How to Spot an Internet Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Exposing the King of Medium and other razor-toothed predator tactics.
Exposing the King of Medium and other razor-toothed predator tactics.
Recently with the crypto crash, the tide has been sucked back out, and we can now see who is still wearing their pants and who is exposed.
There is a saying in business ‘sales solves all problems and it is the same with the markets. Crypto or otherwise. When the markets are hot and high, everyone is making money, and everyone is happy but as soon the market flips we can see who is full of sh*t and who is telling the truth.
News headlines this past week have focused on dumbasses like the Paul brothers, Jake and Logan Paul. And it’s not even the first time these two morons have been in the news for shilling crap. Side note: As much as I think The New York Crimes produces a fair amount of garbage, this article is pretty good.
We’ve all seen them, no, not the Logan dipshi*ts, but the ‘Make Money Online’ wolves in sheep’s clothing. The ones online, that produce a bunch of content, a bunch of food for you to nibble on, and then when you come in close to have a little sniff — BAM! THEY BITE DOWN HARD.
Some of us have even been scammed by them. Hell, I was recently sucked into the DecentraWorld scam, and lost a small amount of money! Something I still have to write about.
But recently, and the reasons behind this article in the first place, is I finally warmed up to a guy you all probably know from right here on Medium.
This guy is The King of Medium.
He has hundreds of thousands of followers and is one of a very few elite Medium writers that is constantly on the home page and forced down your throat.
Who is this mysterious character?
His name rhymes with Jim Jenning.
No, I don’t want to get into online fisty cuffs with the guy, because frankly, I do not care all that much for fighting or calling people out. That’s not my style, but I do want to use what he does as an example because he is the living embodiment of what I am talking about.
He is 100% a WOLF in sheep’s clothing.
I had been reading this guy’s stuff for a long time. And while I understood he probably made good money writing on Medium, there was something off. Something was missing, there was something unsaid, unwritten that was scratching away under the surface. It was unsettling, and it bothered me for the longest time. I couldn’t put my finger on it.
He would always plug his email list. But I never signed up. Like you, I’m subscribed to a bunch of different stuff, half of it I don’t even read and some of it I just skim over once or twice before eventually unsubscribing.
You see this Jim Jenning character has a LOT of followers. So I dug a little deeper and eventually I uncovered his strategy. It wasn’t hard. I’ve seen this countless times before. And yep, I found out he was a wolf! Just like all the others.
His strategy is exactly what I want to talk to you all about.
This guy sucks readers in with the content, lots of it, those bite-sized bits of visual and auditory goodness, then, when he has built up a little trust, he convinces you to hand over your email in exchange for some course or ebook. Once he has your email, he has his foot in the door, and eventually after sending you a few personal-sounding emails, he hits you with the sales pitch.
The process is simple. It goes like this: produce content, a lot of it, seem helpful, get your foot in the door with an email, or a group or something, build trust, and then make your move.
And as I will reveal below a key to making this all work is never disclosing what you are doing or plan on doing.
I did a short Tweet about this topic in general terms here if you want some context.
But look, like I say, I’m not the call-out guy, that is enough about Jim Jenning.
Anyone that has been on Medium for more than five minutes knows exactly who this guy is. Deep down I don’t think he is a bad guy. But know this, he is a wolf. His content is designed for one thing only. To funnel you down a little path and eventually sell you something that your probably don’t even need or want, using very clever marketing strategies.
I want to show you how to spot an online ‘make money’ wolf in sheep’s clothing.
How to avoid them, and how, if you are interested to find the real mentors, trainers, coaches, and the real valuable information which can actually help you.
Forewarning though. The people I will mention at the end of this post are not that appetizing.
It’s like the difference between a hearty vegetable and meat stew versus Mcdonald’s. Your brain is telling you that you want the Micky D’s because there was a ton of thought, energy, and money spent on the side of the hamburger people to convince you to want to eat the crap, but we all know the stew will have a ton more vitamins, minerals, and general goodness inside.
It’s no different here. Take it how you want it. I make no promises.
Step 1. Who is your daddy and what does he do?
Ask yourself the obvious question.
Who is this person, where are they from, what have they done, why are they famous or popular, why should you trust them and so on? If it turns out the only reason people watch, listen to, or read this person’s stuff is because of the perpetual loop of content that they push, that is the first sign that they are full of sh*t and will eventually come at you with the hard and fast sales pitch.
And let me be clear here, no I am not saying people who produce content are all full of it, I produce content, and many people produce content, but the line in the sand, that demarcation point is when they produce content AND they tell you how much money they make or sometimes just subtly hint at it, but they don’t disclose what they are doing, or what they plan on doing, it’s all kind of cloak and dagger.
