Friday, June 27, 2008

Big Crumbs ... eBay "referral" program is a scam / pyramid scheme



A while back ... I had posted an alert to eBayers on my eBay blog about BIG CRUMBS. Today, I was prompted to do another of my own searches for Big Crumbs The search yielded a few "shill blogs" trying to promote the service. For example, http://www.how-to-make-money-blog.com.

There are hundreds of eBay blogs and thousands of web pages that appear to have an informative story about Big Crumbs ... several of them tell you how they don't qualify as pyramid schemes "because you don't have to pay to be a member". That statement, my friends, is one of the oldest pyramid scheme catch lines. The moment someone has to explain that they aren't trying to get you into a pyramid scheme usually means ... well you know.

So what is BIG CRUMBS and how does it work?

Well, by signing up, you are agreeing to advertise the BIG CRUMBS service as being an eBay search portal. They pay you if you end up buying something you search for and pay people for promoting the service.

Here's a blog entry (below) that seems to be repeated word for word all around the web ... making it appear as if a bunch of people are saying the service is legit. It's either planted by the people at BIGCRUMBS everywhere or a lot of eager marketers trying to lure you into the service.

BigCrumbs is the popular program that allows you to get cash back every time you or any your friends (up to five generations deep) shop at eBay or over 270+ online vendors.

Occasionally people ask me if BigCrumbs is a pyramid scheme or an outright scam. And a lot of BigCrumbs Members get the same question when referring their friends.

Addressing this is HUGELY important. What Big Crumbs doing is new and sounds too good to be true when people don't understand the model (or what a real pyramid is). Couple that with the fact that BigCrumbs believes it's only fair to compensate its Members for multiple generations of referrals, and some people jump to the conclusion that BC must be a pyramid.

So, education is key. Here's a brief link from the Office of The Attorney General in Georgia (where Big Crumbs is incorporated):

Pyramid Schemes

Note the key phrases, "[Pyramid schemes] seek to take your money" and "the perpetrator solicits money from several people by selling them a 'membership' or franchise; however, the members make money only by selling similar 'memberships' to others".

So people's concern with BigCrumbs shows that there's a fundamental misunderstanding of what a pyramid is. The spirit of a pyramid is such that the people joining PAY their money with the expectation that they'll make it back and then some. But, in truth, much of this money goes to paying the people "above" them. So, the new guy/gal must *sell* memberships to others in order to recoup their investment. It's a self-serving system and somebody's going to be left holding the bag (an empty bag).

Obviously, with BigCrumbs, there's NO MONEY PAID! -- so that eliminates that issue from the equation. Their membership is free and they offer a real service that gives you cash back when you shop. There's NOTHING to lose with BigCrumbs.

They simply have a referral program -- plain and simple (but it's a powerful program). It's a way to be compensated for telling people how they can earn cash back at eBay and other places where they are already shopping. Plenty of sites have referral programs. The difference is that they pay members ONE TIME and that's it.

But BigCrumbs says, "Is that fair?" If that referred member is shopping/saving through BigCrumbs and thereby helping BigCrumbs meet their goals for years to come, shouldn't the referrer continue to be compensated? Also, if Sally refers Bob and Bob refers Joe, then isn't Sally at least indirectly responsible for bringing Joe aboard? Shouldn't she be compensated?

It's a bit ironic that BigCrumbs' sense of fairness in structuring the program is exactly what causes concern for some people. If they just said "thanks for the referral" and gave them a dollar, they'd say "oh yeah, that's legit!". It's really funny in a way.

But, it's not their fault. Again, BigCrumbs represents a new concept, so I'd just like to make the above facts available to everyone.





This is my favorite line from this piece:

"...sounds too good to be true when people don't understand the model (or what a real pyramid is).

A real pyramid?



Also, take note of this clever statement:



So, education is key. Here's a brief link from the Office of The Attorney General in Georgia (where Big Crumbs is incorporated):

Pyramid Schemes




Wow! This even gives you a link to a law - even in the state where BIGCRUMBS is in ... it must be legit. All states have laws about pyramid schemes. Georgia's law just happens to be worded poorly enough that it seems like BIGCRUMBS isn't a pyramid scheme.

