Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You call this "free-thinking"?

As I remarked before, by NOT holding an extreme position, you get fire from both sides.

When when you point out one side's blind spots, you got labelled as "obstructionist, misleading, inaccurate" and other derogatory labels. 


So what was a "stream of false and defamatory statements" that this guy was referring to? I'll link to it and you can see for yourself:





The only "negative" word I have used is "fanatic", as in "don't argue with a fanatic". 

What is the definition of "fanaticism"? 

Definition for fanaticism:

Web definitions:
excessive intolerance of opposing views.
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Yep, that's EXACT what it is. They are so convinced they're on the side of absolute truth (that is "self-evident") that they don't tolerate one iota of dissent. They are, by definition, fanatics. 

And the fact is they are such fanatics, they refused to be labelled as fanatics. When I quoted the definition back at them, my definition was deleted. 


And they claim to be "free-thinkers". Clearly, they mean "thinks-like-us-ers". 

Another item: they claim to be tracking the TVI Express scam:


Funniest thing: I posted that URL on their website. And they claim they're closely monitoring it. Must be AFTER I posted it, yes? Because you will find NO MENTION of TVI Express between April 2011, and November 2011. 

If they were closely monitoring TVI Express, how could they have missed an article published in South Africa back in AUGUST 2011? Or how TVI Express got its business license revoked in Indonesia, declared illegal in Lesotho, and various other developments? Clearly, they were NOT monitoring TVI Express (at least, not as close as I was monitoring it), and their dismissive attitude is merely a facade to cover their own lack of coverage on this scam.

If you point out something they missed, they claim they didn't miss it, they've been watching it all along. (Yeah right ) Clearly, to be a part of their "free-thinkers" one must pretend that DB and SS knows everything and choose not to share them, and then when someone else posts something agree with their claim that "we knew that all along."  

If you point out they said something that didn't follow logically, they censor your comment and claim you were insulting them, or they pull out some bogus logical fallacies, like "All MLMs are illegal because all MLMs are fraud and all frauds are illegal", when one cannot prove that all MLMs are frauds. When you ask them why all MLMs are frauds, they cite Robert Fitzpatrick, who, along with Dr. John Taylor, concluded that 99% of participants lose money. However, that doesn't in itself prove that MLMs are frauds. It just means that MLMs are financially bad for participants. It doesn't necessarily mean fraud (unless you define fraud as "losing money", which is way too broad).

I will go as far as saying that MLMs are always in danger of turning fraudulent, but I won't go as far as say all MLMs are frauds, because such a blanket statement is nearly impossible to prove (but not to these "free-thinkers", who even agreed that "MLM is not yet declared illegal in the US")

That's why I am an enemy to these so-called "free-thinkers". I won't go the rest of the way to agree with their extreme position. 

If you point out that censoring comments that in any way does not conform to their view is fanaticism, they censor your comment and claim you were insulting them. 

Does that sound like "free-thinkers" to you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

SpeakAsia: intent to violate the law in Bangladesh?

SpeakAsia was in MAJOR legal trouble in India, and the business basically withered on a vine in Bangladesh.

So it was surprising that some panelists are speaking about reviving it and run it as a NON-MLM company.

But they are keeping "uplines".

So already they plan to defraud the government: claiming they are NOT MLM when in fact they are. Why else would it have uplines?

5. If any one want to change the upline, then it would be allowed for 1 week or less
6. Speak Asia would run here as a NGO (Non Govt. Organisation) not a MLM (Multi Level Marketing concern)

http://www.thebhaskar.com/2011/12/speak-asia-would-run-bangladesh-as-ngo.html

When scams attack: using DDOS on critics

One of my most visited websites, BehindMLM.com, is down, and so did its companion site.

As it had worked for months and months without a hiccup, and today is on the eve of a MAJOR announcement in a scam it is tracking, either this is a terrible coincidence, or someone unleashed the "low orbit ion cannon" on it to prevent it from comment on the news.

If this is indeed what happened, this would be a SECOND time an Indian scam has unleashed a cyberattack on a website that criticized the scam. The first time was TVI Express unleashing LOIC on Ted Nuyten's website in the Netherlands.

UPDATE: FALSE ALARM

BehindMLM.com is back, apparently some sort of DNS screwup.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

True Neutrals Get Hit on Both Sides

When one encounters a polarizing issue, it is difficult to stay neutral, as you are viewed as an enemy both BOTH sides of the issue.

Such as MLM.

My opinion on MLM is quite simple: it is an extremely DANGEROUS form of business that is just one step removed from outright pyramid scheme. (I'll link to the article later)  I will not dismiss it as an outright scam, as it *is* currently legal in the US and abroad (in most countries).

To the opponents of MLM, I don't go far enough. They want me to say ALL MLMS ARE SCAMS. Thus, I am the enemy as I somehow "validate" existence of MLM, even when I agree that most MLMs are scams.

To proponents of MLM, I am out to bad mouth MLMs. Thus, I am the enemy of MLM.

See what I mean by getting it from both sides?



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Monday, October 17, 2011

WTF?! Ryanair wants to remove restrooms from their planes

Apparently, having 3 restrooms for 189 passengers on their 737's is two too many.

And no, I'm NOT making this up.

http://www.everydaymoney.ca/2011/10/ryanair-now-to-remove-toilets-from-its-planes.html
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

General comment about MLM and its supporters / critics

People who are involved with MLM generally comes in 6 types

  • MLM Grunts
  • MLM Stars
  • MLM Coaches
  • MLM Attorneys
  • MLM Opponents
  • MLM Critics

Each group have their own blindspots and strengths.

MLM grunts -- generally your "grunts", often addicted to MLMs, joining one after another always looking for the "big score", may even make some money, often believe in the MLM (no matter which one) with religious fervor. May or may not graduate to MLM upper level (see below).

Strengths: there are a lot of them, willingness to learn and earn
Weaknesses: often completely ignorant regarding the realities of MLM, such as what makes a MLM legal, easily lead astray by unscrupulous stars and coaches

MLM stars -- those with some recruiting skill and able to build a clique can take the clique from one MLM to another, probably spent decades in the business, and claims to make a comfortable living using his people skills, not sales skills.

