Irish Newspaper Grilled Banners Broker
The Irish Newspaper Sunday World investigates Banners Broker:
– Broker in the pack –
He denies his 'investment' opportunity is a pyramid scheme but Paul McCarthy trips up on his own lies as we track him down.
THE IRISHMAN involved in an alleged international pyramid scheme got tangled up in his own lies when tracked down by the Sunday World this week. The Banners Broker get-rich-quick scheme, which has all the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme, claims to double and even quadruple people's money through selling internet ad space.
But there are fears that thousands of Irish people will be out of pocket when it all comes crashing down. Banners Broker is an international scheme which has an Irish arm of the organisation run in Cork by Paul McCarthy (34), through his firm Maconne Online Marketing.
McCarthy, who has an address in Ballyvolane, describes himself as an independent contractor of the Banners Broker network. He is strongly involved in encouraging Irish people to join the scheme and he told the Sunday World that there are now 5,000 Irish people who have paid money into Banners Broker.
However, McCarthy got caught up in his own lies when the Sunday World interviewed him this week and brazenly contradicted claims he had previously made. The National Consumer Agency confirmed they have received complaints in relation to the firm. The scheme began in Canada and has international contractors in several other countries – including Ireland, the UK, Cyprus, Australia, Portugal, India and Poland.
One of the men who heads up the organisation uses the name Rajiv Dixit. He was previously linked to ICF World Homes, a pyramid scheme which was shut down by Canadian authorities in 2009. When we spoke to McCarthy this week at the company's offices at Kinvara House on Dublin Hill in Cork, he denied Banners Broker was a pyramid scheme.
We don't guarantee any money, McCarthy said. The average earnings of an affiliate is just less than $40 a month.
However, this contradicts what he told a meeting of investors last week when he was recorded saying: Every single person who joins Banners Broker makes money.
In another contradiction, McCarthy told the Sunday World there was no way people would double their money and said they didn't claim otherwise. He added that a lot of criticism the company is receiving is because people involved are making false claims about high earnings.
What he failed to add was that he was one of these people. He was secretly filmed at a Banners Broker meeting in Cork last week saying people would quadruple their money.
Let's say you went for an ultimate package, $3,665 – the minimum earnings are $14,560, he said.
He also said people who invest $415 would get minimum earnings of $1,600. One man went on Joe Duffy's Liveline this week and said he invested $2,000, which he now claimed is worth $75,000.
McCarthy also denied this. I don't know of any case where that is the case. I'm not saying he's telling lies or anything like that, but you don't put in $2,000 and get $75,000 in six months.
The firm claims it can make people rich through a complicated 'panel' system whereby they pay to sell on advertising banners on websites. The company claims that by paying into the scheme, you are investing in a network of banners which make unrealistic amounts of money.
However, in typical pyramid scheme fashion, Banners Broker representatives say you can make even more money by recruiting other people to invest.
Originally, the firm was not showing people the websites where the advertising banners were placed. In April they started showing people some websites, which were poorly built, of little interest and were all put up at the same time on the same server, suggesting the firm set them up itself. There is no trace of Banners Broker advertisements on any independent websites.
Representatives try to prevent people from taking their money out of the scheme by saying if they take it out early they won't make as much returns and it will affect their ability to earn more in the future. Some customers have also been persuaded to send over passport scans to the firm as part of the registration process, leaving them open to identity theft. Worryingly for those duped into investing, the firm recently started locking people out of their accounts for bad-mouthing Banners Broker online.
It introduced new rules where it can close down accounts and take investors' money if they portray the scheme in a negative light.
Banners Broker chiefs are also carrying out a number of other ploys to delay paying out to people who placed money in the scheme. These include 'problems' with the website and longer waiting periods for taking out larger amounts of money. McCarthy said this was due to new security measures. They have also reduced the number of ways people can withdraw cash.These include a prepaid card which some people have been waiting months to receive.
McCarthy said the two people behind the company are Rajiv Dixit and Chris Smith, who are based in Canada. They are due to speak this weekend at a Banners Broker conference in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. McCarthy said there were 10 people employed in the Irish office, with a further 13 on the road.
He also said anyone who wants a refund will 100 per cent get their money back. It remains to be seen whether that was another lie added to a growing list.