Pyramid Scheme

This is actually one I’ve been saving up for a while now, only as part of another post. I’m splitting it out and re-publishing it here as part of Blogvember 14 because why the hell not. Enjoy!

Did I tell you about the time I was approached to join what I would later know to be as a pyramid scheme? One day an acquaintance approached me and thought I’d be a good fit for a business proposition he had. I was curious, so I said yes and we ended up meeting with this acquaintance’s business partner. At first we just talked about this guy’s work, and he made a point of emphasising how he travelled a lot and spent lots of time overseas, etc, etc. Then we got to the nitty gritty of it, and he told me that if I joined his business, I’d eventually be making money without lifting a finger.

I don’t remember much of the details of how it all worked, but as with all pyramid schemes, this one involved some sort of partnership with a manufacturing/distribution company where you would buy products, and then get rewarded based on how much you spent. Those rewards were how you were paid — the idea was that you could recruit other people to buy things from you, thus earning you rewards (money) without you having to spend a single cent. Those people could then recruit other people, who could then recruit other people. Profits were then kicked back up the chain; to their recruiter, to you, to your recruiter, and so on.

The way it was positioned all sounded pretty lucrative. The guy I met up with said I’d be earning money even when I wasn’t explicitly recruiting people, and the more people I recruited, the more I would be earning (because those recruits would eventually recruit people of their own, and continue the trend). But in reality, it would have been pretty hard work to get to that stage — not only would I have to have my own little network of recruits, but then they’d all have to have their own little network of recruits, and so on. I think you get the picture.

And, to be totally honest with you, I was pretty tempted by the idea. The potential was there to make a bunch of cash for little to no work, but there were pitfalls to the scheme, as I had learned a few years before.

It was actually my year 12 physics teacher who first talked to us about pyramid schemes. He the sort of chap who would go off on massive tangents — but because he was so good at teaching science, it didn’t really matter as we still managed to learn everything we needed to in order to pass exams and whatnot.

Anyway, one day he starts talking about a ridiculously rich relative of his who was part of the upper echelons of one of these pyramid schemes, who was somewhere like the top ten of people recruited in Australia, or something. He said that while this relative of his was insanely, obscenely, rich, she had started out very early — and that, it seemed, was the key to the whole thing. Provided you started out early enough, you could make an absolute bucket of cash, but as I found out from reading a bit about Amway and similar pyramid schemes on the web, that ship has more or less sailed in Australia.

In the end, I turned it down because of the emphasis on recruitment. Specific people would be more suited to the scheme more than others, and it would have been my job to find those people. I didn’t think that was the sort of person I wanted to become, someone that looked at someone and thought whether they’d be a good recruit for my own little for-profit pyramid.

It’s kind of scary how easily greed could have won out in that situation. It’s not hard to see how people could get sucked in by the lucrative idea of making money with a little work — and the way it was propositioned, as something I could have on the side in addition to my regular work, was attractive as well.

In the end though, common sense prevailed and I realised that if something seemed too good to be true, it probably is (or was, whatever). The guy said he spent lots of time overseas, but alarm bells rang as I saw the satchel he carried around — a nondescript leather bag, something that looked like it had been with him for a while. If this guy was making as much as he said he was, shouldn’t he have been toting Louis Vitton or something? I know nothing about fashion, but his bag just didn’t seem to fit.

Then again, perhaps he was just a closet millionaire. I guess we’ll never find out.

Bullet well and truly dodged, in my opinion.

These words part of Blogvember, a thing I just made up right then about getting back into blogging. You can read more words about Blogvember right over here, but the gist is that I'll be attempting to post something up on the blog every day in November 2014. Read other Blogvember posts.

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