Online scammers are targeting millions of social media users

Online scammers are targeting millions of social media users on Facebook, YouTube and TikTok. Products include training courses that promise to make you rich, MLM schemes and financial trading advice.

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Eduardo Silva
August 15, 2021 6:15 pm

One of my biggest pet peeves on the internet is seeing ads from fake business and success gurus who promise you a new life of wealth and happiness if you buy their course. The course just so happens to be heavily discounted for a limited time, so you better buy it now! I get so angry at these ads. First, because these gurus are trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money. Second, because so many people fall for it! How are people so gullible? I find it strange that people can’t discern between a legitimate expert and a fake guru.

One of these gurus is Tai Lopez. He got trolled quite hard a few years ago when filming a video. “Here in my garage, just bought this new Lamborghini here… but you know what I like more than materialistic things? KNAWLEDGE!” He sells courses with names like Mini MBA, 5 Minute Mentor and Traveling CEO Program. In one of his videos he does a tour of his house. It’s a veritable mansion. Swimming pool, gym, hot tub, tennis court. While certainly an impressive residence, it was later exposed that the house was rented and available for sale on a real estate website.

Grant Cardone is another fake guru who claims to 10X your business, income and life. I guess I am of the age that I have enough life experience to know this is someone you shouldn’t be taking advice from. It’s sad because many young people will not have had a proper education or enough real-world work experience, and will get sucked into his scams. A good video to watch is his interview with Jordan Belfort, the protagonist of the Hollywood film the Wolf of Wall Street. In the interview, Cardone comes across as insecure, unsure of himself and lacking knowledge. After watching this, I can’t see how anyone would want to buy his courses let alone see him as any kind of authority.

The list goes on. Dan Lok, Dean Graziosi, Brian Rose, Dan Peña, Billy Gene. All cut from the same cloth, trying to steal your money and give you nothing of true value in return. The positive thing is that people are fighting back. Enough have lost money to these scammers that people are taking responsibility upon themselves to expose them. The deeper you dig, you will see legitimate reviews about their courses and how promises of mentoring, guidance and support are not kept. You will have to wade through the plethora of fake reviews written by the people trying to sell you the courses.

YouTube creators are also putting their energies to exposing these scammers. Have a watch of Coffeezilla and Philion. If you are considering purchasing a course from someone you’re not sure about, look at their sales pitch. Does what they’re offering sound too good to be true? Does something seem off about them? If you are hesitant, don’t take the risk with your money. I would always advise to get training and education from a legitimate, accredited institution. These institutions will give you lessons from real-world experiences, access to mentors who have been there, done that, and teach you proper theory. A much, much wiser investment.

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Abi Ortega
Novice
August 18, 2021 10:28 am

YouTube ads! So many scammers are using YouTube ads. The funny part is they are all the same. Come on scammers, use some creativity. They usually go like this. Someone talking to the camera about how they were in debt, but now they are debt free. They now live the life of their dreams. They don’t have to work and they can travel wherever they want. You too can live the life of your dreams. Just click the link below to this free webinar.

They all follow this formula more or less. Even the scammers recognize it. I saw one ad where the person talking said there were lots of scams to watch out for. But his ad was different. It would change your life, supposedly.

Scammers aren’t even making the effort to look the part anymore. Before there would be ads of someone in front of their sport car, wearing the best clothes and driving into their beachfront property. Never mind that the car was probably rented and the property wasn’t theirs. They were trying to look the part! Now we have ads from people who haven’t shaved for a week and look to be in the middle of a hangover. And they are supposed to be selling me the life of my dreams?

Maybe there’s something to this lack of effort. Perhaps it works. A lot of these ads center on giving you a blueprint. The pulling factor is that you don’t have to think. The plan is all laid out for you. If you just follow it step-by-step, then you’ll be rich. Of course it never works like that, but there is a certain appeal to effortless riches. Just remember to read the legal disclaimer on these sites. They are generally of the following form: “The testimonials and examples of clients used are exceptional and non-typical.” That’s all you need to know.

Tyler Mendoza
Novice
August 17, 2021 3:28 pm

Oh, the good old days when we would get an email notifying us of a late Prince who was a multi-millionaire. All we had to do was to send our bank account and personal details to the very trustworthy contact who was offering us the generous inheritance. Nothing could go wrong, could it?

Online scams have evolved quite a lot since then, facilitated by the immense following you can get on social media. The fitness industry is a real rabbit hole of scams. There are hundreds of fitness influencers who take steroids and sell workout programs that promise you the dream of looking like them. They conveniently leave out the fact that they are injecting testosterone, which is responsible for their superhuman look.

People think that because an influencer has a large following and a good body, they must know what they are talking about. Over and over again we see this isn’t true. It is surprising that influencers who work in the industry can be so bereft of such basic exercise and nutritional knowledge. But the masses have a tendency to put their faith in a person’s image rather than the quality of their content. When things work this way, it is only a matter of time before a scam appears.

Brittany Dawn is an Instagram influencer with 400k+ followers who had been selling personalized fitness and coaching programs. If a customer tried to contact her over concerns about her program, she would block them. The number of dissatisfied customers started to grow and people formed groups to discuss her services. One Facebook group called Brittany Dawn Fitness Complaints had 4,000 members. Word got around that her programs weren’t personalized at all. She had been sending the exact same programs to all her customers. An irresponsible practice at best since each client has different nutritional needs. A generic template could even be dangerous, encouraging someone to under eat way less than their caloric needs.

