Reader-submitted: Don’t Fall Prey to these Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

opinionRecently I noticed that someone had put up a copy of a very expensive Gas/ Electricity bill that he received after switching to (moderated) energy. The person was warning others not to fall for any sales pitch about cheaper energy bills because in the end the all of his savings were wiped out by one month’s inflated bill.

The thing is I saw this coming years ago. Actually, one of my friends called me to sell me a lower energy bill through one of these companies and I told him I didn’t want it and I told him he should get out of the business because it won’t end well. I don’t mean to pat myself on the back at other expense, not at all, I’m just trying to make a point. How did I know that this would fail? Simple. Because it just doesn’t make economic sense. There is simply no way the company that invested the hundreds of millions of dollars into their energy business, would allow a lucrative revenue stream (the actual energy) to dry up. I don’t care what the details are or what the chap is. These big companies are ruthless, smart and employ lawyers and chapsters by the dozens to outsmart, out legislate and out figure all of us ordinary folks.

But more importantly it reflects much bigger, much more sinister problem that we have to address. Why do most people not think these things through? Why do so many in our community fall pray to scams and fraudsters? The answer is that many people simply don’t have the ability, or sometimes willingness to work for a living. Again I’m not out to impugn the whole tzibur, all I’m saying is that to a person who is not willing or able to go to college, has no connections or experience in business, and has a family to support these get rich quick schemes (and that’s what they are) seem very attractive. Do you know why so many people get bilked in investors schemes? Firstly, because we trust our own community and thats not a bad thing, but mostly because these guys promise crazy guaranteed returns of 20% or more and desperate people believe them without even stopping to think that guaranteed results on any return are an economic impossibility.

Sure these things can provide some level of financial benefit at least in the short term, but did you ever hear of someone paying for a chasunah with (moderated)? Even if you will argue that there is real parnassah in all of these things it is for the few, the lucky, and the firsts. If you didn’t think of it first, your probably not going to make money, and that’s a just common sense.

Which brings us to the real point, Hashem runs this world with infinite mercy and and gives us everything that we get, and we are expected to do our hishtadlus. The current model of hishtadlus in the American economy for any non criminal is the following; Provide goods or services that people want or need at a price people are willing to pay. So before you plunge into any parnassah venture please analyze it under this microscope and ask yourself “Am I providing a good or service that people want” . (Hint 1: applying for credit cards for points and promotions is not a good or a service).

There is no argument against these facts, (Before you argue I beg you to think of a legitimate reason you should be receiving income from any source without providing one of the two things above).

People can argue with me but I’m telling you this as advice, not mussar. It is heartbreaking to me when is see people throw away money and worse yet their time. What I mean is that if a person needs a parnassah when he is 30 and a small family and he begins dabbling in these short term benefit ventures instead pursing a real career or education. A few years down the line all these revenue streams dry up or they don’t provide enough support for his family and he is stuck high and dry at with a larger family, bigger expenses, less flexibility and much fewer options.
I hope that I have given people something to think about.

Concerned for people’s paranassah in Lakewood.

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  1. The title is misleading. While I agree with allot of your points, this has nothing to do with falling for scams- that is a separate issue.

    There are many habits or behaviors that are synonymous with those that shirk their fiscal responsibilities, however falling for scams is but a speck of sand compared to the main issue you bring up.

  2. To follow up; regarding the scams themselves, not all are scams as I myself do pay less for my energy bill due to going with another utility provider.

    In the case that it goes up I have the right at any time to change my provider just as I would change my cell phone or car insurance plan.

  3. I agree and thank you for taking the time to raise this public awareness.

    I just think it could have been done without putting down our community – inability or unwillingness to work etc. You said it nicely, I’m not saying not, but I personally felt a bit hurt by it.

    There are plenty of kollel or former kollel guys with tremendous work ethic, intelligence and ambition, with or without a higher education.

    We should be warned and the next time we are tempted we should remember this article and not fall prey, but we should also not worry that perhaps the fact that we don’t want to go to college or we want to learn for as many years as possible will cause us to lose all of our money in get-rich schemes.

  4. your absolutely right & I wish people would wake up with facing truth & reality.

    as they say:

  5. I agree 100% with this article… I don’t think the author meant to put down anybody but was trying to point to one of the contributing reasons for why people get involved with these things like halfway measures and worse scams.
    To #4 I dont think the od the article is that people shouldn’t go to kollel. The point is that if you are committed to the kollel lifestyle you should have a plan to support that lifestyle, and throwing away money on scams or short term benefits is a good way to destroy the longterm prospects of staying in kollel

  6. I hear you #6… I hope you are right, and I could be very wrong that those couple of sentences were a subtle criticism of the entire kollel concept.

    I hope I am wrong and I hope that no one else sees it that way.

    Just to reiterate, the writer makes a very good point that we would do well to consider, as do the subsequent comments.

  7. I changed to (moderated) to help out a local school, and they just tripled their rates on me without warning! Needless to say, I am switching right back to NJNG . I think the school should deduct the extra $250 from my tuition.

  8. PLEASE share with me how Ambit Energy is a get rich quick scheme? The writer seems to be calling all Energy Companies a SCAM. I joined Ambit Energy 4 years ago to obtain financial freedom for my family here in Lakewood. After 2 short years, I became an Executive Consultant and now, just 4 years since I started my own Ambit Energy business, I am making close to 15K a month in RESIDUAL INCOME. I don’t need a job and get to spend time in the bais medrash and with my family. ALL I EVER DID WAS SHOW PEOPLE WHAT THE SAVINGS WERE & my thousands of customers are all happy with their savings every month. Ambit Energy will likely be around for many generations and I look forward to passing down the business to my children & grandchildren one day. SO GRATEFUL TO HASHEM FOR THIS!!!

  9. I don’t sell electricity, but we have switched in my home and have had some modest savings. As far as how the “little guys” can compete with public utilities, this is how it works.

    The large utilities, generate most of their own power. However there are also independent power generation companies, that sell their electricity, on what is called the “wholesale market” sometomes this energy is purchased by the public utilities, but it can also be purchased by any reseller on this market.

    As far as what the “public utilities” charge this fee is set in advance by the State. There are a number of ways that a smaller company can be more competitive then a larger one.

    Larger companies are often not as efficient as smaller companies (they have legacy costs, high executive salaries, long standing high salary employees etc.)

    Aside for that, the wholesale cost of power generation, can vary for a number of reasons. For example a drop in the cost of fuel that is a source of electricity (Gas, Coal etc.). While the “public utilities” will still charge you the regular rate. the independent resellers are not bound by that, and can lower their price, when their costs are lowered.

    An individual can save money on their electric bill, although it is likely not going to be a huge amount, since a good portion of the bill is for delivery and service, which is still serviced by the “Public Utility”

    Not to completely discount the article. It is important to review all the terms of a power company before signing up with the, and there are some things to be careful for (contracts, rate increases for lack of renewing a contract etc.) However it is definitely possible that a smaller provider can be cheaper then the large utility companies.

  10. To Just Wondering. The relative benefits of Ambit energy or other energy programs are not the issue at hand. there are definitely issues with it and it does not work for everybody . Even if the author is wrong about Ambit energy per se, The point of this article is that people should be mindful to the true aspects of what works and what doesn’t. The title of this article could have just as easily been “Beware of ruining your credit with too many Credit card applications” or “Beware the danger of Acai Bean coffee scams” or “Subscribing to Dan’s Deals is not a parnasah “etc etc.
    People need to understand what a real business is and they should develop a self preservation skills to protect themselves from long term financial ruin.

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