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Will You Join My Pyramid Scheme?

Unemployment has reached levels not seen in decades. In this troubled economy, more people may be susceptible to the lure of a scheme to earn some fast money. As a financially savvy bookkeeper with a business degree, I never suspected I could be at risk. Learn the hallmarks of a classic get rich quick scheme from my close call.

The Harmless Introduction

Many get rich quick schemes come cleverly disguised. An innocent inquiry on a related topic might bring a flock of vultures to your door.

Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad ignited my curiosity about his game Cashflow 101. Browsing Craigslist for an unrelated query, I found an individual offering the opportunity to play Cashflow 101 in a small group. “What’s the catch?” I emailed. The response, “No catch, we’re just people learning how to get ahead.”

Breaking Down Resistance

Just as an experienced angler plays a fish on the line, the recruiter for a get rich quick scheme wears down any reluctance. The recruiter needs to earn your trust and become your friend. It’s always harder to turn down someone you know.

Cynicism in hand, my husband and I ventured to a stranger’s home. Our hosts were personable and enthusiastic, people who might have become friends. They offered drinks and snacks, while keeping the conversation moving. Others joined us that night, but we were identified as the best prospect. Their gentle invitation would have been hard to deflect. “We’re part of a real estate investors group; can you join us some evening?”

Pyramid scheme

Offers of Prestige

Once you’ve expressed any interest in the get rich quick scheme, the selling begins. You may meet important people in the scheme, or you may be considered a member to an exclusive club.

As I walked into the Holiday Inn, I spotted my connection at the registration desk. She indicated my arrival to her husband, and he shepherded me into the meeting room. Glancing about, I noted people of varying race and class. My guide snagged one of the leaders to introduce me. The leader inquired, “Is this your first experience with New Money?” The usual connotation of the phrase tripped me up, but I composed myself as I realized this was the group name.

The Draw

The promoters of a get rich quick scheme want you hanging on to their every word. The salesperson will try to represent what you want to become.

Another person called the session to order, and the sales pitch began. An attractive young woman recited her story to the group. She assured the group that her success was within their reach as well. I sat quietly, mesmerized by the cheap quality of her suit. I too could afford polyester.

The Hard Sell

The get rich quick scheme is pushed in earnest. More success stories are displayed, and facts and figures get tossed around and rarely substantiated. You can begin to tell who is hooked at this point, hopefully not you.

Youthful and handsome, the key speaker worked the room, throwing out questions. He built up asking, “Who owns investment real estate,” and “Who wants to own investment real estate?” An older Hispanic woman ruined his punch line. He joked “Who here can’t even spell real estate?” Her hand tentatively rose. His astonished look had her on her feet, indignantly lighting into him for criticizing the people in that room. It was a heartbreaking moment.

One Last Chance

If you escape unscathed from the get rich quick sales presentation, expect continued pursuit from your original recruiter. He may have the greatest need for your investment. Only you can help him build his own multi-level marketing empire.

I attempted a discreet exit. I was unsuccessful. My contact caught up to me outside. She pleaded with me to give the program a chance to work, even exempting me from the recruitment of additional prospects. I could simply buy the educational products and pursue my destiny as a wealthy real estate investor. I thanked her and turned away from the glittering promise of getting rich quick. Click here to read about Wyoming LLC.