The Sunday Times investigates Simon Stepsys’ claim to posessing the map to untold riches,, which he calls. “MyAdvertising Pays” or “MAP.
The whole article can be seen on the RealScam Forum. See post 3788 on page 152.
AN ONLINE advertising scheme that has attracted 180,000 members with a promise to “make money while you sleep” may be too good to be true, experts have warned. My Advertising Pays (Map) claims users will earn at least $60 (£39) within three months for every $50 they put in. All users have to do to earn the $10 commission is click on 10 online advertisements posted by other Map members every day and they can earn a lot more by persuading others to join.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly from Britain and Germany, have signed up since the American scheme was launched in 2013. However, advertising industry insiders are concerned Map may be a Ponzi scheme (one that uses new members’ money to pay older members), that will collapse when new recruits dry up or regulators step in. The company’s executives insist it is a “genuine business with legal terms and conditions”.
Jon Walsh, co-founder of One Central Point, an international advertising agency, said: “Members have to click on other members’ ‘ads’ to earn their money. It seems to be a get-rich-quick scheme that relies on other people buying in to keep going.”
Damian Ryan, co-author of Understanding Digital Marketing, said: “To me, Map appears to be a Ponzi scheme that has managed to slip under the regulators’ radar. I went to a Map event some time ago and it seemed to be a pseudo-religious experience for many of the people there.”
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says some of the claims made about Map and the profits that people can make are “misleading”. It recently upheld a complaint about how Simon Stepsys, a self-styled “internet millionaire” who runs monthly Map “business opportunity” events, marketed the scheme in Britain.
So is Map a real money-making opportunity or simply a Ponzi scheme? The Sunday Times decided to attend one of Stepsys’s presentations to find out more.
Stepsys, who claims to have earned more than $1m through Map, held one of his business opportunity meetings this month at the Thistle Marble Arch hotel in central London. At least 120 people went along, including me. Stepsys has recruited thousands of members according to Tony Booth, a Briton who runs the Map scheme with his wife Lynne and Michael Deese, an American director.
“How would you like to make money like Google and Facebook?” Stepsys asked us. “It’s very simple — join Map!” During the presentation, the key messages were that Map would “change your life” and allow users to “make money while you sleep”. Stepsys referred to signs placed around the room, which explained how people could receive payment “every 20 minutes” — a claim that was ruled “misleading” by the ASA last month.
In 1998 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) accused Stepsys of “preying on the vulnerable” by making false promises of earnings with a venture called Win-Star Direct. The following year, it took out a High Court injunction after he carried on making the same promises. The OFT said he had shown “a wilful disregard for the advertising standards imposed by the law”.
More recently, Stepsys was named “affiliate of the year” by a Canadian online advertising company called Banners Broker, which was later revealed to be a Ponzi scheme.
Canadian police said of Banners Broker in 2013: “It is the position of investigators that this business was a . . . Ponzi scheme in which new victims were recruited to stave off requests for withdrawals and complaints from older ones.”
The people at Stepsys’s event in London this month appeared unaware of his past. They whooped with excitement at the prospect of joining the Map “family” and “changing other people’s lives”.