A Texas Internet-type company called iJango is holding a meeting at Spazio's in Westport tonight to attract St. Louis-area investors, and the Better Business Bureau is warning St. Louisans to be wary, the St. Louis Business Journalreports.
More specifically, the BBB believes iJango is a pyramid scheme.
On its website, iJango has a movie-style trailer (rated "'EX, for excitement") that promises that you can become the center of the online universe. Somehow -- it's never made quite clear -- iJango will help its users "earn money when you or someone you know searches online".
"We're poised for explosive growth," the announcer promises. "It's an enormous opportunity for anyone willing to control their own destiny."
Yep, there's oil in them thar hills!
You can find the iJango business plan here. Whoever wrote it has an impressive grasp of business jargon. (The graphics, however, could use a little work.) Basically, you pay $389 annually for an Internet portal and an impressive title, like "Director". You convince your nearest and dearest to use that portal whenever they buy something, instead of going to the shopping site directly, and you get a cut of the profit. You get more money if you convince other people to join iJango, too, and agree to work under you.
On August 3, 2009 the Better Business Bureau met with iJango's CEO,
Rayner Smith to clarify the nature of their business. Mr. Smith and his
staff indicated that they offer a business opportunity; however, they
do not make any lifestyle promises based on earning potential.
Similarly, he indicated that the only promise the business makes to
potential clients is that they will be paid for the recruitment of
registered customers and the recruitment of others to do the same.
That does sound pretty pyramidal.
After the meeting with Smith, the BBB began investigating iJango's claims that it is affiliated with sites like Google, Rhapsody, iTunes and Amazon. So far, Rhapsody has claimed never to have heard of iJango and Amazon responded to the BBB's request for information with a lot of blather that amounted to, "'We'll look into it." As for Google:
On August 11, 2009 BBB requested iJango provide clarification regarding
their relationship with Google and Google's AdSense. BBB further
requested a list of the companies that iJango has entered into a legal
agreement with in order to generate shopping commission. As of August
12, 2009, the Bureau is awaiting the company's reply.
Warning to fellow citizens: Be wary of a company that promises to change the world and make you a gazillionaire, particularly if it already has a website (with a cheesy "trailer") that invites the masses to take part. Do you really think Google attracted its first investors that way?
Snake-oil salesmen at work after the jump: This is almost like being there!