This post was originally posted on an old dinar site: http://peoplesdinarisajoke.com/ (down since 2011). I haven’t changed anything, this is the original post. The discussion is about dinars, doesn’t go into detail about Stevei or newshound guru information.
Originally posted in 2011 by Azrael
The Cult of Dinar and the Long Con
Potentially unsafe groups or leaders “come off very nice at first, they go for vulnerable people who are looking for answers, lonely, what you’d call ‘normal people.’ They’re very good at what they do and can get people to believe anything. You might think you’d never get taken in, but don’t bet on it. ”
– Margaret Singer, Ph.D.
For those who know me in real life outside of chats and forums, you know that I have had reason to investigate and deeply study the inner workings of “destructive” cults and “abusive” churches. Years ago, I took a large amount of time and dug into these groups and learned a thing or two.
During a late night discussion in a dinar chat room, I mentioned what I had felt for a very long time: that the popular dinar sites are organized, run, and manipulated just like a destructive cult. They are guilty of the same tactics and methods of manipulation as cultic groups and for this reason I am constantly concerned for the well-being of the common members of those sites.
My concerns go beyond the simple worries regarding the “ups” and “downs” of the daily calls for the dinar RV or the weekly pumping of dinar sales. True emotional damage to the individual over time is my concern.
Whether these dinar sites and groups have spontaneously turned into such things or whether there is a top-down motive to purposely run them in this manner, you must ask yourself if these sites are healthy for a speculative investor. In order to ask yourself the proper questions and to put yourself in the proper position for a good perspective, it is necessary to look at the qualities of a destructive cult and do a “compare and contrast” mental checklist. In the end, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… Well, it’s a duck.
The Warning Signs of a Destructive Cult
Many of us dinar investors have joked about how enthralled with dinar news and rumors we are or how we are “glued to our computers” all day searching for information. How many of us have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on a supposed RV watch, refreshing the CBI website just to have our hopes dashed in an instant? I’m not saying this compulsion is entirely driven by the cultic nature of the dinar sites or their mysterious leaders, but by what means did you get the idea that an RV was happening that very night? Was it because of solid news that you read yourself or was it from something you heard in a chat room which then spread rapidly to several sites in the rumors section?
There are two “experts” from the cult research realm whose research I have relied on ad nauseam: Dr. Margaret Singer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Singer) and Rick Ross (http://www.rickross.com/rickross.html).
Based on Dr. Singer’s original work, Rick Ross has compiled lists of warning signs for both groups/leaders and people involved with such groups. (http://www.rickross.com/warningsigns.html) Most important for this discussion is his list of warning signs for potentially unsafe leaders or groups.
Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.
- Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
- No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
- No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
- Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
- There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
- Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
- There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
- Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
- The group/leader is always right.
- The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Take a few moments to read that list. Read it a couple of times and keep in your mind the history of the popular dinar investment sites you frequently visit. Does anything ring a bell? Let’s take the list one item at a time.
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
How many of our dinar sites are “staffed up” with moderators who watch your every move and are “wearing their boots” in preparation to “kick” you from chat? The very idea behind having a moderator is that they watch over you and moderate your discussions. We don’t (or shouldn’t) tolerate that in our everyday lives, but we submit to it in the dinar sites. If a member questions the moderators or the rules of the sites, he will be chastised with “His house, his rules.” (This is in reference to the fact that the site owner calls the shots. If you don’t like that, you can leave or you will be shown the way out.)
It became almost comical to watch one particular female moderator, drunk with power, visiting the site’s chat room because she seemed to look for conflict from members just so she could start kicking or banning people. It was clear that her authoritarian attitude went unchecked and went straight to her head.
Outside of chat rooms, even the forums are heavily moderated. How many times do you see threads get locked and then moments later deleted altogether? Often, the moderator takes the time to post a last response in the “questionable” thread to get their authoritarian two cents into the discussion. Again, questioning a moderator about this activity usually doesn’t end well for the questioner.
2 No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
I’ve touched on this above, but this point is important to think about. The glaring example is in chat rooms, but it happens quite often in the forums, too. One very heavily trafficked site has “turned off comments” completely under the guise of “keeping it civil”. In fact, it seems that once more critical inquiry appeared in the comments sections, tolerance for the comments disappeared.
