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10 Signs It Is An MLM Scam
10 Ways to Spot an MLM Multi-Level Marketing Scam
Of all the home business startup options, the most feared and misunderstood is network marketing or MLM (multilevel marketing). The reality is direct sales (of which networking marketing and MLM are a part of) is a viable way to start a home business quickly and affordably. But like all other facets of life, there are shysters and it’s up to you to research and do your due diligence when investigating an opportunity. The challenge for you, is to know the signs of a scam.
Before signing on the dotted line to start a home business with a direct sales company, make sure you’ve read the 10 warning signs below to keep yourself safe.
1) No or low-quality product or service
There are many red flags that should warn you away from a business or financial opportunity, but the biggest is a lack of a product. Programs that push recruiting over the sales of a product or service might be a pyramid scheme. If a company isn’t focused on acquiring more customers to buy its products, but rather it’s interested entirely in “building a team” or membership of sales reps, consider it a red flag.
The foundation of any good MLM business is about getting products and service to end consumers. While building a team can be a part of that, income is based on goods sold by the team, not in the recruiting itself.
2) Outrageous & Unfounded Product Claims
Wild claims is seen most in health and wellness companies in which reps boast that their products cure ailments or work miracles. Outlandish hype is a red flag in any industry, including direct sales.
A successful business is founded on quality products. If the company you’re considering joining has bizarre products or products that seem too good to be true, use caution. The last thing you want your name tied to is a faulty product or a product which is the focus of litigation.
3) High-Pressure Sales Tactics
The most common high-pressure tactic is the lure of getting in on the ground floor. But in direct sales, a good opportunity is a good opportunity no matter when you get in. In fact, you’re safer to go with a company that has been around for more than five years (the longer the better) than a start up.
Any effort a representative makes to prevent you from studying the company, talking to others, or “sleeping on it” isn’t someone you want to work with.
4) Pressure To Buy and stock inventory
All MLM businesses will have some start-up costs. You can’t buy a McDonalds without investing money, and the same is true for direct sales, although its much less expensive.
What you want to watch out for are fee-based “fast track” programs or pressure to have inventory that requires additional investment. Due to this practice, the law now requires MLM companies to buy back inventory, but that doesn’t mean you want to be saddled with debt before you start and truly understand the business.
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Having a few popular products on hand can be nice, but don’t fill your garage with products unless you know for sure, based on your experience in the business, that you can sell them.
5) Poor Company Communication
Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. If you don’t get solid answers or are chastised for not being a positive thinker or believing in the company, consider it a red flag.
In order to be successful at any business, you need strong support and solid training. The law requires MLM companies give you a slew of information, details about the compensation plan and financial information about average income earned by reps. Study this and ask questions. If the rep is hesitant to answer your questions or glosses over your concerns, he’s not someone to work with. A legitimate MLM company wants you to be informed
6) Expensive On-Going Training or Other Business Items
Some Amway reps got into a bit of hot water for the sales of tapes they (the reps) created and sold. Most representative teams and the companies have free training either locally and/or online. While they may also have additional training (i.e. audio or videos) that you can buy, there shouldn’t be pressure to do so.
Further, most companies have an annual convention, which can be fun and informative, but expensive to attend. If a company routinely pressures you to pay for training this is another red flag.
7) Poor Better Business Bureau Rating
Truthfully, this is a difficult marker because the BBB routinely marks home business opportunities low simply because they’re involved in working at home, not based on any investigation. However, you can see if there are complaints and how the company dealt with them. If a company is responding to and fixing problems (all companies in every industry will have customer service issues), that’s a good sign. However, if they fail to respond or offer help, that is a red flag.
Deceptive advertising practices
Some MLM reps will promote their business as a “job” or use other descriptions to lure prospects. MLM isn’t a job, it’s a business. Any MLM rep promoting “employment” is using deception and isn’t someone you want to work with.
Other deceptive (and often illegal) practices include making income guarantees or suggesting you’ll make money doing very little work.
9) Cryptic “Job” Interview
Another issue that Amway and other companies were dinged for was how reps would lure people into coming to a “meeting” to hear how they could “leverage time and money.” Many reps and companies know people are leery of and have many misconceived notions about MLM, so they use deception to get prospects to hear their spiel.
However, many legitimate companies, working to safeguard their brand, don’t allow reps to advertise their name. This practice means reps have to find a way to entice people to learn about them without saying the company name, which can seem suspicious.
