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Ponzi Schemes Multiply On YouTube

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the if-you-agree-paypal-five-dollars-to-the-poster-above-you dept.

The Almighty Buck 346

Hugh Pickens writes "While it's probably not true that P. T. Barnum was the originator of the saying 'there's a sucker born every minute,' the proliferation of nearly 23,000 Ponzi schemes on YouTube, with an astounding 59,192,963 views, proves that the sentiment is still alive and well. The videos usually don't ask for money directly, but send viewers to web sites where they are urged to sign up for the 'gifting program,' usually for fees ranging from $150 to $5,000. One of the videos recently added on YouTube featured Bible quotes, pictures of stacks of money and a testimonial from a man who said he not only got rich from cash gifting, but also found true happiness and lost 35 pounds. 'They make it seem like it's legal and an easy way to make money, but it's nothing more than a pyramid scheme,' says Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Alison Southwick. Some of the videos claim that because it's 'gifting,' it's somehow legal. 'They talk about "cash leveraging," whatever that means, and other vague marketing talk,' says Southwick, but the basic scheme is that participants are told to recruit more people who will put in more money. 'It's just money changing hands,' says Southwick, 'and it always goes to people at the top of the pyramid.' A spokesman for YouTube, which is owned by Google Inc., said the company doesn't comment on individual videos."

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They learned it by watching the government. (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567587)

Just as the government learned it by watching Ponzi, these youtubers learned it by watching the government.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (3, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567603)

Right, because taxation never produces libraries, public roads, schools, an FDA, FCC, or any number of other services.

All taxation does is make a handful of oligarchs rich, right?

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (5, Informative)

Nitage (1010087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567673)

He might be talking about Social Security - which relies on more people paying in than taking out and will crash and burn horribly if the population stops growing fast enough.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (-1, Flamebait)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567983)

Well the population will surely stop growing if you let people die in the street won't it? Good alternative plan you have there.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568015)

"Well the population will surely stop growing if you let people die in the street won't it? Good alternative plan you have there."

Well, considering that most people on Social Security are well past their reproductive years, it won't keep them from adding to the population.

I'm heavily against govt. (especially the feds) spending on things which it is not constitutionally mandated to do, but, even I see some need for a very, very basic social safety net for the elderly and infirmed. However, the ponzi scheme that is the SS program, isn't what I'd like to see. It is going to go bankrupt in a few years. Likely when I retire, it will not exist I fear. It really sucks that I have paid all this fuckin' money into a black hole, which will not come back to me. Frankly, even at this last point, if the govt. would let me, I'd sign away any 'rights' I have to collect SS, if they'd let me OUT of the program at this point, and let me keep and invest my money on my own.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568075)

However, the ponzi scheme that is the SS program, isn't what I'd like to see. It is going to go bankrupt in a few years.

If you really believe this your retirement should include lots of ammunition.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

Nitage (1010087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568195)

I didn't suggest that we let people die in the streets. I only pointed out that social security is a pyramid scheme; money paid in isn't invested - it's used to pay people who invested previously.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (-1, Troll)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568027)

Oh, my god! You found the truth. All the hundreds of millions of people in Europe are so wrong! They all lived in deep misery all these years without knowing the Truth. If only they could hear you...

This is just Conservative bullshit at its best. You're not accounting on the growth of the product, the dramatic growth of productivity, etc.

Yeah, go invest in those new titles the banks are selling. We all know how much more reliable they are. Because if it's the State, it's a Ponzi scheme. If it's the banks, multiplying money is just natural. We all know they can take money out of their asses and make us all rich.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (5, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568207)

It isnt just social security...

The national debt is now over 11 trillion dollars and there hasn't been a real budget surplus since 1969.

The federal government has borrowed money and can not pay the prior lenders back, so they borrow more money in order to do so. This has been going on for so long that only a few people still recognize it as an active ponzi scheme, as is evident by the ignorant people modding my post as a troll.

The interest payments on the debt will crest half a trillion dollars this year, and will be over a trillion/year by the time Obama's 1st term is up. The government will likely borrow more from social security (why not? its doomed anyways) in order to pay off prior lenders as it becomes more and more difficult to find new lenders.

There are other areas where the government is actively ponzi as well, such as medicare (medicare is a bigger problem than social security.)

Check out (U.S. Government Accounting Office) http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d08446cg.pdf [gao.gov] to see how grim the pyramid really is.

