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Thoughts on Bangkok and Staying Productive Abroad
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“Hi, I’m Here to Fix My SEO”
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Banners Broker Scam: Get Your Money Back

Thoughts on Bangkok and Staying Productive Abroad

Thailand is one of the Internet Marketing capitals of the world.

Every day I hear of another affiliate moving here.

It’s an exciting place to come, but there are obvious challenges.

Most notably… The P word.

Productivity.

This post outlines some of the impact living in Thailand has on your productivity.

Needless to say, if you are a 60-year-old sexpat who spends his days propping up the bar in Nana — productivity is the least of your concerns.

Please exit this blog and return to ThaiVisa Forum.

Advantages

Let’s start with the advantages.

These are my net gains compared to London.

It’s Easy to Be Healthy

salmon-royal-oak

If you can’t live a healthy life in Thailand, you should probably stop trying.

As people who know me can confirm, my middle name has never been Mr. Vitality.

It used to be simply: Village Pizza.

The guy who would order a Meatfeast, whilst still at the pub, then sprint off in to the darkness after spotting the delivery bike, caught perilously at a red light, enroute to his empty home.

I’m over that shit.

In Thailand, my diet is much improved.

I eat well. I swim and exercise daily. I sweat out enough toxins to drown a small kitten in a bath of poison.

Because it’s so easy.

This country provides the perfect building blocks for a healthy lifestyle: bar a shit load of traffic fumes, and the constant threat of decapitation via motorcycle.

It’s easy to feel great when the tools to defeat inertia are sitting on your doorstep.

That inertia bossed my suburban life in London.

I barely made it to lunch without a trip to the local petrol station for a muffin and a Costa Express.

Think Alan Partridge’s life choices infected by the apathy of Keith from The Office.

Vitality is important for any job, but especially one with such high demands on your decision-making.

When you move here, your general health will improve.

It will have a positive effect on your work performance.

Thailand is Buzzing with Young Go-Getters

One of the more demoralising aspects of Suburban London, for me, is the infectious dawdle of life as it meanders from one season to the next: from childhood, to graduation, to getting a job, to marriage, to kids, to retirement, to a care home, and eternal buggery.

On an eventful day, I’d look out my window and what would I see?

A granny capsizing in a pothole as she battles to collect her pension. A few mums returning from their school run. Then little else for miles.

By contrast, Bangkok feels alive.

The young crowd is here by choice.

It’s like New York City.

Aspiration wafts through the street stalls and creates an environment where you can taste the hunger of other expats, all driven by the same core values: to escape the predictability of their childhood homes; to live for now.

If you are an affiliate, you’ll be shocked by the number of us that are already here.

Thailand is a melting pot of affiliate scumbaggery.

It’s fitting that the biggest conference in our industry’s history will be held in Bangkok this December:

Affiliate World Asia

Plenty of Co-Working Opportunities

I know many affiliates are put off by the idea of living alone in a foreign city, and especially working alone.

It’s not that bad.

The large Internet Marketing community provides opportunities to network and meet people with the same daily struggles.

There are a ton of co-working spaces, like The Hive, where you can leave your apartment and leverage the buzz of an office environment to get more work done.

You’ll also find plenty of Skype groups with a constant stream of spare desks offered.

The good thing about this community?

It shares the same work genes.

The networking opportunities are there — both social and professional — if you want them.

But there’s no pressure to conform to the nomadic playboy bullshit so often spouted by know-it-all degenerates on their first journey out-of-state.

“Bro do you even travel?”

If you want to stay in your man cave and focus on work, that’s fine.

The Perfect Base in East Asia

Bangkok on map

There are many countries in East Asia that are great to visit, but the trade-offs of living in them are higher — or complicated by visa accessibility.

China, Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.

Thailand is a perfect storm of Asian culture meets Western comforts.

You can settle quickly.

The infrastructure is designed for tourism, meaning you can live as you would in any other major city.

English is widely understood.

Communities of expats have been embedded over decades.

