On paper, I am an Avon representative. Right now, I do not actively sell, but I have a representative account I set up to avoid paying for makeup, when I wear so little. Most women’s makeup routine has about fifteen to twenty products, starting with primer, going over to eyebrows, and ending with lip gloss or lipstick. Easy, quick, and natural routines typically contain about eight products. On days I even bother to wear makeup, I do absolutely nothing to my face, and absolutely nothing to my brows. I just fake a daytime smokey eye with some gray eyeliner, add a bunch of mascara, and then put on some lipstick that’s the same color as my lips but darker and pinker. If I feel like wearing red lipsick, I switch over to a brown eye liner and put on less mascara. There is a black eyeliner and some shiny peach lipstick rolling around in my bag for a more dramatic look, but I almost never wear that. Every once in a while, I might add a clear lip gloss to my standard three products.
Once I got through my “pity sales” and wound up with a pile of eyeliners, mascaras, and lipsticks, some vitamins, and a face primer I wound up tossing aside for free, I decided to test the market and learn if selling Avon might be something I could do to make enough money to supplement my income, rather than just send back to the company in exchange for their products.
Not being the type to approach people and ask them if they want to buy from me, I decided to reach out by posting an ad online. Since marketplace posting didn’t work out, I tried joining several Facebook groups for people involved in direct selling and those who enjoy buying from direct sales representatives.
I was not expecting to wake up the next morning and find I earned enough money to no longer need a steady paycheck for a year. Avon offers great products. They’re one of only two or three makeup brands I seem to be able to use. But people can become very attached to what they already use, and even if they are into Avon…the company has been around for over a hundred years. There’s a chance most people who just happened across my post online already buy their Avon from somebody else. I thought I would see two or three small orders from some people who just like to collect makeup trickle in over the next week.
Everyone who responded to me wanted to invite me to join their special page for direct sellers and those who want to buy direct sales products.
The first couple of times, I joined just to investigate further. It made no sense. We were already in a group for people who sell through direct sales and those who want to buy from them. I couldn’t imagine why this couldn’t happen with me simply listing my page there, and the interested buyers clicking on the link and making purchases from there. It would be like walking up to the checkout with your weekly groceries and having the cashier tell you to come on out to the empty lot across the street so they could ring up your order with the handheld scanner instead of just using the register in the store.
But the reason my new “customer” always wanted me to join their group soon became clear.
Those groups turned out to be “raffle groups.” The purpose of a raffle group is to collect money from members. You pay the group owner $5.00 or $10.00 or more per entry in a raffle. If you win, you get a prize. In some cases, it’s cash, a vehicle, or some other item or collection of items, as in most raffles. In other groups, your “prize” is a customer who promises to make a large purchase from your direct sales page.
None of the prizes ever seem to materialize. Nobody wins the cash or item. The special customer never makes that purchase. The group owner simply keeps the entry fee from each person they got to fall for their scam. It’s easy money for them. All they have to do is join a few groups for people in direct sales, hit the “like” or “love” button on everyone’s comment, and copy and paste:
“Hi <person’s name>, we’d love to have you join our group! Just go to <link to another facebook group that sounds like another direct seller and customer networking group>” into a comment. If they manage to do that one hundred times in an hour, and ten people fall for it for ten dollars each, that scammer just made $100 an hour for doing nothing more than clicking, typing a name, and hitting their “paste” buttons on their computer.
Scammers who realize direct sellers have gotten wise to the “raffle” scam will try the “group party” tactic. These scammers announce that they are having a huge online direct sales party as a Facebook event, but only inviting one representative per direct sales company. Invitations are extended on a first comment gets the invitation basis. If you ask what you have to do to participate in the “party” or “event” you are told to direct message the event planner. The event planner then responds by asking you for $10.00. They promise they will use your money to publicize the event, and that you will in turn be introduced to thousands of people who want to order from you online.
There is no multi-company online party. Your ten dollars goes in the scammer’s pocket. But even if they do host an event and allow you to list your direct sales page in it just to keep up appearances, the invitation is still a scam. Your money still goes in the scammer’s pocket for doing nothing you could not just as easily do yourself for free. At most, all they’re going to do is go on their Facebook page, click “Create,” choose “Event” and fill out that little form with details encouraging people to buy from the direct sellers they invite. Anybody can do that in a matter of minutes without paying for advertising or anything else.
These scammers’ accounts are indistinguishable from other accounts. The photos appear to be candid shots of people, or the type of professional photo one could get from a glamour session. Their statuses are written correctly and are not full of grandiose claims. Their only distinguishing characteristic appears to be their tendency to pounce on anyone who posts in a direct sales group with an invite to their own group.
Speaking out against these scams does not draw help from a group moderator as one might expect. I spoke up in one group, drew a few likes, and the attention of someone who started laughing at me for mentioning it, then swore they were commiserating and I was being rude by challenging them, then started flinging insults at me. In other words, an internet troll, someone who goes into online situations with the intent to start fights for attention. I’m guessing most of the trolling on these sites is from the scammers, intent on diverting attention away from anyone who speaks up about what they are doing.
The group moderator later posted an announcement that “raffle groups” were allowed in her group.
Anyone who wants some free or deeply discounted makeup or other Avon products is encouraged to sign up to sell it. You will get a great discount at worst, and some free items, maybe even a little spending money, at best. But no matter what you do, never pay anybody any money for the chance that they or their contacts might buy from you.
The only things you should ever spend money on in direct sales are starter kits, samples and other business and promotional material offered by your company, products to use, demonstrate, or re-sell directly from your company, and general home office supplies such as pens, planners, folders, or thumb drives. Anyone offering to sell you anything else with the promise of boosting your business is only there to boost their own profit from a scam.