A: Fifteen years of research and worldwide feedback place the answers to the questions that follow above the category of mere opinions. This research includes court records in MLM cases; financial reports from MLM companies; interviews and world wide feedback from thousands of MLM participants; analyses of compensation plans and marketing materials of over 400 MLMs; interviews with top experts and law enforcement officials; direct experience in MLM recruitment chains; and surveys of tax professionals, MLM company officials, consumers approached by MLM recruiters, and MLM customers. Information and guides drawn from this research are accessed from the many varied pages of our web site. For a thorough treatise on all aspects of MLM, download some or all of our ebook The Case (for against Multi-level Marketing – an Unfair and Deceptive Practice.
THE BUSINESS MODEL
A: “MLM” is an acronym for “multi-level marketing” (a.k.a. “network marketing,” “product-based pyramid schemes,” “pyramid selling schemes,” etc.). More accurately, it is a form of chain selling, which also includes chain letters, naked or no-product pyramid schemes, 2-ups, and other schemes featuring an endless chain of participants as primary (or only) customers. For brevity, we will refer to all types of product-based pyramid schemes, MLMs, or chain selling companies that offer products and services, as “MLMs”.
A: This question shows a lack of understanding of why a pyramid scheme constitutes an unfair trade practice. It isn’t the shape of the organization that is important, but the endless chain of recruitment of participants as primary customers. MLM compensation plans require the climbing of a pyramid of participants in order to make enough money to profit to any significant degree. But unlike a corporate pyramid, in MLM and other types of pyramid schemes, virtually all of those at the bottom (the “downline”) lose money (some a lot of money), where in a corporation, those at the bottom at least get a minimum wage.
Of course, there are inequalities of rewards in most business arrangements. However, in MLM, the leveraging of a downline of thousands of participants who invest and lose money – only to enrich the TOPPs (top of the pyramid of participants), creates extreme inequality. For example, a downline may average $50 a month (actually losing money after subtracting necessary purchases from the company and operating expenses), while those at the top reap thousands or even millions of dollars a month. Such extreme inequality far exceeds what could be considered a normal or equitable business arrangement. MLM’s easy money and winners-take-all appeal is more akin to a lottery than a legitimate business.
A: Many years of broad experience in the direct sales field and extensive research led to the identification of five causal and defining characteristics of a compensation plan that clearly separate exploitive MLM/pyramid/chain selling schemes from legitimate sales opportunities. These five characteristics – referred to as the “5 Red Flags” – both cause the horrendous loss rates and clearly define or distinguish between a pyramid or chain selling scheme and a legitimate income opportunity. The compensation plans of over 400 MLM programs have been tested against these 5 Red Flags of “recruitment-driven MLMs” (those with pay plans that primarily reward the recruiting of a downline, making sales to non-network customers a comparative waste of time – which applies to nearly all MLMs).
In the compensation plans of recruiting MLMs, we find these five causative and defining factors (“Five Red Flags”):
– Recruiting of participants is unlimited in an endless chain of empowered and motivated recruiters recruiting recruiters.
– Advancement in a hierarchy of multiple levels of participants (“distributors,” “associates,” etc.) is achieved by recruitment, rather than by appointment.
– Ongoing purchases (company products and/or sales “tools,” “business support materials,” training, etc.) by participants are encouraged in order for them to be eligible for commissions and to advance in the business (“pay to play”).
– For each sale, company payout for the total of all upline participants equals or exceeds that for the person actually selling the product, creating an inadequate incentive to sell products directly and an excessive incentive to recruit new participants.
– The company pays commissions and/or bonuses to more than four levels of participants.
A detailed report on these characteristics is included in the “5 Red Flags” report on our web site. (The full report is available as a pdf file.)
In 100% of the MLMs where data is available, MLMs with all five of these characteristics (which is nearly all MLMs) result in losses suffered by approximately 99% of participants. The odds of profiting are far greater at gaming tables in Las Vegas.
It is true that most new MLM recruits buy a few products and services and soon drop out. The ones who lose big are those who believe the promises of MLM promoters and then work hard to make them happen – and find their participation to be a money trap. Whereas in a legitimate business those who invest the most in time, effort, and money can be expected to profit the most; in MLM those who invest the most, lose the most – with the notable exception of those at the top of the pyramid or who got in at the beginning of the recruitment chain, some of whom make obscene amounts of money.