Tony Robbins is a pretty good example of this that you will all understand.
Tony Robbins created his own story by selling other motivational people’s tapes and products. This is very well known. He never created a business for himself other than selling products on how to be successful which in turn made him successful.
It’s a perpetual crap loop.
These people are themselves successful, only because they sell courses, books, and programs teaching other people how to be successful.
Let me be clear. I do not discount the fact that Tony Robbins can motivate people. He can and he does.
I bought the book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’, its a good book and I have no issue with the content that Tony produces many people have probably benefited from his content, programs, and more.
The point I am making is this, when you come across Tony Robbins content, his videos, his articles, everything about that free content is designed to get you to eventually hand over money in exchange for the secret all-powerful knowledge, and believe me, Tony’s people are some of the pushiest sales people I have ever come across. They used to call, email, and text me day and night trying to convince me to pay thousands of dollars to attend some live event that I clearly did not want to attend.
I eventually told them to f*ck off and blocked their emails and phone numbers.
He and many like him are not producing content for the sole purpose of producing content. It’s content designed with an ulterior motive. And THIS is precisely the problem I have with it. There is a very, very clear difference here. There is zero disclosure.
If their background is sketchy, if you don’t know who they are and why they are telling you these things, but they are flashing cash or promising success. That is a red flag.
Step 2. Do they have a product? How do they make their money?
Leading on from Step 1.
The very obvious question with a not-so-obvious answer sometimes.
If you eventually find out that they have a product on the back-end, the side-end, if they up-sell, cross-sell, whatever, then understand that the content you are consuming is all designed to get you to trust the ‘creator’.
The key here is in the word eventually.
This is called The Creator Funnel and no most of them will not tell you this because they don’t want you to know that YOU are just a way for them to make money. Eventually.
It’s a well-established marketing tactic.
On its own, it is not bad. Many legitimate bloggers and creators use it, but where I have a problem, is when they are not telling you upfront ‘hey just so you know I’m going to totally try to sell you stuff, eventually’.
This is called disclosure.
In fact, it got so bad (the lack of disclosure that is) with one online money-making method called affiliate marketing that the FTC and other branches of regulatory bodies around the world had to step in and create rules around disclosure because these wolves were promoting affiliate products without telling people that they were being paid to promote these products.
But what if it’s unclear how the content producer makes their money?
Well, that depends.
If you have some poor schmuck content producer that is making videos from his home garage, with his crappy lighting and lack of microphone, and it’s not obvious how he makes his money, well, I’d probably say he isn’t making any money and is doing it because he enjoys it. Some people do in fact enjoy creating content for the sole purpose of creating content and if they can monetize the content directly that is a bonus.
There are no solid rules or anything here. But use your common sense for God’s sake. If you have a guy like BitBoy who is producing really high quality and consistent content, well, you bet your ass he’s monetizing from somewhere, and in today’s markets it’s likely not just from crypto gains in the market.
Reach out and ask if it is not obvious.
And by the way here is my disclosure: I HAVE AN AFFILIATE LINK DOWN THE BOTTOM TO A PRODUCT I PERSONALLY USE AND RECOMMEND AND YES I GET A COMMISSION IF ANY OF YOU CHOOSE TO BUY IT.
Where this get’s grey, is that as far as I am aware at least, there are NO rules around creators using content-marketing strategies to eventually sell you their own product or service.
What do I mean by this?
Go back to that creator funnel I told you about before.
Creators can create dozens, hundreds, or thousands of pieces of content with the sole intention of building your trust, and eventually once trust is built attempt to sell you something but they don’t have to tell you that. Some of them do, but many don’t. In my view, this is a sneaky wolf-like tactic.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely 100% a capitalist.
I am all for free markets, I am all for business, and all for people making money but as I keep saying, there is a BIG difference between the two. Let me explain by giving an example.
For most of my professional life, apart from ranting about crypto and things like this, I have been in the hardware space. Heaters, hot water systems, HVAC, barbecues, and now power tools.
Let’s says I sell barbecues, and you know that I sell barbecues, it is abundantly clear that I sell barbecues: BOBS BARBECUE SALES.
If I decide to create content with my barbecues as a prop, maybe I do some cook-ups at the back of my store, maybe I talk about sauces and recipes or maybe I talk about how my barbecue is really good because it uses a particular kind of stainless steel.
That is a form of disclosure.
