POLL RESULT: Readers Say Ponzi Schemes Pose National-Security Threat; Did Surf and HYIP Advocates See Poll As PR Threat?

By better than a two-to-one margin, readers of the PatrickPretty.com Blog have concluded that Ponzi schemes pose a threat to national security, according to the results of a poll.

The poll, which began on Jan. 13 and concluded this morning, was unscientific. Still, the results suggest readers are concerned that the criminality associated with Ponzi schemes affects more than individual victims and has broader societal implications beyond the obvious threat to the financial security of investors.

Sixty-seven percent of the Blog’s readers who participated in the poll said Ponzi schemes pose a threat to national security. Meanwhile, 33 percent said Ponzi schemes do not pose such a threat. A total of 79 readers answered the question. There were 53 “Yes” votes cast, and 26 “No” votes.

In the poll’s opening hours, those who said Ponzi schemes posed a national-security threat outnumbered those with the opposing view by a margin of nine-to-one. The margin narrowed quickly with a burst of “No” votes, eventually settling in a range that incorporated the poll’s final result. Relatively few votes were cast during the final week of the poll, and the results during the final week generally reflected the overall result: for every two “Yes” votes cast, there was one “No” vote.

That was not always the case. “Yes” voters surged to an early lead, holding a 90 percent majority. That lead, however, was pared back by short, consecutive bursts of “No” votes. More than one surge of three or four consecutive “No” votes occurred in rapid succession.

Readers who said Ponzi schemes posed a threat to national security comprised a significant majority throughout the poll, always holding at least 64 percent of the vote. After the opening surge, the majority’s lead never was seriously threatened.

There are indications, however, of shenanigans to affect the outcome of the poll. These indications do not rise to the level of proof, but are worth noting.

Because the Blog’s audience includes readers who identify themselves as advocates for autosurf Ponzi schemes and say the government’s efforts to control them are unfair and ill-advised, it is possible that a minor effort was made to organize like-minded voters to cast “No” votes — i.e., to say Ponzi schemes do not pose a threat to national security.

Advocacy for Ponzi schemes largely is nonexistent outside the corrupt, insular world of autosurf and HYIP Ponzi schemes. Promoters of such schemes sometimes are called “leaders,” and they receive commissions for recruiting participants into the schemes. There also is a culture of “insiders” in such schemes. The “insiders” are people who gain disproportionate shares of revenue created by the schemes through private dealings. The “insiders” also include people who receive compensation not necessarily because of what they do, but who they know.

Both the “leaders” and “insiders” — along with autosurf/HYIP downline members sometimes known as the “cheerleaders” — have been known to organize efforts to squelch autosurf and HYIP critics.

Based on voting patterns in the poll, it is possible — though not certain — that leaders, insiders and cheerleaders made an effort to recruit “No” votes in a bloc. The reason it cannot be ruled out is “No” votes were cast in short, consecutive bursts but were almost nonexistent during the opening hours of the poll.

This possible anomaly occurred even though autosurf and HYIP advocates monitor the PP Blog closely and routinely condemn it.

After the early, commanding lead of “Yes” voters, “No” voters cut into the lead with short bursts of three or four consecutive “No” votes that were not offset by “Yes” votes.

Because “No” votes also surged in short, consecutive bursts after we published stories that mentioned Ponzi links to terrorism and murder, it is possible — though not certain — that leaders, insiders and cheerleaders sought to affect the outcome of the poll because they perceived it as a PR threat to their autosurf and HYIP schemes.

We cannot say conclusively, however, that shenanigans occurred. Even so, the pattern is worth noting because of previous bids across the autosurf and HYIP universes to silence critics, squash legitimate discussion of autosurf and HYIP schemes and position regulators and law-enforcement entities as jack-booted thugs, Nazis, enemies of Constitutional law and even terrorists.

Even if there were no efforts to line up “No” votes, more than two-thirds of PP Blog readers — a substantial majority — said Ponzi schemes pose a threat to national security. If there were efforts to line up “No” votes, the majority of “Yes” votes could be even higher.

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