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Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


A few months back, I had some "charity" call me and thank me for contributing to their cause, and tell me I'm a valued donor. Of course, it was some charity I'd never heard of, and I never made any such donation. I told the guy so, and he said it was all a mistake and he could clear everything up with a few questions. I told him bluntly "I don't remember donating to your charity, you have the wrong number. Good day" and hung up.

Later on, I heard there are scammers who thank people for donating to a charity they never gave any money to, and when the victim tells them so, the scammer tells the victim it's all a mistake and has the victim give their credit card and personal info so they can have their donation credited back to them. Of course, it's all a ruse to get the victim's info. I wish I had kept the guy on the line and asked him questions like "what's my name" and "why do you need my information? Shouldn't you already have it?" just to see how he would respond.

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Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


Two years ago, I was in the grocery store and some guy compliments my jacket I'm wearing. I tell him thanks, and he says I must be doing well for myself. I tell him I'm doing alright, and start head on my way. He follows me and tells me I look like a business guy who knows a few things. Then he tells he's part of some new rapidly expanding financial company and he's looking for people like me to get on the ground floor and be a part of it.

I ask him- "Are you talking about Primerica?"
Him: "Well yes, but, how did you know?"
Me: "Back in early 2005, I got involved with Primerica by responding to a newspaper ad. I met up with a guy named Tom Mikula and he convinced me to pay $250 to attend some 3 day workshop about selling insurance and how the insurance business works. I didn't learn anything, it was all a bunch of financial mumbo-jumbo that flew over my head. It was just another MLM in disguise. Is Tom Mikula your sponsor?"
Him: "Yeah, but..."
Me: "Look, I don't want anything to do with this. I already wasted $250 and a weekend of my life on Primerica. Good day, and good luck. You'll need it"

The look on his face as I walked away was priceless.

To give a bit of background on my time with Primerica- I was barely 21 years old back in February 2005, just dropped out of college and was desperate for work. I answered some ad in the paper explaining "Willing to train a highly motivated individual for a rewarding career in financial services. Call Tom Mikula (xxx) xxx-xxxx." Ads like this are like the words of God to a desperate, gullible college dropout. So I call the number and arrange an interview. The guy explains how much money I can make, how big the company is getting, how experienced he is in the business and how his team members rise very quickly up the ranks, blah blah. Then he drops the bomb that I need to attend some "certification course" before I can get started I have to pay $250 for course materials and fees. I already smell a rat with this, but again I was desperate. So I pay and the following weekend I attend this course.

It's held in some tall, intimidating building about an hour drive from where I live and I feel unsafe having to walk through a long series of dark hallways and empty offices before I reach the classroom. When I arrive, I feel even worse upon seeing my fellow classmates. I'm dressed in a nice button up shirt and clean khakis, and half the guys are dressed in hoodies, ripped jeans and look like they could belong in a gang. One guy was talking to another guy saying he had to call his probation officer after class was done. Another girl in there was having an argument with her boyfriend on her phone before she tells him "look, I don't have time for this bullshit. I can hang out with whoever I want, and I don't care if you're jealous. Now I'm gonna gently caress off, I have class. Bye." I take a seat at an empty table and a couple minutes later the instructor arrives. Shortly after class begins, someone arrives late and sits next to me. He asks me for a cigarette, and I tell him I don't smoke.

Well, the class is two days worth of b.s. that all flies way over my head. I don't know jackshit about insurance and finance, and I can't remember a thing from the course. She goes into deep detail about insurance law, and tells us we need to be sure we know this stuff or we could get sued. But she also tells us don't worry, our sponsor will help guide us all the way through. Between feeling like I might get attacked by my fellow students and worrying about a lawsuit if I get this wrong, I'm scared stiff at this point. I know the course was deliberately confusing to try and instill a sense of dependence on the sponsor. After the second day was done, we all get some certificate that says "[person's name] has completed the necessary training and is now certified to conduct business with Primerica Inc." I wish I saved that certificate- it looked like some elementary school award for good attendance. I was so glad to be out of there when it was all done.

So I meet my sponsor the following Monday. He tells me to make a list of everyone I know and call them up to set up a meeting to discuss their finances. That was the last straw- bring some strange man along with me to meet my family and friends and try to sell them insurance and financial packages of which I didn't even understand myself. I told him I would like him to explain a few things to me before I started contacting people. He's persistent and tells me that we need to get to a fast start, and that everything will become clear as we go along. He also starts giving me poo poo and pressuring me about how he thought I was motivated and how he was impressed by me in the first interview. Some guy walking by harshly mentions "if you're not prepared to do what it takes and take a risk, then what are you even doing here?" I fill out a few names and tell him I'll call him back and leave. As I'm walking out, he tells me "look, don't waste my time. I'm taking a chance on you, don't let me down." As soon as I'm out of sight, I literally run down the hallway and the stairs back to my car. He calls me back later that night after 10:00 p.m. and I don't pick up. He calls me again the next day and leaves a message saying "look, you'll do great. Call me back and we'll get you going." No loving way was I going back to meet that deceptive, conniving son of a bitch.

