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SCAMS
101

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Friends In Business
& Scams 101


The "Want To Believe" Syndrome

 
if caught early, this condition
does not have to be fatal


For me it was too late.

Please learn from my mistakes (or humor me and say you did).  It helps to think I didn't trash my credit rating in vain.

Once upon a time, I paid $2,995 to attend a seminar put on by a fine company called Capital Investment Systems.  (They have a new name now, but doesn't everybody?)  I got off cheap because I put it on a credit card.  Lots of people financed it, and they paid $4,995.  You can read more about my experience here(Like most of our links, this one will open a second browser window, so you can look around all you like without getting lost; just close the window when you're ready to come back here.)

I was lured into this circus by a fox in a suit.  (No, wait.  That was Pinocchio.  I was lured in by a three-hour "free" seminar.  Yes, that's right.)  Anyhoo, they said they were going to teach me all about marketing right there at the "free" seminar.  In fact, on the infomercial, they showed people sitting at long tables, papers piled high around them, scribbling furiously in notebooks as they struggled to absorb this vast quantity of knowledge. 

But wait! 

Where are the tables? 

Where are the books? 

Oh, I can explain that.  It seems the people on the infomercial had paid for the full treatment.  The "free" seminar was just to tell me what I could get if I gave them lots of money. 

"Why didn't they tell me that?" I wondered. 

But I didn't leave.

At this "free" seminar, the speaker swore on a stack of lies that they were NOT "a seminar company."  They gave only TWO such seminars a year.... one in San Diego and one in Boston.  If we missed this one, they MIGHT be able to get us into the one in Boston, but more likely we would have to wait until the following year.  Imagine my surprise when I arrived for the first day of my five-day "boot camp" and compared notes with some of the other 200-or-so people there.  It seems these seminars were held all over the country.... all the time. 

It sounded suspiciously like seminars WERE their business.

"Something's rotten in Denmark," I thought.  (So did a lot of other people.) 

But we didn't leave. 

And we didn't ask for our $2,995 or $4,995 back.

When it came time to buy into the business opportunities they were offering.... (my very first exposure to the famed "Business In a Box" concept).... the price tag on each one was $495.00. 

Huh??

At the "free" seminar, I distinctly heard them say, "For just 95 dollars, you can activate any of these businesses."  Was I the ONLY one who heard this??  No, it seems lots of people who attended the "free" seminar in various places throughout Southern California heard the same exact thing.  In fact, we found 13 of us just within spittin' distance (we never got a chance to poll the whole 200-or-so suckers in the room, but this did seem to be peculiar to Southern California).

Double-huh!!

But we didn't leave. 

In fact, we gratefully accepted their offer to throw in an extra Business In a Box absolutely FREE to make up for the misunderstanding. 

On the last day.... when we were all a little punchy (another word for "vulnerable as hell") from five days of sitting in our seats from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. with only a short break for lunch which rarely happened before 3:00 p.m. (techniques sometimes associated with brainwashing).... one timid-but-very-likeable little man collected the forms he had passed out on the first day.  We all had the option of putting our name on a mailing list he was kindly typing up so we could keep in touch (people tend to get very close very fast when they're shut in a room together and hyped up like we were, and we all thought we were best friends). 

Well, the Powers That Be got wind of this (he never tried to make a secret of it), and the s--- hit the fan!  The main speaker (otherwise known as Mr. Expensive Suit) took his goons up to this man's room and terrorized him.  Maybe that's a little strong.  I guess "intimidated" would be a better word.  In fact, they intimidated him so well that when I called him several months later to talk about one of the biz-ops that had turned out to be a scam, he was still terrified and refused to talk to me.  It seems they threatened him with arrest and left the poor little guy trembling in his boots. 

A couple of his friends went ballistic and left the seminar early, and Mr. Expensive Suit hurried back to lecture the rest of us like a bunch of naughty kids (and that's exactly what I felt like by the time he finally ran out of steam, even though I had nothing to do with anything).  It wasn't his job to make us like him(!), he said, but to teach us how to succeed.  (Bless him for that.)  He would dearly LOVE to have us network after the seminar, but their attorneys would not allow it.  It would open them up to all kinds of trouble.  After all, one of us could contact some trusting little old lady and scam her out of her life savings, and Capital Investment Systems would be liable (perish the thought!). 

