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"Everyone has pain. It's your job to find it."
August 31, 2011 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
posted by Rhaomi (47 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
That site looks like the product of one of Cortex's markov scripts.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh Lord, just what I need. Something to fuel even more outrage.

I just read the bit on the Anthony Morrison scam. Are there no depths to which people will stoop? You know, comparing this to a common street mugging, hell, makes a mugger look ethical.

Thanks, good post. Now excuse me while I go vomit, and make me some plasma nunchucks.
posted by Xoebe at 11:23 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not sure how much stock to put in that "saltydroid" site as the tone is bizarre and the author seems to have a complex set of personal axes to grind. But the omnipresence of total scam operations in every area of communication, from the net to TV, is a total disgrace. There are laws on the books against this sort of thing and entire Federal agencies supposedly devoted to stopping them, but it seems to have no effect at all.
posted by zipadee at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where on that saltydroid site am I supposed to click to send money?
posted by notyou at 11:32 AM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is all very interesting but the weird format :: tone :: asides :: freak me out {wild audience laughter}.

I'm guess this person has watched a ton of informercials and it informs his writing. I read the "::" as an old-fashioned channel change sound-effect.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:36 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I want to like this website...but the writing style and presentation is confusing as all hell. I can't tell if it is serious or not. Also...it must be getting slammed because it is S L O W.
posted by jnnla at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2011


You killed it.
posted by mmrtnt at 11:40 AM on August 31, 2011


This is terrifying.
posted by Theta States at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2011


Just the front page is down, it looks like; all the other links work. I'm putting together a comment mirror with Google cache links just in case the rest goes down, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2011


Back-up links in case the main site is slow (or crashed):
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is absolutely bizarre. I can't figure out what any of it is supposed to mean. Is it written by the Salty Droid and not a human?
posted by slogger at 11:55 AM on August 31, 2011


Every time I put something of any value on CL, I immediately get--within a minute--several spam notes asking if it's for sale, etc. It's always seemed to me that both on traditional media and now especially online, no one seems to actually give a shit about putting a stop to these scams. They undoubtedly cost a lot of people money, but I don't see it getting any better.
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


...One of the articles on the front page right now features the observation that a certain person has "a fanged vagina face."

I must admit, this does not necessarily inspire much confidence in me about this site's tone and credulence.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember an infomercial a few years back. The host pointed out how you could get started in real estate by buying a $3,000,000 apartment building that he had for sale. The monthly mortgage payments would be $15,000 but you would bring in $16,000 from renting the apartments. So, I'm thinking, maintenance, insurance, taxes, deadbeat tenants, less than full occupancy...

His next line, but don't you have to be smart to pull off high-stakes investments like this? No! In fact, sometimes smarts just get in your way of taking the leap.

His next line. But where will you get the money for a down payment? Your parents or grandparents are probably just sitting on property that is doing nothing and can be used as security.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:04 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what exactly is the problem with writing in clear, concise, standard English, again?
posted by trunk muffins at 12:13 PM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, it's... Kind of like going into the yard and lifting up a box, only to discover a mass of wriggling snakes underneath. If this is real, then he has picked a worthy target to fight his one man war against. More power to you, Droid.

But the tone of the posts is very strange, as people here have already mentioned. If he went into this as more of a reporter and less an entertainer it would probably help his cause.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:15 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


He may be pointing all sorts of genuine scams, but articles like this make me wonder about his motivations because that is a lot of venom. It would work a lot better for me if he just pointed out the facts.
posted by amj at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2011


There is some great investigative journalism on this site, once you get past the ascerbic style. Though the tone is nice, it detracts from how totally fucking awful humanity is.
posted by mek at 12:16 PM on August 31, 2011


I thought the tone was a bit offputting at first. But I think I would have stopped reading and started crying by now if it weren't there to add a little humor and distance. It probably helps the writer retain his sanity.
posted by Garm at 12:19 PM on August 31, 2011


In one of the ironies of the world @SaltyDroid was suspended from twitter for spamming or bad behavior. This had more to do with twitter protecting the wrong parties than anything the Salty Droid was doing.

I became online friends with this guy for a short period of time. When he left twitter I kind of quit staying in touch.

I was going to start a blog where I bought those $99 dollar get rich quick schemes, then I was going to try them (if what they were advocating wasn't unethical/illegal) and then write about how much time was spent, what my ROI was and how much work was involved. I didn't do this because I lacked the funds, thought it would eat my soul, and I already have too many website ideas that I haven't run with.

