Pyramids and Ponzi Schemes in Online Marketing

Cryptocurrency is all the hype today. In every nook and corner, you hear someone talking about cryptocurrency. But inadvertently, it stands as something too good to be true. The mystery surrounding it makes it natural to consider it a Ponzi scheme or an MLM scam. But the truth is neither the same nor the opposite of this. To understand cryptocurrency and whether or not it is a scam, we need to dive deeper.

Understanding the Scams

While all these terms seem the same and are often used interchangeably when talking about financial frauds, they are actually quite different from each other. Let’s first understand what each of these terms stands for:
• Ponzi Schemes:
Named after Charles Ponzi and in existence since the 1920s, Ponzi scheme is perhaps one of the oldest forms of financial frauds. The reason why Ponzi scheme took off so well was the simplistic genius behind it. It works simply by taking money from one and paying to another. This is done to maintain the illusion of grand returns on investment made by the victims. Obviously, this chain cannot go for too long and would eventually fail. However, the scammer has expanded his web far enough by that point, and simply disappears with all the investments made by the current clientele.
• Multi-Level Marketing:
Quite surprisingly, MLM is not always a fraud. Though a dubious scheme, it is not considered illegal in many cases. The reason lies behind the promises made initially.
MLM is a networking scheme that works by recruiting people into the sales network in exchange of a fee. These people would have to recruit other people into the network, in exchange for a commission and a share from whatever sales the new recruits make. The whole idea is to have free marketing in exchange of profits. But in truth, the scheme is profitable only till 2 or 3 levels. Beyond that, people are in perpetual loss, while the company benefits from the joining fee.
• Pyramid Scheme:
Pyramid Scheme is often considered a subset of MLM, but there is an important distinction. In case of MLM, there is always a real product and the primary goal is always to sell that product while fooling people into becoming sellers is only the secondary objective. However, in case of Pyramid scheme, there is often no real product. The primary objective is to recruit maximum people into the network in exchange for a fee, and then make away with that money.
The existence of Pyramid scheme is the reason why MLM is now considered a fraud by experts.

Some Famous Fraud Cases
There have been many big and famous fraud cases as a result of pyramids and ponzi schemes. Let’s have a look at some of them.
1. Bernie Madoff:
Bernard “Bernie” Madoff may not have the fraud named after him, but he proved himself to be the king of Ponzi scheme. Madoff is attributed to the largest and longest Ponzi scheme in the history. Starting in the 1970s, Madoff had been fooling people for over 30 years. His clients usually belonged to the elite section of the society, as he charged $20 million just for the initial investment. By 2008, when he was finally apprehended, Madoff was sitting on top of a scam worth $50 billion, making it the largest scam pulled off by a single person in modern history.
2. BurnLounge:
If you were a teenager in the USA when the 21st century started, you would have probably heard about this scam. BurnLounge was a music marketing company that sold music and music-related merchandise. In addition to this, it also sold membership programs. Apart from buying the stuff offered by the company, the customers also had the option to become Independent Retailer and earn commission from direct sales. Another program existed to become a “Mogul”, which allowed customers to both earn from direct sales and sell the membership program to other customers.
However, after its operation in 2005-2007, it was finally caught by the Federal Trade Commission. Subsequent investigation revealed that out of the $28 million BurnLounge made in the 2 years, $26 million came from the membership plans alone. Out of all the customers that joined the membership program, 90% never made any profits. BurnLounge was a classic example of a pyramid scheme where the product was just a sham; a veil to hide the true fraud.

Understanding Cryptocurrencies

Before we begin exploring the possibility of it being a scam, we need to first understand what cryptocurrencies are.
Essentially, cryptocurrency is just another form of currency. Cryptocurrency originated after the apparent failure of digital cash, because of the flaws of the third-party arrangement. Thus, cryptocurrency provided an alternate model where the entire structure was decentralized. Everyone and no one had control.
Since the central authority was ticked off, there was no fear of someone taking over or hijacking the transactions. A public ledger called Blockchain exists to keep a record of every transaction that occurs within the network. The actual process is even more complicated, so let’s just leave it that.
There are two ways to get a cryptocurrency coin (or token), the most basic unit of a cryptocurrency. The first is by solving the cryptographic problems and get the tokens as a reward. The second is by simply buying it from coin exchanges, which is what most people do.

