If you really think about it, pyramid schemes could be considered the original crowdfunding, insomuch as those few at the top of the pyramid fund themselves from the large crowd at the bottom. But the comparison stops there.

Real crowdfunding is a rapidly growing industry, and as such it was only a matter of time before a handful of bottom-feeders (no, I don’t mean the usual GoFundMe scammers) came crawling out of the woodwork to latch themselves onto ‘crowdfunding’ in order to capitalize on the ignorance of others.

I was colored interested when I saw the following in a GoFundMe campaign sharing group I’m in on Facebook (for work purposes, ya know); the post has since vanished after calling out the person sharing it, however this image is still flying around trying to recruit new victims.

CrowdRising scam

OK, this half-assed graphic aside, everything in it just screams taking advantage of people. If you need money to pay off debt, the last thing you need to do is throw your money away to a blatant scheme such as this one. You’d be better off BBQing your money, at least then you’d stay warm after your electricity is cut off.

CrowdRising — not to be confused with the legitimate platform Crowdrise, though certainly the potential confusion is a feature, not a bug — purports itself to be a unique peer-to-peer platform that allows ‘members’ to donate directly to one another. You’ll quickly notice, however, that there are no campaigns, only empty promises.

From their FAQ:

CrowdRising is not a Company or a Business or a Corporation.

The CrowdRising System is not owned by any one individual.

CrowdRising is a semi-automated system created by 5 individuals, who are funding and Founding members, referred to as the 5 Horsemen.

The platform is made available World-Wide, free of charge.

There are No Admin fees, No monthly fees, in fact, there are NO fees.

CrowdRising is a Person-To-Person Direct Funding Platform.

The system was designed in such a way that it can be used by Fundraisers, such as for Charities, Schools, Clubs, Churches, non-profits, family, and personal financial needs etc., etc.

The donations are NOT collected by the Administrator, nor are they automated by the system, rather donations are sent directly and personally from one member to another member, from one member’s payment processor to another member’s payment processor.

Its recruiting language is stereotypical pyramid scheme jargon, aiming to appeal to the most desperate of individuals who literally buy their empty promises with money they can’t afford to lose:

Not meaning to brag here but you won’t find an opportunity like this very often. If you feel stuck or have you recently lost a job, this is perhaps the perfect time to reinvent yourself. Here’s how. Take the first step to completing your journey. People grow, circumstances change, to cope and thrive you must take stock and of who you are and who you are becoming. The global CrowdRising team is awaiting your arrival. We are standing by to lock arms with you and run side by side.

To better understand how these payments from one member to another work, it would be useful for me to explain just how those payments are put into play. Here’s a very simple explanation: when you join, you put in $20 to the person who recruited you, who put in $20 to the person who recruited him. Then you recruit five people, who give you $20, and those people recruit five people each. So all the new ‘members’ are funneling their $20 up the pyramid, with the people at the top seeing the majority of the profits.

That scheme looks something like this:






An. Actual. Pyramid. I’m not sure how it could be more obvious.

Just to make sure we weren’t completely off the mark here, we reached out to Milwaukee forensic accountant Tracy Coenen, CPA, CFF of Sequence Inc, who has reported on and uncovered numerous pyramid schemes, for her opinion. “It’s a typical pyramid scheme in which people pass money up the pyramid,” she said. “It’s unsustainable as the people on the bottom are left holding the bag when there is no one left to recruit into the pyramid.”

There you have it, kids. If you are in need of money for whatever purpose and are considering using a personal crowdfunding platform, avoid this crap like the plague and utilize a legitimate site, including but certainly not limited to GoFundMe. The scammers may not be legit, but GoFundMe as a service absolutely won’t rip you off like these assclowns want to do.