You’ve probably read or heard some of the information on Banners Broker Ireland in the Newspapers (particularly the Irish Examiner & Sunday World twice), on Joe Duffy’s Liveline show or across a range of websites such as Boards.ie. I’m writing about it here because it was mentioned to me by a friend, who has made some money out of it. All he could say was that he had, in fact, received a profit in cold, hard cash, but he had absolutely no idea how the whole concept worked – and my Pyramid Scheme radar instantly went off. (This is quite an old post by the way, you’ll find some more up to date info here).
*** Note – see this post – those running Banners Broker have been arrested in Canada.***
As a starting point, here’s the interview with Paul McCarthy of Banners Broker Ireland and others on the Joe Duffy show courtesy of Eddie O’Driscoll. Beware, it’s a bit of a cringe-fest and you’ll never hear the words ‘blind network’ used as much again in your life as you will from the 49 minute mark onwards. It is also over an hour long.
What is Banners Broker Ireland all About?
I wish I could tell you. I’ve since looked into Banners Broker Ireland and, to be honest, despite a degree in IT Management, I don’t understand it any better now than I did when I started. Banners Broker Ireland claims to sell banner advertising around the web. When you look for an explanation online you get an avalanche of YouTube posts that essentially refer back to an online video presentation by ‘Raj’ – otherwise known as Rajiv Dixit. This appears to be because none of the people selling this have any idea what exactly is going on any more than I do. Here’s just one, but you’ll find a lot of them on YouTube if you have a quick search. Concentrate at around 12:30 because that’s when most of the magic happens. That’s when people that don’t actually own a website suddenly become both advertisers and publishers all at the same time, using the Banners Broker AdPub Combo, thus creating a new and, heretofore, unrecognised source of unlimited wealth:
Back at the Banners Broker website the old ‘Trillion Dollar Industry’ hogwash gets hoiked out fairly early in proceedings which is always a bad sign. Billions don’t cut it anymore since the US, Europe and the UK started into quantitative easing in the trillions. Banking is also a trillion dollar industry, but it means nothing to me because I don’t own a bank. Equally, the size of the online advertising industry, which most website owners will tell you is vastly over-estimated anyway, is of no consequence to you unless you own a fairly large online advertising entity or a very popular publishing group to carry adverts. In fact, most mainstream media will tell you that it is almost impossible to make online advertising pay no matter what the size of the publishing company. Google is the obvious’ poster-boy’ of the online advertising industry. It has managed to make a lot of money from online advertising – website owners not so much unfortunately. In any case, there are other, less well-known names that manage to make a considerable income from this sector. Banners Broker is not one of them.
On its site it says: “We connect advertisers with effective ad space and publishers with the most relevant ads to market on their websites. With an extensive online network consisting of hundreds of thousands of publishers and advertisers from around the world, we help our clients increase sales and earn additional advertising revenue.”
So there should be literally hundreds of thousands of Banners Broker adverts strewn around the web, but there aren’t. I can safely say I have never, ever come across a website hosting an advert managed by Banners Broker. (Edit: I’ve since found a few, like the one above with no actual adverts in them. They’re all located on a group of interlinked websites all owned by the same entity, operating from the same webserver, set up around April 2012 and all created on cheap WordPress pacakges). Apart from this I’ve drawn a complete blank. As far as I can tell Banners Broker has never sold a banner advert to anyone – apart from sticking a few banners on a selection of its own websites I cannot find a single commercial entity that has ever as much as encountered a Banners Broker advert. This is extremely worrying. The company doesn’t appear to sell anything. Try signing up as an Advertiser if you doubt this, and see for yourself the piddling little pond of potential advertising websites. Ponzi Scheme flag number one.
But I’m Getting Money Back – Banners Broker Ireland has to be OK
Flag number two – immediately. One of the things that makes Ponzi Schemes work is that they always pay handsomely in their early days. During the flourish when there are people pouring in with new money, it is easy to pay earlier investors from the incoming funds. This feeds on natural human greed and envy of others ‘doing well’ out of the investment vehicle. Friends inform other friends, who all bail into the ‘opportunity’. The problem for any Ponzi Scheme comes when growth stops. Then the incoming cash is not sufficient to meet the demands of those who have been in it long enough to expect to be able to take significant amounts of cash out. At that stage it all comes tumbling down.
