Is this site a scam?
December 20, 2005 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Internet Scam Filter: A good friend of mine has recently been hawking on about an internet site: It sounds way too good to be true, and I'm thinking scam, or worse, illegal. Yet the guy has actually pulled out $800 in 2 weeks. Thoughts, fellow me-fites?

I'm not trying to get in on this myself, but I would like to figure out what the angle here is. I'm guessing it's basically just paying out existing members with new members' contributions, but who knows? Maybe I'm just too suspicious. The site mentions that it's an "autosurf" website - what are these things, are they really legit?
Also, what about the payment websites it uses: and - both websites I'm not really familiar with. Are they legit as well?

Please help me figure this out!
posted by Mave_80 to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
The payment sites are legit, but they're not as quick to shut down scammer accounts as, say, PayPal, so they've become the payment houses Du Jour of your typical pyramid scheme.

Anything that makes money solely off of referrals is a pyramid scheme. If you can't make money any other method, it's illegal in every country on the planet.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2005

From the site:

:: Why do I have to upgrade my account within 7 days of joining?
Hundreds of paid autosurfs come and go everyday. One of the key reasons for the failure of these programs and the subsequent loss of member earnings is the high cost of payouts to free members. In order to insure the long term success and sustainability of 12daily Pro we require that all members upgrade within the first seven days of joining. 12daily Pro is making an investment in your future success. We ask that you please not join us unless you are prepared to do the same. Isn't your future worth at least $6.

You can't just do this forever; otherwise the original Ponzi wouldn't have had all those troubles. Your friend got in early and is being paid by the contributions of newer members. Eventually this model will fail.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:43 PM on December 20, 2005

Response by poster: So if this is a ponzi scheme - I assume that means it's illegal. Does this mean my friend could be prosecuted for being involved (even though he had nothing to do with setting it up etc - just happened to be one of the few people who actually got paid?)
posted by Mave_80 at 12:48 PM on December 20, 2005

Does this mean my friend could be prosecuted for being involved (even though he had nothing to do with setting it up etc - just happened to be one of the few people who actually got paid?)

I doubt it. He's still profiting off the ignorance of other people, though. Hope that $800 was worth losing his integrity.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2005

Response by poster: Optimus Chyme: I'll pass it onto him - I doubt he really realizes how the scheme works... So are all these "autosurf" sites basically just ponzi schemes?
posted by Mave_80 at 1:00 PM on December 20, 2005

People can and do make money in a Ponzi scheme - that's part of the reason that the people who first get hooked will "reinvest" their "earnings" into the scheme, thinking that what worked the first time will work repeatedly. Eventually the scheme collapses, and the losers significantly outnumber those who profit.

12dailypro looks like a Ponzi scheme to me. It's set up to encourage people to "invest" as much as possible, but there's no sensible way to explain where the "profits" come from, other than from new people signing up and paying into the scheme.

As has been said repeatedly by law enforcement around the world - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also, TANSTAAFL.
posted by gwenzel at 1:00 PM on December 20, 2005

another thread
posted by Rhomboid at 1:01 PM on December 20, 2005

Response by poster: Ahh! Thought I searched for all tags. Didn't split up the website name though. Thanks!
posted by Mave_80 at 1:03 PM on December 20, 2005

Also, upon looking at the site's FAQ, I found this:

"Members are not allowed to use their earnings for upgrading. You will need to use your own cash to upgrade. This policy has been created and will be maintained throughout the life of this program in order to insure its success and longevity."

In any legitimate investment, you are allowed (encouraged, actually) to reinvest your earnings. If any "investment" requires that you keep putting cash into the "investment", it's a scam.
posted by gwenzel at 1:04 PM on December 20, 2005

So are all these "autosurf" sites basically just ponzi schemes?

