08 February 2006

12daily Pro Exposed

I have generally been critical of the Daily Universe. Articles devoted to dating and cooking hardly seemed like serious journalism. I must, however, give credit, where credit is due, and congratulate the DU for their exposure of 12daily Pro.

On the 30th of January, Jenny Davis broke the news about 12daily Pro. Her use of words like "unethical" and "illegal" in describing the practices of said scheme provoked a pretty passionate response from involved members of the Daily Universe readership. On the 6th of February, the Daily Universe published a more in-depth examination and analysis of 12daily Pro. Follow up reports by ABC4 News in Utah (hat tip: Marc Sitterud) and today, from KSL have essentially told the same story.

As a result of all the press, the Pay-Pal like company involved in the transactions--StormPay--has frozen all 12daily Pro associated accounts leaving contributing members high and dry. In an attempt to shift the blame and focus of consumer-group investigations, 12daily Pro officials have promoted StormPay as the guilty party. Because this is America (or rather, thank goodness that this is America) these disputes will probably be resolved by litigation and criminal investigation/prosecution.

In an effort to stop the bloodletting, Ned Hill, President of the Marriott School of Business, issued an email warning students against involvement in "ponzi" or other related and unethical schemes. He even mentioned expulsion as possible punishment for what has been characterized as a violation of the BYU Honor Code.

External history aside, here's my take.

About a week before the story broke one close friend approached me about 12daily Pro. He wasn't inviting me to join but told me that another mutual acquaintance had tried to enlist him. This friend asked me to take a look at the website and report back on what I'd learned. After about twenty minutes of close examination I concluded it must be one of those pyramid schemes I'd heard about. I've had friends do the multi-level network market thing ("it's not like other MLN's!), and knew that this wasn't that--there were no obvious streams of revenue. No herbal drug promising to cure cancer, no magnetic footbeds promising increased energy, no Costco-like bulk food sent straight to your house--there was nothing resembling a good being exchanged for cash. Now I'm not a business major (not even a minor) but I am taking Accounting 200 with my brother, and, as he pointed out, the ledger just doesn't balance. We have to debit one side to credit the other but with no obvious stream of revenue, the only obvious conclusion is that it is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Now I know it's not just BYU students being suckered by these guys, but I am left to wonder at what seems like a disproportionate number of BYU students being taken. My brother, Matt, wondered the same thing and asked his career exploration teacher, a Psychology professor, what it was about the BYU/Mormon community that encouraged this type of thing. The answer was two fold: first, Mormons are hard-wired networkers. To these scam artists, LDS ward and stake units seem like custom made MLNs or pyramids just begging to be exploited (I'm paraphrasing here because he didn't use the word "exploit"). The second Mormon characteristic is the general believing attitude--we call it faith with relation to religious things. In business, I think they call it gullible.

I hope this post doesn't make it appear as though I'm gloating, because I'm not. If anything I feel sympathetic to those who fell victim to the promise of easy money. Though none of my money has gone to 12daily Pro or any similar scheme, I feel a sense of shared embarrassment--in part, I'm sure, because one friend from the University of Utah (a business major) will take me to task about BYU students prominent involvement in the scam. In fact, I'm hoping this post preempts his knee jerk (he can't help himself), kick to the collective BYU posterior.

The same two motivating factors--mixed with the intoxicating influence of the almighty dollar bill are the same things that induce hundreds, nay thousands, of BYU students to spend their summers peddling security systems and pest control. We should start a campaign, in fact, I'll start it here. Call it "friends don't let friends do summer sales or MLNs or pyramid schemes."

Spread the word.


raisin said...

Take a deep breathe raisin. Inhale... hold... exhale... Stop and think a little before you respond. But oh the twitching! Thigh begins to tighten, toes begin to tap, knee begins to show signs of jerking... Inhale, hold, exhale... Good. Very good- the knee jerking begins to subside. You can learn to help it raisin, just keep trying.

raisin said...

The sad truth is that most BYU students are involved in a much larger scam than the 12DailyPro thing. Don't know what I'm talking about? Well that's why you're still at BYU.