I was out $250 and had to endure a weekend of intimidation and fear because of him. Yes, my own gullibility, desperation and laziness were ultimately to blame. But I learned my lesson hard and clear about Primerica and MLMs in general that way. drat Primerica to hell for preying on desperate and gullible people. drat all those shady MLM companies.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


My guess is that they stay afloat by charging people for that class and make the real profit scamming those same people into having their relatives and friends buy useless insurance and financial products, while giving them a small cut. Maybe it's changed in the past 12 years, but I highly doubt it. My sponsor did mention something about being able to get a refund for the class, but I was too scared to ask for it. I'm sure I would have had to jump through all kinds of hoops and maybe even be required to set up meetings with people I know before I could get the refund. I'm just glad I never approached anyone and bailed out when I did- I know my family would have just signed up for something out of pity for me.

That's why I loathe the MLM business model so much- it's all dependent on getting money from and taking advantage of people you personally know and who presumably trust you.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


When I was car shopping back in 2012, a Suburban Ford dealership offered me $2000 for my trade in. Later that day, I went to another Suburban Ford dealership and they offered me $500, telling me that "your transmission is slipping." When I asked why literally a few hours earlier another dealership of the same franchise was willing to offer 4 times as much and never mentioned such a serious defect, the sales lady tells me "our mechanics are really good."

They didn't get the sale.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


rjderouin posted:

The first place " Shot you in the foot" they knew you were leaving so they wanted to make sure you didn't buy anywhere else. So they gave you a ridiculous amount for your trade so that when you went anywhere else you would be offended by their offer/

I ended up going to 5 different dealerships before finding the car I eventually bought. Overall, I think I got a pretty good deal. All the other 4 places I went to offered me at least $1500 on my trade in, and none of them mentioned anything about transmission problems. I didn't tell them I had taken my vehicle to other places before they made the offer, either. Sure, some of them may have been planning on making up the money with other fees and costs, but personally I think that one place was trying to hustle me, especially since they gave me such a laughable explanation for the low price. My last vehicle was 12 years old and had over 100k miles on it, so it had its' fair share of problems, but the transmission was not one of them.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


A friend of mine was into Amway/Team for a time. They sold XS brand energy drinks that were more expensive, and he would buy a case or two per month. Basically, the company convinces its' distributors that other energy drinks are terrible, don't work and are bad for your health, while XS brand is a "natural" energy booster without all the harmful caffeine, chemicals, or whatever else is in Red Bull, Monster, etc. Also, they sell some BS about how you should buy your products from Amway, since it's money you're going to spend anyway, so why not spend it with your own company instead of Wal-Mart? There was other stuff for sale, like paper products, cleaning supplies and personal care products like mouthwash, hair gel, etc. The real money maker for Amway/Team was selling training materials and having its' distributors attend local seminars and meetings.

I tried a few of the XS drinks that he gave me. To be fair, they did taste pretty good, better than most energy drinks do. I didn't really notice any better boost of energy that I couldn't have gotten from a Red Bull, or really a cup of coffee.

My friend thankfully came to his senses and left Team back in 2011.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


BiggerBoat posted:

My former friend who got into it and vanished down the Amway rabbit hole tried to sell me and I said "give me a call when you even make $10,000 in one year and I'll look at it." I never heard from him again.

Guest2553 posted:

e. I like that tactic 'tell me when you clear 10k', I'm gonna start using it

Just make sure you say "$10k net profit." Some of these MLMs can convince people they're making money by using terms like "sales volume of over $10 thousand!" or "generating downline revenue of thousands of dollars!" or some other vague bullshit. Sure, it won't make much of a difference anyway, but some MLMs actually do give checks out to people as a percentage of how much the distributor purchased and how many people in the distributor's downline purchased. For instance, you and your downline might have bought $2000 worth of merchandise that month, and you get maybe 1% of that- $20 check. Of course, you're still spending hundreds of dollars a month on merchandise just to get that $20 check, and so is everyone below you. My friend I mentioned earlier with Amway/Team showed me a check from the company for $6 and some change. I can't imagine how much he was spending to get that check, not to mention all the seminars and training materials he was buying as well.

Later, he told me he found out it was against the rules of Amway to show prospective distributors paychecks. The official rule stated something about protecting the company from fraud, but it was so obvious the real reason was the company knew drat well about 99% of its' distributors were making less than $10 per month.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


My rule has always been this: If you're surprised to hear about something, whether it's a threat of some kind, an unpaid bill or fee, unclaimed money, an employment or business opportunity, malware or a virus on your computer, a new service or an upgrade to your current service, or really anything with monetary incentive- it's bogus. On the rare chance it is legit, you should have no problem being able to resolve the issue or take advantage of the opportunity on your own without needing to enlist the aid of the people that contacted you, or whatever advertisement you saw on facebook/a flyer/an infomercial at 3 am.