Strengths: personal skills allows team building, knows most of the recruiting tricks and how to maximize profit in minimum time by leveraging his connections, have a bit of an ego
Weaknesses: often just as ignorant about the legalities as the grunts, often "raids" a MLM (move in, make a bundle, get out), ego often lets oneself get in big trouble with big mouth

MLM coaches -- "bottom feeders" of the industry... may be a direct participant, but often just use the "coaching" title to seek recruits for his or her current favorite MLM, teaches terribly obvious stuff, often advertise via Youtube and similar videos and generic capture pages. May also go by title of "marketing coach", "attraction coach", and so on.

Strengths: some may actually know something to teach, and some are honest about teaching
Weaknesses: most just want to get paid for "training" but don't want to get involved in MLM itself, too many of them impossible to check their bonafides, and most are just as ignorant as their students about MLM in general. Some "coaches" are just recruiters in sheep's clothing.

MLM attorneys -- they actually know the law that governs MLM, and advises MLMs on what is legal, and what is not. They sometimes also make observations about the industry and upcoming law changes.

Strengths: actually knows the laws involved: when they say it's illegal, it really is!
Weaknesses: has a pro-industry bias, as it is their livelihood, and can't really be considered neutral

MLM opponents -- i.e. "MLM is fundamentally fraudulent" critics, who believe MLM is just a pyramid scheme somehow legalized with minor differences. Examples include Robert Fitspatrick and Dr. John Taylor.

Strengths: have studied the issues at length, with sufficient documentation and such to back up a lot of their claims, hearts at the right place
Weaknesses: some are extremely inflexible in their views, and refused to even acknowledge the current legal state where MLM is legal, and pyramid scheme is not, and has a bit of tunnel vision

MLM critics -- those who consider MLM industry to be polluted by scams posing as MLMs, and are out there to  point out the "bad apples" before they tarnish the industry. Example would be Rod Cook, Troy Dooly, and so on.

Strengths: knows the difference between the legal, and the illegal, pretty close to genuine third-party as you will find
Weaknesses: has a SLIGHT pro-industry bias, as it must accept "MLM is legal" (which is fact) and use that as basis to root out pyramid schemes.

I consider myself a MLM critic, slipping toward MLM opponent, thus, I consider myself a true neutral in this mess. :D

This is my problem with DB, as DB is a MLM Opponent. In his world view, a "legal MLM" does not exist. Yet a MLM "critic"'s fundamental worldview is that MLM is legal, and pryamid scheme is not. Thus, somehow MLM critics and MLM opponents sometimes end up on opposite sides, even when both are out to bash pyramid schemes.

As for the rest, I consider the MLM Stars and Coaches to be... scum. Let me explain why:

MLM grunts don't know anything, and since they are always trained by coaches or stars, they will say whatever their upline (coach or star) say. And if the coach or star choose to tell them lies (or that was how s/he learned it: a lie) then the lie will be perpetuated. Most MLM coaches or Stars don't know much more than their downlines / recruits, esp. on the LEGAL issues. Some just use their skills to build a personality cult and get them to move from one MLM to another, thus enriching him- or herself at the expense of the members but blaming the members for their failures (I am doing great, why aren't you?)

Coaches are even worse. Coaches are basically grunts who thought they can make money by being on the edges of MLM without getting their feet wet. They often have NO idea what makes a MLM profitable or not, or even whether it's legal or not. Yet they want to teach how to recruit, how to generate leads, and whatnot, and get paid for teaching such things.

No doubt SOME stars and coaches are ethical, but I doubt there are too many of them. Remember, there is no barrier to entry in this field. ANYBODY can claim to be a MLM coach. At least with MLM star there's a bit of reputation you can verify, but that doesn't prove the industry is viable, merely that the star has interpersonal skills to form a clique.

What about MLM critics? We are often guilty of a bit of bias ourselves. We tend to look at the status quo, that MLM is legal, without examining the deeper issues (such as the concerns that MLM opponents raised and their research). MLM itself has fatal flaws that needs to be addressed, as it is very prone to abuse, until laws are passed and modern enforcement for financial crime beefed up, MLM critics will be too busy bashing the various pyramid schemes out there disguised as MLMs to study MLM itself.

And that leaves the MLM grunts as the real victims. If they run into a ethical coach or star, great. But if they ran into a scam disguised as MLM, or an unethical coach or star, then either this grunt will quit MLM altogether, become addicted to serial MLM, without knowing what's legal and what's not (never got trained in the right issues and knowledge), often aspiring to clone their upline, and so on.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Why don't DMV or places with incredibly long lines have SMS notification?

Everybody in California knows about the lines at a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). If you line up at 7:30AM (it actually opens at 8), you may be out by 9AM. If you like up at 9:30 AM, you probably out by 12PM. If you line up any later, you may be out before closing, but just barely.

They have an automated system now that gives out numbers, and then automatically announce "F07 at Windows 14" but it's still dumb. You never know how fast the line moves, so there's no estimate, so you're pretty much forced to stick around FOREVER, and if you happen to miss your slot...

Pharmacies like Walgreen can send SMS to your number to let you know when your perscription is ready to pick up. Why can't DMV do something similar? Say you're F47, you'll get a SMS when the queue is like F42. Then you can reply with CANCEL if you want to abandon the place (like you won't make it back).  The system can even predict how fast the wait will be based on the last 10 people processed.

How much would such a system cost? Minimal, and actually fit within their existing system. Should cost less than $1000 per DMV branch, plus cost to send the SMS, even less if you don't want the "CANCEL feature.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I've been declared Persona-Non-Grata, but NOT by DB

Final update about DB and his friend who has a blog that does good stuff, but is a bit too... insular.

If you have read this blog, you'll find that I had been polite on DB and friend's blog even though they are determined to cast me as an enemy. I spent much of the time agreeing with them, even though I have problems with some of their logic.

They did not like that at all.

Then the "friend" who actually owns the blog put out an entry declaring that I am no longer welcome on his blog, because I have demonstrated my affinity to the Amway scam. What?!