Dammit raisin! Inhale, hold, exhale... inhale, hole, exhale. You really can't help it, can you?

carli said...

you are a wierdo, and I hope you don't ever breed children.

Anonymous said...

Why ARE students still at BYU? Could it be that they are looking for an educational environment that doesn't include frenzied binges on alcohol or drugs (or anything else, for that matter)...for a whole university full of people who (ideally) have the same general belief system...for a sense of safety where their religious convictions are not attacked on every side...? Not to mention the fact that it is not easy to get into BYU - so most of the students there must have at least some degree of intelligence.
Hmmm...raisin, I guess it all depends on what you are looking for. A lot of people would say that you are the mistaken one.

Laura Wright said...

I'll tell you why Mormons are prone to "get rich quick" schemes - they are trying to live on one income per family in a two income world. They want the same for their kids that their neighbors have, but since the wife is obediently staying home to raise the kids, there isn't enough money. So when opportunity rises for her to do something "from the home", most Mormons just can't help themselves. The campaign we should start, then, should be "live within your means and don't try to keep up with the Jones's". Seems like I've heard that somewhere before.

VoiceOfRaisin said...

What Laura describes is also the reason Utah is usually near the top in bankruptcies in the nation.

Anonymous- You are right- many BYU students would disagree with me. But even more people would agree with me (which doesn't necessarily make me right). You see, there are many people in this country that believe that part of the educational process is questioning beliefs and being exposed to alternative ways of thinking. Afraid of having your religious beliefs questioned? Wanting to surround yourself with likeminded people? Sounds like you want a seminary (which is what you got) and not a university that celebrates diversity and academic freedom. I do agree with you though that BYU attracts intelligent mormons.

Now to you Carli- I guess you missed Jake's comments on ad hominem attacks, which is cool because I always use attacks like that.

Now for the comment that you hope I "don't ever breed children." Good God I hope not! Breeding children?! Isn't that impossible because once a child could even be capable of being bred he/she is no longer a child but an adolescent. But unlike early Mormon polygamist leaders, I don't even support adolescent breeding! Further, I don't even support young adult breeding, which puts me at odds with BYU singles wards. You don't have anything to worry about from me, but I can understand why you would be nervous because I have to admit, if I could breed children I would probably end up selling them to offshore corporations for cheap labor.

Matt said...

aisin, there are also "many people in this country" that believe that colleges campuses are a breeding ground (pun intended) for disbelief and distrust, especially where religion is concerned. I am one BYU student who believes it's healthy to question the world around me, as well as be exposed to alternative ways of thinking. Where you're mistaken, however, is in assuming that this attitude precludes any reconciliation with a religious belief system, which it does not.

By the way, the U of U is hardly an example of diversity and academic excellence. Uh oh, did I let the cat out of the bag referring to your school? Probably not, I suppose anybody reading your comments would quickly conclude where they come from.

That said, props on the breeding joke! Funny stuff!

raisin said...

A quick rebuttal before I go to bed...

First of all, it's only fair that you point the finger back at my school. I agree that the U is just an average school and given the state it resides in, the level of diversity is understandably weak. However I think you are thinking of diversity only in racial terms and I am thinking of diversity of religions, opinions, lifestyles, etc... Compared to BYU, I would consider the U more diverse, although I look forward to leaving the state to attend a better graduate school than either BYU or the U could provide. The U encourages diversity, while BYU encourages diversity only within a narrow band. Also, I never mentioned academic excellence (which would put me on shaky ground as a student at the U) but I did mention academic freedom... big difference.

I also never said that religious belief and openmindedness were mutually exclusive. I simply claimed that a person who wished to expose himself to alternative views and to have his beliefs re-examined probably wouldn't find BYU to be the ideal choice of schools, unless of course he was a non-mormon liberal homosexual Native American.

Marc said...

