Although I thought about calling this article “Avoid Get Rich Quick Scams” I opted for the less inflammatory term schemes – which is still very appropriate because the perpetrators of these schemes are scheming to separate you from your hard-earned cash. The reason I wanted to write an article on this is because the sheer volume of these that are out there on the internet these days makes us start to feel that they are more normal – they should not feel that way. Also, I have started to get questions from readers about these, which worries me. Because people usually only sit down and send an email after they have been suckered in.
In this article I will go over several types of the most popular schemes that are circulating, offer some advice on what to do if you have gotten involved in one or more of them, and end by reminding you that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Popular Scams and Schemes
First, I want to touch briefly on some of the biggest scams that are out there. These are cases of outright, illegal fraud that you need to know about and avoid. The biggest ones to watch out for are:
- Calls from people claiming to be with the IRS. The IRS will not call you. They will send you letters that are easy to verify, and then you can call them. If someone claiming to be with the IRS calls you, just hang up.
- Email Phishing is still a big one. If you get what looks like a suspicious email from your bank, don’t click on the link if your email. Go to your web browser and type in your bank’s address yourself or pick up the phone and call your bank. Email scammers are getting better and better, and it pays to be diligent.
- Money-wiring scams are on the rise, and these don’t so much aim to steal your money but aim to have you launder money for them by using your account as an intermediary. Don’t let people send you money unless it is for a good reason!
Okay, with that said, let’s move away from true fraud and crime and more into the land of the Get Rich Quick Scheme. There are many traits you can use to identify these types of programs. Promises you will here are:
- I have a system that I used to <do whatever> that has made me <lots of money>…
- I will teach you to <do whatever>, which is how I made <lots of money>…
- You can earn <lots of money> working entirely from home…
The promise that many of these schemes offer is that they claim they are going to teach you some proprietary system that only they know, or that experts have “kept secret” for a long time, and that this is going to make you a millionaire within a short time period. Another common claim they make is that you can make lots of money either as passive income that requires minimal work on your part or that you can do from home. One that strikes especially close to home for me is when I see something on YouTube adverts saying, “Click more to find out how I make $10-20 thousand every month from my blog in less than an hour per day” or “Let me share with you how you can make $20 thousand per month selling on Ebay or Amazon”.
And many of these all have the same monetization model, which will involve the following:
- Go to my awesome website and register
- You’ll get a free e-book/guide that tells you everything
- Sign up for our premium access/courses/whatever
There is nothing wrong with signing up for their email list and getting their free guide… especially if you like getting constant spam and reading vague garbage. But what you will find is that their free guide is part of their sales funnel. And this is where scammers have become really brilliant:
They make money by selling you the dream of easy money. They sell you a course or a subscription, which is perfectly legal, but which either cherry picks successes or doesn’t acknowledge the risks.
For example, I could charge you $300 for a series of articles and videos on how easy it is to monetize your blog. The course would be legal for me to offer and would have a number of tips and tricks on how you can get readers, use ads, do paid product reviews, etc. so that you could make thousands a month. What I wouldn’t advertise before you paid me is that building a brand takes years, that you need to write content every day for years, you need to spend hours doing SEO optimization, etc. If I was honest and told you it took months, if not years, of effort, you wouldn’t buy it! More insidious is the course/premium membership that charges a monthly fee and continually drags you along. Don’t cancel now or you’ll miss our next top-secret tip! These cost less up front, but more in the long run.
If it is too good to be true, it probably is.
You’ll see lots of ads about being a reseller on Amazon or Ebay. Although these are both legit ways of making money, you can find all the information you need for FREE on the internet. You don’t need to pay several hundred dollars for courses to learn this. If you do want to take a course, check out Udemy, which has several courses for $10 or less, and choose the one with the best/most user reviews.
What if I have already paid in?
If you have already subscribed to one of these schemes and do not believe that you are getting a valuable service, I recommend the following:
- First, call or email them immediately and request a refund. Since a lot of these are trying to stay on the good side of the law and give themselves legal protection, they have 30-90 day money back guarantees. It is worth trying to get your money back.
- Login and cancel your subscription immediately. In some cases you may want to follow-up with your credit card company or bank and alert them that you have NOT authorized any future charges to that company. Make sure you either screenshot your confirmation or save the confirmation email if you receive one.
- If you believe that you have truly been duped by a fraudster, contact the BBB and go to the USA.gov site for reporting scams. They can point you in the right direction for seeking a legal solution.
- If you have lost more than a few hundred dollars, consider contacting a lawyer and law enforcement. You will find that there are many ways in which you might be eligible for some compensation from the perpetrator.
Finally, if you have been the victim of a scam – make sure to leave comments on internet forums, YouTube videos, etc. You may be able to save someone else the pain… and I have even heard of some scammers being willing to refund money to people if they’ll just stop leaving bad reviews.
If someone had an easy way to make millions they would be making millions (or retired) and not trying to sale you courses or subscriptions on the internet. Making money is hard work and if it sounds too good to be true it almost always is. Don’t give someone your hard-earned money before doing the research to find out if the service they are offering is truly legit.
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