Financial Scheme Warning Signals

Obviously, I may not hint at reference to any existing financial schemes/scams for legal reasons, and my own protection. I can however provide commentary or observation on what I personally consider to be alarm signals or flags that I think warrant attention.

Let’s get started.

If we are honest and identify that greed is our driver, then that is the driver, not research and analysis of viability – how could it be?

Any “proper” investment of our assets should be conducted with what we call due diligence. We are not personally the experts on this process, but we can do a few things.

First, we may look at whether a proposed scheme provides easy and clear access to details of substance. If a website continues to move us around in circles, focusing on marketing content, we may start to feel that it is actually lacking in providing real information. That is possibly a strong warning signal.

To make this article easier to write, I will stop prefacing my comments with words like “possibly” or “may” and just say something is an alert or problem. You must have your own sources to review materials, not me.

Websites can be pure fantasy. We must not look at a website as if it is truth, simply because it is a visual in front of us. With one scam, the original website was frankly incredibly immature and shocking. A professional service would never provide such an immature presentation. If you do not know how to spot that, you would be taken in by it anyway. After a couple of years, the website had more time spent on its development, but it was still out of touch with what people expect. Eventually the website was developed and looked professional by comparison to its previous cuts.

This visual look would give the scheme more credibility. But again, it is just visuals. If we do not recall what it once looked like, we would not know that vital fact.

I believe a huge warning is if testimonials are from countries we know have highest levels of misinformation. It may surprise us that some countries fall into that category that we would never have thought of. If you are only getting testimonials from places like Nigeria (and other places as already stated) we have a huge warning signal.

When people write paragraphs and sentences, they are either coming from a reasonable educational background and know how to use the English language (if English is being presented as the language.)

I saw a website that showed pictures of young white American website “developers” but the website was built in India. It was a blatant lie. It was designed to make you think it was in your comfort zone.

So, testimonials and language are important. Increasingly people learn how to use English “more” correctly, but there are obvious slip ups.

For instance, if my name is supposedly Harvey Jones, (it is likely a fictitious name) and it is spelt as harvey Jones, where did the capital H go?

When I reviewed a scam presented as the NAB Bank, the English itself was good, but the supposed Department name within the Bank would never be one the Bank would use. We can spot what is out of character and inconsistent.

If we are not really getting the website content we need, we spend more time looking. This is called investment of our time. The more time we allocate to this, even though we do not get the right content, we become more attached to the scheme. The marketing content re-enforces itself over and over. As we can get nowhere with it, in real terms, we then have to go the next step, and walk out onto the road with all the other cars buzzing around us. We would therefore make contact with the “business”. Once that is done, we have gone a step further in not being able to reverse out. This is real.

Now, some schemes take an aggressive approach, and some as if they are well matured with knowledgeable polite people. You won’t know what the pre-planned methodologies are. Whatever they are, there will be follow up triggers you will experience.

The aggressive approach may threaten a person in some psychological or emotional way, not only on the prospect of missing out on untold riches, so you will know you were a fool, but may even yell at you or say how bad you are as a person when you do stop contact.

When you look at a scam scheme or project, information will be concealed. This means it is normal for us to want to find information we like, but never actually see it. We then impose those thoughts onto the content as if it were there when it is not there. Or, we may read content that we interpret the way we want. This is tricky but is very human.

When we research a scheme, we typically use Google or Bing. Years ago, work was done to stop scammers saturating the search engines with their own fake reviews. However, this has not really disappeared. Depending on the reach of these schemes, finances and people involved, it may be impossible to find genuine reviews. This is a warning. People even create reviews with titles like, “Do not use this scheme!”, and when you read the review, it is not against the scheme but for it. It is deception. There are even scams that say if their content is a scam, to press button to report it. I mean, how puerile do these scams have to get before we shoot them down?

How do you feel about a scheme? You naturally do not like disappointment in having thought you may make some money and find you don’t. No one likes this feeling. But it is better than losing it to a scam. It is even better to spot the scam up front, which is what I am trying to help us understand better, before there is an emotional involvement.

If you are searching for free money, it means you will be vulnerable to scams – no question about it. The waters have not just a few sharks, but an infestation. Would you throw your baby into such waters? If you do this enough times over the years, at some point you will give your money away to a scam, even if from prolonged frustration. That is how it works.

So, you may decide to check out a scheme with reviews, research, investment of time, and consultation with legals. Hmmmm…

But, if the scheme operates on what we call network marketing in any significant form, it is using techniques that were designed to avoid the harsh illegalities of pyramid schemes. Such marketing structures in my view are likely immoral and unethical, but have been adjusted to remain legal. So, if you consult a lawyer, they have to tell you it is legal.

Suppose you find a mix of Google reviews. It may be the negative reviews are many, not just one or two as we would expect when we look at retail white goods. This is another warning signal. These signals in total add up. If we ignore the amount of these signals together, we are placing ourselves even logically into higher risk zones.

