Pyramid Schemes, “Gifting Programs,” “Phil In New Mexico,” craigslist etc.

Web Pyramid Schemes, “Gifting Programs,” “Phil In New Mexico”

If you’re reading this, and you found this page via a google search, I think it may be prudent for you to go read this wikipedia entry on Pyramid Schemes.



The other day I glanced at the gigs section of the local CraigsList, and saw an ad titled

“Internet Marketing, One Person is All I’m Looking For”

the copy of the ad was like this:

This is a gifting program. If you would like proof from me, I can show you proof of the program’s longevity and seriousness, and, if you like, its legality.

For your marketing efforts, for every visitor who signs up I will pay you 20% of the relevant price point. Price points start at $500, to $10,000 max.

Thanks very much for your interest.

References or proof of work required, please.

I wrote to which was included in the craigslist post and asked what it was they are looking for help with, since I’m pretty hip to Web Marketing.

Phil Blumberg aka “Phil in New Mexico” responded:
Hello Andrew–
I need to drive as much traffic as possible to the gifting site.
You can go to the splash page (without signing up) the URL is
You can go directly to the main site the URL is
It would be great if you get a chance to read the text or most of the text on the 2nd site.
Each visitor who joins decides what level to come in on: $500, $1000, $2500, $5000, or $10,000. Whatever the newly signed-up’s level, you would get 20% of that amount.
So check it out. I really look forward to your responses.

Phil in New Mexico

ME: So… Where does the other 80% go? And what do people get for signing up? I mean what is their incentive?

PHIL: The websites are mine because I’ve already joined the program. The 80% is mine for the same reason, and because I’m choosing to spend money to market the site. The people I bring in pay me directly; those people will bring in people of their own who pay them directly. When you can, check out the main site. Thanks–Phil

I googled the email address and found some really ugly websites and other craigslist ads, all seeming to be for the sake of promoting this “system” for generating money. Notably, and Go take a look! They’re fun!

To me this looked like a Pyramid scheme. But rather than ask Phil if he realizes that pyramid schemes are illegal, I thought I’d try to get some more information:

ME: Has it worked for you? How much have you made from the program so far?

So far, he hasn’t written back.

This got me thinking. If I can take advantage of people who are naive, and I can get them to send me $500, in the hope of getting rich themselves, should I do it?

I think not. I generally have problems putting value on knowledge. I generally have problems operating in a capitalist scenario, where scarcity is so important. I generally really want to help people and it’s impossible to put a monetary value on empathy. I certainly don’t want to take advantage of people. I hate this kind of thing. It makes me sick.

On a lighter note, here’s some really fun images:

Want that watch? I bet you do.

4 Replies to “Pyramid Schemes, “Gifting Programs,” “Phil In New Mexico,” craigslist etc.”

  1. Chris,
    I do not offer people a package for which they are to “donate” to me. I am not selling a program of any sort. I post information that I feel like spreading on my blog because I want the world to have easier access to that information, usually because I have had a difficult time finding it myself. I am just trying to make the world a better place in small ways as I find opportunities to.

    The “gifting programs” I have been finding online, usually on craigslist, are not at all comparable in their intentions to the information I post. If you watch the videos on those sites you can see that they are clearly pyramid schemes.

    I “allow” donations. The reason I do is because sometimes the information I post helps people out in major ways,and even saves them money. People generally understand that blogging takes time and energy. Doing research takes time and energy. I’m willing to let someone give back to me if they feel inclined to.

    What I’d love is for you, or someone else who is an apologist for programs like those, to explain, in detail, exactly how much money you have made doing it, and how much money the people you got your money from have made by giving you money. That would be interesting to hear about. I have no doubt that it’s possible to make money in that way, but I also have no doubt that it’s an unsustainable model for distributing “wealth.”

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