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Pyramid or Chain Referral Schemes

A pyramid or chain referral scheme is a marketing program based on convincing people to buy the right to sell others a particular product or to market a product line. Promoters select product and sell large or overpriced inventories to «distributors», with the added incentive of allowing the distributors to sell sub distributorships. The profit is earned primarily by investors who enlist new recruits and they enroll more recruits. In order to recoup the initial investment, new recruits are encouraged to sell new distributorships and there is little real concern given to selling the product or service to the public.

The attraction of the pyramid scheme is that it offers an unusually high rate of return to the initial investment. Investors are usually assured of getting a full return of their money if they hire two or more «new» investors to make an investment. The new investors must then get two or more new investors and so it continues on and on...

Promoters fail to tell or deliberately conceal that profit from this system becomes mathematically impossible for other except the initiators of the scheme. Similar pyramid schemes are also appearing in the Internet.

Phoney Bank Inspector

An unknown person introduces as a bank representative or as one working with the police to investigate the misappropriation of money at your bank. Your assistance is required to trap a dishonest bank employee. You are asked to visit your bank and withdraw money from your account. The con artist contacts you after the withdrawal, produces phoney identification and takes possession of your money. You are assured that the money will be deposited to your account within a couple of days... Then the phoney bank inspector disappear with your money. Your entire savings can be wiped out within minutes.

Boiler Room Operations

Numerous employees are hired by a con-artist as telephone solicitors to sell products or solicit donations for charitable organization. The products are frequently of questionable value and the charities are fictitious so they receive little or nothing. These schemes work well, as each victim consumer is taken for only a moderate amount and they do not usually pursue the issue.

However the small-to-moderate individual amounts add up to thousands of dollars for the boiler room operator.

Be prudent and verify the organization or product before make commitment.

Land Speculation

People wishing to purchase a vacation or retirement property often find themselves trapped in land investment schemes. Through the use of slick advertising, unscrupulous promoters seduce potential victims into buying worthless property. If the price seems too good to be true or it is “an urgent once in a lifetime opportunity” you may be buying a desert bed miles from civilization or swamp land that remains under the water even during a drought. Never purchase property unseen before. Visit the area, view the property, and have it properly appraised.

Home Improvement Schemes


Most home improvement contractors are legitimate and provide a useful service. A small percentage of these contractors are not so honest. Con-artists practicing home improvement schemes often solicit contracts from home owners by misrepresenting the necessity for repairs or the value of the home improvements. These operators will ask to be paid in cash, often in advance or with large deposits in advance. The contractual work is then often poorly done or not performed at all. Before making a commitment:

- check with the Better Business Bureau regarding the honesty and reputation of the contractor;

- obtain other estimates from reputable contractors;

- never pay for the work in advance; pay after it has been completed and examined;

- if the person represents a utility company ask for proper identification;

- carefully read all forms and contracts before signing;

- never let anyone rush you into signing a contract or handing over cash.


Reading check exercises

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