A Day, which was a very good read, and I got some pretty good ideas from there.
Anything I market won’t promise riches. I don’t over-promise, and there’s nothing on any of my sales page that someone is going to call me on later and say “hey, this didn’t do what you said it was going to do”. My products aren’t really that type (mostly books), but even if they were, I wouldn’t do it. It just feels and sounds icky; a guy’s got to have some ethics.
How do the rest of you view these types of things? Am I the only one who not only senses scams, but has their skeptic level as high as I have mine?