My girlfriend tells me that Jakarta is the ‘next breakout city’ in the mould of Bangkok.

That will be interesting to see.

Until then, Thailand is the perfect base to explore the rest of Asia whilst having somewhere that resembles a home.

Some people can travel from country to country with a laptop in tow.

Try it if you fancy.

My dogs would disown me.

Disadvantages

Thailand isn’t quite paradise yet.

Once the honeymoon period is over, you will have to contend with some cultural differences that can be hard to reconcile.

Foreign Investment is Smothered in Red Tape.

Thailand treats foreign investment like a plane carrying Ebola.

Want to buy a condo freehold?

You can, but only if 51% of the units in the building are Thai-owned.

Want to get a job?

You can, but only after submitting an essay titled “Why This Job Could Not Be Performed by a Thai”.

Any business must then abide by ‘homegrown workforce’ rules:

For every foreigner hired, the company must employ four Thais.

It can be baffling to witness a situation where a) the company wants to hire a foreigner, and b) the foreigner wants to work for that company, but in order for a work permit to be issued… an arbitrary four new jobs must be created.

My girlfriend had a media visa refused after the embassy decided it would no longer apply for both newspapers and magazines — only newspapers.

The rule was changed 2 days prior.

The advice given?

“Apply again next month, we change the rules back.”

If you are not Thai, you are treated with suspicion, or forced to jump through any number of hoops.

This passive aggressive obstruction of un-Thai development is understandable for anybody who has stepped foot in a soulless metropolis, like, say, Dubai.

But as Bangkok rolls out its umpteenth luxury shopping plex — built-to-order, the chrome guise of an Arab’s wettest dream — I find myself asking:

What part of Thailand is the endless red tape designed to preserve?

The more time you spend here, the more likely that bureaucracy will get in your way.

Inevitably, visa issues will affect your productivity.

Decision Making is “Thailand Only”

There’s a saying in this country used by the natives to express their bemusement over shit that passes as normal:

“Thailand Only”

Thais are known for their great hospitality.

They are fiercely proud of their country.

Whilst they will welcome you with open arms, any suggestions on what might be improved are likely to go down about as well as a busker sipping Chang at Emquartier.

Thais will acknowledge problems, but they will often shrug at the solution.

Chains of command are rarely broken.

To question too loudly, or to criticise and cause one to lose face, is the ultimate sacrilege.

This can leave the average westerner scratching his head at some of the remarkable inefficiencies on display.

You have to accept:

There are plenty of ways to improve Thailand, but Eastern collectivism is a different beast to the individualism we celebrate in the West.

You won’t change a culture that has such contrasting values at its core.

Don’t take it personally.

“Thailand Only.”

The Heat is Sapping

When I post on Facebook that it’s too hot, I’m met by ridicule from Brits back home.

“You’ve got a problem with 40 degrees, have you? Felt the need to post about it, did you? Fuck off, you twat. Don’t come back.”

I love a scorching day by the pool, yes, but sweating buckets is not the optimal state for productivity.

At best, it’s a recipe for a gigantic electricity bill.

I spent 13,000 baht (about £250) on my AC last month.

If you take a trip out for lunch, the ferocious heat can wipe you out for the rest of the day.

I make a conscious effort to get the bulk of my work done in the morning before I expose myself to the elements.

The Thai summer is b-r-u-t-a-l.

The Traffic and General Lateness

Bangkok Traffic

Oh my god, the traffic.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have made plans for the evening, and those plans involve catching a taxi near Sukhumvit Road at 7pm… cancel your plans.

Go home.

Read a book, have a wank, or paint your nails.

The night is over for you.

Likewise, if you are one of those guys who arranges his schedule in to 15 minute chunks, Jenga’d together, and endangered by one wet fart… don’t set foot in Bangkok.

This city will eat your best laid plans for breakfast.

Sometimes I emerge from my apartment in awe that Bangkok is actually beneath me — and not 15 minutes away, running late, with a gob full of street food.

Want to measure the priorities of a city?

