Stating The Obvious:
If someone can make
millions of dollars working their own get-rich-quick scheme, why would they spend
money on infomercial air time, Internet websites, telephone operators, and a toll-free
1-800 number to sell it to you for only a few dollars? (Unless all that you are
actually buying is a painful fishhook.)
· If the infomercial’s entire sales and support team are not themselves actively using this get-rich-quick scheme, what do they know about what is wrong with it that they aren’t telling you? Can they make more money as a near-minimum-wage telephone script reader than they can with the product that they are trying to sell you? Why are so many people (who live in front of a television set) so very gullible?
For some reason, endless scam artists can continue to afford to pay for endless infomercial cable television air time for their “too good to be true” training materials or low-cost business-in-a-box. They begin their presentation with a small element of truth, (like “investing in real estate can be profitable” (for the savvy investor) or “there is money to be made on the Internet”). They then offer a low cost introductory training program or everything-you-need startup materials. The infomercials appeal to out-of-work, deep-in-debt, retired, or highly-suggestible people who lack Critical Thinking Skills (the ability to seek, evaluate, differentiate and assimilate new knowledge).
The existence of many bad-apple rip-off artists does NOT imply that all of these ways to make money are bad. For a “too good to be true” scam to be effective, it must contain at least an element of the truth. Consider this, a small number of well-informed investors do make significant profits by buying property, tax lien certificates, etc. from distressed home owners, but it takes a lot of time-consuming research and more than a hundred dollar training course to learn how to do it consistently without wasting time and making expensive mistakes. Sure there are some people who make money selling products on the Internet, but the successful percentage is extremely low.
The low-cost cable TV infomercial home study training courses and business-in-a-box products are often merely color glossy bait to get you to pay a few dollars to swallow a much larger fishhook, and to put you (and your credit card information) on their “gullible subscriber” marketing list, which they may exploit for many other purposes in the future.
Many of the big name promoters of these scam plans have a long chain of failures, bankruptcies, regulatory agency fines, and fraud convictions in a variety of diverse market places, while their infomercials mislead many by claiming that the product developer is a leading expert in their field. (GAK!) The same slick “industry experts” keep getting caught, going bankrupt, and then popping up later in a very different industry (like out of real estate, into popular food supplements, etc).
It is now surprisingly easy to learn about most of the large-scale repeat offenders. You can go to any web search engine (like google.com), enter the infomercial presenter’s name and the word “scam” (or something similar like “complaints”, “rip off”, etc.). There is a good chance that if an infomercial really is too good to be true, many people will have placed their complaints and documentation about the scam artist on the web for you and me to see.
For example, some real estate scam artists are described by John Reed (who has his own product-selling bias, but his material appears to be a start at documenting a lot of bad dirt in the industry):
Just like medical advice, if the information is important to you, and the subject matter is complex and controversial, you should proactively search for multiple sources of expert input and then apply critical thinking skills.
Don’t ever believe any single source (not even ME), unless you know the person quite well. Even honest, trustworthy people have only finite knowledge of part of the truth about anything that is very complicated. Seek multiple perspectives, and don’t pay attention to the baldheaded barber who tells you how to keep from losing your hair. BUT, you can learn from the many mistakes made by others. Edison failed 5,000 times before he finally found a way to make a reliable inexpensive electric light bulb. Some of the world’s best research scientists fail 90% of the time. Honest innovators do not cover up their failures, but rather explain how their mistakes led to their success.
Skeptical entrepreneurs should request specific documentation about the advertised testimonials. Sometimes, the infomercial words are true, but very misleading. “I made $1,000 my very first month” probably means “gross income” (with a near-zero or negative NET income after all start up costs are included).
People want to believe in a free lunch, so they may perceive even more than what the infomercial actually says. The advertised anecdotal testimonials only tell you about a few successes, while omitting the many failures, bankruptcies, time wasted, missed real-work opportunities, regulatory agency fines, fraud convictions, smashed unrealistic hopes and dreams of others who have tried to get rich quick and suffered significantly at the hands of scam artists. These failures most likely far exceed the small number of success stories (who are probably not telling the WHOLE truth anyway).
Continue to search for truth and the good things in this world, but develop mature critical thinking skills.
If someone does scam you, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
(and to your local District Attorney, and on related scam artist whistle blower websites)