Here is that law:

Pyramid and "Ponzi" Schemes

Both pyramid and Ponzi schemes are fraudulent in nature, and both seek to take your money by promising big returns with little work or risk. In a "Ponzi" scheme, the perpetrator solicits money from you as an "investment," promising big payoffs in the future, but all he really does is use your "investment" to pay back the people from whom he took money earlier in the scheme. In a pyramid scheme, the perpetrator solicits money from several people by selling them a "membership" or franchise; however, the members make money only by selling similar "memberships" to others. It is sometimes hard to distinguish a legitimate "multilevel marketing opportunity" from a pyramid scheme. For more information on pyramid and Ponzi schemes, go to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/invest/schemes.shtm.


Note the picture at the bottom of the "informational piece" - it appears on EVERY story about BIGCRUMBS. It hides an affilaite link for the person posting the "gushing review about BIGCRUMBS - all while making you think the author is just giving you a link to this amazing website/program out of the kindness of their heart.

If you were doing it for informative purposes you would just review the service ...

The affiliate link (that's normally hidden behind that graphic) is like a fox trying to sell rabbits, carrots.

What these stories DON'T TELL YOU is that eBay's OWN affiliate program pays more ... big crumbs is JUST an eBay affiliate ... nothing more. They are at the top of a very big pyramid.

At this point ... with so many people promoting this program, there is little room for a worthwhile income ($100 + a month).

Also ... there is credible proof that they sell email addresses* and that they possibly sell personal information as well to other marketers - they have a very shady opt out program and the company was even started by an email mass marketing company - Integral Technologies.

When you can be with eBay's affiliate program - why get involved with the confusion of a potential scam and have to explain to everyone you want to join that it's not a pyramid scheme?

* I registered a new Yahoo mail address, kept it open for 5 months, as soon as this address was registered with bigcrumbs.com - I immediately started receiving spam email (beyond bigcrumbs emails) - now the bulk/junk/spam email is up to over 20 a day. Yet, ONLY the big crumbs website was used for that address.

** The "crumbsaver application" that is installed as a cookie on your hard drive is somewhat of a spyware app.

28 comments:

mischiever said...

You seem to be saying that you should not join Big Crumbs because eBay has an affiliate program you can make money on. But this is simply false. You cannot join eBay's affiliate program to make money on your own purchases. It is not allowed. You have to have a website to be approved and if you try to make money on your own purchases you will quickly be suspended as is the case with many affiliate programs though some do allow it. But eBay is not one of them.

Here is a copy of the exact terms in eBays Partner Network:

Exclusion from Qualifying Transactions:

eBay Partner Network will not count as a Qualifying Transaction, and you will not earn compensation for:

1. Transactions where you or your Agent are the end user.

The only way to get cash back from eBay is from an online cash back program such as this. I am an eBay affiliate however I use Big Crumbs to get cash back on my own purchases because I cannot earn commisions as an affiliate on my own purchases.

They are simply an eBay affiliate member that pays a percentage back as well as on other online purchases and you never have to make a referral to do so. Signing up is not an agreement to make referrals. It is simply something that is available if you want to.

The one thing that is false in those blogs is that what they are doing is nothing new. There are several other cash back shopping sites that have been around much longer. Some pay better than Big Crumbs because they do not divide the money between your purchases and referrals but it is a pretty small difference.

The big difference between Big Crumbs and other online cash rebate programs is how they pay for referrals. Most just pay a one time amount for referrals such as $5 or $10. Though none of them require referrals at any time and all are free.

I have never received any e-mail from a spammer that appears they received my e-mail address from any of these sites.

The majority of spam is generated by e-mail harvesting software that searches the internet and collects e-mail addresses it finds.

Please go to http://www.cdt.org/speech/spam/030319spamreport.shtml
They did a study on how spammers acquired e-mail addresses and posted it on this page. It also details, based on their results, how to protect your e-mail address.

fixyourthinking said...

Your post is well informed although very suspiciously shill. I appreciate your input here. I have posted your comment to allow readers to decide.

Your comments do NOT address the following however ...

I can direct people to my auction or to eBay through another website and get an affiliate income.

EVERYONE who promotes bigcrumbs is following the patterns of a pyramid scheme - most people HIDE their affiliate IDS behind web badges (such as I pointed out)

If you do decide to join big crumbs (at this point) you are getting behind a huge number of aggressive people who have more marketing savvy than you.

