When Ethics and Integrity Get in the Way of Making Money

My Daddy once said to me, the only thing you have, that no one can ever take away from you, is your integrity. You can only give it away.  Everything else you have, even your life, can be taken away.   So never, ever, give away your integrity. It can be hard to get back.

I have been seeing a new “make money on the internet” widget popping up on blogs everywhere.  It is a simple concept.  You buy a widget.  You put it on your blog.  When other people buy the widget, you make money. How much money you make depends on how much you paid for your widget.  It sounds simple. It will work, at least in the beginning, and the company that came up with the idea is probably making a killing.

So what’s the problem?

It is just another  pyramid scheme, or ponzi scheme, with a Web 2.0 flair.

There is no real product being sold, no value being given.  Not even a poorly written e-book.  Just the promise of getting money without doing any real work.

The following is a quote from Wikipedia on pyramid schemes.

The essential idea behind each scam is that the individual makes only one payment, but is promised to somehow receive exponential benefits from other people as a reward. A common example might be an offer that, for a fee, allows the victim to sell the same offer to other people, or receive bonuses through other people they refer. Each sale includes a fee to the original seller.

Clearly, the flaw is that there is no end benefit; the money simply travels up the chain, and only the originator (or at best a very few) wins in swindling his followers. Of course, the people in the worst situation are the ones at the bottom of the pyramid: those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves.

The internet is huge, and it may very well be awhile before this particular scam hits the bottom and people are no longer able to make money. And that is where the ethics and integrity part comes in.

People who get into this right now will probably make a good deal of money. Many people don’t care that it is a scam, and that eventually, some people will get burned.  I have to admit that I had a little bit of temptation to go for this myself.  After all, it is the people who get in early that make the big bucks.  And with the vast market of the internet, it could be a long time before the market saturates and people start losing money.


And I can’t be knowingly responsible, not even distantly, for someone losing money to a scam.

Now I know probably most of the people who have this widget don’t know that it is a scam. At first glance it does look like a really good idea.  So how can you tell if something is a scam, or a valid money making opportunity.

It is simple, you just have to ask yourself one question.

Can I make money selling this product, without having to recruit anyone else into selling the product?

If the answer is yes, then you have a real product and a real opportunity. (It might not be a great or even good opportunity, but it is a real opportunity.)  If the answer is no, you have a Ponzi scheme.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the widget.  There are plenty of people out there who don’t care that people will lose money, and I don’t want to help them find a new way to scam people.

However, if you have such a widget on your website, do the right thing and take it off.  You may lose some money in the short run, but in the long term, you  keep your integrity, and that is worth more than any money you could earn.

Please feel free to share this information with others. I would appreciate credit and a link back. Thanks.

12 thoughts on “When Ethics and Integrity Get in the Way of Making Money”

  1. Good thing not to go for it. It’s a little discrediting when I’m reading a blog about “how to make money online” and I see that widget… then read a page and a half post on how they justify it as a legit money maker…

    Nice post 😉

    Mike’s last blog post..Testing the post-by-mail feature?

  2. I am happy to see it is not just me! In addition to the widget, I am seeing more and more posts on why it is a scam. That is a good thing!

  3. The title of your post hits it spot on. Aside from being a Virtual Assistant I’m also an independent Financial Adviser. I’ve been approached by many companies over the years to become part of their “Adviser Team” but I’ve had to turn them all down. Those teams are more about selling products than they are about helping people and I just can’t do that.

    The whole reason I established my company was to educate people so they couldn’t be taken advantage of by dodgy FAs (not that they’re all bad!).

    Now, every time I’m approached by one of these starry-eyed gung-ho salesmen I have to ask them “do you really believe what you’re saying or do you just not know any better?” It’s usually a mix of both.

    Amanda Moore’s last blog post..What do your comments say about you?

  4. In all pyramid schemes, people near the top make money, and they keep making money as long as new people come on board. When it sputters, those who have not been in long enough choke. It’s like a game of musical chairs. That’s why the senior network marking folks spend so much time on recruitment and helping train and motivate new recruits to keep expanding.

    The thing is that a person CAN make really good money doing such things. However, those people could probably make just as much money honestly. As for the people who are not making money on their own, they will probably not make money with a “program” either. People look for miracles in all the wrong places.

    David Leonhardt’s last blog post..Making Your Blog a Destination in Your Niche

  5. It’s my ethics that hold me back from making money out of schemes like this. Thanks for pointing this one out. I’m still looking for the right way for me to earn a steady income online…

    Tony Payne’s last blog post..Alone Again

  6. There are an amazing amount of scams out there that make people money. Recently a friend lost her job and her husband was buying into $5 info site that told how to make money online. Of course they were all pure junk that did not help his wife and he ended up spending too much money trying to help her find employment.

    Tracy’s last blog post..New Massage Chair Showroom Hours!

  7. I’m amazed at how many people get sucked into these sort of things.

    It’s like that old email going around, where you are supposed to send everyone on the list $1 then add your own name to the list and bump out the top name.

    In theory it was supposed to bring in a ton of money (as you would only pay $5 and if just 5 people forwarded it on and sent you money you’d get it back.)

    In reality 95% of the people lost their $5, only those at the start made any money.

    Launch Tree’s last blog post..The Perfect OTO Page 😀

  8. I think you’ve made a really good point here. I think there are plenty of people who will just read this and disregard it, but there is something to say about integrity and online money making opportunities. It seems much easier to give away a little integrity online because it is so anonymous. I’m sure a lot less people would do this if they had to talk to the person face to face to get them to buy into a ponzi scheme like this.

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