The important thing for you to remember is to follow your gut feeling. Good reps from legitimate companies that are prevented from using a company name in promotions are usually able to provide some idea about the business, including the company name, when talking to you in person or on the phone, and are clear that it is a business. Anything else should be suspect.
10) Unsettling feeling
Mindy Lilyquist, former About.com Home Business expert, who was once scammed by an MLM reports that, “From day one, I failed to acknowledge the biggest sign that something wasn’t right – my gut. I felt unsettled from the moment I walked into my so-called interview to the moment I no longer had ties with the company. In further hindsight, the other representatives also displayed unease.” The lesson here is to not dismiss your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, scam or not, it’s not for you. If you feel coerced or conned, then it’s definitely not for you.
While some of these 10 items are flags of a scam, some, such as unsettled feeling, aren’t necessarily a scam, but are definitely an indication that the home business opportunity isn’t for you. You can avoid a lot of mistakes and build a successful MLM business by investigating the company, choosing a product or service you can get behind, and having a belief, not only in the product, but in the company and system as well.
If it’s too late, and you think you’ve been scammed, there are some things you can try to get your money back, including contacting your bank, the reporting it to the Secretary of State in the state the company’s home office is located, and filling a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
5 Forex Scams Used in EAs, Indicators and Signals – Common Forex Signal Scams
In this article, I will talk about the second type of Forex scam – forex signal services scam. Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that every signal service you find online is a scam – my intention is to provide some clarity by showing you how to identify Forex trading signal scams and how to determine whether a signal service is worth following. I will also demonstrate how bad signal providers can make thousands in PIPS in minutes and verify this with Myfxbook results. I know this sounds impossible, but it’s actually very easy to do to fool traders.
How to identify Forex signal scams
- No third-party verification
The first sign that a signal service is a scam is that they have no verified results on Myfxbook, ForexPeaceArmy.com, or similar websites, like FXBlue.
If they show only backtests, MetaTrader4 statements, and monthly stats in PIPS, these things don’t count unless they are verified by Myfxbook or ForexPeaceArmy.com. So if there is no third-party verification, do not trust backtests or statements. It’s ridiculous how easily such things can be fabricated.
I’ll present two examples. For the first one, I did a quick Google search and came across a signal website, which I will not name, in the top 20 results. It’s a shame that such websites rank so high in Google searches when reputable signal providers don’t get a decent ranking.
In any case, the signal service I am using as an example does not provide Myfxbook results. Their stats are not verified by anything or anyone. As you can see in the first line in the above screenshot, they claim that on September 28 they made 9 PIPS on EUR/USD, 21 PIPS on USD/JPY, and more on other pairs, with a total 62 PIPS; however, we don’t know how many PIPS they lost before they made those 62. They claim they make a profit on every trade and rarely incur losses. Even if they have a losing day, they don’t have losing months. All this is extremely suspicious and not verified, so don’t waste your time and money.
The above screenshot is an example from a different website – this one is even funnier. They claim that they made 32 PIPS on AUD/USD without indicating whether that happened in 5 hours, 5 weeks, or 5 months. Perhaps they lost 5,000 PIPS over 6 months and made 5,032 PIPS in the last two weeks – a total of 32 PIPS, in other words. Don’t even bother looking at such results.
- No information about current open positions
The second clue that a signal service is a scam is that no data is provided about current open positions, as you can see in the example below:
When you load their Myfxbook results, everything is private – balance, equity, history, open trades, profit, deposits. There’s nothing to see, and it’s a shame that people believe such things just because they are on Myfxbook.
Yes, you should trust Myfxbook if you see that there are no open trades holding huge loses. Maybe they show a gain of 163%, but there may be open trades that – if you closed them all – you would end up losing half of your account.
Please continue reading or watch Common Forex Signals Scams Video #4
- No trial period or money-back guarantee
The next clue that a signal service is a scam is that they offer no free trial period or money-back guarantee. I would say that there should be at least a free trial period or a super-low charge of $1-5 to test the signals. If there is no free trial period, there should be a 30-day money-back guarantee. If none of those things are offered, stay away.
- Trading signals that do not match trading history
Even when a service shows verified results, always keep in mind that Myfxbook may be displaying results from a different strategy.
