We’ve all heard about scamming. If you thought it was a thing of the past, you’re most definitely wrong. I still see so many news articles online about how people out there get scammed. Scammers know what to do and how to do it. They have strategic ways of lying through their teeth. Their target market is those who are the most vulnerable, and when people think of those who are the most vulnerable, 95% of them think of the elderly. But that’s just not the case.
The elderly are not the only ones who are targeted for such things as scams and even Multi Level Marketing (MLM). Vulnerability comes in many shapes and forms, not just in age. It also comes through such factors as gender, unemployment, illness, and disability. I’ve heard stories where MLM clouts do such things as open their own Facebook accounts to add themselves to groups targeted for people who suffer from or have suffered through a cancer diagnosis to get them to join the MLM community so that they, the clout chasers, could get their cash flow going.
I was a victim to an MLM clout myself. It was back in college. I was a young (not that I’m old now) 20-something year old gal trying to find myself while throwing myself into textbooks non-stop every single day because I had to work 10 times harder than my peers just to get by and get the grades that I needed. I was never the typeof person who could do schooling and work, even on a part-time basis, all at once. But I did attempt to work at least every summer to earn money here and there at least so I could make sure I had enough to pay off my student loans. I’ve worked as telemarketer, a cashier, a blogger, and yes, you guessed it, an MLM seller.
I was approached by a classmate I’d gotten close with through working on multiple group projects with. We meshed well together, or at least I thought so. She sent me a messaged on Facebook asking if I’d be interested in getting a part-time job selling knives during the summer months. I was desperate enough to accept the offer. Now I realize it was an act of desperation, but at the time, I thought it was just a great opportunity that would bring me ‘lots and lots of money.’ My first day on the job went smoothly. It was an introductory meeting, a presentation, more like. The clouts made us, the newbies, feel welcomed with open arms. We were ready to work. We were ready to sell. We were ready to make money.
We were told, practically ordered, to sell to the people we knew. I did just that, or at least I attempted to. I failed miserably. Out of the 10 people I presented the products to, only one made a purchase. It wasn’t because I was terrible at selling. I’d done it before, and I was great; a master at it if you’d ask me. It was rather that I was the fact that I attempted to sell the products to people who obviously couldn’t afford them. When I went to the training session at the company, which was acquired after a certain amount of failed sale pitches, they had me do a mock presentation. Once I finished mine, all I was told was that maybe I just didn’t know the right people.
WELL, NO SH*T, JACK!
That was what I thought to myself when I heard that feedback. Without any sort of hesitation, I immediately left the company for good. A few years later, there was a job fair at my college where I saw that very sameMLM Pyramid company’s booth. An employee saw me walking around and came up to me. As he attempted to get my attention, he excitedly said, ‘Hey, do you want to learn more about us? We’re the best company you’ll ever get the chance to be a part of.’ In response, I rolled my eyes at him and said, ‘I already worked here, and you’re the worst. Don’t come up to me again.’
I’d learned a much needed lesson. For a while, at least, I thought I did. It’s a different time now in the year 2022, and the use of social media is practically a necessity to promote yourself and get yourself out there for the world to get to know you. If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’ve had a real lo-hate relationship with social media, specifically with Instagram. Now that I’d gotten my sh*t together, mainly health wise (physical, chronic, and mental), my perspective on social media completely shifted. The last time I started my social media marketing all over was March 2021. It was then that I promised myself that I’d strictly see Instagram as a business tool rather than take anything personally or allow my emotions get the best of me because of it.
I kept my promise. I was so proud of myself. I wasn’t even allowing the weird men trying to hit on me get in the way of what I was attempting to achieve through my Instagram page. But then, a year and a half and more than 2,000 followers later, I cracked. I had a woman message me through the app asking for permission to use a picture I previously posted. This is one way influencers make money through Instagram, so I gave her permission with a condition that there would be a payment involved. She agreed to my condition and we had a deal from then on. A few days later, something fishy went on. She sent me a cheque (that should’ve been the first sign that something was up) and told me to deposit it and then to send her an e-transfer for a certain amount to be sent between different departments. She then proceeded to send me two more cheques until I realized it was a complete scam when she wouldn’t stop telling me she’d send in more cheques for me to deposit.
I managed to get some of the money back from the bank, thankfully. But the ordeal wasn’t over just yet. A day later, I started getting messages on my phone from a different person. They, of course, saw that a portion of the money I sent to them didn’t come through, and they were asking for it back. After a heated back and forth text message exchange, I snapped and wrote to them, ‘You are absolutely disgusting for using me and my vulnerability because I’m disabled and pregnant!’ The person wrote me back assuring me that it wasn’t the case at all. The messages stopped until the next morning when the same person asked where the ‘missing’ money was. When I didn’t respond, another person began messaging me telling me that if I didn’t pay the full amount that was owed to them, they’d be calling the FBI.I didn’t oblige and the cheques bounced a few days later. That was the end of it.
I was so angry at myself. I wasn’t even angry about the money. It comes and goes. I was more upset that I fell for that scheme. I thought I was better than that. I was so angry at myself that I was going to, yet again, delete my Instagram account. Luckily, though, I forgot my password. It wasn’t Instagram’s fault that I got involved in the scam. It was my fault that I fell for it.I was approached by another person a few weeks later offering me the same thing. I asked what what the method of payment was, and they said they’d send me a cheque and there was no need to send me any banking information. When I said I don’t accept cheques as a method of payment, they stopped responding.
This whole ordeal was definitely a lesson learned; an expensive lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. Knowing the signs of an MLM pyramid and social media scams is crucial and needs to be learned by everyone. Scamming and theft is still not a thing of the past, and it won’t be unless we start learning about it more and more. It has to be stopped, and we are the ones that need to do so by learning about it and not falling for it – ever.