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[July 2021]

Beware of new "moneymaking scheme" using online salon

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. Then, some consumers got involved in trouble after making a contract for knowhow (information for sale1) and support to make money. Recently, online salon2 users are increasing. Some fraudsters use online salons as tools to provide moneymaking knowhow or use online salons themselves as tools to make money.

Therefore, NCAC would like to share trouble cases and problems related to online salons and issue a consumer alert to prevent trouble.

  1. 1 Information sold online advertised as knowhow to make good money from side jobs and investments
  2. 2 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" reported by the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group at the 41st Online Consumer Transaction Meeting at the Consumer Affairs Agency on May 31, 2021). This article talks about host-based salons where many consumers have got in trouble.

Sample cases

I received a direct message through social media and I was induced to learn knowhow contents at an online salon.

I received a direct message through social media saying "I will tell you how to make money" and I contacted the sender through a free call app. The person said, "You can earn money from affiliate marketing on your blog," "Contents of information for sale will be shared at an online salon, so 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.

Other cases

  • I was told I could get a referral fee by introducing the online salon to someone.
  • At a seminar on running an online salon, I was induced to join a more expensive seminar.
  • I made a contract to run an online salon as a side job, but I did not receive any document.
  • Although I want to cancel a contract for online salon membership, I don't know the postal address and telephone number of the company concerned.

Problems highlighted by the sampling of cases

  • After being solicited by an online stranger or your friend, consumers join an online salon and find that the reality is far from what they were told.
  • Online salons themselves are used as tools to make money.
  • Contract details are not shown prior to making a contract.

Advice for consumers

  • Doubt any "moneymaking scheme" informed by an online stranger or your friend.
  • If you are told to introduce the moneymaking scheme to someone else or something wrong happened, decline to make a contract.
  • Confirm contract details before making a contract. Keep a record of messages exchanged through social media because you may need it to solve a potential problem.
  • In case of concern or trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center.