Annotated list of recommended web sites for further study
A classic article on MLM/network marketing, “What’s Wrong with Multi-level Marketing?” is written by Dean VanDruff. His “Frequently Asked Questions” is also excellent – http://www.vandruff.com/mlm_FAQ
Stephen Barrett, M.D., is one of the most prolific independent investigators of health quackery and related fraud on the web. His extraordinary contributions to consumer awareness is reported on several web sites, including one on MLMs which offer questionable health products and bogus income opportunities. He has posted severl dozen reports on numerous MLMs and their producte offerings. HisMLM Watch web site is outstanding and gets a lot of traffic. An insightful report on the whole field of MLM is titled – “The Mirage of Multilevel Marketing,” And for reporting quackery sponsored by MLM/network marketing companies, you are invited to participate in the “Multilevel Marketing Project”
Pyramid Scheme Alert was established to expose and prevent pyramid scheme fraud world wide. Robert Fitzpatrick, the founder, has appeared on several local and national TV programs exposing pyramid scheme abuse. This site offers news on court cases and regulatory actions, resources (including some from Dr. Jon Taylor), and petitions for action by law enforcement agencies. His False Profits web site also offers insightful blogs about pyramid schemes. His report “The Myth of MLM Income Opportunity,” which can be downloaded from his web site, agrees with the research by Dr. Tayor, showing that 99% of participants in typical MLMs earn no money – and in fact lose money, if you subtract expenses.
Tracy Coenen is a forensic accountant (and former Mary Kay participant) who investigates white collar crime. She has posted some interesting articles about MLM.. Go to her Sequence Inc. web site. Then enter “multi-level marketing” in the search box at the top, and you can reference several articles and videos about MLM.
From recovering ex-Mary Kay consultants. Some of the most important sites on the web for those considering becoming Mary Kay consultants – and for those recovering from having lost time and money with Mary Kay are the following web sites. On these sites, you will find a feast of information and feedback from those who have “been there, done that.” Go to –
www.mlmsurvivor.com – news, announcements, and resources for persons inquiring about MLM’s – or recovering from experience with an MLM. Particularly thorough on Amway/Quixtar, but covers other MLM’s as well. This site was once one of the most popular consumer advocacy sites on the entire web. The sponsor was inactive for awhile and is back at it again. (Some valuable articles from her original site are available at – http://original.mlmsurvivor.com/index.htm) She also discusses some great contributions by Eric Schiebeler to consumer awareness of Amway’s abuses. Eric, a former government official who was also a high-level Amway victim, was forced to withdraw his efforts after years of legal pressure by Amway to silence him, but his book Merchants of Deception left its mark.
Quoting VanDruff about another valuable resource: “Ami Chen Mills ‘Shaking the Money Tree” is fascinating journalism that captures the ‘stink’ of MLM pathology and culture most vividly. Hold your nose, and dive into major deja-vu” at this insightful piece of writing.
For a lively online discussion on the pros and cons of specific MLMs and of MLM in general, check outwww.realscam.com. It was initiated when an MLM promoter became a moderator for the once excellent web site, www.scam.com. Browse the MLM/ network marketing pyramid scheme category and follow one of the threads that interests you. And don’t forget to comment yourself – and please refer to the reports on this site for those seeking more information.
For broad-based and in-depth coverage of “crimes of persuasion” (schemes, scams, frauds, etc.), Canadian Les Henderson explains how con artists steal your savings and inheritance through white collar crimes such as prime bank fraud, pyramid scams, internet fraud, telemarketing and phone scams, chain letters, computer fraud, modeling agencies, and Nigerian scams. Read his excellent article on MLMand followup comments.
Frank Thomas has a blogging site called “Ask the consumer advocate.” Not as active now, check out his postings in 2009. One quote I particularly like: “40 yrs. studying MLM fraud have not found a better detection method than 5 red flags found at mlm-thetruth.com”
Dave Ritchie, who lost the love of his life over her addiction to MLM, presents some interesting experiences and insights in his web site at – http://www.scamm.org.
For some more revealing information on Amway/Quixtar, go to the excellent pages offered by Scott A. Larson at http://www.amquix.info/amway.html
Quatloos! at www.Quatloos.com features useful stuff about scams and financial frauds. Read Scott Larsen’s scathing article titled “Multi-Level Marketing”.
Lee Devlin’s Weblog presents the article “The Mathematics of MLMs,” which exposes in a very brief analysis the impossible math of MLM. Read how nicely his insights debug the obfuscation of numbers by MLM promoters.