Look at how fast people walk from A to B.

A tortoise could migrate up Everest with greater zest than a Bangkokian between meals.

There is simply no rush.

If you value punctuality, be prepared.

This country will leave you sweaty, angry, and ten degrees hotter than the laughing locals.

Conclusion

You know what?

Fuck it.

Move to Thailand.

Any criticism I have is not borne out of dislike.

I believe if Thailand fixed its flaws, it would be the best damn place to live in the world.

I’d probably never leave.

The good far outweighs the bad.

There is so much that is right about this country.

The shit that is wrong stands out like a Japanese tourist lost at Nana Plaza.

Would I recommend this place for everybody?

No.

You have to be at a certain point in your life for moving abroad to hold appeal.

For many people, that moment never comes.

For others, Thailand is an assault on the senses. It’s too crazy.

Personally, I love it here.

But I know I won’t be in Thailand forever.

I try to use that as the lens for how I view my productivity.

Even if I get 10% or 20% less work done, it’s a period of my life that I’ll never forget.

Isn’t that supposed to be the point?

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“Hi, I’m Here to Fix My SEO”

Not so long ago, I vented my disgust at the Rise of the Content Marketing Moron.

Well, there’s a new moron in town.

And his name is The Complete Stranger.

The Complete Stranger comes with a massive sense of entitlement, and with requests that disrupt my day to benefit his.

Like the ‘link removal’ request.

I’ve had several of these in the last few weeks:

“Dear Blogger,

It has come to our attention that a third party agency has used questionable means to secure links to our website on your blog.

[COMMENT SPAM]
[COMMENT SPAM]

These links are harmful to our search engine strategy, and we would greatly appreciate if you could remove them at the earliest convenience.”

Why?

Why should I?

You hired this agency.

If they spammed up my blog with junk links, that’s my first reason to be pissed off.

If you then come and ask me to take time out of my day removing these links, that’s my second reason to be pissed off.

I don’t have the time, or desire, to worry about somebody else’s link building strategy.

And yet the first impression you get when dealing with 95% of these agencies is that the world needs to bend over backwards ASAP.

If you are trying to ‘disavow’ your rotten link profile, you can start by acknowledging that you are no more than a piece of shit on the bottom of my shoe.

And then start to grovel.

Nothing personal.

That’s just where you stand on my hierarchy of priorities.

Another request I hate:

“Can you make this link nofollow? Or remove the nofollow?”

You pretentious little fuck-urchin.

Is it not enough that I stopped to consider you? That I linked to you out of the gajillions of other pages on the web?

No, you want the link to be technically correct. Once again for your own gain.

This is where SEOs need to understand something important:

The only person who gives a shit about your link building strategy is you.

Every blogger or webmaster you deal with is doing you a favour when he takes up your requests.

But it will only be a favour.

And he’ll probably never link to you again, while feeling a sharp urge to douse your balls in petrol and start throwing matches.

There are a couple of exceptions where I have removed or adjusted links for guys that I know on a personal level.

Favours.

But when a complete stranger lands in my inbox requesting that I get off my arse to fix a problem that he created on my property, then the answer is swift:

Fuck you.

Your world may revolve around SEO.

Mine does not.

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Banners Broker Scam: Get Your Money Back

It’s been a while since I posted a BannersBroker update. Some may be familiar with my coverage of the company from these previous posts:

For everybody else, I apologise. What follows is not likely to make much sense unless you’ve been watching the ponzi unravel over the last 12 months.

The Current State of BannersBroker (Have we got all day?)

To say that BannersBroker is unravelling would be to say that the Titanic got a little damp on her way to New York. Sinking ship is an understatement. BannersBroker, as an investment proposition for anybody reading this today, is absolutely toast.

It is dead. Game over.

If you put money in to this programme today, you will not see it again.

While we can speculate with conjecture over what is actually happening behind the scenes at BannersBroker HQ (and I know many of you are), it has been confirmed that the company is under investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission.

