Scammed by Facebook Friends
I fucking hate unfair fights. I hate when pros make smurf accounts on League of Legends to win against noobs. I hate when you’re a poor family of color in Flint, Michigan and your government poisons you. I hate when those World Star Hip Hop fight videos start off as a sucker punch. I love me a good brawl, but give me a fair fucking fight.
On Jan 21st at around 7:45PM, I received a FB Messenger notification. It was from an old acquaintance, someone I added on Facebook back in the middle school days: Dee*. I had this phase where I really wanted a lot of friends on Facebook so I added anybody that had 20 or more mutual friends with me. (I had a lot of integrity back then. It was a pathetic time for Liping Huang.)
My relationship with Dee consisted of about three lines of Facebook messaging in 2010, and friendly chitchat when we encountered each other on the bus. So when I get a message from Dee, I assume it’s on the basis of reconnecting or something naive like that.
Dee is asking for my number!
Maybe she’s just interested in tubby, acne riddled, funny Chinese boys; because nobody is really buying my stock. Off the bat I’m a little sketched out, which is always the first sign to listen to. But I was going to my grandma’s house to eat some delicious roast pork, so I was in a generous mood.
And I mean, did you see the pitch? She’s having an office warming on Saturday and she wants ME to go! There’s bound to be refreshments there!
So I relent out of the generosity of my cholesterol plagued heart, and I give her my number. She does not reply back. I receive no info about the Saturday office warming.
Jan. 30 is here. I gave up on my New Year’s resolution and I was helping my mom do errands.
I get a call from Dee, who I gave my phone number to more than one week ago. The call lasts less than a minute.
She gives me an address, a time and a spot for a plus-one. I’m supposed to go to this 3540 Callan Blvd, South San Francisco, Suite 203. On Wednesday night.
Does she tell me what this office event was about? No.
Does she tell me why she took this long to call me about this office event that was supposed to happen one week ago? No.
Does she tell me if there are going to be any refreshments? No.
That’s when I started to get suspicious. Suspicious enough to go google what’s going on instead of continuing that Hearthstone game.
So I start researching this address and nothing pops up. All the info is about a closed insurance company and senior center. Just an old workshop about financial education. Sketch.
And then I find this Indonesian dude’s LinkedIn info with the event address registered as his job location.
No offense to anybody reading this who’s majoring or working on Marketing, but come on. Why does it seem like people who major in Business Marketing tend to always be drug dealers on the side?
(Author’s Note: I am also a Business Marketing major.)
Maybe I’m being too harsh on marketers, but his current position was at a no-Google-result company as a “Marketing Specialist”.
So now I’m creeped out. Did I just get roped into some massive suicide cult? AGAIN?!
But it wasn’t a cult. It was a Multi-Level Marketing scheme. Fancy term for fatass pyramid scheme, where you rope in everybody you know to earn some money from them and then get them to do the same thing to maximize profits.
So suppressing my anger from being tricked into losing money, I texted Dee.
No reply back.
So apparently Dee did not bother to cancel my “reservation” since I get a call the day of the office event.
Some man named Carlos*, who sounded like he thinks Bill Cosby is innocent, asks to confirm my attendance. After giving the same spiel I gave to Dee, he straight up asked,
“Oh you don’t want to make a ton of money?”
Today was a great day. The weather was at that San Francisco hot that’s technically a cool day for Texas. Work at the health center was really fun and so were my classes. I went to my mom’s shop to help around.
Then I get a call from Lea*. She invites me to her office warming event, and asks if I’m available on Wednesday or Saturday night; the same times Dee and Carlos gave to me.
No further explanation about the event.
No authenticity about the call.
No info about refreshments.
Just a lot of pushy insistence on whether I’m free this coming Wednesday or Saturday night. But I already heard this shit before, so I pressed Lea about it. I wanted to reaffirm what I already knew: this is fucking sketch.
But Lea isn’t answering right away.
She pauses before she speaks. As if someone’s telling her what to say. This isn't an old friend reconnecting.
Then she hands the phone to her manager, who probably has trouble spelling MOM backwards. Once again, I go over the spiel about being busy and not being able to go. Because I’m still a pathetic middle schooler on the inside and can’t be rude. But then comes the end that sealed everything for me.
“Oh, you don’t want to support your friend? She really put out a good word for you.You don’t want to support her?”
No. Just not now.
“So you don’t want to earn a six figures salary for a starting position?”
I hang up.
I took a Business Calculus class with Lea my freshman semester at SF State. She’s a sister to a great friend of mine. A friend I haven’t talked to in a long time, but a friend nonetheless.
I don’t have ill-will towards Lea. I still consider her my friend because she was my friend before this whole MLM debacle. Dee wasn’t my friend to begin with, so I deleted her off Facebook.
But I care about Lea, because I know her and her brother are good people. Dee is a good person too.
I’m not writing them off as dumbasses and dicks who should’ve known better. They're the victims who don't know they're the victims.
I know where Lea and Dee were coming from.
Carlos, and that manager promised them everything:
“Do you want your parents to stop working their asses off? Are you tired of struggling day and night working while going to school? Here’s this fantastic opportunity to fix EVERYTHING. But first, you gotta sacrifice a few things.
We’re gonna need some money to buy you the starter pack to success. You’re gonna have to contact the closest or dumbest friends you have to hook them up with this opportunity. And I’m going to make sure you spend all your time trying to scam your friends so I get fucking rich!”
So not only are these marketing specialists taking advantage of college students who don’t know any better, they’re also fucking up all their friends. The friends you thought were cool and were always nice to you? Let’s see if we can turn them into some quick cash.
Lea and Dee have families to take care of; a lot of us do too. We have to work and go to school. Night classes are tough, and those three hour lectures are horrifying. Lea, Dee, and me. Us.
We want what’s fair to us and our family. We don’t want mom and dad to work their asses off everyday just to pay the rent. We want to never have to worry about your student loans anymore. We want to be happy. That’s fair. But don’t lie and tell me that all of can be done by attending an office event. Don’t fucking sucker punch me.
According to sources at lipinghuang.com, the company involved with this MLM situation is called World Financial Group.
A close source who went to an "office warming" on Wednesday night explained to me:
(The transcript is corrected for grammar and format.)
"[They're] trying to get people to get life insurance. Trying to spread it all around the country... All about $$$.
You get a lot just for trying to help someone So you need to get a couple people per month [to sign up]. Working part time is already lot: 40k a month.
The more people you get the more $ you get.
Once you're full time you could be making half a million or more."
This is the textbook explanation of a pyramid scheme. Total dream-eaters.
*Names have been changed to protect their identity, or whatever.
Liping is the founder and editor-in-chief of lipinghuang.com. He is currently a sophomore at SFSU studying Business Marketing.