Have you gotten this one? I assume they send it to millions of people with a single click, and what interests me is not the 45% you earn, fully secured – quarterly, no less – but that someplace there is a seedy, sad world you and I have no real contact with (I hope) in which some small number of people send out these deceptive e-mails at 3:37 in the morning, and some larger number of people, apparently, wake up a few hours later to the great news and get sucked in (or else why would it pay even to make that one click?).

Here was the e-mail:

Tired of taking a roller coaster ride.
Date: 11/29/01 3:37:07 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: nchandra@lettucefly.com
To: gemenip@aol.com

MAKE 45% QUARTERLY

Learn how you can make 45% paid quarterly in advance factoring commercial accounts receivables. Discover what factors (Corporate Money Lenders) have been doing successfully for decades, lending money to businesses.

Harness the power and liquidity of fully secured account receivables
(receivables are titled with UCC-1 Filings)

Contact us for your “FREE” in-depth information package.
Look into how you can get a return of 45% paid quarterly in advance and “Fully secured”.

It is true there is a class of lender called a ‘factor.’ It is true that ‘factors’ lend against the value of a company’s accounts receivable. Well, not lend, exactly – they buy accounts receivable at a discount.

(Say you make orange juice squeezers and sell them to distributors who normally take 60 or 90 days to pay you. Those unpaid bills you’re waiting to have paid are your ‘accounts receivable.’ And if you’re desperate for cash and can’t wait the 60 or 90 days, a factor might agree to buy them and pay you immediately, in return for title to those accounts receivable. Only he wouldn’t pay you 100 cents on the dollar; he’d deduct a chunk for his trouble, his risk, and a return on his money.)

I don’t know much about this business. All I know is that the e-mail would appear to say that you can earn 45% per quarter in something fully secure. And to suggest that there are people who have been doing so . . . for decades!

At 45% per quarter, if you started with just one penny – doubtless hard to do, but for the sake of argument – and if you let your 45% return ride for two and a half decades, you would have $137 trillion. Not only would you be the wealthiest man or woman in the world, after just 25 years, starting with just a penny (the same penny you almost didn’t even bother to pick up off the sidewalk!), you would have more or less ALL the wealth in the world.

Assuming, that is, you made this investment under the umbrella of a tax-sheltered retirement plan.

I will grant (reluctantly) that upon closer reading, the e-mail might more accurately be interpreted to promise 45% annually (but paid in quarterly installments). But even that is preposterous. It could certainly happen in some year. Ask any loan shark. But how many billionaire loan sharks – or factors – do you know? Start out with $50,000 (which would still not make you much of a factor), and after three decades at 45% you’d have $3.5 billion.

What’s the catch? The catch is, I don’t have the nerve even to find out what the catch is, because I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving out the personal information required to get the promised FREE in-depth information package.

But wouldn’t it be interesting – if a little depressing – to see all this come to life on ‘Dateline’ or ’60 Minutes?’ Interviews with the folks who wrote and sent the e-mail; interviews with folks who got the e-mail and sent in for the FREE in-depth information package; and then some sort of denouement, as we learn how well or poorly those folks ultimately did?

 

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