How To Spot A DS-MAX Style MLM Scam Job Ad

Here are some of the qualities of a “business” operating under DS-MAX (now known as Innovage, though the same company owns both trademarks...) principles, an organization responsible for many complaints alleging scams, fraud, and general employee deprivation in a “sales-cult” atmosphere.

Using a cross-referenced example of the online ads reputed to be for Aftermax companies as a guide, here’s some things to look out for.

Name of company:
The easiest thing to do is to do a Google site search (query looks like “site: businessname) on DSMAX The Aftermath, RipoffReport, or just plain Google to see if there’s any complaints about the business.
Contact: Vicky
Ads often include a made-up female name so the company can track which ads are bringing in responses.
Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Ref ID: Not Available
Yeah, cuz Vicki is all the ref they need.

* Posted: 6/3/2007
* Location: US-NY-Long Island
* Salary/Wage: 400.00 – 600.00 USD /week
Wide pay range is a strong early indicator of commission-only pay
* Other Pay: bonuses
Big red flags in an expensive career builder ad: n/a translates to no. Bonus pay translates to working Saturdays.
* Employee Type: Full-Time Employee
Don’t let this throw you off the scent; just because you are full-time doesn’t mean it’s not DS-Max; remember DS-Max has a hard time understanding the difference between full-time and insane overworking.
* Industry: Advertising
May say marketing in some cases, warehouse in others.
* Manages Others: Yes
You bet your biscuits. It’s all about graduating from sucker and building a team of suckers to work under you. Oh, goody! An extra $10 a day!
* Job Type: Entry Level
Can you fog a mirror? You’re hired!
* Req’d Education: High School
See above.
* Req’d Experience: 1 to 7 years
The range is set here as broad as possible so as to attract the most potential queries.
* Req’d Travel: Up to 25%
Obviously an outright lie; one Ripoffreport reporter said that she was told “up to 75%” in the field, when she ended up in the field seven or more hours a day.
* Relocation Covered: No
They pay nothing except commissions. We have even heard many complaints, including from, that DS-Max affiliates refuse to pay any travel costs, including gas and hotels for sales trips required by the company. These job-related expenses can severely cut into an already diminished pay.

Executing unique, professional, and effective marketing events throughout the Deer Park Area.
How blandly attractive. Note that they don’t mention marketing above, although that’s clearly what the job has something to do with.

Are you looking for a career in human resources, management, or marketing, but have little experience?
Wait, weren’t you supposed to have somewhere up to 7 years?
Are you having a hard time getting your foot in the door with a successful, proven firm?
i.e. one with standards.
Do you want a chance to test your work ethic, drive and determination?
We’ll give them that, working for DS-MAX affiliates tests the limits of one’s human endurance. Just without much prospect of any tangible rewards
We may be just what you are looking for.

We currently have openings in:

All of this is bullshit; it’s sales, plain and simple. The chockablock is just query-bait.

What we offer:

Hell is a close parallel.
The definition of MLM
Make that, you will be traveling around town all day long.
How far up the pyramid will you go? You have a 1 in 20 chance of making a living wage. Go for it!


Child Safety Enterprises, Inc. has a work environment in which decisions are shared, not handed down. We have an intensive, hands-on training program in all areas. We have an opportunity for people to enjoy real responsibility from the start with no glass ceilings, where compensation and advancement are based on performance, not seniority!
Yeah, because it’s all commission, you twits!

If you are looking for a challenge with fast-paced growth, an exciting atmosphere, and a team-oriented environment then respond IMMEDIATELY.
We are hiring this week!
We are only hiring five people. However, be one of the first 50,000 applicants and you’ll be guaranteed a slot.
The openings are both limited and immediate.
We’re hiring as soon as the morning meeting is over, so you can’t be scared off by the chanting.

…For immediate consideration please call Vicky @ XXX-XXX-XXXX
Sure, but don’t ask for her once you’re hired. “Who? Vicky? Never heard of ‘er.”

