NetworkWorld published its findings on the suspicious histories of the men behind new cellphone company Zer01 just two days ago, but they clearly sent someone behind the scenes scrambling. This afternoon they reported that Zer01′s parent company “has stripped its Web site down to only basic information,” and that “new details have also come to light suggesting a past connection between two of the involved companies, despite claims to the contrary.”
ZER01 is a new cellular service launching soon that promises unlimited calling and unlimited, fast data connectivity for $70 a month. There’s another unique twist: you can sell the service to your friends for $10 monthly credits. That’s right, it’s a multi-level marketing mobile virtual network operator—an MLM MVNO. NetworkWorld smelled something fishy, so they researched the companies behind the offering and found that there’s a lot of sketchy looking stuff. We put the highlights of their investigation into a chart.
Everyone seems to have a friend or family member that’s been suckered into a multi-level marketing road to nowhere. While you may have no trouble identifying Amway, Zrii, Arbonne and the like as pyramid schemes, convincing naive loved ones, blinded by get-rich-quick dreams, is another matter entirely.
Kevin’s been invited to his friend’s house to hear about a great new business opportunity! He writes, “I did a quick Google search and… while the company appears to be legit, it seems that their way of marketing their products [is] almost pyramid scheme in nature.” The problem for Kevin, and anyone else researching this sort of thing, is it can be hard to tell how much you should trust any specific page of reviews or feedback. Here’s a clear 5-step evaluation to determine whether or not the next big thing is really a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.