Interestingly, Ponzi Schemes typically struggle badly over periods like Christmas where investors want to get cash back to cover an expensive time of the year. The Banners Broker World Tour could not have been better timed it would appear. Roll on Ireland.
The Gala Ball in the CityWest in Saggart was a blast apparently, these Diamond Geezers certainly enjoyed it:
As Mark Stokes, Simon Stepsys and James Pitsillides are early entrants to the scheme, and obviously doing very well out of it, Joanne (who appears right at the end following the prescient words; “we’ll show you what we’re going to enjoy tonight”) must be utterly delighted to have met some of the recipients of her Banners Broker investment and feel reassured that it is going to a good cause.
But I’m Certain that Banners Broker is Different – It is not a Ponzi Scheme
There really is no arguing with someone who is determined that something that involves putting in ‘your cash’, but no work, is a genuine business opportunity. Step back and take a look at it with some perspective – it is looking for nothing other than ‘your cash’ – Ponzi Scheme flag number three. The product is completely irrelevant, it is merely a conduit to enable you to put cash in the system. With a Ponzi Scheme the only thing that matters is cash – yours.
I can see my returns with Banners Broker Ireland
No you can’t. You can see something somewhere giving you a figure of some description. The figures are fairly arbitrary, but they go up in huge multiples over a relatively short period of time – by genuine investment standards. Ponzi Scheme flag number four. The constantly climbing figures, even though not generally achieved because ‘leaving your money in’ leads to ‘more potential for profit’. This is a tool to maintain the interest (or pander to the greed if you like) of those involved. It also makes sure they never try to take out too much cash, as that obviously hobbles the system. Telling them that they’ll harm their returns by extracting cash usually sorts that one out – certainly in the short term. Urging successful investors to not alone leave their ‘profits’ within the system, but to add to the cash they hand over is the ultimate ‘sweet spot’ for any Ponzi Scheme. Banners Broker, it seems, manages to do this in spades. Outlined here, inadvertently, by one Tom Cunniffe – sweet-spot achieved at around 3:07:
No pornography or gambling – terrible shame, they could have aspired to so much more. Promotion of completely fraudulent business models seems to be fine, so we’re ok there then.
Anyway, jesting aside, the only figure that matters is the amount of money you have actually physically withdrawn.
But I am Physically Getting Money Back – Banners Broker Ireland has an eWallet
Banners Broker allows you to use funds from its now famous e-wallet (http://bit.ly/QCeAex). The e-wallet is largely non-existent money (not totally because you can take some of it out, but that’s just a ‘below cost selling’ ruse to get more punters on board – see next paragraph). The e-wallet contains just a figure they give you in a system run by them, it’s not real money. It costs them nothing to give up some of it to get another ‘investor’ on board or allow you to ‘invest’ in more ‘inventory’. In fact it suits them fine, because it avoids the unpleasant scenario of you actually trying to take some of that money physically out of the system. Once this all starts to crash that e-wallet will be utterly useless.
Ponzi Schemes, contrary to popular belief, deliver a lot of actual wealth for those who get in early and take out whatever they can get their hands on. It’s a bit like below cost selling for supermarkets. It is a promotion for the Ponzi Scheme as a whole if a selection of people are actually able to realise fairly healthy profits. It helps propagate the myth. But all you’re really doing if you withdraw funds is taking them from some other poor sucker in the scheme. It only becomes relevant when the amount of people looking to withdraw cash outweighs those looking to invest it.
It does not count if you’ve withdrawn it to make sure you can get it out, and then put it back in again. At this stage in this particular scheme it is still possible to withdraw cash, because Banners Broker is still recruiting new members. This growth is already starting to falter as Banners Broker is now embarking on the aforementioned ‘World Tour’ in order to drum up more recruits. There are also signs that Banners Broker is putting restrictions on what can be withdrawn, by whom and how much. All not at all boding well for incoming investors.