I’ve been in dinar chat rooms on many occasions where the background of the leaders of that particular site was the discussion topic. After certain alleged criminal behavior of one of the leaders had been exposed, anyone – and I mean anyone – who even brought it up or named the leader in chat was “kicked” and “banned”. No rebuttal or meaningful answer came… just the punishment. This action served as a programming tool or warning for those left in chat. If you “mess with the mods” you are “gone”. They weren’t kidding.
Often, those who get banned from sites for their critical inquiries head off to other sites or even start their own.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
Honestly, I don’t really care what it costs for a site’s owner to run that site or to offer their services to the public. However, this point does apply to dinar sites and how they are run. Certain sites offer “extended” services or membership levels. When we members are told “nobody is getting rich off of this site”, it would help to know the truth. We can do some simple math and figure out that indeed the site owners are making a decent haul of membership and service fees.
In fact, one site in particular that claimed to have no bosses and no associated cost pulled off an amazing feat. They asked the membership for a $25.00 fee (refundable or to be returned at a later date) in order to sign up for a post-RV event. Up until this point, there truly was no known cost associated with this site. Members seemed to flock to the idea and actually paid for the privilege to sign up. I have yet to see a disclosure of where the money is being held, how much was collected, and the mechanism by which the money will be returned. It is amazing, indeed.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
Dinar sites are not alone with respect to having circulated conspiracy theories or “outside of the box” interpretation of world events. However, dinar sites are ripe with the various flavors of such rumors and innuendo. This investment brings together people from all walks of life and with that comes many different ideas of how the world works. In that way, these dinar investor groups are big families… and you get the occasional “crazy uncle” who says what hereally thinks.
It might be the very nature of the investment that attracts the ideas. We have such a lack of real, solid news sometimes that people extrapolate to the point of “reading the dinar RV” as being connected to each and every news piece coming out in the mainstream media. A particular site’s guru of the moment actually told the chat room that the winter snow storms of early 2011 were the reason the RV was delayed. Think about that! The revaluation of the Iraqi dinar was held up because of weather conditions in parts of the United States!
How many posts have you read that have quoted an obscure part of Scripture or the End Times prophesies? How many times (because we are dealing with money) have you heard the term Illuminati in an explanation of “how things are really going down”? Again, dinar sites are full of rumors and those rumors read like a great “inside” story of events that you cannot verify. According to the rumors, bankers are having secret meetings, the Middle East press is controlled by one wealthy leader, the Federal Reserve is going to be shut down, we’re all going to use a new “rainbow” currency, and the Queen of England is secretly pushing for the RV to happen.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
This particular point is one that is disturbing because it relates directly to the members and their skewed world view. I used to frequent one dinar site almost exclusively and I never really paid much attention to other sites. This site I frequented seemed to have level-headed veterans of the investment who spoke with a decent amount of researched intelligence. That perspective changed as I paid more attention to what was going on.
Certain chat transcripts or posts started to get copied to the forum of this site from another team’s site. The bashing of that information and those people began almost immediately. It wasn’t until later in some of those threads that newbies would be brave enough to ask who those other team members were.
The truth started coming out that those people used to be members at the very site that was bashing them. The reasons for bashing seemed to be regurgitated reasons passed down from the site’s leader and being parroted by the currently active flock. By this, I mean that those actively bashing had no apparent first-hand experience with those members. Their negative information appeared to be handed down from others to them and passed onto anyone who would read the threads. I imagine if you cornered one of those bashers and asked them directly about those other team members, their only points of reference would be hearsay at best.
This is how you “poison the well” so that outside information cannot be accepted as legitimate. You control what your members hear and believe and from whom that information comes. I quickly learned that this behavior didn’t only apply to this one outside team. It seemed that every other site had ex-members of the site I frequented and they were all bashed the same. They all had a history (and a negative one, apparently) with the owner and moderators of the site I visited.
I’ve often said that we common members needed a “dinar investor family tree” chart so we could figure out who was related to whom, who worked with whom, and all the other (hidden) links that these people had.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
This item is closely tied to the ideas in the previous item. Once you discover that there really is a world outside of your favorite dinar site and you also discover that there are ex-members out there talking, you start to hear a different perspective on the leadership.
