Feeds

MS website trumpets 'pyramid' company

Quest for gold turns nasty

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A case study on Microsoft.com is unwittingly promoting a company which has been accused of operating a pyramid scheme targetting people in south-east Asia and Africa.

This page on Microsoft's website explains how Hong Kong-based GoldQuest International Ltd made big savings by moving to Windows Server 2003. The page proudly trumpets GoldQuest's achievements and "500,000 active customers in 120 countries".

"GoldQuest has grown into a ecommerce powerhouse, generating 70 per cent of its $200m annual turnover online," the page gushes. Microsoft claims it has saved the company $82,000 a year in IT costs and helped it increase revenue by $10m a year.

The only trouble is, GoldQuest has been accused of operating a form of pyramid-scheme targetting gullible folk in some of the world's poorest countries.

The company, based in Hong Kong, sells "commemorative" gold and silver coins. But people are encouraged to gain commission by getting more people to sign up. If you can sell coins to two other people, who in turn must recruit two more, then you start receiving commission.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank of Sri Lanka's legal department told The Register that it was investigating GoldQuest with the assistance of the police.

A campaigner in Sri Lanka told us: "It's a nasty scheme. I first heard about it in 2003 and even quite educated people have fallen for it." He explained that the company had also targetted Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania.

Sri Lanka's central bank has made four separate appeals to the public to avoid such schemes.

In Bhutan, the Royal Monetary Authority reportedly warned the public about GoldQuest, saying: "The pyramid will collapse eventually when more members cannot be found, besides it does not generate any productivity."

According to Iranian state media, authorities in the country recently arrested "some key members of this group," while Iran's central bank declared GoldQuest activities were illegal and against Islam.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft told us that GoldQuest is "managed by a partner" and the case study was prepared by a partner for the launch of Windows Server 2003.

We asked GoldQuest for comment, but it did not return our calls.

More details here, here, and here. ®

Related stories

FX rip-off dotcom wound-up
Compensation for pyramid scheme victims
The economics of spam

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.