So, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I was just taken in by a Ponzi scheme.
If you know me or read my blog you know I’ve been raving about my Affiliate Marketing gig that was going to change my life.
Pay off my debt. Pay back my personal loans. Pay off my mortgage.
Put braces on my kids teeth.
Send my kids to college.
It’s all gone.
I drank the kool-aid. I believed in this company. I’ve seen the internet be a font of income for people in my life, myself included. When I was a loan officer 85% of our clients came in from finding us on the world wide web.
I sincerely believed that there was a market for Penny Auctions.
I spouted the “opportunity” to all my friends and family, and a lot of you were swayed. A lot of you were interested. I now thank all that is good in this world that most of you didn’t “come on board” and for those of you that did, I am so very sorry and so glad you didn’t “come in big”.
I lost some money, that’s true, but what is breaking my heart is that I lost hope.
Things aren’t going great here financially. The custom mansion industry hasn’t exactly bounced back and things are slow at my j.o.b. My family never got back up to our 2006 incomes after I left the mortgage industry and we are pulling tightly on our purse strings to keep things going. When I was introduced to this MLM (Multi Level Marketing) I was skeptical. I am by nature a skeptic. I Debbie Doubter. A “the glass is half empty” kind of gal…
But I was swayed.
Because I wanted to be? Because I wanted it so very badly? Because it made sense?
I started out slowly. I joined but didn’t buy any “inventory” (Sample bids for penny auctions that I was to give away to drive traffic to their penny auction site) I just read up and examined the business. I placed my daily ad (which was the only “task” required to qualify for commissions) and watched and learned.
For every bid I gave away I was awarded one VIP point that would pay me a commission for 90 days at an average of 1.5% daily.
There were a lot of nay-sayers but they generally made mistakes in describing the company so it was easy to not take them seriously; to dismiss them out of hand because clearly they didn’t know what they were talking about. They didn’t even understand the business they were slamming.
I bought some bids for myself and my husband bought a corresponding amount as we both had accounts.
“Why?” you ask.
Well the reality is that for every account my “upline” received a commission. There was absolutely no reason for he and I to both spend $100 a month on our “Back Office” other than it paid our upline $40 a month instead of $20 if there was only one account. We never asked why we both needed accounts. It was only after we had joined and purchased bids that I figured out that it was a sales technique that was not to our benefit. It eased my discomfort when I learned that while you can (and in fact are encouraged to) use your daily commission to buy more bids to give away to drive traffic to the site and thus grow your VIP balance there was a limit to that growth. The company capped your point balance at 1,000,000 points.
So it made total sense to have two accounts. Two people capped at 1,000,000 points would mean twice the income.
I feel ridiculous even typing this out for you.
Once I bought bids and saw my daily commissions growing I was enchanted. I was obsessed. I was addicted.
I slowly found myself bringing up the business in every conversation I had. I vowed I wouldn’t hound my friends and family, and to this day feel as though I managed some modicum of restraint and didn’t push too hard. But this blog became nothing to me but a Zeek pedestal. All I wrote about was this business. How I believed in it. How it was a life changing opportunity. I explained the ins and outs in terrific detail everything about the business. My hits skyrocketed, doubled, tripled, quintupled.
Every search term included one word.
Every comment I received was on a Zeek page. Every message I received was asking about Zeek. I was so proud! I was a Zeek guru! I was THE go-to-gal. I knew it all, I was an expert. I would RUN THIS SHOW! I would have the most successful and compliant downline Zeek had ever seen! They would take notice of me and pull me up through the ranks and hire me directly to help train all the new little Zeeklers that were coming on board.
I started a Facebook fan page for my auction site.
I promoted this business to strangers and family and friends.
I told everyone I knew that I would CHANGE THEIR LIFE, one penny bid at a time.
I put a count down app on my phone that tracked my projected “30k day” – the day I anticipated reaching 30,000 VIP points so that I could begin taking a cash salary of my daily commissions and still continue to grow my VIP point balance. The ole 80/20. Take 80% of your commission and buy more bids.
Oh yeah. You read that right.
I’ve worked this business for almost 6 months for NOT. ONE. RED. CENT.
I recruited my best friend. She and her husband and her husband’s family cashed out stock to go in big.
I recruited very close family members thinking THIS was the way I’d help them pay for school/retire/buy their first home.
I made Zeek TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars.
Then, laying on the sofa Thursday August 16th, I saw a post on the Zeek Questions forum I was a member of that the websites had gone down.
And then that the corporate office in North Carolina was closed.
Signs in the windows to check the website. Which was still down.
People carrying office supplies off premises in boxes.
The Attorney General of North Carolina ordered a CID (Civil Investigation Demands) for Zeek’s records.
Then in a flurry of Positive Energy the Zeek troops rallied to comfort each other! They are just investigating the 8 (ONLY 8!) complaints they had received regarding the Penny Auctions! This will be over in a few days! Don’t worry! Keep the Zeek faith! Keep on Zeekin! Haters gonna hate!
The Attorney General even issued a statement that they hadn’t closed Zeek down.
They were just investigating.
It would be okay.
I would still pay off my debt.
My personal loans.
Put braces on my kids teeth.
Send my kids to college.
I checked the Zeek Questions forum near constantly. I was sick to my stomach with worry. My downline was understanding and staying positive.
Then I see this.
My heart hit the floor.
It was over.
The truth is I lost a little money. More than some, less than many. But that’s not what I’m mourning.
That’s not why I grieve.
What I lost was less tangible.
I lost my little flickering light at the end of the tunnel.
I lost the thing upon which I had hung so much hope.
It’s amazing the little things that get ingrained in your life over the course of six months. How your focus shifts to associate so many things with this one thing.
When I’d see the ugly beat up door that I used to say – I’ll fix that with Zeek money.
When I’d see the bookmarks on my internet window that linked to all my associates pages – I’ll check their accounts and make sure their qualified for their rewards today!
When my alarm would sound on my phone reminding me “do the ads!”
When I opened the staggeringly high bill that until yesterday I believed would be gone entirely in six months…
It feels so much like when I quit smoking that I do equate this with an addiction. My body makes these muscle memory movements to work this business and I have to catch myself and say, No. I don’t do that anymore.
I don’t do that anymore.
I am so sad. And I feel so STUPID.
And I am working hard to feel better and to redirect my focus and find another thing I can be passionate about…
And I may be able to do that tomorrow.
Right now I’m just going to cuddle up with my kids and let their love and acceptance wash over me and fill me up and not think of all the things I was going to do for them *when*…
And hopefully tomorrow I will find the thing that gives me a new *when*.