A common pattern starts to emerge. It becomes clear that these “falling out of grace” episodes are not isolated to just one person or a small handful of them. Other sites are populated with users who have had the same “problems”.
After reading their stories and getting to know some of them through their chats and posts, you can learn that they aren’t really that different from the members at your site. You can also figure out that they aren’t the diseased lunatics they have been made out to be. Something seems wrong or disconnected. Why did my site kick these people out again? They don’t seem all that bad, really. They aren’t doing anything differently than my site and they actually seem to be friendly.
Frequently, you will learn that these exiled users simply “asked a question” about the leader and got banned or “doubted a rumor or intel source” and got banned. Worst yet, they stopped taking the abuse of the moderators in a chat room and got summarily kicked and banned in the blink of an eye after speaking up to defend themselves.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
This item is fairly self-explanatory. Take your favorite site leader’s name and use a search engine to read what people have said about them.
In some instances, you’ll find that your favorite site leader’s name isn’t what you thought it was. He’s using an alias. In some instances, you will locate a website outlining the criminal past of your guru. In some instances you’ll find people just like you who were harmed in some way, either emotionally, financially, or otherwise by your favorite, trusted dinar leader. Do research.
8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
This point illustrates a true manipulation and control mechanism. Once a member is snared and kept “in line” at their favorite dinar site, they are led to believe that their site “has a higher standard” to live up to. If a member is going to post something, it better be an ultimately well-researched post with links to support it. (As a matter of fact, as one site has made it clear, the leaders have sources they pay for and they have better sources because of it. So, you might as well just wait for them to get you the information.)
It doesn’t take long for the herd mentality of the dinar sites to kick-in and become self-perpetuating. How many threads have you seen where the original poster made a clear and concise argument only to have post after post of “Link please” or “I don’t believe this without a link” or “XXXX has already said it is done, so I believe his work more than you”?
The herd gets into a frenzy of “negatives” (clicking on the “thumbs down” rating) when anyone posts something contrary to the leadership. All sorts of reasons for the negatives come from the populace. You’ll see posts stating, “Go do more research, newbie” or “Wow, only 2 posts and you say this” or “You just joined yesterday and we’re supposed to believe you?” or worse yet, “I believe XXXX’s sources not yours.” How can anyone live up to these imposed standards? How can you ever be “good enough” when each and every post that you attempt to make gets jumped on by the herd?
In chat rooms, the idea of never being good enough gets taken to a new height of absurdity. Recently, I have witnessed the moderators handling their dinar people with such disrespect that it sickened me. The site where I saw this happen has let the moderator team run wild over the membership. The latest pattern has been to have one or more moderators show up in chat (seemingly orchestrated) with what appears to be no motive other than exciting the masses. Think of the below, paraphrased chat excerpt:
[modxxx1] I just got off of a great CC!
[userxxx1] what did you hear? Good? What call?
[modxxx1] I wish I could tell you! You’re going to be very, very happy!
[userxxx2] How happy? Are you sure?
[modxxx1] 1000% sure! You’ll all be VERY happy! I just wish I could tell you!
[userxxx1] come on! We need to hear good news! Pleeeaaaaasssseeeee!
[modxxx2] modxxx1 pm me, please.
[modxxx1] ok. BRB peeps. Trust me, it is good news! Wish I could share!
[userxxx2] must be good!
Just what do they mean when the moderators tell us they have news they cannot share? Aren’t we good enough for the information? Can’t we be trusted? Clearly, we must not be a higher-up like a mod and don’t deserve the information, right?
Let’s look at what that pattern (repeated often) in chat does. First, it tells the members that there is new information available. Secondly, it tells them they can’t have the information. Third, it defines a class of people worthy of having the information and you aren’t in that class. Fourth, it raises hopes with no factual basis. Fifth, it reinforces who the leaders are (the ones with the intel.) Sixth, with the addition of a second moderator asking for a private message or chat, it raises the air of mystery to help the herd’s imagination run wild. (Wow! It must be really juicy! The moderators are talking privately about it! I wish I was a moderator!)
Once the moderators have you glued to your screen and waiting for any tidbit of information they will pass onto you, the newest chat pattern is thrown into the mix.