Then I realized that this guy posted a few comments repeating DB's point that there is no such thing as a "legitimate fraud".

I thought DB had abandoned that thought?

But any way, this guy, again, hates the term "legitimate MLM". Apparently any one who claims MLM is legitimate is an enemy. These are his words:

" For the simple reason there were no complaints and the law did not catch up, an illegitimate business would not become legitimate. And this is an established law. You are sounding that it something is legal somewhere because the law did not catch it up. It is sending wrong signals to the gullible. That is why you are not welcome to spread canards."


Clearly, this guy is ignoring the fact that even DB had stated CLEARLY that "MLM has yet to be declared illegal (in the US)". Thus, he refused to acknowledge such a thing as a legitimate fraud. 


Or in other words, he's holding a view "MLM is illegal", even though it's not an absolute truth. And he's banning any one who dare suggest otherwise on his blog all in the name of saving the "gullible", even people who dare suggest a more accurate statement "MLM should be illegal, but has not been outlawed in some areas". 


Now who's being unreasonable? But it is his blog. So, that's it. 


And they claim to be "free-thinkers", *sigh*. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Truce with DB did not hold

As expected, DB and partner have decided to interpret my question on how applicable RICO act is to MLM in the most negatively light possible.

An observation about a large MLM had tried to settle the civil RICO suit was construed as I am somehow supporting this MLM, as the partner claiming that I showed my true colors, when I cited the case to prove that the case had not been resolved, therefore this "private prosecution" doesn't mean anything YET.

Again, my position was misinterpreted. I don't disagree with the opinion that MLM industry has organized and entrenched itself to mount a vigorous defense for its right to exist. I agree that MLM fundamentally is flawed and causes losses for most of its partcipants based on available historical data. I simply question whether it had risen to the point where it should be considered "organized crime" in the style of Mafia and need to be prosecuted with the RICO act, and furthermore whether RICO act even applies to a "business model", even a fundamentally flawed one such as MLM.

(BTW, you should read a report written by an organized crime specialist G. Robert Blakey, it's fascinating stuff, about how much similarity there is between Amway and Mafia. Just keep in mind this guy was retained by an opponent of Amway to write this report, so it ain't exactly one-sided third-party objective opinion, but rather, expert testimony presented by one side. )

Yet DB and partner chose to interpret my skepticism to the RICO act application as opposition to their view "MLM is fraud", when it is not.

This shows the exact same pattern as before. Previously, DB chose to interpret my statement "MLM is legal (under certain circumstance)" (NOT an exact quote) as conflicting with their dogma "MLM is fraud (and therefore illegal)" (NOT an exact quote). It doesn't matter how many qualifiers I add, he takes personal offense at that expression, even after he corrected it to say "MLM has not been declared illegal". He simply refuse to even CONSIDER the notion that a fraud is legal UNTIL specifically outlawed, esp. if it's a new form (and once entrenched, it will defend itself to the death).  He chose to interpret "MLM is legal, but fraud" as a DEFENSE of MLM, instead of a statement of fact as the way things are.  Though he eventually conceded the point (by lamenting how law makers failed the public).

Same here. I asked if RICO act even applies to MLM (and a certain MLM company), and DB chose to interpret that as a defense of this particular MLM company (and thus, to his viewpoint). He had simply again, refuse to consider the possibility that RICO Act may not apply to the situation he had envisioned. His view is that MLM is a racket, thus racketeering law automatically applies, even though RICO act specified 35 specific offenses as "racketeering activity" that warrants application of the RICO act. Of the 35 offenses listed, maybe two activities are the most likely to apply: wire fraud and mail fraud, but both are a bit of a stretch, as explained before.

So, is it an attack on the fundamental view "MLM is a racket"? Or just  skepticism on "Does RICO Law apply to MLM?" Again, a matter of degree. If one's mind is only black and white, then perhaps skepticism at a PART of the claim can be construed as opposition. But that's not much of "free-thinking", is it?
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

DB Update again... Except it ain't DB.

Just when I thought DB and I reached a truce, his partner decided to play censor.

Previously I've explained an incident where a comment about DB's writing style was censored by partner, and how DB is fond of claiming that MLM is a racket and ought to be treated like one by applying the RICO act on them.

So I took a look at the RICO act, at the actual text, mind you, NOT the wikipedia summary. It defined rackteering activity as a LOT of things, but none of them really applies to what MLM does.

So I posted the observation over, hoping for an honest discussion on the limitations of RICO act and its applicability on MLM. as DB claimed that other countries should adopt similar legislation to RICO.

The observation was DELETED by partner, with a comment about it's unsolicited, misinterpreted, and untrue.

Unsolicited is fine, but hardly irrelevant, as it was DB that kept mentioning RICO act  (3 times in past 5 blog posts).

Misinterpeted... Okay, except the partner claimed I misinterpreted WIKIPEDIA. I did NOT! I interpreted teh ACTUAL TEXT of the law, NOT Wikipedia! (I even included to link to the text)

Untrue, that people have inintiated "private prosecution" of Amway under RICO act... Okay... Google... yep, some former Amway reps sued Amway under RICO act, which is one of the provisions... private lawsuits. However, the case has NOT concluded, and Amway is prepared to settle the case back in April 2011, but the judge didn't like the settlement and told them to work it out some more.

That wasn't a conviction or even an admission or guilt.

Thus, the partner's behavior is extremely troubling. To be blunt, this person is censoring any comments that can be remotely construed as counter to their viewpoint, that they cannot debate or ridicule. if they think they can ridicule it, then they will publish it and ridicule it. If they can't, they'll delete it and claim "they don't allow untruths to be posted for the free-thinkers".

Clearly, there's a limit to their free-thinking.

Now let's go onto RICO, and MLM.

The lawsuit, which can be found here, claimed that Amway's business is fundamentally fraudulent, thus any attempt in mailing stuff out to members and communication over the Internet to promote such business model would constitute mail and wire fraud, which ARE two activities listed under racketeering activities under the RICO act.

As you can see, this gets messy very quickly, but then, lawyers are known to stretch the truth somewhat. :)

To make RICO law applicable to Amway, you must prove that wire fraud and mail fraud took place

You then have to prove that the magazine subscriptions are indeed, fraudulent, or contain material that are fraudulent, thus, constituting mail fraud.

