Scam Artists Use Internet to Victimize the Unwary


Scam Artists Use Internet to Victimize the Unwary
reprinted from
The People
January 1997



With hardship and insecurity for workers already widespread, there comes an added misfortune: a flock of scam artists prepared to pounce on any worker foolish enough to buy into get-rich-quick schemes that lead only to failure and added impoverishment. These scam artists are nothing more than economic vultures whose aim is to pick clean the bones of the victims of the predatory profit system. They rely mostly on the misplaced faith of many workers who still harbor the forlorn hope that they, too, can "make good" on the false promise of capitalism.

The work of the scam artist is made easier by the false propaganda that proclaims that anyone who is willing to "work hard" and "invest right" can be "their own boss" and live a comfortable life. Television "infomercials" produced by the more successful get-rich-quick gurus abound. Their schemes invariably rely on an initial investment by the worker for books, cassettes or videos that ostensibly tell how to "cash in" on a "secret" way to wealth and security.

The Internet has become a popular medium for the purveyors of these fraudulent schemes that defraud thousands of e-mail users. Almost everyone with a computer connected to the Internet has, at one time or another, received an e-mail message offering a fabulous plan that "promises to yield wealth beyond your wildest dreams," as one such message confidently stated.

The proliferation of these modern-day snake oil salesmen has attracted the attention of capitalist law enforcement agencies. According to a recent report in the business section of THE MIAMI HERALD, "State and federal regulators launched a nationwide blitz on companies peddling bogus be-your-own-boss businesses that swallow entrepreneurial dreams." The HERALD described this operation, named Operation Missed Fortune, as a "massive crackdown" on fraudulent or questionable investment opportunities and "work-at-home schemes," which are aimed largely at workers. The HERALD stated that certain "actions were taken against 75 firms nationwide, including 17 in Florida."

As part of this "crackdown," Florida's state attorney has filed a lawsuit against three south Florida companies it claims have bilked "consumers." The suit alleges that many customers did not even receive the materials promised them after forking over between $25 and $40. "Those who did receive the materials later learned that they had to incur other costs and that potential earnings were dependent on a lot more than just stuffing envelopes," said Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth. The MIAMI HERALD mentioned only some of the "other costs" attached to starting a business: occupational licenses, establishment of business bank accounts, the purchase of additional supplies and placement of newspaper advertisements -- "far more than the simplistic scheme described in sales pitches."

All this reveals more than the dishonesty of the get-rich- quick scammers; it reveals the near impossibility for most workers of starting up their own business and gaining any degree of freedom from capitalist exploitation. It reveals that capitalism sets up costly checkpoints along its so-called road to independence that hinder all but those who possess the necessary capital to buy into a high-stakes game of chance that is rigged in favor of the "smart money" that daily gobbles up the pittance invested by hopeful workers buying into the American capitalist dream.

The irony of Operation Missed Fortune is that it can only address one of the symptoms of capitalist decadence -- and that only in the interest of maintaining greater control by the ruling class of its own elaborate con game: the theft that daily takes place at work as the capitalist robs the workers of the greater share of what they produce. As capitalism perfects its method of working-class expropriation, it renders more workers redundant and casts them onto the social scrap heap to fend as best they can. Hovering near that scrap heap are the economic vultures that appear where all great massacres occur. The rise of unemployment among the white- collar sector of the working class presents great opportunities for those wanting to defraud many workers, whose purblind faith in capitalism continues despite all it has done to them.

Far from being what its propagandists claim it to be, capitalism is an operation of misfortune and exploitation perpetrated on the working class. Workers hoping for a better life must reject capitalism and its blood-sucking remoras who feed on the illusions constantly churned out by capitalism's propaganda mills. They must, instead, embrace the principles that offer a way to a better life for all. Those principles are contained in the program of the Socialist Labor Party of America. Study it and grow.