Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Con men: Snake Oil in the New Millennium
One might be amazed in this day and age of high technology and supposedly higher education that con men still exist. Indeed they do, and still today many thousands of people are given a “financial shiv” for even considering the wares that are promoted to the public. Some con men have made a decade of living off of selling junk to the public in the form of fraudulent business operations and made millions, no matter how far fetched the deals may seem to the persons who come across their unscrupulous paths.

In the movie “Boiler Room”, there is an excellent representation of how just such an operation works. Although in this case the movie is about stock brokers, much of the same motis operandi still applies to the real criminal organizations. It’s a contest to see who wins and who loses. If the salesman gets your money, he wins. Guess who loses?  Boiler rooms still do exist, and are often raided by the Feds, sometimes in multiple locations as they move from place to place preying on the public.

And it can all seem rather innocent and legal. They can run ads on television for something like an internet kiosk business opportunity.  Investors can make millions they say, with these kiosks set up in high traffic areas like airports and shopping malls. For a small fee, travelers can do business on the kiosk or check email and such. This was of course, way before the technology that we all have today, and was a great idea based on finding a need and filling it.

Interested parties were told that they could make about $30,000 dollars on one of these kiosks. But, of course, this would never happen. Sold at markups that would seem embarrassing, they could have taken in about $17 million in eight months time. Employees in the offices of these boiler rooms often would not even know there was a criminal organization giving them employment.

When the Federal Police arrest these criminals, they often go to jail for maybe three years or so. And YOU KNOW what happens next.

The people who run these scams love to hear you say how obvious a scam is, and how they would never fall for it. They love to hear it because you would be surprised at the professional level of those who do fall for them. Just like in the movie, “Boiler Room”; these people don’t want to chat with the so called “stupid” people who fall for “get rich quick” scams. They want people with money. Now and then, of course, there is the young person who has just gotten an inheritance from a dying parent and is fresh for fleecing, but that is small potatoes to the professional scam artist.

They want persons with $50,000 to invest. Those people are often doctors, lawyers, engineers and college professors. Fraud is a crime that anyone can fall for. All it takes is the right con man and the right victim. The victim with the right buttons to push.

These are dangerous predators, make no mistake about it. If they set their mind to have you hand over your grandma’s insurance money and her gold coins, they will make it happen. How will you know them? They will usually say one thing every time: “You and I are going to make a lot of money together.”

I have written in this blog before about the car dealership industry in my article: “Car Dealership Hell” and mentioned how the industry actually favors hiring ex-cons because they don’t mind the way car dealerships do business. Personally, having seen the workings from the inside, I am amazed that ANY dealership isn’t outlawed in every state. But, for the boiler room con artist trade, it’s the drug user who is favored. They actually like the experienced person who will do anything for that next fix, and if that means saying anything and everything to get you to sign over the mortgage from underneath your family’s feet, then so be it.

It begins with the assuming of a social mask, a phoney persona, if you will. In a deceitful acting job the seller comes off as a person that seems legitimate. This is someone who is confident and successful on the phone, even if the reality is that he sleeps in his car.

Just like in the real “sales training”, the workers are told to imagine themselves in the big office, driving the Ferarri. They are the college football hero with trophies on the wall, pictures of their smart kids entering Harvard or Stanford for a bright future.

They are the big wig everyone wants a piece of, whom everyone wants to know because they figured it all out. They found the magic coin that turned failure into a King’s ransom. The idea is that when you finally ask for the money... and we’re talking hundreds of thousands here, their is no hesitation whatsoever in implying that the client on the phone isn’t going to be making the next entrance to easy street.

Understand this now, what I have said here is the key to understanding how drug addicts can persuade successful professionals into writing ridiculous checks without any investigation of their own. They are charming, forward thinkers with pin striped tailored shirts that have white cuffs and collars and a watch and chain hanging between their vest pockets. They have no conscience or love for their fellow man. They are street corner thugs without a gun, but with a million dollar smile instead.

Amazingly, a business can hire professional actors and run commercials right there on television with the late night movie. I personally know of a scam business that paid for a news segment on a morning show to advertise their “opportunity”. (In the guise of a news item) This was a “personal assistant” business on the outside, but inside it was a “money mule” smuggle. Thousands and thousands of people respond to these advertisements based on the appearance of a famous face, and it’s all a sham. The poor actors are paid for their read and their presence for the veil of legitimacy and then they leave when the contract is fulfilled. (Imagine having been a kid who just wanted to act, only to grow up and finding this kind of thing a reality.)

So how can this happen? How can successful smart people get conned so easily? Well, its all about the cloud of emotion. If you think you can’t fall for a scam, just be careful not to underestimate your emotions. We all have emotional needs, and they make us vulnerable. Fraud victims can’t separate their emotional needs from financial decisions and that is what makes them easy prey.

Getting a person emotionally confused is the first step to putting you under the “spell”. Yes, salesman everywhere know this is a sales tactic. Just try to talk to a car salesman’s customer when he is getting something from his office, he might pull a gun on you for messing with his “magic spell”. It’s called “under the ether” when they have a client in the fuzzy state where one doesn’t know which way is up. Once you are fuzzy and emotional, or in the case of the car salesman; once you have been in the dealership for eight hours and are worn out, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. You are fodder for the slaughter. (By the way, never give your keys to the salesman so he can move your car for you, they will throw them on the roof to keep you there until you buy.)