Visit our website
Just don’t visit

People from all backgrounds seeking part time or full-time opportunities in the following areas are encouraged to inquire about our program: sales, customer service, part time, manager, accounting, marketing, clerical, management, human resources, administrative assistant, purchasing, medical, administrative…
And on so on. In several of these examples, the ads actually list more than 100 types, just to draw in everyone who searches for those kinds of jobs. And I’m sorry: medical? Financial analyst?! Do they honestly think people with those backgrounds are going to apply for this vague job… and then after applying, actually get sucked in to the wonderful world of making $300+ a week for a Long Island cult club? Please.

No experience is necessary.
Whoever wrote my contracts wrote that sentence.

Some ads are harder to see through. If you didn’t know Arbonne has been accused of being a Multi-Level Marketing scheme, you might not see the harm in a Craigslist posting that reads, “I sell airbonne pure swiss skin care for women and men. I am looking for business builders to join our team.”

Any ads with references to “business builders” should be looked at carefully.

If the interview takes place in a warehouse

If any of these ads have tempted you, just remember the immortal words of former DS-Max employee Jay, of Cape Cod, MA: “Cydcor/DS Max and all of their corrupt managers/owners do not care about who they hurt or how many lives they ruin. Its all in a day’s work for them.”

If you’ve never heard of the company, Google it. Check it out on RipOffReport. Look at their website (if they have one). Is it professional, or does it look like some high-schooler crapped it out?

If you see an ad containing the qualities we describe, notify the job posting site that it may be a multi-level-marketing scam.

Let’s face it. Times may be tough, it may be hard to get your foot in the door, but most jobs are still gotten through a friend of a friend, not through an online job site. Try working your personal connections, talking to friends and family members, and contacting your school’s alumni network. It’s much more organic and you’re likely to achieve higher quality results. Plus, there’s no shame in joining a temp agency if you’re really hard up for work. — BRIAN FAIRBANKS

BACKSTORY: See our thread of DS-MAX related posts.

Note: No definitive ties have been established between Midtown Promotions and DS-MAX/Innovage.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dangerdog says:

    I quit a job not that long ago, and sent a my resume to a few jobs from just for the hell of it. Looking back the descriptions were suspiciously similar, but I didn’t know about this ds-max stuff so didn’t really take notice. I figured it couldn’t hurt. I even called one of them to get more details about the job (since the description was incredibly vague). The woman I spoke to said they were doing interviews the next day and I could come in. She said she hadn’t yet recieved my resume but I should come in for an interview anyway! Yea. Ok. So that made me suspicious. Within about 3 hours I had a few more phone calls and some form emails congratulating me on being chosen to interview. Then I got a call from a recruiter in Denver (I’m in Atlanta) who saw my resume on monster and wanted to help me out. I knew something sketchy was going on at this point, so I told her great, send me more information about the kind of jobs they recruit for and their company, but that I’m looking for a real job, not some shady job like the other ones I’d applied for. The girl assured me that the companies they recruit for are great companies (that work with fortune 500 clients…thats another DEAD giveaway), and that they place candidates in great marketing positions and promote from within. Thats when I started looking into this. It horrified me! I took my resume off monster and never used that or any other site like it again. For a while I was wary of any employer that was interested in interviewing me, even for real legit companies.

    Anyway, thanks for reporting on it. Word needs to get out. They can’t get away with this manipulative shit.

  2. RebekahSue says:

    It’s like the “Rock N Roll Atmosphere!” Hiring For Five Positions! MANAGEMENT AVAILABLE!” perfume ads in Connecticut in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Whether it was the exact chemical makeup as actual perfumes, or “wholesale bottled” (not what they said in the training class), it was 100% commission, and the trainer didn’t say the same stuff as the class said, AND I didn’t last four hours. (AND it was NOT a Rock N Roll Atmosphere.)

    I can’t remember the name of the company – it was 1991, after all – but they still seem to be around.

  3. RebekahSue says:

    OOPS – sorry – that was the same ad but bringing paintings door-to-door: “We just finished decorating down the” gestures vaguely “and have some extra artwork. My boss paid $90 for it, but we’d be willing to let it go for just [whatever the local market can barely afford]” *I* wasted a morning with Scentura Creations. Wow, the boxes haven’t changed in seventeen years. Or twenty, from the first time someone tried to sell it to me.

  4. Uriel says:

    Oh Scheisen! Richard won’t be happy about this one!