Anyway, I was going to do this, found out he was already doing it, and we formed a short lived online friendship. Mostly revolving around being assholes. Everyone needs a hobby.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:20 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Maybe the persona helps draw attention away from his sources. Since he comes off as the larger than life "Salty Droid" who knows and sees all, you don't think about who must be giving him the information.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:27 PM on August 31, 2011


Hmm, fair point about humor as coping mechanism. And yeah, he is doing important work.

Then again, I have no idea what "a fanged vagina face" actually is, so ascerbic came across as ".....phwah???"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on August 31, 2011


This salty droid character seems to be on to a great story but he's a terrible and ego-driven writer and might be his own worst enemy in terms of getting his message out. But what I wonder about is where state AGs, the Federal FTC, etc. are in terms of cracking down on this kind of BS. Given the sheer scope and range of scams you see it makes you wonder what those guys are doing all day. Is it just that you can't go after people selling generalized business/"success" advice the way you can, say, false medical claims, because the person isn't claiming they are selling you anything but advice?
posted by zipadee at 12:36 PM on August 31, 2011


Seriously, just exposing the PDF script file alone would be damning enough.
Is this not the kind of thing mainstream investigative journalism would be interested in picking up, if true?

Do we stoill HAVE mainstream investigative journalism?
posted by Theta States at 12:39 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, here's the thing. Once an AG gets around to investigating, the "boiler room" has already shut down twice and re-opened under completely new corporate papers, so the only thing left to investigate is a burned out filing cabinet. Really these guys are exactly exactly like teflon cockroaches. Even if you step on one it just squips away. The whole "industry" is full of guys who make Sanford look like an Eagle Scout. Serious x 2. Honestly the only reason they're not running mutual funds and swapping CDOs is because their maths just aren't up to the standard required to bullshit an auditor, other than that it is the exact same scam. I rank these people below Charles Manson because at least he was honest about what he wanted. And really, if you ever wondered what sociopaths do for money when they grow up.... well now you know.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


As far as law enforcement goes, at least one state attorney general is already on the dole, enabling a Delaware-esque situation in Utah where the big scamsters can headquarter their operations in a laissez-faire environment.

As for the media, sadly most outlets seem either credulous or actively supportive of the guru types.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:57 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh. Never before have I been so put off by someone fighting the good fight.

If another person were to translate the site into a front-end language (from the original rear-end version), that'd be awesome.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:03 PM on August 31, 2011


Death Threats and Hate Crimes, Attacks on Women Bloggers is flying around twitter. Salty Droid is supposedly Mean Website 2. His response is here. I'm glad I looked into it before retweeting.

Do you ever wish you could just know THE TRUTH about something? That's how I feel about this. And the JFK assassination. Also, Area 51.
posted by amj at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I must admit, this does not necessarily inspire much confidence in me about this site's tone and credulence.

It inspired absolute confidence in me the minute I saw the link to a pdf of the entire boiler room script for that Anthony Morrison scam. Guys knows what he's talking about, he just doesn't know how to communicate properly.
posted by spicynuts at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, c'mon people. We should be celebrating these guys for being such inspirational entrepreneurs! This is the free market at its best, where the quest for pure, unadulterated profit reigns supreme! After-all, as we all know, it's the consumer's fault for not being smarter with their savings.

By Galt, we should be building monuments to these guys!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the original Feudal lords offered the free men of England a path to prosperity and heaven for just a few dozen sacks of their grain crop...
posted by Slackermagee at 1:32 PM on August 31, 2011


Start with the SEOBook interview linked if you aren't too familiar with these scams and scammers or if the initial tone of the site puts you off. The salty droid is doing the world a huge service and saving countless people from being hustled.
posted by ejoey at 1:33 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a short lived online friendship. Mostly revolving around being assholes.
posted by 445supermag at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


amj - Wow, all this 'boiler room' marketing bullshit and then the insanity of the Naomi Dunford thing? Yeah I need to go walk on the beach or something

It's sort of incredible, is Naomi almost part of the same spectrum of lying, self-promoting scammers as these infomercial con artists? Re-reading her with the Salty Droid rebuttal as context the "I guess that day is here" section and the entire tone of the post ("Today, I’d like to ask you to do a few things for me. First, please share this. You know how.") just screams publicity stunt

And with the bigger fish you've just a straight line from Anthony Morrison & James Malinchak to the Chicken Soup authors Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen and then back to Tim Ferriss from a couple days ago, hanging out with Canfield in the New Yorker

Are these people just all sociopaths?
posted by crayz at 2:07 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as law enforcement goes, at least one state attorney general is already on the dole

That is just... what the fuck? One of these companies is running this guy's campaign website and employing his incompetent son and the AG is on YouTube giving these companies a 'wink wink, we know you're scammers, just stay within the letter' speech at a conference while taking a third of his campaign money from the industry?

