Do You Want To Make Money Fast? Beware.

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-02-2521

Do “make money fast” schemes work at all?

Get rich from the comfort of your home! No strings attached, make a real income from home! Make money fast! Yadda yadda yadda. My instant reaction when I hear these claims is to scoff at them and ask questions. But it seems like there are people out there who can’t help but fall into temptation and the clutches of these schemes over and over again. Is there such a thing as a “get rich quick scheme” addiction?

A Get Rich Quick Story

I recently caught an episode of Dr. Phil that highlighted relationships that have gone on the rocks because of failed financial schemes. One of Dr. Phil’s guests happened to be Casey Serin, the notorious erstwhile real estate investor and blogger who ended up blowing his investments as the property market popped, thereby leaving him $2.2 million in the hole. In the show, Casey gives an update on his failing marriage, telling viewers how his wife now doesn’t want anything to do with him and has filed for divorce. The rest of Casey’s story is then dramatically narrated through scenes of him living in a motel room, alone and reflecting on how he plans to rebuild his life. And finally, it all ends with him claiming he’s now found a full time job while he goes about slowly getting his life back together and his wife hopefully back in his arms.

Not long after seeing that episode, I received email from Casey (I’m one of many on his mailing list) letting us know that he’s doing very well. This time, he’s working with penny stocks and would like to let people know about some of the great opportunities he’s been fortunate to have encountered. So his luck has turned?

Okaaaay. I can’t fault Casey for not trying. He seems like the little engine that could. Except… I have to profoundly disagree with his methods for moving himself forward financially.


Are there people who are really vulnerable to “Get Rich Quick” activities? Is there a profile for this sort of “victim”? I thought this over and came up with a few characteristics that may make one an easy target for this sort of thing:

The “Get Rich Quick” Profile

Someone unsuspecting or naive.
It isn’t a coincidence that many of those who fall prey to the get rich quick agenda fall on both ends of the age spectrum. Those who are older may feel trapped on fixed income, even as they own more (often illiquid) assets. Boredom may also contribute to a desire to seek exciting pursuits for that adrenaline rush. Younger people also tend to get into this type of thing, mainly because they feel there is less to lose; also, they are more tolerant of risk and are new to the money-making scene. Being ruled by the thrill of the game turns out to be costly for those who aren’t as well versed with the consequences of these financially thrilling opportunities.

Someone in trouble.
Being emotionally vulnerable can make someone a prime candidate for the “quick fix”. Those in a bind, especially financially, may end up turning to schemes and programs that may promise a prompt cure for their problems.

Someone who thinks they’re special.
Well, we all are special for sure. But there’s something about making a quick buck that strikes me as the kind of thing that may attract a certain kind of individual — maybe someone who thinks they may be smarter than the rest of us, or someone who believes they’re more deserving, more skilled and therefore capable of acquiring riches faster than everyone else. Surely, this isn’t the profile of many “get rich quick” followers out there, but it’s not a stretch to imagine how hubris can play a part with formulating this type of “success in the fast lane” mentality, either.

Greed plays a part.
Fear and greed are tightly intertwined with the investment world. These emotions govern what happens with the stock market and are responsible for the rapid rises and bubbles as well as the sudden slides or crashes that are part and parcel of market cycles. If you’re prone to making emotional decisions — both as an investor and as a spender, you could have a soft spot for higher risk plays. When we see others make it big through one of these schemes, it’s easy to think it could happen to us as well!

It could be an addiction.
I’ll bravely assume that majority of us has fallen for a “get rich quick” scheme at one time or another. You’ve probably heard that statement: “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Sure, I’ve been hoodwinked before, but I’ve since taken the experience as a lesson to avoid further mistakes of the sort. Unfortunately, there are those who can’t stop making the same mistakes, or who don’t want to. Perhaps they are idealists or eternal optimists, always hopeful for the next chance to strike it big, for the next scheme to be “The One” to change their lives. It doesn’t help that they “win” some of the time despite having a record of massive losses, since this is precisely what makes them convinced that they’re on the right track.

Parting Thoughts

It seems to me though, that there’s a fine line between the get rich quick opportunist and the more intrepid entrepreneur or investor. Ultimately, all opportunities present with risk and it falls upon us to decide if a scheme we’re faced with is dicey or worth a shot. Clearly, some schemes are purely fraudulent, while others may be legitimate, though highly risky. So we should be asking ourselves what it is exactly we’re comfortable with.

As with folks like Casey Serin, could the beauty of “get rich quick” lie in the eye of the beholder?

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky@FamilyandFinances February 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

My younger brother fell for one of these when he was 18 (he obviously fell into the young and naive category). All of his family tried talking sense into him, but he was sure he was going to be “rich”. It took him a couple of months to hit bottom, but he was able to get his old job back and turn things around. He had racked up a bunch of loans at those PayDay Loan rip-off places that took him a long time to get paid off.
The good thing is that he learned his lesson and I don’t think he’ll ever get involved in one of those companies EVER again!

Silicon Valley Blogger February 25, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Unfortunately, the web is rife with get rich quick schemes. It is also full of wonderful money-making opportunities. I take the libertarian approach here about business and investment opportunities and am not one to be heavy-handed about information or ad censorship. My only real advice about pursuing ventures is that you enter them by applying serious due diligence and weighing all the pros and cons involved.

