Back-street style ‘can’t go wrong’ hard sales tactics have been very dangerous for retail investors, and have created tremendous damage to the retail electronic investment market for genuine firms for quite some time, however when this is mixed with celebrity status, the risk and potential damage is even greater.
In Britain, Simon Cowell is not only a very well known television personality, but a hugely influential figure, his prime-time talent shows Pop Idol, The X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent, and on the other side of the Atlantic, American Idol, X Factor and America’s Got Talent, garner hundreds of thousands of dedicated viewers, many of which aspire to become famous and rich, and hale from very humble beginnings.
Haling from humble beginnings and aspiring to become rich and famous very quickly at the hands of a formulated media and celebrity package is, whilst having some working class romanticism, an absolute formula for disappointment, and for many, tremendous loss as all hope is piled high into a dream that is promised yet often does not materialize, resulting in zero substance except for the orchestrator.
Where have we seen this set of circumstances before?
Binary options and affiliate marketing programs that promise extremely high returns for small investments to a retail audience unfamiliar with the world of financial markets, that’s where.
The marketing message behind reality competition shows such as X Factor resembles that of binary options and Bitcoin investment in several ways. It appeals to the dejected, the lost and those wishing to realize a dream very quickly without having to master anything.
A childhood at a very difficult private school with high academic standards and tough teachers followed by a 7 year university course at an Ivy League or Red Brick university before completing an internship and only then beginning to earn a salary, or five minutes behind a microphone on a stage watched by millions of hopefuls in a vain attempt to gain a multi-million dollar record deal and eternal fame?
Which route does the uninitiated take?
Several years of studying algorithms, computer science and applied mathematics before making several self-initiated yet calculated steps into the financial markets, documenting it along the way until a degree of understanding is reached, risking one’s own capital and then joining an institutional or interbank trading desk for a large company that wants results, or just sign up to a scheme that promises massive returns with zero experience and can be done from home without any input?
Which route does the uninitiated take?
The latter choice of both of the scenarios often leads to disappointment and loss.
Simon Cowell has, whilst entertaining millions and knowing what will make a commercial success, known to revel in disappointment as part of his orchestration of a ‘get famous quick’ TV scheme for young hopefuls chasing their dreams which more often lead to the social security office in Halifax rather than the back stage office in Hollywood.
Fake news wrongfully links celebrities to ‘get rich quick’ schemes involving binary options, auto-trading and crypto currency.
This year, some very disingenuous organizations have got away with insinuating that Mr Cowell has actually brought the persona for which he is renowned to the forefront of a ‘get rich quick’ auto-trading scheme, in which the authors of such bogus reports say that he has invested £500,000 of his own capital, calling it a ‘wealth creation system.’
Combining Bitcoin, affiliate marketing and a binary options-type zero-sum you-against-the-house execution system, it is being touted as a solution to wealth creation, with bold and unbelievable statements such as ‘people are quitting their jobs using this system to make an average of £450 per day’ alongside photographs of Mr Cowell next to a 2017 Rolls Royce Phantom with dealer stickers displaying ‘Rolls Royce Motor Cars Beverly Hills’ to create a false sense of security in that someone this influential with such a high rolling lifestyle is endorsing it.
It is highly likely that Mr Cowell has never even heard of such a scheme, let alone been party to it.
Karamba, which has no provenance, is mentioned in some very dubious press as having been described by Mr Cowell in September thus: “These are hard economic times and this could be the solution everyone has been waiting for,” Cowell said. “We’ve never had this opportunity in history. People can gain an enormous amount of wealth in a very short time using Karamba.”
Mr Cowell is then said to have continued “When I first heard about it, I knew I had to be a part of it. We’re going to change the world’s economy forever. This will help thousands of people change their lives, also. It’s great business.”
This is why: “A new economy emerged and 99.9% of the world is not aware of it. Times are tough, taxes are high and the jobs are scarce. This program gives you access to this new economy and an opportunity to be your own boss. Really anyone can start taking advantage of it and make thousands from their own home,” Mr Cowell said back in September according to these bogus reports.
The mere circumstance that this report was present on the internet with illusion of it having been in The Times, yet it is absolutely nowhere to be seen anywhere on that well recognized newspaper’s website speaks volumes.
Countless ill-meaning schemes in the electronic trading industry have been marketed this way over the past decade, most of which having been the work of nefarious pushers of false ‘software’ such as New Zealand’s OakFX fraud which sold expensive trading software that promised very high returns, using very similar language to this and making false statements which led investors to believe that they would never need to work again.
Another was the Aussie Rob lifestyle trader system, which was shut down by the Australian government, with “Aussie Rob” himself being made criminally responsible for his wrongdoings and false promises.
Thus, most perpetrators of such schemes in the past have either ended up behind bars, or banned from financial services altogether, and now in this day of binary options fraud, high profile ICO fraud and cryptobabble, the last thing any genuine financial markets professional needs is for a personality of this magnitude and fame among the general public to create even more of a dark shadow.
The scheme comes with those all too familiar ‘success story’ tales which are often synonymous with scams.
The Karamba scheme which Mr Cowell has been linked to has a ‘rags to riches’ story, presented in such a way that it is likely to persuade the man in the street to invest.
With a picture of a smiling family, it boasts that Gregory Burt, from Wiltshire, England, a likely non-existent 35-year old father who has been created as a character who lost his job in December of 2016, was ‘fortunate enough’ to be invited to participate in the beta test of this program back in July.
It states “Gregory admits, “I thought it was a joke at first. It’s just a dream to make money from home. I decided to try it anyways, though. I watched the video and then signed up afterwards. It was kind of fun to learn something new. The money was just flowing into my account and I couldn’t believe it was real. I was skeptical that I’d even receive a check!”
This is exactly the same type of false marketing that scams have used ever since the back pages of low-end newspapers in the mid 1980s were littered with nefarious get rich quick schemes and images of “you can do it too” pictorial marketing with euphoric testimonials by elated middle aged men sitting with their smiling family, claiming that after simply signing a piece of paper, they never needed to work again.
“Essentially, this new economy is Auto Trading. You trade it like stocks, but since its an entirely untapped market, there’s no competition. I’m scooping cash up like ice cream. It’s a great time to be doing this” allegedly states Mr Burt.
The scheme states “What you’ll need is just a computer, smartphone or tablet with internet access. Other than knowing how to use a computer, you don’t need any special skills. Another benefit of this program is that you get to make your own hours. You can work your own schedule, whether it’s 5 hours a week or 50 hours a week. There’s no telemarketing or selling involved either!”
This is a very dangerous and potentially damaging dynamic that appears to have been made possible by the aggressive affiliate marketing and unregulated Bitcoin fraternity, and is even more of an insidious threat than binary options. And that is really saying something.
Unfortunately the prevention of this type of false use of the media and celebrities would be down to media agencies such as the Advertising Standards Agency, as it is outside the remit of the FCA, unless the FCA could prove that this is a non-bank financial markets scheme, hence it is very difficult to stop.