This is a true story. I am merely masking the names because the pattern it is not uncommon.
Many online writing sites practiced similar patterns.
The information concerning the site I’m calling Riprite was relayed by a person who had been a Shill. A ‘Shill’ is one who is hired to promote a particular ‘product’; whether it is snake oil or investment in an investment scheme or a writing site.
The protocols are the same; the Shill is a person ‘just like you’ who ‘invests’ and is rewarded, and now runs around brining in new ‘investors’.
The Shill will attack anyone who dares to say the scheme is a fraud, ponzi, rip off, etc. Because the Shill is a person ‘just like you’, the connection is virtually automatic.
The reasons the Shill will give as to why this one was ripped off or not paid should attract the response, “How Would You know?” after all, if the Shill is a person just like you, where would s/he get the information?
But it doesn’t. It is accepted.
It is this acceptance which has always struck me as peculiar.
After all, if you do not Own the site, if you have not been paid by the Owner, how would you know why another person was not paid.