18h UTC; THURSDAY, 22 AUGUST 2013: What do "work-from-home" scams, "Five Reports" chain letters, "multi-level marketing" Ponzi games and disreputable precious metals dealers have in common?

Give up?

All have as a common thread their past use of fear, loathing and paranoia about the prospect of imminent and ongoing socioeconomic uncertainty and collapse as selling tactics therefor, targeting, for the most part, the weak-minded, the poor and the socioeconomically challenged--especially so such lacking realistic job or career skills or prospects made worse by educational policies which favoured diversion of public-school funding to "school choice" voucher models promoted under the banner of "school choice" and more than likely structured as blackmailing weapons against families deemed "chronically and habitually dependent upon government."

Now you can add a betting tipster for horse races and soccer pools out of England's Green and Pleasant Land, styling themselves as "Premier," to this list of shame, thanks to a recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) there which took issue with a direct-mail campaign for their services using paranoia such as this (emphasis added):
We have taken two extremely successful and proven money making methods, and combined them into one unique and powerful system ... The immediate future doesn't look too promising either - global credit crunch, further likely stock market corrections and the IMF warning that the world economy faces the biggest financial challenge since the great depression. Analysts suggest a very gloomy picture and indicate a period of serious financial uncertainty where tax rises and tough times are ahead. The good news is that the business we invest in is recession proof ...
Premier, operating out of an accomodation address in York, contended that its use of said scaremongering was "reasonable," that "the facts were there for all to see," and
[t]hey believed their comments on the current gloomy economic picture were accurate and they included that information in the ad because many conventional investments were struggling, including those normally regarded as being low risk. Premier also highlighted that the claims should be considered in the context of the mailing as a whole, in which they clearly stated that their service also carried a risk. They said they had simply expressed their opinion that in current uncertain times, other methods of investment were not without risk, and there was no attempt on their part to worry people into joining the service. They believed that a reasonable person would be extremely unlikely to join the service purely on the basis of fear, and Premier would not want them to do so.
Another point objected to in the mailing was the want of independent, third-party proofing to substantiate its claims that such who staked a total of £1,000 based on their tips over a recent 14-week period could return a profit of £3,535; Premier, for its part, acknowledged not having proofed its wagers, but pledged to do so in future, adding (according to the ASA's adjudication report) that "
with more time, they could request copies of betting account statements which would show the results stated in the ad were genuine. They also said they could ask long-term clients to provide written testimony to that effect too."

In any event, such scaremongering didn't sit well with the ASA; on the point about the scaremongering and pandering to fear and uncertainty, the ASA upheld the complaint in these terms (emphasis added):
We noted that the letter made several claims regarding the global economic crisis, including its impact upon individuals, such as the statement that currently the UK was experiencing "... a period of serious financial uncertainty where tax rises and tough times are ahead". We also noted that in the letter a number of other claims implied that the service Premier offered could be an easy solution to financial concerns, such as "An opportunity for you to make a substantial first or second tax-free income with very little effort", "The good news is that the business we invest in is recession proof and, in our opinion, much more lucrative than stock market investment. Moreover it has an estimated annual turnover of way in excess of 30 billion pounds and can produce profits that will astound you", and "The information we are about to reveal can make a real difference to your life ...". Although, we acknowledged that the information pack included text explaining that risks were involved and members would inevitably lose money on some bets, we noted the repeated high earnings claims and other claims such as "We can show you how to turn £500 into thousands of pounds", "We are able to offer you a service that can comfortably single out enough winning selections to make you a lot of money", and "A well-run dynamic service aimed solely at producing profits", and considered that the overall impression of the mailing was that the service offered a safe and easy way to earn a substantial amount of money, and could help those who were in financial difficulties. We therefore considered that in the context of a mailing which promoted a subscription tipster service, and involved substantial risk, claims emphasising the economic crisis, and the personal strains that many individuals were experiencing as a result, were irresponsible.
Thus dashing any hopes that its "system" would make the Horace Batchelor Infra-Draw Method (as advertised on Radio Luxembourg; details available by writing Department 2, Keynsham ["spelled K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M--Keynsham, near Bristol", as explained in every advertisement therefor]) look like a grotty weekend in Blackpool during the Illuminations.

The want of independent proofing of wagers was also taken to task as unsubstantiated.

All in all, the ASA ordered that the mailing not be sent again in these not-uncertain terms (emphasis, as before, added):
We told Premier to ensure they did not make claims, and in particular earnings claims, in their advertising without robust evidence to substantiate them. In addition, we told them to not make irresponsible claims that unduly played on consumers' fears of financial pressures to encourage them to subscribe to their service, and to ensure they proofed their results with an independent third party.
Which certainly made the interconnexions between certain conservative prolefeeders and disreputable precious-metals dealers (especially in gold coin and buillon), particularly so in the first few months of President Obama's first term (when such were rather blatant), look like a game of Whack-a-Mole on the Ocean Shores Pier.


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