You then have to prove that the internet communications are indeed, fraudulent, or contain material that are fraudulent thus constituting wire fraud.

If you can prove TWO of those acts are fraudulent, then you can have a RICO case, as two acts within 10 years constitutes racketeering.

You see the problem? What's in the Amway magazine? Have you read one? It's basically a bunch of self-help tips, profiles on 'successful' IBOs, announcement of new products, new markets, and other developments. In other words, a cheerleading magazine designed to make Amway look good. But is it fraudulent?

Or is Amway's website fraudulent? Because if it is, then it's wire fraud.

See the problem? How do you exactly prove that the magazine is fraudulent or promotes fraud? How about proving that the website is fraudulent or promotes fraud?

Hmmm...




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Update on DB's situation

Getting DB to admit fault is like pulling teeth. What's worse, he has a partner what won't tolerate criticism of DB.

What's worse, DB's writing style is extremely annoying to readers, as he has a tendency to assume things that he had little evidence of, simply to denigrate his "opponent", such as... me.

As I've written on here before, I am NOT DB's opponent. We both hate frauds, albeit we have somewhat different scope.

Yet DB is so fixated on "MLM is a fraud" he refused to accept the fact that "MLM is legal (in the US)". And because I had stated so, he somehow decided I am his opponent. And he proceed to cast various aspersions on me for making such an OBVIOUS STATEMENT OF ACT.

So I ask him why does he not accept this fact, and his reply? MLM is fraud, fraud is illegal, therefore MLM is illegal.  (He then goes into how MLM is a racket that should be charged under the RICO Act and how all law enforcement have been deceived... blah blah blah, more on that later)  And he made a correction... Instead of "MLM is legal", it should be that "MLM has not been declared illegal."

At the time, I was quite tempted to reply, "what's the difference?" Though I decided to concede the point and argue about it later. You see, there is this "presumption of innocence" principle in US law... but later.

So I replied, okay, I'll change that, I agree. But you could have said that in ONE SENTENCE! You were extremely wordy!

Then his partner took offence of that observation and DELETED MY COMMENT, even the part where I AGREE WITH THE CHANGES!

More on that later.

I posted a FURTHER explanation. DB refused to accept that there is such a thing as "legal fraud". According to DB, fraud cannot be legal, even though it clearly does exist, such as when law failed to catch up with changing times. (EX: Stalking wasn't illegal until laws are passed specifically against it only after some stalker killed famous actress, if I recall correctly).

It's clear that DB's mind is made up, and refused to consider any facts I present. So I hauled out an expert who we BOTH admired, and a direct quote from him that clearly stated that there is such a thing as "legal fraud". He even named multiple examples.

To my surprise, DB's next blogpost made NO mention of me, no more personal attacks on me, my thought process, my nationality and so on.

A truce is perfectly acceptable.

We'll discuss possible application of RICO to MLM "racket" next time.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

This is what happens when I get baited into a debate I should have never been in....

A while back, I got into a debate on which I am ill-prepared for about that very big company known as Alticor. Let's call my "opponent" DB.

DB believes all companies like Alticor are evil, and want them all to be outlawed. In fact, he considers all of them pyramid schemes, and the US FTC made a big mistake in legalizing a certain form of it, known today is multi-level marketing, or network marketing, back in 1970's.

I tried to point out that there are something even MORE evil, such as a pyramid scheme, esp. pyramid schemes that disguised itself as MLM. I've studied such a scam for a while on my other blog. For a week, things are rather cordial.

Then things start to turn sour when DB realized I won't join him in condemning Alticor. So he started calling me names. And we digressed into discussion on something I have NO experience on.

My MLM knowledge is on a scam which PRETENDS to be a legal MLM. A scam that pretends to be legitimate must be even MORE EVIL than a legal MLM, right? Despite several attempts to explain to DB that I won't pass judgment on Alticor because I have not studied it, DB had labelled me "opponent" and proceed to eviscerate me on his blog. Actually, it's not even his blog, though he blogs on it more than the owner.

(BTW, that blog is not a bad source for info, if you can get past DB's grandiose writing style)

I never claimed Alticor to be good business. I only recalled proclaiming it to be LEGAL. One of my defenses was citing an anti-MLM expert (who have indeed studied the subject extensively) who stated in one of his missives that most MLMs are pyramid schemes, but there are some legal and ethical ones out there.

So DB's response? He claimed to know the guy personally and thus he knew that this expert had yet to find a single ethical and profitable MLM company, and thus I had misrepresented this expert's position. Then he, in his typical gradiose verbal style, demands an apology from me to all the readers of that blog for my "intellectual dishonesty".

How was I supposed to know that the missive itself was not accurate, DB?

In any case, DB, if you want an apology, the apology you'll get is... I admit to being stupid enough to be sucked into a debate from which I am ill-prepared for, and should have never participated, though I still consider you a "friend" in the sense that we are both anti-scam.

You stick to your crusade, and I'll stick with mine.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gifting Circles are ILLEGAL Ponzi Schemes!

I've seen morons that claim "gifting circles" are legal because no returns are "expected".

Well, the Federal Government begs to differ, as it is investigating into such on the East Coast.

So what the heck is gifting circle?

You start at the "outside" of the circle. You need to gift some money into the person in the center.

Keep giving, and you move closer to the center.

When you reach the center, YOU will be receiving the money.

Sounds interesting? Sounds stupid to me. It's a pretty darn blatant Ponzi scheme.

Yet some morons claim that because IRS allow "gifting" of assets under tax code, gifting circle is legal.

Clearly they didn't read the section on pyramid schemes.



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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Does Massive Vulnerability to Pyramid Scheme Hint at Deeper Problems in India?

Recently India had been rocked by a massive financial fraud known as "SpeakAsia". The company started almost two years ago and claim to be a "survey company" where participants just need to join, get monthly e-zine, and then take surveys to make money. However, casual examination of its compensation package revealed to be a thinly disguised pyramid scheme that relies on recruiting new members, who also subscribe to the program. The more you recruit, the more you "earn".

