It was too good to be true: my scam story 21



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I saw the recent articles about scams (here and here) and wanted to share a personal story.

I was just divorced at age 64 and I met this amazing, confident man at a friend’s wedding. Gary was dressed in a flashy suit and looked much younger than his 60 years. I was immediately drawn to him and as we got chatting, I discovered more about him – he was a savvy businessman. We began dating and I thought I’d found the one: smart, funny, attractive and well-off.

One of our first dates was to a business meeting. A bit of an odd setting but he promised me it’d be worth it. I was excited to be involved in his business dealings so early on and was finding myself falling more and more in love with him. Little did I know this was to be the first of many red flags. The meeting was held just outside the CBD and inside were people of all ages – young girls and guys, pregnant women and businessmen. I’d wondered what I’d stumbled into. As a retired nurse, I was living off what little I had saved before I could cash in all my super and get the age pension. Gary sat down with me and explained that I needed to listen carefully to what I was being told. A man in his 40s stood up in front of the room and explain how this program would allow you to live the life of your dreams. While he never said how much you had the potential to earn, his slides showed big beautiful houses, cars and holidays. And he said how easy it was to get all the things you dreamt of. Like I said, I was a retiree and this appealed to me so much. I’d tried Avon and loved it, but was looking for something that could really give me the money I dreamt of.

What I didn’t realise was how sucked in I was going to get. Almost all Gary and I would talk about when we were together was how we were going in the program. The idea of the program is that you buy a certain amount of products at a wholesale price, then sell them to your friends for a retail price and split the difference. Your friends will no doubt love the products and then will start to wholesale purchase their own and so on. The difference between this program and something like Avon or other door to door sales companies is that it was an out and out scam. You don’t see hear of these products on TV or anywhere at all really, and there’s a good reason for it.

I got deeper into buying and trying to sell and ended up with a cupboard full of cleaning and beauty products that only I would use. I’d spent around $5,000 on things I didn’t even need but was convinced others would want to buy. And, just like an abusee, I went back to the meetings time and time again, even after I felt like giving up. They would convince and mentor me and make sure I didn’t lose hope of my dreams. I would voice my doubts to Gary about how the program would make us money, I’d only made $200 and I’d been investing for over a year. Gary would scold me and say that I wasn’t determined enough and I really needed to start trying if I wanted to make money like him. Because we were only really “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, he didn’t feel comfortable sharing his earnings with me, but secretly I knew he was as confused as I was AND hadn’t earned hardly anything. He had an ego to uphold and being made to feel poor or ripped off was not a good look for him.

Eventually, I said enough was enough. I left Gary and I left the scam. I had invested $7,000 by the end of it and had made a measly $500 profit – it was heartbreaking. $7,000 is a lot when you’re retired and basically only spend that much in 6 months. I felt and still feel like a fool. Not only did I lose money, I lost some friends. At the height of my involvement, I would contact 50 or more Facebook friends and try to convince them to buy my products. Some were pissed off that I’d contacted out of the blue about something so greedy and heartless, while others were just confused. I lost friends because they too got sucked in and lost money, except they blamed me and not the company.

I want to tell my story so that others know about this horrible program. If you see something branded as a multi-level marketing program, it is really a pyramid schemes, i.e. get-rich-quick schemes. The definition, according to the ACCC’s ScamWatch is:

Promoters at the top of the pyramid make their money by having people join the scheme. Then they pocket the fees and other payments made by those who join under them.

In a typical pyramid scheme, a member pays to join. The only way for the member to ever recover any money is to convince other people to join up and to part with their money as well.

There are millions affected by this program and others. The opportunity offered to you sets you up for disaster: they show you riches and freedom but it will not and has never been attainable. The people you see at the front of the meetings don’t sell diet shakes or no-brand makeup to their friends, they earn money off you and the lying books they write. I have no idea how they can look at themselves in the mirror or sleep at night knowing they have taken advantage of so many.

I am still out of pocket now and am struggling thanks to this greedy scam. I know there’s so many like me out there who were taken advantage of and made to believe their money would be tripled. Don’t fall for it like I did…it’s too good to be true.


Have you be involved in a pyramid scheme or a money scam? What happened? Tell us about it below.

Guest Contributor

  1. My Motto is that I buy what I want from shops and never from friends relatives or anyone else, and never accept invitations to meetings etc
    When my husband was alive we nearly got sucked into one of these schemes, only we did not have any cash to invest. So I learned my lesson.