It wont be possible to take down the pyramids through force (taxation at gunpoint) for much longer. If ponzi could have gone out and robbed some banks, he could have paid off all of his lenders. But imagine the point where even if he robbed every bank in the country he couldn't pay them off. America is pretty much there, right now, at the point of no return.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (2, Informative)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567717)

Right, because taxation never produces libraries, public roads, schools, an FDA, FCC, or any number of other services.

All taxation does is make a handful of oligarchs rich, right?

The question is how much more roads, schools, libraries, etc. we'd have if the gov didn't take the money from the people and spend it wastefully.

The current system does produce good things, but one can argue it produces more bad than good.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567739)

The current system does produce good things, but one can argue it produces more bad than good.

OK, well let's see that argument, then. It's not much good saying that one "could" argue something, without seeing the specifics.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567777)

OK, well let's see that argument, then. It's not much good saying that one "could" argue something, without seeing the specifics.

Recommended reading: http://mises.org/articles.aspx [mises.org]

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567953)

So, you're not actually willing to put forth an argument, but instead lazily link to an ideological website? I'm not quite sure you understand this whole "argument"' thing.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567829)

Taxes are abused like cigarette tax money going towards roads rather than health care as we were told it would. I doubt most of our money goes where it was supposed to go. For that reason alone we should stop paying until they stop treating us like a source of unlimited money.

It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567901)

ok. Follow me here. This is real simple, but 300 million Americans keep missing it.

I need some money in order to facilitate a transaction... How do I create that money?

I go to a bank (the FED) and borrow $100 from them. The FED creates new money (credit) and loans it to me at 5%. (Did you see the pea in the shell game? It was right there. Cos millions keep missing it)

Right, so there is only $100 of credit in existence but now I owe them $105.

1 year later I'm a bit stuck because I've paid off most of the loan to the FED but that last $5 is a real bitch because it just doesn't exist. So what do I do?

I need some money, so I go to a bank (the FED) and borrow some more money from them. The FED creates that new money and loans it to me. Great! I can pay that $5 which didn't exist. But wait, I now need to pay off interest on the new load. lather, rinse, repeat.

That's money. The debt has to keep growing, or the system collapses. Growth. Growth. Must have growth. A Ponzi scheme of epic proportions. Hey, maybe you can talk some bums on the streets to take out some loans for a couple of McMansions. Then everything will be all right.

That's money. The government created it that way, and can change it as required. Don't you think they share some of the blame?

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (3, Insightful)

lyml (1200795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567987)

Yes, because economy is a zero sum-game.

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568161)

Um... Didn't you notice the last 2 years?

The only time it's not a zero sum game is when it's growing... The instant you hit a limit, like lending to people who can't afford the houses they are buying, it collapses and you lose.

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567999)

The government can also infuse money by printing it and buying new infrastructure (or weapons of mass destruction). This is not a loan and no interest has to be paid back.

So not all money has to come from loans.

The money is generally "out there" - but you have to earn it. The concept is generally called working - you might not be familiar with it.

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568021)

Hey, you've forgot about fractional reserve banking. Somebody deposits this $100 in cash created by the Fed into their bank and then that bank can loan out $1000 in notary currency and charge 5% (or w/e) for that too. The Fed only creates the initial $100. Oh what a tangled web we weave ........

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (3, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568165)

No thats tort money, which isn't used anywhere.

Fractional reserve allows them to lend out a fraction of their reserve - hence the name. You can't create money (well, the central bank can, but it's tightly controlled because of the inflationary effect).

For a deposit of $100 they can lend out $80, that gets deposited and lent out as $64, then $51, $40, etc.

There appears to be more money in the system but there actually isn't at all. Only the initial $100 exists - it's just been lent to multiple people.

In the real world it's more complex - banks sell their debt to other banks to increase their reserves, so they can lend out more (because they make interest on lending - it's their main source of income).

Where this system falls down is where someone in that chain suddenly decides they can't pay it back. This is how we got into the mess we're in right now, where enough people failed to pay the debt back all the banks suddenly remembered that none of this money they claimed to have actually existed at all.. it was all tied up in debt.

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (5, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568199)

The $5 comes from work - you know, the means of selling goods and services to generate income.

You're talking about a world where nobody produces anything, so the only income they have is from banks. That's not a realistic model.

Oh and nobody creates money, except in exceptional circumstances (the central bank can, but an ordinary bank can't.. that's self evident, otherwise they'd all have infinite money). Credit to you is a net debit to the bank (and a source of income, due to the interest payments). This is why banks aren't keen to lend right now - their reserves are low as they've taken a hit from all the bad debt.. because they can only lend based on their reserves they're cherry picking the lending to the safest debtors.