What is interesting about the phenomenon is the fervent defense by the "believers" of SpeakAsia, who shows all signs of being a brainwashed cult member, who can only recite "SpeakAsia is Great, death of all enemies of SpeakAsia" or its variants. Some even called upon death of the government as it is the only thing standing between them and prosperity under SpeakAsia.

Is there some thing to learn from this mess? Is there some deep-seated vulnerability of Indians to scams?


The Cult of SpeakAsia

In April and May 2011 TV Station did a massive expose on the scam, and lid started to came off the scam, which by then claimed two million members in and around India, even though the company is supposedly based in Singapore. Multiple agencies in India started investigating, and accounts were frozen, then unfrozen, then frozen again. COO was then arrested for financial irregularities and forgery. (See details )

What remains constant is massive amount of "popular support" by SpeakAsia members, who sprouted statements such as
india poor. Do u know why. coz some people like this word. Who r they. Who fight against saol to get down. They are bad man of india. Die badman of india. if u die than we can earn. We can rich we want to hear india is rich.
SAOL = Speak Asia Online

Basically, the only thing standing between them and prosperity through this scam is the government, so the government must go.

The calmer ones blame the government for freezing the assets of SpeakAsia so they lose their money:
But what about the people who have already put in thousands of rupees into this, because of the govt. taking action, the current investors are also not getting their money back!! is that not wrong ? shouldn’t the govt protect the investors’ interest ? 
SpeakAsia definitely did not help the situation by releasing a video portraying all challengers as the devil(s) incarnate (red cape and devil face).

(See screen caps of videos and the actual comments at
http://behindmlm.com/companies/speak-asia-online/speak-asia-lose-the-plot-bollywood-meets-mlm/
and
http://behindmlm.com/companies/speak-asia-online/speak-asia-online-coo-tarak-bajpai-arrested-in-mumbai/comment-page-1/#comment-28420 )

Did all these people (let's say, HALF of the panelists, or 1 million) got brainwashed into trusting this SpeakAsia scam more than the government? Or is there some deep sense of distrust of the government that remained untapped until this fraud exposed it and exploited it?


Pyramid Scheme and Power of Reality Inversion

Pyramid schemes, when gotten large enough, can actually topple governments. Government of Albania was destroyed in 1997-98 by pyramid schemes and over 2000 people died in the chaotic aftermath. A series of pyramid schemes ensnared 2/3rd of population, according to IMF report, and it took several years for Albania's economy to recover.

In Colombia, a major Ponzi scheme ran by DMG Group (which also was used to launder money from drug trafficking) collapsed in 2008, and in a rare cooperation between nations, the head of the scheme, David Murcia Guzman, was extradited to the US, convicted of money laundering, and will serve 8-year sentence here, THEN remanded back to Colombia to serve ANOTHER 30 years sentence. The scam involved up to two BILLION dollars, and severely damaged the credibility of the Uribe government when it was revealed that two of President Uribe's sons were good friends of the head perp. Riots broke out in several cities and mobs appeared to ransack (or try to) DMG offices. Police had to use riot gas to disperse the crowds.

What's interesting is some of these people claim that David Murcia Guzman was doing the country a favor... by passing on some of the wealth to the poor.
But there was a twist to this Icarus-like story: many of the small investors in D.M.G. saw Mr. Murcia not as a swindler but as their savior and protested his capture in almost a dozen cities. They claim the government’s intervention in D.M.G., not the nature of its activities, caused the loss of their savings. A hunger strike by his most die-hard supporters, who want his release and the reopening of D.M.G., persisted well into January in the colonial heart of Bogotá.
... Supporters chanted “Crea en Dios y en David Murcia” (“Believe in God and in David Murcia”).
          ( link to NY Times Article here )

What is it about pyramid schemes that can lead people to see evil as good, and see villain as hero? The only thing to compare it to is a cult, and not merely a cult, but a DESTRUCTIVE CULT.


Pyramid Scheme as a Cult

Virtually every nation have laws against operating pyramid schemes, because the losers vastly outnumber the winners. European Union has laws under "consumer protection directive", and is a common set of laws across all European Union Members. In the US, the laws are slightly fragmented, as some is regulated by SEC, some by FTC, and some by individual states.

Indeed, such a problem is in India, where multiple agencies realized they don't seem to have laws to enforce on a company which is not physically present in India. While India does have a "Prize Chits and Money Circulation Fraud Law (anti-)" there is no National Agency to enforce this law. Instead, enforcement must be initiated by individual province. The National Reserve Bank of India, as well as Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and Economic Offenses Wing (EOW), of various provincial governments finally responded recently with arrests and freezing of accounts, but it is estimated that over 100 million dollars have already left India for accounts in Singapore.

And it is amazing how much support this scheme still has among the "Speak Asians", as they refer to themselves (actually, that's a company term, as one of its marketing campaigns is "I am a Speak Asian"). Do they exhibit any OTHER signs of cult membership? These are the signs from CultClinic.com

  • Thinking in black and white terms  -- YES
  • Using a new language/cultic jargon  -- YES
  • Saying goodbye to all old friends and only seeing people affiliated with, or not critical of the cult -- PROBABLY YES
  • Creating distance from family, especially during holidays and family events -- UNKNOWN
  • Euphoric, yet simultaneously tired and worn -- PROBABLY YES
  • Humorless -- UNKNOWN
  • A change in diet and sleep patterns -- UNKNOWN
  • Low on money -- YES
  • Poor grades -- UNKNOWN
  • A dismissal of their life prior to involvement with the group as "all bad" -- UNKNOWN, PROBABLY YES
  • A change in goals, priorities, and life plan -- YES
  • Return to child-like behavior -- UNKNOWN
  • Dogmatic adherence to new beliefs/ideas, with the inability, or lack of interest to logically assess these new beliefs -- YES
  • Secrecy -- UNKNOWN

Wow, that's a lot of yes signs for something that wasn't supposed to be a cult at all.

Vulnerability to a Cult (of Money)


It is interesting that such a cult of money is often formed in the poorer areas of the world. Colombia, Albania, Indonesia, India... all have seen bouts of pyramid schemes where many are cheated of money, because they see the "potential" of such schemes, but not its illegality.

