The unsustainable geometric progression of a classic pyramid scheme, from Securities and Exchange commission report on pyramid schemes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has been a while since I last put my 2 cents in on the subject of Scammers. I think the last one I did had to do with an incident where we were trying to purchase a Motorhome… If you are curious, it should still be in the archives under spammers.
One of the main things that I have learned is that Scam, any Scam, is like a movie. Not that you can watch a Scam but, because it is a rehash of something that has already been done, which explains why there are so many re-makes of previous movies. No, what they do is update the scam to modern technology.. A good example of his is the Pyramid scheme. In the old days you would get a letter explaining a new way to make money. There would be a list of names and addresses. You would send $1., or any amount, to the top name, put your name on the bottom of the list, and just wait for the money to roll in. Lets say that the top guy mailed out 10 list to different people, then those people mailed out 10 list to other people, and so on down the line. You might look at this.
Your name in #10 10,Your name in #9 100,Your name in #8 1,000,Your name in #7 10,000 Your name in #6 100,000, Your name in#5 1,000,000 Your name in#4 10,000,000,Your name in#3 10,000,000 Your name in#2 1,000,000,000 and Your name in#1 10,000,000,000.
So by the time you name gets to the top of the list there should be something like 10,000,000,000 list out with your name at the top. Everyone on the globe should have at least one of these list, and if very few people got into this one you might still make a large chunk of $s, and there is no reason, as far as the Scam is concerned why you could not send out more than one list. Oh, did I mention that this is a Pyramid scheme and considered a kind of lottery, and so you might, just might, get a visit from the Postal Inspectors?
Then there were Electronic Bulletin Boards, and people posted those same list on Fido, or whatever was popular on that board. Then, when the Internet, thanks to Al Gore for inventing it, they started to post them on the USENETS, and suggested that you could put out literally thousands of them. They turned up everywhere, all of them suggesting that this was perfectly legal. It still wasn’t.
Then someone came up with the idea that what you should do is : everyone who sent you a dollar would be sent some kind of report, such as how the scheme worked. The main thing, they said, was that for each person who sent you money you should send them some kind of product. Maybe even a free e-book. After all there are plenty off e-books in the public domain, or you could even find some place that will let you download some of the classics and have reseller rights, so you are giving out a product.
I got one of these e-mails some years ago, and the guy included, as proof that it was legal, the 1-800 number for the Postal Inspectors office in Tamp, Fl. I called the number and was told that it was still illegal.
The last word I have gotten on this was that instead of using your name and address you put in your Pay Pal account I.D. and wait for your bank account to fill up… It seems, from what they have said, that a larger number of people are willing to ante up the money via Pay Pal than sending it via snail mail. Oh, I also understand that Pay Pal will delete the accounts of people they suspect of doing this, as it is STILL ILLEGAL but, how many people does that really stop. If its being illegal stopped people, then Pay Pal would not have to be on the look out.
The point here is that this is not a new idea, it was just updated to match the technology.
And, of course, there are the scams that are so old you would think everyone knew about them. The bank examiner who contacts an older person with a story about a dishonest teller, and how they need the customer to help them trap her. The bank examiner sends the customer into the bank to make a large withdrawal. Then the customer brings the money out to the bank examiner, or security agent, who gives her/him a receipt for the money. This will be used, along with the customers account receipt, to test if the teller is skimming money from the accounts. The examiner/agent says that as soon as his investigation is complete the money would be put back in her/his account…. The bank, when the customer asks, will not know anything about it, as the examiner/agent did not work for the bank and the money is gone. Almost every year the banks warn people about this scam, and still people fall for it…
This brings me to another, which in a way is an updated version of the other… You get an email about a security problem with your account… did you change the password, or is you account information correct.. It tells you that if you don’t correct it soon your account might be frozen, or eliminated… Ok look, they provided a link to your account, it goes to your bank’s login page, so all you have to do is login, verify the information, by entering it when asked, and you are done.. It is only later that you find money missing from your account. The problem is that any reputable bank, or other agencies, who tells you verify your information will tell you to go to the login page, they will not put a link on an email, and if they were to then the easiest thing would be to run you cursor over the link and see if it matches the login for your account. That is an old one, but people still fall for it…
And then there is the old “Bait and Switch“. Stores used to advertise really great buys. Lets say it is a washer dryer… Store X advertises a washer/dryer for $xxx.xx and when you get there they are sold out but, since you are there they will give you a good deal on another product that is only about $100 more. That is “Bait and Switch”, and is illegal…. They either did not have the product in the first place, or knew they would sell them all, so they had plenty of the other, which they would make more money on….
So what is the updated version of this.. I am going to use a large phone company as my example.. Lets say it is Vertigo Phone…. Vertigo sends you an email saying they have a great FiOS package for you.. you can get Phone, TV, and Internet at really high speeds by using their Fiber Optic package… They are even nice enough to give you a website that will set you up… Going to the Vertigo website is really simple.. selecting the service is really easy. Now you are ready to schedule a setup date and you notice that, in the three items of your bundle there is NO mention of the FiOS that you wanted.. Then you find out that the package you wanted was not available in your area.. It was just a “Bait and Switch”. I had gotten snail mail with these offers, and even though they sent it to my mailing/billing address they either were not bright enough to check my availability for this product, or they knew it was not available and wanted to B&S me.
I guess the message here is that even the companies with so called reputable names will try to Scam you, if you let them.
That Joe Guy.