A scam is a dishonest scheme operated by individuals, groups, or companies in an attempt to obtain money or something else of value, to the disadvantage of the end customer. Nowadays, scams try to lure victims by hosting seminars to snare unsuspecting victims. It is in the public interest that we raise awareness of such operations so the public can differentiate between a genuine seminar and a SCAMinar
We just want to protect you from a carefully controlled environment that could hurt you badly if you are not informed about it. Print this out and take it with you to the next seminar you attend!
How do you get alerted that you could be in a SCAMinar? Here are some pointers for you to take note!
1) Fake Application Process
This is designed to make you think the program you’re applying for is exclusive. The thing is that it’s not an application at all. It’s a CONTRACT and frequently it is designed to get around the “cooling off” period.
In Singapore, the cancellation period gives you a minimum of 5 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) to cancel a contract for any reason or no reason. It is designed to protect consumers from high pressure sales tactics.
The “Fake Application Process” tactic uses a combination of the “take away close”….(making you feel like you’re losing out on something) and circumvention of your right to cancel in that they tell you that you will be notified later (past the 5 days mark) so you have no right to a refund. To protect yourself, don’t write down your credit card number. The date you put on the contract would be the date you were informed of your acceptance and the date you decided to proceed. This would still give you 5 working days to change your mind.
A speaker who refuses this, wants to rush you, claims the deal is only good right now without setting a time to discuss your participation should raise your red flag.
2) Fake Testimonial Sharing/Award Ceremony Program
The way it works is that the SCAMinar promoter hand picks people to go on stage to share their testimonials or go up to stage to receive an award.
The people all get in front of the crowd and praise the promoter to high heaven for their successes (these people are usually from one of the promoter’s high priced programs). All of this “social proof” sends the message to the people in the crowd that they can have the same success if they sign up for the promoter’s high priced coaching program.
Take all these exaggerated self promotion with a truckload of salt.
3) Celebrity Hype
People love celebrities. And that’s where the bait is. Con artistes and hucksters use celebrities to manipulate you into spending money you never would have spent had you been more clear minded.
In the right situation celebrities are really cheap. You can get “A” and “B” list celebrity appearances for as little as a couple of hundreds or thousand dollars. Skilled manipulators can get pretty well-known people to attend SCAMinars events for fees way less than $10,000. The reason this is cheap is that a SCAMinar promoter can sell you products/services from a thousand dollars to even $50.000.00 or $100,000.00. Multiply this by many people in the audience who bite and they’ve got a million dollar day and it only cost a tiny fraction to get a celebrity puppet to help make it happen.
So, you’re at a SCAMinar and you see a well-known person touting the promoter as good, so you figure the promoter must be good. WRONG. All you have just witnessed is a paid endorsement delivered by the celebrity and scripted.
The celebrity is not going to help you get your money back if the speaker /promoter rips you off. Don’t let them sway your decisions to “invest” or not.
4) “Done For You” Programs
These programs are designed to take advantage of 2 things.
a) Laziness and the dream you can have something fantastic without putting in much effort.
b) The purchaser’s inability to assess what they are “actually” buying until it’s too late and whether it’s worth it or not.
This falls into the “too good to be true” category. Expecting in any fashion whatsoever that you can have great success and riches without any effort is just ridiculous.
The insidious part of these schemes is one that sells poor and outdated information and misrepresents the prospects of success to people who have zero ability to assess the truth of what they’ve bought until it’s too late.
“Done for You” programs are often misrepresented, have little chance for success, are outrageously overpriced, peddling poor quality and outdated information. In addition to the ridiculous entry price, some might have the nerve to charge you a large monthly fee to maintain the nonsense they “helped” you create.
You should run from “Done For You” programs sold at SCAMinars unless you enjoy burning cash and don’t care if it’s successful or not. Challenge the promoter. Ask him to show you exactly what is the finished product “Done For You”.
5) Fake Urgency
Urgency techniques get people to act now. Pretty much the entire business world does and there is nothing inherently wrong with moving people to action so long as what you sell them is truly right for them and will truly benefit them without shortchange.
What makes it scammish is when the person claims that the “price is only good” in the next 30 seconds or hour. Yet, if you call their office 4 weeks later and say, “I was at your seminar. If you will give me same price, or better still, more discount, I will sign up…,”he/she says OK rightaway.
6) Lying About Results
A speaker guaranteeing you returns. A real estate speaker doing the same thing in combination with a “Done for You” scam talking about easy no money down.
With screen shots of sales that are easily expertly photoshopped, or real screen shots of profits figures that are actually fake, everything should be taken with another truckload of salt.
Misrepresentation takes on many forms. This is unethical at best and criminal at worst. Striking a chord of empathy from you and building instant rapport with you is a common tactic. Some flog a hard luck story. Others flog a rags to riches story. Secret formula stories are common too.