Crypto Applications

The following are the crypto applications that are used when dealing in cryptocurrencies:
• Purchase:
In a decade, cryptocurrency has transformed from the science experiment to a legitimate currency. And the testimony of this would be the vast array of merchants that now accept cryptocurrency for payment purposes.
Even though it has not yet found a mass appeal, you can still go a long way with crypto shopping. App Store by Apple currently supports 10 cryptocurrencies for payment. From grocery payment to booking hotels, it is finding a use everywhere.
• Investment:
The primary reason why most people are buying cryptocurrency today is investment purposes. Just a decade ago, Bitcoin was literally worthless. During its peak last year, it had crossed $18,000. Most other cryptocurrencies saw a similar growth curve and their value was multiplied many hundred times over within a span of 24 months. Naturally, people considered it a great investment opportunity. Despite the huge drop during the beginning of 2018, cryptocurrency still remains one of the best places to put your money in.
• Mining:
Miners are the people who maintain the blockchain network, enabling the record of every crypto transaction. They give computation power to solve a cryptographic problem and get tokens in return. Mining is uncommon due to the hardware and efforts it requires, but a much safer investment option than trading.

Issues with Cryptocurrency

Ever since the time cryptocurrency started grabbing attention, speculations of it being some kind of fraud have floated around. The rapidly growing market cap of the asset does give such an impression. However, let’s make one thing clear: cryptocurrency is not a fraud or a Ponzi scheme.
The reason behind the high growth value of cryptocurrency is, as you might have heard, the “bubble”. A bubble is a term in trading that means that the value of the asset has become detached from the market value. In such a case, the market value of the asset keeps increasing, if though the actual asset might not be worth that much. But it would still be considered a risk and not fraud, so the Bitcoin bubble is perfectly legal as long as it stays afloat.
However, that doesn’t mean the cryptocurrency is free from any dangers of scamming. We are talking about an entity that is free from any central control and is not understood by even its investors. Many aspects of cryptocurrency stand vulnerable to frauds, like:
• The decentralized nature is obviously vulnerable when it comes to scammers. Due to the lack of any central authority, there are limited options to verify credibility.
• There is no qualification needed to be a crypto investor. It also means that people who barely understand cryptocurrency can be manipulated into investing in it.
• The soars and dips of the crypto market make it appear like a more advanced version of the stock market. Success stories of bitcoin and Ethereum (among many others) are enough to bamboozle amateur investors.
• Since most of the governments are neither willing to legalize cryptocurrency nor able to completely ban it, the entire crypto market is highly unregulated. There are no regulations regarding who can or can’t join. In such a chaos, it is very easy to fool novice investors.
• Lastly, there is a strong trend, especially among the tech-savvy urban youth, to invest in crypto. Even though these investors are not quite interested in neither crypto technology nor trading, they simply join due to peer pressure. Naturally, these people are the most susceptible to getting scammed.

However, one still cannot blame cryptocurrency for being the platform for frauds. It would be akin to saying that banks are fraudulent because of banking frauds. Furthermore, the risks associated with cryptocurrency are no secret. Various governments crossed the world and have reiterated them time and again as an excuse for not legalizing cryptocurrency. As cryptocurrency became a common topic in the entertainment world, the dangers of it also became an argument. Even comedians like John Oliver and talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel often talk about it. Additionally, every cryptocurrency comes with the clear message of “the risk is yours alone”. After all this, you can hardly blame the technology or the company behind it for misleading you.

Distinguishing Fraud from the Real

Now that there are so many schemes and investment options available, there is a big risk of getting into pyramids and ponzi schemes. Here are a few things to know and understand in order to distinguish fraud from the real.

1) Searching for the Source of Profit:

Like we discussed above, referral programs are prominent indicators of a pyramid scheme. Referrals are extremely common and almost every new (and sometimes established) company uses it to get more customers. But the question is: does it form the primary source of income for the company? In any legitimate company, the primary source would the product itself, and referrals would be responsible only for a small portion of the profits. The same applies for the cryptocurrency. If that is not the case, then maybe you are walking into a trap.