That does not bode well for BB, and it is the reason why you see CEO Chris Smith brandishing buzz words like “active business” and “non-passive“. The company is trying desperately to paper over the cracks and present BannersBroker as a legitimate business, but it’s too late.

The reason for this post is due to recent evidence that it might not be too late for you to get your money back.

Note: But only your initial investment and subsequent deposits minus withdrawals. If you think you’re actually entitled to those ‘net profits’, you should go slap yourself with a wet fish.

Getting Your Investment Refunded

Credit for this information goes to user asdfghjkl on the Money Maker Group forum.

I have received a full refund into my bank account from BB/Stellar Point INC after threatening legal action in the Ontario Small Claims Court to recover my initial deposit. A group of us here in the UK (my upline and other referrals of his) have had significant success with this approach. 3 of us have had full refunds so far.

If you want your money back my suggestion is do this ASAP!!

I didn’t need to take them to court. Just threatening to was enough to get my account with them banned and after a couple of letters from their legal team a full refund was made to the card so originally paid on. Actually made a good return as the British Pound had strengthened compared to the USD over he last 6 months.

I can’t really speculate but it was very clear to me they didn’t want to go to court hence the full refund.

– User asdfghjkl on Money Maker Group

BannersBroker is understandably reluctant to have anything to do with a court order. In terms of legal footing, they are about as ready to engage as a deer in the headlights.

If you have made an investment and missed your first payment, threatening legal action is the best way to get a response (and your money back).

Whatever you do, don’t call the support team. Any support team that takes your money on a ‘per question’ basis is a complete fail on all accounts.

Some excellent steps for how to start the refund process are available on this BB Fightback Facebook page. It includes an email template that you can send to Stellar Point today.

The Banners Broker Ponzi Scam Facebook page, along with RealScam and the comments section on here, are the best places to check for regular updates on users’ attempts to get investments refunded.

You will have to wait until you’ve missed a payment cycle before you can start the legal proceedings (or threatening them at the very least).

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to wait very long.

Chris Smith’s Endless Excuses for Nil Payouts

Below you’ll find a timeline of recent excuses for why BannersBroker members haven’t received full payments. Now bear in mind the company policy that ‘negativity’ should be punishable by account termination.

Any member who complains about these delays faces the likelihood of having his account suspended. Or he would do if BannersBroker bothered to check their Facebook pages (last update in March and counting).

Here’s Chris Smith doing what he does best. Talking complete indecipherable rubbish:

23rd May – Last Payza payout, in terms of the order, people have asked about the dates — there are 2 reasons, one is a mistake and one by design. With Payza, it’s an Excel sent to the system and it pays based on that file. I created this file and put it together. It is date order, but if someone has say 4 pay requests, we will pay one and move to other members . When I did this, I sorted by ID’s, and I forgot to sort by Date (by person). So someone may have received an April payout and March is still pending. By design, due to the OSC investigation, we did choose some of the members who have never been paid before, so that everyone got their money back.

Finch: Were you not paid due to the OSC investigation or because Chris Smith is simply that incompetent? Who knows?

31st May – Payouts – I mentioned on Friday that we were doing STP last weekend, but it was not completed. We will be doing that this weekend. It is a batch upload, so there must be an Excel file that must be done correctly. In the past there were errors with that batch file, so now have to make sure everything is correct. There is alot of important data in that file and it invoves alot of money.

Finch: So a giant company like BannersBroker processes payments manually in an Excel spreadsheet? Seems legit. But not just an Excel spreadsheet! An Excel spreadsheet with errors in it.

7th June – STP payout yesterday. It took longer than anticipated, but did go out. (Finch: No it didn’t) We have alot of positive comments from members (Finch: No you haven’t). If you haven’t received yours you will be on the next run (Finch: No they won’t). Payza is coming up shortly. I hate to give definitive dates. But it will be soon.