"Well that certainly makes sense," the rest of us said, nodding stupidly. 

(It wasn't until much, MUCH later that I learned the real hazards of networking.  It isn't dangerous to our well-being, but to theirs.)

We stayed.

And we gave them our money. 

I bought $1,500 worth of "biz ops" over and above the $2,995 price tag on the seminar itself.  Some people spent much more than that.  But it was okay, because we were investing in the future.  And we knew we couldn't lose. 

Why? 

Because they told us so:  "These are proven winners, people.  If you believe in your product, and you do the work, you WILL succeed."  (I guess they forgot to mention the part about 95 percent of small businesses failing within the first year.... but if they'd told us that, they would have had to tell us that in the Business-In-A-Box/TurnKey-Business category the failure rate is even uglier, since most of them are scams (or at least unworkable) to begin with.... but I'll save that for another day if it's okay with you.)

A few brave souls questioned the wisdom of all this, but they were quickly shot down.

This is a CLASSIC case of the "Want To Believe" syndrome.  The evidence was there.... but we wanted to believe, and we left happy.... several thousand dollars poorer, but blissfully happy to be hauling out armloads of junk designed to transport us down that golden road to Financial Independence. 

The road might as well have been paved with yellow bricks with a wizard at the end, but we weren't seeing clearly enough to care.  We ignored all the signs of trouble and let the "Want To Believe" syndrome swallow us up.

I hear this ALL THE TIME on my bulletin board and in emails.  People find negative comments about a business opportunity plastered all over the internet, and they say, "Doesn't ANYBODY have anything positive to say?"

Or they say, "I talked to them yesterday, and this seemed really odd, but.... "

And it's the "but" that kills you. 

The "but" that says, "I REALLY want a better life for my family, and I WANT to believe this is going to work, so I'm going to ignore all the bad news and keep hunting for the good news until I find it, dammit!!  And if I never find it.... I WANT IN ANYWAY!!"

This scambusting is very frustrating stuff, because people don't want to hear it.

My advice? 

Make sure your brain is fully engaged.  Turn off your emotions as much as possible, and learn to follow your INSTINCT.  If it doesn't feel exactly right, DON'T DO IT.

Don't search for that one smidgen of good news.  If you find bad news.... MOVE ON.  There are enough legitimate business opportunities that you don't have to go with a questionable one.

In fact, I'll go one step farther:....

Don't invest in ANY opportunity until you hunt down.... independently!.... at least half a dozen people who have actually succeeded in the business.  People who have absolutely NOTHING to gain by lying to you.  If it's legit, they won't be hard to find, I guarantee it.

Take me back to the Scams 101 Index!

Gather 'round, Kiddies!     

What does "Making a Bundle on eBay" mean to you?  How about spending every waking moment hunting down products, taking pictures, writing listings, and RElisting all the stuff that didn't sell (as in "most of it")?  Oh yes, then there's standing in line at the Post Office for 17 years... and don't forget counting that profit on your ten little toes.

Granted, that's how a lot of people do it (including more than a few Power Sellers)... but that isn't the way smart business owners do it.  Once you learn to write killer ad copy and combine eBay selling with tried & true email marketing techniques (on autopilot no less), you'll have time to actually enjoy some of that money (what a concept!).

                                                          Click here to blow the cork off your eBay business . . . . .


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PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMS!  Research all business opportunities thoroughly, and never blow off other people's bad experiences.  Ask around (and listen!).  The Scams101 Message Board is a good place to start.  What's that?  You've found a Biz Op and you're wondering if it's endorsed by FIB?...  Not unless it's listed in MaaMaw's Magnificent Toolbox.





Me & Katie
HERE'S WHERE TO FIND ME:

  Lesley Fountain                          Click Here to Send an Email
  P. O. Box 542                                  Phone:  (707) 682-0303
  Fortuna, CA  95540                                          ↓        ↓        ↓

 Some days I get so many calls that email is my only hope of responding
  in a timely manner.....   PLEASE leave your email address when you call.

Copyright 1998-2007 by Lesley Fountain.  All Rights Reserved.
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