It is VERY obvious that bigcrumbs staff promotes their own service all over the internet. Unless you have your very own very popular site it is next to impossible (though not totally impossible) to make it worth while. Maybe at first - if one had gotten in at the top of the pyramid you could be doing well.

fixyourthinking said...

I wanted to make a follow up post and say that I receive almost 3 comments a month on this post that I reject. They all say how big crumbs isn't a scam and how could it be if it's free.

A pyramid scheme is almost always free to enter.

EVERY SINGLE POSTER THAT QUESTIONS THIS ARTICLE places their own affiliate link in their post. EVERY SINGLE ONE! If one were to follow that link they would be on the bottom of the pyramid underneath that affiliate.

Big Crumbs is promoted like a pyramid scheme - by affiliate links just the vampire bloodsucking "are you satisfied with your job" gypsies that work for AMWAY / QUIXTAR.

I don't know of a reasonable person who doesn't consider AMWAY / QUIXTAR a pyramid scheme ...

and they even won a court case saying that they were officially NOT a pyramid scheme.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway

Get real people!

Anonymous said...

There is no information about this company with the Better Business Bureau. Try to find a phone number, email address, or physical address for this company on their web site. Can't find one? That's the first sign of a scam. They push to refer others - make money from referrals. Pyramid scheme there. I wouldn't trust this company at all. The most information you can find through web searches is members trying to refer people to the site. Tells you something, doesn't it?

fixyourthinking said...

That's all I'm able to find - its just "fake blogs" talking up big crumbs - that make sure to have a referral at the bottom of their post. The funny thing about this article - I reject about 90% of the posts that try to say something positive about Big Crumbs because they all have a hidden referral link.

If they were honest - why won't they just say something good - the real reason - they are the big crumbs STAFF saying good things about their own service!!!!

Gina said...

I have been a member at BigCrumbs now for a year. I can tell you that this is NOT A SCAM at all. I made $137 last month from my referrals shopping and will make more this month. It's FREE MONEY! You do need to fix your thinking and open your mind to the possibilty. Here is my link which shows you my profile and how much money I have made:

http://my.bigcrumbs.com/lovemy2sweetboys

fixyourthinking said...

Above is one of the literally DOZENS of comments I get a month to this BLOG that are shill posts that are just referrals. Notice that NOT A SINGLE legit person can post to this blog without leaving their affiliate link ... the poster above is scum.

Gina said...

Why are you so nasty??? I left my link to show you what I have made and that the site is legit. Isn't that what you are trying to find out? You have already set your mind that BigCrumbs is a scam so why bother with this whole subject? If anyone is scum, it's you and please do post this! It seems that you pick and choose what to post so that it's in your favor.

fixyourthinking said...

Thanks for proving my point.

Readers ... I reject 10-15 comments like this a month ... NONE OF THEM van resist posting that referal.

fixyourthinking said...

NOTE: As this post has started to make it higher and higher in the search engine ranks ... The frequency of shills has dramatically increased from 3-4 a month to a dozen or so.

Anonymous said...

BIGCRUMBS IS A HUGE SCAM!! HERE IS MY HORROR STORY. BigCrumbs is indeed wonderful until you start accumulating a bigger cashback. I've purchased hundreds and hundreds of ebay items through bigcrumbs link. So I've accumulated a significant cashback amount and guess what happened then. Vincent S. Martin, the owner of BigCrumbs, deleted my account. That's it, no communication, nothing. When I emailed customer service, the single email I've received was that I've had several unpaid items. Awesome excuse to steal money. There is no phone number available, anywhere. By the way, his so called "parent company" Integral Technologies Inc. is his company to cover up his scams.

Anonymous said...

It seems the author of this blog believes any business model that encourages members to refer others and get paid for doing so is evil.

Anonymous said...

Fixyourthinking, I want to thank you for posting this. After seeing some of these Bigcrumb links in ebay items, all I could find seemed to be shill self promoting links.

Thanks for saving me some time!

--VS

Quinn said...