[modxxx1] this is why we don’t share. Bashing will not be tolerated. I’ll be back later.
[userxxx1] we’re sorry. Please don’t go! Don’t let one person ruin it!
[userxxx2] modxxx1, kick him! We don’t want him here!
[modxxx2] you don’t deserve to hear what we have.
[userxxx2] GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO RRRRRRRRRRRRVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV!
[modxxx1] no. I’ll wait to see if XXXXX wants it posted. I won’t share it in here.
userxxx3 has been banned…
When the frenzy of new information (announced by the moderators) gets to be too much and the room gets antsy and even somewhat angry at the idea of information being dangled in front of them like a carrot on a stick, the moderators switch tactics to beat down the uprising. They actually tell the members they don’t deserve the information because of their behavior! They kick one or two bad apples to serve as an example to the herd and threaten to leave themselves.
It makes you wonder if there ever was a conference call or new information at all, doesn’t it?
9. The group/leader is always right.
Combining all of the aspects of the cultic nature of dinar sites ultimately brings you to the point where you will observe that the followers will believe their leader above and beyond all others. You will especially see this when negative news or contrary information is brought to the forums. Almost immediately, you will see the retaliation of the followers. The loyalty of the members is truly amazing.
I have even seen real and factual news sites quoted that say the EXACT opposite of the supposed intel brought forth by the leaders of sites. When the bearer of this news attempts to bring it to broader attention in a very friendly way in order to better educate the membership, he is immediately met with responses like “that’s not was XXXXX says. More smoke and mirrors,” or “I believe our team and their information!” or worse, “XXXXX’s intel is better than the news”. Do you see the problem with this? The membership has literally stopped their seeking of outside information and they prefer the spoon-fed information from the site leaders. This arrangement leaves open the strong possibility of abuse. The abuse is in the form of bad information or leading the membership to believe things that are openly provable to be false. The leaders are all (usually) very careful to tell you to never purchase more dinar based on their information and they even have their moderators repeat the same in chat rooms. This is tantamount to a “cover their behinds” clause in the leader-member relationship. However, with dollar signs in their eyes and a constant barrage of exciting and positive news, what starry-eyed investor wouldn’t take “another chance” to increase their holdings? After all, the news is “all good” and we’ll “be very happy”!
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
This item is actually the point that I was using as an example in a chat room discussion, leading to this entire treatise. In a cult or an abusive church, the leaders generally have a common “quality” regardless of whether we are talking about a religious cult, a MLM marketing group, a doomsday cult, or an investment cult. The leader has the amazing and exclusive (and all too often false) “inside track” to information that the common membership doesn’t have.
The metaphor I used in chat was that the dinar sites are being run like a religious cult and unfortunately, our investment deals with a country with a religion that many of us do not understand fully, a language we cannot speak nor write, and a news sources that are unfamiliar to us. However, the leaders act in the role of religious cult gurus who claim to be the only ones who can speak with their god or who can read the secret doctrines, but they would be all too happy to translate for us and share. Do you trust that relationship? Doesn’t it seem to you that the religious cult leader could put his own spin on the information or just simply “make it up”?
In the dinar investment world, this means that the leader of the site (and his companion gurus) claim to have CBI (Central Bank of Iraq) contacts, contacts directly in or working for the Iraqi Parliament, or even IMF contacts. We, as common users, have no way to verify this because they are all “high level” contacts sharing information under secrecy. These “boots on the ground” information sources share their tidbits only through the leader of that site. The leaders then bestow upon us the “gift” of that inside information because they care about us or because they are waging a war of “one-upmanship” with competing dinar sites. (The sites with the best intel are the most trafficked sites.)
Because of the relationship that the leader or leaders of these dinar investment sites have developed with the membership over time, the membership has in some form of Pavlovian conditioning learned to react and behave based on this secret information being passed down from said leadership. When situations get dire in the investment or the future is bleak, you can count on posts asking where they are or what their news is. You’ll see it over and over. Some differing information has come to the surface or a probable window for the RV even has passed with no joy and the members start asking for their leaders to share what they know. Instead of looking at things for themselves, the members have been conditioned to believe that the leaders are the only ones who have the “truth” or can “clear things up”. This is a powerful position to be in.
