Last year we saw great stories based on scams; Scam 1992 and Bad Boy Billionaires: India. Scam 1992 is about the Harshad Mehta scam and Bad Boy Billionaires: India is about billionaires in India who’ve goofed it up by scamming banks, authorities and the people.
We saw the likes of Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy and Nirav Modi and how their scams have eventually led to their downfall. Scam 1992 is one of the greatest series that came out in India and is also my personal favourite alongside the Filthy Frank Show.
But those are big names. Mehta, Mallya, Roy… they are people who have been recognised by the Indian public and the world. What we don’t know is that regular people are getting scammed, and we aren’t even aware of this.
I watched a movie called The Big Short, an American movie based on the events that led to the infamous 2008 recession in America. In one scene where Steve Carell’s character Mark Baum said that ordinary people will be the ones who will pay the price.
Because scams are common in India, we aren’t surprised when we hear about a ghotala case or scam case. But common folks don’t even know that scamming can affect people from all walks of life. As of now, the worst form of scamming for me is MLM or Multi-Level Marketing.
“Multi-Level marketing (MLM) is a strategy some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors who are paid a percentage of their recruits’ sales. The recruits are the distributor’s “downline.” Distributors also make money through direct sales of products to customers.” Some examples would be Amway, Mary Kay, and Avon.
From the looks of the definition, MLM might sound entrepreneur like but in reality majority of them are just scamming people so that they can make easy money. Research by FTC found out that about 1% of MLM ventures can profit; the rest 99%, you ask? Money goes burr.
Jokes aside, it can ruin your mental health, your relationship with family, and you’ll lose money. This is a problem that doesn’t sit well with me alongside e-patriotism. I could’ve been scammed like that because of these wannabe “entrepreneurs”, and it really happened.
Keep in mind I have nothing against entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is respected, and I have huge respect for them. I always see Elon Musk as my lord and saviour and the reason for my interest in entrepreneurship. But these MLM scam artists are just disrespecting this field and is discouraging people actually to try entrepreneurship.
That being said, their major demographics are college students. They are the most vulnerable that fall into this scam. They want to be financially free from their parents, so they get attracted to this. That being said, I’ll be using fictional names for the people and company involved in my story for legal reasons.
So when I was in my first year in college, I was just minding my own business in the mess. I was drinking my 7-Up, eating some chips, and scrolling through my phone. Then I saw one guy who shook my hands with me.
Let’s call him Rahul, who worked for an MLM company/venture called Rajesh Singhania Company Limited (a fictional company) or RSC in short. He asked me if I wanted to make some money, I said maybe.
He told me about his venture and how it’s making lots of money. He asked what my interest was? I said, buying video games. He said, “If you want to buy some new games, then why don’t you join and work for us?”
I asked what’s in it for me. He answered that new members would make a good amount per day. I also asked Rahul about the fees; he quoted a high number (I don’t remember the exact amount). That was the first time I felt it was sketchy. It raised some red flags. Also, my family will not allow this.
Rahul said that the generational gap was the reason why people were scared to become entrepreneurs. I was still suspicious, because gap or no gap, my family would not give me extra money unless I’m out of it. I told him they would not accept this.
He insisted he was trying to make me agree to it for the sake of video games. He also added that the RSC has different branches in Asia. I still refused. Sighing, he told me to at least attend a seminar for ₹100. I finally gave in. After that, he left, but I still had second thoughts because it could be a scam, and I would’ve fallen into peer pressure.
And wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t even attend the seminar. He called me numerous times, but in the end, I just flat out refused. I hung up the phone, and he didn’t call me for 2 days. I even blocked his number.
After that, he called me (I don’t know how does he have so many numbers) and asked me to meet with someone high up in the RSC. He set up a meeting with me at 8 pm. This person paraphrased everything Rahul had told me and asked to pay ₹3000 to join the lower-level.
The conversation was, let’s say, complex because even if I were to pay them, I’d be running out of money, and my family would be upset with me. Even though I tried to leave, he told me to listen to what he had to say. So I relented and listened.
I was getting annoyed and tired of this, but the least I can do was listen to him and show some courtesy. Anyway, I told him I’d think about it and left eventually. The meeting literally cost me my dinner, and I had to buy garlic bread from Domino’s.
I forget to mention that this high-up had the audacity to suggest that I leave law because AIs would take over. He wanted me to convince my family that I left my already expensive course for some stupid venture. I should’ve said I’ll pass.
After that, I started getting calls from Rahul numerous times. I ignore them to avoid him, but at that point, I was losing my patience. I finally had it enough. I finally put my foot down and told him that I’m no longer interested in this venture because of his behaviour. I told him to stop calling me and sending me any messages.
And that was it. That was the end of my MLM story. The last time I saw him, he ignored me and left. I guess he was still salty about me rejecting his offer. A couple of days later, I saw an RSC employee offering jobs to other students. I ignored it. I think it was a mistake to ignore the student. Who knows if he got scammed by them.
A few months ago, I watched a YouTube video by Comics, and he told his story of how he got scammed by one of the MLM ventures. Another video by Mango Boi recounts his story about his friends getting scammed by MLM companies and how his relationship with his friends ended because of it. Dhruv Rathee made an interesting video on how MLM Scams are really problematic in nature. I realised that RSC could’ve scammed me too because, like in the videos, they talked about their ventures, fees, seminar, and fees. I could’ve been fooled easily if I’d attended that seminar.
I feel lucky because had I gone to that seminar, then I could’ve been scammed. I would’ve lost the money; my family would’ve been pissed off at me, which would’ve affected my mental and physical health. Had I told Rahul to mind his own business, I would have avoided this otherwise unnecessary, time-wasting and emotional draining drama.
Honesty, if I were mature back then, I wouldn’t have gotten trapped into this potential scam. This became a huge lesson for me not to fall into these MLM scams, and it should also serve as a lesson for you or anyone else to stay away from these ventures. Most of them are scams and will destroy you entirely.
They’re just scammers disguising themselves as entrepreneurs, and it can serve as a perilous precedent. That’s why if you see a wannabe entrepreneur talking about ventures, refuse and walk away. Trust me; it’ll save a lot of drama. If this is what it takes to become an entrepreneur and make money, I’d rather be unemployed than being scammed. That’s all I have to say.