Over the last year, have you noticed your LinkedIn inbox exploding with requests from so-called Forex Traders trying to entice you to buy cryptocurrency? I certainly have. At least 3–5 requests per week. Let’s review one recent encounter through the lens of Self Determination Theory, a psychological concept; and how you can prevent yourself from getting snared into scams.
A Real-Life Scenario
The following is a recent real-life encounter on LinkedIn where an individual, “Vanessa,” attempted to solicit me into joining her cryptocurrency scheme. I have omitted the woman’s full name to prevent online shaming while also demonstrating the tactics used in our engagement.
Background Details: The individual and I connected a few months ago. During the first contact, she messaged me; however, I hadn’t got around to answering her. Since this week marked my first work anniversary, she reached out for a second time. We do not know one another, either in person or online.
The conversation starts with a light, friendly tone.
I’m cordial back. But, wait! Didn’t my Mom teach me not to talk to strangers?
We continue in conversation.
When someone asks me on LinkedIn what I do professionally, it is clear the person hasn’t read my profile. A red flag appears in my mind. What also strikes me as odd is the use of the lower letter “i.” Proper grammar is essential when connecting with people on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. At this point, I feel the internal seeds of doubt; and disbelieve the person I’m bantering with is who she says she is. Here, I purposely flow with the conversation and invite the individual to open up about their true underlying motive for communicating with me. Hint — it’s not about my work anniversary.
Here we go! Suspicion confirmed. The woman has an ulterior motive. My initial reaction is anger because I’ve already experienced the same conversation with several others and feel exhausted from the entire experience. From the onset, I am crystal clear on my disinterest. Notice the “t” on Trader is not capitalized.
Here, the pressure tactic increases. I experience emotions of escalating frustration and, in some ways, violation; Vanessa purposely leads me down a path of deceit for her financial gain.
The explanations continue. And WOW, what punch! In the next moment, what angered me the most was that the person writing the text either believed I would fall for the ludicrous claims or hoped I would be gullible enough to pursue her wild dreams.
Once again, I make my decision clear. After my remark, Vanessa does not respond.
During our communication, I felt an internal volcano erupting inside me; my reactive mode became supercharged. It has taken a few days to calm down and allow my emotions to subside. In retrospect, I was a part of the problem by accepting the woman's invitation, followed by egging her on for my self-satisfaction to prove a point.
But hold on a second, what was “Vanessa” trying to sell me anyway? Was it the chance to purchase cryptocurrency or something else?
Debunking The Scam
In a previous role, I sat beside a legitimate Forex Trader from a top Canadian Bank. He did not spend his days trolling for clients on LinkedIn. After consulting several Reddit and Quora threads on Forex-Cryptocurrency, Camino Paloma, from October 3, 2019, provides an excellent overview of the landscape:
Forex itself is not a pyramid scheme. The foreign currency market is simply the market where the value of each currency goes up or down and can be bought or sold to make a profit. Banks and investors from all over the world trade it. As long as money exists, the foreign currency market will also exist. It is risky to invest in but learning how to trade with consistency and effort can work out in your favor.
Good so far. So, what bag of tricks was the Digital Currency Trader trying to hook me into? Camino Paloma explains further:
Now, there are MLMs that promote forex and require you to recruit others to pay the monthly fee in order to use the program or courses in order to create another form of income. The recruiting and paying monthly fees to “learn” how to trade has nothing to do with the market itself.
The Forex market is self-sustaining and doesn’t require recruitment, as was the case with my former work colleague. Instead, multi-level marketing or MLM cryptocurrency pyramid schemes pray on an uneducated public with the idea that you, too, will reap unfathomable wealth in a short time through learning strategies to beat the system. All you need to do is pay the Digital Currency Trader hundreds of dollars a month in fees to accumulate imaginary affluence in parallel to recruiting others to join the scam. In the end, you’re not even purchasing cryptocurrency; you’re buying so-called “knowledge.”