This is very different from someone who produces content that seems to want to always talk about how successful they are, luring you in, building your trust, while you start to see money signs and seemingly all they are wanting to do is help you financially because they are just very nice, and then eventually they aggressively come at you with marketing strategies to try to convince you to buy their course or book.
That is the difference. It is clear. One is disclosed. The other is not.
Ask yourself, these people that you watch, read, and listen to, do they tell you how they make their money upfront, do they tell you that they sell courses or books or programs? Is it clear?
If they don’t and it’s not, but you find out that they do later on, well ask yourself, should they be trusted, should you give them your attention or your hard-earned money?
Step 3. Do they claim to be an expert? Why should you listen to them?
This one can be a little harder to spot.
Sometimes content creators will outright tell you that they are experts. Other times they will do what is called the ‘lab-coat’ approach which is kind of an off-shoot to the ‘fake it till you make it’ strategy.
The idea is that if they make themselves out to be experts by putting on the so-called ‘lab-coat’, you will trust and believe them. This strategy is rooted in the fact that when many people go to their Doctor they rarely question what the Doctor tells them, because, well, they are the Doctor. They have pieces of paper on the wall saying that they should be trusted.
I remember hearing about this strategy years ago when working in sales call centers, where our managers would hire motivational speakers to scream at us “YOU ARE THE EXPERT, THEY NEED TO LISTEN TO YOU, PUT YOUR COAT ON!!!” or some whacky cult-like crap like that.
So, back to the wolves. If they are outright claiming to be an expert in sales, finance, business, or whatever, ask yourself why, why are they so intent on doing so? That could be a red flag. It’s not necessarily an instant ‘no-go’ for me because sometimes these people truly are experts in the field, but again, I will repeat, the differentiator is on the front end, on the face of it, do they have a disclosure, do they have some obvious video, or page or something that clearly defines what it is they do and how it is they make their money?
A good example of this is a guy I frequently watch on YouTube who you may have heard of: Dr. Berg.
He puts out a TON of free content on YouTube which is related to health.
I see he wears a nice shirt, he calls himself a Dr, OK, so obviously this guy makes money selling a service or maybe a product and it’s probably in the health or medical space?
I click on his about page, on YouTube, and instantly it says right there, that he is an author and he runs a nutritional supplement business. I Google his name and boom there you go, his website comes up as the first result and it sells vitamins and supplements. It’s obvious. He’s not being sneaky. It’s all right there. Buy his vitamins, don’t buy his vitamins.
Now I will do a comparison.
A guy that has seemingly sprung up out of nowhere recently, at least in my feeds (what is the Algo trying to tell me)?
This guy is a hyper-masculine, very provocative figure, his videos are filled with him wearing fancy suits, driving fancy cars, and talking a load of fancy nonsense. It’s entertaining to me. I watched probably 100+ videos of his and still it was not obvious what he did and how he made his money (red flag).
Eventually, I came across a video where he mentioned something called ‘Hustlers University’, a few taps and clicks later and of course, he has courses, groups, and programs where he apparently teaches you how to make money, how to get girls, and a bunch of other stuff.
Cringe level ten thousand. Yuck.
If you Google his name, it’s only somewhere at the bottom of the results on the first page that you eventually find his courses and groups. That is sneaky IMO. This is wolf-like.
I did some digging and found out that actually, Andrew Tate made his money with adult web chat programs where he’d get girls to video chat men and have them hand over money. Tate even went on to admit some of the time it was him doing the chatting while he had the scantily clad girls do the visual stuff.
Blatantly admitting to being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
What about wolves in the crypto space?
The crypto space is unique in that these wolves don’t even have to sell you a product or service.
You all know who Jordan Belfort is right?
The literal Wolf of Wall Street.
Jordan essentially ran a boiler room operation where they pushed their clients to buy crappy penny stocks, pumped them, got in on the action themselves, and then dumped them leaving their clients holding worthless bags of nothing but sucked completely dry of value.
Well, the crypto space is much like this. Only there’s not one Jordan Belfort, there are tens of thousands of them and they don’t even have to sell you anything directly.
With the Internet, these people can just buy into a cryptocurrency at a really low price and then sit there churning out hypey content over and over and over again pumping the currency, and then boom they sell. The more idiots there are that continue to buy, the longer the pump and dump last and allow the wolves to get away with nothing but a carcass left.
The levels of this are insane to comprehend. And it’s the same as above. No disclosure. That is the tell-tale sign.
You have low-level guys operating on their own and you have entire teams, spread out across the globe with big-name players running essentially boiler room style operations but instead of phones and offices, they use Telegram and Discord groups, YouTube videos, Twitter, Reddit, and more.
