It was too good to be true: my scam story

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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