Seeing as how I do not attend either of the previously mentioned schools let me give you my little opinion(thought i did attend a class at the U). Neither the U or BYU truly encourage much diversity. At at both schools you will not find any major differences in the population as far as beliefs or ethnicity for that matter. Sure the U claims to be more "liberal" but who is fooling who in this one if you are Utah institution really how liberal can you be. And if you feel that having parties with alchol and drugs makes you diverse. You might as well go shop at hot topic with all the other people trying to be "different." At least BYU doesn't even claim diversity, i mean there you know what you are going to get. Though there probably is a lot more ethnic diversity at BYU than anywhere else in Utah. As far as alternative views is considered. I think no matter where you are, you will hear and not hear what it is that you want. It does not matter where you live or what you believe. There is always the oppurtunity to hear the opposite. Thanks once again to the beauty of the infernet.

raisin said...

I completely disagree with you marc that you will not find any major differences in the population as far as beliefs go. Some have said that the U is more liberal than other regional schools because it serves as a counter balance to BYU and as an alternative for a decent education in Utah. I am in the business program and the majority of the students are conservative white mormon males just like you would find at BYU, except with facial hair. The major differences will be found in the humanities and areas like history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, political 'science', religion, art, theater etc. Believe me, there are ideas taught in some of these classes that would get a teacher fired at BYU. And who said anything about wanting drugs and alcohol for diversity? That is the standard mormon paranoia and lack of experience and context that would make that an issue. You can make it through college without ever drinking and being around partying wherever you go. Likewise, you can find partying at any school. In high school I had a friend who would buy acid from a student living in DT. A BYU student who still attends got drunk with my old roommate and his girlfriend about a month ago and tried to rape the girl while my roommate was with other friends in the house. How many times have I met drunk people at clubs who grudgingly admit they attend BYU? Quite a few actually. My point is that no one here is calling on BYU students to party more to increase diversity, and I'm not giving the U credit for anything because more people party. On the issue of diversity of beliefs and thoughts and opinions, I maintain that BYU seeks to shelter while the U is comfortable discussing and examining "liberal" ideas. It looks like there are three positions here 1) Marc- there really isn't much difference between BYU and Utah in terms of diversity (this is based off the one class he took) 2)Jake- there is a major difference and it is a good one because BYU hasn't been destroyed by evil secularism and liberalism 3)Me- there is a major difference and it is a good one because the U is not limited by the requirement to make sure all teachings conform to LDS authority. I disagree with Jake that secularism and liberalism are destroying our colleges and schools. I also believe that the conservative movement will hold strong and more professors in the future will teach a conservative idealogy, which is a good thing if the students have a broad mix of ideas to choose from. Shouldn't we embrace truth in any form? A major issue I have with many mormons is that they are unwilling to accept truth that contradicts their closely-held beliefs. You could give me any book in this world and I would read it if you told me there was merit to it. Mormons don't do the same. It has to be filtered and sifted and repackaged before it is safe to look at. Don't believe me? Well then I challenge anyone who reads this to an idea exchange. I will read any book you ask me to and you will read any book I ask you to. (I already know someone is going to suggest I read the BOM) I know that I won't get any takers because you are more afraid of new knowledge than I am.

Laura Wright said...

Well, if that wasn't just the typical take on Mormons having a higher standard. I have heard that argument a thousand times and it is just plain narrow-minded and wrong. Plenty of Mormons are very well-read, exposed to all kinds of "new knowledge", and still remain committed to our faith. What constitutes "new knowledge"? Anything anti-mormon? Anything "on the edge"? Just because something is written down and published, doesn't make it worthy of being called "new knowledge". All kinds of total crap gets published these days, and in any given group, you will find SOMEONE who thinks it is the most amazing, eye-opening, mind-broadening piece of literature in the world. But that doesn't mean it really is. Everyone has their own sets of standards by which they judge everything they come in contact with. That is just human nature. Mormons just have pickier standards than most people. But that doesn't make us "afraid" of "new knowledge". It just makes us more selective. Sorry if that threatens you.

raisin said...

