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[December 2021]

Beware of new "moneymaking scheme" using online salon

Sample Case

I received a direct message on social media saying "I will tell you how to make money" and I contacted the sender through a free calling app. The person said, "You can earn money from affiliate marketing on your blog," "The content of information products will be shared at an online salon*, and you can learn business skills there," etc. I paid about 300,000 yen to join the online salon. After interacting with the person at a web meeting, I received a written contract. I set up a blog and started affiliate marketing on the blog. Later I was told to post a false story, for instance, someone joining the online salon earned tens of thousands of yen. Now I know affiliate marketing is not so profitable. I want to cancel the contract and get a refund.

(man in his 30s)

  1. * An online salon is an online membership community. There are two types of online salons: "platform-based salons" using service offered by a platform company and "host-based salons" run by a host using tools on social media.
    (Reference: "Trend of online salons" presented by the Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., Ltd. at the 41st Online Consumer Transaction Meeting at the Consumer Affairs Agency on May 31, 2021)

Problems and Advice

Local consumer affairs centers and the like across Japan have received numerous inquiries and complaints about moneymaking schemes. Fraudsters often say "It's easy to make money with a smartphone," "Unearned income makes you rich," etc. Recently, online salon users are increasing. Some fraudsters use online salons as tools to provide moneymaking knowhow or use online salons themselves as tools to make money.

(1) Doubt any "moneymaking scheme"

Although some social media and online sites are full of information on moneymaking schemes, there is no sure way to make money. The content of online salons is open to registered members only. It is often the case that consumers feel disappointed about the content different from ads and previous explanations. When you receive a direct message about moneymaking schemes from an unknown person online, or even when you hear such information from your friend, do not contact the online salon business with ease.

(2) Confirm terms and conditions before making a contract. Keep a record of messages exchanged on social media just in case

Before you decide to sign up for an online salon, be sure to check the availability of a free trial, entrance and monthly fees, the availability of midterm cancellation, terms of cancellation, information on the online salon operator, etc. If a social media account is the only contact information disclosed by an online salon operator, you may not be able to reach the operator in case of trouble. Confirm other contact details such as the company name, postal address, and telephone number.

The initial direct message you received and subsequent messages exchanged with the online operator or your friend will be the basis for asking a refund in case of trouble. Save messages exchanged through chat and emails in text format or take a screen shot.