Yesterday I got an email in my inbox asking for my participation (as a "employee" aka "useful idiot") in a penny stock scam. I've been caught up in one before, so I felt inspired to convey the general tone and feeling of such operations in ZZT form.
Although this game is fictional, the techniques described are pretty close to reality. One only needs to visit InvestorsHub and browse around a little to find shining examples of this particular formula in action. It really is all about emotional state and maintaining that balance of "fear vs. greed" to keep the victim involved. But eventually your money disappears, and....well, nothing happens after that! (I came out of it okay, in the end.)
Some of the techniques not depicted in this game:
-Encourage a "community" of victims and make them start reassuring each other and reaching out to their friends to help in rationalizing a logically unsound investment(a friend got me drawn in, in my own case)
-Include accomplices to make in-person visits to victims that support your image. They could be "partners," "common men made millionares," "skeptics," or any number of character archetypes that weave a story that barely holds itself together. The sky's the limit.
-Turn business into war - e.g. "get back at the evil bankers manipulating the market" or "help revolutionize (industry x)". If the foes are big and vague, they're easy to blame, and your cause looks all the better, regardless of how poor its fundamentals are.
-Make bold claims that might hook people not familiar with the particular industry, such as these gems from my email:
...A start-up funded through two rounds of engineering and now with a manufacturing agreement in place with a NASDAQ traded global top ten contract manufacturer.
...A former computer science professor at USC, Sacramento commented on *redacted* as follows:
“Based on my experience, I can testify that this is a fresh idea, highly innovative, and, in my opinion, something that the general public would love to use. Most users do belong to several social networks. This tool makes the social network environment easy to navigate … and user friendly. This is a required application on the same level as something like Instagram. Instagram fell into an innovative and rapid to market category, which captured a large market really fast. *redacted* has similar characteristics and falls into this category of being innovative and reaching a large market.”
(I followed up to that email telling the guy "I don't work for equity, but I will work for $250,000 up front" and he politely declined. He doesn't know what he's missing out on...)