Want to read some painfully true stuff from a confirmed cynic, Professor Robert T. Carroll, who specializes in exposing all sorts of popular myths and scams? Check out the MLM section of “The Skeptic’s Dictionary” at – http://skepdic.com/mlm.html
“Amway world wide dream builders and the things they will say to profit from your dreams.” Potential Amway (now Quixtar) recruits will be inoculated against their program after reading “the things they will say.”
Here is a site by someone angry enough to write about MLM abuses and willing to link with other sites, but preferring to remain anonymous (probably fearing retaliation). His title includes all the typical labels for MLM: “Network Marketing – Networking – Multi-Level Marketing- MLM – NWM – Pyramid Selling.”
Here’s a site loaded with information damaging to Amway/Quixtar: [Quoting from the introduction] “Welcome to Amway: The Continuing Story” The sponsor posts this: “WARNING! This site presents facts, opinions, and other information that is critical of the Amway business. There are things on this site that the Amway Corporation, its distributors, and Quixtar (its “sister company”) would prefer you not know. If you are easily offended by such information (or your upline would not allow you to view it), please click your browser’s ‘back’ button now so you do not expose yourself to this critical information. Otherwise, please continue… “ [But don’t miss what is loaded on this site.]
Unfortunately, this and other web sites are constantly under attack by Amway, using expensive legal maneuvers that place a great burden on those trying to speak out against the deceptions they foster. It’s a David and Goliath type of struggle, to be sure. Hopefully, Goliath won’t win in the long run. For information on this continuing saga, check out: “Welcome to The Anti-MLM and Anti-Amway Webring Home Page” A similar site is The Anti-MLM and Anti-Amway Webring, which features some sites by angry ex-MLM distributors who feel they and millions of others are being routinely ripped off by MLM/network marketing companies. One is in Greek. Some of the sites are less than professional, but they are very revealing of how mad some people are about this deceptive business practice.
Rick Ross has compiled an impressive array of resources on the topic of pyramid schemes and MLM’s, which have a very fine line [if any] between them. Here are two examples:Pyramid schemes are mathematically improbable” (where Dr. Jon Taylor is quoted as the primary source) and – the article “A very thin line between multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes”
The FTC published an article entitled “The Bottom Line About Multilevel Marketing Plans and Pyramid Schemes,” which is somewhat improved over prior articles on the subject.
The Attorney General of New Mexico put out an insightful web page to help protect consumers againstMLM and Pyramid Scheme fraud.
A wnonderul interview with Pyramid Scheme Alert president Robert FitzPatrick and plaintiff attorney Douglas Brooks was conducted by cult expert Steven Hassan called Multi-level Marketing, Network Marketing exposed. It is well worth watching to gain a more clear understanding of MLM fraud.
Watch the very entertaining video “I’m Calling you Out: Pyramid Schemes” on the page “Only you can prevent stupidity.” Great fun.
At least three films about MLM have been produced (and more may be coming):
“BELIEVE,” a movie mockumentary produced by Loki Mulholland. Learn how to reach the highest level – “Supreme Believer.” Available now. at – http://www.believethemovie.com/
“Change Your Life!” The Love of Money Is The Root Of All Sorts of Funny. If you’ve ever been involved in a Multi-Level Marketing “business opportunity” or get-rich-quick scheme, this movie is for you! Tony Plana (“Ugly Betty”, “24”, The Three Amigos) is Simon Martinez, a success guru who makes Bernie Madoff look kind-hearted. This timely “mockumentary” showcases a terrific cast of comedic actors including Ada Maris (“Nurses”) and Susan Isaacs (Angry Conversations with God). Directed by Adam Christing and Patrick Shen (Flight From Death, The Philosopher Kings). Change Your Life! pokes fun at America’s obsession with instant success, motivational books like The Secret, and the lust for effortless prosperity that nearly bankrupted the U.S.A.
This superbly executed and highly-acclaimed film is well worth the $19.95 price tag. View the trailer
“The Downline Movie,” an award-winning documentary that follows 5 recruits into a new MLM – Agel. Produced by Eric and Anjanette Martinez and directed by Eric Martinez and Jason Allred. The film has made the rounds of film festivals, but has not been made available to the general public. However, you can see a fun trailer at – http://www.thedownlinemovie.com/
Some excellent presentations can be downloaded and viewed. These were prepared by Dr. Jon Taylor, Robert FitzPatrick, and others for various national and international law enforcement groups and business educators.