As more customers complained, it turned into a viral storm. Customers shared their experiences, almost all of which were negative. Late response times, no customization, no adjustment. While this was going on, Brittany Dawn was sharing photos of her exotic holidays and extravagant cars she had bought… with her customers’ money! When things got too hot to handle, she did an apology video. But this was criticized for a few reasons. For one, she read out the apology. How sincere could it be if it was scripted? Secondly, she didn’t offer to refund any of her customers.

Sad to say, but this is just one of so many more fitness scams that plague the industry. The misinformation in the fitness and nutrition industry leaves the window wide open for scammers to take advantage. Brittany Dawn wasn’t the first fitness influencer scammer and she definitely won’t be the last.

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Paulina Klaman
Novice
August 17, 2021 10:43 am

For influencers who get a large enough following, the temptation to earn big bucks the easy way can be too much. I notice a phenomenon whereby being online gives them a false sense of separation or distance from their victims, possibly letting them ignore any moral concerns. This is all too common. We see this with trolls who feel like they can say anything online without consequence. The problem for scammers is that when you scam people out of their money, there will be consequences no matter how far away you think you are.

One example that comes to mind is a guy who ran a YouTube channel called RichKidsTV. He started a fundraising campaign that he claimed was for a charity. After some investigation from sceptical viewers, they learnt that he had used the donations to buy himself a Lamborghini. Naturally viewers were disgusted at his actions and there were attempts to have him investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. I can’t imagine how he thought he could get away with it. If you want to scam people out of money, it’s probably not a good idea to have a public platform. His channel died soon after that and despite attempts to revive it, it remains a ghost town.

You would think this would be a valuable lesson for anyone with an online following to not engage in scamming their viewers. Well, that would be the rational thought process. But when is anything ever rational on the internet? 😂 The latest influencer scam that has rocked the internet is the SaveTheKids Charity Token. We have influencers that include RiceGum, Frazier, Jarvis, Nikan and from FaZe Clan, and Sommer Ray who promoted it. In short, it was a cryptocurrency that rose in value because many fans invested into it, largely because it was promoted so much by these influencers. But when the value skyrocketed, these influencers sold their holdings. This made them a ton of money, but also crashed the price of the crypto, leaving fans with a worthless holding.

The response from these influencers was a standard one. Claiming to not know anything about the scam. A teary-eyed video from Frazier taking no accountability and deflecting the blame. Once again, this is a powerful lesson not to put your trust in those who have a large following aka influencers. Always do your due diligence 🧐

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Fabian Bosiger
Novice
August 18, 2021 3:34 pm

is right in saying scammers prey on those wanting effortless earnings. Passive income is the term. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are most definitely legitimate ways to earn passive income. Buying shares that pay regular dividends is an investment that generates passive income.

But an advert that links to an auto-pilot trading system is a sure-fire way to lose your money. These adverts are hilarious for all the wrong reasons. The claims are ludicrous. One advert lasts for around 30 minutes; I watched it all, having a good laugh throughout. The CEO of the auto-pilot trading system visits some users, who are amazed at how their investment of $200 is now worth $250,000. They just pressed the TRADE button, and the auto-pilot system did all the work.

Not only are the claims ridiculous, but the acting is hilariously bad. In one example, a user of the auto-pilot system is purportedly from the United Kingdom. The actor puts on a thick British accent that had me rolling 🤣 😂 😂 Perceived legitimacy can be purchased – hired actors to record testimonials are available in the tens of thousands. When the acting is that bad, however, it does more harm than good.

Other forms of gaining legitimacy are less obvious. A common trick that dropshippers or Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers use is to get an article in a respected publication. A lot of these publications offer advertorials. They look like editorials, but are actually paid-for adverts. The dropshipper will write the usual stuff for the article; how his life has changed completely, how he earns $30,000 a day. To a general reader the article will look like any other, and it will confer legitimacy on the dropshipper. The dropshipper will also link to the article on his own website to say he’s been featured on a well-respected publication. All smoke and mirrors.

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Murray Hinton
Novice
August 31, 2021 3:43 pm

said it right about scams in the online fitness space. A common scam is for companies to enter into a service level agreement with a prominent fitness personality. Typically they will go for someone with a big following and will entice them with the offer of easy money. They will offer to set up a coaching service for the influencer where they will do 100% of the work. This includes acquiring clients, sending fitness programs and fielding any questions clients may have. The company will do all the work and offer the influencer a percentage of total sales. Both will benefit from this relationship. The company will piggy back off the name of the influencer and the influencer will get money for nothing.

Some enter into such an agreement because the lure of easy money is too much to reject. Others reject the offer on ethical grounds, and rightfully so. Paying clients will be expecting to communicate directly with the influencer but instead, unknown to them, will be communicating with staff in an outsourcing company. As pointed out, the danger is that the company will be doing this as a money making exercise and probably won’t care too much about client results. The influencer will also be putting his brand name at considerable risk. While a scandal could affect the influencer’s reputation indefinitely, the company can just move on to another influencer and work their magic.