Need and greed are two of their most powerful tools for making you their victim. Once salesmen begin to engage you in the personal questions mode, the game has begun. I have had salesmen tell me that this is not true, right in the middle of a sale as if he had not even started on the presentation yet, but I know better. The sale begins with “hello.” Don’t you ever believe anything else. The conceit is that no one anywhere has ever had sales training and no one knows how it works or what they are doing, but if you’re reading this, you do now. So don’t be bullied into believing I am just a sore loser or some such thing. This is the truth.

Once your conversation sounds like a first date, you are being sold. “How many kids do you have?” “Are you paid off on your house?” Even scam artists know where to look for button pushing in your life. Once you start thinking about problem solving and NOT whether or not something is a scam, they have you right where they want you.

If one uses logic to deal with the sale, one would walk away every time. Your hard earned money is better off in your pocket or bank account than in some ”opportunity” presented by a complete stranger. But in a world where we are constantly fed “Nihilistic” philosophy; that is... that man is alone in the universe.... the more we tend to want to believe that the only fix to our problems comes from ourselves and the quick acquisition of fortune when it suddenly appears.

The other side of it is the promise of huge sums of money. For many people this is a life long dream, and they are already in love with any idea that looks like it can deliver.

Older people get scammed all the time because they are sitting on a nice, hefty, life long build up. The emotional needs of an elderly person are much more fragile. Ever ask how the grand kids are? You know what comes next. They have some real world concerns, things like having a fixed income or an economy that is leaving them behind... not to mention a world that places them on the fringe until they leave the world for good. With these folks, button pushing is easy and the tiger traps don’t have to be too deep.

One may not realize it, but there are traps everywhere, hiding in plain sight. Much of what you see in oil and gas deals, or bogus business opportunities, or even gold coin offers; are really just tools for stealing your hard earned money by convincing you to turn it over. Men are usually the biggest targets for these kinds of flim flam deals. Man is full of ego and “alpha male” type psychology, and that is all driven by their emotions. Insecurity is a silent partner, and “never feeling adequate enough” is the guy who lives in the guest room.

As I have said here, the sale begins with hello. If the guy on the phone can get you to do something, then he’s only a few steps away from getting you to do anything. If you are even directed to just write down the salesman’s name, because “it’s a name you will never want to forget”, then you have let the wolf in the door. Telling the guy you’ll just grab a pen and be right back is a big part of it, but it’s HOW you do it that tips the guy off. Rolling over emotionally and turning your brain off will cause you to come across as submissive. They have a sixth sense when this happens, and you are already sold, and sold hard... you just don’t know it yet.

Getting emotional quickly and forgetting the logic of it all is like placing the word “sucker” on your forehead. And conversely, if you investigate too strongly, ask too many questions or want to review with a lawyer first, the guy on the phone will probably hang up. It happens this way in car dealerships, too. If you insist too hard on having things that fit YOUR budget, and not the dealership’s profit, they just might angrily tell you to get lost. I’m putting that nicely for my readers. You had better not pull out a calculator either, or you will incur the wrath of hell. But, think of it this way, those are sure fire exit strategies if you ever need them.

Suckers don’t ask questions... they answer anything the sales guy asks. They don’t read paperwork, they don’t look for why the offer is a scam... they want the salesman to babysit them. You can always ask them for verification of the offers productivity, but you’ll be deferred to do so until after the call is over. At that time it will be too late. Funny thing about people is they often just want to hear the sales guy confirm legitimacy, rarely do they ever do their own homework. Scammers know this, and they count on the public’s “lemming” type thinking.

I know there are many of you who have seen the ads for reverse mortgages on TV. There are some older actors who seem legit and remind the home owner of his or her younger years, but these too can very easily be only a scam. If your home is worth $500,000 and you have paid it off, then you have $500,000 in the bank. Scammers know this, and they spend a lot of time just coming up with entire promotions to make you think about situations you would probably never consider otherwise, to loosen up your “invisible” money.

Why leave that equity for the grand kids, when you could turn it liquid now and invest in my dried up oil well? Wouldn’t a thriving oil well pay off better than the equity quietly sitting in your home value? They want you to think so. And remember, those commercial actors often know nothing about the veracity of the offer, they are just doing an acting job.

Not everything is a scam, of course, but often times the deal is a better one for the salesman than it is for you. I simply don’t understand how anyone can live with themselves working in sales. I really don’t know. Tell your grandma never to sign anything that some stranger gives her for taking out a loan with the bank and making investments. Make sure there is always someone who knows the legalities of any agreement before pen goes to paper. I say this because, going to the lawyer afterwards will get you invited to the door quicker than you can imagine. No one can really help you once you have signed to an agreement.

It isn’t only the real estate market which can be operated in an unregulated fashion, much to the hurt of the relator industry, but also the coin industry goes unregulated. Gold and silver coins can be sold today at stupid prices and their total lack of value won’t be discovered until years later when the trail has gone cold. I am not talking small change here either, one could pay around $25,000 dollars for those “once in a life time rare coins”, only to find they are worth only a few thousand dollars a decade later.

Just try and remember folks, in a fallen world, there are many people who do the will of their father, and that will can be very harmful to you and your loved ones. Be smart with money, learn discipline and teach it to your kids early. There are sharks in the water.... and they want your life blood.

...and oh yes, one more thing. NEVER finance your car through a dealership. NEVER! Listen to me, not them. You’ll thank me.
Ah! There he is!


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