Finch: Realising that a new line of defence is needed, Smith plucks a points system out of his arse…

14th June – Payouts: We do have a point system for payouts. It’s not alot different than before. Let’s say if you have a $2K w/d on Jan 1st, than another on Jan 2nd, same person. Person B does a request on Jan 5th for same $2K. Order is Person A gets w/d, then person B, then Person A, in that order. Points are assigned by order. Your first request will get more points than your next requests. More points are awarded if this is your first withdrawal.

Finch: Here’s a simple concept, Chris. Pay your members in full. Is BannersBroker no longer ‘cash rich’?

21st June – Next Payday: we were hoping to get Payza out last weekend. we cannot send it out if it’s not accurate. (Finch: You seem to send out payments with inaccuracies all the time, sometimes to the wrong account. Never stopped you before.) I am very confident that if it’s not today, then it will this weekend. I will make it a point to see that it goes out. STP will be shortly after that. We want to keep people satisfied. We are going in a point system order, predominantly by date, so everyone will not get a payment. However, everyone will get paid so please be patient.

Finch: A hilarious contradiction at the end there, synonymous of the misinformation this ‘company’ breeds to stay alive. All members are equal, but some are more Simon Stepsys than others.

Those are the excuses from the last month, but they stretch all the way back to January and February. For a full timeline of lies and deceit, check out the Banners Broker Iceland page.

Want to know a golden rule of running a ponzi scheme? Never tell your members why you can’t pay them. Blame it on everything under the sun, including your own incompetence, but never ever reveal the truth – that the pyramid is unsustainable, and the men at the top have milked it dry.

Clarifications and Conclusions

Several months ago I received this email from a reader who attended a local BB recruitment drive:

“You may or may not be pleased to know that you were personally mentioned by David Hooker I believe his name is, their Compliance Director, he advised us to ignore your blog, I think they are trying to pre-empt the fact that people will try and do research. They also interestingly claimed that your wife (?!?) is a BannersBroker Affiliate. I somehow doubt that is true, but I think you should be aware that that is what they are claiming.”

“It was your wife he said, he implied you had her join in order to try and drive revenue from banner advertising on your own site higher. The manner in which it was said was just outright nasty.”

Firstly, my ‘wife’ was actually my fiancee, and we’re no longer together. Secondly, she hated BannersBroker just as much as I did. Thirdly, what difference would that make to the banner revenue on this site?

Maybe we need to get Terry Stern in here to provide some simple explanations.

So, BannersBroker’s Director of Compliance (no less!) gets his balls in a twist with yet more malicious lies designed to pull the wool over cautious investors’ eyes. Upon being confronted with the remarks over email, Hooker feigned a ‘misinterpretation’ and promised not to run his little mouth in future.

Evidently the promise didn’t extend as far as his Facebook ‘fan’ page where he is still blabbering pseudo motivational bollocks to anybody who’ll listen.

David Hooker scammer

“Courageous! Determined! Driven!”

If this man has conned you in to handing over your hard earned cash, feel free to pay his page a visit and tell him what he really is.

For what it’s worth, David has recently removed any reference to Banners Broker or Stellar Point from his LinkedIn page. Make of that as you wish.

Another lie I’d like to put straight:

“Heard at a meeting in about the start of February (2013), that BannersBroker flew you to their HQ after seeing the bad press you had spread. They said it changed your mind about them. I just want to confirm whether that is true or I misheard?”

It’s not true, and I doubt you misheard.

I’ve had a few emails from BB apologists – presumably trying to bait me – by interpreting the months since my last post as a sign that I’ve ‘changed my mind’ about the scam, or that I’ve been bought out.

The reason I’ve been quiet is actually far simpler. I haven’t had to defend myself.

When I originally posted about the scam in October 2012, I was pelted with abuse from trolls, shills and damn near anybody with a penny invested in the scheme, as well as being publicly slandered by executives (!!) at Banners Broker recruitment drives. Time was always going to shine a rough light on the BB business model, and so it has.

The users who flocked here to defend the scheme can now be found venting their anger at BannersBroker instead, or promoting the next garbage ponzi. Some, to their credit, have publicly admitted that they were conned.

