Yaneek Page | Beware those business opportunity scams in 2019
QUESTION 1: I am in a major pickle and need your help please. I invested money in loom and expected to get back at least double my money. It has been months since and I can’t get any of my interest or even the original money we put in it. I borrowed the money from my mother and she is pressuring me to give her back. I am at the point of breaking. What can I do? — Instagram User
QUESTION 2: Have you heard about [ABC]? Is it a scam? I need your advice on if I should go in it yes or no. — Facebook User
QUESTION 3: What do you think about [XYZ]? I am looking for ways to earn extra income in 2019 because I am struggling right now to barely live. I can’t go on living like this Yaneek and I asking your advice on if this is a good thing to do and if not then what do you recommend to make some fast cash on the side. My job nah cut it! — Facebook User
BUSINESSWISE: These are just three of the dozens of questions I’ve received in recent times from social media about investment schemes and quick cash business opportunities. In the last week alone, more than 15 people have contacted me about rapid result income opportunities in 2019.
I can’t stress enough how alarming it is that at the end of 2018, investment scams are still looming large in the Jamaican landscape. Readers of this column would know that I continuously warn against the get rich mindset to any opportunity — be it a legitimate business opportunity or any form of enterprise investment. As the saying goes ‘the best way to double your money is to fold it into two and put it back in your pocket’.
For the unfortunate persons who have already invested in a scheme and have difficulty in getting their money back, they would need to seek recourse via the Financial Services Commission, FSC, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and possibly the court.
In fact, in doing research for this article I came across an advisory issued by the FSC in October this year specifically warning the public about loom schemes, also called ‘birthday clubs’ or ‘blessing plans’.
I came across several other warnings issued in the United States about the same loom/blessing plans from as far back as 2015. If every potential investor had simply done an internet search of the terms ‘loom’ or blessing plan’ they would have been alerted to the potential scam.
Without getting into details about any specific ‘business opportunity’ I would urge folks to do research first. One strategy I have found useful is to type the name of the business opportunity followed by the words lawsuit, scam and complaints, and see what comes up.
For example, if you were considering a potential business opportunity named ‘ABC biz’ you could open the Google search engine and type in “ABC biz, lawsuit” and then do another search for “ABC biz, scams” and finally “ABC biz, complaints”.
You can also easily identify fraudulent business opportunities or classic pyramid schemes by the following features:
• Participants promote high returns or profits in a very short period of time;
• Participants make money exclusively by recruiting others to invest;
• No genuine product or service is actually sold;
• Commissions are paid on persons recruited rather than purchases made; and
• The use of terms like ‘risk free’ or ‘guaranteed return’.
You can also visit the websites of the Financial Services Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a list of common scams or fraudulent schemes and how to protect yourself from falling victim to them.
Remember no investment is risk-free. Investment returns are almost never guaranteed, and all pyramid schemes are bound to collapse. Most people who have invested in pyramid schemes never get a cent of their principal back, much less any of the high returns that were promised. You will foolishly lose your money.
If a scheme that promises you will get rich overnight sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and creator/executive producer of The Innovators TV series.