Yes. I can't think of a single exception.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:04 PM on December 20, 2005

Might be of interest.
posted by fire&wings at 1:48 PM on December 20, 2005

Geez, if the details don't convince him, just point out the horrible late '90s "corporate" web design, complete with stock photo business people (her giant glowing head!) and the meaningless jargon heavily scattered throughout the site.
posted by lychee at 3:55 PM on December 20, 2005

:: How Does Work?
12daily Pro is free to join, but our system is geared towards the serious online professional and/or promoter and thus we encourage all members to upgrade in order to maximize their experience with us. For our members with active upgrades, everyday you log into your account and surf 12 pages, you will earn the equivalent of 12% of your membership level. That means you will earn .72 per day for every upgrade unit you purchase. If you want to earn more, you can have up to 1000 active upgrades units at a time.

So in other words, it doesn't actually do anything at all.

The people at the top of the pyramid make money. He's made money off of the people below him, and if he stays in too long he'll get burned. It could be tomorrow, it could be in a couple weeks, but definitely not more then a month.

I do know a guy who made $10k with stockgeneration, probably the greatest (and longest lasting, a whole three months) internet pyramid scheme ever created. I created an account with them with a "bonus" $5, and never put in any more money. My account hit a few hundred dollars, and then the "market" crashed overnight.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on December 20, 2005

:: What happens if 12daily Pro goes out of business?
We anticipate a long and lucrative life for 12daily However, if there comes a time when we feel it necessary to change our rates or to close our business completely, we promise to give you as much notice as we possibly can. We will also do everything we can to payout all outstanding balances should that occur.

posted by delmoi at 9:06 PM on December 20, 2005

Update from previous thread: my family member got his investment back and then some, I don't know the amount
but he made money.
posted by hortense at 9:59 PM on December 20, 2005

There's a misconception that if people make money, it can't be a scam. The whole point of a Ponzi scheme is to ensure that some people do make money - those people then tell others to bring them into the scheme. As others have said, unless there is some legitimate way to bring in money (beyond simply signing up new people), the house of cards will eventually collapse, and any money in the scheme at that point will likely vanish.
posted by gwenzel at 5:40 AM on December 21, 2005

It's a variation on the Ponzi scheme, and it's a scam just like all the others.

Suppose it takes 10 sales generations for you to start getting money. That means that it takes
- 10 sales by you in generation 1
- 100 in generation 2
- 1,000 in generation 3
- 10,000 in generation 4
- 100,000 in generation 5
- 1 million in generation 6
- 10 million in generation 7
- 100 million in generation 8
- 1 billion in generation 9
- 10 billion in generation 10

The earth's entire population is less than 10 billion. Thus, it's impossible for even the people in your generation get paid off.

However, you have to take into account the generations that have already bought the letter. That is, there have, in theory, already been 9 generations by the time it gets to you. Thus, the letter has to be sold 10 billion times for the first generation you know about to be paid off. By the time you get paid off, the number of purchasers will have to be 10 quintillion.

And that is only for the currect generation. You have to add in all the prior number of buyers from prior generations, i.e., 10 quintillion + 1 quintillion + 100 quadrillion + ... + 1.

But of course, those prior 9 generations never existed, and the ones after you will never exist. Remember that this is a SCAM. The con man who starts the chain letter creates imaginary prior generations. All of the names below yours are aliases of the scammer.

You'll be selling the letters to your friends and relatives, all of whom will be sending money to the scammer, selling the letters to their friends and relatives, and so on. Every single payment will go to the scammer, since there aren't enough people in the world interested in buying a chain letter to get through enough generations for anyone but the scmmer to start getting money.

That's why all chain letter schemes are illegal. They're not gambling. They're theft.
posted by KRS at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2005

God, reading that thread is really an education in the way that people go out of their way to be scammed. The arguments like "How dare the government tell me how to spend my money! I'm a grown man!" and that "every business pays out of revenue" just make me amazed at how hard people will work to be suckers. Especially the rant at the end about how people who think this is a scam are stuck in the "industrial economy" and don't realize that there's "free money" on the internet. Damn.
posted by klangklangston at 12:13 PM on February 16, 2006

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