Let’s say that you have found a service with good Myfxbook results and signed up. For the next days or weeks, you receive signals. Everything seems to be fine, but you’re not making any money or maybe some. However, the trading signals you’ve received do not match the Myfxbook account on the service’s site. This is suspicious because it may indicate that the provider is sending random signals – in other words, the profit you made may have been pure luck. The service may be sending random signals until they pass that 30-day money back guarantee, but they’re stealing your money. Basically, they trick you with good Myfxbook results from a different website – it’s very easy to do.
- Unusual payments methods
There are many reputable online payment methods, like PayPal or ClickBank. If you come across a signal service that asks you to pay by wire transfer to a bank account on an island you’ve never heard of, or that requires payment option that doesn’t work in your country or is really new, don’t trust it. Pay attention to the payment options they offer.
How to know whether a signal service is worth following
These six clues will help you determine whether a signal service is worth following:
- The signal service has a trading record on Myfxbook, ForexPeaceArmy.com, FXBlue, or another reputable verification system. If there are no results verified by a third party, don’t waste another second; move on.
- Good trading signals with good strategies will have a trading record of at least 6 months and 100 trades. Without a minimum of 100 trades, there is not enough statistical data to make a determination about the strategy. If they generated 10 trades and they’re in profit, it may be luck or a long-term strategy where you could be paying to get one signal once a month or something like that. In my view, it’s not worth the money.
- Look into whether the strategy has a drawdown that you’re comfortable with; for example, can you live with a 30% drawdown? If you started with a $10,000 account that would mean $3,000 in floating loss. Some people would say that a 30% drawdown is okay, but for others even 10% is too much – they can’t handle the pressure.
- Make sure the subscription or performance fees are affordable so you can end up in profit at the end of the month – this is very important. For example, if you start with a $200 account and the signals make you 20% but the service charges $50 a month in fees, your profit wouldn’t even cover your monthly subscription. It doesn’t make sense to join signal services for small accounts unless your plan is to test them for a few months. Even if you have invested a significant amount, like $10,000-100,000, you should calculate the net profit potential. Will it be enough after you pay the subscription and performance fees?
- I’ve already spoken about this, but it’s an important clue: Do they offer a free trial period or a money-back guarantee? I would be suspicious if neither was offered.
- The service should clearly show current open positions because they may be holding positions in loss for a long time, a floating loss, for example.
How bad signals can make thousands of PIPS in minutes
Now, I will demonstrate how bad signals can make thousands of PIPS in minutes and verify this through Myfxbook. I know that such claims sound impossible but have a look at the screenshot of my MetaTrader4 account:
I have one trade open which happens to be a long position (1.0 lot) and, luckily, the market moved up. I opened this position an hour ago, but that proves nothing since everyone knows that a position can go into profit in minutes. If it goes against you, you can open 2, 3, 4, 5 accounts – these are demo accounts anyway. You would open positions in every possible direction (e.g., buy EU/USD, sell EU/USD, buy GBP/USD, sell GBP/USD) and wait a few minutes to see which one takes off, generating a profit of 10, 20, 50, or 100 PIPS. I will show this in my Myfxbook account:
As you can see in the above screenshot, the track record is not verified but that’s not necessary here – this is just an example. In any case, it’s the same account as before; since it doesn’t have a “Close” position it displays the message, “You haven’t made any trades, so there are no statistics to show.”
As you can see in the above screenshot, I have double-clicked my trade and opened this window. I closed a micro lot, 0.01 position. Then I clicked the yellow “Close” button, which says that it will close the micro lot of my USD/CHF position. The interface shows that there are 0.99 positions left, and that I have one closed trade that profited me CHF1.14.
Now, I will update my results in Myfxbook. Here’s a little trick: Go to “Tools,” then to “Global Variables,” and scroll down to the “Time” variable, which you can see in the screenshot below. Click “Delete” and then “Close” – this uploads a statement in seconds.
Then I click “Reload” in Myfxbook to see the results. It shows one closed trade and 11 PIPS. It’s only one position, but the statement shows that I made a total of 11 PIPS in October.
I just need to repeat the same action another 99 times, closing this position 99 times until it’s gone. 1.0 lot = 100 trades x 0.01 lots. To do it faster, I run a special script called “Trade Explode,” which will explode the trade by micro lots – each of these positions close with a profit of roughly 11 PIPS each.