Reviews are serious if they come from accredited people who have spent their lives developing their skills. To ignore this is odd. If we look at the positive reviews from the public, where are the real qualifications? I may also add, reviews can be fake.

So, you want to take on risk? How much are you about to sign away? What happens if you lose all that money? What if you are told not to access that money for a decade, and in ten years it is not actually there even though some fake computer software program was pretending it was there and growing? Scammers have planned all this. They can afford to release certain sums of money in order to give some degree of buoyancy to their credibility.

If you are placing all your money in a collection of these schemes, you will be stung hard. You have to be because this is again, how it works. And once stung, what does that do to your psychology? It could be traumatic and devastating, with long term effects on yourself and family members, to say the least.

If you are about to place your signature on the line with large sums of money, you better stop and understand who you are and what you are doing, how hard the decision is instead of it being comfortable. And if you think it is not a risk, given all the warning flags, there is still one more question? Did you talk to close friends who are not attached to the scheme, who are not afraid to say what they think. Have you kept the whole process secret until after you executed it? This is what we must not do. We must expose ourselves even though that has a cost in some way, to our friends, and get oversight. Many have lost huge sums of money because they kept it secret, and after the loss they then tell people as they are sorrowful.

These consequences are hard stuff. It is not that we are putting people down, but rather, recognising we are human, as scams are designed to take advantage of our natural aspects. We therefore must desire to increase our protection by higher community and personal involvement with others before any contracts are irreversibly signed.

Another simple warning flag is the degree of penalty involved if you pull out of a scheme. Sure, penalty may be justified, but what are the real costs? If you are losing 75% of what you deposited due to a penalty, why would this be anything other than a scam?

Another simple warning signal, or red flag, are projections of revenue that far exceed the entire financial system in the whole world!! It is not possible to divert around the way money works. Money is a ruthless ruler and only works in certain ways. It is as hard as the concrete of prison walls in a high security criminal detention centre. It has no mercy at all. Member of the public are considered as stupid, foolish, to be eaten by sharks. That is how the financial world views the silly public. There are even graphs that show how the public behaves, so that financial experts can take advantage of those behaviours.

This means we need to invest our money in ways that we reasonably can. We have no power over the financial world that deals with trillions upon trillions of dollars. If we take up on promises that have returns crazily in excess of all other financial products, there must be a falsehood going on. We cannot change the laws of physics. We cannot trick the monetary system. What scammers can do is to leverage current hysteria and hype. For instance, if everyone is going crazy about cryptocurrency, why not scam on that?

People work hard for their money. It hurts when I know how hard, as I have seen it and it sometimes gets me close to tears. Struggle is struggle. I always say, would you allow someone to come into your lounge room and open your wallet, take out hundreds of dollars cash, and leave the premise? No, of course not. But these friendly voices on the phone and internet e-mails can be doing exactly the same thing.

I have observed that no matter what people’s general income is, any “excess” or savings is often spent when it does not need to be. People will say they have no spare cash, but I know they do as it is their behaviour with money that leaves nothing left to spend or save. One never learns this unless one is on the poverty line for a significant period of time.

So what can people do with their money? I think it is good to learn more about finances over time, and to develop a financial plan in at least a general way, reviewing that over time.

We only have so much money to invest. You may have allocated that money and therefore will have whatever advantages or disadvantages from those structures on which you have no control over. But you do have control in looking at your use of money. You may even place some play money into crypto when it is really low, if that play money is not going to hurt you with a loss. There are diverse investment sources outside the standard use of superannuation and the stock exchange one can enquire about.

There are also financial principles around risk. For instance, we imagine how we will handle a mortgage, but are the lifestyle changes dangerous or too high risk long term? Stress is stress, and it does impact health. I cannot give advice on such things, but I am alerting to definitive scams and warning signals, like improper use of English, absurd financial returns, lack of information, psychological tactics, and importantly if you are being asked to make a jump off a cliff being aware or unaware of that event happening to you – awareness, and if you have not talked to friends. You may think you are brave to jump off a cliff, so no one doubts that, but it is a mess at the bottom of that cliff. Would you feel relieved once pressure is off, and you back out of a proposal? To wish you could have been in a scheme or project, but knowing you are relieved you are not is am important experience for future decisions. We should not be making decisions that are way outside of the scope of our current development in the use of finances. These are important life lessons.

So how do we go ahead? It is perfectly fine to pray about one’s financials. It is fine to develop financial education. It is fine to develop calm and reasonable ways of using money over time, even with bumps along the way. We can get books on the subject. We can look at how we use our money. We can see what products are on the market. We should develop responsibility as people over time. If we are steeped in controversy theories and want to be, in poor sources of information, foolishly believing in our own intelligence that we do not have in certain areas, or greed and emotional hype, thriving off fear of losing out or loss, I don’t think anything of what I have said here will be of value. We need to develop more sustainable and sensible approaches to our finances and the people around us who do the same. That is what I think helps.