2) Understanding the Profit:

The only real reason for investing in something is profit. Thus, anyone selling you their investment product would promise profitability. But how strong do these claims sound? Almost everyone project returns that is hardly ever met. It is perfectly legal for a company to pitch its highest-ever figure, even if it never again achieved the same results. Also, it is legal to add certain secrecy towards how the investment grows and achieves the results.
However, if the cryptocurrency is claiming to give you guaranteed and multi-fold return on investment, then it is an instant red flag. Market rules either allow for guaranteed-but-small profits or huge-but risky ones. Cryptocurrency generally falls in the second category, which means that high returns are possible but the associated risk persists and might even result in huge losses. So, anyone guaranteeing high returns on crypto investments is most likely trapping you in a Ponzi scheme.

3) Dependency on New Investment:

As we saw in both Ponzi scheme and Pyramid scheme, there is a need for constant new investment for the scam to keep working. If the new investment stops even for a small duration, the entire house of cards would fall. This is what you check against the crypto investment in question.
To be honest, every company needs constant funds in order to supply. But while legitimate companies use those funds to convert into business process and finished products, sham companies simply use them as a fuel to keep fooling the investors. As we saw in the case of various scammers like Ponzi and Madoff, the funds from the new investors were used to pay the old ones, which was essential to keep the fraud alive. If you don’t want to fall into the same trap, you need to understand how much the cryptocurrency company depends upon new funds. Among the three things we discussed, this is the hardest to speculate, but it is the final step that would establish whether or not the crypto asset is legitimate or not.

Conclusion:
Despite the apparent indication, cryptocurrency is no Ponzi scheme or scam of any other kind. However, it has every possibility to be used as bait by other scammers. It falls upon the customer to be wary and take the right decision before moving forward.

Mental Transition from Employee to Entrepreneur

A person’s mindset is one of the major determinants of success in every walk of life. That means that the thinking patterns a person habitually adopt largely govern the results a person achieves.

However, different situations and circumstances require different mindsets. It is something that a would-be entrepreneur from being an employee must be aware of. Unfortunately, not all understand the mental transition required from employee to entrepreneur, without which business success is unlikely.

The mental transition from employee to entrepreneur could be rough and tough. Here are some key points you need to consider:

  1. You are responsible for all your decisions whether good or bad. As entrepreneurs, you should have an amazing opportunity to make something out of nothing in ways that are impossible working for someone else. However, this means making big decisions on what, when and how things must be done. You should not wait for things to happen or for someone else to tell you what you got to do. You must make things happen. Entrepreneurs fully understand that opportunities could be short-lived and so they develop a sense of urgency which helps them achieve their goals.
  2. Feeling uncomfortable is now your new comfort zone. When you’re an employee, you get used to think inside the box rather than outside. As an entrepreneur, you should know there is no box. You should see what others don’t see. You should test new ideas and take possible risks. Doing so will require lots of courage, a thick skin and the ability to keep on going despite all the rejection and skepticism.
  3. As an entrepreneur, you should know that learning is a continuous journey. Employees have a job description and require a specific set of skills. Entrepreneur should learn many new skills so that he won’t have to outsource what they’re not good at. Whatever needs to be done has to be done and there are no rooms for any excuse.
  4. Entrepreneurs love their business but know how to be objective. Employees can go do something they dislike for the salary whereas entrepreneurs love their business because of the long hours and effort required.
  5. Entrepreneurs enjoy breaking rules. For an employee, breaking rules could possibly mean dismissal. However, as entrepreneurs, they aren’t interested in the status quo. Instead, they always look for ways to do things differently.
  6. Time is not linear. Employees do have a timetable to work to. Entrepreneurs try not to be tied to a computer or a desk 24/7 thinking how their business is doing well or what could be doing better.
  7. Numbers do not lie. Concerning numbers, it is enough for an employee to know what is coming in and what are coming out. As entrepreneurs, you’d know and learn how to embrace and love numbers fast because your business cash flow is what will keep you in or out of your business. Additionally, it’s your profits, loss, sales and costs that will either give you sleepless nights or lavish lifestyle. So without the help of numbers, an entrepreneur’s business will continue heading for the rocks.

