MLM Scams and the Poison They Spread
In 2002, I was a high school graduate looking for work. I did manual labor for my parents’ construction business for minimum wage and I got a W2, but it never felt like a “real job” because it was just given to me. So I hit the classifieds hard in my local paper. Craigslist was around, but I didn’t know it existed. Sites like Monster were cropping up, but their listings for Las Vegas were pathetic.
My credentials at the time were a high school diploma “with emphasis on graphic design.” I was only eighteen, but I wanted to cut my teeth in the design industry. One number I faxed (yeah, I’m dating myself) my resume to called back and I enthusiastically answered my flip-phone (oh yeah!). The guy on the other line was looking for someone to market coral calcium supplements. He droned on and on for 30 minutes about how great they were and how successful I would be and said he would call me back later that day in a conference call interview. He was incredibly vague about just what exactly I would be doing. I had a bad feeling in my gut after discussing it with my dad, so I ignored the callback.
A few years later in college, a classmate approached me saying she and her boyfriend wanted to know if I wanted to pick up some more part-time work. I asked what the work entailed and she suddenly became very dodgy. She never gave me a straight answer and I ultimately turned down the offer. She made it sound like I missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime to make some extra income. Whatever.
In 2012, an acquaintance on Facebook blasted out a private message to everyone asking if they wanted to talk to a millionaire and see how they could get rich. I knew already something stank, but I still wanted to mess with him. After asking several times, he finally said he said he was looking for people to run a business selling energy drinks. I asked him how much he made in particular. After more verbal-arm-twisting, he admitted he made less in a month that I did just by picking up extra overtime hours.
It’s incredibly sad that I have to write this in the year 2019. This is the information age. You can find this out very easily. Just one search on the web and you can find out you’re about to be scammed. I just need to get this off my chest because I am continuing to see hundreds of people get duped by this trash day after day.
I’m talking about Multi Level Marketing or as the layperson calls it, pyramid schemes (though they are legally not considered this). I highly suggest you watch Penn & Teller’s show “Bullshit” and the episode entitled “Easy Money” for a very good breakdown on how they work. Ethan Vanderbuilt also has a great website dedicated to scambusting. He had recently been banned from YouTube because MLM fanboys and girls reported him in droves.
An illegal pyramid scheme is the kind of stuff that Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff did where they were defrauding people of money and using the money to pay the prior generation for “investing” in the scheme.
MLM schemes usually are geared to target a specific demographic to rope in. The overlapping factor with most of their marks are people who are borderline broke, but have about $500ish to spend to take a shot at easy money. I’ve seen MLMs targeted at housewives, college students, Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Mormons.
Multi level marketing companies have the guise of “You are becoming a business owner and selling this product, but you also can recruit a team to sell products under you and you get a cut of their sales!” It’s for people who always dreamed of starting a business, but are too lazy to get the licenses, do the research, and you know, do what it takes to start a business.
Listen, if you want to start a business, actually do what it takes to start one! Joining an MLM is not a shortcut. When you realize you’ll be paid more to recruit underlings, than selling actual products, that’s a clue. I’ve seen friends and family drive away their friends and family by spamming nonstop on social media. I’ve muted or cut out people who’ve done that crap.