Re:It's *money* which is the Ponzi scheme (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568225)

Nope, that's not quite how it works either since you missed the part where the bank borrowed some amount (say $10) to cover your loan from the FED or overseas, and you deposited (or spent and the seller deposited) that $100 into another bank account. I suggest you read The Roving Cavaliers of Credit [debtdeflation.com] recently written by Steve Keen, which explains how a pure credit economy can function and how it can fail.

Re:They learned it by watching the government. (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567979)

Google HYIP:

http://www.google.com/search?q=hyip [google.com]

There is a whole parallel universe of ponzi schemes out there. Big deal that it's on youtube.

Disclaimer: If you find yourself thinking about investing in one of those shoot yourself in the head immediately

"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (4, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567589)

...this is precisely why we really need to reconsider our public schooling system.

If we abolish forced schooling, and insist that people "educate themselves" They'll find one of these scams, get taken for an expensive ride, and then left dumbfounded as to what happened.

Solid critical thinking skills start with a decent education. Decent education starts by making it free, neutral and accessible.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567687)

You'd be surprised how quickly a sucker learns after his money is gone forever. Sounds like a cheap education to me.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (3, Insightful)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567741)

You'd be surprised how many people fall for one of these schemes, then move on to the next, lose out, and move on to the next to lose out again...

waves of infection with stupidity (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567821)

I wonder how much the spread of 'gifting' (pyramid) schemes is like the spread of an infectious disease.

People must get 'inoculated' against them (by losing their money), but depending on how weak their mental immune system is - how stupid they are - they can catch the disease again.

There could also be various strategies in a population of people who are joining and leaving schemes at various times. This should be a research project; along the lines of research into iterated spatial prisoner's dilemma models.

In order to balance out this comment, I will add a youtube-style comment:

"OMG! THZ GIFTING PROGRAM IS LIEK TOTALLY COOOL! CAN I GET MY LAMBORGINI NOW?!!?"

Re:waves of infection with stupidity (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567887)

Friend of mine seriously considered "investing" in a Ponzi scheme. Even after I explained to him how it works he was still thinking about it. Why? Cause he considers himself smarter than the guy doing the scheme. The conversation went a little like this:

Bob: Have you heard of these short term money market investments?
Me: Heh, these.. what.. investments?
Bob: short term.. money.. you give them money and a few weeks later they give you 100% return.
Me: Oh really.. what are they investing in?
Bob: Doesn't say.. I mean, that makes sense, if you knew what to invest in you wouldn't need them right?
Me: It's a scam.
Bob: Really? Their web site looks legit.
Me: Web developers are pretty cheap ya know.
Bob: Well I've search around for them and I've not found anyone bad mouthing them.
Me: Maybe they change their name every week.. or maybe they're doing the long con.
Bob: I think they're legit man.. umm.. long con? What do you mean?
Me: How much are they asking for?
Bob: Not that much, only a few hundred.
Me: So if you invest a few hundred and in two weeks time they give you double your money back and then ask you to reinvest that and give a few hundred more, you would right?
Bob: Well, yeah, I guess.. maybe a few times.
Me: So if, say, on the third time they said they really needed to you pump in twice as much as you have already given them or they won't be able to give you back your investment.. you would right?
Bob: Well, I guess, I mean, they'd have a good history by then.
Me: After just 3 cycles?
Bob: Yeah..
Me: You're a sucker.
Bob: No.. I'd take the money before then I think.
Me: So if they ask you for your phone number and call you up, will you talk to them?
Bob: Sure.
Me: And you'd give them your bank info.
Bob: Uhh.. umm.. I guess so.
Me: Yeah, you're a sucker.
Bob: I think I'll give em the first hundred and then take their money on the first cycle.
Me: I think they'll see you coming and make sure you never get that first "investment" back.

(Bob isn't his real name, but if you're reading this M... you know who you are).

Re:waves of infection with stupidity (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568037)

I think my biggest question is: "How do I get in at the top of one of these schemes???"

Also, is it that they are able to somehow do these schemes in a way that skirts the laws against them? Is there a 'legal' way to set one of these up?

Hey, if people out there are willing to let go of their hard earned money for less than optimal possible results, who am I not to be willing to collect it?

Re:waves of infection with stupidity (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568069)

I think my biggest question is: "How do I get in at the top of one of these schemes???"