 

Taking the Leap

In order to be a successful entrepreneur in the future, you must shift your mindset and think differently. And when it comes to business, most entrepreneurs talk about “taking the leap”. Do you see yourself tossing a stack of papers in a wastebasket as your co-workers line the halls and applaud? Do you see yourself as the person who kisses his corporate life goodbye and dances out to the door towards your bright future? The reality is, everything could turn into an entrepreneurial nightmare. A business success does not come from taking one big leap and never looking back. Unless you’re willing to take the risk, you should want your business to have longevity, so start small and start slow.

Start now

Many people underestimate the time it takes to make the mental transition from employee to entrepreneur. So even if you are still employed, it is sensible to start shifting your mindset or perhaps setting up a business to run alongside. Doing so will give you the opportunity to develop new skills and build experience while still enjoying your safety-net of salary. At some point in your life, you will certainly need to give up if you want to grow as a successful entrepreneur in the future. If you are ready to be your own boss, it is now time to start making the mental transition from employee to entrepreneur. The earlier you prepare the better chance you’ll succeed.

Do you think it is now time to switch? The decision is yours.

Common Password Mistakes to Avoid

Passwords are like locks in every door and window of your house. If you use a skeleton key, odds are pretty good hackers are probably going to end up robbing you blind. Likewise, if your password is not unbreakable and unique, you’re probably opening the front door and letting robbers in for lunch.

Here are the 10 most common password mistakes you probably make and tips on how to avoid them:

  1. Giving your password to anyone- Even if you’re really good friends, never ever let your friends know your password. Your friend may accidentally pass our password along to others or you may even become ex-friends and abuse it.
  2. Using just one password – There is a possibility that someone who works on a website where you’re using that password could actually pass it on. They can even use it to break into your account at other websites.
  3. Not using a pass phrase – Passphrases are now being recommended by security experts. Rather than a simple password, passphrase is consists of 20 or more characters strung together along with symbols, numbers, upper and lowercase letters. For instance, think of something that you can remember but others couldn’t. For example, the word “YellowChocolate#56CadillaFi$h could make a good password. Additionally, avoid using any famous quotes for it could be easy for others to guess.
  4. Not using a password with at least 12 characters long – Longer passwords are much harder for thieves and hackers to crack than shorter ones.
  5. Not including numbers, symbols and capital letters – Instead of using an S, try substituting it with a $. Instead of using an L, consider using 1.
  6. Posting it in plain sight – Research found that lots of people post their password on their monitor using a sticky note. This is a bad idea. If you really want to write it down, make sure to hide the sticky note somewhere where no one else can find it.
  7. Not using a password manager –Different programs and web services are available online to help you create strong passwords for each of your website. You just have to remember the one password to access the secure site or program that stores the password for you.
  8. Not using a multi-factor authentication – Most website services now offer options to verify your identity when you log on to your account from unrecognized device. They will send a text or other type of message with a code to verify if it is really you.
  9. Falling for phishing attacks – Be extra careful when clicking on a link where they are asking you to log in and change your password. While it could possibly be legit, it could also be a phishing scam where your personal information will go to a hacker. If you’re in doubt, log on manually to the site by typing what you know to be the website’s URL that’s saved into your browser.
  10. Not using a password or fingerprint for phones – Some mobile phones allow you to register your fingerprints for extra security. Sometimes, people with bad intentions use unlocked phones they find to steal the owner’s information. Sometimes, make lots of calls or even send text messages like they’re coming from the owner of the phone. Others pose as you could send texts to make it appear like you are bullying or harassing someone in your contact book using inappropriate words or images.

You’re probably sick of hearing how essential it is to follow certain steps when creating passwords. But by avoiding the abovementioned things, rest assured that you’re on the right path in creating a secured and strong password.

 

 

Tips and Tricks for Creating Passwords

When creating passwords, you should make sure you’re creating a secured one. Choosing a password that’s difficult for others to figure out will require creating unlikely number and letter combinations. The good news is crafting a hard-to-crack and easy-to-remember password can become pretty straightforward in just a few tips and tricks.

First Things First

When creating passwords for the first time, there are two essential rules to consider: the length and complexity.

  1. Length – Your password should be at least 8 characters long. For extra security, it should ideally be 12 characters long.
  2. Complexity – Your password should be a combination of uppercase letters, lower case letters, numbers as well as special characters.