Whenever we discuss an entire faith we will, by necessity, speak in generalities. I agree that there are many mormons who are well-read and still committed to the faith. However my personal experience as a missionary revealed that most members and fellow missionaries (including myself) know very little about their own church history other than what is the official story told by the church. I know it would make you feel better to believe that you have a higher standard and are more selective of the material you read, but if you are like 99% of the active Mormons I know, you really haven't ever explored an alternative explanation for the rise and prosperity of the church. It all has to fit into the story and anything that doesn't is labeled "anti-mormon"- which is ridiculous. I agree that you can't believe everything you read, but you also can't dismiss something you don't know anything about. The church will continue to evolve just like it always has and I expect it to be around for a long time and I am actually glad for that. But the church, along with all other faith-based organizations, will have to confront itself and determine whether or not to accept change or to become more fundamental and detached from an emerging reality. Scientific exploration will continue to push back the vail of ignorance and religion will still be needed to answer the "whys?" and "what fors?" of our existence. Let me make myself clear- religion is a necessary creation and makes life better for many people. I just don't believe any religion is perfect and above objective criticism. Let me give you an example you may or may not be familiar with- for many years the church has maintained that the book of mormon is an ancient text that was written by the prophets who came to the americas from jerusalem. Recent advances in understanding have created the ability to track genetic lineage and ancient movements of peoples. The jury is no longer out and the indigenous peoples of the americas are, simply put- not semitic. Not even a little Laura. The idea that the "indians" came from biblical roots was widely held in Joseph Smith's time and was quite popular. Unfortunately for those who want the book of mormon to be literally true, this appears to be a nail in the coffin. So of course the story will have to be updated and new qualifications and claims will be made that leave room for ambiguity, just like always happens when current understanding makes old prophecy and doctrine obsolete- ie. multiple sexual partners for the prophets, racism in the priesthood, condemnation of birth control, deletion of the office of the church patriarch, changes in the temple ceremony, etc. I don't feel threatened by your "higher standards" Laura. Are you threatened by mine? By the way, because I am not threatened by alternative ideas which challenge my own, I would be very interested to read a believer's explanation for the genetic dilemma. The fearful and ignorant will dismiss this stuff as "anti-mormon"; the seeker of truth and understanding will search for answers.

Laura Wright said...

Well, I feel the need to apologize to the rest of Jake's readership. Because I got caught up in a bash. Sorry, too, to raisin - I respectfully agree to disagree with you...I think the basic difference here is that some people feel the need to "prove" their testimony in academic ways. Others know on a very basic gut level. You can't argue with that kind of belief - it is backed up by years of experience, and goes very very deep.
I agree with you that there have been changes made in the church over the years. But those changes were not made to basic doctrine. And you may need to check your sources. Last I heard, we still have many church Patriarchs, and I use birth control on a regular basis.
Enough said. Thank you for a very entertaining day!

morgan said...

My goodness, things really heated up quickly. Who knew 12dailyPro would lead me to genetics and migrations of ancient people?

Laura, I don't think you need to apologize for feeling passionate about something. I aplaud your conviction.

Raisin- Your "challenge" to read a proposed book made me laugh out loud. Also, I would like to here about the alternative explanation for the "rise and prosperity" of the LDS Church that you referred to. In addition, I am to busy/lazy to research the genetic evidence explaining the nomadic travels of the ancient populus of the Americas so could you give me a quick recap of the origins for Native Americans. Did they cross over from Russia through Alaska? Finally, with regards to your mission service, how do you reconcile your beliefs then with your knowledge now?

Raisin said...

Laura, you could have just said, "yes, your beliefs threaten me." And here is a quick education on the points you didn't understand: In the early days of the church, there was a high office called the Presiding Patriarch and it was later discontinued by the church. That's what I was referring to. And maybe you didn't know, but Mormon prophets used to teach that the use of birth control would send your soul to hell. I'll get quotes for you if you are interested. Remember what I said about 99% of mormons not knowing the history of their own religion?

I guess I will wait for you Jake to prepare a reasonable thought on some of the points I raised. The church needs people like you who can respond to honest criticism without getting so emotional and defensive. And sorry if I ventured into a realm of free discourse your readership isn't prepared to handle... I know that puts you in a tough spot. Religion and politics man...

Yours truly,

The Voice of Raisin

Raisin said...