If you have to ask, you shouldn't be trying it.

The answer is: You have to start it yourself. Of course, this requires a whole lot of sleaziness, excellent people manipulation skills, and a complete lack of any ethics whatsoever.

Re:waves of infection with stupidity (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568139)

Of course, this requires a whole lot of sleaziness, excellent people manipulation skills, and a complete lack of any ethics whatsoever.

And if you have all that and also know how to work a computer, you'd already be CEO of a startup company, surely, and be milking those suckers called "venture capitalists".

How much is tinyurl valued at today?

Re:waves of infection with stupidity (4, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568227)

Or work for the guy that started it. I wrote the software to monitor one and he offered to graft me on somewhere near the top. As I'd done the maths I realized how sleezy it was (it was fairly obvious that those towards the bottom stood to lose every penny, whilst the guy at the top was looking at £50,000 per month) and in declined. Probably I wouldn't these days.. I'm older, wiser and have less of a conscience.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567859)

Bernie Madoff ran one remember?

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (3, Insightful)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567785)

Want to see an economy tank all we need is a couple million illiterate people come of working age.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567875)

Want to see an economy tank all we need is a couple million illiterate people come of working ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H voting age. ..then blindly vote for empty promises of "hope & change" only to be given the same tired old socialism that has failed throughout history. How many trillions have just been poured down the drain to bail out the billionaire bankers? How many billions given away to automakers to "prevent" bankruptcy only to find it's now considered inevitable? Why is Illinois getting 1/9 of the bailout funds for highway construction? etc. etc. etc.

The graft, fraud and deceit that will lead to the implosion of America is an expensive lesson, indeed.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568007)

> working ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H voting

You sound like you believe in democracy.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1)

Velex (120469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568201)

Want to see an economy tank all we need is a couple million illiterate people come of working age.

Oh shi—

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567839)

If it was that quick, we wouldn't hear of the people who've invested their life savings and borrowed money to invest in a GUARANTEED 100% RISK FREE OPPORTUNITY IN NIGERIA!!111oneoneone.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (2, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567871)

Sounds like a cheap education to me.

No, it sounds like the most expensive, yet useless education ever devised. You lose a lot of money, and you learn one way NOT to lose your money, when it's far too late.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567899)

You lose a lot of money, and you learn one way NOT to lose your money, when it's far too late.

Sounds like someone went to Brown.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (2, Insightful)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567939)

There is a general tendency not to admit one has been wrong after having invested in something. A result is that people who have been scammed are generally unwilling to believe they've been scammed, even when confronted with evidence. They'll rather make up flimsy explanations for why the evidence can't be right.

So, no, the sucker won't learn fast, if at all. And it won't be cheap, because those that do learn will end up paranoid, unable to trust other people ever again.

~$400.000 ain't exactly cheap... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568023)

Not Ponzi, but scam is a scam - sucker is a sucker...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,453125,00.html [foxnews.com]

Her family and bank officials told her it was all a scam, she said, and begged her to stop, but she persisted because she became obsessed with getting paid.

And you sure as hell can't put it in your resume as "$400.000 worth invested in master's degree in fraud discovery and prevention".

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (1)

helbent (1244274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568085)

One of the statistics I had read years back illustrated that 87% of the people who get into these schemes lose their "investment" in the "course." 7 out of 8 get nothing at all.

To top that off, with any kind of pyramid-structured business, regardless of whether it is Mary Kay or Avon or the brand new Ponzi, Inc., you only get on average two people to come in beneath you, not the dozens that will make you millions.

This game works for those that are professional closers but they thrive off the expense of people who are professional losers. You'll make more money working part-time at Wally-Mart or McDunkie's.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (3, Interesting)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567831)

Solid critical thinking skills start with a decent education. Decent education starts by making it free, neutral and accessible.

So true.
Speaking as a philosopher of education I can say that there's no end to the practical application of logic and reasoning that you're taught in the course of the study.

It should be an obligatory course in elementary school, but for some reason it's much more important to have bible-stories read to you.

Makes sense right? I guess someone thinks it's a shortcut to good behavior being told what's right and wrong in broad general terms open to interpretation, instead of equipping people with the basic tools to figure those things out for themselves on a case by case basis in an exact, non-interpretable manner.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567941)

Solid critical thinking skills start with a decent education. Decent education starts by making it free, neutral and accessible.

