by Jon Atack
Dreams For Sale
Marketing cults are scams run by predatory people who prey on the desires of their victims using a mixture of charm and manipulation.
Mass marketing scams have evolved at an alarming rate on the Internet. Advanced fee scams offer huge rewards for small investments. These marketing cults are sometimes called 419 scams, referring to the Nigerian Criminal Code section on fraud, because many scammers have pretended to have cash stuck in Nigerian banks.
Typically, a contact email will say that the sender needs help to unlock an inheritance, or that the recipient has won a lottery, but needs to make a registration payment. If a payment is made, there will be a request for a second payment. The requests will continue just as long as payments are made. Nothing will be given in return.
No Free Love Here
Sweetheart scams usually target older people with the offer of love from a younger, desirable person. The first approach may be an email saying that the author has seen the recipient’s profile online and fallen in love. After a few exchanges – often boilerplate emails – there will be a request for funds: perhaps airfare to visit the victim, or an urgent need for medical assistance.
From Pyramid to Ponzi
Some scammers advertise high-quality merchandise at low prices, but then provide sub-standard goods; they may even send out debt collector’s letters to victims when these are returned.
Pyramid schemes are illegal in most western countries, but versions still exist. In these, a great business opportunity is touted. Enthusiastic success stories are shared – often at cult-like meetings – and victims are persuaded to buy huge stocks of soap, kitchenware or jewelry that ends up filling the purchaser’s garage.
In Ponzi schemes, money from new investors is used to pay dividends to earlier investors – until there is no new money.
Mag Crews – Legal Child Enslavement
“Mag crew”, short for magazine sales crew is another form of marketing cult that preys on young adults just out of school. These companies sell magazines, toiletries, or other products door-to-door. Lured with promises of easy money and fun, victims are bullied into cheating customers with poor quality or even non-existent products. They survive appalling living conditions, and they can be exposed to drug addiction and beatings as a part of everyday life.
Most often, we are only give something for nothing by a marketer when the giver expects us to reciprocate. So, be suspicious of any offer of a free lunch (or a free personality test).
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