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Trust isn't absent on the net, but can it be trusted?

As a follow-up to the Maddoff thing I thought I'd take a look at the landscape post blitz to see how the 'alternative investment' market was going scamming new victims.

I couldn't get past A. I chose to search for keywords like trust, investment, return, exceptional, guaranteed,.

I came up with 'aim' 'trust'. I made two random choices - aimtrust and aim-trust.

Well I was tempted by the $20,000 turned into $50,000 in 3 months 'investing' in Australian manganese which is then shipped to steel mills in eastern bloc countries and made into ferro-alloys, then shipped to pipe-makers and eventually installed into oil and gas fields. Somehow through the process as an investor I would get fantastic compounded returns for funding each step of the process from ore to pipe. I do feel a bit of a dud in that I am missing out on the great returns that allegedly 50,000 other winners including Aussies are participating in.

The other aim-trust looked slightly less enticing, because the only 'product' I could see was a Platinum Debit Card. It sounded like the account for me because it [quote] -' is indeed the best and distinctive investment account for distinguish class people.'

It may have lost something in the transalation in the Phillipines, but they have an authoritative logo with a crown so it must be kosher. I'm not to sure what the returns will be on Japanese property quote exactly as spelled 'Thru Our Japanese Companies, we ... manage to created many unique investment products that attract many investor from around the world (Japan, Indonesia and Singapore).'

I do like the look of '100% Capital Guaranteed' paying 17-20% 'targeted interest' per annum.

So - if I sign up on to one of these sites and get my Platinum Debit Card how long can I get away with my tax-free income and handy eftpos card to spend my income easily?

It could all be fine, but I'm not too sure...

Obviously established financial institutions benefit through rogue scams and bad stories as they inevitably drive victims and potential victims into the arms of 'trusted brands' - a term which really has little meaning anymore. The same would apply to established web payment services. Hardly likely to foster competition and innovation.

While I'm not suggesting the above examples which I gave (minus links) aren't worthy of the word trust, it does seem that pretty well anyone can just add the word into their business name.

A look at domain names for sale on the internet containing the word 'trust' shows some premium prices. Perhaps its not too hard to work out why.              $2188.00 1 yr.         $499.00 1 yr.   $688.00 1 yr.             $599.00 1 yr.         $1888.00 1 yr.     $349.00 1 yr.   $3585 1 yr.        $1688.00 1 yr.    $349.00 1 yr.               $1695 1 yr.            $3888.00 1 yr.    $349.00 1 yr.    $3660 1 yr.            $1988.00 1 yr.   $349.00 1 yr.     $980.00 1 yr.        $349.00 1 yr.              $3600 1 yr.      $2488.00 1 yr.         $895.00 1 yr.         $300.00 1 yr.        $3390 1 yr.            $2388.00 1 yr.      $2820 1 yr.    

A license to print money? The more professional scammers even go to the extent of creating fake blogs and chat sites which just happen to extol their winning investors' great experiences. I was going to provide a link but your browser would probably be at risk.

We certainly don't have a web of trust - that you can actually trust - that is.

I recently posted a blog [since deleted] about a couple of payment services advertising via twitter. One is Intuit. They have a free to pay and 50c to receive web-based payment system. Using a standard bank account they arrange the payments. Not for credit cards.

Could Intuit make inroads to paypal's market? - except that wannabe captive market eBay, perhaps.

Another payment offering was called [something I'd best forget] and the only address was a large formerly trusted hosting service. This micro-payment provider are allegedly charging 10c per payment, but as with the world and the web we couldn't establish their bona fides.

On the internet we are reduced to the same level as the African villagers who wake up to find the bright new shiny bank they deposited their money into yesterday - gone.

It's clear that a lot of consumers are going to continue to be stung. In the short term the established banks might be winners but the effects of too many scams will have some far reaching effects. Could the next wave of Ponzis deepen the recession?

Lack of competition, innovation and trust will do even more damage.

Time to fix it.



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