Campesinos get taken to the cleaners by smooth-talking scammers.
Poor Colombians. As if half a century of civil war, cocaine lords and kidnapping wasn’t enough, they now have to contend with investment fraud. Like the Albanians in 1997 and the Indians who fell for the promises of Amway, rural Colombians have just been taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous schemers.
Calling themselves Money, Fast, Easy and in Cash (how about that for subtle subliminals), scammers offered 150% interest, paying out millions of pesos until they built up a large client base and then promptly disappeared, leaving thousands of Colombians in the town of Popayan broke.
It might sound absurd but for rural people across the world unexposed to this kind of scam, the offer of easy money seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Their neighbours are rolling in the money, making more and more each week and they feel dumb to be missing out.
Think of it like when a new animal is introduced to a country and the local creatures have never seen a predator before. Without the instincts to tell them to scram, they all get eaten. Rural Colombians had no natural defence against all the propaganda and hardcore sales pitches of the scammers and many have consequently lost all their savings.
Ironically, many of the victims failed to understand that there was anything wrong with the scheme and instead blamed the government and press for creating a mass panic.