Scams are done by scammers; we know that, but what happens when the scam-busters are also the scammers?
Scammers are always on the lookout for people to fleece. If they think they can make a buck off someone, they will try, no matter how desperate and broke that person might be.
I speak from experience…
I came down with Lyme disease, late in 2007. There are a couple of things everyone should know about Lyme disease. First of all, it’s easy to treat if it’s diagnosed early. Secondly, it’s terrifically difficult to treat if it’s misdiagnosed a couple of times and finally treated later. Third, there is a misconception, even among many medical professionals that Lyme disease is a single organism disease. The reality is that it is almost always more than simply Borrelia burgdorferi, also known as Lyme borrelia. There’s a party going on, and my body is the host…
Anyway, I was very active before that tick bit me, but it was a career ender. It took a while to get going again, and at least I’m no longer bedridden! But as my dad used to say, “Never take yourself too seriously!” His point was that the world would continue on, whether we are in it, or not. This has been well proven, as things didn’t change much in this online world when I was out of commission.
Scams still abound, scammers still hustle their scams, and there still aren’t enough real scam-busters to go around.
Why do scammers exist, in the first place? Why aren’t they extinct already?
The answer is, because it’s just so darn easy and lucrative for people with no conscience to scam those who aren’t paying attention. It’s so darn easy, because it’s so easy to find the people who aren’t paying attention.
There are those who genuinely do their own due diligence, and want to see the real scammers driven from the internet (and the planet!!)
There are those who want someone else to do the work of due diligence for them, because they don’t really know how to do it, or they are unsure of their own abilities and cannot afford to get scammed.
There are those who want someone else to do the due diligence (the digging, getting your hands dirty, maybe sweating a bit) for them, because they’re too lazy to do it, themselves, and they want to use the time when they SHOULD be digging to search for the next “get-rich-quick” scheme that’s gonna make them millionaires overnight.
There are still others who have a mean, vicious and bitter spirit, who never made a success of themselves in business, who want to do whatever they can to destroy anyone who has been successful in business. These ones are the phony scam-busters, who create a straw man (their victim’s supposed scam program) and then burn it…
There are those narcissistic hopefuls trying to make a name for themselves as protectors of the net, who wildly declare many genuine and legal businesses to be scams, piling up mountains of unfounded, improbable and useless “evidence” in their desire to be heroes. These are the ones I call the “wannabe scam-busters,” because they are delusional and running on their own over inflated egos, rather than on facts.
Finally, there are the real scammers, who need to be taken down to make the world a better and safer place both for businesses and consumers. These require solid, careful, clear-headed fact checking by hardworking, plodding, sober-thinking people who have their heads screwed on straight and are willing to plug away quietly until they can get the evidence to the appropriate authorities.
Online forums are a terrible place to get facts when doing due diligence and/or chasing down a possible scam program. Just the same, I see them recommended over and over by people who think they’re being helpful, when in reality, they’re hurting everybody.
Online forums can be helpful for finding leads, but in my experience, much of what is found on so-called scam busting forums is conjecture, vitriol and nonsense from disgruntled people who didn’t “get rich quick,” with no work. If you follow through, as I just did on yet another one, today, you discover that the company is actually not a scam, but a really good, sound, respectable company with great owners.
Another, recent (and very scary) development that appears to be happening is the appearance of scammers who are trying to pass themselves off as the good guys. There is some evidence that they are now posting on sites dedicated to exposing fraudulent companies, even buying the supposed scam-busting sites, themselves.
One might ask how it is possible for scammers to get away with this. The answer is quite simple; when people are allowed to post to such site without having to identify themselves, when they are allowed to hide behind pseudonyms and avatars, when they are allowed to post anything they like without using their real names and real photographs, they make pretty much any, even the wildest claims they like, no matter how false and potentially harmful to honest people, and get away with it.
The scam-busters become the scammers!
Furthermore, when they troll for people with hero complexes (wannabes – see above) and get them on their site, it’s not a difficult feat to pull them into their web of deceit, turning them into unsuspecting allies as they work to destroy potential competition and build a database for their next big scam.
Sadly, what many of the honest, if not hardworking people in this online world do not realize, is that there’s no limit to the lengths the scammers will go to in order to fleece the unwary opportunity seeker.
There’s only one real answer I’ve seen over the years, one which was there before the internet and has never changed; that is that people must learn how to do their own due diligence, and they must take the time to do it, or the scammers will just continue to create new scams.
Like the old British maxim: “Stay calm and carry on.” Don’t get sucked in, by hype or an easy way ahead, but suck it up and get to work, the good old fashioned way.
Get out a pad and pen, grab a pot of coffee, and get to work, for that’s what due diligence is.
See if there are any BBB complaints against the company. If it has been around for a while, there probably are. It’s not a bad sign if there are BBB complaints. It’s how they were resolved and how quickly they were resolved that is important.
If you find any complaints, also see how well the company communicated in their efforts to resolve the problem. If it was really difficult to make contact, that’s a red flag.
Do a quick search to see if there are any claims about the company being involved in a scam. Simply typing the name of the company and the word, “scam,” is all you need to do. Here’s where you might drain the coffee and need a second pot. In many cases, if the company is an MLM or has an affiliate program, there will be several pages created by people who are affiliates of the company (an affiliate, remember, is not an employee, but a self-employed entity), who have recognized that some hard working people will do due diligence, and have created websites based on the idea that they have investigated the company to see if it’s a fraud. Then they try to make it look like they’ve done a great investigation, and all you have to do is sign up under them! Smart, really!
Once you get past all such pages, you might find links to claims about the company being a scam or scamming people.
Remember, this doesn’t mean the company IS a scam or that they’re scamming, only that someone has claimed they are. However, here is where you have to be cold and clinical as you work to decide if you want to be involved with the company. Even if the claims are unfair and untrue, too much negative publicity might be a reason for second thought. Unfortunately, this is some of the type of damage a phone scam-bustering site can do.
If you find a few claims of the company being a scam or run by scammers, start digging deeper. Never, ever just take someone’s word for it. You could be missing a great opportunity. Follow up on those leads and see where they take you. Find out if there is any basis for them in fact. Many disgruntled employees make nasty claims against their former employer. Many lazy former affiliates who didn’t get rich with no work in anything they ever tried also seem to be quick to pick on anything that looks like someone is making money with it.
Find out what kind of refund policy a company has. Do they have a grace period? Will they give you a refund during that period if you change your mind? Even more important, will they give refunds to the people you do business with as an agent or affiliate of the company? You definitely don’t want anybody coming after you for something the company you are affiliated with did!
How long has the company been in business? Stay away from startups, unless you can afford the waste of time and money if they fall flat.
Do they use Paypal? If they’ve only been in business a short time, it really doesn’t matter (see the previous paragraph), but if they’ve been in business for a few years and use Paypal, it’s extremely unlikely for them to be scammers. Paypal is VERY strict, and will seize a company’s account at the slightest scent of anything potentially troublesome. They tend to shut companies down first and ask questions later, so if a company has been in business for a long time and uses Paypal, they are very likely a sound and trustworthy company.
Not all companies use Paypal, of course, but it’s really nice if they do, because Paypal does THEIR due diligence, which saves you a lot of time.
Be careful, work deep, and get all your questions answered until you’re sure you’re comfortable with the company. Sleep on it. A good company will still be there in the morning! Be businesslike, and the chances are you will like your business and be in business, long after the scammers you meet along the way are gone.