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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Get-rich-quick scams target the new college graduate

    The class of 2009 is in a precarious spot. On one hand, commencement is a month away. On the other, a world of uncertainty awaits.

    It’s no secret that the employment prospects for graduating students appear bleak. Unemployment continues to soar. The job market is hemorrhaging jobs. Budget cuts. Hiring freezes. All of these facets of the recession may lead new graduates down the wrong path – the one we’ve come to call the “”get-rich-quick scheme.””

    If you’ve watched TV in the last month, you’ve undoubtedly seen the commercials for these schemes. They show seemingly ordinary people who make tons of money. Often, these people work part-time from home – talk about a cherry on top. “”I made five thousand dollars a month right out of school,”” we’re told. There’s a single mom who made six figures last year. There’s the fifty-year-old man standing in front of his McMansion with his new convertible and his 20-year-old girlfriend.

    It’s all just too good to be true, isn’t it? It doesn’t make sense to see large returns on virtually no upfront effort. It goes against the basic tenet that tells us that hard work pays off.

    In small print at the bottom of the screen, we’re told these results aren’t typical and these ordinary people are actually just actors playing a part and reading a script. But still, these commercials inundate our programming day in and day out, meaning someone somewhere is buying into these schemes and funding these ads.

    Many of us know that these get-rich-quick schemes are scams that actually target our own wallets. These scams don’t exist for our benefit and they won’t fatten our pocketbooks. We tell ourselves we would never fall into these traps. We aren’t that stupid. After all, we’re college-educated.

    But we live in uncertain times – desperate times, even. When the bills pile up, when the credit card reaches its limit, when the student loans come due, there’s no telling what a new graduate might do to make some green and get out of mom and dad’s basement. A scam might prove too tempting to ignore.

    All of that cash is only one phone call away, one click of the mouse.

    “”What could I possibly lose?”” we ask ourselves. Well, ask the people who gave Bernard Madoff their entire life savings what could possibly go wrong. Granted, there’s a difference between a Ponzi scheme and the schemes these TV ads peddle. Nonetheless, a scam is a scam. The vast majority of people who buy into these get-rich-quick schemes have more to lose than they stand to gain.

    Despite the lessons from Madoff, it appears that scams will continue to thrive and bilk the unsuspecting and desperate masses. MSNBC reports: “”Work-at-home scams are only expected to become more prevalent as economic conditions worsen and people find themselves out of work or in need of extra cash to deal with escalating prices for basic goods.”” The news outlet also reports that complaints to the Better Business Bureau regarding work-at-home opportunities rose to 4,100 in 2007 from about 3,800 in 2006.

    The take-home message of statistics like these is awareness. Increased visibility of scams will undoubtedly inform vulnerable people, like recent college graduates, of the pitfalls and risks of get-rich-quick schemes. There isn’t a stack of free money out there with your name on it. The path to riches is paved with long hours of grunt work at the office – the type of work you told yourself you went to college to avoid.

    College graduates should have realistic expectations when they leave the classroom for the cubicle. Many entry-level jobs may not be pertinent to your major or your long-term career goals. But the worst job is favorable to the best scam. And in this economy, any job is better than no job, right?

    As the new college graduate enters the real world and tries to carve out his niche, it’s important for him or her to realize the value of hard work. Above all else, though, he or she should realize the appeal and lunacy of get-rich-quick schemes in these desperate times.

    We’ve heard it before: hard work pays off. As much as we want to get around that fact, it’s the unchangeable truth that should govern our newfound work lives.

    -ÿJustin Huggins is a senior majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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