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Want Exponential Results?
Would you benefit from ‘the advice and experience of Australia’s best and brightest business minds?’ Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
What about ‘exponential results from my world-class advisory service’? Who couldn’t use a bit of exponential growth in these troubled times?
Better sign up for one of their convenient monthly payment packages or your competitors will leave you in their dust.
Not so fast, tiger. Because this week *puts on A Current Affair voice* :
We uncover the shonks and scammers that take your money for business advice that is straight-up bullshit. And we tell you where they’re lurking.
Both those pitch lines are from the last people on Earth you want advice from, their dubious track records only a few clicks beyond their sales pitch if you care to look.
And what dark corner of the web are they operating their scam in? LinkedIn.
Yep, your trusty business-friend platform, inventors of the work anniversary and the Kudos To You button.
An Intriguing Invitation
I got a connection invite from a guy whose name seemed familiar. I googled him. He is Founder, CEO and Advisory Board Chair of one of those executive bonding and advisory networks. You meet with other business owners monthly, for a fee, and get tips on how to run your own business better.
He has a well-cut suit and looks like any Big-4 accounting partner.
I’ve rearranged his website copy so you can’t Google him directly, but it’s all this kind of thing:
“Our Advisory Boards are a collaborative network of the finest business minds, delivering the deep knowledge and connections you need to scale fast and sustainably, with proven 10x growth strategies, performance coaching and mentoring, and a diverse executive network to future-proof your enterprise” And so on.
Apparently they’ve helped over 400 companies deliver best-practice excellence.
And what qualifications does he have to deliver all this?
Good question. Further down page one of his search results is an absolute banger of a story by a journalist I know and respect.
Learn The Grift From A Pro
The story goes into forensic detail on old mate’s business adventures. He essentially built a Ponzi scheme, selling a media service to clients that would deliver them a ‘guaranteed’ advertising revenue stream. There wasn’t much real advertising, so the revenue came from future clients who took the same bait.
When the GFC hit, that caper wasn’t enough to finance he and his business partner’s escalating lifestyle. So they diversified into lease finance scams. They found a willing chump finance broker, and fed him counterfeit invoices bearing the name of a large publicly-listed supplier. The equipment on the invoices had made-up serial numbers.
Mister Advisory extracted a seven-figure amount before the wheels came off. Eventually he was arrested and convicted of lease fraud.
As a bonus the story features a picture of him before the advisory makeover, looking remarkably like a suited version of adult entertainment icon Ron Jeremy.
But hey his website looks classy so if you want to learn the grift from a pro then he’s your man.
He’s not your only choice though.
When In Doubt Ask ASIC
I used to be in one of those monthly executive catch-up institutes, most of which are legit. It was good for a couple of years and I made some great friends, then I got bored and realised I could still catch up with the people I liked for free.
The other day on the group chat, one of those friends shared this LinkedIn invite he’d received:
‘I’ve built a world-class business advisory that delivers exponential results for my select list of clients, using sound business fundamentals with deep scientific research. I’d love to connect and share more about it.’
Again, the name seemed familiar. My friend is in a field where people will try anything on, credit-wise. So he’s a keen user of the CreditorWatch website, which pings him updates on Australia’s Dodgiest Business Operators.
He did a quick search on world-class man, and sure enough: the ‘world class advisory business’ has a full screen of ASIC deregistration notices.
Like spiders on the rise in heavy rains, the advice grifters are on the march in 2021.
Hard Times Bring Out The Scammers
It’s an obvious point but bears repeating: the con in con man is short for confidence, and it’s that quality that attracts people to business motivators, mentors and advisors.
They’ve got all the lines down perfectly.
They have fine-tuned antennae for the exact words you want to hear.
They know when you’re vulnerable and looking for a life raft to cling to.
So hard times bring them out of the woodwork.
The advisor you choose might not always be a convicted criminal.
They might be a middle-management journeyperson with no particular track record, looking to drum up some side cash.
Or they might be a smart, experienced operator who can help turn your business around.
How do you know which category they fall into?
Choosing the wrong advisor means devoting valuable years of your life to a plausible-looking plan that might go nowhere.
Research the hell out of people before you pay for advice. Ask for case studies. Don’t hire anyone who isn’t happy to give you phone numbers of existing clients.
Be careful out there.
Should You Use Logic?
Oh and a final tip. If you really want to get next-level on your problems with creditors, reader James alerted me to Gatto Corp. Yes, it’s a debt collection agency set up by that Mick Gatto, and run by a former bodyguard with the tremendous name of Anthony Swords.
‘We use logic when recovering your monies.’
I can’t speak for their services, but I feel that engaging Gatto Corp would lead to some cool stories you could drop at your next industry networking function.
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