That's a good start, but critical thinking must also be focused on as a skill. It's far too easy to regurgitate a textbook and even regurgitate what other people have thought on the matter. In things like math it's easy to learn the method without understanding, and in things like science you spend a lot of time catching up with that others have done or experiments with an expected outcome that is more reproduction than experimentation. Linguistics teach you to express things but again doesn't really help critical thinking alone.

Sure, you can do more critical thinking on subjects already discussed to death by millions of scholars around the world, but given the tendency to google instead of thinking yourself it really only works on those who already want to think for themselves. To teach critical thinking you need to make them "think where no man has thought before". Make up a situation they won't find on google, ask them to argue some opinions, form arguments and give reasons for their logic. Unfortunately that is orthogonal to teaching them about the big and important events in history, which is so much more concrete and measurable. So we get people that know a lot about the world and understand little of it.

Re:"educate yourself! educate yourself!" (-1, Flamebait)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568051)

I think this discussion was hijacked by a bunch of Libertarian nutjobs. "Give people freedom to educate themselves"? Give me a break! Where do you get these ideas from? What does it have to do with the story? What you guys want is to go back to the Stone Age and start from scratch.

Sign of the times (3, Insightful)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567593)

Just like during the Great Depression, this will be a time of resurgent con-men as the majority will (in desperation) try anything to get cash.

Legal if enough people believe it (2, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567595)

Some of the videos claim that because it's 'gifting,' it's somehow legal

Reminds me of that law [mamedev.org] software pirates invented so that they could copy games.

Pedantry (4, Informative)

elvum (9344) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567611)

Surely these are pyramid schemes [wikipedia.org] rather than Ponzi schemes [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Pedantry (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567759)

Just what I was coming here to say. A ponzi scheme is an investment scheme where old investors are paid from the money invested by new investors, but don't know where the money is coming from. What's described is a classic pyramid scheme, where the participants (who can't be considered investors because they don't expect to get money back from the same place they sent it in the first place) get money directly from later participants. The schemes are similar, but not the same.

Re:Pedantry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567815)

It's not that the author of the article doesn't understand these are pyramids, s/he doesn't recognize that Ponzi schemes aren't pyramid schemes.

A fool and his money... (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567613)

The notion that you can "gift" (or "buy") your way to being rich without doing any hard work, or having a creative idea, is so completely stupid that anyone who believes it, assuming they're in full control of their mental faculties, deserves what they get.

Re:A fool and his money... (3, Funny)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567685)

deserves what they get.

What do you mean get? Then it does work???

Where's that website???

You can't con an honest man.... (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567689)

The people that send off money (gifts, paying for "Get Rich Easily" books, whatever) are idiots, they were idiots 10, 20, 30 years ago for similar scams, and they'll be idiots in 10, 20, 30 years time in whatever variation comes to light then. I won't cry for them. Maybe they'll learn the really hard way, because for some people there is sadly no way of getting them to learn any other way.

However it isn't right that YouTube is giving these people a free advertising platform. There are some people out there that are actually vulnerable (for whatever reason, this shouldn't matter) and society does need to protect them.

Re:You can't con an honest man.... (1)

masonc (125950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568005)

Often, they are not idiots, they are desperate and don't know where else to turn. Desperate people are ready to believe there is a benefactor willing to help them survive. Walk a mile in their shoes before you condemn them.
Madoff's "clients" where not idiots, they were conned by one of the most sophisticated conmen ever. ANYONE can be conned, no matter how smug and clever you are.

Re:You can't con an honest man.... (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568147)

How ironic that Slashdot should be punting an advert at the top of this very page saying "I'm Rich. You're Not. I Cracked The Code To Making Money. See How I Make $3 Million Per Year Doing Nothing. And How You Can Too."

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

French31 (1311051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567713)

Sure we hate those idiots for believing in such a way to make money, but the worst guys remain the ones at the top of the scheme for earning money by exploiting people's credulity. Those crooks deserve to be jailed.

Re:A fool and his money... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567745)

As a kid of the English aristocracy, I can with full confidence say that the richest people in this country have never done any hard work and have no more creative ideas than the average Slashdot poster.

As far as I can tell from the nouveau riche the family tends to mingle with, they might work harder than us but I've not met one who does "hard work" in the sense of toiling mentally or physically through almost every waking hour, as was pretty much obligatory for some classes over a century ago. And they certainly don't have creative ideas! they're mostly just middlemen who know how to appeal to a large volume of the lazy.