For the average person, there are just things they shouldn’t get into — but that’s not to say it can’t make a few fortunate souls out there pretty wealthy. Proceed at your own risk….always.

Mark February 25, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Your point about boredom is especially relevant. A lot of us fall into the trap of thinking that getting rich is going to be this exhilarating thrill ride. I interview several millionaires each week and I hear something over and over “real wealth is created brick by brick, usually over a long period of time.”

GETTING rich seems to be pretty boring – doing the same smart things over and over, day after day. It can be monotonous. BEING rich on the other hand, seems to be a great time, and definitely worth the price we’ll have to pay effort and patience.

Ron@TheWisdomJournal February 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I think laziness play a part as well. Too many times, it isn’t really greed, as it is the desire to get a huge return for virtually no effort.

I have to second what Mark said, real wealth is built brick by brick, over the course of time, by providing a demanded product or service with which you can make a profit.

Cubicle Dropout February 25, 2008 at 5:56 pm

I believe that when a person isn’t taught or shown how to build wealth the whole process seems very mysterious. That mystery/lack of knowledge then makes a get rich quick scheme plausible for those who don’t know any better.

Also, preying on people who are already in serious financial trouble like payday loans really make me mad.

RacerX February 25, 2008 at 7:40 pm

It is gambling in a way, Casey probably will never stop, because he is the worst kind of gambler, one that won once and is trying to get it back.

It just isn’t sexy to say you cCAN all be rich. Spend less then you make, save and invest that amount. Start early and don’t stop.

Like Veruca…”But I want it now Daddy”

The Dividend Guy February 25, 2008 at 8:43 pm

This is a good post given all of the stuff I am seeing being promoted on the web today – especially if you look at some of the make money online blogs out there.

Recognizing your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities is crucial to avoiding any issues in the future.

Mrs. Micah February 26, 2008 at 8:35 am

Poor Casey. Penny stocks? I think he needs to make his dreams more realistic. He’d probably do better trying to work in a legitimate company. He seems fairly ballsy, so he might be able to get into
something with a decent salary — 6 figures or so.

Working Dollar February 26, 2008 at 11:07 am

I too have been taken in by “get rich quick” scams. Basically, for us poor common folks who will not inherit wealth there is only one genuine way to “get rich quickly” and that is to play, and win, the lottery. And what are the odds of that happening?

btw – I do not endorse playing the lottery. But I do endorse hard work, saving money, and wise investments. Great post. Thanks.

getagrip February 29, 2008 at 7:49 am

One part of the problem to what you mention is that as a society we profile and laud the people who have gotten rich quick rather than the person who gets there slower as our role models. Both Kiplinger’s and Money magazine profiled rags to riches “millionaires” in articles this year (Almost all of them being entrepreneur’s) because getting there slow doesn’t sell magazines. The things all these people had in common were: Vision, drive, long term committment, and a superb work ethic. So yeah, anyone who can put this all together, and has a little dose of luck, can succeed.

The problem is, the majority of people flat out can’t do what these people did (hence so many business failures each year). If you have the drive, you typically lack vision and end up flailing in dozens of directions without much progress. Or perhaps you have the knowhow, but lack the true desire to work 14 hour days to make it a reality?

The scams function off of these lacking areas. You lack vision, use theirs since they say it works and is good as any other. You lack work ethic, follow their steps and you can get rich by putting in just a few hours a week. You lack commitment, they’ll help you with hotlines, on-line monitors, etc. to keep you on the path.

Between that and the constant barrage of marketing telling us how inadequate we are without all the material possessions, we become vulnerable.

Grisha March 3, 2008 at 9:45 am

You cannot cheat an honest man

Serin was not and is not an honest person.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Mr. “Honest” Scott,

I would be HIGHLY curious as to what kind of scheme will make us money in 24 hours guaranteed. I assume that we’re starting with nothing here right?

Say I have $0 today, tomorrow, how much should I expect to have using your scheme?

Let’s see you crack this skeptic.

Heather Allen April 8, 2008 at 4:24 am

This post is excellent. I can identify people in every one of your categories. You are absolutely right about the “special” people. I’ve known a few and, having watched them for a time, see that they actually are clever. In fact, if they put those brains to honest toil, they would probably be millionaires by now. Much to think about and this will definitely inspire a post sometime soon.

warmheart April 8, 2008 at 10:57 am

I truly enjoyed this post and the comments it inspired. Everyone want to get rich quick and when I think about myself there have been times when I’ve fallen into a number of the categories you describe with unsuspecting or naive coming out top. Famous last words “this time it will be different” uttered quietly with fingers crossed and with that sick feeling in your stomach telling you you’ve been had and still you fall for it. Older and wiser now ( I think).

Eugene October 26, 2008 at 2:38 am

I will agree that laziness plays a part in this Internet Marketing Game, it seems that my website only generate money when I don’t monitor them!

BPS December 23, 2008 at 2:04 pm

There is no way to make money fast, there is only a way to spend them fast. (If you know what I mean).

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