What do pyramid schemes offer? "Instant riches", enough to change the life of a typical family in those areas.

They don't care if it's illegal or not. They just want the chance, if they don't have to directly cheat, hurt, kill, or steal to get it. If you just TELL these people it's illegal pyramid scheme, they won't believe it. They can self-justify themselves into seeing it as "it's okay, it's not THAT illegal." Esp. if they are taught to see it as "introduce that other party to the opportunity so THAT person can also be rich like you."

It is also worth noting that these countries have rather low opinion of their governments in general. So words of the government are not always trusted by the people. After the DMG fiasco, 77% of the people in the area thinks things are going badly, and they blame the government more than DMG.

Add some mind-control techniques, and you got yourself something that acts like a cult, but is not a cult per se. There is no "leader" and there is no "dogma" (other than "_____ is great, join us.")

Conclusion

Pyramid schemes are illegal, as it leaves damage both financial and psychic. Members are basically brainwashed into believing in money and the scheme, and the conversion is subtle yet unmistakable.

It is important for all to be aware of such schemes, and alert authorities at first sign of trouble. The earlier you can get to the scheme, the less victims it will have.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There is no "Forever 27 Club", darnit!

This whole thing was invented by a bunch of media sensationalists!

http://hubpages.com/hub/Forever-27-Club-and-Amy-Winehouse-is-the-curse-real-or-just-sensationalism
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Mobile apps: do people honest don't expect people to fill the field?

I am running Coolendar, an interesting hybrid calendar / todo mananger. it's great on the PC.

However, there's no smartphone version. You're supposed to use the "mobile" website.

So I logged into it via my Google account. That works.

However, the "filter by hash tag" doesn't work.

What's more, the field doesn't display all the content in that field. Scrolling is impossible.

WHO THE **** designed it? It's "optimized for tablets", apparently!


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why "Avoiding Negativity" is stupid, and people advocating it is also stupid

This sign (pictured) was shown several times t...Image via WikipediaThere are some so-called motivation coaches (esp. MLM coaches, which goes under various names, like "attraction coaches", "networking coaches", and so on), that advocate "avoid negativity". This can be seen on many websites. In fact, some MLMers have even named the people who wants to give MLMers a "reality check" "dream stealers".

And that is just a STUPID idea. It's like trying to eliminate PAIN from your body.

Without pain, you wouldn't know when to stop doing what you're doing. You would hold your hand over an open flame until your hand burned to a charcoal crisp, and you would not even flinch.

Without negativity, you wouldn't know when to stop doing what you're doing either! You would continue to invest time and money and energy into a lost cause until you're in so deep, you can't get out, and you are HAPPY doing so!

What you need to do is eliminate IRRATIONAL FEAR AND DOUBT, NOT ALL NEGATIVITY.

If you eliminate all negativity, you end up being reckless as you have no sense of danger.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Danger-of-Seeking-Positivity-and-Ignoring-Negativity

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Did you ever read the "fine print" in those MLM 'contracts'?

In any sort of business, there is always a contract or agreement: you agree to do this, in exchange, I agree to do that. In a job, you agree to work for me, I agree to pay you. It is no different in a MLM.

If there is contract, just "recruit!" then it's obviously a pyramid scheme.

But even if there is a contract, there are hidden clauses with which the company can just discard you like rag doll after it no longer needs you.

Here are some such hidden time bombs hidden in "independent distributor agreements". 
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Two more comments about MLM stupidity

-- Carl Sagan, as quoted in Cosmos, PBS TV



When some people claim extraordinary things, they expect people to just believe them with simple claims (with NO evidence) or just a few bits of so-called evidence. This is especially true for MLM / Network Marketing. It seems every other MLM out there claim to make you immensely rich with virtually no effort. 


Such claims of get-rich-quick is obviously an extraordinary claim, and thus, require extraordinary evidence. And such evidence is NEVER forthcoming. Most evidence falls into following categories:


* it's so easy!  (i.e. I can do it, and so can you!)


It looks so easy on TV or in person, but did the speaker actually succeed? 


* just look at all this money and goodies I got here! 


Doesn't prove it's actually a success. Most luxuries can be rented. 


* it's new and therefore it's good!


New isn't always good. New disease is bad.


* just believe me and I will make you rich!


So is the guy a cult leader or a businessman? 


Here's some surprising (to some) statistics on a MLM company that will tell you who made money... and who did not.

Any one heard of YTB? aka Your Travel Biz? aka Zamzuu?

Here is the published figures on YTB, BY YTB, about who made money in their business in 2007, and who didn't.

http://www.ytb.com/downloads/YTB_IncomeDisclosure_2-8-08.pdf

For those of you who are challenged at math, or can't read charts, here's the simple and honest truth:

97% of reps made LESS THAN $2000 USD IN the ENTIRE 2007 under YTB, from the company's own numbers.

LESS THAN TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS IN THE ENTIRE ****ING YEAR.

The top 3 guys on top (obviously the founders) averaged 3 million EACH that year.

Yet every single one of these "reps" paid THOUSANDS into the system "buying" a travel franchise, so they thought.

YTB later changed its name to Zamzuu, was sued and forced out of Illinois and California and paid millions in damages, and is believed to be going bankrupt. (See below)

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to use 48 Laws of Power for Evil (sort of)

Cover of "The 48 Laws of Power"Cover of The 48 Laws of PowerThis is NOT a "how to", but rather, how scammers use 48 Laws of Power to gain control over you.

What is 48 Laws of Power? It is a set of "rules" written by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers condensed from a lot of interpersonal relation tips. Some of them are especially useful for fraudsters:


Law 3
Conceal your Intentions
Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions.  If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense.  Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelope them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

This is how pyramid fraudsters operate:  lure people in with various promises of wealth, guide victims down the path, and by the time they realize the fraudster(s) have used them to suck in all FRIENDS AND FAMILY, it's too late (for them).

 Law 4
Always Say Less than Necessary
When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control.  Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike.  Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less.  The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.

