Sucker. The dictionary defines a sucker as a person who is gullible; easily convinced. Suckers are what all pyramid schemes thrive on. Fortunately, there are a lot of suckers out there. Back in the day people used to get up in the morning and go to work to earn an honest living. Work ethic was not something that one chose to have, it was imperative for survival. Things are different now. Globalization has changed the face of entrepreneurship. Tech billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg have transformed the way young people think and approach life. Everybody wants to get rich quick. Be the next young millionaire, but they don’t want to put in the work.
One of the fundamentals of economics and business is a little thing called demand and supply. When there is a large supply of unmotivated individuals with a bit of change in their pockets along with greedy people who just want to make a quick buck, it creates demand for a means to relieve them of their spare change. As a result, pyramid schemes are born. The modern con men are a crafty lot. They rent out office space in a prime part of the city. Bedazzle the company logo on the front entrance and go as far as registering the business to lure in unsuspecting members of the public. To preserve the façade of legitimacy they create an online presence. A neat little website which has no real content if you take the time and properly scrutinize it. They also proudly display their business certification number for you to look up just in case you need to. They will blind you with promise of riches and bait you with succulent mobile money transfers recently received. Hell! They even issue you with a VAT receipt when you buy in to make you feel secure.
Pyramid schemes in simple terms are exactly as they seem. Narrow at the top and wide at the bottom. Benefits trickling from the top to bottom. They come packaged in all manner of ways but like a wolf in sheep’s clothing the teeth are always a dead giveaway. It can be hard to identify when one is in a pyramid scheme especially when receiving the returns which often come in thick and fast during the initial stages. Greed blinds even great men they say (when I say men I mean women too -for the feminists in the house). Pyramid schemes are fundamentally flawed in that they cease to function when the base stops expanding. Trust me the base will stop expanding. It takes no more than 13 cycles of ‘invitations’ of five to reach tipping point. The point where there is no one left to join because the whole world is now part of it. I don’t want you to get caught out so I figured I should point out a few red flags you should look out for when an ‘opportunity’ comes your way.
1.THERE IS ALWAYS SOME GUY DRESSED IN A SUIT WITH A FLASHY WATCH.
These pyramid schemes sell you a model that is supposedly the holy grail of business. Queue suit and flashy fake watch. The gentleman presenting (it is always a man) will be charming and enthusiastic. He will make sure that you see his flashy watch and iPhone during the presentation distracting you from the bullshit he is peddling.
2.YOU MUST HAVE AN INVITATION TO ATTEND THEIR ‘TRAINING’.
If at any point you are asked who invited you to permit you to participate believe me it’s a pyramid scheme. The name of the inviter is necessary to establish a payment system. In short, the person who invited you gets paid a commission for making you come.
3.THE VENUE FOR THE ‘TRAINING’ IS AN EMPTY HALL FILLED WITH PLASTIC CHAIRS AND NO MARKINGS OF THE COMPANY/ BRAND.
The ‘business’ premise is virtually empty and unmarked if not for plastic chairs and tables-possibly an old tv or projector. If this doesn’t set off a mental alarm you need a psychological evaluation.
4.THE NAMES OF PRECIOUS METALS WILL BE UTTERED REPEATEDLY.
Listen to me keenly. Please. If you hear of gold, silver and platinum and they are not passing them out as gifts, it’s a pyramid scheme. Plain and simple. Pyramid schemes all over the world have this common facet. They must categorize their members based on the capital they have received from them. The more precious the metal the more money that individual has made for the company.
5.THERE ARE ALWAYS TESTIMONIALS.
I always find this amusing. Fellow cons get up on stage and tell you about their gut wrenching heartwarming stories. They will talk about how they were in low paying dead end jobs struggling to make ends meet. All the jobs conveniently pay roughly the same amount, in Nairobi the agreed going rate appears to be between 20-30,000 ksh. I must add, no testimony can be complete before the chairman of the organization is thanked for helping transform their lives.
6.THE INTORDUCTORY BUSINESS MODEL IS ALWAYS SCRAPPED IN FAVOUR OF THE MORE LUCRATIVE NETWORK MARKETING/ MULTI LEVEL MARKETING MODEL.
If this happens just walk out. No need in wasting valuable time. The presentation will begin with an introductory. A services/products(s) will be introduced to you. Things will seem normal until they unveil the grand plan which involves none other than a thing called network marketing/ multi-level marketing. Don’t be fooled. The introductory services were just to get you hooked now they are about to reel you in with a lot of imaginary commas and zeros. Whenever you are told that you don’t even have to sell the product to make money brace yourself for a real kicker.
7. MOST OF THE REPRESENTATIVES HAVE PHONES WITH CRACKED SCREENS.
I don’t need to elaborate on this. If the screen is cracked the job is whack. Period. Making over 50k a week and you can’t afford to fix your goddamn screen. Shame on you!
8. THE WORDS UPLINE, DOWNLINE AND BONUS WILL BE USED CONSTANTLY
If you happen to hear the mention of an upline and downline, run. Stand up and Bolt. These uplines and downlines are essentially people who brought you into the scheme and people who you have brought into the scheme. You earn off them when they also bring someone else into the fold. Can you see a pyramid forming yet?
9.THEY WILL LITERALLY DRAW A PYRAMID AT SOME POINT IN THE PRESENTATION.
They just can’t help themselves. The business model they are selling is so absurd they must illustrate it and guess what? They draw a bloody pyramid! One multiplies into two, two multiplies into four and so on. Open your eyes. If you see this and still subscribe to their madness then you are the biggest dummy alive.
10.THERE WILL BE A SMALLER GROUP SESSION AFTER THE MAIN TRAINING.
After the main session, the larger group of suckers is divided into smaller ones. This is the point where the fish have been reeled in and are about to be gutted. There will be a group leader who will ‘answer’ all the question you have regarding their business. What he or she is there for in the real sense is to identify any possible bad seed who will try to spoil the crop. Any question which are aimed at legitimacy of the organization will be deflected and instead promise of further understanding after you sign up will be peddled.
If you still invest your hard-earned money is such ventures after reading this then YOU are what is wrong with society. Online pyramid schemes are the same. You enroll then pay for an upgrade. There is a possibility that you might get your money back and even earn a tidy profit but when it collapses you will be responsible for the loss a friend or acquaintance will incur. Remember that the house always wins.