One of the great giggles of capitalism is that it produces a middle class the largest component of which only exists to support capitalist machinery - the re-sellers, the jesters in marketing, the accountants, the civil lawyers, etc.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567943)

I'd much rather be in marketing, accounting, or law than out in the rice paddies. Do you know why so many fewer people work in agriculture now than before? Science and technology. Who builds the tractors that harvest wheat? Engineers. Who sells them? Marketers. Who makes sure the crops aren't poisonous? Lawyers. Who exists solely for tabloid fodder? Aristocrats. Why do people still pay taxes to support the royal family? Other than increased tourism revenue, I have no idea.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567767)

The notion that you can "gift" (or "buy") your way to being rich without doing any hard work, or having a creative idea, is so completely stupid that anyone who believes it, assuming they're in full control of their mental faculties, deserves what they get.

But it does work. Plenty of people get rich from these schemes. Just not most people.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567933)

Well, banks work that way. And they were very successful for long times. But it works a bit different. Just take the money of people, and deposit it somewhere. Banks only have to keep between 3-10% of the cash available, in case, someone wans to get some of it back. So you can lend over 90% of that money to others. With a nice fat interest. From that interest you take a tiny part, and give it to the people that that money belongs to. The rest is free money for pretty much no work. (You can automate most it.)

The only problem is, that because you only gave out X dollars, but expect X+interest dollars back, which do not exist, because they were not given out in the fist place, someone always has to go bankrupt.
So you create an "economic crisis" every X years, where those people and banks lose their belongings, so the rest can still work in your system.
If you are good, you can even get "bailout" money, and get even richer. Just look a little sad and put your own money where they don't see it.

PROFIT!!!

Religious folk.. (2, Informative)

Jeppe Salvesen (101622) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568105)

.. I guess the devoutly religious are trained to suspend their disbelief and instead believe in miracles. The people who lost the most money in a recent pyramid/MLM scheme in Norway were more religious than the general population. That's what happens when you train people to be irrational..

Bah (2, Funny)

nrgy (835451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567619)

I don't care about getting rich or losing 35lbs, if the video says I'll get a free pocket fisherman just tell me where to enter my cc #

Ponzi != pyramid (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567663)

Isn't a Ponzi scheme different, in that you show a "return" on an investment using other investors' money in the hopes that they will keep investing in you, thereby allowing you to make it seem as if there is money being made.

In a pyramid scheme, you recruit X members who recruit X members each etc. At each level, you send some percentage of the money you receive up.

The main difference being that in a Ponzi scheme you are recruiting investors whereas in a pyramid scheme that task falls upon the suckers you convinced to give you money.

Also, according to Wikipedia, Ponzi schemes are easier to maintain for longer because you simply have to convince a large enough portion of your "investors" to reinvest, whereas the pyramid scheme relies on an exponentially increasing base of suckers.

Ponzi schemes also revolve around financial machinations to confuse people, whereas pyramid schemes, from my understanding, relate more on convincing people about buying into a "franchise" or something to that effect.

captcha: viruses

why would (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567679)

google care? for each one of these videos they can bombard us with adsense adverts for more scams

My Jackass of a Former Classmate... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567703)

showed up as a person I might know on Facebook and his profile mentioned www.InsaneMLMProfits.com. I looked it up and he had this terrible video up [youtube.com] , which must haven been taken down and uploaded again. I haven't registered on his site to find out exactly what he's selling - whether it's a catalog scheme, a book or what - but his presentation is humorously pathetic. His opening message is "technology has completely changed the way the network marketing game is played." What a douche.

It was inevitable that youtube would have unscrupulous sellers and schemers on it, and this is only the beginning.

But at least... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568039)

...he likes salsa? [youtube.com]

No... wait. You're right. He is a complete douche.

Why should it be illegal? (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567727)

With more and more videos being pulled because the various MAFIAA organisations can't get enough, crap like that will soon be the only things left on YouTube. Let's be honest, what's left? Music videos were the first thing to go (or "be unavailable in your country" should they not want to cough up the dough to be available for you). User made videos are now targeted, as well as videos to the likeness of "look how I play $instrument to $song".

Soon all there will be left are videos that, bluntly, nobody wants to watch.

