Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winding Down Prosper

Back in early-2007, I got the clever idea I would try person-to-person lending and I signed up for At the time, I considered that this was "play money"—in other words—I felt it was highly speculative and a lot like gambling. Turns out I was entirely correct. =) This experience is finally winding down.

Back then, I transferred in $1000 and funded 19 loans. I spent a lot of time searching through the possible loans and I was clearly very gullible. I tried to make careful investments. In fact, one of them was for an attorney setting up a bankruptcy office; how could that go bad (it did). Of the 19 loans, 10 were charged off (one of them never even made a payment); 3 were paid off very early (and thus we made virtually no interest); and 6 loans are still active and nearing completion. According to Lending Stats my estimated Return on Investment is -2%; actually I thought it was far worse. 40% of the portfolio defaulted, so I'm not sure how my return could only be -2%. I'll have to have Jeff help me calculate the Actual Return on Investment.

I actually used to pay attention to my portfolio, but it just made me annoyed with Prosper, so I stopped. Prosper was a very unethical business and it was a rip off! I would not recommend others do business with them. I am mostly posting this in order to warn others about person-to-person lending.

I wouldn't recommend anyone use prosper (unless you want to borrow). For those who are sure they can make money and really want to try, before you send them any money, I recommend you sign up at the forum because it is independent of The forum at is heavily moderated and they don't allow users to post negative material. For those that do, they'll remove the posts and ban the users from using the forums. is certainly a good deal for the borrowers who don't pay! And I can certainly understand why they don't pay, since Prosper doesn't do much in the way of collection, as far as I've seen. Why should they? They're not losing the money.

It also turns out that when I signed up, Prosper was selling unregistered securities and they were shut down temporarily. I'm not sure why they didn't have to buy these loans back from us since they were breaking the law selling them... Buyer beware!

On a somewhat related topic, I've been able to watch a couple of good documentaries this week:
I.O.U.S.A. and MaxedOut. Both are excellent movies about the massive debt problems this country has. The country back in 2007 was $8.7 trillion dollars in debt, now we're at $11.8 trillion! Check out this excellent debt clock.

The future of this country is scary.

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