One astute former MLMer stated it well: “The massive loss rates in MLM would be the same even if every participant had the talents and ambitions of Donald Trump or Warren Buffet! The loss rates are pre-determined by the scheme design and its operation.”
Some MLM promoters and executives vigorously deny that they are pyramid schemes, or even MLM. They may set up rules of behavior for participants to follow (such as requirements for sales to non-participants) in order to make them appear more legitimate. Such rules have little effect if the underlying structure features a compensation plan that rewards recruitment of an endless chain of participants as primary customers. “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. “ Likewise with MLM.
A. Many assume that since MLM chain sellers offer legitimate products they cause less losses than naked, no-product pyramid schemes. The facts show otherwise. Extensive research correlating the compensation plans with financial reports of leading MLMs and analyses of other classes of chain selling schemes leads to the conclusion that of all classes of pyramid/chain selling schemes, those that do the most harm are MLMs (product-based pyramid schemes) by any measure – leverage, loss rates, aggregate losses, or number of victims.In fact, statistical reports show that joining an MLM makes a bet on snake eyes in a game of craps at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas look like a safe bet in comparison.
One of the reasons that MLM is less profitable for participants than no-product pyramid schemes is that a sizable percentage of moneys paid into an MLM program goes to the company for products and infrastructure – facilities (often expensive), wages of workers, and salaries (often huge) of executives, and profits to founders (also often huge – called “skimming”). Conversely, in no-product schemes, all the money goes to the top of those in the pyramid of participants. As a result, the loss rate for no-product pyramid schemes is approximately 90%, whereas for product-based schemes it is about 99%. In fact, in many MLMs, approximately 99.9% of participants lose money, assuming you count all participants (not just “actives”) and subtract incentivized purchases and minimal operating expenses.
(See MLM Research, especially “5 Red Flags” report. See also Shocking MLM Statistics. Read also Robert Fitzpatrick’s excellent report “The Myth of MLM Income Opportunity in Multi-level lMarketing,” (downloaded from pyramidschemealert.org) which essentially confirms my findings.)
A: After studying over 400 MLM programs, my short answer would have to be “not likely,” with the possible exception of some party plans that emphasize sales to non-participants. To be legitimate and fair, an MLM would have to depart from the typical MLM model of an endless chain of recruitment of participants as primary customers – which is virtually all of them. In other words, they would actually have to retail products to non-participants and pay the bulk of their rewards to those actually doing the selling, rather than to the upline.
To those familiar with qualified independent research, MLM as a business model (or any chain selling program) should be considered an unfair trade practice. It enriches a few at the expense of a revolving door of hapless victims who lose money – after subtracting necessary purchases and minimal operating expenses. (See MLMs Evaluated, and Shocking MLM Statistics.)
However, it may be possible to compensate for the fundamental flaws in MLM by incorporating into the compensation plans certain features to mitigate the harmful effects of the typical MLM. For example, if commissions were paid only on sales to non-participants and if the bulk of commissions from the company were paid to front-line participants, rather than to the upline, the MLM would be for more fair and retail-focused. For more suggestions on improving MLMs, read the section titled “What would a good MLM look like?” in Chapter 2 of the ebook The Case (for and) against Multi-level Marketing.
A: MLM compensation plans reward unlimited recruitment of endless chains of participants into an infinitely expanding network – but in a finite marketplace. They are therefore destined to market saturation, and MLM promoters must be continually recruiting to replace a revolving door of participants who drop out at a rapid rate. MLM promoters who claim that saturation never occurs are referring to total saturation, which never would or could occur. It is absurd to assume that in a city of 100,000 people, 100,000 MLM distributors would be needed. The city may accommodate 5 or 10 distributors before the market is saturated, in that each new recruit would find it tougher and tougher to recruit more participants. So it is market saturation, not total saturation that is relevant to the analysis. To illustrate an extreme example of saturation, in a randomized survey of households in Utah County, which leads the nation in sponsorship of MLMs, there were four MLM distributors for every one customer who was not a part of the network of distributors. Is it any wonder MLMs from Utah County recruit aggressively in other areas? Of necessity, their sales are to recruits, and only rarely (if at all) to non-network customers.
So with MLM or any endless chain scheme, market saturation occurs very quickly, after which recruiters must move to other states to recruit successfully, then to other countries to find new prospects to add to the chain of buyers. In effect, the MLM then becomes a de facto Ponzi scheme, in that income from the constant churning of new recruits in new markets is needed to repay earlier recruits who invested in saturated markets. This is why MLM promoters scramble to be the first ones in to a new country when it is opened up as a new market for recruitment.
