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PIPS: Ponzi Scam
by David G. Hanger


March 25, 2005

Dear Charlotte, I agree we should not be hostile to outsiders as a general rule, but when the particular outsider in question is shilling for his master, one Bryan Marsden, whose career in ponzi scams, pyramid schemes, etc. is quite extensive, and who now counts among his victims perhaps hundreds of local residents, I do not consider it pertinent to be polite.  It has gone well beyond that already when our community is in aggregate apparently short hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.  I am sure Dick & Mary knew what they were doing when they allowed that to go up unedited, and I am grateful they did.  I can assure you there has been more discussion between us about this issue than has been published on Sitnews.  The Kauffmans are retired professionals, and while I do not speak for them, I doubt seriously they are any more tolerant of these scam artists than am I.

On your web address problem:  Drop the www.  Even then the PIPS site will not always come up.  Wait a few hours and try again.  Go to '' for an excellent two-page article that explains how this PIPS scam works.  Go to your search engine and type in 'pips scam' and 'Bryan Marsden.'  You will have tens of thousands of entries from which to choose.

The Australian Securities & Exchange Commission recently announced that PIPS is probably the #1 'pie in the sky' scam going in the world right now.  Claims are that it has at least 80,000 investors and counting, and that conmeister Bryan Marsden and his cronies has at hand more than $200 million of other people's money; plenty of cash to make believers out of lots of folks.  If he spends $40 million salting the scam, he pockets the better part of $200 million.  If half is salt, he still walks away with more than $100 million. 

In a simple chain letter someone starts the chain by sending out half a dozen envelopes or so with a dollar in each, and instructs each recipient to send out a similar number of envelopes, one always to the original sender and then start adding to the address list.  So long as the chain is not broken, for a very small investment you can rack up some serious cash.  (And, of course, you can also go to jail.)  Sooner or later the chain is always broken, and the vast majority of players get nothing.  A ponzi scheme works similarly in that cash coming in from later investors is used to pay off the first investors.  With hundreds of millions of dollars these scams can go on for years before they collapse totally.  PIPS is a semi-sophisticated ponzi scheme.  The early investors become blind (or maybe not so blind), yet essential, participants in the scam by encouraging their friends to join in.  This one has gone so far already as to encourage people to become sales agents for PIPS, and there are a few people locally doing that.  These early investors make money on the scam, but the money in effect that they are receiving is the money their friends are investing. 

On the internet you will find many sites promoting PIPS.  They have been promised a commission just to get you in.  You will also find the many believers in this cult raving about how successful PIPS is.  But there is a problem here, just as there is with Mr. C.L. Ryan, or whatever his name is.  Part of the scam is to dummy up the internet with testimonials, all written by the staff of PIPS, and there is a lot of that kind of junk out there.  To my astonishment (why should I be surprised?) there are also sites that outright acknowledge that PIPS and all these other things are scams, and their purpose in being is to teach you or to encourage you to scam the scam.  When there's hundreds of millions of dollars involved, it actually makes sense that you'd get that kind of action, too. 

Recently, there was on outfit called WEW, or something close, Women Empowering Women.  This was another scam of similar ilk that ran its course and now not only those who started it, but some of those who facilitated it by encouraging their friends to jump in (and then get ripped off) are doing prison time.  

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of Bryan Marsden's scam is the psychology.  A cult following of believers is created, who have to believe because not to believe is to admit that you are a fool; and cult behavior defending the faith quickly becomes downright irrational.  When it all comes crashing down and the reality finally sinks in how badly you have been played, Marsden banks on you sheepishly disappearing literally from embarrassment.  Finance should never be a question of belief.

In the case of Mr. C.L. Ryan this is but a scout for a routine flaming by true believers of this cult that could run to hundreds a day; that is part of Marsden's methodology.  It is not my responsibility to prove that PIPS is or is not legitimate; it is PIPS' responsibility to do that.  PIPS will not do that, cannot do that, because PIPS is a massive con.  That is blatantly apparent to the trained eye in their presentation materials on the internet and should be quite obvious to any high school graduate.  I am not talking down to anybody to say they are a fool for investing money in anything without checking it out first, and checking it out is not talking to your friends.  I would be a fool to try to fix my car or pretty much anything mechanical, and I am totally ignorant or unaware of matters pertaining to an untold number of subjects, but in this stuff I am a pro with decades of experience, and my words carry that kind of weight respective this subject.  The scammers, of course, want to keep the waters muddy, want you to think there are questions of opinion here, when in fact there are none. 

