There have always been charlatans and con men (and women) around. It isn't a new phenomenon or one that came about purely because of the Internet.
However, the Internet has given the dubious characters who prey on innocence, desperation and/or gullibility, a massive stage on which to operate. To make matters even worse it has allowed them the ability to practice their deceptions in an anonymous way; something that wasn't as easy in those magical days before any of us had heard the terms www or email.
I reckon I have a pretty good radar for spotting scams, but even I am sometimes taken in briefly by some of the magical promises that these scam artists make. In fact, it happened to me this morning.
I had dropped my eldest son off at the train station and headed over to a small village at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. After taking my dog for a walk along the river bank, I headed to one of my favorite cafes for a hot drink and some gluten-free toast.
Usually, when I arrive at this particular cafe all the seats are taken, but today I managed to bag my favorite spot in one of the comfy seats in the corner. I had some writing I wanted to get going on so I already had my laptop out by the time the waitress came over with my morning treat.
At this point I have a confession to make. I should have got straight on with the writing, but instead of that I made that fatal mistake of checking my email. It is a bad habit and one that is almost guaranteed to side-track me for a good half an hour or more.
One of the emails was from a well known Internet Marketer. The subject read:
Subject: Guaranteed Outcome JV - Day 2 Update
It is rare that I get involved in any of these joint-venture launches, unless I REALLY believe in what's on offer - which is VERY rare indeed - but my interest was slightly piqued so I clicked on the link to see what it was all about. Before I knew it I'd spent quarter of an hour, or maybe longer, watching a promotional video with a silky smooth voiceover and numerous promises that beggared belief and some statements that I couldn't help think were bordering on outright lies.
I decided to do a little digging. I even signed up for the service to see just how many of the promises were actually true and how many were variations upon an interpretation of what could possibly be the truth if you stretched it far enough.
This 'scheme' revolved around something called binary trading, which is a popular area for today's get-rich-quick aficionados apparently. In a nutshell the system uses a little-known quirk of computer networks to take advantage of the spread between buy and sell trades. Sounds plausible, right?
I mentioned above that the promotional video included what I'd consider to be statements that bordered on outright lies. One that seemed about as fishy as a sardine packaging plant was the claim that this system would make you so much money that you'd be propelled into the richest 1% of the richest 1%.
By this point I'd totally sacrificed any hope of a peaceful hour or two writing, whilst enjoying my morning refreshments, so I decided to use the little time remaining to check on this statistic. It only took me a few moments find the following article on The Economist web site.
According to The Economist you'd need an average net wealth of around $73 million to be amongst the top one-percent of the top one percent. I seriously doubt that this interesting scheme could manage to achieve such results.
When Bernie Madoff was accused of running a $50 billion ponzi scheme in 2008, members of the investment community said the scheme should have raised red flags as it was "too good to be true". I can't help but think the same could be said of the The Guaranteed Outcome scheme.
I might be totally wrong. The Guaranteed Outcome scheme could be the modern day equivalent of Jack's magic beans or the goose's golden egg. There's nothing specific to say it is a scam or that there is anything in the slightest bit illegal about it.
Who knows, maybe some of these schemes are worth a closer look if you're interested in getting rich quickly and easily. My only advice would be to do a little due diligence before proceeding - even if that might just be a few Google searches just to make sure it isn't a scam.
I do try to keep an open mind about this kind of thing, so if you have any experience of these binary trading systems or of this Guaranteed Outcome scheme please do share your thoughts in the comments below.
I'd also be interested to hear whether you think these get-rich-quick schemes are becoming increasingly far-fetched in what they're offering or whether it is just me getting older and more cynical.