Fixyourthinking .com ....where are your credentials as a reviewer? Far larger and more reputable sights such as I'vetriedthat.com have also done a complete and through investigation and found BC to be 100% legit and a money maker. I never heard of this sight and you have zero creditability as a reviewer that i can see.
Sorry , your opinion means little! My monthly payday from BC says it all.

Anonymous said...

I am a Big Crumbs member. You will not find my link anywhere in this post because I am not out thier trying to get tons of referals. I signed up at BC to get the cash back on my own purchases, and to get the special offers provided by many of the stores to BC members. It is a GREAT way to get a discount at many of my favorite places to shop. Not just from Ebay.
I have one person signed under me that is my mother. I usually get back under $5 a month, but the way I see it is that is MY $5. During holidays I do get back a little more. My bank offers some of the same cash back offers as BC but it is the same experience you have to go to their website and follow the links through them. With my bank you have to use you credit card for the items you want. I have just found that at BC there are many more shopping options and they have the extra special offers.

When it comes to making big money with BC I don't think it is possible unless you sign up 100rds of people. Those whom have that many referals are the ones using spam methods and other unfair or unfriendly means to get people to sign up.

Overall it is a pretty easy way to get a discount but not to make money, and if you sign up with those thoughts then you are good to go.

Brickinstock said...

First I must say that you are dead wrong here. I have an ebay store which costs me hundreds of dollars in fees as well as paypal fees. BigCrumbs is no different than ebays own cashback program. I have never paid big-crumbs a dime and have received a payment every month for items I have purchased on ebay as well as items people have purchased from me and the store. These fees would have all went to ebay. Are we not entitled to a portion of our fees back? How is this different from Discover who offers a 1 1/2 percent cash back on purchases. The merchant is charged 3% for excepting the card and you receive a portion back. Do a little more research next time.

EPSDIANET@AOL.COM said...

I am another person who makes less than $5/month on big crumbs. You asked another poster why bother posting if that is all you make. I can't say why they posted or even sought out the article. I can't speak for them but for myself I googled for articles about bigcrumbs because even though I have had no problems with them I wanted to know what other people were thinking and posting about it before I started asking any friends/relatives to join.

I'm NOT going to post my referral link here and to be honest I haven't a single referral yet, not even a relative. I'm not even going to defend whether it is a pyramid or not, as even I think it is, though as far as I can tell it is a harmless pyramid.

I don't use the internet to purchase many items for myself but I do use it to purchase items for work with a company card. Linking through to the office supply stores through BigCrumbs has allowed me to earn small personal cash bonuses for those purchases that weren't even bought with my own money. I use to use a similar portal site through American Airlines. But with the turmoil in the airline industries I switched to this to earn cash instead.

Every banner ad and other advertisement you see on the interenet has some sort of cash incentive paid to the person who posted it. Some are paid small amounts just for clicking the links others are paid a percentage of the amount you end up spending once there. The BigCrumbs site is just up front about the fact they are paid for you click throughs and give you a percentage back. They've taken the added step of turning it into a pyramid type site by offering its current members even more cash back if they get other people to use BigCrumbs as their portal site of choice. Despite my lack of effort put into finding those referrals for myself I still think it was a pretty interesting marketing idea.

I know there are those who can use the pyramid nature of the site to earn big bucks but even those of us who don't are still earning a cash back that is often larger than other portal style reward sites.

Don't get me wrong I would love to get some referral eventually. I practically got the shakes once when talking to a district sales rep for one of the office supply stores on Big Crumbs. I thought I had a chance at convincing him to join under me then I could sit back and rake in the commissions on all of his customers that he could take the time and effort to recruit. But alas he never signed up, at least not using my link.

fixyourthinking said...

Just a note for those reading the above comment and think its legit ...

Google EPSDIANET@AOL.COM

It comes up with all kinds of places where EPSDIANET@AOL.COM has posted their referral ... this just happens to be a popular forum regarding the discussion of big crumbs ... my bet EPSDIANET@AOL.COM is another shill posing an innocent.

fixyourthinking said...

Why would someone who only makes $5 or so a month search out THIS post and take the time to comment? The only reason this was moderated for posting is because it is impossible to tell whether this is a shill or actual good referral.

I will remind readers that 2-4 people stalk this post and hate it because it exposed a truth that they hope their lower pyramid pieces do not see.