A. Some MLM proponents argue that if it were a pyramid scheme, the programs would be destined to collapse. While this may be true for classic, no-product schemes, MLM promoters have found ways to survive and even grow. They do so by constant recruitment of new recruits to replace those dropping out, a process called churning. They move to new areas to start the process all over again – a technique that I call “re-pyramiding.” So they don’t collapse, but are in a state of continuous collapse – or churning through a revolving door of new recruits.
The more resourceful MLMs survive for years and even decades by doing the following:
- hugely rewarding top recruiters for constant recruitment of purchasing participants to replace those who dropped out,
- duping law enforcement, media, and consumers about the MLM’s legitimacy,
- requiring ongoing (subscription) investments by participants to qualify for commissions and advancement in the pay plan,
- recycling through new markets or countries and then with new product offerings,
- feigning compliance with “retail rules” and by staying below the radar of law enforcement ,
- convincing victims that failure is their “fault,”
- and by a host of other deceptive and creative measures.
Thus, MLMs, or product-based pyramid schemes, are able to continue indefinitely where no-product pyramid schemes soon collapse.
A: Based on feedback from those who prepare tax returns of MLM participants – and on reports by the MLM companies themselves, four groups of people get the vast majority of the commissions and profits paid by MLM companies:
- the founders
- top company officersparticipants at the beginning of the recruitment chain
- those who through long, hard work and deceptive recruiting manage to climb to a point at or near the top of a large pyramid of participants
Approximately 99% of all other participants lose money. (Again, see Shocking MLM Statistics.)
A: These deceptive arguments ignore the basic reality of MLM pricing and compensation plans. MLM products are not priced competitively (often at least triple the price of similar products from standard retail outlets), so that promised income from re-selling them, except sparingly to sympathetic friends and family members, is rarely worth the time. Actual sales to customers who are not part of the network of distributors are symbolic, but seldom significant. Products are sold through an endless chain of distributors, who subscribe to a monthly quota of products in order to qualify for commissions and advancement in the scheme – the “pay-to-play” requirement. But it is extremely rare for participants to recruit enough people to buy enough products to cover minimum pay-to play-purchases and operating expenses. That is why 99% of participants lose money and qualify as victims of these deceptive endless chain schemes.
MLM participants who do actually earn enough in commissions and bonuses to exceed required purchases and minimal operating expenses must work long hours and recruit aggressively (while parroting typical misrepresentations they are taught) in order to realize any significant profits in excess of expenses. “Part-time income” from MLM is a myth, and to promise such is a misrepresentation of the facts. Success in MLM requires years of round-the-clock recruiting and a generous dose of self-deception.
THE PEOPLE WHO PROMOTE MLM
A: To those who understand the business model and its effects on participants, MLM/chain selling companies are bogus businesses that can definitely be classified as white-collar crime; i.e., money obtained by deception but without violence – by otherwise respectable people. However, it would be harsh to refer to most MLM participants as criminals. If there is a primary villain, it is the marketing system of an endless chain of recruitment, which is dependent on infinite markets and virgin markets, neither of which exists. The system is therefore inherently flawed, deceptive, and profitable only for founders and TOPPs (top-of-the-pyramid promoters)
Nearly all recruits are lured by these deceptions into buying expensive products in order to “play the game.” Self-deception is common in MLM, as is group deception and even cultish behavior in typical recruitment campaigns.
For discussion on cultish MLM behavior, go to
Again, if one looks for a villain in MLM/chain selling schemes that defraud the vast majority of participants, it is not easily ascribed to the founders or promoters, most of whom (based on my communications with them) have convinced themselves that their schemes are legitimate. In my opinion, the primary villain in all chain selling is an inherently flawed system that depends on deception and self-deception to survive and spread in an endless chain of unwitting participants. I prefer to call MLM “system fraud,” implying that it is the underlying system that is the villain.
A: It should come as no surprise to you that if you pay a scientist or famous person enough money and tell a convincing story, he/she will often allow his/her name to be associated with your product, no matter how questionable.
A: This question deserves a rhetorical question in response. If a person robs a bank and donates 5-10% of his take to charity, does that excuse him from the crime of robbery?
A: Most MLM companies sell “potions and lotions” with little scientific evidence supporting their claims that they will cure or prevent nearly every disease under the sun. It is virtually impossible to convince “true believers” that MLM promoters are often the modern version of what a former vice-president of a major MLM called “snake oil peddlers”. Frequently, product claims by MLM promoters have been found to be misleading, resulting in legal actions against them.
