Scammer Playbook: Typical excuses, rationalizations, and rebuttals


When you’ve done this long enough, you can almost predict exactly how scams and their supporters will respond when their shady schemes get called out and when their so-called businesses begin to experience the multitude of issues and problems that all of them eventually run into due to the fatally flawed business models they operate.

On this page, we’ll cover the typical excuses, rationalizations, and rebuttals that scams and scammers use when trying to argue in favor of their scheme.

It’s important to note that when they are throwing these cookie cutter excuses out there, they rarely bother to actually rebut any specific critiques of the “business” in question.

  1. If it was illegal, it would have been shut down by now:

    Scams and their supporters love to ignore the fact that many scams can run for a number of years before they are eventually shut down, if they don’t collapse first.

    Investigations into these organizations can take months or even years to conduct and gather evidence. Additionally, so many scams are registered and operated offshore, leaving authorities with fairly toothless options like warnings or cease and desist orders.

  2. You haven’t joined, so you don’t know what you’re talking about:

    LOL, the first time I ran into this was when I was speaking out about Kim Inman’s YMMSS ponzi back in 2004. An old online acquaintance and partner who was promoting it on this site offered me the “$10 challenge”. $10 was the minimum cost to join this early version of the so-called advertising revenue sharing programs. He even offered to pay the $10. 🙂 I respectfully declined.

    When you remove the hype and your emotional attachment to the opportunity and the awesome hopes and dreams that it represents to you, you should be able to rationally and objectively break down the math behind the opportunity, the viability of the products/services being offered, etc. You don’t need to be on the “inside” to do this.

  3. You’re just a hater, dreamstealer, negative, etc.

    Oh, if only those who like to slap this label on me had any clue how far off the mark they are. Yes, there are those who will deem every single opportunity online to be a scam. I’m not one of them.

    That said, the unfortunate fact is that many online opportunities are either outright scams or tip-toe the legal line, making them far less of an opportunity than they are presented to be.

    About the only things/people I “hate” are scams and scammers who ruin lives with no conscience.

    I’m about as big of a dreamer as they come and I think everyone should have great hopes and dreams. Without hopes and dreams to strive for, life just doesn’t seem like it would be worth living.

    Negative…. Nope. Analytical and realistic, yep. I’m definitely negative towards scams, but when you find a real opportunity with legit products or services, I’m positively in favor of you kicking ass with it. 😉

  4. You’re just jealous of our success:

    If you’re working with a legitimate opportunity, I am ecstatic for you if you’re succeeding.

    If you’re making bank by promoting scams, jealous probably isn’t the right word. A bit irked, perhaps, but I find comfort in the fact that many who fund lavish lifestyles by scamming others and ruining lives often get what they truly deserve in the end.

  5. You’re calling it a scam so you can recruit people into your business or make money off of ads:

    While it’s true that one reason I write reviews is to drive traffic and earn ad revenue, that’s not my primary motivation. It’s entirely up to you whether you believe that or not. But hopefully you can also appreciate the hypocrisy of those making such claims when they often have their own blogs or use other methods such as social media to promote their schemes. They aren’t doing that just for their health either. 😉

  6. It’s my money. I can do whatever I want with it:

    Well, you can DO whatever you want, period. But if you’re doing something illegal, there could be ramifications. You can drive 100 MPH through a school zone, but you could lose your license and face a heavy fine over it. So, sure, you can buy into and promote a scam, but you could end up either losing your money or be subject to legal actions such as clawbacks or even civil/criminal charges depending on your level of activity.

  7. Well, Social Security is a ponzi, so….

    Yeah, I’m not a real big fan of governments either, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

  8. We can’t be a ponzi/pyramid, we sell legitimate products/services:

    Maybe. Maybe not. This is not the 1920s and today’s digitally run ponzi scams usually have a token product attached to the front end. Over the last few years it’s been things like internet advertising, penny auction bids, or cryptocurrencies. These scams are usually pretty easy to spot.

    Pyramid schemes, on the other hand, are a bit trickier to nail down. These often operate in the grey areas of the law because product/service value is often in the eye of the beholder. IMO, whether “legal” or not, the bottom line to determine if an opportunity is truly a pyramid scheme is whether or not members keep purchasing product even if the money making side doesn’t pan out for them. In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no.

  9. The owner/admin is honest, available, etc.:

    Says who, lol? Before the internet, con men were always available and seemed honest, nice, etc. until it was time to disappear. In today’s world, they seem just the same and as their scam begins to fail, they often disappear just like in the old days. Even if they still remain “available”, most people have no clue where they actually are. They can be safe in a different country. And again, just as in the old days, some scammers will still carry on in public, seemingly without fear of the law or those they scammed.

  10. It can’t be a scam because the terms of service state there are no guarantees:

    Court case after court case has proven that what a scam says in its TOS is overridden by what the scam does in reality.

  11. You can’t call it an investment because we have to do stuff like view ads, post ads, etc in order to be paid:

    Again, this has been proven to be false in a number of legal decisions. Minimal busywork is not considered “work” by the courts to earn outlandish ROI.

  12. I’m making money/getting paid, so it can’t be a scam:

    A ponzi/pyramid scam doesn’t stand much chance of gaining traction if it doesn’t have some cheerleaders waving their checks/proof of payment around. Well run scams will pay as long as it’s profitable to keep doing so. Ponzi scams eventually collapse under the weight of the ridiculous ROI they promise, while pyramid scams can go on forever as long as people are willing to promote them.

  13. I don’t see anybody complaining, what’s your problem?:

    When dealing with online money making scams, you will rarely find many complaints until it’s too late. What many of the “haters” do is warn against what is simply inevitable. My warnings about the YMMSS scam were posted well in advance of what the math behind the scheme told me was destined to happen.

  14. You just aren’t a visionary like our leader is, so you can’t understand how much of a game changing, groundbreaking program this is:

    I may not be a “visionary”, but I can operate a calculator. Since most of my negative reviews are about probable ponzi schemes, it’s easy enough to do the math and see that something is mathematically doomed to failure in a relatively short time frame.

  15. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, etc. make tons of money off of us and don’t share it:

    I’ve always found this to be one of the most ridiculous statements and illustrates an attitude of entitlement.

    First things first, how much do they charge you to use the services they provide and the hundreds or thousands of servers and employees that it takes to make things operate smoothly? That’s right. Zero dollars. That alone gives them the right to monetize their service.

    Most of the paid social media platforms that encourage the entitlement attitude mentioned above use off the shelf scripts, cheap servers, and a skeleton crew of support staff if they even have real support. And they charge you to join their so-called opportunity!!!

    You also have to appreciate the hypocrisy/irony of those promoting these types of scams. They want to complain about services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, but what do they use to reel in the majority of their victims? Yep, you guessed it. 🙂 So they are actually making money using the very services they criticize.

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