There’s no shame in being swindled by an international crime syndicate that has dedicated a lifetime to fooling you. Unless you let it happen repeatedly.

Where is Rajiv Dixit?

It comes as surprise to nobody that our friend Rajiv has decided to keep his head low since the damaging security investigations kicked off. This is a man already linked to other failed scams, like the ICF World Homes scheme that he swears was legitimate but somehow still ended up frozen by the Competition Bureau.

When the Securities and Exchange Commission come knocking (as they have been recently), Mr. Dixit knows he’ll be paying the piper some jail time.

I’ve heard some thoroughly unsavoury stories about Dixit that I can’t repeat here for obvious reasons. Some who know Raj on a personal level would be more than happy to throw him under a bus. And from what they’ve told me, I wouldn’t blame them.

In a bid to keep angry affiliates at bay, Raj changed his Facebook name to Rajeeve EswarRao, before seemingly deleting himself from the social network altogether.

Not sure where he stumbled across such a PR masterstroke. Maybe the Handbook of How To Run A Company Like Google?

What about Chris Smith?

How much does anybody know about Chris Smith… really?

Other than the fact that he used to be white?

Smith is the last man standing who is a) dumb enough or b) getting paid enough, to continue talking shop with angry BannersBroker investors.

My impression of Smith from his rumoured links to securities in the past is that he is a pawn. He doesn’t seem smart enough to mastermind a program like BannersBroker, but is happy to stick his face on the front cover.

The general consensus is that Dixit pulls Smith’s strings, so that Dixit can stay somewhat out of the spotlight. As for the ‘geeky genius’ who created the multi-million dollar Banners Broker algorithms? Wake me up when he has a Wikipedia page.

On the subject of Banners Broker management…

I read a depressing post on Facebook yesterday from a BB affiliate criticising the recent troubles, but still refusing to write off the company:

“…Love BB, Hate the managers who run it!!”

Edit: The original message was much longer but evidently the user doesn’t wish to be quoted. See the comments!

This kind of apologetic bullshit is the reason why the scheme hasn’t yet imploded. The managers who run BannersBroker ARE BannersBroker. They are the men who sat around a table and devised this damn near incomprehensible system with one intention: to fleece you of your money, and to get richer themselves.

Another depressing comment:

“OK there are far more experienced players in the on-line advertising industry, but had BB started out purely as an advertising company, I’d have no doubts they would have attracted some long-term business partners.”

Banners Broker has never been involved with the advertising industry. Any revenue they make from the banners on their network will be pennies. It saddens me that people are still falling for this idea that BB are transitioning towards a more ‘non-passive’ business. It has always been a ponzi scheme. You can’t pluck a legitimate advertising business out of the carnage just because the Ontario Securities Commission is on to you.

So I guess the real question is…

Are you going to let them get away with it? Will you continue to buy the panels lies?

The sad thing is, many affiliates will.

It’s a cultural hallmark of greed and easy-living. You’re told that you’re just ‘one week away’ from receiving the riches you were promised, and you continue to believe. A week turns in to a month, still you cling to the belief. When somebody tells you to join the Next Big Thing, you dive straight in because you want to believe in your divine right to easy money – no matter how many friends and families you trample over in its pursuit.

Note: If anybody asks you to join FlexKom, Ripplin, or Adhitprofits, do yourself a favour and don’t. Vultures like Soozi Scoones and Jamie Waters would sell your dying grandmother if it earned them a pot to piss in.

There’s no magic pot of gold under the rainbow and there’s no magic business waiting to fall out of Chris Smith’s arse. Only jail time, and hopefully lots of it.

Eventually BannersBroker is going to disappear and the ‘negative bloggers’ like myself who have been predicting this demise for a year will watch on as the lemmings join yet another get rich quick scheme.

Why? Because of the greed.

I hope those who are still clinging to a belief that BannersBroker somehow has legitimacy will wake up and smell the coffee. For those who are taking action to get their money back, good luck to you. I hope you don’t make the same mistake again.

Copyright © 2014.