Actually, some MLM products are very good, but the emphasis on the “great products” offered by MLMs is often merely a diversion from a flawed business model and a ruse for getting people involved in the chain of recruitment. And if you are gullible enough to be a “customer” and pay the premium prices charged by these MLMs, you are more likely to be fattening the wallets of those at the top of the MLM recruitment chain than you are to be benefiting yourself. (See MLM Products. See alsohttp://www.mlmwatch.org/)
MLM AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
A: To those who understand the compensation plans, MLM has in the past been technically illegal in most jurisdictions where statutes against pyramid schemes are in place. However, MLM spokesmen and the Direct Selling Association (DSA) have used deceptive tactics and information to weaken statutes against pyramid schemes in several states and has even attempted to get protection from Congress. Unfortunately, even in jurisdictions where MLM clearly satisfies the definition of an illegal pyramid scheme or endless chain, such laws are seldom enforced. As explained below, this is due primarily to the silence of victims, who rarely file complaints.
And I might add – the politicians to whom MLMs give generous political contributions cooperate with the DSA to protect MLMs from laws that would otherwise provide protection for consumers. For news and information on legal cases and legislation related to MLM and other types of pyramid schemes, go to our MLM Regulation and law enfocement page and to the Pyramid Scheme Alert web site.
A: In 1979, the FTC was outfoxed and outgunned by Amway attorneys when an FTC judge ruled that Amway was not a pyramid scheme, provided certain “retail rules” were met. These rules have not been enforced to any significant degree, and indeed, may be unenforceable. The result has been the proliferation of MLM programs to the point that thousands of MLMs have come and gone since 1979. and several hundred remain. World wide, tens of millions of MLM victims have lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of “the great FTC blunder” – the 1979 Amway decision. However, in fairness to the FTC, if FTC prosecutors would have had the research available in 1979 that is available today, the ruling might have been entirely different. Had Amway been ruled an illegal pyramid scheme, you would not be reading this today, and millions of victims might have been spared financial loss. (See MLM Regulation and Law Enforcement.)
Incidentally, the FTC has proposed a Business Opportunity Rule that would require disclosure of key information to help prospects making decisions about participation – much like franchise disclosure requirements. The DSA and MLM promoters were able to get over 17,000 MLM participants to comment, protesting that such strict disclosure requirements would make compliance difficult and would hurt their business. They vigorously protested against disclosing average income of participants, legal actions against the company or its officers, a “cooling off” waiting period before signing on, etc. MLM companies have even hired former top officials of the FTC (including a former FTC Chairman) to act as spokespersons to write comments opposing the Business Opportunity Rule. It would be interesting to know how much these officials were paid to move from consumer protection to what some would consider fraud protection.
In addition, the DSA managed to get over 80 Congressmen to sign on to a petition to the FTC to exempt MLM from the Rule. Yielding to this extraordinary pressure, the FTC granted an exemption to the Rule in its Revised Proposed Business Opportunity Rule – claiming it could prosecute offending MLMs under Section 5 (mandating against unfair and deceptive practices). However, Section 5 has been rarely used, and prosecuting the hundreds of recruiting MLMs who are now violating Section 5 on a case-by-case basis would be impossible for such a small agency. We filed numerous comments with the FTC protesting to this abrogation if its responsibility to protect consumers and insisted the FTC abandon its plans for a Business Opportunity Rule altogether as an alternative far preferable to a Rule that would exempt the primary reason for the rule itself – the MLMs that are the primary perpetrators of business opportunity fraud resulting from misrepresentations regarding income of participants.
It should be obvious from the above that meaningful disclosure would hurt an MLM business. If intelligent prospects were told that their chances of making a profit were virtually nil, or that 99% actually lose money, who would join? The FTC is faced with a choice between cowering to the DSA/MLM lobby or carrying out its own mission to protect consumers and promote fair trade by requiring meaningful disclosure. The latter course would do much to mitigate the harmful worldwide fallout from the original 1979 Amway decision. (Read my comments (Go to “C” and Consumer Awareness Institute) and my rebuttals to comments by the DSA and MLM spokesmen.)
Another reason for the lack of enforcement actions against MLM companies is the lack of prosecutorial will and resources (funds, personnel, and expertise) to confront the MLM companies with their massive legal and lobbying resources. One state regulator estimated that it would take 20 times the resources to prosecute an MLM as it would the typical case brought before it.
