Nutwork Marketing

We’ve all had the experience of seeing someone begin to participate in network marketing. Whether they were selling soap products, essential oils, bulk groceries, or 3.5″ mortar bombs, we appeared on their prospects list because we were friends or relations. In most cases it then became a race to see which folded fastest – the network marketing scheme or the friendship. In special cases the relationship to the in-laws could also be scrapped.

Was this necessary? did it have to be? Could it have been avoided? Would you like to try these essential oil soaps that come in 48-case lots? No?

I think it is time to step away from this model of seizing upon our friends and relations as sitting ducks for the benefit of shadowy pyramid schemes ( and that is really all they ever are in the end, after the denials and flapdoodle have evaporated…) and reverse the pitch. It is time that we annoyed the get-rich-quick confidence tricksters by turning our friends and rellies onto them.

Here’s basically how it works:

  1. You make up a list of your relatives and fiends ( I meant friends…) – from close family on out to second cousins. Do not neglect the odder ones – the creepy uncle who makes you uneasy at Christmas – the aunt who screeches – the sister who says she is a vegan but smells like sausage. Marshall all your resources and make the paper list a long, thin one.
  2. Get accurate email and postal addresses for each of them. Telephone numbers as well, and particularly mobile phone numbers. Put this on a separate long, thin paper list.
  3.  Place the two lists side by side with the appropriate information for each person beside their name.
  4. Now slip the right-hand list down one division. each person now has false details next to them. False, but not terribly far from the truth.  Photo copy this document and label it ” List A “.
  5. Now free up the right -hand list and slip it up one division. Photo copy this as ” List B “.

You are now armed with two lists of nearly-right information that differ in two directions.

At this point you select the group marketing scheme, pyramid, social network, or whatever they are calling themselves and settle into a good long session of sending them List A  as prospects for inclusion in their next round of scamming. You’ll be supplying addresses and round-the-clock contact information that will certainly connect, but to the wrong person. However, the person who is subject to this bombardment of  California sales hype and new York bullshit at that address or telephone number will stand a very good chance of knowing the person who the scammer thinks they are addressing. They will recognise the name of their cousin or friend or workmate.

And they will be madder than hell – ringing up the supposed dobber and giving them the serve of their life. However, in the meantime, this second contact will have been receiving the same commercial bombardment in yet a third name.

At this point – about two weeks after the initial plant, you take List B and send it to the scammers via another salesperson. Don’t be worried about finding one – the schemes have multiple teams that will target an area before the heat is on. This salesperson will do the entire exercise again, but with a different set of nearly-right contacts. Everyone gets pestered again but supposedly by a different relative or friend.

You will have achieved three very good things:

a. You will have annoyed your entire circle of acquaintance for a month without having to spend money on petrol or buy them meals.

b. You will have wasted the time of the scam merchants for a month. Often this is long enough for them to clap their carpet bag closed and get on the steamboat.

c. You will have sensitised your circle of acquaintance to the dangers of this sort of personal affront. They will not fall foul of it in the future. You will never be pestered to buy diet supplements, soap, or time-share holidays in Queensland.

 

The NBN Scam

Here in Australia we are just a phone call away from India. And in the case of our house that phone call is at 4:05 every afternoon.

The amazing part is that it is a different caller each time – apart from the silent ones or the hissers – and there is a slightly different pitch thrown with every one.

Today’s was the ” NBN “-  supposedly our developing national Broadband Network. It’s an ongoing fustercluck from both the federal government and a private quasi-corporation who pretend it is going to replace wires with optical cables and then up the speed of our internet connections. If it promised to connect us to unicorns and Judge Crater I would give it some serious credence, but as it is…

Now the Indian scammers have picked up on it and are ringing with either threats or promises to get us to allow malware to be installed in our computers. Today’s question revolved around technical work that was going on and what download speed we had. I suspect it was a complex shell game to allow some sort of ” test ” that would install a spyware program looking for passwords.

When the confused girl asked what speed we were experiencing I told her that we generally got about 350 MPH but this fell to 320 with drop tanks. Full throttle and water injection could up it to 385 but if you ran the computer too long at this setting the exhaust manifold would burn away. I was dead serious about this.

I’m not sure I cleared up her confusion.

It’s A Fraud, Todd.

It’s a sell, Mel.

It’s a scam, Pam. Oops, sorry, I should have said ” it’s a scamela, Pamela “. Didn’t mean to be overly familiar.

That great business opportunity that you discovered with the other seminar delegates at the holiday resort? That guaranteed opportunity of a lifetime? That golden road to riches, health, and moral re-invigoration? That weekend and an extra day high on marketing?

It’s a con, Don.

Don’t feel bad that you responded as you did. The whole event was structured to make you do so – it was developed as a way to envelope you in a message and to never let you see outside of that indoctrination. You would have had to dive through a window and run away as fast as you could – abandoning dignity, luggage, and any sense of personal worth – to escape it. If they had you on a cruise ship, even that avenue of escape would have been denied.

Whatever money you have given over to the organisers is gone. It will never come back to you. Abandon it to them but do not give them any more – even if they say that you are obliged to do so. Ignore their threats – none of those threateners could stand in front of a magistrate and neither can their demands. Shred anything that you have of their literature and dump it in the compost bin – you may get some value in a few months if it packs down and rots.

