Scams? Joker 88 and the like...what is the problem?

OK, a few years ago I was introduced to Joker 88 (send $50 to the person on top of the list, $50 to the admin and $50 to the person who gave you the ‘entry’ certificate. A classic pyramid scheme if ever I’ve heard one (and I’ve heard of heaps).

HOWEVER, the object of the scheme is not so bad. Underneath the ‘scam’ is a fundamental redistribution of wealth.

When I ‘joined’ the scheme, I had pondered the implications for 2 months beforehand, and could NOT come up with any moral/ethical problem that would preclude my involvement. (I was prepared to risk my ‘investment’ in the chance of making some money)…I fully informed all the people I passed on the ‘certificates’ to to warn them of the risk, and discussed with them my own reservations (even though I could not quite articulate them at the time). While I didn’t RECIEVE any money I didn’t lose any either (apart from the cost of buying o/s cheques and postage to Europe…maybe $20 all up). It was a worthwhile risk IMHO.

Thus my question IS: what is wrong (apart from the risk of losing only one’s initial investment which I DIDN’T) in getting involved in a money redistribution ‘scam’? I hold myself to be generally honourable and law-abiding, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why the ‘authorities’ are so down on such schemes.

Because it is illegal and because it doesn’t work.
If everyone was honest and followed the rules the entire
planet would be in on the scheme at some point. (For some
pyramids this would be less than 20 levels.) Those at the
bottom would have no one to enlist. Only those at the
top would make any money.

But people can see that if they start their own pyramid they
are at the top. The chain is always broken.

But by my reckoning, even if the ‘scheme’ had been around the world and had touched every individual, why wouldn’t they be MORE inclined to try it out again (thereby making an unlimited amount of people to enlist)? If it works at the ‘upper’ levels, why wouldn’t it thus work at the lower levels as well?

Because of math. There are a finite number of people in the world, most of them cannot make money from this scheme. Money is not created, just “redistributed” as you said. It goes from the people who join late to the people who join early.

If it were to work for everyone, where would the extra money come from?

How did you get involved in a pyramid scheme and break even? Did they give you your money back when it petered out, or what?

Not only do all pyramid schemes fail, most of them fail immediately, with only two levels, the scammer and the suckers. The scammer tells you that each person sends it to five others, or ten others. What actually happens is that the scammer sends it to ten thousand people, and those ten thousand all lose (or at least, all of them who participate).

Let me try to clarify the OP a little (as I understood it). He knows it’s illegal, and he seems to know that it’s a poor risk. But lots of poor risks are legal-why is this one in particular legislated against?

Anyone have a guess? Or better yet, a definitive answer?

This scheme worked for many people. I personally know of many people who received money. It was shut down because many people in Europe became financially emancipated and gave up working altogether. You have to remember that no work means no taxes for government.

So much wrong with this… but let’s start here:

No it doesn’t. The government taxes the interest you earn on money in your bank account, they tax income from investments, they tax the money you spend, money you give away, money you leave when you die. You can’t escape the tax man.

I disagree with you. When covid hit what did govts do? They handed out money to businesses first. Why? They said it was to protect jobs but it was really to protect the tax take from those jobs. Yes, govts tax a lot of things but the tax take from weekly PAYE is by far their biggest earner. Governments need people to work, no work = no economy. Simple.

What does a worldwide pandemic have to do with an illegal scam?

How do you think it helps the government to pay people with tax money and then take some of it back as tax? Other than protecting their jobs and keeping them from starving?

This BS might fool Americans on a US-only message board who see Europe as a faraway exotic place with mysterious social rules, but the SDMB is an international forum with European participants, including myself, who recognize the assertion as nonsense based on actual firsthand experience. Try harder.

You need to do your own research. All money is taxed and then taxed again.

I’m not in America.

OK, humour us a little.

How many?
How much. Getting some paltry amount of money back is quite possible. Like the OP, maybe some people you know got some of their initial money back. Just “received money” is vastly different to becoming wealthy. Maybe they got 50 euros. If they were lucky.

OK, how much money do you think is reasonable to become “financially emancipated” ? How much did these people get?

Also, do you have a reference for the European legislation or regulations that specifically targeted Joker88? Given the scheme was already illegal, why did the governments have to do anything at all? What was special about Joker88 that drew government intervention, and where is a record of that intervention?

Well, almost every country has a lottery, some more than one draw a week. At least once a week in most European countries, someone becomes financially independent. Given the various governments have not acted to shut these down, we might assume that the problem with Joker88 was that many more than one person a week in each country was getting rich.
Given the governments were apparently worried about their tax base, in a conglomerate of nearly a billion citizens, one must assume that there were many many thousands of people getting rich off Joker88. Care to suggest how many did?

Then we can work out how many people paid into the scheme.

Yes, that is a fair question. The OP’s statement “While I didn’t RECIEVE any money I didn’t lose any either” is very mysterious.

It’s worth noting that unlike in the USA, lottery winnings in Europe are not taxed as income. Any interest or dividends earned from it are taxed, but not the initial payout.

Of course, the respective governments take a big slice off the top before the winnings are paid.

I think that was achieved by redefining ‘lose’ to exclude ‘giving money away voluntarily to someone who is probably a scammer’

Maybe Lisa88 assumes that she has not lost anything because she still has her ‘certificate’?

I have some Premium Bonds (A UK government lottery) that were given to me as a gift back in 1950. They cost £5 then and I could cash them in for £5 today. I guess I haven’t lost any money either,