Know that the people that run this business have stalked me on eBay and purchased items only to post negative feedback for me, they regularly post shill comments, and they have a very nasty aggressive communication filled with expletives and threats.

I have been handing records of IP addresses over to several parties for well over 6 months now.

fixyourthinking said...

I've finally decided to publish some of the nasty comments here ... this is about 1/10th of the comments I received. Pegasus, Quinn, Gina, etc etc - all are bigcrumbs shills who are livid I posted this.

Gina said...

I'm not livid about anything that you do. I don't really care. I know the truth. This is an honest legit site that pays their members every month. I made $186 last month. When I posted a few months back, I said that I made $137. That's a nice jump, wouldn't you say?

I honestly think you must have a mental handicap and feel sorry for you. Maybe that's why you say, NEED A BRAIN? I know you wish you could get a new one.

fixyourthinking said...

Proof Gina is one of the stalkers ... as soon as I posted some comments ... she comes in and posts her typical shill and hostile comments.

Anonymous said...

LOLOL!!!

Thanks, I've enjoyed reading your ignorant posts!

You sound like an ex-BigCrumb member who was booted from the site for cheating. OMG! I may just read it again just for it's sheer entertainment value.

LOLOL!

Gina said...

You wish I was your stalker! I hadn't thought about you or your silly site in months. Then, I get a note at BC from someone about what an idiot you are so I thought I would pay you a visit.

fixyourthinking said...

Readers/google searchers,

Here you have proof (I just had to hit the right buttons) that Gina is at least one of the MANY in an exclusive upper pyramid and "in touch" with big crumbs staff.

You can now also see that if Big Crumbs were a normal ethical moral customer focused business they would not allow such behavior from their staff or members.

pegasus said...

This idiot refuses to publish 80 percent of the comments here because they disagree with his warped philosophy. I dare him to disable "Comment Moderation" and let people actually be honest about BigCrumbs. I've posted my positive experiences with BigCrumbs here a couple of times, and he refuses to let them go through.

Just because someone is making a lot of money with BigCrumbs doesn't make them suspect -- it makes them smart. BigCrumbs is one of the most honest sites on the web, and a lot of people are either getting great rebates through them or are making a lot of extra money each month. I know I am.

fixyourthinking said...

I sincerely appreciate the attention, the linking, and the subscribing to comments (even though it is stalking) - with every comment, every hit, every link - you making this article rise in the search engines. My story is accurate. It is structured like a pyramid scheme, integral is/was an email marketer, my email address was leaked ( and bigcrumbs was THE ONLY one given this address)

I'm very happy that some are making money ... the people that get in at the beginning ALWAYS do. That is the definition of a pyramid. The main clue though is the aggressive marketing in eBay blogs, the fake blogs set up to "praise" big crumbs, the PAID google keyword searches by integral technologies, and last but not least the weirdos that just go apes when someone says something bad about there job - promoting big crumbs.

A funny thing has happened here ... I have IP addreses of posters here that match IPs of eBay members, of eBay bloggers, of IP addreses in Romania (#2 on origins of scam lists), of people claiming to be in one location but their IP address says something different. I could go on and on ... and the really funny thing is ... the people who I'm calling out continue to say nasty things, continue to hit my website, continue to make this more and more of a deal, and just are getting this article noticed more and more - hurting their business.

I'm going to close comments off after this post to save the last shred of integrity that big crumbs and it's members have.

Last ... I wish no one ill will ... I'm here to inform ... I have been annoyed for a long time by big crumbs members posting their affiliate links all over eBay and all over the Internet in shill posts in MY search for a good referral service. I personally use kickitback and MyPoints ... But Ive done articles exposing their issues as well ... so anyone thinking big crumbs is being singled out is just a goofball for making this particular critique stand out over others.

fixyourthinking said...

Even after I said comments were closed for the post ... now BIG CRUMBs members are posting on other articles.

Repetitive posts, posts with expletives, posts with no point in them that do not further this conversation have been unmoderated (I posted a few "YOU ARE AN IDIOT" comments to show the malice of BC members) - the IP addresses from these posts have been forwarded and retained for interested investigators.

So, let's just say none of this is true, even though its very well substantiated, and even though I didn't REALLY say much bad about the service, would you want to join a group of thugs such as this?