The Internet is full of scams and fraud. Many are in theform of "income opportunities" and "investment programs."Sometimes it's hard to tell if a company is legitimate ornot. Unfortunately, many of t...
The Internet is full of scams and fraud. Many are in the form of "income opportunities" and "investment programs." Sometimes it's hard to tell if a company is legitimate or not. Unfortunately, many of them aren't and people get scammed into losing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
The Internet gives bogus companies the opportunity to "take the money and run" with less chance of getting caught than in the offline world. It's fairly easy to hide behind a website and an, oftentimes fake, e-mail address.
I recently came upon this program, Invest With Gold, (http://www.investwithgold.com) when asked by one of my newsletter subscribers to try and find out whether it was legitimate. It only took me about 5 minutes to make my decision on this one.
Here's a direct quote from the main page:
"Welcome to InvestWithGold.com, Consistantly paying out our investors since 1998! The only site on the internet utilizing the currency exchange markets for our investors, and making them money. We offer you up to 800% PROFIT in 2 weeks, GUARANTEED, and completly hands free! And best of all, you are NEVER in danger of losing your investment capitol!"
So they invest their clients money into foreign currencies and make a profit. The profits, less a 1% service fee, go back to the clients, thus earning money on their investment.
It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? 800% profit in 2 weeks? What a deal! And they've been in business for 6 years, so they must be good, right?
Not so fast! Keep reading before you hand over your money.
The second paragraph on the page invites the website visitor to "Just look what our investors have to say" which is a clickable link to a message board for investors to add their comments.
The problem is the message board is empty! I'd assume happy clients would post *something* there. (Well, maybe they're working on that page. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.)
I continued reading the main page and saw this:
"Although we can not "legally" say you will never lose any money, we can tell you that we have NEVER LOST MONEY in over 6 years! If you're interested, take a look at the tracking section, to see how other people's investments are doing, and then read the message board, and comments from our clients."
I'd venture to say that "they" probably haven't lost any money, but their clients, if they have any, probably have. I already knew the message board was empty, so I decided to check out the tracking section.
Here's where it got *really* good. I went to the page and, lo and behold, I found a list of e-mail addresses of this company's clients! They didn't list the complete extension (.com, .net or whatever) but the rest was there.
I slowly scrolled down the page and certain things caught my attention. I recognized 10-15 names as Internet business owners, several of whom are quite well-known. So I e-mailed 8 of them to ask if they've really invested money with this company and, if so, whether or not it was a good investment.
I wasn't surprised to learn that, of the 4 people who have replied to me so far, *none* of them has ever heard of this company, much less invested money with them. (I e-mailed them less than 48 hours prior to this writing, so hopefully the remaining 4 will reply to me soon. But I don't expect their answers to be any different.)
I also noticed as I scanned the listing of "clients" that approximately 75% of the e-mail addresses looked like this:
Hold the boat! Why on earth would people use their website contact-type e-mail addresses for their investment program? It looked like the website owner bought or harvested e-mail addresses to use as his "client" list.
A lot of the addresses were for the same domain, but with a different "name" - i.e. admin@business, contact@business, help@business, etc. And many of the addresses listed were autoresponders to subscribe to newsletters or receive other information.
Here a few e-mail addresses that I got a real kick out of:
But the absolute *best* one is .... (drum roll please) .....
Now, what should I do with that one? You guessed it! I'm sending them a copy of this article. I wonder what they'll think when they see that they supposedly invested in this program? What I really wonder is how fast they'll get it shut down so people don't lose money to such scam artists.
In all fairness, I looked at the contact information at the website. Here's what it says:
"Unlike many 'businesses' on the internet, we do not 'hide' behind our website. You are free to contact us at any time, even the CEO if need be. All the information is listed below, or use our Live Help chat on the left."
Unfortunately, the live chat was "temporarily down" so, of course, I e-mailed the CEO with several questions and I'm waiting for a reply. (But I do find it strange that his contact address is a hotmail account.)
At the time of this writing, I checked the list of "clients" again. They've updated it and the e-mail addresses I saw 2 days ago are no longer there. Neither are the domain names for those that have taken their place. And most of the addresses now appear to be personal addresses, not those of business websites.
They've also posted this message:
"Sorry, but we had to remove the ending of the email address because we received a ton of complaints about someone spamming our investors"
I wonder if that's the *real* reason. My guess is that at least one of the people I wrote to contacted them, probably threatened legal action, and the website owner bought a new list of e-mail addresses to post as his "clients."
But wait! There's more! I decided to check the domain registration information at WhoIs.com. And *that* gave me yet another clue that something might be rotten in Denmark.
The website name, InvestWithGold.com, was registered on April 19, 2004 - a mere 10 days before I discovered the website and 12 days before I wrote this article. And yet the company claims to have been in business since 1998!
The dates the "clients" supposedly earned huge returns on their investments were from April 9th through 16th the first time I visited the site. Today's update shows profits for April 17th through 23rd.
So, unless the owner changed the name of his company and/or registered the new name with a different domain registrar, his "clients" made money *before* he even had his website!
Granted, he could have had his business offline until recently. But the copyright at the bottom of the site says "2001-2004" which indicates that he's had the website since 2001.
Alas! A scammer's work is never done! They'll always find a new scam to run and con as many people as they can. They have no integrity and they don't care who they rip off.
Always do your homework before investing in any income opportunity. Don't let yourself get caught up in the bogus "get rich quick" aspects that can sound so good. You don't want to learn the hard way that they aren't what they claim to be.
Denise Hall is the owner of Home Business on a Budget which specializes in tools and resources for your home business needs. Visit http://www.home-business-on-a-budget.com today. Get weekly articles, tips, information and resources here: http://tinyurl.com/4f9k8 This article may be reprinted in its entirety with this resource box included.