  2. I have been to a couple of these meetings over the years. what amuses me is they never mention the brand, it is always called the business…if it was that great everyone would be in it making all this money. my friend was in it for awhile. took me to one of her meetings, but like the writer, ended up losing family and friends

  3. I live in a country town 5 hours from the city. When I was at a craft fair in the city once some people took my card and later rang me to say they had a business proposal they wanted to put to me. Thinking this was something to do with my crafting I agreed to meet them. They drove 5 hours to my house then spent an hour and a half dodging the question of the name of the business. It was Amway, and I told them in no uncertain terms that they had wasted their time as I was not at all interested. They then had to drive 5 hours hime again. They must have been desperate to recruit someone!

    2 REPLY
    • Thank you for naming your culprit. So many people get sucked in and then remain vague. Which doesn’t really help those of us who are confused about scams. Naming them really points out to me the ones to be aware of. My friend was taken in very badly by NutraMetics, which I think is a branch of Amway. Thank you again for your honesty and courage.

      2 REPLY
      • Nutrimetics is not part of Amway, as they have their own brand of cosmetics. While I agree that their products are good, and their plan is legal, it is ethically questionable. People are told they have to bring all friends and acquaintances in, so they try to ‘give it a go’ before deciding to quit. The only people who can make money from these businesses are those with a real ‘gift of the gab’ – real salespeople.

    • I always find it strange that people do not stop and think why do these people give the ideas away if they are sure fired gold mines they would not be flogging them to other people they would be rich themselves and have better things to do with their time if people have even a small doubt run and if they have no doubt check it all out from a distance first then run the other way. So sorry for anyone who gets scammed ! Thanks for warning people it does not happen too often to remind everyone !

  4. How sad for you to be sucked in. How great flu we all will be for sharing your SCAM STORY with us. I too have attended similar meetings even if they actually had catalogues of products for sale., which gives a chance to compare “the glorified overpriced zzz BRAND name product to the cheapie of which so many of us settle for. Why? Because the consumer wants to spend as little as necessary for necessities. The better BRAND NAMES often work out to be the cheapest… HOW? More flavour, does the job better. And one ends up using less of it. The years we accumulate give us wisdom, Agree- If it sounds too good to be true., it is !! THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE THAT MANY OF US ARE/ HAVE DONE SO, Bless the innocent people. Cheers.

  5. My insurance rep made an appointment with my husband and I to come and discuss our insurance needs with us. He spent about 5 minutes talking about our insurances and then the next hour talking about Amway, and like you Liz, he kept dodging questions put to him and couldn’t/wouldn’t answer some important questions posed to him by us. We didn’t get involved with this but I was very disappointed that he came to talk with us under false pretences.

    1 REPLY
    • Many years ago, after the Newcastle earthquake, I too had an insurance guy come to check that I was happy with the work done. He too spent the majority of the time talking about this great scheme. Unfortunately I was convinced and spent a lot of time looking into it, but my conservative nature made me baulk at actually investing. Thank goodness.

  6. The principle of the Catholic school our children attended was an Amway dealer. Once when I went to see him about being given extra time to pay the fees, he seriously tried to get me to sell Amway to solve our money problems. His idea was that if I didn’t sell Amway I shouldn’t be asking for consideration. I think he had no right to introduce the subject at a school interview. Theoretically no Catholic child was to be refused an education if the parents couldn’t afford the fees, but all I was asking for was extra time. We had five children and an income that was too low to be extravagant and too high to rate benefits such as Austudy etc.

  7. I have no idea how I let this happen, but I’ve been convinced three times in the past to invest in multi level marketing business adventures! Three times!! Wasted a lot of money and never made a cent. I have no money to waste now, so I dont even look at/listen to proposals that may be tempting. I am still not sure that I ever really did learn the lesson.

  8. There are far too many of these scams and tricks around, we can all get sucked in now and then. Well done for trying to warn others,we need that open honesty.

  9. I did enquire about some of these scam ads years ago. Thankfully I didn’t buy into them, but they are very convincing.

  10. sorry to hear – I was ripped off early – you were lucky if you didn’t meet scam artists until you were 64yo !

    unfortunately – caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – is a basic lesson we all get to learn at some stage – hopefully not with our life savings

  11. This is such a sad story, work hard retire and then be introduced to this scam by the man of your dreams. In all fairness though didvthis person know itcwas a scam or was he scammed also. Either way it just shouldn’t happen.

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