Chapter Sixteen


There are some frauds so well conducted that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them. - Charles Caleb Colton

Debilitating, life-sapping addictions and compulsions are not limited to substance abuse problems. Entire industries have evolved to exploit the desire of working class people to escape economic servitude through pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing scams, and a variety of other get-rich-quick ripoffs. The fervor with which people are recruited into these programs, and the cult-like tactics used to keep them involved, elevate these rackets above other petty scams or one-time stings. External authority comes in many forms, and there is no shortage of scamsters eager to assert control over the minds of the unwitting.

Multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes are especially prolific, as they prey on the widespread desire to attain wealth, or at least financial freedom. The mark is typically introduced into the “business” by a smooth talking recruiter, who skillfully learns and exploits his weaknesses and desires. Once the new recruit has been convinced to join, the organization’s authority figures will keep him hyped on a flood of motivational materials and meetings to the point where friends, family, and leisure activities not connected to the “business” are shut out of the victim’s life. If the victim’s past friends and family members are non-receptive to the “business,” they are deemed losers and failures, not worthy of the victim’s time.

In the completely fraudulent pyramid schemes, the founders will promise huge returns on investment for little to no work, and then disappear with their investors’ funds. In the sometimes legal, but usually unethical multi-level marketing ploys, the real money is often made selling motivational materials and seminars to the low-level recruits, who sometimes knock themselves out working an unrealistic business plan for years before finally realizing they were duped.

The shattered careers, broken marriages, and destroyed friendships so common to multi-level marketing and get rich quick junkies are of no more concern to the pushers than the damaged lives of more conventional drug addicts. A “Multi-Level Marketing Scam” search on Google will provide a wealth of additional reading material for anyone interested in further information on this topic. “Multi-level marketing” is also known as “network marketing” and other name variants, but the underlying principles remain generally the same.

A common element that most scams share is a smooth-talking sales person, who is skilled in gaining peoples' confidence. Be extremely wary of any new acquaintance who acts pleasantly interested in you, and begins to ask probing questions designed to discover your hopes, dreams, and details of your current life. The recruiters are trained to make you feel special in their presence, and to focus your mind on happy thoughts and wild dreams.

Vivid, visual images of your future goals and dreams are important for advancement and achievement in life, but when manipulated by unscrupulous con artists, they are used to overpower, and even shut off, the rational, critical thinking functions of your brain. Should you ever find yourself face to face with a person working to pump up your emotions, or in a group “business meeting” where fantastic material success is hyped and flaunted, hold on to your wallet, and do not sign anything. You are about to be scammed.

The shameless use of religion, accompanied by appeals to so-called traditional and family values are frequent props of these sham “business opportunities.” People programmed to believe that religion is good have a subconscious predisposition to believe those who talk about God and quote the Bible, a fact con artists are quick to use to their advantage. Since people who have bought into the lies of religion are presumably more gullible than those who have rejected faith-based beliefs, targeting those who respond positively to religious talk allows the deceivers to focus their efforts on the most easily fleeceable.

Deceivers come in many shapes and forms, and constantly devise new ways to manipulate the human psyche to their advantage. Whether they be scheming politicians, amoral Madison Avenue types, religious charlatans, or fake business cheats, there is no shortage of people seeking to control your mind to their advantage.

In order to defeat their ploys you must be armed with knowledge of their frauds, and have the self-knowledge and courage necessary to resist not only their influence, but the influence of your friends and loved ones who fall under their spell. Otherwise, be prepared to waste your life in the service of flagrant deceptions and outright lies.

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