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!

Law 6
Court Attention at all Cost
Everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing.  Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion.  Stand out.  Be conspicuous, at all cost.  Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious, than the bland and timid masses.

Scammers always appear to be the very picture of wealth and power, driving fancy cars, owns private airplanes and villas, and so on. They paint a picture of success and implies they want to share their secret with you, at a price. They want your attention, and they will use various methods to get it, such as fake biographies, fake claim of alliances, misleading statements about endorsement or ownership, and so on.

The aforementioned travel scam show you members with loads of cash, posing in front of a new car they claimed was purchased with what they "earned" through this cam, plus supposed ability to get villas, corporate jets, luxury cars, and laptop computers. (To date, no one was EVER documented to have received any fo these things)

  Law 7
Get others to do the Work for you, but Always Take the Credit
Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause.  Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered.  Never do yourself what others can do for you.

Scammers are very careful in always crediting their "system" to be the reason for success, never the individual's ability to recruit and persuade. After all, they need to convince new victims that "anybody can replicate the success".

By repeating the unsupported opinion, the individual members, if they succeed, will believe the fiction and claim him/herself as "proof". if they failed, they will blame themselves for not believe in the system and somehow blame themselves for the failure. It is a particularly nasty trick.

 Law 8
Make other People come to you – use Bait if Necessary
When you force the other person to act, you are the one in control.  It is always better to make your opponent come to you, abandoning his own plans in the process.  Lure him with fabulous gains – then attack.  You hold the cards.

Lure people in, then pounce, that is the way a pyramid scheme works. Once the scammer had squeezed the victim dry of new prospects and money, they are given various excuses to be NOT paid.

The aforementioned travel scam banned in multiple countries is famous for repeatedly revising their own offer downwards. At first, it's $15000 if you "cycle", plus free 7-day 6-night stay at 5-star property AND companion domestic airfare immediately upon joining. Then 5-star became 3-5 stars. Then 15000 became $10000 (the other $5000 is some sort of travel voucher only to be redeemed for company events). Then the $10000 became eWallet only (with various fees for conversion and whatnot). Then the trip was changed to 4-day 3-night if you want a hotel. Then instead of free they are charging $150 for taxes and processing fees. But they've already got you, you pretty much have to play by their terms by then due to the "sunken cost" bias.

Law 10
Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky
You can die from someone else’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as disease.  You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster.  The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you.  Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.

When it come to scammers, they want people who are HAPPY being scammed. They don't want sad people or doubtful people. They want docile sheep who never ask questions, just do what they're told. In fact, they want HAPPY sheep who will go out and convince hesitant sheep to join.

Law 11
Learn to Keep People Dependent on You
To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted.  The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have.  Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear.  Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

Some scammers are also "cult of personality" leaders: they will "lead" a group and convince all the members that whatever s/he said must be the truth, no matter how stupid or shady it is, and any doubters are stupid and ignorant. People soon became addicted to the scammer, and will do anything for him.

The aforementioned travel scam only release information through its spokesperson (some guy from India) and through some website announcements. By limiting control of information, the scam controls all its victims.

 Law 12
Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim
One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones.  Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people.  Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.  A timely gift – a Trojan horse – will serve the same purpose.

The aforementioned scam is very good in releasing just enough information to appease the masses, by admitting to certain problems, often on conference calls and company announcements. They even promise to give people more time to redeem the offers because their system didn't work when promised... But they sure don't tell you about how many times they have lied and downsized the offers. Once you've invested, they keep you hooked with promises of reform and fix, until you realized they are just stringing you along.

Law 26
Keep Your Hands Clean
You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: Your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds.  Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s-paws to disguise your involvement.

This especially applies to MLM and its illegal cousin, the pyramid scheme. The ones on the top benefit, but they are not the ones recruiting people. It's the people at the bottom who's actively recruiting, thus they are the ones going to jail. Indeed, the aforementioned scam have already had dozens arrested, some sentenced to jail around the world, yet it is still claiming high Alexa ranking and over 1 million members. The real leader of the scam is just flying here and there, giving speeches on the success of the scam and inspiring members to recruit more victims.