Scammers will say things just enough to create the impression that they have said more. They will evoke imagery so you can draw the rest of the picture yourself. It's like "Inception", where the mind creates its own people populating the imaginary world. A certain travel scam was very careful in NEVER stating who their corporate officers were, but gave some misleading "admiral" and so on "office bearers" that other people have assumed to be corporate officers. In a different part of the scam, they deliberated misquoted Warren Buffett so make it seem as if the scam was owned by Warren Buffett when it was certainly not!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Egotistic Non-Doctor claims she knows more about vaccination than anybody

Anti-vaccination people actually set up a booth at babies expo trying to promote their pseudo-scientific beliefs. What gall! Here's two of those fraudsters exposed on Australian 60 Minutes.

The white-hair one on the right is Viera Scheibner. She insists on being referred to ad Dr. Scheibner. What she doesn't tell you is that her PhD is in micropaleontology, i.e. study of little fossils. That's right, she has no medical training other than, by her own admission, a nursing course when she was young.

The woman on the left, Bronwyn Hancock, is even more idiotic. She's web developer and nothing more. She was once quoted as saying that there was no "shaking baby syndrome", and all shaking baby deaths were caused by vaccines.


Watch this segment and see how these fraudsters blame the parents for their child's death. Viera was quoted ON CAMERA saying that the parents of the baby that died of pertussis (whooping cough) killed the baby because they let the doctors immunize the baby for hepatitis B, which somehow made the baby more vulnerable to pertussis. When asked where is the proof of such, and whether could she be wrong, she walked out of the interview.

The danger of vaccine refusal is erosion of herd immunity.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Herd-Immunity-Why-NOT-Vaccinating-Your-Children-Can-Hurt-Other-Children

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Do People use Pictures Not of Them in Social Profiles Any Way?

People are picking pictures of criminals, porn stars, and so on, as their social media profile pix.

Don't they know they look stupid doing so?

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-choose-your-Profile-Photo-for-Social-Media-a-list-of-dos-and-do-not-dos
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Friday, July 1, 2011

Are Conspiracy Theorists More Receptive to Baloney?

Lenticular cloudImage via WikipediaConsider this... Conspiracy Theorists do not accept the "common" view of the events that happened. For whatever personal reasons, they chose to instead embrace a theory / world view that is vastly different (and frequently, completely illogical, when all evidence have been considered).

So it is not too surprising that some people consider them to be prime material for scams, is it? After all, scams require you to pretty much abandon logic and common sense, and instead believe baloney like "shortcut to wealth"

Let me introduce you to this funny as heck item: UFO MLM  (real name)

Here is its entry on MoneyMakerGroup:

http://www.moneymakergroup.com/Ufo-mlm-Ufo-mlminfo-t298843.html
"Don't take this for granted folks, the Conspiracy market is well over 1 BILLION people STRONG!! & NOT GOING AWAY any time soon, we're the first & ONLY Co. in the world to tackle this massive niche market from an MLM and a social networking perspective, not to mention this market continues to grow, & With What we have planed, we'll wake them up & recruit them in record Numbers."
Fortunately, this UFO MLM didn't live long. It started in 2009 and died in 2010. Apparently, not even conspiracy theorists like the taste of this baloney.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hilarious Exchange: some moron thinks lying on LinkedIn is a right

LinkVaark loves highlighting the morons who put up fake pictures (actors, actresses, models, etc.) as their profile pix. Recently, he found a real gem... Someone put up picture of a doll, really, a high-end display doll.

Then apparently this moron start posting comments asking the pix to be removed, then claimed "that doesn't mean the profile's a fake! There's nothing against it!"  Clearly, the guy didn't read LinkedIn rules...  Below is a shortened version.


Read the whole thing (and see the actual picture that caused the hilarity) over at Linkvarrk:

http://linkvaark.com/2011/06/16/linkedin-fake-profile-mucho-bizarro/#comments

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baloney Detection Kit used on pseudo-MLM scams

The Baloney Detection Kit by Michael Shermer I highlighted earlier can be applied to other types of baloney as well, not just pseudo-science. Here's its application go pseudo-MLM or pseudo-economics (i.e. financial fraud and claims).

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-apply-the-Baloney-Test-as-test-of-legitimacy-to-any-MLM-Opportunity
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fake Fuel Saver Devices: More Popular Than Ever

In the times of high fuel prices (in San Francisco, average price of regular unleaded is about 4.25 per gallon) more of these alleged fuel saver devices make their way to the market.

They can take variety of shapes and forms:

  • gas pills that you add to your gas tank
  • alleged "power conditioners" you plug into your electrical circuit (usually cigarette lighter)
  • fuel conditioner you clamp onto a fuel hose, usually a magnet of some sort
  • air improver that somehow makes your air intake more efficient
They are ALL bull****. Why? Simple logic: if ANY of these devices actually save any fuel, don't you think places like taxi companies or shuttle van companies would be buying as much of it as they can? They spend far more time on the road consuming far more fuel than you ever will, and thus they would benefit far more from these devices than you can. Yet all of the alleged testimonials are from individuals. 

In fact, everybody with ANY sort of scientific test have REPEATED busted ANY SORT of these fuel saver device claims. In 2005, Popular Mechanics tested a series of these products and found most of them REDUCED engine power and WORSENED fuel economy.  Mythbusters also did a test and came up with similar results. 


Gas Pills / Treatments / Etc.  -- FAKE

Any sort of pill, liquid, or whatever you add to the gas tank will simply be burned, but fuel efficiency will not be affected by a TINY bit of chemical (remember, you have a 10-25 gallon tank, and how many pills or ounces did you put in?)  

There are gas treatments, such as STABIL gas stabilizers that allows prevents gasoline from 'going bad' in vehicles that will be left alone for a long time. There are also "injector cleaners" that you can add to gas tank to clean your fuel injectors. However, they don't actually save any fuel. 


Power Conditioner -- VERY FAKE

At least one power conditioner was revealed to be a total fake: its internal circuits are just stuff you can put together from parts at Radio Shack for $5 and have NO effect whatsoever on your car's electrical system. 