The Long Con
You might wonder if the author of this article believes the entire dinar speculation to be worthless or even worse, a scam. I do not. I believe the investment is indeed a speculative one and has aspects of a very high risk gamble. However, I also believe it has the potential for a great reward. I think the dinar investment sites add confusion and emotional duress to the mix of an already difficult to follow investment strategy. In short, I believe (after much research) in the possible payoff from this long-term investment.
The good news is that I think a strong case can be made to support the idea that the site owners and their staff are involved in a “long con” at our expense. Also, the bad news is that I think a strong case can be made to support the idea that the site owners and their staff are involved in a “long con” at our expense.
How in the world can the revelation of an active con game be good news? I believe the con game to be a “long con” in that the perpetrators of the con are planning on a much larger payoff much further “down the road”. Sure, arguments can be made that the site leaders are currently making “lots of money” off of post-RV event registrations, SMS text message services, VIP-like site memberships, commissions on dinar sales from the major dealers, and even click-through payments on banner ads on their sites. However, is that really enough for them? Is that a decent enough income to justify all of the time and effort applied to creating and maintaining a website with forums, chats, and community involvement? Surely, it isn’t.
It is my postulation that the end point of the long con comes after the RV of the Iraqi dinar. This infrastructure that they have built and all of the community support that they have developed will be transferred into post-RV investments and “opportunities” they will invite their loyal members to be a part of. These loyal members will be wealthy people, drunk with excitement, and all too willing to take their leaders’ advice for the “next step” in maintaining their new found wealth, growing their nest eggs bigger, and being smart “like wealthy people” have always been with offshore banking accounts, tax shelters, and other strategies. The site leaders will transform into investment leaders and tax gurus.
Wikipedia has a good explanation of a “confidence trick” or “confidence game”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick) The simple definition from the entry there is:
A confidence trick or confidence game is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, confidence trickster, grifter, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as plants.
This definition is a good one. In the scenario I am proposing, the “con man” would be the site owner or owners and/or the leaders. The “plants” would be the moderators and/or the “gurus” who post rumors and other information in the forums.
As the Wikipedia entry continues, it seems to ring a bell of familiarity. It states:
Confidence men or women exploit characteristics of the human psyche such as greed, both dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, naïveté, and the thought of trying to get something of value for nothing or for something far less valuable. Confidence men or women have victimized individuals from all walks of life.
As I have already stated, I believe in this investment. I believe it is a real gamble and the potential payoff is amazing. However, this scenario is a “target rich environment” for con men and their teams of plants.
The “good news” part of this comes from the idea of the con men getting their big payoff post-RV. Their rationale here presumes that the RV will happen. That logic is good for us. If these folks are truly running a long con, they are also presuming the RV to be a future event. They are busily working to get their real game in place for after the revaluation. That’s good news for us. That means that some very smart and conniving people are actually PLANNING on the event we are dreaming about. We are all worth far more to them after the Iraqi dinar revaluation than we are right now. They will do anything in their power to get us across the finish line of this investment to become wealthy. At the point that happens, we are (in their minds) fattened cows ready for the slaughter.
Before you write off this section of my paper as unfounded, please ask yourself how many dinar sites now offer post-RV conferences or meetings with investment professionals. One site has always offered such a thing to those who pay a membership fee to be a part of the opportunity. However, each of the other sites and offshoot sites now offer their own version of the same. Take time to look at each one and you will see that I am not speculating. It is true.
Again, the good news is that the leaders are planning on us being wealthy. The other side of the same coin holds the “bad news”.
The bad news is that through cultic methods, the site leaders have persuaded a large number of investors into trusting and even hanging on the leaders’ every word. The members have put the leaders onto pedestals to look down upon us all.
It is in the best interest of the leaders of these sites to “get us all past the finish line” of the investment marathon so we are all wealthy.
Then and only then can they work on the real plan of deception to separate you from your newly found wealth. I truly hope I am wrong about this. However, be on the lookout for “special opportunities” or “the next big investment” that these leaders will be happy to share with you post-RV. Be ever careful of them offering you the next “dinar” ride.
I would hate to see a bunch of new millionaires get fleeced by gurus.