Readers Ask: Are The Surf Promoters REALLY That Stupid?

duhWe’ve received a number of comments from readers that fall along these lines: Are the people promoting autosurfs despite what has happened to AdSurfDaily, LaFuenteDinero and Golden Panda — and the collapse of MegaLido (and others) — REALLY that stupid?

The short answer is maybe. Each and every one of them is risking the same personal fate as Andy Bowdoin and others before him. Like Bowdoin, they could find themselves enjoying a quiet breakfast one morning when the life-altering knock comes to the door. Because Bowdoin involved family members, knocks also came to the doors of loved ones. The Feds now intend to sell their property, too. Why? Because it was obtained illegally from proceeds of a crime.

So why continue to promote autosurfs, perhaps even become a “founder” in one of them? Here’s the long answer:

Damage Control

For some promoters, it’s actually a tortured form of damage control because they know they’re crooks. To acknowledge the government is right is to acknowledge a crime — and to create a problem with downline members in the autosurf under investigation or in other surfs yet to make the Feds’ radar screens.

Depending on the level of a downline member’s losses, he or she just might be inspired to sue or actually even call authorities. The promoters don’t want that to happen, so they project an air of confidence. The gambit is that “confidence” in the program and business model — even if it has been blasted to smithereens by the Feds — minimizes the chances of getting arrested or sued by people whose pockets they’ve picked.

Did you know that “con man” is short for “confidence man?”

Think about it: The government has just pulverized three autosurfs — not one, not two, but three. Most people would take that as a strong clue that there is nothing to be confident about, that prosecutors understand precisely what is going on, precisely how to dismantle the operations and precisely how to litigate against autosurfs to make it virtually impossible for the government to lose a case.

The only people “confident” in the model are the con artists. It’s part and parcel to their existence. It’s what they do.

Henceforth, prosecutors will need only to summon the ASD, LaFuenteDinero and GoldenPanda litigation templates, insert the facts concerning any new surf they seek to dismantle, file the paperwork in the appropriate U.S. District Court — and wait for the surf operator to fold, perhaps after he or she spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend a case that can’t be won.

Like Andy Bowdoin did.

Greed

Another reason people continue to promote autosurfs or become an autosurf founder is because they’re just plain greedy and have decided to ignore the consequences. They’ve seen how ASD put $100 million on the table, and have envisioned themselves receiving a big chunk of a like amount.

Greed definitely is in play in some cases. If someone sends you an email promoting a new surf site in the aftermath of the ASD experience,  it makes little sense to ponder the motivation. Simply assume it’s greed or criminality.

Addiction

Yet another reason some people continue to promote is because they’re addicted to the surfs. It’s almost akin to a morbid drug, alcohol or gambling addiction. Despite obvious, painful consequences, they have the need to serve the addiction.

Did you notice how some people recoiled when commentators said that the government’s seizure of ASD cash was the equivalent of seizing drug money? The comparison was perfectly rational — the illegal sale of drugs poses a clear and present danger to society, and the illegal sale of securities poses a clear and present danger to society — but the comparison separated some people from their senses or caused them to change the subject.

What does ASD have to do with drugs? they asked, often testily. Acknowledging an addiction is horribly painful, which is why addicts prefer the disease to the cure.

All of these are reasons why the answer to the “stupid” question has to be maybe. Criminals, greedy people and addicts aren’t necessarily stupid — but, of course, some of them are.

Crowds have been lining up to perform street justice on Ponzi purveyors in New York in the wake of the Bernard Madoff scandal. The more patient public, for its part, has never been more interested in seeing Ponzi purveyors brought to the official halls of justice — and yet the autosurf promoters don’t seem even to know there never has been a worse time to be in the Ponzi business.

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8 Responses to “Readers Ask: Are The Surf Promoters REALLY That Stupid?”

  1. Patrick,

    IMHO your best piece ever, and hopefully folks will post links on all of the discussion forums pertaining to autosurfs. I would only change a single word:

    “Simply assume it’s greed or criminality” to read:

    “Simply assume it’s greed and criminality”

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  2. Hi Entertained,

    Entertained: I would only change a single word:

    “Simply assume it’s greed or criminality” to read:

    “Simply assume it’s greed and criminality”

    I’ll think about that change.

    And thanks for the note.

    Regards,

    Patrick

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  3. I agree. Definitely “and” not “or”.

    Another story:
    The Simplest Scam In the World
    http://www.fool.co.uk/news/your-money/manage-your-finances/2009/01/23/the-simplest-scam-in-the-world.aspx

    My final warning

    Please, please, please don’t let greed and fear blind you to the obvious weaknesses of get-rich-quick schemes. Even wealthy, experienced investors are taken in by the smooth patter and mouth-watering returns promised by conmen. Always remember: If in doubt, never take your wallet out!

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  4. The description for con man = lack of conscience, also springs to mind.

    This is a characteristic of the majority of people who defraud others, in all areas of life and has been written about extensively. They rarely take the responsiblity for their actions. That goes for the owners, the insiders and any avid promoter of something which they know or suspect may not be quite “kosher”. Isn’t it always easier to blame the evil gub’mint.

    The alternative is “fessing up” that you made a tremendous mistake, and do what you can to make good any damage and NEVER make the same mistake again. But that is not always as profitable! lol

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  5. Hi alasycia,

    alasycia: The description for con man = lack of conscience, also springs to mind.

    One wonders then, alasycia, why Ponzis so often are associated with churches and places of worship. Could it be that the con who lacks a conscience prefers to trade among people of faith because he sees them as marks?

    Affinity fraud is a frequent companion of the Ponzi scheme. The faithful frequently defend the scammer — at least in the early stages — because it is too painful to contemplate that a fellow Believer actually would be brazen enough to commit fraud and theft inside a place of worship.

    Entertained talked several days ago about these things playing out according to a script. Fleecing the faithful often is part of the script.

    There is not a prosecutor in the United States who is not well-acquainted with affinity fraud. One of the first things they hear when investigating a case is, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” In this context, the phrase is not used to teach; it’s used to deflect from the issue at hand and to obfuscate.

    Patrick

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  6. Hi Tony,

    Tony H: Another story:
    The Simplest Scam In the World

    That was a very informative read. Thanks for sharing the link. Seems “Dave” was spared an awful fate.

    Patrick

    P.S. I’ve noted your “and” instead of “or.”

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  7. Quite apart from religion, ASD played the “ethical business” affinity. Offline, visible business with real people and real phones. It appealed to those who dislike the anonymity of the usual online businesses. You could see it and touch it, so it got over some of the first rules on due dilgence!

    They played on more than religion – they spent the first year making sure we knew that we were not getting involved with “a get rich scheme” – they played up the business ethics angle too – which is another form of affinity.

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  8. Hi alasycia,

    alasycia: They played on more than religion – they spent the first year making sure we knew that we were not getting involved with “a get rich scheme” – they played up the business ethics angle too – which is another form of affinity.

    Very good points.

    Patrick

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