But, to avoid being modded offtopic, let's ask another question: Why should it be illegal to play pyramid schemes? Just because people are stupid enough to fall for them? I have no sympathy for people who are lured in by promises that are quite bluntly too good to be true, where thinking about it for only a minute would give you enough reasons to stay away from it. How can they promise you insane interest rates when your bank can only give you 3% or less? How the heck should they have any influence on your weight (aside from you not being able to even buy bread anymore and thus starving)? And if that's illegal, why is religion still legal while promising essentially the same?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567751)

Soon all there will be left are videos that, bluntly, nobody wants to watch.

Videos of someone's cat doing something stupid/cute will always be popular.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567775)

After the first 10 cats or so it's getting a wee bit stale to see a cat pee in a toilet...

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

bigmacd24 (1168847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567793)

Oh fuck, that sounds awesome!

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567841)

Question: If SchrÃedingers cat pees in a toilet, do you flush or not?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27568011)

waiting for the punchline...

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567861)

Kitties are not all Youtube is about though, fortunately. I tried "surfing" youtube once, you are right, it gets boring after a few minutes. I really liked the skateboarding dog though. Most of the Youtube videos I watch are through links or embeds from websites I actually like. Very few people watch Youtube for Youtube's sake.

As for the content sucking, I mostly agree but as I live in China and Youtube has been blocked since last week I'm really missing the ability to follow those links or see the embeds.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27568197)

I take it you haven't seen 10 Cats 1 Cup, then ?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (5, Insightful)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567783)

Why should it be illegal to play pyramid schemes? Just because people are stupid enough to fall for them? I have no sympathy for people who are lured in by promises that are quite bluntly too good to be true, where thinking about it for only a minute would give you enough reasons to stay away from it.

Libertarian intellectualism at its finest. Why don't we just scrap all the laws and let people fuck each other over every way imaginable? People do stupid things, laws try to prevent and minimize the harm done by those actions.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568205)

And that's what's wrong, in my opinion. The law should keep you from being harmed by someone else's actions. But why should it keep you from doing someting stupid and suffer yourself from it?

In other words, I do think the law should protect you from being robbed and mugged, it should give you a title to enforce a contract you and another party willingly entered in, but why should the law protect or even reward someone for acting like a complete moron?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568215)

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against . . . We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted [Frederick Mann: Obfuscation of meaning is a key element of the con games bureaucrats and politicians play.] - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with." --Ayn Rand

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568237)

"Did you really ... It's a quote with several logical flaws that should be blindingly obvious to anyone with half a working brain. Maybe it makes for a nice work of fiction, but it's not how reality works.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

master811 (874700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567959)

Because it is essentially just like any other con or scam (which also happen to be illegal). There is really no big difference between a con artist and someone running a pyramid scheme.
 
Either way they are promising something which simply will never happen.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

JBdH (613927) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568025)

But, to avoid being modded offtopic, let's ask another question: Why should it be illegal to play pyramid schemes?

Because it's real easy to make one up that cannot be recognized as such, just give people the indication of a reasonable good profit, say 7-10 percent and not something outrageous, add a little environmental awareness or something like that. Come up with the suggestion that you invest in something tangible and volia, you're set. This is what happened with the Teak Plantation investment schemes in Europe. It took the even the financial authorities quite a while to find out that most of these schemes were actual pozzi/pyramid schemes.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568099)

User made videos are now targeted, as well as videos to the likeness of "look how I play $instrument to $song".

I wonder how many royalty payments Hervé Roy received for all the YouTube videos featuring the track "Lovers Theme" ?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (5, Insightful)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568103)

Here's why:

If it illegal to take someone's money by use of force, so it should *not* be legal to do the same with a pen or a computer.

If the strong of body cannot rob the weak, the strong of mind should be prohibited from doing the same.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568219)

Interesting that so many investment bankers are not in jail, then. Do you think they lost their money in the recent bubble bust, too?

Where's the difference between ponzi schemes and investment bubbles? In both cases it is known to the "inside people" that it will eventually pop, yet one is legal and one isn't. Can you explain why?

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568141)

Why should it be illegal to play pyramid schemes? Just because people are stupid enough to fall for them? I have no sympathy for people

Why should it be illegal to mug people? Just because people are scared enough to hand over their wallet to armed assailants? You have no sympathy for people.

Re:Why should it be illegal? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568231)

I hope you can see the difference between FORCING someone to hand over money and TRICKING someone into handing over money, yes?

In case you don't: In the first case, the alternative is physical pain. In the second case the alternative is ... umm... well, still having the money.

fuck you all you niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567799)

fuck you all, you niggers.

fuck you.

niggers.

god damn niggers.

niggers.

