How do you know if you're being ripped off? Insider tells all about how to avoid Internet Scams and how to protect yourself against fraud.
First: The Bad News. Most information on the web is widely unregulated and it's getting easier and easier to put up sites, create false testimony and fake credentials. Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks you can do to protect yourself.
Be aware: the martial arts and self defense business is notorious for outrageous claims. The business model is to monitor the the search terms in a particular category and create a product based on demand.
The product in most cases is unimportant. Usually it's a slapped together video with a few free bonuses to create the bulk effect. These bonuses are primarily made up of public domain material that you could find with just a little work on your browser.
Next, the all important sales letter. The sales letter is the key to making this work. There is a specific formula used and it goes like this:
"Headline" in quotes. Subhead in italics. The first paragraph states the problem, the next paragraph agitates the problem. The next sections solves the problem. Further down the letter there is "the story". Finally, the first offer...then the unbelievable offer and finally the take away (Buy before midnight tonight). The offer is repeated at least 3 times and there is ALWAYS a PS.
This article you're reading is written in a similar format.
The problem is the misrepresentations and out and out lies made by unethical entrepanuers. In the self defense world- there is no worse claims of expertise where anyone can claim to be who they want to be.
The Biggest Lies in The Self Defense World
How to READ between the lines.
1. Special Forces Secret Killing System
No system exists. In the army for example you have 9 weeks of Advanced infantry training and then specialized training. All of which focuses on team building, weapons training and mission specific training. There are Combatives facility where these types of methods are practiced. OUTSIDE instructors and consultants are brought in. Companies like The Self Defense Company, Tim Larkin, Paul Vunak, Damian Ross and Tony Blauer are tapped to contribute. These contacts are made through soldiers attached to the units who have sought outside instructors to hold a seminar in exchange for compensation or testimony.
2. There are no Illegal or Outlawed fighting systems
Assault is illegal. Excessive use of force is illegal. A style is not illegal. You are free to learn and teach whatever you see fit. You are only responsible for your actions. However your martial arts training may be brought up to prove that you were capable of violence or had intent. Even in the first OJ Simpson trial, his defense team used the fact that Mr. Goldman was a green belt in Tae Kwon Do as proof that he was capable of fending off and attack.
So how can you protect yourself from being ripped off?
So you're still interested. No matter how outrageous the SECRET ASSASAINATION system sounds, you want to give it a shot.
The internet only allows advertisers to grab your attention in a few seconds, so they are going to use exaggerations to hold you, but there are a few ways to read between the lines.
First, manage your expectations, don't expect to get all the world's secrets for $100. But one or two good ideas is worth it.
RED FLAG. If the return policy is too long and too complicated it probably means once you have it, that's it. But read the terms and conditions so you have a full understanding. Nothing is for free and it shouldn't be, it should be worth it.
Use a disposable credit card and monitor your charges. Make sure you can cancel the card if you have to. Some companies will continue to charge you no matter how many times you cancel.
RED FLAG. No naming of names. If someone claims to have a rank in a particular style or system, they should be able to name the instructor and you should be able to find SOMETHING about the instructor that is a source independent of the company or person you are researching.
RED FLAG. No samples on the site. If they don't let you see the video or product, there is a reason. Poor production quality may reflect poor material. If the video was slapped together, there is a good chance that the content was, too.
TAKE THE TRIAL. If a company you're unsure about offers a trial take it. If you follow the suggestions you should be fine. Only make sure you understand the terms of the agreement. A trial is usually just that, a time period for you to try out the product. Nothing is for FREE.
Scott Carter is a freelance writer. To contact Mr. Carter email him at email@example.com