Unethical SCAMinar speakers/promoters have many chances to hoodwink you both at their events and in their coaching programs afterward. You need to know what will be delivered. If the speaker spends the entire time bragging about his/her own accomplishments and celebrity or media endorsement (unverified), that’s one red flag.
A shill or plant is a person who helps another person or organization to sell goods or services without disclosing that he or she has a close relationship with the seller. The shill pretends to have no association with the seller/group and gives onlookers the impression that he or she is an enthusiastic independent customer. The person or group that hires shills is using crowd psychology to encourage other onlookers or audience members (who are unaware of the set-up) to purchase the said goods or services. Shills are often employed by SCAMinar operators.
Providing fake testimonials is an highly unethical practices. Paid endorsements (Think celebrity endorsement) and quid pro quo testimonials are common. Some of these testimonials have hurt many people by convincing them something was good when it actually wasn’t.
10) Networking Promises
This is a slick trick that SCAMinar speakers and promoters pull on you. Throughout the event they show pictures of celebrities and industry luminaries. They put on a show to prove to you how “connected” they are even though they simply paid big bucks to get their picture with them or just took a fan picture.
11) Fake Credentials
An infamous option trainer in Singapore was successfully sued by some of his students to refund their fees when they realised his doctorate qualifications was from a degree mill and the expensive training was inadequate and sub-par.
Many charlatans falsify or exaggerate their achievements and abilities. I’m a “best selling” author. I was an “award winning” this or that. Well where’s the award? What was the award? How real is the award? Did you just copy and paste the award onto your website, advert or profile? How many books did you actually sell? How many books were actually bought by yourself and your own associates? Where are the verifiable sales figures? What company did you work or when you won the award? Who was your supervisor? Who can verify what you say? Is the award recognized outside your cubicle? Self awarded? Did you buy the award? Or win it on your own merit without favour?
Many try to spam the Internet with false positive information about themselves to bury the bad stuff and reviews by disgruntled participants who felt shortchanged. They are so good at it, that it’s sometimes difficult to find the real truth. They also pay money to get vendors to take down bad reviews online. Sometimes they try to intimidate those who give negative feedback with threats of legal action.
For good people, you can hardly find any. For the bad ones, once you start digging dilligently and you know who to talk to, you can eventually find a whole backlog of complaints.
The other problem is that these bad folks are skilled at manipulation and are able to get really nice things said about them by public figures, which bolsters their ruse of being seen as experienced and credible.
To counter this, do your research as best you can. If you see the person participating in one or more of these scams, steer clear. You could be the next victim.
12) Selling the Dream
In many cases the SCAMinars you attend will be mostly hype and selling the dream of success rather than giving you actual content that would help you achieve success. The entire event is continuous pitches with promises of the greatest information always one more (and more expensive) seminar away.
Sometimes the initial seminar has content and helpful material mixed in with the pitches. You can’t really complain too much about that if it was reasonably priced and you got everything that was promised in the promotion of the event. In fact, you can expect pitches in most events. That’s in part how they’re financed by the promoter who gets a percentage of what the speaker sells.
Many of the scams occur when you make one or more of the purchases of further training/coaching. So, be extremely diligent about what you buy.
It’s great to have dreams….but NOT pipe dreams created by people who only want their dreams paid for with YOUR money.
13) I’m a Christian. Trust ME.
This, like many scams is not really a new scam. This is where the fraudulent SCAMinar leader professes to be “Christian” or “They have found God”.
First of all, that’s pretty much an insult to Christians everywhere. Secondly one doubt if God is cool with it especially since the technique is being used to try to cover up past bad behavior and to soften up the audience.
It’s a shame so many good, God fearing people get taken by this tactic. They give the SCAMinar mastermind second and third chances. Giving SCAMinar operators a second chance is like letting them chop off your hand and then using the hand that’s left to help them sharpen their axe so they can cut off your remaining hand too.
“With proper nurturing the shepherd can fleece the sheep over and over again.” Good Christians don’t lie, cheat and steal and they certainly don’t use God to cover up their scams.
14) Live Demonstrations
This is where the SCAMinar leaders pretends to do something totally spontaneous to show how easy it is to do what what he/she is selling.
In Internet marketing it could be pretending to start a website and make online sales during the course of a 90 minute speech or some variation of that. This is easily planned and set up carefully in advance without the audience’s knowledge.
Conclusion. STAY ALERT
SCAMinars these days are conducted using a very controlled manipulative atmosphere. And tha’s our biggesty concern. It looks great, exciting and helpful on the surface, but is totally designed to extract the most money possible with ZERO regard for the well-being of the participants. If you’re lucky, you just lose your money. If you’re not, you could actually lose your money, friends, self respect and personal credibility.
If in doubt and need a second opinion, sms/whatsapp Empower Advisory’s 24/7 hotline at 8332 4283
To be more savvy about detecting scams, read on here
(Adapted from Tom Antion)