Yawn (-1, Offtopic)

American Terrorist (1494195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567809)

OMG I'm so shocked. You used the N word so many times you must be super badass for a 13 year old. Wish I had balls like you.

Re:Yawn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567925)

You may not have heard of the GNAA..

YouTube certainly does have an opinion on videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27567807)

Bullcrap! YouTube doesn't comment on videos, my ass. They take down "questionable" government propaganda all the flippin' time. They certainly ARE opinionated. They just don't feel like adding another policy on their plate to police. You know, one that's actually a problem.

They've worked on comment spam, now how about video spam?

Legal (1)

barncha (1432683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567847)

"It's just money changing hands"

Isn't that how banks work? Or used to until a few months ago...

There are always idiots, ... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567883)

...and there always will be. So why not at least use them for the good of the rest (especially ourselves)? ^^

Yes, the problems are the stupid people. But they will not ever go away. So we better start accepting to live with the consequences.

The once richest man in the world (Bill Gates) did exactly that.
In fact, most companies work that way.
Most governments definitely work that way.

So why not do it ourselves, in a morally more acceptable way, than someone more evil else doing it anyway?
I see it as a form or natural selection. Not needed when resources are plenty. But the only thing that counts, when resources are scarce.

Idiots are already legally made money out of ... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568089)

Its called gambling.

Re:There are always idiots, ... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568119)

How is it that governments exploit stupid people, exactly?

You can watch your gift... (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567895)

in a frame behind the prison bars... ;)

More money than brains (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27567981)

"If you don't have it, don't spend it"

Expand that:

"If you don't have it to burn, don't give it to someone who uploaded a youtube video after you had a few beers"

Expand that:

Never, ever watch youtube after drinking, while depressed or after consuming any other mind altering substance. If you do, give your car keys (and credit cards) to someone sober.

In the case of those who do very stupid things WHILE sober:

There will always be predators, there will always be fools, why is this news beyond the phenomenon being demonstrated on a larger scale?

Here is a great demonstration of a known phenomenon demonstrated on a huge scale:

Everyone reading this, find a way to escape gravity without assistance.

But, well since most cars have a big fat "USE YOUR SEATBELT" message on the sun visors, youtube should have a big fat "DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE ON THE INTERNET" message.

The problem is, stupid people often have brilliant children who depend on them. So, I'll agree with others who said stop spoon feeding common sense, at least then its agreeable to the majority who (could have) gotten it.

Capitalism is a Ponzi Scheme, too... (0)

agorist_apostle (1491899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568003)

While I have no problem with capitalism -- or being part of a Ponzi scheme if they want to be -- consider this: almost all companies have a guy (or set of guys) at the top who make the most money. They have people working for them in progressively lower responsibility and lower-paying positions until you get to the guy at the bottom who does the most work and makes the least amount of money. Ponzi schemes need more "investors" while businesses need more "market share." People are promised more wealth if they can find new people to be part of the scheme, while workers in a company are promises more money and chances for advancement if they do well (never mind the fact that there are only a limited number of slots above, which are often filled based on personal factors, not merit). Just something to consider...

not only the un-educated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27568081)

I was invited to a 'Dinner Party with friends' recently, by an acqaintance of mine who is - u wont believe - a University Professor. It turned out that it was one of those schemes where people get 'given money' god how nice these people all are - until you asking uncomfortable questions about the scheme...
This professor - a nice lady whith delusions of being left-wing - had been several times there and thougth it was a great idea of getting roudn the greedy coprorate banks...

ahhh yes - no comment....

Also watch out for Multi Level Marketing (2, Informative)

tezza (539307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568133)

A few of my relatives were almost taken in by Multi Level Marketers [wikipedia.org] . These companies too are trying to grow via social internet means

These are barely legal organisations who sit _just_ on the legal side of the Pyramid definition.

Basically they try to sell overpriced financial restructuring products to people. Then if the customer does not want to become a purchaser, they try to convert the customer into selling the same products.

MLM people at the top earn more than people at the bottom.

Yes, the law is smarter than that. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27568143)

Just because you say it's "giving" doesn't actually mean it is. The legal system recognises that sometimes people will misrepresent the truth for personal gain.

When it's quite clear that the intention is to set up a pyramid scheme - and it is quite clear, to any reasonable person, that this is the intention - then it will be treated as a pyramid scheme. The "It's not a pyramid scheme" defence isn't going to cut it here. The government - scoundrels that they are - will even employ someone to present the argument over how this is not just giving.
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