Folks! I take a break from my series of short stories to narrate an interesting event. I was approached by one of my classmates of college to join a e-commerce venture that she has started in a partnership and she wanted me to be a part of it.
Since I have some spare time in the evening, I thought maybe I can contribute 10-12 hours a week. She was okay with it. We decided to meet to discuss it in detail and meet one of partners of the ventures.
She seemed pretty excited to see me and so was I when I met her at a coffee shop for the meeting. We recalled our wonderful college days. How easy perhaps life was then! No hassles of corporate life. No adult responsibilities. Ah!
Partner arrived, bringing us back to current times.He was a middle aged guy in his 40s with around 20 years of experience in many telecom giants. We sat down to discuss the venture. He started with explaining how 3% of the population holds 95% of the world’s wealth. We will be working for 40 years of our life in 9 to 5 jobs and still will not be achieve any long term wealth. I got curious about the role I need to play and how is it linked to the opening speech.
It was an ecommerce company with presence in Hong Kong which was establishing a network in India. I became completely disinterested in this kind of role as I believe that this was not an area of my interest. However, he insisted that I hear the whole proposition.
Proposition turned out to be paying 3.5 Lakhs for becoming member of the company. I will then be required to bring 2 members who will do the same as me and I will get a commission. The chain will continue and I will get commission for every sale after my level in the chain so that I can become a millionaire by end of next 5 years!
I was completely put off by now so I bluntly told them that I do not have so much money to invest and I would rather continue writing stories in my spare time (much to the distress of my readers, kidding!).
But, he was not to take no. He dared to suggest that I take a loan to invest in his bullshit scheme and my classmate nodded happily saying she did the same.
Internally boiling by now, I told them I cannot take loan as I have other financial commitments as well.
They still kept pestering for next hour to trust them (one whom I knew as my classmate and met after 10 year and one whom I met 2 hours ago). They even showed me pictures of people who have got rich by this venture. Some of them poised with Bentley and gigantic houses. Vowing not to take any more, I asked them to leave as I will be late to reach back home.
I was very clear that I did not want to be part of this scheme in first 30 minutes. But, when I got back home curiosity got better of me. So, I searched for this Hong Kong company called Qnet.
To my immense surprise, internet is full of people proclaiming it as a scam and how they lost money by becoming a part of it. There is an in-depth reporting by certain saying that they had to buy useless, overpriced product as a way of investing 3.5 Lakhs. Then, they attended trainings in Malaysia (at their personal expenses) which basically trained them to do what my classmate and her partner was doing.
The top levels partners of the company have been arrested by Economic Wing, Mumbai for financial crime.
There are as much defending blogs and interviews as there are accusing ones. These blogs state that company is running from last 18 years which cannot be done by a bogus company. It has sponsored events like FIFA, Olympics, IIFA awards and its leaders include key note speakers of World Economic Forums, covered by Forbes and what not.
It largely remains to the discretion of person to invest or not but I found whole structure of the company and the way information was presented by the partner as completely fraudulent as one cannot become millionaire by investing in a scheme which will require 5 layers under me (I adding 2 people and then next layer adding 2 people and so on..) and it will be ethically wrong for me to sell products which I do not found useful ( a disc that emits energy to make everything around it lively is for Rs.22000…Really?) to even complete strangers let alone my dear friends.
Next day, I decide to do something useful with my weekend.
I went to give curtains to washerman. There were still iron hooks in the curtains which he offered to remove despite me not asking. I wondered how little he must be earning by taking Rs.20 for washing a curtain anyway. But still, he volunteered to remove hooks which I cannot.
I walked happily back on my foot to my apartment, photograph of Bentley fading rapidly in my mind.