Now I have 100 closed positions, each one with a profit of roughly 11 PIPS. When I update Myfxbook, it shows that the strategy made 1,321 PIPS. That’s a lot! In terms of money, I made CHF132.
It’s only one trade – imagine if you did this every day. If it hits “stop loss” you can open another trade until you have one where you can repeat this action and close it 100 times.
“Advanced Statistics,” which you can see in the above screenshot, shows 100 trades, 100% profitability, and 1,321 PIPS. “Average Trade Length” shows 2 hours, so no one will see this as a scalping strategy and, if they scroll down, they will see no open trades, no open orders, no floating losses in history – every position is marked.
Obviously, there is something wrong because all “Open” prices are the same (see the above screenshot). But if there were thousands of these positions after a few weeks, most people wouldn’t notice. This is how signal providers can trick you into thinking that they’re doing a good job, when they are not.
Always make sure you see the balance, the equity, the drawdown, the profit, and so on. Remember that you can choose between PIPS and Lots. You can also see how many lots were used in one day. If you see that the same number of Lots is used every day, it’s nothing suspicious, but maybe every other day there are Lots with big numbers like 10 or 20. This suggests that it’s a Martingale trading strategy, and that’s really bad.
In short, make sure you know how to read Myfxbook results because it can be very misleading if you don’t know where to look.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful and that you’ll join me for the next one where I look at Fabricated Backtest Results Forex Scam
Editor’s Note: The original video on this page was produced by Rimantas Petrauskas. The text version was prepared by the FPA. The text follows the primary concepts in the video, but has a number of differences in wording.
Crypto Signals Scam – Diggin’ Deep on Cryptoinformator.com
Open Source Article
Cryptoinformator.com is a website that seems legit – efforts have been put into its creation, one can see that. I was interested when I saw it, and as I am pretty much everywhere when it comes to signal groups (especially on Telegram) I was a bit puzzled when I recognized that I didn’t know the majority of the listed groups on the site. I scratched my head, do I such a bad job just knowing two of these groups (of the “worst”) and none of the 4 top groups? 350% in the bear markets with Altcoin signals alone – I should’ve heard about them! I am always researching to bring you new, good groups so I started to reach out to these groups over their websites.
Wanna watch instead of reading?
I was impressed by the search engine optimization of Cryptoinformator first. They came out of nowhere and ranked pretty fast for many relevant keywords. So I started to check their listed providers – I opened all of them in several tabs and noticed that all them had neat, beautiful websites with great themes, which have been modified to their needs in a very professional way.
Being in this business for some time, I noticed one thing: Traders share similarities with coders most often. If you worked somewhere in IT, you know you can have whether a good coder OR a good designer, it is almost impossible to find both skills in the same person. Traders are no different – whether they are good at trading OR in good in marketing (selling shitty signals to the masses) – this seems to be a universal law. However, these sites are made pretty well, so I got a bit cautious. My skepticism increased once I noticed that all of these sites share similar navigation, pricing, and website structure:
Crypto Alarm Navigation Signals.Black Navigation
And the pricing?
Signals.Black Pricing 2TheMoon Pricing Crypto Alarm Pricing
OK, OK – we don’t want to judge too early – maybe just one group copied the other? Let’s dive a bit deeper and check the servers. So many signal groups; they must be from all over the world, right?
Signal Groups Server IPs and Registration Dates
I loaded the domain list into one of my favorite tools (Netpeak if you are interested) and kazing– the scam theme became a bit more obvious: Cryptoinformator.com, 2themoon.us, luxurycrypto.club prooofit.pw have all been registered in one batch, excavosignals.com just a day before. Another thing to note is that these domains share the same Server IPs or at least similar IP blocks – and these IPs are all shared hosts by the hosting provider Namecheap. You can buy cheap webspace / VPS packages there, which come with a different IP, though often from a similar IP block. Looking at the servers, there are many scam projects on these IPs, but those are not necessarily connected to them, as these kinds of hosting packages are often oversold to many individuals so it would not prove anything.
