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How to See Through Scammers Online

· Scammers,Red Flags,Avoiding Scams,Protection from Scam,Tips

A member of our business-leaders-only facebook group (Check it out here!) asked me recently in response to one of my posts: .

“Stephanie, perhaps you can do a video sometime about avoiding the fake online gurus promising silver bullet online business systems where they claim to be making millions- I constantly see these phonies on YouTube ads.”

He’s not alone! I see these people on youtube, facebook, instagram, and pretty much every other online platform you can think of. They promise the perfect answer to whatever you’ve been looking for, but the course or product you purchase is so full of BS or so poorly put together that it’s useless!

I should know! I’ve bought my fair share of scammer-style courses that are nothing more than content you could look up online!

Over the past few years, I’ve started to pick up on the following red flags from the online gurus!

The “Super Secret Method” That You ONLY Learn When You Buy

Here’s the real secret...

Most of the people that I know and respect as truly successful, give away insane value! They show the “super secret” method up front. One guy I follow has even commented multiple times that if you want to take the time to go through his 1000s of YouTube videos, you can probably get all his content for free. But if you want it compiled in one super easy-to-follow-and-find spot, buy the course.

He builds trust, and outlines the “secret” before you make the purchase so you know exactly what you’re getting.

When we’re buying things online, we’re buying one of two things: Accountability or a Streamlined Process. For example, you can attend my class and hear me tell you that Google and Facebook are your best friends when it comes to building a Target Market. You can buy the masterclass if you want me to show you exactly how to use Google & Facebook in an easy-to-follow step-by-step procedure. Or you can hire my company to build you a target market because you don’t want to spend 4+ hours on it!

When it comes to information, people buy convenience and application.

“Super secrets” are a big red flag to me! There isn’t much new out there. Tell us how you do it, that it’s worked for you repeatedly, and that you can streamline and cut my learning curve to do the same thing. Otherwise, I have to wonder if you know what you’re doing well enough to be teaching me or if you just got lucky once or twice!

They try to make me feel incompetent...

If a guru makes me feel incomeptent or like I’ve just been the punching bag in a sparring match, if I feel emotionally destroyed or afraid after listening to them, it’s just another red flag.

I’m noticing that many presenters are getting more clever about this too. Throughout the majority of the presentation, or sales copy, they build you up and get you excited. During the close, you’re suddenly torn into a hundred pieces unless you hire them first!

Sales people who sell through fear are almost always masking lackluster products or services.

Talking About Money In Awe

Have you ever heard someone talk about money and you can just tell that they are overcome and a little in awe of the idea of making 7-figures a year or a 6-figure month? I’ve heard endless entrepreneurs run endless calculations to show me how much money they are going to make. Hell, I’ve run a few myself. But I’ve found that the people who have to resort to talking about how much money they are going to make, or you are going to make, are usually the wrong person actually make it happen.

In the past few years as I’ve found myself hanging out in those elite circles more and more often I’ve found that the who who are actually making money aren’t talking about it. They are doing it.

Money is a byproduct of the value you bring. When someone focuses too much on the money and there’s a note of awe in their voice, or they try to be overly casual about it, it’s usually a good signal that it’s something they aren’t super comfortable with.

The individuals running major businesses may accidentally drop something money-related into the conversation, but the whole conversation isn’t about the money!

Unrealistic Promises

You know the kinds of people I’m talking about.

“Make Millions With This ONE Funnel!”

“One Opt-In Will Change Everything For You!”

“This ONE Thing Transformed My Business!”

Here’s the issue… It’s never one thing that will take your business to the next level.

I know. I run a business!

These scammers people drive me crazy because if their one $99 course is going to make me millions, they’re either scamming me or under-valuing themselves. And usually it’s not the later! When I hear outlandish promises that don’t make logical sense, it’s one of the first red flags I move quickly away from!

Remember the old adage with this. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

Story-Tellers Without Substance

These are the guys who tell story after story without any actual content or helpful information within the story.

After our first Grow Retreat, I learned to curate speaker content to ensure it's easy to understand and provides enough info to take action.

In October 2017, preparing for Grow2018, one of my speakers refused to get more specific and advised me that "Steph, if you want to make money in the speaking world, all you do is show up and tell a few stories! If people want to know HOW to do it, they have to hire you! It's brilliant."

I did not agree and when he refused to adjust, I fired him on the spot. It’s a commonly used trick, and one I watch out for closely now!

A Few More

A complete list of red flags would be pretty endless! But just a couple more that I watch out for:

Showing Off Their Possessions - You’ve seen this. The guy who shows off pictures of himself with his private jet, multi-million dollar mansion, or rolls royce. I’ve even seen companies who make their money arranging photo shoots with someone else’s fantasy goods. It’s an increasingly lucrative business, and easily faked!

Likes And Followers - The people who count likes and followers as the ultimate source of influence. I get it “4 million people can’t be wrong.” But unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how many of those are true likes and how many are bots.

Lacking Substance - Ever seen the guru who is all about motivation and “Rah! Rah! Rah!”? They spew endless, cliche and overused motivational pictures and quotes. But there is no substance. No information on how they stay motivated, what they do to grow personally, or how they will help you.

Over-Complicated - Einstein always said that if you can’t explain it to a 2nd grader, you don’t know it well enough. That’s what I live by. I’m going to ask the ‘stupid’ questions. I know that if they can’t explain it to me succinctly now, they won’t get any better at it down the line and I’d rather risk looking like a fool (although, legitimately, someone else is thinking that same question too!) than be cripple my business growth with faulty investments.


The key is to spend time with someone before getting married. Take time to watch them. Are they consistent with their message, and their style. Are they consistent with their engagement? Do they get testimonials consistently?

Most importantly, it’s vital that we start taking time to think things through logically! Next time you get a shady looking letter, or see an ad that promises to fix all your problems, take a minute, think it through, and when in doubt, err on the side of caution!

It isn’t a one-size-fits-all, or a silver-bullet by any means, but the Grow Retreat is something I believe in! It’s designed not only to give you the convenience of learning tools and tricks from business-leaders who have done what you’re trying to do, but also accountability afterword to help you implement it. If that sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, check out the Grow Retreat website here!

About the Author:

Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!

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