BEWARE of scams during tough times... If I wrote in depth about this I doubt anyone would read it all. Suffice to say then that following the economic downturn, such a nice way to say we're all basically screwed, the financial cockroaches will come out of the woodwork to prey on vulnerable people. It is a well-known fact that scams are on the rise during tough times. As Black Hatters, we don't mind a bit of constructive naughtiness every now and then if it helps to re-stack the dice a bit more in our favour and away from Big Brother and the Institutions, but I would hope no one here stoops so low as to kick a man when he's down. I can think of several websites I could set up offering loans with extortionate interest rates hidden in the small print or bogus ways to financially assist troubled people. Like they say, "There's a sucker born every minute"...But is that really how I want to make money? Teenage model websites where the eager, innocent teen model has to pay for photographs and for a webpage with the promise of work that they never get. Envelope-stuffing part-time work which ends up costing you more than you earn. Pyramid schemes, phishing, Nigerian email money-laundering scams and dozens of others, all on the rise. While I appreciate the craftiness of some scams, I shudder at the naivety of some of the victims. If it sounds to good to be true - It probably is! Scams can be very subtle and as a Marketing man myself, it is often my job to scam YOU, the consumer, albeit it a nice and lawful way and hopefully, one you don't notice. Take the following advertising campaign for example. It is clever, effective, will make millions and I had nothing to do with it but can appreciate it's cleverness: How does this company get away with these before and after photographs and get them past the Government watchdogs? Easy! Look closely at the right-hand side image and on the far right you will see verticle text which reads "Simulated Imagery" That's marketing-speak for bullshit. Even better is their FREE TRIAL offer with just a payment of $3.95 for shipping. Great Deal, yes? Er, actually NO! Before you place your order in fine print of about 7 point type it explains that if you don't return the product within 30 days, you will actually have your credit card debited for the, cough-cough DISCOUNTED price of $95.70. Wait for it, it gets better; As this is what is known as a 'negative option offer', they will continue to ship you a hundred dollars worth of this stuff every 60 days until you stay STOP, or your credit card company do. Marketing is fascinating and I love what the experts can do to make us buy their products like we are all on Rohypnol. My number one rule of marketing, which I have repeated many times on this forum: Don't sell the sausage - Sell the SIZZLE! Do that and you can sell anything.