There is so much going on within this area and there is so much to uncover that Stephen Findeisen, aka Coffeezilla has pivoted his YouTube channel to mostly focus on just these types of scams.
SafeMoon is a great example where the project rose quickly in popularity and was even endorsed by one of the dumbass brothers himself, Jake Paul, and then of course it spectacularly crashed as it was always designed to do.
Jordan Belfort, the Wolf, like literally the guy they made the movie about is now also pumping crypto. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s completely and utterly insane.
Another example is Ben Armstrong AKA BitBoy. This clown plugs and shills non-stop and yet there are no disclosures. He is another wolf if I had to bet on it.
For all we know anytime he opens his mouth and talks about a particular crypto he very likely could be loaded up with bags upon bags of the stuff and if I had to guess, that’s exactly what I would say he and his XRP idiot army friends are doing. If you can’t tell I hate XRP.
Disclosure is the key.
So I’d like to finalize by making it clear.
Wolves do not disclose what they are doing.
They are sneaky.
They come at you, the little doe-eyed lamb, wearing the same clothes your mama and papa wear, they look like you, they sound like you, they are friendly, they are funny, they are sometimes even people you aspire to be like, but little do you know their brains are firing on all cylinders, whirring away, every movement that they make is all calculated and designed to suck you in and then when you least expect it they make their move and snap down hard.
The wolf’s opposite. People who I believe provide real value.
To make this easy I will simply post their name and briefly describe what it is they do. You don’t have to agree.
Naval Ravikant is an American entrepreneur and investor. He is the co-founder, chairman, and former CEO of AngelList. That’s from Wikipedia.
I put this guy at the top of my own personal list because he is the best there is in my opinion and he makes no money off of anyone that has listened to him on the topics of finance and making money.
I first came across Naval via the Joe Rogan podcast and what he was saying made a lot of sense so I did some Googling and came across his very cheesy sounding ‘How to Get Rich’ podcast which was initially a Tweet storm that he turned into a mini-podcast series and then eventually edited it all together into one large podcast.
The reason I like it, and Naval is because there is no-bs. It is perfectly distilled information. Naval talks about ‘learning from first principals’ and that is exactly what this series is. But also, it is absolutely, positively 100% free and in fact, Naval talks on the topic of why he’d never sell this information because it would completely ruin his reputation. 5 stars, A+.
Daniel Steven Peña Sr. (born August 10, 1945) is an American businessman. From Wikipedia too.
I love this old bastard.
He yells, he swears, he rants, he calls people c*nts, and sometimes it looks like his eyes are going to pop out of his head. He’s just what this modern generation of video game-playing nerd kids need IMO.
Again, 99.9% of what Dan provides is all free, it’s all there online, on YouTube, on his website, and on many other platforms for free for you to do with what you want. Agree with him, don’t agree with him but you gotta give it to him, it’s all there free and he repeats over and over that most people cannot even be bothered going through his free content.
Dan does run something that he calls QLA Seminar but as far as my research goes it’s only something he has started charging for in recent years because he flies people out to his castle, puts them up, feeds them etc. He calls this skin in the game, just like the book by Nassim Taleb.
Dan’s methods mostly revolve around learning to be uncomfortable, under a controlled stress environment, and from what I can tell the methods that he teaches to make money are mostly around raising capital or having capital approved via a bank and then acquiring businesses and companies. Not for the faint of heart.
Starter Story. Pat Walls.
This one is not necessarily a person but a resource.
Most people don’t know this but Pat Walls’s Starter Story was one of the inspirations for me to start the Crypto Fireside blog and why I started off interviewing people from the Crypto space.
I first came across Starter Story in the r/entrepreneur subreddit.
Pat would essentially just interview people from the business world and post it in the sub and on his website for all to read. These people would go deep into how they got started, how they raised capital, if they raised capital, how much money they make, describe hurdles along the way, what things inspired and motivated them, how they spend their money on marketing, overhead, employees and more.
Reading Pat’s stories is like sitting down with the founders themselves over coffee or something. Really insightful and helpful.
The site from what I can tell now has over 3000 case studies. It has since moved to a paid/subscriber model which if I am perfectly honest kind of sucks because a lot of the content is now paywalled. One neat little hack I found is that if you go to Pat’s own SubReddit which seems inactive, a lot of the original business stories and interviews are still found there and they will take you back to the site where you should be able to read the stories free and without having to sign up or pay.
Some other notable mentions are.
Peter Schiff. The gold guy.
Andreas Antonopoulos. The original Bitcoin guy.
Gary Vee. The ‘HUSTLE’ guy.
Jeff Berwick. The anarcho-capitalist guy.
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