A: Typically, in law enforcement, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Officials respond to complaints in a reactive – not proactive – fashion. Victims in endless recruitment chains almost never file complaints. Since MLM recruits must recruit a large number of people to have any hope of earning enough in commissions to recoup their ongoing investments (including required purchases), every major victim becomes a perpetrator. Fearing self-incrimination and/or consequences from or to those they recruited (often close friends and family members) and blaming themselves for their “failure,” they simply drop out and accept their losses. Also, when law enforcement does not act, recruitment prospects assume the MLM is legitimate. No law enforcement, no complaints. No complaints, no law enforcement.
MLM may be the most successful con game of all time. Many of the very people who are out recruiting to extend the endless chain of participants (their “downline”) are themselves victims until they run out of money and drop out of the chain. And since victims in endless chains almost never file complaints, law enforcement seldom acts. So the game goes on, extending the chain of recruitment from state to state and from country to country – then starting the cycle of recruitment all over again with new products, aliases, or divisions – as Amway (Alticore) has done with Quixtar and Nu Skin has done with IDN, Big Planet, Pharmanex, and PhotoMax. (See MLM Regulation and Law Enforcement)
For a unique perspective on why MLMs manage to escape prosecution even while defrauding thousands of victims, read “The Parable of the Missing Children.”
MLM/DSA – AND CREDIBILITY WITH THE MEDIA, THE FINANCIAL MARKETS, THE BBB, AND ACADEMIA
A: The Direct Selling Association (DSA which has been virtually taken over by MLM member companies) deceives law enforcement, the media, and the public by citing misleading statistics from surveys lumping MLM/chain selling in with legitimate direct selling. If their surveys on participant satisfaction, profitability, etc. were to include only MLM/chain sellers – and all MLM participants who were recruited within a given year, including dropouts – the statistics would be vastly different – certainly not so rosy. (See DSA)
A: Unfortunately, this is an indictment of the shallow research and analyses of financial writers and the media who fall for the phony claims of the MLM industry. MLM is a pseudo-business without a significant base of legitimate customers (most buyers are recruits) And it is totally dependent on a network of thousands of distributors, 99% of whom are losing money. But MLM promoters have duped analysts and the media into believing they are legitimate – and even that the stocks of publicly traded MLMs are good investments. MLM is the Enron of the little guy.
It has been reported to us that the SBA (Small Business Administration) refuses to finance any enterprise characterized as MLM (SBA 2006). And the SBDC (Small Business Development Corporation) refuses to counsel anyone involved with MLM, since many small business consultants do not consider MLMs legitimate entrepreneurial ventures. A banker told me that bankers will not loan money to finance MLM participation – and will require a large down payment on a home loan if they know that the borrower is depending on MLM for income.
Unfortunately, the usual recommendation to “check it out with your local Better Business Bureau” seldom works with inquiries about MLMs. Most BBBs merely report unsatisfied complaints against companies. And since so few victims ever register complaints, BBB’s often give a “clean” report for even the most egregious MLM/chain selling schemes.
But something more insidious has happened recently with the BBB. It’s “corporate sponsors” now include the DSA and leading MLMs like Amway! The A+ rating which the BBB gives to Amway tells us more about the BBB than it does about Amway.
So – if you want to get an unbiased evaluation of an MLM, don’t call the BBB.
A: MLM is dependent on a complex web of deceptions. In fact, the success of typically every MLM recruitment campaign depends on at least 30 misrepresentations of products and or the business itself. (See “Typical MLM Misrepresentations.”) MLM spokespersons have duped many in the public, the media, and law enforcement into believing MLM is a legitimate business. Based on careful analysis of MLM company financial reports, it is no more appropriate to refer to MLM as a legitimate business opportunity than it is to post “Business Opportunity” above the slot machines in Las Vegas.
The DSA and MLM company spokespersons constantly beat the drumbeat of legitimacy. However, many savvy consumers sense something terribly amiss about MLM – or have known many MLM victims, which accounts for the unsavory reputation MLM has in the minds of many.
A: Academia has not weighed in on this issue to the extent that one would expect. University officials and instructors are typically not activists and do not see themselves as having the responsibility to determine the legitimacy or legality of alleged scams. Unfortunately, some colleges who receive large donations from MLM companies have actually taught MLM as a legitimate business model and have allowed industry representatives to serve on academic boards.