 

Ways your password can become vulnerable

As mentioned above, common passwords get hacked very easily. Some reasons why common passwords get hacked very easily are the following:

  1. Obvious passwords such as birthdays, anniversaries or number repetition.
  2. Many users or companies keep the default “admin” password out of ignorance.
  3. Many users simply do not want to be inconvenienced to learn new passwords.

 Tips for creating passwords:

  1. Do not use your personal information. Do not use your name, birthday or spouse’s name as your password. Your personal information is often available in public and even online and that makes it easier for someone to guess your password.
  2. Use longer passwords. A typical password should consist of at least six characters. To add extra security, you could make it at least 12 characters if the website allows it.
  3. If in case you need to write down your password, make sure to keep them in a secured place. It would be even better if you encrypt your password or you can just write down hints for them so that others won’t be able to understand.
  4. Do not use the same password for every account. If someone discovers your password for your one account, all the other accounts will become vulnerable as well.
  5. Include symbols, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters if the website allows it.
  6. Do not use words that are found in the dictionary. For instance, the password “swimming1” would make a weak password.
  7. Random passwords are the strongest passwords. Instead of trying to think one of your own, you can use a password generator instead. However, random passwords are often hard to remember, so it is advisable to use or create a mnemonic device. An example of this is the password “H=jNp2#”. Instead of remembering the word per se, you can try remembering it as “HARRY=Jessica NOKIA paris 2 #”. At first, it may seem random but with a bit of practice, it would become relatively easy for you to memorize. You can also try to select a sentence you’ll know you’ll remember and use the first letter of each word in your sentence, and add some symbols or numbers as your password.
  8. Make use of a passphrase. Passphrase is one great way to make a unique password out of your favorite song lyric, movie line or a quote. For example, a classic rock fanatic can make their password “Sw33t-h0mE-Alabama” or a science fiction fan could make their password “TMOLI-42” (the meaning of life is 42). The more creative you get, the more it will stick.

Finally, the password you will create should be the one that works best for your situation. Develop a password that’s so unusual that hacking becomes nearly impossible.

The Negative Side of PLR Content

Private Label Records (PLR) might seem like a new term to many, but it has been around for a long time. And for most of that time, it has been surrounded by controversies. PLR is basically a type of content which is entirely converted into a commodity. Every aspect of that content can be sold and resold.

The buyer of a PLR work has the authority to publish it in any form, modify it, or resell it to someone else. The creator of the PLR work, on the other hand, can decide of the manner of the sale. He can choose to sell the entire work, or certain excerpts from it, or just the attribution rights.

The Negative Aspects of PLR

Let’s make one thing clear: PLR is not a scam. In certain cases, they might even be beneficial. For instance:

  • Sometimes PLR work can have great content and updated information.
  • It is usually cheap to buy PLR content.
  • It saves the buyer a lot of time and allows him to use PLR content as a filler material for his other works.

However, the negative side of PLR cannot be denied. In fact, it is negative enough to overshadow any benefits it brings along. Here are some bad things about PLR content:

·        Plagiarism Concerns:

Even though plagiarism tools have made our lives simpler to a great extent, they have their own limitations. Even the best plagiarism checker tool cannot completely check a large body of work.

Sometimes, the PLR content has simply rewritten and/or paraphrased somebody else’s work. Other times, it is possible that the work from which it has been copied is not yet published, but will be published in future.

Another common instance is when a PLR work is resold multiple times and it becomes almost impossible to figure out who was the previous owner and who was the original creator.

In any case, if plagiarism exists, then only the current owner is answerable to legal actions. It means that as a buyer, you put yourself at risk.

·        Duplicate Content:

Even if the work is completely original, it still doesn’t discard the multiple reselling and thus multiple copies of that PLR content exists. In case of articles, search engines like Google consider such copies as duplicate content and penalize them, thus severely affecting the search result visibility of your PLR content.

In case of eBooks, a different issue exists. Multiple owners who are buying the PLR content at different points of time have the discretion to decide the price of their books. If someone decides to sell his or her book for a lower price which completely resembles your content, people really aren’t going to buy your work since both books contain the same PLR content.

·        Content Quality:

PLR sales are usually done with minimal transparency. In most cases, you would only be offered an excerpt before the deal is done. Thus, you don’t really get the chance to inspect the quality of the entire work. This is a critical risk because most PLR content creators actually hire other writers to write the content. Most of them prefer hiring new and inexperienced writers because they charge less.