When put another way, @energizermike, explains:
These schemes coerce you into a multi-level marketing pyramid, rather than focusing on the reason you joined, in this case, trading forex. Most of your time is spent recruiting new members into the company because you are incentivized by earning affiliate commission under a pyramid structure.
Forex As A Pyramid Scheme
Why you should stay clear of multi-level forex marketing (MLM) companies
Mom always said:
The Theory of Self-Determination
What prompts people to potentially pretend they are someone else online for profit and personal gain? The theory of Self-Determination focuses on how human behaviors are motivated and offers a fresh perspective. According to the 2017 research paper Disinhibition Of Negative True Self for Identity Reconstructions in Cyberspace:
Human beings conduct their behaviors according to their own interests or the external benefits. Based on different reasons and goals, motivations that guide people’s behavior are distinguished into two types: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.
For the latter, reward-driven behavior, the research paper states:
When extrinsically motivated, individuals engage in action for separable outcomes. In many cases, people take certain actions because it will bring them material rewards, like money.
Today, I possess a better understanding of the origins of my anger. I’m a relational, transparent, and honest human being who encountered a deceitful person. Vanessa presented herself to me under the pretense of demonstrating interest in my work achievement. However, her real motivation was to use me as a pawn to build her material wealth.
After a few days of internal processing, my anger subsided, and instead, a new sensation emerged; one of compassion for whomever Vanessa is and stands for. For someone to become so consumed in building their MLM Forex-Crypto empire, consider how much burden the individual is placing on herself. Extrinsic motivation often creates pressure and, contrary to what we think, our brain doesn’t work well under constant strain. We become less happy—the brain’s levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine decrease. In all likelihood, Vanessa is probably not the happiest of campers.
How To Detect And Avoid Forex Cryptocurrency Scams
Now that we understand the scam's true intention, here are ways to detect and deter people trying to sell false promises quickly.
- Reputable brokers do not advertise on social media. Period.
- Rely on your gut instinct. If something about the scenario feels off, there is a high likelihood it is. Your body is telling you important information — listen to it.
- You do not require a broker to purchase cryptocurrency. And don’t let anyone try and tell you otherwise. The process is as easy as finding a reputable online brokerage, setting up an account, and making the purchase yourself. Look, I’m no expert. However, I managed to buy Bitcoin by myself four years ago.
- Review the person’s social media profile before connecting. If a person has Forex listed alongside a company name you’ve never heard of, stay clear away.
- Observe if the social media account of the person approaching you looks fake. Some dead giveaways are grainy photos or no photos, glaring spelling mistakes, a made-up sounding first and last name, and an account that appears relatively new containing few details about the person.
- If you feel like playing the role of a sleuth and want to verify an individual’s social media account's legitimacy, copy the person’s profile picture and paste it into Google Images. Suppose the person shows up on other social media platforms and various other spaces across the web. In that case, chances are you are dealing with a real person, pending the amount of available information you find. Otherwise, if zero results appear, as was the case with the woman I engaged with on LinkedIn, chances are you are dealing with a fake.
- On LinkedIn, you can report the conversation as spam or scam. Shortly after my conversation with the person in question, I flagged her account.
The next time someone portrays their false self on social media and wants to sell you an unbelievable Forex-Crypto scheme, ask the person if they’ve heard of extrinsic motivation. After explaining the psychological concept, I guarantee the individual won’t want to hustle their wares further your way. Otherwise, the better alternative is to practice mindfulness when accepting contact requests and ensure you correctly screen people before allowing them to enter into your social sphere. You are the best keeper of your online domain!
- 10 Best Crypto Forex MLM Companies Of 2021
- Forex As A Pyramid Scheme
- Reddit — Forex Trading a pyramid scheme?
- Reddit — Is Forex a scam?
- Reddit — Anyone sees an increase in Forex Pyramid schemes?
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