Furthermore, the ignition circuit is usually isolated from the accessories circuit in the car, which would include the 12V aux power plug (i.e. cigarette lighter plug). Ignition is controlled by engine computer, plug wires, and the spark plugs themselves. Thus, anything plugged into the socket inside the cabin is unlikely to affect ANY of the engine electronics. 

Even if somehow such a device can influence the spark plugs, a brighter spark does NOT automatically mean better power, as the ignition timing must be changed as well, and the amount of fuel injected, and so on.  The computer must be re-calibrated as well. 

You'd be better off replacing the spark plugs at your next tune-up. THAT actually can give you SLIGHTLY more horsepower... maybe 1-3 HP. 


Magnetic Fuel Conditioner -- FAKE

Any sort of magnetic "fuel conditioner" is even more of a snake oil, since oil is NOT magnetic in any way, not is combustion. This supposedly "alignment" of particles is pure bull****. In fact, there is a full section on "magnetic scams" here that supposedly works on water, gas, fuel, and more! 

If you believe in this sort of bull****, you can buy a more expensive "heavy-duty" version too. And I have a bridge to sell you. 


Air Enhancer -- FAKE

Any sort of "air enhancer" is also bull****. Simple logic would tell you that the LESS obstructions you have in the air passage, the better the air will flow. Instead, these bull**** devices claim somehow that their devices, when added in the air intake as additional obstruction, will somehow make the air flow BETTER instead of worse, by generating vortices. WHY? You want a SMOOTH air flow into the engine! 

There are real "air enhancers"... they are called turbochargers and superchargers and costs over one thousand dollars (more if you need installation). There is also K&N Filter and cone-style air intakes (sometimes called cold air intakes even though not all are). They work by providing a LESS restricted air intake path than the stock air filter. But adding something into the intake and expect that to improve air? You gotta be kidding me. 


Conclusion

Don't get taken by these bull**** devices, even if they spent big bucks on sponsorships and are sold at major auto parts store. They don't work. End of story. 



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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why do people keep so much **** around?

Ever seen "hoarders"? They keep so much stuff around they are afraid to throw away ANYTHING. Everything can be useful. thousands of newspaper nobody ever reads, thousands of plastic bags saved some elsewhere... etc. etc.

Here's my philosophy on what to keep (and what not to):

  • Is it useful NOW or today? Put it near you. 
  • Is it useful in a week or so? Put it in a drawer somewhere. 
  • Is it useful in a month or so? Put it in a closet. 
  • Is it useful in a year or so? Put it in storage. 
The remaining are unpractical stuff, like momentos, decorations, and such. So you decide whether you should really keep any of them. 


If there are too much of the unpractical stuff, you should toss them as much as possible, or put them on display (on a wall? shelf?) so it doesn't take up space and look like clutter. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

How NOT to debate: assume other guy's insulting you

Historian of science and Skeptics Society foun...Image via Wikipedia
EDIT: Michael Shermer
EDITOR'S NOTE: this is a rant, against a certain individual and a blog that doesn't even belong to him, who will remain unnamed. He is free to insult me on that blog-that-does-not-belong-to-him. He has discovered this little rant, and has "responded" by again, distorting what I said/wrote through his own filters. 

If you read my earlier blog posts you'll see that a certain anti-fraud crusader had somehow concluded that because I didn't join him in denouncing his most hated scam (hint: starts with A) I must somehow be against him.

Recently, he started denouncing some OTHER scam in Asia, a fake survey company. So I offered an olive branch, posting a comment that basically said great job, don't you see that there are scams even MORE evil than your most hated scam? "Most hated scam" actually have products to sell, whereas this scam has nothing, similar to that other scam (which is what got our verbal war started). I then cited Michael Shermer, head of Skeptic Society, and his 10 rules to detect baloney.

Instead of taking the olive branch, it was slapped away. According to this "crusader", I had somehow assumed that he and his readers don't know about Michael Shermer, which is an insult to his intelligence. In his own words:

Typically, Mr. Chang assumes that we must have no knowledge of Michael Shermer.

He had assumed that I had assumed that he doesn't know about Michael Shermer.

WTF?!


Then he proceeds to insult me about my lack of intelligence in order to understand his point of view, and proceed to call me fraud sympathizer. Again, in his own words:
However, Mr. Chang doesn't attempt to refute the quantifiable evidence that (despite the 'AXXXX' organization's own propaganda) during the previous 50+ years, virtually no products, or services, have been regularly retailed to the public for a profit by any of the tens of millions of ill-informed, and insolvent, individuals around the world, who have been churned through the economically-suicidal 'AXXXX' closed-market. 

The problem here is the guy completely misses the point. My "olive branch" was pointing out a scam that pretends to be MLM, but sold nothing. Clearly, it must be more evil than this "AXXXX" alleged scam that actually sells something. He completely ignores the point and went on to RANT about the evilness of "AXXXX". Again, because I didn't join him in attacking this AXXXX.... 
With a level of naivety which beggars belief, Mr. Chang apparently seriously expects your free-thinking readers, to follow his example, set aside 50+ years of quantifiable evidence and blindly believe the fanciful baloney that, because 'AXXXX' has products and services, the organization can simply oblige its adherents, henceforth regularly to retail this effectively-unsaleable wampum to the public for a profit. 

Again, this guy missed the point. The difference is while all these 50 years of evidence simply proves that it HAD NOT BEEN. It doesn't prove that it CANNOT. He was arguing about something else entirely.

Besides, I wasn't even talking about that AXXXX scam! I was talking about something else!

It is clear at this point any sort of olive branch would be utterly wasted. A simple name reference was construed as an insult to his intelligence, by making DOUBLE assumptions. Who's being insulting now? Then my reference was turned into a strawman attack, falsely attributing a viewpoint to me that I do NOT hold, and is in fact, irrelevant.

LESSON LEARNED: Don't talk to fanatics, even if they have their hearts at the right places. They will only drive you crazy. 


Fanatics act as if they have huge chips on their shoulders, so they are basically out to pick fights with you, provoke you at every opportunity. It's either join them or be their enemy. It's false dilemma.

EDIT: I see Mr. Brear has decided that this article had been written specifically against him and has responded in kind on someone else's blog, instead of commenting here.

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