Walking the Online Minefield (Safely) to the Other Side
Although the names, dates and technology may change, some things just never do. Seasoned surfers know the internet is abound with online hustlers, and unfortunately the new media is no exception.
Recently I came across one of these hambones who also happens to be using Twitter to hawk their wares. The scammer is trying real hard to convince you to buy their course(s) or get hired as a consultant.
This character has also been doing some serious sucking up to a-listers, and from what I’ve seen so far it’s working. It just goes to show you what a little schmoozing and a pretty face can accomplish.
What’s that old saying? Oh yeah, “there’s a sucker born every minute”.The scam artists know this well and that is what they’re banking on.
Which is why I’m writing this post – so the innocent will be a little more net savvy as they make their journey on the hazardous road that we call the web 2.0.
Amazingly this person boasts thousands of Twit followers. I know of some hacks that can game Twitter. In fact I’ve been a victim of this myself, with twits suddenly showing up in my follow list that I never subscribed. So I assume this scammer knows about the cheat, or there are a lot more suckers out there than I first anticipated.
So I thought I would use this person as a case study to show you some common tell-tale signs that should set your alarm bells ringing. I’m not going to give you the link but if you should ever come across their site you will immediately notice the resemblance.
Tell-tale signs to watch out for web 2.0 scams:
- You join a Social Network group and get spammed with sleazy sales pitches. The social web is becoming a hotbed of online scammers trying to pick our pocket under the guise of being our friend. Well thanks for wanting to be my friend, but…
- Watch out for phrases like “Limited Time Offer”. Or in other words — better hurry while the offer still lasts (pant, pant)! I thought I heard it all on late-night TV infomercials but old clichés like this are still being recycled in the new media.
- They call themselves “Coach” or some other clichéd, self-absorbing title. How lame can you get. These characters are cropping up everywhere with their corny sales pitches. The funny thing is most of these so-called experts look like they’re barely out of school. Yet they claim to be know-it-all enough to be your online “coach“. My advice is to check their credentials and background to see how much knowledge and experience they really have. If you can’t corroborate their claims then whatever you do, don’t give them your money and run like hell.
- Their blog/site is just a front to sell you something. Many of these are obvious but some are very good at concealing it (even some a-listers). They recycle information from the web to draw you in to sell their books, courses, services (so call the “coach” eh) products, advertisements or some form of low-life marketing scheme. I’ve seen more of these splogs than I care to remember. Like I said before — run!
- They offer testimonials from their alleged customers without any verifiable contact information. Or they provide names of alleged business partners where everyone is a CEO or an Executive from a no-name company. Yeah, right! No doubt they’re just a network of sleazeballs swapping out names.
- The text is overabundant with LARGE print, bold fonts and bright colors. It is written in a format full of sensationalistic headlines, exclamation points and teasers that are designed to excite you and have you begging for more!
- Sorry, but I’m not impressed. Remember, if it’s written in a manner that feels like you are being manipulated, then it’s probably true. Also remember that if something sounds too good to be true — it probably is.
- They love using clichéd superlatives like ”Master”, “Success”, “Pro”,“Zen”, overused phrases like “Make Money” or some other hokey variation to describe themselves, products or services. They know this stuff attracts minions like flies on the proverbial poop. One exception might be the Robin Good blog that’s been around a long time using the term ”Mastermind”. No offence intended Luigi.
- They tell you everyone else is a scammer and everything that you’ve heard before is BS. Only they know what the “TRUTH” is (because the truth is out there, ya know) despite using the same sleazy tactics as those whom they put down.
- They claim huge incomes and that anyone can duplicate their “success” if you will just buy their course, or book, or… The funny thing is they don’t offer any proof that their so-called “students” have made anywhere near the amounts claimed. Apparently the only people making the big money are the same ones who make these claims selling us their courses, books, ads, speaking engagements… so go figure.
- “But Wait … There’s More”… near the end of their sales-pitch they might also have a so-called “special gift” offer to convince you to buy. In my humble opinion it’s no different than adding more crap on poop.
- They offer a “30-day risk free trial” – but insist on taking your credit card info anyway. Hah! Not my card in this lifetime.
Some things never change, even if the technology does.
What’s really shameful is some of the more “successful“ of these scammers try to reinvent themselves into media celebs. It really makes you go hmm. It also makes you want to subscribe to that a-list doesn’t it (rhetorical question).
Lately I’ve been feeling like a minnow swimming in a pool of sharks. Or a better analogy might be crossing a minefield of Bouncing Betty’s cutting me off at the knees. Whatever.
I realize that by writing this post I run the risk of being unpopular in some circles – especially with those who want to make money off the web. But this is not about me against making money.
It is about making money the right way, and the best way I can point that out is by exposing the mistakes that are being made. After all, just because you know how to make lots of money doesn’t always make it right.
There’s also something called ethics to consider.
So if you see any of these 12 examples then take my advice, turn your tail and run. Better still click on the next button or close down the tab.