Friday 10 July 2009

Scam Quest

I have enormous respect for people who study for higher qualifications and for the universities that they attend. That’s one of the reasons that I am so outraged when I see the whole fake qualification industry at work. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been offered the opportunity to fast-track qualifications by a number of fake educational establishments. The so-called “University of SouthCentral Los Angeles” and the “Northern Ireland Institute of Business & Technology” both offered me the chance to get a doctorate for money. Neither of these institutions queried my previous qualifications or my ability to study at such exalted levels, all they were interested in was my ability to give them the cash they wanted.

You may think that nobody would be fool enough to buy one of these fake “qualifications” and get a job as a result. However I know of three organisations in the couple of years that have found themselves employing senior managers with fake degrees. The problem is that so few Human Resource managers take the time to check the qualifications of the people they recruit. They don’t check whether the qualifications are from real universities and I suspect that in most cases they don’t even check that those from real universities are genuine.

We’ve warned readers of Mmegi on several occasions about some of the companies that masquerade as educational establishments. Success University is a good example. They call themselves a university but they’re nothing of the sort. Instead they’re a pyramid scheme that entices people to join initially with their ludicrous motivational and “educational” materials but really they just want people to join and recruit other people beneath them.

I also disapprove of legitimate universities being abused by people on a mission to deceive. I saw a link on FaceBook to a seminar that is running on 11th July at the University of Botswana. It styles itself as a “Business Opportunity Meeting”. It asks the question “Wonder why you work so hard but don't earn enough money to truely enjoy life?” Suspicious yet?

It goes on to say that the seminar “will present our company and the industry we are in - the 5-year old, multi-billion dollar network marketing industry. We will also present to you how you can take part in our expansion programme part time or full time to earn extra income, or to achieve financial freedom.”

Yet another pyramid scheme. But what are they selling? On their page they have a couple of short videos in which a Oriental man apparently demonstrates the amazing effects of the “energized water” they claim can give you greater strength and wellness. In one of the videos he gets a group of men to lift another off the ground but they fail to do so. He then (and trust me, I’m not making this up) sprays them with “energized water” and miraculously these men can now lift him off the ground. A miracle? No, it’s rubbish. It’s all utterly ludicrous.

If you do a web search for “energized water” you find all sorts of nonsensical claim about it’s amazing health benefits, including, yes, you’ve guessed it, that it can help people with AIDS. In fact the only true thing about “energized water” is that it’s water. Just plain water. Nothing has been energized.

If you dig a little further you find that he represents a company called QuestNet that offers a range of silly products including “the internationally sought-after Amezcua Bio Disc and Amezcua Chi Pendant… [which] focus on enhancing the natural properties of water as well as the human body’s energy systems”. Do I really have to say how ludicrous this is?

I posted a message on the Facebook page for this event and the owner of the page called Goh Seng Hong responded saying “Perhaps you want to also inform your formet president, Bill Clinton, your Donald Trump, Robery Kiyosaki, Warrn Buffet, Wall Street specialist and of course your FDA, and all your governtment authorities to classifiy network marketing as illegal schemes”. I haven’t corrected his spelling. And yes, I DO think that our authorities should follow the lead of Namibia and get tough with pyramid schemes pretending to be “network marketing schemes”. Does he really mean that former President Mogae has endorsed pyramid schemes? I doubt it and I suspect he’ll not be pleased when we write to him to alert him to this suggestion. (Incidentally don’t you love the mis-spelling of “Robert”. It says it all I think.)

Before you wonder, yes I HAVE written to UB suggesting that allowing pyramid schemes to sell crap undermines their reputation as a respected centre of learning.

I earnestly suggest that you give this workshop a miss. It’s selling nonsense and a nonsensical business model. You’re never going to make any money from it.

We consumers really have to be vigilant these days. I genuinely suspect that there are more people out there trying to sell us nonsense, pseudoscience and scams than ever before. It’s all the internet’s fault. The internet, wonderful though it is, allows a massive variety of charlatans and crooks to make contact with us a million at a time. Even if only a few of that million fall for their scam they make lots money.

We consumers need to show the charlatans who come to trick us the quick route back to the border.

This week’s stars
  • Roy and all the other members of the team at Café Dijo for incredibly good service, food and coffee.

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