I originally posted this on my other blog, MyCFOontheGo.com.  But I feel it is important, so I really want to get the word out, and I am posting this on all my blogs.

My Daddy once said to me, the only thing you have, that no one can ever take away from you, is your integrity. You can only give it away.  Everything else you have, even your life, can be taken away.   So never, ever, give away your integrity. It can be hard to get back.

I have been seeing a new “make money on the internet” widget popping up on blogs everywhere.  It is a simple concept.  You buy a widget.  You put it on your blog.  When other people buy the widget, you make money. How much money you make depends on how much you paid for your widget.  It sounds simple. It will work, at least in the beginning, and the company that came up with the idea is probably making a killing.

So what’s the problem?

It is just another  pyramid scheme, or ponzi scheme, with a Web 2.0 flair.

There is no real product being sold, no value being given.  Not even a poorly written e-book.  Just the promise of getting money without doing any real work.

The following is a quote from Wikipedia on pyramid schemes.

The essential idea behind each scam is that the individual makes only one payment, but is promised to somehow receive exponential benefits from other people as a reward. A common example might be an offer that, for a fee, allows the victim to sell the same offer to other people, or receive bonuses through other people they refer. Each sale includes a fee to the original seller.

Clearly, the flaw is that there is no end benefit; the money simply travels up the chain, and only the originator (or at best a very few) wins in swindling his followers. Of course, the people in the worst situation are the ones at the bottom of the pyramid: those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves.

The internet is huge, and it may very well be awhile before this particular scam hits the bottom and people are no longer able to make money. And that is where the ethics and integrity part comes in.

People who get into this right now will probably make a good deal of money. Many people don’t care that it is a scam, and that eventually, some people will get burned.  I have to admit that I had a little bit of temptation to go for this myself.  After all, it is the people who get in early that make the big bucks.  And with the vast market of the internet, it could be a long time before the market saturates and people start losing money.


 And I can’t be knowingly responsible, not even distantly, for someone losing money to a scam.

 Now I know probably most of the people who have this widget don’t know that it is a scam. At first glance it does look like a really good idea.  So how can you tell if something is a scam, or a valid money making opportunity.

It is simple, you just have to ask yourself one question.

 Can I make money selling this product, without having to recruit anyone else into selling the product? 

 If the answer is yes, then you have a real product and a real opportunity. (It might not be a great or even good opportunity, but it is a real opportunity.)  If the answer is no, you have a Ponzi scheme.

 I’m not going to tell you the name of the widget.  There are plenty of people out there who don’t care that people will lose money, and I don’t want to help them find a new way to scam people.

 However, if you have such a widget on your website, do the right thing and take it off.  You may lose some money in the short run, but in the long term, you  keep your integrity, and that is worth more than any money you could earn.

 Please feel free to share this information with others. I would appreciate credit and a link back. Thanks.