Another kind of risk is associated with the outdated content. Some PLR content could be good, with most are not and simply reuse the information already available on the Internet. As a result, it often contains content that is outdated and no longer useful.

Users won’t be interested in buying your content if it doesn’t even contain useful information, and a barrage of bad reviews would further reduce the chances.

·        Overcoming the Bad Side:

With all said and done, it is possible that you still want to go for PLR content. That is entirely your choice, but if you do, here are some things you should remember:

  • Plagiarism check must be your priority. Even though we admitted that it is difficult to completely check a huge PLR work for plagiarism, you must do the best you could. It just might save you from legal troubles.
  • The best way to use PLR content is as a source. In case you are looking for new ideas or some small filler content, PLR serves the purpose well. Not using it as direct content would also prevent the issues arising from plagiarism.
  • Even though there are hundreds of people selling PLR content, not all of them are the same. Some agencies have formed a reputation for selling PLR content that is unique and has good quality. They might charge more than others, but it will definitely save you from a lot of headache in the long run.

Final Thoughts:

Private Label Records are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some love it, while many hate it. However, now that you know the dark side of PLR content, you would be able to take a more informed decision.

PLR Products

What are PLR Products?

PLR stands for private label rights. PLR products come in many sizes, shapes, and forms including information materials such as reports, articles, and e-books. Aside from information products, PLR materials can also be a graphics file, software and more.

It is a license which allows any holder to modify the contents of a particular product and sell it under the holder’s name. Basically, PLR products are those written by someone else and then sold it to others to use. It can even come to an extent where the PLR products can be changed in any way the buyer wants to.

PLR products are becoming more popular over the internet nowadays. One of the main reasons why it’s gaining popularity is because by using PLR products, any holder can save a huge amount of time while guaranteeing quick returns.

 What are the benefits of using PLR Products?

PLR products have numerous advantages. First is that they are very versatile. You can either put your name on them or you can edit them however you want to. Aside from adding your name and editing them, you can also put your affiliate links into the PLR products. Doing so will give you more chance to get sales. You’ll get paid just by people reading the PLR products.

Are there any restrictions when using PLR products?

Every PLR company has their own specific guidelines for use statements posted on their websites. Some PLR companies allow their subscribers to resell their content while others do not allow at all. Some allow their purchaser to claim the authorship or copyrights while others do not. Most of the PLR companies, however, allow their subscribers to do whatever they want with the contents which have been purchased with very few limitations.

Advantages and Disadvantages of using PLR Products

Disadvantages:

  1. Duplicate Content – anyone who buys the PLR product also uses the same content. It could often result in having the same content on many websites. To avoid this, it is important to edit the material to make it more unique. Rewrite the product as much as possible and brand it your own way.
  2. Low-Quality Material – some PLR products have very good quality. However, there are also those with products of poor quality. Before purchasing a PLR product, make sure to read through before using them. Check for any spelling errors and double check if the facts are all correct.
  3. Duplicate Purchases – PLR products can be changed by buyers. Thus, it could result in the possibility of having the same product given with different names and people will likely to buy the same material twice. The result of this is that the buyer will have lots of returns on his/her sales.

Advantages

  1. Saves Time – creating a well-researched and good quality article could take several time and effort. With PLR products, you can get an instant access to contents with informative details.
  2. Cost efficient – for instance, if you need a 50-page report, you’ll expect to pay a lot more if you hire someone to write the content for you whereas, PLR products can be much less expensive.
  3. Can be altered or revised – PLR products can be rephrased to add words, links, or keywords you preferred in your content.
  4. Brand your own name – almost anyone wants to purchase something from someone they trust and know. With PLR products, you are able to display your name. Doing so will make you brand your own name so that when someone pointed to your site, they will instinctively have a feeling of trusting and knowing you already.
  5. Written by experts – most of the PLR products are written professionally and compiled using the most up to date research by professional and experienced writers.

Where can I find PLR Products?

PLR products can be found almost anywhere on the internet. If you opt for the right PLR membership site, there are several websites that offer fresh PLR contents for their members. Some of these include IDPLR, ResellRightsWeekly, PLRAssassin, BestDealPLR and Internet Marketing Zoom.