Law 27
Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cultlike Following
People have an overwhelming desire to believe in something.  Become the focal point of such desire by offering them a cause, a new faith to follow.  Keep your words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking.  Give your new disciples rituals to perform, ask them to make sacrifices on your behalf.  In the absence of organized religion and grand causes, your new belief system will bring you untold power.

In the case of pyramid schemes, people need to believe there is a shortcut to financial success. By offering the fools a chance at a large sum of money, with "words vague but full of promise; emphasize enthusiasm over rationality and clear thinking", this scam was able to claim well over 1 million members, each of who paid $250 (or more) into the system. Indeed, many members are encouraged to buy multiple memberships.

 Law 31
Control the Options: Get Others to Play with the Cards you Deal
The best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice:  Your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets.  Give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose.  Force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose.  Put them on the horns of a dilemma:  They are gored wherever they turn.

Stringing people along with promises that keeps getting delayed forces them into a choice: stick with the scam and hope it will turned into a real business, or abandon it altogether and cut losses. Most people choose to do the former, known as the "sunken cost bias".

Victims of pyramid scheme, upon learning they are in one, often goes on a recruitment drive, intending to "earn their money back", instead of cutting their losses and move on. However, if the victim just cut their losses and leave, their money stays in the system. Either outcome benefit the pyramid scheme scammer.

 Law 32
Play to People’s Fantasies
The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant.  Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes for disenchantment.  Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert:  Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

Fantasy of the masses is often about having plenty of money to live in style and luxury, and by playing to this fantasy known as "greed", scammers can instead suck you dry of money.

Every scam always show the fancy cars, big houses, villas, corporate jets, loads of cash... You get the idea.

Law 37
Create Compelling Spectacles
Striking imagery and grand symbolic gestures create the aura of power – everyone responds to them.  Stage spectacles for those around you, then full of arresting visuals and radiant symbols that heighten your presence.  Dazzled by appearances, no one will notice what you are really doing.

Similar to laws 6 and 8, and even law 32, scammers often hold seminars, conventions, and such. A scam in Asia is known to have booked entire trains to transport people to a seaside resort town and hired several popular singers to perform for the masses. The intent? Claim legitimacy and recruit more people for its pyramid scheme.

Law 43
Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others
Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you.  You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction.  A person you have seduced becomes your loyal pawn.  And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses.  Soften up the resistant by working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they fear.  Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you.

Similar to laws 31 and 32, instead of forcing victims to do things, you have them dig their own hole, so deep they can't get out. You prey on their for their weakness for money, and you convince them to give you money so they can receive more money, but what they do instead is convince OTHER people to give you money in exchange for a tiny share of what you receive.

Law 45
Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too much at Once
Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit.  Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt.  If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things.  If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.

When people complain about the problems in the scam, change just enough to silence the critics, and NEVER acknowledge the changes.

The aforementioned scam, after two years of operation, completely revamped their FAQ. Previously it claimed that "You do not need to sell any products." Now the FAQ states that "You do need to sell products". However, the website gave NO INDICATION on what these products are. The compensation package about getting paid through recruitment remains unchanged... only "cycling" the matrix is needed to earn the big money, and cycling is just recruiting, not selling any products.

Law 48
Assume Formlessness
By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack.  Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move.  Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed.  The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order.  Everything changes.

The aforementioned scam is very careful in leaving itself extremely vague, and thus, when confronted, have virtually nothing to say. Corporate officers? Never listed. Actual location? Lists a couple, refused to acknowledge whether they are virtual offices or not. Leaves it up to the downlines /members / distributors to invent excuses / explanations which are neither confirmed nor denied.

Don't fall victim to these evil uses of 48 Law of Power.

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1 comment:

Eddie said...

If you listen to the author talk about the book on youtube, you do find out that yes his intent was to explain the method the scam artists use in general power. He comes from a Jewish family of power in LA. And the book was intended to be a bridge between the street people and the people of power, so the street people could understand why people with power act this way. This way street people could be more prepaired for it. This book was not intented to teach people how to have meaningless power as it comes accross at first glance.