So I'm currently completely broke and fully expect to be living on the streets by October. About a week ago, a friend of mine calls me and tells me about a great opportunity that will make us both rich. He starts telling me about a company called ACN.
According to him, it is a company which assists people in lowering their bills, allowing us to get paid from the residual income. I told him I don't really understand, so he sets up a meeting between me and his trainer at a Starbucks.
The trainer is late and when he does arrive he says that the reason he was late is because he had to take time out of his busy schedule to save a baby from getting punched in the face by its mother! Then, a guy dressed like a cop arrives at the Starbucks, shakes his hand, and talks to him for a few more minutes. After the "cop" leaves, the guy says that his mood has been ruined and he will be thinking about that poor baby all day. He, once again, apologizes for being late but says that when a baby is in trouble, his conscience won't allow him to do anything but help.
So the three of us sit down with our coffees and finally get to business. The guy pulls out his laptop and shows me the ACN introductory video with Donald Trump. He proceeds to tell me that he is a high school drop out and says that "school isn't necessary anymore." I tell him that I'm 29 years old and he asks me how would I like to retire by age 34. He claims he makes about 25,000 dollars a month and spends the majority of each and every day relaxing and having fun. He says if I work hard with his company I can make 1,000 dollars by the end of next month and continue paying my rent. After four to five years with the company, he says, I can make about 100,000 dollars a month and never have to work again on the condition that I do absolutely everything he says.
When I ask him what I have to do, he elaborates on the video's marketing scheme. He says that I'm not allowed to "cold call" people or approach strangers in any way. ACN mandates exclusively "warm relationship" marketing with friends and family. Since I know that rule #1 of good marketing is to demonstrate to the customer what is in it for them, I ask him how much money are we planning to save these people by lowering their bills, and what is the process by which we lower people's bills?
He responded by saying that we shouldn't sell this by demonstrating to the customer that we are doing anything for them (since some of these customers do not qualify to have their bills reduced). Instead, we should approach our friends and family and appeal to their love and friendship for us by giving them a sob story about how we are in debt up to our eyeballs and are in desperate need of help. He said that if our friends do not sign up for ACN to possibly "save a few pennies on their bills" after hearing the sob story, they weren't our real friends to begin with and we should cut them out of our lives. He made every effort to tell me to play up the friendship/love angle and play down the "save money on your bills" angle.
That was the third major red flag (the first two being his unofficial career as a baby protector and him telling me that I could retire at 34). I then asked where ACN gets its money and he said that companies like Sprint, Comcast, and so forth pay ACN to advertise for them, and whatever money the customer saves on their bills is given to us in the mail every week by those companies we supposedly advertised for. He added that the more someone uses their services, the more we get paid weekly. When I asked how much money I'm expected to make per customer, he said that that depends on the customer and the specific service they choose to utilize, but he added that I will find everything out after he trains me.
He then asks, "how soon can you come up with 500 dollars? I say in about a week (which is a lie since I don't even have 100 to spare). He says as soon as he gets the money, my training will begin and I will begin my destiny to become a self made millionaire in about five years. He gives me his card, some paperwork to look at, some websites to research, and tells me that my friend who was there with me and I should be at an ACN meeting this Tuesday where we can "learn more." He also assured me that despite being officially "self employed," I do not require a business licence from City Hall nor do I have to pay any self-employment tax. I will simply have to fill out a standard 1099 form every year and submit it to the IRS. He also mentioned that the 500 dollars is designed to setup my own personal website which I should use to attract customers as well as their being a 149 dollar yearly website maintanance fee.
Oh, and he also showed me pictures of his mother being in the hospital with a serious illness and told me that much of his millions is going to her to help her get better. He concluded by saying that everyone should be doing this and the only people who should be going to college are those whom we need to "shine our shoes" for us and fix our computers.
After leaving, I immediately got on the Internet and googled "ACN scam." A huge slew of websites popped up with stories similar to the ones here on ripoffreport about how people lost most of their money, friends, family, and reputation working for this company while never making a single penny. All the money goes to the top two or so people within this "company" and most of the people who used to work for it are currently working at Burger King while living in their parents' basement at the age of 45. The bottom line is - there is no money to be made with ACN unless you count pennies that would embarrass even a minimum wage job.
I figured it was a scam all along, especially when he told me that I should appeal exclusively to friendship instead of telling the customer what is in it for them, and all the websites I've been to just confirm it, as well as all the people that I have talked to who have had experience with ACN.
Do not fall for this scam! Even a guy like me who is desperate and "soon to be" homeless is capable of recognizing the foolishness behind this despicable pyramid scheme.
I only have two questions:
1. How is this even legal?
2. Does anyone know a good neighborhood that is sympathetic to homeless people around Chicago?
Thank you for reading!