Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Nouveau Tech: Surely the Most Audacious Scam I've Ever Encountered

19 JANUARY: The story starts about a month ago, when I had started "de-junkifying," as my friend John would say, preparatory to moving to the new apartment. I came upon some mail I'd mislaid months earlier and never opened. One item received 21 March invited me to join the secret Nouveau Tech Society, supposedly comprising many of the most famous, rich, and "successful" people in the world. Moreover, it claimed to be based on secrets contained in a 2300-year-old manuscript that a scientist had discovered and translated, which would give me the keys to "THE MOST IMPORTANT MONEY, POWER, ROMANTIC LOVE DISCOVERY OF ALL TIME!" (their caps).

Well, it was pretty obvious this was a scam, but I was intrigued by their claim that they would send me this incredible information free of charge. I wanted to see how far they would take it before actually requiring any money or sensitive info from me. So, as per their instructions, I sent the last page of the mailing (or rather a photocopy, since I wanted to keep the original for my records), and it wasn't long before I got another mailing. This contained the booklet promised, called the Nouveau Tech Orientation Booklet. But it turned out that this was only the first of two "installments," the second being a 1000-page book called The Nouveau Tech Discovery. If I wanted that, I had to send money. Uh-huh.

Of course I wasn't going to, but here's where it got interesting: the second mailing, like the first, claimed that simply by reading the booklet, I'd benefit from secrets hidden within it, even if I didn't consciously understand them. And it specifically claimed that three major positive developments would occur for me within the following two weeks. Aha, a hypothesis I could test at no cost or risk! Of course there was a hook they were trying to catch me on: I supposedly had to send for the second book within three days, or else my "cycle of opportunity" would have passed and they wouldn't send it "at any price." Of course I couldn't, within that time frame, verify a claim that pertained to a two-week window. But since I wasn't sending $140 for an allegedly miraculous book that I would bet doesn't even exist, I just committed to taking note of any major developments, positive or negative, that occurred in that period. I'll count one: finally getting to move away from a paranoid roommate whom I frequently found unnerving. But one does not equal three, so the Nouveau Tech hypothesis is falsified.

What makes the whole thing so audacious, though, is the character of the claims made. They plainly were aimed at people who feel unlucky in life and are susceptible to magical thinking. One of the stories in the Orientation Booklet -- which was really just a bunch of narratives promoting the incredible benefits of Nouveau Tech -- had it that a man who was flying off the handle with his son was becalmed simply by touching the larger book's binding!

I drafted the above a couple months ago, but didn't have time to finish it. When I did a little web searching, I saw that thousands of pages had mentioned this group. Evidently it isn't a one-off scam, but a cult that tries to exploit people's benevolence as well as their wish for an easy answer to all their personal troubles. Amazingly, they're still sending me stuff, even though I've repeatedly missed one "last chance" after another. Of course this makes sense from their standpoint: if even a tiny fraction of gullible people send them the kind of money they're asking for, it makes up for all the postage they spend repeatedly trying to hook them.

As they keep sending more stuff, they're gradually introducing me to the cult ideology. They represent themselves as "illuminati," and call society as we generally know it "anticivilization." I'll relate more as I find the time.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, I've offered to lend some union songs I have on tape to workers striking Community College of Philadelphia, to use on their picket line. Funny how I keep finding ways to make a difference even without "Nouveau Tech illuminati secrets."

4 comments:

apple said...

I also recieved the same orientation booklet.. I didn't find no secret meaning in the last story.. and I didn't send them $140.oo either. I told them that I didn't have that kind of money but if it was true they would send it to me anyway and if miracles did start happening that I would be more than glad to send them the amount they were asking for.. I haven't heard nothing from the yet.

Lisa said...

Just received this, also. I want to know how all the people in the stories got their manuscript for free. They were given the the 2300 year-old secrets! So, just share the wealth and give it to us. It all goes back to...If it sounds to good to be true, then it most definitely is!

Anonymous said...

Actually its not A Scam I so Happend to Get 2 Of there Books The Orentation Book & The Large Black Book Of Inner-Circle Secrets & I just Bought Miss-Annabelle's Secrets from Amazon.com So I Now Have 3 Neo-Tech Books Have read them & to be Honest If You know what Law Of Attraction is & Have Read The Book "The Secret" & Other Books About Law Of Attraction then Neo-Tech Books aren't that Hard to figure out The 2300 Yr old Secret is nothing Other then The law Of Attraction Which Basically Is Teaching you how to Use your Mind to bring Good & Positive things into your life .

however some people only think one way & think everything that they don't understand is a Scam because they never heard of it & don't understand it so they call it a scam .

you have to read the other large books in order to understand what their trying to teach you .

stripey7 said...

@Anonymous, I don't call it a scam because I don't understand it, but because I understand it too well. The manipulative character of the solicitation was all too clear -- especially its exploitation of the Scarcity Principle, as it's called in the psychology of social influence, by claiming over and over that my "window of opportunity" was about to close. And its blatant appeal to magical thinking. And the "bait-and-switch" tactic of claiming I'd get something for free, only to then say I actually had to pay to get the whole thing. And last but not least, the fact that ITS PREDICTION FAILED.

I haven't read "The Secret," but I'm sure it doesn't cost $140. So even if you believe that stuff, the Nouveau Tech Society's offer would still be a ripoff. And my impression from what I've seen of their web sites is that they are indeed a cult, drawing some into making greater and greater investments in hope of learning yet "deeper" secrets -- and thereby making it harder and harder for them to disinvest psychologically, with all the cognitive dissonance that would come from realizing they'd been had. Very much in the fashion of Scientology, or "free energy" hucksters like Dennis Lee.