So let's do it by the numbers.  For $1500 or so conmeister Bryan Marsden wants you to believe that in five years you will receive a lump-sum payment of $87,000 plus $9300 a month for the rest of your life.  WHY?  That's the first question you need to ask.  Why would anyone be so magnanimous?

Our conmeister tries to rush you to and beyond HOW by a sleight of hand presentation where he makes you believe he can consistently make 2% a day on the money.  One moderate-level mathematician has recently calculated that for the 80,000 or so investors purportedly now on hand the revenues required to fund these promises (outright lies) exceeds the annual gross domestic product of the United States.  Were he offering you acreage on the dark side of the moon, you could profit as much.  

PIPS is a ponzi hybrid called a 'pied piper' scam.  The first investors make some money, then sing their hosannas on high about their new investment messiah, conmeister Bryan Marsden, situated on an island offshore from Malaysia (reportedly).  Then they turn around and lead their friends over the cliff, playing a pretty tune all the way. 

I have been taken to task for calling this conduct stupid, that I am being insensitive and superior.  Back in 1966 when my dad drove a deuce-and-a-half over a 20-ft cliff, my first response was, "Dad, that was pretty stupid."  I never thought my dad was stupid, but I still think that was pretty stupid.  When not so long ago a crown fell off one weekend, and I glued it back on with super glue my dentist's first response was "David, that was pretty stupid."  I know he does not think I am stupid, but I am also sure he still thinks that was pretty stupid.  We all have it in us, and it is nothing of which to be ashamed.  Caution is encouraged and recommended.

This conduct is stupid, and it is dangerous.  It starts with the 'them vs. us' psychology of the true believers, who have to believe.  In the end it is friends stealing from friends, and I would have to say it takes a particularly conscienceless personality not to feel bad about that.  To gain from the misery of your friends is as low as you can get in my book. 

It also appears PIPS has taken firm root in Ketchikan.  I was under the impression there might be a few dozen folks who have been victimized locally by this thing.  I am now under the impression there could be hundreds, and they all still want to believe.  They also want to hate us for not believing.

Belief belongs in church; it has nothing to do with finance.  The early birds I hear are running around locally with new cars and boats and bragging loudly about it.  They have converted many, and apparently some are out and out agents for PIPS.  So maybe some are not being entirely stupid about this, just extremely calculating and shameless.  Most folks locally are just going to be victims. 

I am very angry that some sleazy shill working from offshore Malaysia has ripped off people I know in this town, has filled their heads with daydreams and delusions.  I am saddened that already relationships are being affected by the fact that so many locals actually believe this tripe; and I am more than simply troubled as to what this means for our community if people are so desperate they want to believe in this nonsense.

The FBI wants to talk to you if you think you have been victimized by PIPS.  If you invested in PIPS, you have been victimized even if you made money on the deal.  In that event you are prospectively open to libel and to criminal charges.  Cooperating is still your best option because hiding on this rock has always been difficult.

The Juneau FBI office encourages your call.  The number is 463-3461.

Optionally, a complaint can be filed with the FBI at the website entitled Internet Crime Complaint Center, address

Call them early and avoid the rush would be my recommendation. 

PIPS is also now promoting a new and far more dangerous variant to its scam.  It wants your mortgage.  Give them your mortgage, and they guarantee to pay off your house free and clear in relatively short order.  Mortgages are assets that in bunches can be played in all kinds of different ways.  I'm thinkin' volunteering for kamikaze duty is a better deal. 

Kindness and consideration, Charlotte, is something the cops can afford to show to these shills and thieves once they have them in handcuffs.  Until then and for us they are prospectively very dangerous people, and they do not deserve the slightest consideration from us.  I treat thieves for what they are.  Most locals are simple and unfortunate victims of this, and we don't need any more victims.


David G. Hanger
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Viewpoint:

letter PIPS-burst! by Charlotte Glover - Ketchikan, AK - USA


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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.



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