You have probably encountered or seen examples of these:
- High-Income Investment Programs (HIYP – which should as read: BEWARE)
- Text from unknown individuals telling you to claim your Prize Money
- Fake MLM “millionaires” who are full of hot air.
- Get-Rich-Quick Schemes and there are so many variations of these.
All of these are really meant to separate the fool from his money. And if you are not very careful, you could be in for some nasty surprise!
How good are you in detecting a scam when it is presented right before you? Do you have a built-in, idiot-proof, bullshit detector to shield you from the danger?
Well, one of the ways you can protect yourself is to consult, NOT your equally ignorant friends, but the government regulatory agencies in the Philippines such as the SEC, DTI, BFAD and many others depending on the industry and the nature of the business. That’s why they are there in the first place — to regulate a business or a professional practice. But just because a company is registered or have a license to do the business doesn’t always follow it is incapable of running with your money. And scammers, cheats and con artist have a way of modifying their tools to adapt with the evolving times.
What I’m about to show you are typical ploys used by scammers and some common sense techniques that you can use in the battle.
These things should be part of your Scam-Detection Toolkit.
Special Note to the Genius: Don’t tell me you can’t be a victim because you are highly educated and you’ve got an MBA from The University of Whatever. As long as there is that little greed lurking from within, you can be a potential victim.
Okay, on to the tricks, tips and techniques.
Ploy #1: The Devil Wears Prada
The first thing that scammers do is to try to appear very impressive to their victims.
- They drive a fancy car.
- Use iPhone, iPad, MacBook and not just their made-in-China equivalents. (Sorry, Steve!)
- Spray designer perfume – unless he is asthmatic.
- Wear Prada or Gucci or fill in the blank _____.
Occasionally, he would also quote verses from the Bible or speak in English – not the kind of English your congressman speaks, but the kind that they had in the call centers.
Wanna be rich like him? Eager to learn how he skyrocketed his way from poor to rich in no time?
With all the mighty toys he got, the guy probably knows more than anyone else how to reach that level high income.
You gotta let him explain the million dollar opportunity!
My personal take: Not to sound spiritual, but for me riches and wealth can be visible or invisible. I don’t know what it is with people that makes them think of riches only in terms of the visible signs. Maybe it’s the media. Or, the school. Or, the society.
Regardless, if you have this kind of thinking, it makes you even more vulnerable to scams.
When we were kids, we used to tell this joke to our friends: “What if someday you become super-rich, but still have the same face. Are you still okay with that?”
( Of course, it’s funnier if you speak it in Bisaya. 🙂 )
See, after you have amassed some wealth, your next problem will be to go back to your own body and fix whatever needs fixing there…
- your pimples, your teeth, your nose, your eyebrows;
- sagging belly, baby fats in your neck;
- thinning hairline, unwanted hair (whatever that means)
and other general “ugliness” that you think other people will see in you.
Sounds like insecurity to you? That’s the right word to use. Scam artists know that deep down within, man is an insecure animal.
“Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.”
Get rid of your insecurity — honestly, I don’t have the cure for that — and your personal battle against envy and jealousy is almost guaranteed in your favor.
Ploy #2: Celebrity Power
Endorsements by a celebrity seems to take away the mystery out of a complicated product. Quite frankly, the technique is almost always highly effective — and expensive, too, on the part of the marketer.
When used on products that are unpopular, or beyond that grasp of ordinary folks, or just plain difficult to sell, this technique works like magic in generating sales from unsuspecting customers.
After all, if your favorite celebrity (Kris Aquino, Ser Chief, John Lloyd, etc) is using the product, it must be good for you, right?
Hahah… Take a look at this particular product endorsement not by one, not even by two, but by a whole bunch of local Sports Celebrities:
Remember what Mr Karate Kid said on the video? “You should keep pushing it.”
But where is the company now?
One word: GONE!
(Check their website at http://www.fusionexcel.com and it’s gone also.)
They are gone, not because they run out of customers. I can assure you, there’s virtually an unlimited supply of foolish people on this planet. As the Karate Kid said in the video, “I’m not surprised why we’ve reach the million mark.” Believe me, I’m not surprised either.
FusionExcel is gone, because the Malaysian Government went after them, and so the local operators here in the Philippines have nowhere to go for their supply.
Side note: I have gathered reports that the same scammers are still in operation here in the country, but the name of the company has been changed already. This time, they’re not using celebrities anymore.
I’m not Aesop, but the moral of the story is: Take any type of celebrity endorsements with a grain of salt. They make mistakes, too. And remember, it’s not their money, but yours which is at stake.
We’re not done yet! This is just the first part of a two-series article on Scam Detection. Stay in touch for the next article which will be posted in the next few days.
Meanwhile, if you know someone who can benefit from this article, don’t hesitate to share what you’ve just discovered.