Take heart – you have had a valuable lesson. One you need not repeat, but one that you are honour-bound not to inflict upon others. You may not defeat confidence tricksters  by yourself, but you must not strengthen their hand by inadvertently joining them.

 

The Guild Guide To Phone Scamming

A short introduction to the steam room.

a. When you ring someone, do not say anything for about 6 seconds.

b. Then cut in a background tape of the inside of a Bangladeshi underwear factory.

c. Announce that your name is Wayne O’Grady, or Anders Andreasson, or John Johnson. These are perfectly plausible to go with your heavy subcontinental accent. Avoid the use of the name Peter Sellers…

d. Say that you are from the technical division of Elfrubdhethic Solutions. If they ask you to repeat that say that you are from the technical division of Rathvictichoxz Corporation. You can cough while you do this.

e. Tell them that you have been monitoring their computer and that they have downloaded some viruses. Or solar cells for the roof. Tell them they have downloaded solar cells.

f. Tell them to go to the computer and turn it on. If you are feeling randy you can tell them to turn you on.

g. If they refuse to go to the computer threaten to have them arrested unless they buy iTunes cards. If they ask why, tell them that you will have them deported. If they still refuse tell them that you will be arriving on a sinking rowboat along with your 34 needy relatives and that you know where they live. If that doesn’t shift them, nothing will…

h. The timing of the call is all-important. Australians eat dinner at 6:00 PM. Make your call at 5:57 PM. Every day. For a month.

i. Never use the phrases ” Golly Gosh ” or ” Goodness Gracious Me “. Don’t ask why, just avoid them.

j. And the most important thing. Make your calls from an Australian mobile phone or land line phone that can be traced. It’s no good doing all this fine work and not getting credit for it.

The Easiest Way To Remit Money To The Moon

I note that there is an advertisement current on Instagram that seeks to have me send money to the Philippines. It does so by telling me that it is easy. If ease were the chief consideration, I could point out that I have a pair of scissors in the desk and can cut cash up into small fragments and blow it out the window. To much the same benefit.

I understand that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for sending money to Manila, or Managua, or Memphis, for that matter. Relatives. Rent. Ransom. I would be the last to stop people from pursuing international trade. But I am also equally sure there are perfectly normal agencies to do this that do not involve Instagram , Twitter, or Gofundme…or any other such marginalia. I also include the Indian grocers and 7-Eleven operators with money transfer signs on their windows in this category.

Folks, ANY bank in any shopping centre can do it, with a paper receipt for you and a real live teller behind a window that you can return to if you are worried. Your money may be destined to be tamped down a tropical rat hole when it gets there, but if you are dealing with the Commonwealth Bank or Westpac, or the ANZ you can at least be sure it will arrive at the rathole intact.

 

This Call Is Finished

I took a telephone call yesterday from a noisy location. The caller was a young woman who purported to be a student at WA University. And who also purported to be asking questions connected with the alumni association.

Her voice was rapid and her name was somewhat unclear – but her questions were intrusive. Confirming address, etc. I was evasive, stating that the alumni association already had my address. To her questions about my career I also gave vague, but truthful answers.

To her request for $ 50 per month contribution to a scholarship…and then for an immediate $ 100 contribution…I gave a polite but firm refusal.

My daughter, who works in the financial section of a rival university, said that the call was most likely genuine – a result of students assigned to try to get money out of people on an old-student list. Possibly, but it could also have been a number of other things.

I think my best bet in the future is to remind myself not to engage in answering questions on the telephone from someone I have never met. I shall politely decline and civilly press the hang-up button. This will also serve when I receive subcontinental calls.

I Am Not A Monster

While I admit to being a senior citizen, model maker, and studio photographer – serious charges in themselves – I must deny the assertion that I am a monster of cruelty. I do not mock the afflicted nor harass the indigent. I am kind to animals, with the exception of mosquitos and cockroaches. I obey traffic signs and harsh words from the wife.

Thus, when I receive evidence that a friend has fallen for some sad internet hoax, I do not point the finger of scorn. I take pity upon them and remain silent. This is not the silence of collusion – it is commiseration. I, too, know what it is to be fooled by plausible tricksters…and I’ve lost money to them. The last thing I should want when I finally detect  fraud is to have to bear scorn as well as loss.

Friends – there are any number of trolling, fyshing, scamming productions that can come through your social media or through general searching on the net. Whenever you see something that is either too good or too bad to be true, it is just that. You do not need to fear, nor to react, to any of it. But if it helps to relieve a little of the tension, by all means open up the Snopes website and see if the thing that is troubling you has been debunked there. In most cases you will find that this is so.

Even with the most innocent of enquiries, answers can be harvested that will do you or someone else harm. The best thing to do is not give any answers on the net. Anything that you need to ask or answer can be dealt with between you and your physician, dentist, lawyer, religious adviser, or 6th grade home room school teacher. If it is really heavy-duty stuff you can call in a policeman or a magistrate. These are the individuals who have real power for good in your world. Depend upon them.

The internet has been a blessing for a lot of us – I mean, who wants to go out into the street looking for a cat on a rainy night when you can get a picture of one on Facebook? But it is a cursèd blessing, and the curse is the easy way it makes nonsense sound like truth.

Remember that if you forward this to ten of your friends, nine of them will wind the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll and the tenth will use bunched up newspaper…