Never thought AdWords will be used for Ponzi Scheme
It was a bright Wednesday morning, Jan 04, 2017; I was reading news about the Rose Valley Ponzi scheme.
On Tuesday, CBI arrested Trinamool Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Sudip Bandopadhyay in connection with the Rose Valley scam. This update came three days after the CBI took actor-turned-Trinamool MP Tapas Pal into custody. The Rose Valley scam came to in light in 2013 and (so far) has accounted for a whopping Rs. 17,000 Cr.
In a parallel tab, my Adwords MCC account and Facebook were loading.
The familiar sound of Messenger app disrupted my reading and took me away from TOI to Facebook.
It was Murari. Ajoy, mentor and good friend, had referred me to him few days ago. Murari was looking out for help in AdWords campaign management.
Murari requested me to share my number. Before sharing my number, I checked his Facebook profile and group where he posted his requirement.
I wasn't surprised to see how many hopefuls had replied to his requirement so far.
Many hopefuls had replied to Murari’s requirement so far
From its appearance, it looked fishy. But I decided to take the conversation ahead and give it a chance. (I was correct here.)
Emerging new social platforms and people’s claims often make advertising look very simple. As a result many claim the ability “to do”, and the market is also under the impression that many can.
So much of advertising aka digital marketing (nowadays perceived as such) runs on the basis of networking favors. Many service seekers don't realize the importance of a good foundation & strategy, and straightaway go for tactics.
I was about to have hot tea, when the phone started ringing. It was an unknown number.
I made a few guesses before answering it. I was very sure it will be no one important.
When I answered, it was Murari. I did not think he will be so quick. Looking at how people had responded to his requirement, I thought he must have found someone by now.
(Thanks to ACR call recording app. I was testing few of them for clients.)
Here is transcript - Conversation with Murali (You can listen to the actual conversation recording here.)
Me: Hello, Who is speaking?
Murari : Murari here, you shared your reference number during Facebook conversation. May I know your good name?
(He should have known it; I believe they are two different people: one who called and
one who with online presence.)
Me: Amol, A M O L (He could hear me out properly, so I have to spell it out for him.)
Murari : Do you have a freelance account? (freelance.com)
Me: No, no I don’t have it.
(I disconnected headphone as he was not able to hear me, you may not hear his
voice very clear here onwards.)
Murari - Ok. I have two freelance accounts and 17 AdWords clients from across the world.
Me: (First thought - Amazing) OK
Murari: (Proposal no 1) You can handle one freelance account and help me in managing current AdWords clients. (Proposal no 2) You can start earning minimum 50K from today onwards. (Proposal no 3) For every new client, we will share 50% on work and profit. (He emphasized a lot on “minimum”.)
Me: (Bloody amazing. Jackpot!) OK.
Murari: Nice. Also I have one client who runs a dating site but his (Adwords) account is suspended. Currently I am running ads for him from a child account. I have to invest money in running ads, and after 15 days client pays me back double the amount. So for example - If I run ads for 50K for client pays me 1 lac, as he just wants traffic and is not worried about any revenue and conversions. (High promise on return.)
Me: (Fuck you, Ponzi bastards) OK. Can we get started with campaign management and once we establish trust and…..
Murari : No, I hope you can understand. I am running ads for long time and now I want a partner to support me and grow.
Me : (Decided to fuck around) Yes I do, but to establish trust and credibility, I believe first…
Murari : No we should do this first as we both will be mutually benefited.
Me : Yes. But I cannot invest right now but after a month or 45 days… (He was just not letting me speak.)
Murari : Yah, but we have to get started with this as I am looking for business partner and long term investment (...and he a spoke lot of shit. He tried really hard to convince me.)
Me : Yes, I do understand, and to establish trust and credibility let's do campaign management, I cannot trust you blindly, right?
Murari: There is no harm, I can do screen share with you to show my current accounts.
Me: Ya, I do understand that.
Murari: Look this is very legal with no harm.
Me - (I was bored and hungry by this time, tea and breakfast was waiting for me). Ya, but to get started, let's do the campaign management part first and look at investment later.
Murari - You saying same thing again.
Me - Yes, I am and I will keep saying the same thing because you need to establish trust and transparency first, to invest later.
Murari - No…. (Tried hard to convince me.)
Me: I do understand you, but you need to try and understand my point of view as well.
Murari: No…. (Again tried hard to convince me.)
Me: (I was bored by this time)...Ok. So how much you want me to invest?
Murari: We can get started with small amount like 30K and later…
Me: No Murari, no. I can’t do that.
Murari : ……
Me : Take care Murari, bye.
A Ponzi scheme is “an investment fraud that involves payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors,” according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Design of any Ponzi schemes is a real work of brilliance. They know their scheme won’t be sustainable; they are still able to get thousands of people believe in them.
There are many companies in India and around the world that have ripped off thousands of suckers for crores of rupees through Ponzi schemes.
Sahara and Saradha are the biggest scams from India.
Subroto Roy, founder of Sahara India, has been in jail for the past 21 months.
35 people have committed suicide so far due to losses in the Saradha scam.
People like Murari seem to not realize what harm they get people into. Mushrooming of digital marketing institutes in every corner will supply enough fodder for Murari’s schemes.
I could see through Murari, but this is an attempt to warn people who may fall prey to this!
Do not fool yourself, there is no easy way out, work...work...work hard to make things happen.