It’s amazing how short-sighted and confused people become when evaluating their options to break free of their financial restraints. Desperation, panic, laziness, low self-esteem and many other emotions and conditioning play into their decisions.

I recently had a retired school janitor telling me to “have a look” at the “excellent financial opportunity” that he was participating in with his elderly mother’s money. He called it a “gifting program.”

In Vancouver, the latest regurgitated scam is the illegal “gifting program” – it’s as old as the hills and it fails every time. Easy, fast money is promised in big seminars. Yet easy marks – suckers abound in this society where 31% of Canadians admit that they don’t make enough money each month to pay their bills, with the rising cost of living putting further pressure on people. 52% are $200 or less away from not being able to pay their monthly bills. This “gifting program” gets suckers to put down $5,000 (or a portion of it) and get their friends to do the same, with the promise that in a few short months they will be in line to be “gifted” tens of thousands in cash, “tax-free” money as they “rise to the top.”

For a while it works, and then greed takes over, so people reinvest more and more, borrow to invest, and drag their friends into the scam with them. Eventually, of course, the organizers have enough and they run away with all the money, so people are left in an even worse financial situation than before. And they tend to lose friends in the process. These people should remember a wise rule of thumb: “Never invest more than you can afford to lose, because everything is risky, and nothing lasts forever.”

Naturally, the more solid a money making venture or business is, the more legitimate, the longer it will last, and the more secure it will be. But the “quick buck,” microwave, easy, fast return frauds fail fast. It’s like the difference between building houses of straw on swamps or building brick houses on solid foundations, using expert builders with a track record of success. In a society of spoiled, selfish, lazy and entitled young people, rip-offs flourish. They’ve never heard of “No pain, no gain.”

Some opportunities will make money faster than other, but real wealth takes time to build and it requires focus, discipline, faith and sacrifice. And guidance from specialists doesn’t mean following the advice of every broke, shady “financial planner” you meet.

Plan for short-term, medium-term, and long-term income, with more than one source, as long as you can remain focused and committed. Avoid associating with other desperate people and seek out those who are established and respected and don’t need to steal your hard-earned money.  And by the way, the biggest con artists and frauds often hide in church congregations – they can borrow credibility and rip people off easily there.

Finally, there is a vast difference between real entrepreneurs and those who inherited wealth, lawyers, accountants, “financial planners,” and other self-employed people, and employees usually have no idea how to be entrepreneurs. Team up with those who have proven themselves as real builders of businesses and don’t be blinded by money, academics, qualifications, or financial jargon. If you can’t understand it and you don’t have time to think about it and do your own research, walk away.

Con artists (they’re almost as evil as politicians) like to focus on women, young people, and Seniors, especially the wealthy and the financially desperate.

Robin Elliott  IPS Safety Inc.