Who doesn’t fantasize about the idea of getting rich quickly? Financial Freedom is built upon such hopes and yet wealth building is a slow process without guarantees. In this digital age, it is often difficult to identify a legitimate opportunity from fraud.
There are no free lunches and no easy money. Yet people often become victims of the ‘double-your-money’ or ‘earn-lifetime-income’ schemes not forgetting myself.
I learned the hard way! I have been a victim of these online frauds, from network marketing to investment opportunities and I can vividly tell you from personal experience, that it is a financial trap.
However, that is not why am writing this article. The reason is writing this article is that I feel obligated to educate people about internet fraud after the recent incident of siliconevalleyshares, which has a website that is not secure.
While it might be the first time such an incident happened in South Sudan, it may not be the last.
Such frauds often manifest because of the prevalence of mobile money payments and internet connectivity.
About 4 months ago, there was also a similar incident in Uganda, with an App called Charge Anytime masquerading as an international business agent, which defrauded Ugandans billions of shillings.
Each day, different forms of online investment schemes come up either rebranded or completely new with dubious ambitions.
They often portray themselves as legitimate but once enough people have invested in the platform, they lock up your funds and run away.
Here are some red flags to look for that will prevent you from falling for such online frauds.
1. When the Opportunity Sounds too Good to be true
If the investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is fraud. It promises quick returns with huge profits in the shortest period.
2. Advice From Influencers
If you are looking to build wealth, you need to turn to reliable, trusted sources. Taking advice from YouTube, Tiktok, or Instagram influencers on how to build wealth will not help because oftentimes these people are trying to lure you into joining their business or selling products and courses.
3. Secrets Are Involved
If you ever find the word “Secret” in an advertisement, that should be a very big red flag for you. There are no secrets to building wealth. Secret systems, secret insider information, secret hot tips — these are ways people quickly are separated from their hard-earned money. It is not because people are not smart but rather scammers are smarter.
If you ask them logically reasoned questions, they cannot properly address them and if you delve into the details, you will discover that the things they are telling you do not add up.
4. Too Much Urgency
If you find that, you are being pressured to take advantage of an investment opportunity “urgently”, then something is probably off about it.
Most frauds are mobile because they can be illegal. Therefore, the fraudsters will make it feel like their opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it will only be around for a few days.
5. Transparency Is Missing
If the business model or profit-sharing details are not clear, it is probably a fraud. Investors should seek to understand how the company model generates profit and how the profit is shared among investors or how you will earn and profit from it before making any investment.
To safeguard yourself, never believe anyone who claims that their company’s business plans cannot be simplified and that you should simply put your faith in them instead.
Any investment is not worthwhile if you do not know what you are getting yourself into.
Ensure that you are given a working model if not, ask for it. If they do not provide anything like this, it is very likely some sort of fraud.
6. Payment Is Required Upfront
If you have to pay money to get a job, it is probably a fraud. It may be phrased, as a ‘buy-in’ or an orientation fee, but it is really an opportunity to get your money. Jobs pay you, you do not pay them
7. No Experience or Expertise Required
Another sign of fraud is that they let anyone join, and do not require any experience or hard work.
In real life, any business opportunity or side hustle will require both your expertise and a lot of effort and hard work.
8. 100% Success Rate
Be very careful of promises that guarantee a high level of success. Anything that claims to have a 100% success rate or says everyone can make money doing something is a certain fraud. There is nothing in life with a 100% success rate
9. Clickbait Headlines
Frauds often try to hook you quickly by grabbing your attention and interest with enticing claims, snazzy headlines, and many other empty promises.
It includes working from home without any special skills, earning six figures working part-time, or being your own boss among others.
You must take care of such new enticing investment opportunities because most of them do not end well. Learn to identify fraudsters in advance.
10. Appeal To the Vulnerable
Often times the Get Rich Quick Schemes often prey on the most vulnerable and desperate individuals who want to get rich in the shortest time possible.
If you are looking for a job and they request you huge sums of money with little to no experience, take care! Even the most sketchy job listings shine before your eyes.
However, do not be fooled. These schemes often offer an absurd amount of money for a field that is not lucrative, [is] scientifically inaccurate, [or] new and unheard of.
11. Pyramid Scheme Signs
Pyramid schemes will ask you to resell goods and recruit others to join. The thing is; it will not benefit you; it only benefits the people who are at the top of the chain.
They usually require you to make a one-time payment (subscription/membership) in order to activate your account.
How do you tell if it is a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme (Pyramid Scheme)? Here are some telltale signs:
- They promise that you will reap huge profits for a small amount of effort
- The products they offer are high-priced when compared to similar products in the market.
- Unrealistic claims about the product performance and quality as a whole.
- The sellers and buyers are expected to bring more people into the business in order to keep the business growing.
- Unlicensed Businesses
Any legitimate business venture will always require some kind of registration with the state, and local government offices before it can begin operations.
Generating income from sales of products without first registering the business is generally illegal. Always ensure that you find out if the business is licensed before thinking of investing your money.
If you request their legal status and they cannot provide you, it means they are probably unlicensed to operate.
12. No Physical Location
If the business is only available online and has no physical location, probably it is a fraud.
13. Appearance doesn’t match status
You find the persons involved are not rich themselves but they put on a show to appear richer by hiring expensive cars and renting expensive homes/apartments to give the appearance of wealth and success to better persuade you.
How to Spot and Avoid the “Get Rich Quick” Schemes
Pyramid schemes are increasingly using the internet as a means of recruiting members. If you find an internet or email solicitation to join a get-rich-quick scheme with a foreign-sounding name, reject the offer immediately. Chances are you could be lured into buying an illegal high-tech pyramid scheme that will only suck your money with no remorse.
- Avoid any schemes that promise to pay commission when you invite more people to join the business.
- Beware of investment opportunities that require people to spend their money on high-priced products.
- Be cautious of plans that claim you will make money through continued growth of your “downline” recruits, instead of sales.
- Avoid companies that offer products or services, which are secondary and not significant in their daily existence.
- Stay away from companies that exaggerate the potential earnings of their clients without disclosing how much average each individual earns.
- Beware of business opportunities that claim to have special packages, overseas connections, or a special kind of relationship that may be difficult to verify.
- Avoid programs that require substantial initial cash investments. A required up-front investment of $500 or more is considered “substantial” and thus likely to attract the attention of law enforcement.
- Lastly, do not get carried away by wonderful stories or testimonials from people who have made it in the business. The few winners are people who joined at the top of the pyramid scheme when it just started. You will never hear any sad tales because the majority of them skulk away and quietly exit.
If you are involved with a pyramid scheme, it is high time you do your due diligence and quit it before getting financially.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for Reading!