  5. quazzar says:

    I actually worked for ds-max as one of these people in College and it was legit, we sold pagers. I sold a ton of them to friends, relatives and other customers. All my customers were happy with the service.

    Would I recommend the company, I’m not sure, I don’t think its for everyone. Like anything, just check out the position and if your in a position such as a college student and have little risk why not give it a shot. I made some pretty decent money for my first summer of college.

  6. Ben Popken says:

    @RebekahSue: The correlation might be closer than you think. According to this comment on DS-MAX The Aftermath, Scentura Creations is a DS-MAX affiliate.

  7. ahwannabe says:

    Here’s another one:


    I actually answered this ad a few years ago; it seems to be a staple on Craiglist. This is the company:


    ’nuff said.

  8. palaste says:

    I was actually invited to a seminar by a guy I know. I did not know what kind of seminar it was but decided that it couldn’t hurt, so I went there to see what it was about. The presentation had a very familirar-looking sales pitch at the beginning, talking about selling products in your free time all the time. Twenty minutes into the presentation, when they started talking about commissions, fees, and creating a network of loyal customers, I recognised that it was an MLM scam and left. Funnily enough, I was the first to leave.

  9. Echodork says:

    I sat through a MLM seminar once. Something about this great new website that everyone would be using within two years to buy all of their products from home. Why, for just $150, I could purchase a commission code and get paid every time my referrals make a purchase. But the real money comes in recruiting more people who can piggyback onto my commission code…….

    Thank you, good bye. I don’t think the magic website even launched.

  10. Rahnee says:

    I know I’m gonna get flamed for this comment. I AM a member of a MLM and have been for many years. I DON’T recrute and only sign up others if they ask about the products. My monthly income from them is less than what I am REQUIRED to buy a month from them. Yes, REQUIRED in order to stay a member. Why do I do this? Cheaper and better home products delivered to my door! DON’T sign up for an MLM for the money. Do it only if you want the products for less. I have a friend that is in Watkins MLM. She is in it for the same reason, the products. We shop for each other and swap product. Since I’ve named one MLM I might as well name the other. Melaleuca.

    My point? Don’t do it for the money.

  11. mermaidshoes says:

    i really hate vague, overly enthusiastic job descriptions (legit or not) that never mention the company name or website. just give me your company info, and i’ll take a look and see if i actually want to work for you. i always want to answer these ads with an email saying something like “Marketing EXPERT with 7 years EXPERIENCE in several FIELDS including clerical, medical, marketing, and human resources, seeks VAGUE POSITION with UNIDENTIFIED COMPANY that doesn’t actually require any KNOWLEDGE or pay any MONEY!! I have UNLIMITED GROWTH POTENTIAL, so contact ME at!” but i never have.

  12. flyover says:

    Hey – don’t insult highschoolers web design effort.

    While in high school, my computer friend were are very talented and I expect Consumerist could have done much better to have hired a high schooler for initial site design to avoid the whole white on black debacle…

  13. Anonymous says:


    Years ago I got hooked on an employment offer which turned out to be an MLM which I was already familiar with, so I played along once I saw that it was not really a job as it was advertised in local paper.

    Long story short, it was a company called Equinox which was taken down by FTC several years ago for misleading advertising and all the other cookie cutter charges they could come up with.

    Simply put, network marketing is not new, been used for 60 plus years, but the problem is, some companies front loaded new distributors and duped them into thinking that selling overpriced products was easy. Selling takes experienced people, not newbie dreamers, hence, why so many fail in MLM, most are based on hype and get rich quick nonsense.

    I have done very well over the years in my own businesses, and some are MLM and others are affiliate programs, but all are online home based at this point and I would not have it any other way having owned traditional businesses as well over the years. The MLM bashers will have their fun, but given there are so many successful people in MLM, as well as great companies with great products, you cannot bash the whole industry for a few.

    A perfect example is with the new Trump Network which is in pre-launch at the moment. When it is put on the Apprentice this fall, I predict this will become the largest MLM in history in less time than even Amway took to hit the top. Love him or hate him, everyone knows the name Trump, so if ever there was a time to prove MLM can and does work for most who work it, this is it.

  14. Jovan Vargas says:

    @mermaidshoes Hilarous! It is so true though! I worked there before I knew it was a scam company. I want to take them down!