The more attractive the package, the greater the chance of a scam

Ancient Egyptians were so fond of both pets and what specific animal breeds symbolized, they frequently mummified animals to be buried with them.

These mummifications were usually done with loving care because animals symbolized special earthly and other-worldly qualities in addition to an owner’s personal feelings.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, some of these mummifications were not done honestly.

As a recent National Geographic article put it, “Despite the lofty purpose of the product, corruption crept into the assembly line.” A researcher’s x-rays “revealed a variety of ancient consumer rip-offs: cheaper animal substituted for a rarer, more expensive one; bones or feathers in place of a whole animal; beautiful wrappings around nothing but mud.” In fact, a generalization emerged from this research, “The more attractive the package…the greater the chance of a scam.”

That last sentence is worth it’s weight in gold and worth repeating: the more attractive the package, the greater the chance of a scam.

I’m surprised how frequently I see this with investing or other parts of my life.

When I read an annual report that’s super-glossy and makes it sound like the company and its management have never made a mistake in their life, there’s almost always something wrong.

When a salesperson makes a pitch to me that sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

When I read marketing material that highlights all the benefits but none of the risks, I start to become skeptical.

I was struck by the ancient Egyptian example, because it shows it’s as old as man. If human beings exist, there’s bound to be someone making the package look attractive and stuffing it with fluff.

Just because somethings looks and sounds good doesn’t mean it is. It’s easy to be taken in by flashy materials and a polished presentation, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy into it.

Sometimes the right product or service doesn’t look flashy and the presenter isn’t terribly polished. One look at my website or one hearing of my “pitch” would convince you that I’m a heavily biased on this matter. I’ll readily admit (or rationalize), flash and polish aren’t my strong points.

But, I’m guessing that if the attractive package approach has been around for at least 5,000 years, it’s probably not going to go away any time soon. The line to be ripped off will probably be around the block because it works as well today as it always has.

Or, perhaps I’m wrong, and people really do learn. That, too, is as old as man.

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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