"Get rich quick" is an odd phrase, considering it invariably results in unfortunate investors getting poor in a hurry. Blue Chip anyone? Ostriches? What about a forest?
We all laugh in hindsight at the preposterous idea that people were going to make the huge sums of money out of these investments. But there's another get rich quick scheme just around the corner that will sucker just as many people. We just don't know what it is yet.
In the short term, it's those pesky property companies that you still need to watch out for. They're the ones that tell you they know the secret of wealthy retirement or saving tax. Sometimes they don’t even mention the word "property" in their spiel. That's because the investment itself is usually a crock and they don't want to focus on it.
One fact of life is that the purveyors of get rich schemes tell porkies. One company I called told me that I should buy a freehold Wellington apartments because being an Aucklander I would know all apartments up here are on leasehold land. Pull the other one. Last time I looked on Realestate.co.nz there were plenty of freehold apartments for sale in central Auckland. She just assumed I was stupid or naïve.
The company's website added: "The nation's capital is home to some of the highest rent returns in the land." What planet are these people on? According to QV's latest figures Auckland central has median gross yields of 10.6% compared to a measly 6.6% in central Wellington. That's barely enough to break even.
I'm convinced that people want to be conned. Who, for example, would really fall for this guy's patter?
When the next big get rich quick rort shows its ugly head, an industry touting these investments to the general public will spring up around it. For a time the suckers who buy whatever it is will wax lyrical over dinner about how much money they've made. But in a few years time, most of them will be too embarrassed to admit they invested and the person they trusted with their fantasies has skipped town.
Every year some people will fall for the completely illegal scams as opposed to the rip-off that doesn't break any laws even though it will dent your wealth. Legal or otherwise both types of get rich quick schemes have one thing in common. They've left many people who invested too much, destitute.
Of course there are people who do get rich quickly – such as Aucklander Steve West who founded Serato – which produces vinyl emulation software for DJs. But he and his ilk did it through their own hard work, not as an armchair investor.
Finally, the rule of thumb that the financial services industry always highlights is: if it seems too good to be true then it is. Personally I prefer: if it's such a good investment, why would they need to cold call you?