In isolated instances, some professors speak out and write about the abuses inherent in the MLM field. However, since MLM has become such a major phenomenon among many countries in the world, more serious study of the effects of MLM participation could well be undertaken. But to be objective, such research should be financed from independent sources and not from MLM companies or the DSA.
CONSUMER WARNINGS AND GUIDES
A. The answer demonstrates the democratic power of the Internet. Reliable information on MLM is seldom available from government, media, academic, or Better Business Bureau resources. Currently, the only source of rigorous, well-researched, and independent information on MLM is the Internet. A small group of dedicated consumer advocates and researchers donate their time and resources to post news, research data, and analytical reports on independent web sites – financed by them and not by MLM companies or public funds. These consumer-oriented sites stand in sharp contrast to the DSA’s web site and to a plethora of web sites sponsored by MLM companies, which of course promote MLM as a legitimate business model – though for those who are informed, it clearly is not.
The FTC and state AG offices and consumer protection agencies typically give warnings but are careful not to go so far as to condemn MLM programs with legitimate products. Some even go so far as to state that multi-level marketing is a legitimate form of business enterprise and that there is a real difference between an illegal pyramid scheme and multi-level or network marketing. Assuming officials were working with correct information (including recent independent research) and were not beholden in any way to the DSA or MLM industry, they would likely take a more negative position. Even in states with pyramid scheme laws weakened by the DSA, MLM is an unfair trade practice and does not deserve the imprimatur of legitimacy. It may be legal in those states, but it is neither honest nor equitable.
We try to provide the best possible guidance to people seeking the truth about MLM as a business model and as manifested in an array of MLMs. For information from other reputable sites (not funded my MLMs or the DSA), go to my annotated list of recommended web sites.
A: Avoid any scheme where recruitment occurs in an endless chain of participants, regardless of product or income claims – whether the scheme is called MLM (multi-level marketing), network marketing, consumer direct marketing, 2-up, etc. Buy from reputable and established retail or legitimate (non-MLM) direct selling channels. And be suspicious of any opportunity that comes knocking (by a recruiter). Normally, you must search out the good opportunities for yourself. If uncertain about an MLM that you are considering, run its compensation plan through my 5-step Do-it-yourself MLM Evaluation program.
A: There are literally thousands of legitimate income opportunities outside of the standard job market. Read the report and check out the links in “1,357 Ways to Earn a LOT More Money than in MLM/Network Marketing.”
MLM (multi-level marketing, network marketing, chain selling, product-based pyramid schemes, etc.) is a system that depends upon recruitment of an endless chain of new distributors to replace a continuously collapsing base of new participants in a pyramid of recruits. As such, it constitutes an endless chain scheme of marketing by recruitment of distributors as primary customers. It is a pseudo-business with no significant customer base and is dependent on a large network of distributors, approximately 99% of whom lose money from investing in products and services (including “success tools”) offered by the sponsoring MLM company – as well as normal operating expenses. The extremely high loss rate and aggregate losses make recruiting MLM’s, or product-based pyramid schemes, the worst of all types of pyramid schemes.
Thus, recruiting MLM’s are inherently flawed systems that promise ongoing residual income, but deliver very little except financial loss at the least, and loss of treasured relationships and values of honesty and integrity at the worst. They maintain themselves by continuous recruitment of new recruits, as investing participants give up or run out of funds and leave the system, seldom understanding what happened to them – even blaming themselves for their “failure.” Victims of MLM programs are seldom aware enough to file complaints with authorities and often fear consequences from or to those they recruited, so law enforcement rarely takes action.
To be successful in a recruiting MLM, one must first be deceived, then maintain a high level of self-deception, and finally go about deceiving others. They must also be in a state of denial about the losses suffered by the “downline” they recruited. Some would label this “theft by deception,” except that few of those doing the deceiving are aware that they are deceiving and defrauding those they are recruiting. They may even put on a display of being “successful” by buying expensive cars and homes and inviting others to be like them. The SYSTEM is the culprit.
Read reports on this web site about MLM as a flawed business model and the need to protect consumers with meaningful disclosure such as the FTC outlined in their proposal for a new Business Opportunity Rule. Of course, the DSA is doing everything it can to gain an exemption for MLMs as “direct sellers.”
This information is also reported in a brief and simplified summary of key points that can be easily translated into a foreign language.
Please refer five people to this report and web site, and ask each of them to tell five more, suggesting that each of them tell still five more, etc., etc.– ad infinitum. You just might start an endless chain of truth-telling.