There are a number of scams that are being touted as investment plans that are, essentially, Ponzi schemes. So, as an investor, you should carefully evaluate any plan that promises unusually high returns, or any multilevel marketing opportunity. Here are guidelines to help keep you from being burned from such schemes:
- Avoid Ponzi scheme programs where you have to pay to join, or where you are promised a commission which is based upon your successfully recruiting investors (also known as a “downline.”
- Avoid any plans requiring the purchase of expensive products and marketing materials, also known as "tools".
- Beware of plans involving "miracle products", plans promising enormous earnings at no, or low, risk.
- Beware of shills. These are decoy references who are paid by a plan's promoter to lie about their earnings through using the marketing plan. This is part of an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
- Do not pay for anything nor or sign any contracts if you are being pressured. If you have already committed, send the promoter a written notice of your intent to cancel immediately.
- Scrupulously check all claims, backgrounds, references of suspected Ponzi schemes. Use government resources available to investors, such as the State Office of the Attorney General, the State Division of Securities, the NASD and the Better Business Bureau.
- Before investing your money, get all information about the investment in writing before. Any legitimate investment opportunity should have an offering circular having detailed information about the company and the investment.
- Should the promoter claim that the information is too complicated to understand, or that "time is of the essence", walk away immediately from the Ponzi scheme!
- Do not trust “secret” strategies, proprietary programs, or any other mysterious offering. You should never invest in anything that you don't understand.
- By all means, you should protect your assets, but not to the extent of doing anything illegal. So, should anyone try to tell you that you can hide your assets or avoid paying taxes, RUN!
- Remember Heinlein's adage: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch!" Keep this in mind no matter how good a product, and how solid a multilevel marketing plan may appear to be.
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