This is all the more disturbing as it’s all over Ireland like a rash at the moment. Unfortunately Ireland has proven in the past to be a very fertile stomping ground for Multi-Level Marketeers (MLM and Pyramid Schemes are not the same thing, but there are many elements of MLM utilised in all Pyramid Schemes, which has given MLM a very bad name). The Irish as a people network very well. When one person makes a ‘profit’ from something they are very keen to tell their nearest and dearest. When they lose money they all shut up – to hide the shame. Pyramid Schemes have, therefore, traditionally flourished in Ireland.
Banners Broker Ireland Following in the Footsteps of Famous Irish Pyramid Schemes
Some of you will be old enough to remember ‘Women Empowering Women‘ or the ‘Hearts Network‘ where people literally showed up at community halls around the country with brown paper bags full of cash. In fact, if I remember correctly, one such scheme dispensed entirely with the facade that there was a product involved at all, it merely asked people to give others big lumps of cash, which would ultimately result in your receiving a huge margin of profit in return. It did not end well. Ireland’s social elite will have less than endearing memories of Breifne O’Brien. No great joy in that ending either.
You may also remember the Irish property market Pyramid Scheme driven by Irish Banks from 2000 to 2007, RIP. It purported to involve property, but didn’t really. It just involved people swapping title deeds for prices up to double and treble what had initially been paid. Bad ongoing torturous ending still being endured there.
The phenomenon is in no way unique to Ireland. Charles Ponzi was, after all, Italian American. There was Albania’s famous offering as a welcome back to capitalism, Allen Standford also had a bash at it and, if you want one with the ultimate in respectability that consequently dragged on for nearly two decades, dear old Bernie Madoff comes to mind. They prey on human greed and the desire to make a ‘quick buck’ so the phenomenon of Pyramid Schemes will never leave us.
But there’s No Recruitment in Banners Broker so it’s not a Pyramid Scheme
There is recruitment, it is just done very succinctly. You’ll have heard our likely lads in the second video above referring to ‘mentors’, it sounds quite benign. Referred recruits are also often called ‘affiliates’, again a fairly inoffensive term. If you look at YouTube posts relating to Banners Broker (it seems to be the favoured method of gaining new affiliates) then you will notice that they all give you their own personalised Sign-Up address (www.bannersbroker.com/signmeupnow although often masked to look like this http://bannersbrokerprofit.com/joinbbFREE ), so that any new recruits accessing the site through that address can be credited to the referrer.
It is illegal to recruit in the fashion of a Pyramid Scheme in Ireland so Banners Broker has been smart enough to make sure that this side of the business model is well hidden in all its promotions over here. It has also got the Irish principals to very heavily promote the fact that you can make money without bringing anybody else into the system. From speaking to people who have become involved ‘profit’ growth is very slow if you don’t bring in new ‘investors’ and almost everybody reverts to signing others up to increase the speed at which their ‘profits’ grow.
If it were very heavily promoted I’d put this in as another Ponzi Scheme flag, but they’ve kept it under the radar just enough to let it slide – for now. The networking recruitment facet is something that epitomises every Ponzi Scheme and eventually brings them down. Because it has to keep bringing in more cash to cover the repayment to an ever growing base of mature investors, the scheme eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns where the effort and cost of attracting new members is simply not worthwhile because it doesn’t generate the necessary volume. This necessary volume keeps increasing as the scheme grows ever bigger. The ending is always a disaster for a large pool of ‘investors’ sitting at the base of the pyramid.
Don’t be caught out. This is just the latest incarnation – an internet based Pyramid Scheme for a new digital age.
But the Principals of Banners Broker Ireland Swear it’s not a Pyramid Scheme
Well I’m sorry, then it must be legitimate. What on earth do you expect them to say? In this case I believe the owner of the Irish franchise, Corkman Paul McCarthy, may well have been taken in as badly as all the Irish ‘investors’ involved – but that will be no excuse when all this comes tumbling down. If you’ve heard his portion of the Liveline interview with Joe Duffy above you’ll have noticed that the guy is completely clueless as to what Banners Broker actually does – which may well be why the company chose him to run its Irish operation.
