I was recently approached in a parking lot by a fresh off the boat Indian guy looking for the campus bookstore. I pointed him in the right direction and began walking away. As I did, I heard the question "Are you from India?". I get this a lot, and I politely answered that no, I am not, but my parents are from Bangladesh, the country next door. He starts asking me where I'm from, what I do, etc., and he exchanges the same information with me. He tells me that he works in IT, but that he also has his own business on the side in which he has a concept similar to amazon.com, in which he is partnered with people like Dell and IBM to help increase their market share. I think "cool, this guy might have connections, it never hurts to keep contacts." I'm thinking that because he is a kind of start up, he might need a coder to manage this new amazon.com type of website. How wrong I was.
He asked for my phone number, and since I thought he'd be a good connection since he had a start-up internet business, we exchanged numbers. I get call Friday night saying how he really felt good about me, and that his company was kind of hiring. He wanted to meet to discuss the opportunity.
The meeting started with a condescending overview of how franchising works, and how McDonalds makes their money, and how I have to multiply my time by getting others to work for me if I want to become wealthy. Instead of offering me a job opportunity in any real start-up, he goes on about how I can open an online store through this system he uses, and how I can get bonuses for signing up other people into the system. It became apparent that this guy was just trying to get me to sign up so that he gets more of a cut.
Basically this guy has an "online store" where all of his product is provided by this company called Quixtar, which is just the online arm of the notorious Amway. I suspect the online store website itself isn't anything at all but just the Quixtar page itself, and I'd have to put in some sort of ID number indicating that I'm buying from him. The fact that he had given me a business card with no URL for this supposed e-business website should have tipped me off.
He showed me some DVD on his laptop of a conference he attended, a Quixtar conference where 20k people with 40 millionaires among them attended. Of course this is a part of the scam, you have to drink the cool-aid and attend conferences and meetings to be successful...and guess what, you have to pay big money to attend, money that goes directly into the hands of higher up members who host the conference to teach you how to be successful. There is some bigwig up at the top of this scheme who started a company that sells informational materials and conference tickets on how to be successful in this program.
The point is that there is really not money in moving the retail products themselves, only money in selling promotional materials and signing up other poor saps. I think I've learned my lesson. This guy was dishonest with me, misrepresenting himself as a businessman looking to hire, when really he is just a peon in this pyramid setup. Note I don't say pyramid scheme, because that is a very specific thing regulated by the FTC, but Quixtar straddles the boundary between multi-level marketing and pyramid scheme. So if you ever encounter someone claiming to be a business person wanting to discuss an opportunity, makes sure you ask them upfront if they are with Quixtar...and if they are, wish them good luck and walk away.