Does the mainstream media just have too much other important information to get to the public to maybe do some reporting on this?
posted by crayz at 2:32 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


"a fanged vagina face"

I think he's referencing Vagina dentata but, you know, on the face.

As to the tone and such...I wasn't kidding when I said everyone needs a hobby. Someone like this may be serving a purpose, but that's secondary. He's doing this because he enjoys it. He's doing it for himself. if others come along for the ride, fine, but I'm pretty sure he's not making bank doing this.

A teeny tiny portion of websites that are owner/operator make money for the individual writing them. Even fewer make enough for a person to make a living. Of those everyone know the couple of dozen rockstars that can actually do it as the day job.

I'd bet a year's hosting costs that he's not one of these.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:33 PM on August 31, 2011


whew. i just took a not so quick look at that whole business between naomi dunford/salty droid/navarro brothers. what a mess. i'd be amazed if anyone could sort out the truth there.

i suspect that the person behind the salty droid has experience working those kinds of operations and/or spent time in several boiler rooms. part of the writing style is possibly because of their mindset ... but sometimes you really need an editor to tell you to shut up and just tell the story.
posted by lester at 2:34 PM on August 31, 2011


crayz: " That is just... what the fuck? One of these companies is running this guy's campaign website and employing his incompetent son and the AG is on YouTube yt giving these companies a 'wink wink, we know you're scammers, just stay within the letter' speech at a conference while taking a third of his campaign money from the industry?"

I got a kick out of his Wikipedia page:
The media has reported allegations that Shurtleff allows political donations or personal relationships to affect regulatory or prosecutorial decisions. [8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] He has also faced allegations of taking donations from companies he knows to be in the midst of legal proceedings for which he has responsibility.[30]
posted by Rhaomi at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the Feds ever regulated the bullshit "nutritional supplement" scam industry for what they do, which is selling unproven and dangerous and/or useless crap, the state of Utah would go out of business. "Supplement" businesses are the casino industry of that state. They own every Utah politician, up to and including the US senators.
posted by spitbull at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2011


This guy is scary and clearly enjoys riling up his readers to attack people. He uses some pretty vile language about people. So ... I find I don't really care if some of his targets are actual scammers or not. There are useful ways to out scammers. This is harassment.
posted by feckless at 5:13 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


What say we encourage this droid fellow to stop pestering the small time grifters and go after Wall Street? Would be colorful!
posted by jcworth at 8:22 PM on August 31, 2011


How would that be any different from Matt Taibbi's work?
posted by mek at 8:32 PM on August 31, 2011


Wow ... it's only been 29 years and after Rhaomi's intro I could already smell the chrome burning.
posted by Twang at 8:39 PM on August 31, 2011


I'm surprised no one's done a FPP on the Naomi Dunford death threat thing.
posted by desjardins at 6:27 AM on September 1, 2011


desjardins: "I'm surprised no one's done a FPP on the Naomi Dunford death threat thing"

I was looking into it, but this FPP about SaltyDroid was here before I had dug the various blog posts. I think there's a good conversation to have around "women feel harassed on the Net," but I don't think Naomi's story will get us there. It seems too likely to generate into two sides creating a bigger gulf, not finding the common ground. Too Internet-gossipy. Nonetheless, I am following it. Did you see her response?

At any rate, Salty Droid seems to be doing good work, but the tone completely turns me off. I'd rather get the facts and get my own outrage on than have it generated for me.
posted by amj at 7:34 AM on September 1, 2011


I honestly can't stand either of their writing styles. I can't know what did or didn't happen with Naomi Dunford and/or Dave Navarro, but her writing style just screams dramadramadrama. Being a woman on the net, obviously I know they (we) are often harassed, so I feel bad for not automatically believing her. It's just hard, when there are conflicting stories, to give equal weight to someone who's making a career of drawing attention to herself. The way that she selectively quoted SaltyDroid does not help the matter.
posted by desjardins at 7:47 AM on September 1, 2011


Mitt Romney's Biggest Backers: Pyramid Schemers? The execs who set up shell companies to funnel millions to a pro-Romney PAC are connected to the same Utah firm that regulators have sued for scamming consumers.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:07 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


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