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Product Name: The Ultimate System
Product Owner: David Harris
Price: Free, $50 or $200 depending on tier
What is it?
A pyramid scam-like system wrapped around the concept of crowdfunding.
The Ultimate System uses the crowdfunding approach to make the system sound legitimate but in reality what is offered is little more than a pyramid scam. To earn money you donate to people higher up in the chain, while those you recruit and others lower in the chain pay you. It is an ineffective approach and as is always the case with this type of system, only those right at the top actually earn anything.
Before You Buy
This site is quite greedy when it comes to information and even getting past the first page involves giving your phone number. Be very careful about the information you do provide to any site, because you never know where it is going to end up or what it will be used for.
In this particular case, there is no indication of why the site even wants your phone number and there is no legitimate reason for the site to be asking for that before you even know what they are selling.
A phone number is the most dangerous thing you can give them because you have no recorded proof of conversations you have with their representatives. Places like this often ask personal financial information and use high pressure or deceptive sales tactics to get you to buy. If you lose any money, the only person you can blame is a guy name “Joe” on a phone number that's no longer in service. I've seen it happen…more than once.
What I Liked
The one positive about this system is that theoretically you could use it to actually raise funds for a project, especially as the most basic tier of the system (the one that actually resembles real crowdfunding) appears to be free. Building a business or doing things based on your passion is something I actually recommend.
What I Didn’t Like
Information is everything in the modern era and people read reviews upon reviews just to decide what brand of phone to buy or which game to get next. Yet, for some reason, places like The Ultimate System still think it is okay to market their product/system without really explaining how it works.
The landing page for the system is intentionally vague, focusing how the system may prove to be rewarding for you, but not giving much indication of how or why. The emphasis is entirely on the lifestyle that the system supposedly offers, rather than the system itself.
So, what does the landing page actually tell us?
Well, for one, the system is promoting a way of working at home.
It’s not a particularly helpful claim, because there are many different ways of earning money online. Some of them are good, some are outright scams.
A red flag for me is the way that the site is hyping working from home as being a fantastic choice. I love working from home and many many people do, but it’s not like a vacation and it is a lifestyle that does take some getting used to.
I hate it when marketing for a product or system tries to gloss over this reality, because it isn’t fair for the people looking at purchasing. If the company is being less than honest about this area, then there is a good chance that they are being less than honest about other things.
The one other indication that you can get from the landing screen is that it is a ‘proven turn-key business’. This is another misleading form of hype and it’s promoting the idea of a business that you just have to turn the key and it’s ready to go.
Any successful way of making money online is going to take significant work. In fact, most systems promoted as turnkey may work out of the box, but they take much more work before you ever make money from them. As a person that works full time from home and built my business from scratch, I cringe at companies that suck in newbies with advertising like this.
What Is This This Thing?
Once you get past the initial landing page, The Ultimate System is presented as a crowdfunding platform:
However, those systems are designed to raise money for a specific project and contributors tend to be rewarded in some way for their contribution. That isn’t what is happening inside.
Note: There was a website I signed up for before that you could crowdsource your bucket list, but I can't remember the website name. I never followed through because most of the products went unfunded, as there was no reward for the funders, other than enjoyment of watching you do cool stuff with their money.
Instead, the basic concept you are asking people to contribute money to your ‘project’ and you pay the same to your sponsor. To make more money, you give more money further up the chain.
This is what makes the system different than the traditional crowdfunding model, but it is also an approach that you may have seen before. The Ultimate System is actually just promoting a pyramid scheme but using the concept of crowdfunding to make it seem like they are promoting something else.
The cost for the system varies depending on the level you choose. Specifically, there are three packages and these influence what you are able to earn through the system. This means that TUS tries to convince everyone to purchase the $200 option.
The Ultimate System actually does have its own crowdfunding website, but like the sales pitch for TUS, this tends to misleading. One part that made me laugh was the claim that crowdfunding has been featured on a range of networks:
Yes it has, because sites like Kickstarter have had some amazing results with communities being able to support the development of projects that they are excited about. That has absolutely no bearing on this particular product's approach to crowdfunding. This is deceptive advertising!
In fact, it’s challenging to even define The Ultimate System as crowdfunding, because the system is designed that only members can donate to projects. So, to get donations, you first have to convince someone to join, then convince them to support your project.
The projects themselves are another odd thing about the system. TUS is promoted as a money making system and most members probably do not have projects in a traditional sense. Additionally, it is likely that in many cases the members aren’t actually developing those projects at all.
This is illustrated on the featured community projects component from the website:
Most of the projects look low quality and they look like they are largely made using free images from the web. Additionally, they are more causes than there are projects and this suggests that most users of the site don’t have projects that would normally be crowdfunded.
Theoretically, crowdfunded money could be used to start a new business or to meet a goal, but the business model is concerning. Like a traditional pyramid scheme, most people who join this model will probably lose money and recruiting others into the system is a lot more difficult than it seems.
Watch this video below and tell me it doesn't sound like a pyramid scheme. You give me $X, then find two people to give you $X, and they find 2 people to give you $X, etc etc.