Zwabu posted:

Facebook "type the word 'YES' below, or repost this on your own timeline instead of like, to show you are really my friend/care about me, are paying attention etc.":

These sure feel like scams, like someone is identifying the accounts belonging to passive idiotic loving dupes so they can target them for other bullshit. On principle I have never responded to any of these because why the gently caress would you insist on some kind of Simon Says condition of proving anything, gently caress you, you loving gently caress. Can anyone elaborate? Thread is long so I may have missed it in the middle.

I see these sometimes. Someone will post a depressing or inflammatory anecdote of some kind, ending in some form of "let's see how many people will be brave enough to make this their status update." I don't think these are scams of any kind, just the social media equivalent of chain letters. I've never seen any posts directly asking for a "Yes" comment, but I would imagine it's more in the spirit of the chain letter, not really about trying to harvest scam victims. At any rate, I always ignore status updates like these.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


Speaking of shady Craigslist ads, this brings to mind an experience I had with a job offer from the old school classifieds in the local newspaper-

Back in early 2006 I think, I answered an ad I saw in the paper. The ad stated it was looking for "light maintenance/landscaping work" for a nearby apartment complex. I called the listed number and the guy who answered told me the work was exactly what it sounded like- shoveling snow, sprinkling salt on walkways and staircases, cleaning/vacuuming newly vacated apartment units, cutting grass in summer time, etc. It was a short distance away and I was unemployed at the time, so it sounded perfect. Then the guy told me the big catch- due to the way the payroll was set up, he wouldn't be able to pay me for 3 months, possibly longer. I asked him why, and he said "it's something with my bank, they're being jerks." Sounds real legit. I told him that wasn't acceptable and hung up.

I've always wondered about this. Is it even legal to do that? Even if it is legal, what was to stop him from cooking the books and shortchanging me, or from not paying me at all? It just seemed like there are so many ways a deadbeat apartment manager could take advantage of an employee he doesn't officially have on the payroll.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


Gridlocked posted:

When I was just starting university I worked in a corner shop. We sold cigarettes as most do. Kids from the local expensive private boarding school would try to buy them all the time. poo poo was hilarious calling 16 and 17 year olds out on their poor attempts to seem 18.

I used to work at a CVS near my parents' house when I was 19-20 and there was somewhat large college nearby. Most of the students there were commuters, but there was a decent amount of students that lived on campus. It was fairly common for them to try all kinds of poo poo to buy cigarettes and alcohol. One girl comes to the counter on her cell phone loudly complaining that every store in town is rejecting her ID because it doesn't resemble her. She hands it to me while still on her phone and sure enough, the picture looks like someone else. I call my manager for assistance and she looks at me and says "wait, not you too? Come the gently caress on!" As my manager is walking up, a customer in back of her mentions that she saw this girl get out her phone and just start talking into it before she approached the counter. My manager arrives and he tells her she can't buy her six pack of Coronas. She slams the phone shut (it was an old flip style at the time) snatches the ID from his hand and knocks over a display of magazines on the counter on her way out.

Another time, some kid waited around near the register, pretending to be looking at the battery display case with a box of Miller Lite in his hand. He waits about 10 minutes, spending all that time perusing AA batteries until the line gets really long. He gets in at the end of the line, but unfortunately for him, the line doesn't fill back up behind him. He hesitantly looks behind himself the whole time while in line. When he finally arrives, he puts the beer on the counter and very quickly gets out his wallet to grab his cash. I ask him for ID, and he pretends he doesn't hear me and hands me the cash. I again ask him for ID, and he chuckles and says, "oh, right. Sorry!" He goes through his wallet and spends an unusually long amount of time going through all the different slots, probably hoping I'll just get tired waiting. He finally produces his ID and shows it to me with his thumb over the date of birth. I take it from his hand and he turns his face away and looks down at the candy below, his face turning red. He's 2 weeks shy of being 21. I tell him "look, buddy, you know I could call the police on you for this?" He starts sweating and begs me not to. I give him his ID and tell him to get lost. He slinks away and I pick up the phone and say loudly enough for him to hear "yes, this is the CVS on Adams road. Get the police, we have a fake ID situation." Of course I didn't actually make any call, but he thinks I did. He starts running out the door.

Maybe that was a mean-spirited thing to do, but gently caress kids like that who put me in that situation. Getting caught selling alcohol to a minor would have been instant termination and a $500 fine for the store and for the individual making the sale. A co-worker got busted on a sting a few months prior, and after that we were all on edge.

Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


No Country for Old Men

It's not about a scam or rip off, but it is a great movie involving foul play, dirty money and how being greedy and not doing the right thing can destroy you.

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Vinny the Shark
Oct 11, 2005


I've been getting more scam texts about Amazon gift cards awaiting my account lately as well. For every 100000 or so texts scammers send out, there's at least 1 person that's legitimately interested. Whatever you do, don't text "STOP" at the end if you want to stop receiving those texts as those messages sometimes have at the bottom- that just tells the scammers that you actually read and responded to their text.

However, robo calls aren't going away anytime soon unfortunately. Just got 3 of them this week.

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