My Dodgy Business Dealings Part 1 – Joining A Pyramid Scheme

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Hey Guys,

I want to keep pulling the curtains back on some things I have done that I’m not proud of – but have still taught me much about business and life and everything in between.

Let’s begin with a conference that a girl called Stacey (a PhD student from Aston University I was dating during the summer of 2006) took me along to.

A fateful day that would change my life irrevocably.

I remember going into this hotel conference room with shining lights, a busy audience; and an audience of South Asians, Africans and Caribbeans that populated the room alongside a proportion of white people.

Up on the stage, a speaker walked out onto the stage in a sharp-looking suit underneath the spotlights and a big smile.

‘Welcome to a day that’s going to change your life!’ he boomed.

The audience looked up at him in silence as we eagerly looked up.

This was clearly a pretty serious thing – and as it turned out it really was serious and interesting.

If you joined the VIP club you’d get access to timeshare holiday homes in paradise. These were in the Caribbean, Hawaii, South East Asia, Australia and other exotic locations around the world.

Furthermore, you’d get exclusive discounts to amenities in and around the hotels and that you could have the opportunity to join these jet-setters if you were to sign up today (note: the fee wasn’t yet disclosed).

I was enthralled and listened in with eager ears.

What was REALLY interesting, however, as the speaker moved through the presentation was the income opportunity that was possible.

Now I was on the right side of this growing company and members were fast flocking to the company. If we were able to recruit others into the organisation – we would stand to take a proportion of their joining fee.

The joining fee itself was around £1995.

And we would keep 25% (or some such similar number) for introducing this person into the organisation.

If they kept introducing others who wanted to go on similar types of holidays – with other deals already being negotiated for flights, dining and more leveraging the power of the group buy – then we’d keep a proportion of that income as well.

In this way – by becoming an introducer and sharing a commission based upon all introductions – we could potentially make 6 figures in income.

Once we were shown all of this potential opportunity there was a stream of people bought on to talk about how their lives changed through VIP and what this business had done for them.

I was more than absolutely in but when the time came for the big reveal….

Lights were shone on the tables at the back.

Credit card billing slips and agreements were produced and if people wanted to get an exclusive offer down from £3995 – than now was the time.

I sat, I pondered, my heartbeat and I scanned the darkness eagerly to see who if anyone would walk to the back.

30 seconds that seemed to feel like a lifetime ticked past and nothing.

Not

One

Person.

Clearly, something wasn’t right…until I saw the first person get up, and then the second…and then the third…and that was that.

Off I hurtled towards the back – thanking Abigail along the way for such a wonderful opportunity that she had rightly introduced me to.

I sped along and taking some of my student loan money and income I had saved from working in IT Support at Warwick University I quickly put down the initial payment of a couple of hundred £’s to get going.

That was it!

I was in!

And this was to be my dream ticket for success in my life.

What followed next week was even better – a closed doors Q&A for all the new members of VIP.

This period was focused on how to sell this opportunity properly alongside dealing with all the questions that we and skeptics had – to include some bad press VIP had received.

‘Ask me anything – I’ll answer it all’

This was it! The moment where I’d get opportunity to clear out any questions I had as well as others;

  • ‘Some people have said the time-shares aren’t real – and no one has been away?’

‘Definitely not the case – X/Y/Z person have all been away in the last several weeks’

  • Where are your company operating offices and can we contact them?

‘Sure – our office is based here in Bermuda and here’s a phone number and email you can use to contact them at any time:

  • You’ve received some press about your business being a scam

‘People fear and write off what they don’t understand. Furthermore you’ve seen all the people who brought you along and we’ve got people already using the holiday deals – what’s a scam about this?’

  • How long has the company been around?
  • What’s your story?
  • When do we get our VIP card?

The questions continued – initially focused around due diligence and then moving to the art of the sale – and how to convince friends and family as to the opportunity that this presented.

I had yet to go on a holiday (these were accessible over the next few months) or yet to receive my card (they needed some processing time) but I was in with a capital I!

And so I thought nothing of it when I met my account manager Andre – Abigail’s lead – outside my sister’s place in Surbiton.

He turned up in an old convertible car to collect the rest of the cash due – I’d opted to make the final payment in cash – some £1200 perhaps.

I still recall my brother-in-law asking me if this was all ok/the right thing to do – and I confidently assured him it was.

As the weeks followed I would introduce several people to the opportunity.

Three people I remember in particular were Homaira – my Persian English literature classmate, Ren – my friend from my days as a grime mc (more on this later), and Ed – a guy I still consider way smarter than me that helped build the first ‘Deep Impakt’ website

Here’s how their reactions panned out:

Homaira – she came along to the presentation and wanted to leave halfway through. She said it wasn’t for her and wanted nothing to do with it.

Ren – he was at the same presentation.

He was definitely in like myself and ‘hustled’ to put the money together to make it happen and did manage to get the £1995 together and get the money to Andre.

Ed – he watched a video I got on a DVD at some point later and found the court cases and poor literature that existed on VIP and made a pretty determined effort to talk me out of it.

So 1 out of 3 – not bad!

………..

……..

….

As time passed – some things became evident.

I was alienating people by talking to them about this opportunity.

I found myself trying to ‘sell this’ at any opportunity.

I’d yet to see any holidays or VIP cards or anything to suggest I’d get the actual end benefit from this opportunity.

My desire to keep telling people about this opportunity waned over time.

I don’t even think I realised that I was ultimately involved in a scam at the time I was getting into it – or ‘into it’.

Call it my naivety of myself in business – ergo having very limited experience in business at this time alongside not doing the due diligence I should have done…

I let this all fade into the background and only discover later down the line that my friend Ren would have a similar experience to me as well

I’ve actually just messaged him on Whatsapp – check it out:

Gosh, what a clown I was haha!

What I didn’t realise though – was that I was getting an excellent education in presenting and direct sales.

Ultimately my job consisted of ‘introducing other people to the opportunity’ as well as convincing them to sign up based on my own experiences.

These are fundamentals to any sales training that you’ll do in life – and would continue to be a great asset for me over the coming years.

Not before I got involved in a second illegitimate operation though some years later…which I’ll go on to tell you about in the next email…

Catch you then!

Share this recipe:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest