The bottom line is that by calling something a scam, we waste our precious time and mental capital on an endeavor that does not positively affect our trading.
I feel very fortunate to have this blog.
In general, the people that I have crossed paths with in the trading world have been nothing short of amazing. People like Walter Peters, Colin Jessup, Adam Jowett, Chris Lori, Rafael Veron, Chris Capre and many, many more have given me inspiration, support and guidance, many times at crucial points in my life.
This blog post is the result of conversations that I had with a couple of these traders.
No matter how legitimate a trader or educator is, there is always the tendency for people to say that they are a scam. I think this goes for any topic that deals with money. Through my contact with these traders, I feel that I have become quite good at spotting the real deal and a fake.
I'm not saying that I will be 100% right, but I can usually sniff it out after a few questions.
But should we be overly concerned with exposing scams? When we do this, is there more going on than we realize?
In this post, I invite you to take a deeper look into the idea of what is a scam and is not a scam. I think you will find that the extremes are very clear cut, but still a very, very small piece of the pie. There is actually a whole lot of gray in the middle.
Much more than you may have thought.
To take it one step further, I believe that your readiness to call something a scam is actually detrimental to your development as traders.
Real Scams Exposed
Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, there are some straight up scams out there. And yes, you must protect yourself against them.
A recent one that comes to mind is the kid who said he made $72 million dollars trading stocks. He was featured in New York magazine and became famous overnight. It turned out that he never made a dime and all his profits were made in a paper trading account.
I guess it wasn't that bad because he didn't actually take any money to invest. It wasn't right, but the worst that probably came out of this was that his friends won't give him money to go on a beer run anymore.
Then there are convicted ponzi scheme maestros like Bernie Madoff, Lou Pearlman and of course, Charles Ponzi himself. These were gigantic scams that defrauded investors of millions of dollars. This is the scary stuff that you really have to watch out for.
There are also smaller players who do pretty well for themselves, at least for awhile. If you remember the Adrian Shiroma story, he was pretty pissed that I exposed his scam and started doing all kinds of fun stuff with my picture on the internet.
I actually got an email a few months ago from a reader who gave me his alleged real name and said that the authorities are chasing him through the DR somewhere.
More on that in a bit…
My point is that there are some real scams out there, so I'm not saying that they don't exist. You do have to be careful. However, I believe that calling something is a scam is the worst thing you can do for your trading career.
Then there are people who have really honed their craft and are super reliable from an education and/or trading standpoint. For the purposes of this post, they are boring.
They are fine upstanding members of society and are certainly what real trading and education is all about. But sometimes, even these people can get pulled into the gray area.
If not by actual trading or education performance, then by pure public perception.
Bottom line…find out for yourself. Talk to their students.
The Gray Area of Exposing Scams
Now we get into the area where investments and/or people may or not be a scam. Generally post people lean towards thinking that someone is a scam, for whatever reason. Before you jump to conclusions, really think about the nature of trading and education.
A Bad Year
Trading has its ups and downs. That is a given.
A trader can simply have a bad year. It happens to the best of them. It probably happens to you. Sometimes there are also events that are out of a trader's control.
Too Much Pressure
One of the professional traders I talked to said that it is fairly common for a good trader to start managing money or a signal service and begin trading poorly. They simply don't handle the increased pressure well.
Could this be classified as a scam? I don't believe so.
But that doesn't mean that they aren't basically good traders or educators. Rafael told me this story in our interview, of a woman that he raised money for because she had an amazing track record. She could double her account every one to three months, like clockwork.
But she was only trading a $10,000 account. When she got more money (much more) to trade, she couldn't handle the pressure. She almost lost the whole account before getting back to breakeven and returning the money to the investors.
Was she a bad trader? No way.
She just wasn't mentally prepared for the stress of the bigger dollar amounts. The same could go for a trading educator who isn't prepared for the mental stresses of a signal service. You could still learn a lot from them as an educator, but their recent track record could suck because of the added stress.
So before you call someone a scam, take a look at what is really going on behind the scenes. It may not be what it appears to be.
You Don't Have To Be A Good Trader
This can be a tough pill to swallow and I must admit that I used to be against any advice that came from someone who wasn't trading for a living. But the fact of the matter is that someone doesn't need to actually be a good trader to help people trade well. They just have to have a good understanding of what trips traders up and how to fix it.
To give you an example from outside of trading, take a look at the NFL. In 2009, Mike Tomlin became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. But he has never played professional football. His experience consisted of playing wide receiver for the College of William and Mary.
Similarly, Bill Belichick is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL. He only played Division III ‘ball at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
So don't ignore trading psychologists and coaches. They can probably teach you a thing or three.
A Scam Is Ultimately Your Responsibility
Yes, scams are completely your responsibility. If you got scammed, it was up to you to do your research on the investment or education and take the proper amount of risk.
So the next time you call something a scam, check your ego at the door. In order to call it a scam, you must have conclusive evidence. If you are in the very large gray area, then it is on you to do your due diligence and limit your risk.
If the risk is too high, simply walk away.
Yelling “scam” from the rooftops is a waste of time and only helps a few people who were thinking of investing their money with that particular scam.
Why not use that time to yell “this is awesome” about high-quality trading products? That will help more people find something that actually works.
The bottom line is that by calling something a scam, we waste our precious time and mental capital on an endeavor that does not positively affect our trading. A good example is the Adrian Shiroma story.
While writing about the scam and ultimately bringing it down did help a lot of people out, it consumed a lot of my time and I was very concerned about the type of stuff that they would write about me on the internet.
Luckily the scammers were hacks when it came to creating anything online, but it was still mentally draining to file another DCMA every time they put my picture up somewhere else. I was better off focusing on improving this site and creating better products.
Similarly, when you waste your time bashing something/someone for being a scam, you waste your time and do not keep your mind open to the possibilities. By quickly shutting out these opportunities, you limit your ability to learn and grow.
So simply decide if an opportunity is worth the risk or not and don't go all-in.
Only put a small portion of your total capital at risk.
Even if you are completely sure about the opportunity, don't let an unforeseen event like the recent Swiss Franc tumble cripple you.
If you did your best to research an opportunity and it does turn out to be a scam, then you take an acceptable loss and move on. Just like a Forex trade. Hopefully you learned something from the experience.
Calling something or someone a scam too quickly can cause you to miss out on excellent opportunities and introduces a negative, poverty-based mentality into your psychology.
Remember that there can be a lot more going on behind the scenes than you may realize.
Stay positive and understand the risks.
You attract what you look for.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below…