LinkedIn. How Many Different Ways Can You Spell Scam?

Don’t Link. Just Don’t.

I remember the day she told me. “I signed up for LinkedIn Pro.  I need it to apply for jobs. It’s cheap, less than $10 a month.  Don’t worry about it.” Truthfully, I didn’t give it a second thought much less worry about it. In hindsight I wish I had.

A few months ago, I was trying to reassure her that we weren’t doing so bad, that her sideline work was bringing in some cash.  So I got her to start depositing her business income directly into her business account so she would have evidence of what her work was actually bringing in.  The account her LinkedIn Pro draws off off.

I’ll bet you can guess where I’m going with this.

I needed to pay some bills, so that day came when I asked her (just like I said I would) for money from the business account. So she gave me access to the account. I do most of the money juggling, but I hadn’t ever needed access to her business account before.  I transferred the amount I needed.  While I was doing that, I noticed a $34 dollar charge from LinkedIn listed as having just posted a few days earlier.

Well, that’s odd.  It’s certainly more than the 9 plus change I was assured it would be. It was more than the amount that she had read it would be. In reading the webpage trumpeting the merits of LinkedIn Pro today she noticed that the charge amount varies from refresh to refresh. Seems kind of peculiar, don’t you think?

What I find more than peculiar, downright infuriating even, is that LinkedIn charges job seekers right up front; money that the poor, unemployed person really can’t afford to part with.  Charges them in a way that the vast majority of headhunting services don’t do.  Charges them when a good portion of assistance agencies are either forbidden to, or choose not to because what is being offered is a charitable service.

Now, I have run into these kinds of profiteers before.  Every person who has looked for a job over the years probably has. “You can make thousands of dollars a week if you just invest a few hundred right now and take our free training courses that show you how to make money using our system” They’ve even gotten clever over the years, disguising themselves as MLM or direct marketing, duping people into giving them money they don’t really have on the promise that they’ll win big in the end.  Some of them disguise themselves as headhunting services, they just need a few dollars up front, but they promise to find you a job eventually.

Where I come from we call that a confidence game, a scam.  Well, this scam that LinkedIn is running netted them over $400 from an account I wasn’t monitoring, but will be monitoring from now on.  I will be talking to authorities as well, because I remain convinced that what they are engaged in is usurious at best, fraudulent at worst.  

I’m onto you LinkedIn. I have canceled my account with you.  You clearly cannot be trusted with information in any way.  I encourage anyone currently using that service to remove themselves from it immediately, before you become a victim of their fraudulent behavior.

Multi-Level Marketing: No, It Doesn’t Pay

I’m still going through the back issues of Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. In addition to noting the passage of Perry DeAngeles (who’s unique take on the subject of skepticism marked the early episodes so powerfully) and running across the odd bit of trivia, the interviews are the things that keep me listening.

In episode #135 the interviewee is Robert FitzPatrick.  I wish I had run across this guy and his invaluable information before I signed up for Amway way back when. If I had run across him before then I would have saved myself a lot of pain, worry and expense.  Luckily the Wife and I are pretty savvy when it comes to counting pennies (I only wish I was that savvy when it comes to sales pitches. I’m getting there) and it only took a few months before we realized that the cost of the goods from Amway and their online presence Quixtar, even at the discounted rate, was more than equivalent quality products available from any big box retailer would cost.

The Skeptics Guide #135 – Feb 20 2008

(interview with Robert L. FitzPatrick of pyramidschemealert.org begins at 37:00 into the show)

Since 1980 a new form of sales and marketing, called multi-level marketing or network marketing, has spread worldwide and spawned an explosion of pyramid sales schemes involving tens of millions of consumers. The line between legal forms of network marketing and fraudulent pyramid programs is a point of controversy, confusion and inquiry in many countries. Pyramid Scheme Alert will provide much needed information to consumers and other interested parties to reduce the number of illegal and de facto pyramid schemes and victims-and to minimize the severity of effects on individuals and communities.

pyramidschemealert.org

So many of the things that Mr. FitzPatrick related in the interview reminded me of my experiences with my upline and Amway that I kept getting chills thinking about how close I was to buying into the whole twisted mindset of selling people something that I needed them to buy, simply because I needed them to buy it. It really is a cult mentality, and they are hardly the only group I’ve been part of that, in hindsight, look suspect on the cult score.

To this day, every time I’m confronted with a direct-selling scheme, I cringe. There are many more of these MLM schemes out there now than there have ever been in the past, and the internet appears to be the vehicle allowing these businesses to flourish.  We’ve come a long way from the days when the Amway guy could show up at your door, selling soap at a price where, in rural America, it seemed like a bargain since you didn’t have to go out and get it from a store in the nearest big city.  Amazon may not pay me to buy products from them, but it’s hard to argue that their prices are driven by anything other than fair market value.  More than I can say for most direct sell products. This whole article serves as a shameless plug for Mr. FitzPatrick’s site Pyramid Scheme Alert.  It really is too bad that no one takes the subject of these schemes seriously.


LastWeekTonightMultilevel Marketing – Nov 7, 2016

Ever wonder what is in all those self-storage units? Think about it for a bit.

Postscript

My upline might have still had me under his thumb if he hadn’t been such a true-believing born-again. The fact that Amway used the evangelical religion to sell their products to other evangelicals simply disgusted me. The products had been a decent value when I first heard about Amway back in the 70’s. Today the company is nothing more than a swindler’s organization. The hypocrisy of the prosperity gospel being used as a marketing strategy knocked sense back into me, and I never looked back. All the MLM’s that I have looked into since that time are scams. All of them.