You should also note that all the operations outside Canada are worked on a ‘franchise’ basis, the Canadian principals are working a nice little earner without having to get too involved. They have Patsies (or Paddies if you like) that can do that for them. One of the Canadian principals of Banners Broker is a guy called Rajiv Dixit (he of the all explanatory video above) – just do a Google Search. Ponzi Scheme flag number five.
By the way, I’m far from the only one to flag Banners Broker as an elabourate Ponzi Scheme, plenty of people have done so at this stage. In particular, MLM watchdog Rod Cook has also labelled it a fraud, you’ll find full details of his findings here – very well worth a read. The video report below is from Troy Dooly who is actually an MLM advocate in the US. Even those within the MLM industry can see that this is a blatant scam.
Banners Broker Ireland Produces Explanatory Videos
The business model is absolutely incomprehensible – especially having watched the ‘informative videos’. Ponzi Scheme flag number six. If you can understand any more than a 30 second stretch of the following video, purporting to ‘explain’ what Banners Broker is all about, then you are smarter than most people I know – or your mind works in mysterious ways. I’m not afraid to say it, I’m obviously thick – I have not an idea what any of the rubbish on these two videos means. But then I am fairly sure that’s the way it is meant to be.
If that one didn’t do it for you try this one:
The explanatory videos are totally and absolutely unintelligible, never mind the business model.
Rule number one of doing business, ‘Do not get involved in a business you do not understand’. This, if nothing else, should preclude you from giving any money to this organisation.
Banners Broker Ireland – It’s a Duck
I’m sorry guys, I’m afraid this whole Banners Broker Ireland vehicle is absolutely screaming out Ponzi Scheme, Multi-Level Marketing, Pyramid Scheme, call it whatever you like. As the old saying goes: ‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – then it’s a duck’. Don’t be taken in by this – somebody will lose money. If you’re very lucky it may not be you, but it will be somebody, it’s just a question of when. When Pyramid Schemes come down they come down very hard – don’t expect this one to be any different. Do you really want to play the ‘Greater Fool‘ game with the very great possibility that this particular Greater Fool could turn out to be you?
How Can I Tell for Sure if Banners Broker Ireland is a Legitimate Business Opportunity?
Well if the above isn’t enough I’m not sure what you want but, if in doubt visit one of the meetings and ask them to explain the business model. They’ll tell you that it is the buying and selling of advertising no doubt – and probably couch it in a lot of techno-babble jargon like ‘impressions’, ‘packages’, ‘panels’, ‘blind networks’, ‘capping’, ‘visual representation’, ‘complimentary traffic’, ‘cycles’ and ‘inventory’ just to confuse you. Object every single time they say something you don’t fully understand. There will be an awful lot of objecting and they’ll probably eventually tell you to shut up or just refuse to answer your questions.
Should you make it that far, you should also ask for a significant list of top Irish websites that use adverts from Banners Broker – they claim there are hundreds of thousands of them so some proportion must be Irish. Failing that a good sprinkling of internationally acclaimed websites that feature thousands of daily impressions of Banners Broker adverts will suffice. They won’t be forthcoming, because they simply don’t exist. Case closed your honour.
Before you go, this informative video on Ponzi Scheme scams from British Columbia might give you a lot more insight than any of the videos above:
If you’ve been a victim of this scam in Ireland you should talk to The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in Harcourt Street on 01 666 3776 or visit their website.
You’ll find an interesting update on the whole Banners Broker saga over on the FinchSells website. He reports that the Goan office of Banners Broker in India has been shut down and is being investigated by the authorities. It also appears that the Banners Broker World Tour has been cancelled. I’m sure recent Irish affiliates will be delighted that they were able to get their ‘investments’ in before the tour came off the rails.
Further Update: In February 2014 the expected result of Banners Broker’s nefarious activities occurred – the company was wound up in the Isle of Man – see the report here in the Irish Examiner.
Final Update: On December 9th 2015 both Rajiv Dixit and Chris Smith were arrested in Canada. See announcement from the Toronto Police Service and video of the press conference on this post.