Morgan, I'm not really trying to convince you of anything. My challenge to swap books wasn't because I'm dying to share books with people; it was to prove my point that few mormons would be comfortable enough in their own convictions that they would explore and understand an alternative viewpoint to something they hold so dearly. I'm self-expressing, not proselyting. If you actually are interested in my thoughts on the genetic evidence, we could speak offline. I think I'm about two sentences away from being branded an anti-mormon (which I most certainly am NOT) forever in the community I grew up in, so I'm gonna put this one on ice.

As for the mission, the path to reconciliation is a difficult and personal one. It can be very lonely and scary to confront your fears, especially when so much you value is riding on your conclusion. Remember My Name is Asher Lev? Sometimes in order to progress you have to be true to yourself even when there are so many pressures to conform.

One last thing- When I referred to an alternative explanation to the rise and prosperity of the church, I wasn't implying any demonic influence or anything like that. I just think the actual history of the church is fascinating and when I stopped looking at it as God's church it became so much more real and interesting to me. The natural, social and economic forces that have shaped the religion are common to many faiths and in that light the church is no longer at odds with my true beliefs and values.

Anonymous said...

Raisin: If you are a student you are spending way too much time on this blog: study or get a life. :)

Raisin, The Voice of said...

Somewhere in Salt Lake the Voice of Raisin sits and contemplates his existence, sobbing periodically due to the acute awareness of his decrepit state brought on by Anonymous’s reality-shattering words. Days earlier Raisin had dropped all of his final semester’s classes and broke up with his girlfriend, thinking he had found a calling in submitting comments to Jake’s blog. It all seemed so simple back then- back before Anonymous came around.

Marc said...

Mr. Raisin I would like you to know that I just deleted a few paragraph response to what it is that has been said and written not only by you but, by others. I deleted it because they were just words. I am a believer that reading all the books and blogs in the world are not the reason behind many of the decisions we make. I am a believer that you must have exposure to as many different thoughts as possible. I also feel that the best way to do this is to hear it from the person themselves not a book. This is one of the reasons that I have attended a Mosque, Synagogue, Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, Hindu Temple, Buddhist Temple, and just about every other denominational and non-denominational church there is. I did this for myself. So that the decision I made in the end was not one that was not informed and not thought out, but had been done through thought and experience. Anybody can read a book telling them about what the religion teaches but, until one experiences it first hand I think it is hard to pass judgement. Now I am not a person who when told something is wrong has to go and do it to make sure.(I do not have to touch a fire to know that it will burn) However I am believer that you can't expect others to be influenced by you unless first you allow yourself to be influenced by others. I just hope that amongst all of the literature you are reading explaining to you why the indians weren't here you are reading something telling you how they were.

Raisin said...

Marc, I commend you for exploring your own personal faith and choosing something that feels right for you. In religion, I think the only wrong choice is staying part of something that doesn't satisfy your needs. I have no doubt that there are many many mormons who will have absolutely satisfying and enriching experiences in their religion. I know I did as a mormon missionary, and I have tried to not "throw the baby out with the bath water." My comments aren't a call to abandon faith or hope in something. I believe that truth and knowledge will always cause shifts in faith, but faith is the energy behind a lot of our progress and development. If nothing else, maybe my comments made some of you out there think about why you believe what you believe, and I'm sure most of you are grateful that you don't believe the way I believe. I feel the same way. Freedom of thought is a gift we all can appreciate.

Laura Wright said...

raisin, your beliefs hardly threaten me. You are welcome to live your life as you please, as long as you afford the rest of us that same right. Best of luck on your search for higher meaning!

Raisin said...

"Best of luck on your search for higher meaning!"

That sounds like a good line for a Hallmark card that would be sold at Deseret Book. The picture on the front of the card would show a family standing under the Tree of Life, waving goodbye to a wayward child who is heading towards Babylon.


"Well son, your mother and I aren't proud of your decision to stop going to church, but we wanted to give you this card... Come visit the family sometime."

Laura, I'd like to hire you to create a whole new line of LDS greeting cards. I think we could penetrate the market with the right marketing tactic, and I have just the thing in mind. You could work from home and get your friends involved in the distribution of the cards. And you're gonna love that extra income in a two income world.