What I actually found even more interesting is to check how Cryptoinformator.com gained their rankings. Let’s review their backlink profile:
Backlink Growth Cryptoinformator.com
Boom, some guys simply don’t like to play it slow and steady, but just took out the blaster and hammered as many links as possible to the site. This works, but most likely only short-term. It is a well-known technique called “churn & burn”. You spam your domain across the web to push the rankings fast, then you grab as much as cash as possible as long as the rankings persist. One day the Google penalty will hit, and they take their content, modify it and relaunch under the next domain. The server IPs showed a few more unused crypto-related domains, which might be by them; letting them age so they can start the spam earlier once they use them. This, in combination with the offered Lifetime Subscriptions, let the words “exit scam” pop up in my mind – though this is just a loose assumption. Another interesting sidenote is that, once you use the contact form on CryptoAlarm.net, you get the success message in polish, which gives a hint that they use the polish version of WordPress for their back office.
Contact Form Success Message in Polish
Checking their backlinks we can find some polish Tradingview profiles leading to the site, which could mean they have at least someone who trades and uses Tradingview.
But let off the assumptions, here are some more facts:
- all of these sites, don’t offer any kind of trial or free channel
- high investment needed for a black box service, where you cannot evaluate upfront what you get in the end
- none of these groups provide a public track record and can prove any of their statements on the websites
Many, many signals groups tried to get into our posts and contacted us, made offers up to three Bitcoins, but we always kept it real with our quality guidelines which we developed over time. If we approach a group we find interesting, they are usually happy to provide us with everything needed. So I reached out to all of the signals groups listed by Cryptoinformator.com, and we did get just a single reply.
Reply by CryptoAlarm.net
Well, I never offered a paid review or anything else, my exact email to them has been:
Outreach to CryptoAlarm.net
How does my request, which states it is all depending on the outcome, relate to their reply? Someone smelled a rat and acted diplomatically. But how on earth did they get their review on CryptoInformator? I doubt Cryptoinformator.com pays monthly fees, to monitor their results and present them out of altruistic goodness.
So, I went to the live chat of one the sites and asked for a public track record of their incredible success, this was the reply I got:
Ok, security is important, I get that. I do not get why it would be harmed by giving out a report, but hey maybe I am just not smart enough. So let’s check the statistics on the website:
CryptoAlarm.net: Extensive Statistics
Hm. At least no fluff at all. Looking good! Where can I send monies? When Lambo? But, please – let me check a free channel first, so I know at least that something does exist.
CryptoAlarm Free Channel
Bummer. Then I will move to someone else from the list by Cryptoinformator.com – let’s check the others, maybe there is a group which rings a bell for me. Oh, yeah – there are two of them:
PalmBeachSignals.pro – we had Palm Beach Signals listed once a year ago (before the honest part of the team – which was our contact – got kicked out by the other admin who turned the channel into another big crypto scam). Still sorry for having them listed in our beginning – we cannot foresee such happenings, unfortunately, but deleted the review as soon as we had been informed.)
Excavosignals.com – wait, Excavo? The Top Tradingview Trader? Maybe we found a legit and real channel here? Hmm. Oh yeah, I see the excavator, which is used by him as an avatar, must be real, right?
So which is real, the left one or the right one? I assume the left one, which is nowhere to be found on the Cryptoinformator.com Website. Oh and by the way – do you recall the date of registration for most of the sites above? It surely is an asset of their “signal website arsenal”.
And Palm Beach Signals? As far as I know, they don’t even ever have a website – CryptoInformator just uses their name as they have been pretty popular.
Now, you might ask yourself why they do list providers and call them the “worst” when the sites are made up of their own. It is easy: To increase your confidence in the rating of the other four sites which are the “best”. They might test which of the sites converts best and interchange it by time.
That’s it. Case closed. Another scam in crypto, another rice bag in China has fallen over. We wanted to present you a small exercise on how you can do your research and educate yourself to not fall for any of these scams. Shiny websites, seemingly independent rankings, insane profit numbers, which cannot be verified – this can convince quite a few newbies.
Stay Smart, stay with SmartOptions – where true numbers have yet a meaning.
UPDATE: ARE YOU A DETECTIVE OR A MADMAN, STEVE?
After exposing the scammer they tried to blackmail us (with that great subject line above), decide yourself if you want to trust people who send out emails like this:
Blackmail by Cryptoinformator.com
Oh, yeah we are always cooperating when we are threatened, hence we took the post down immediately! We have been scared so badly. Then the next email came in:
The Blackmailers by CryptoInformator feel a success!
So, as you see it is very important to keep people warned about this scam – feel free to share it on your websites, Steemit, Medium wherever you want to share it. We won’t blackmail or sue you for that
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