John Oliver has a pitch for you. Yes, that’s right. In last night’s Last Week Tonight, he asked for just 30 minutes of your time to sell you on something that will change your life forever: an exposé on Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) schemes. [More]
Now is your chance to find out what really goes inside the strange and shady world of the DS-MAX/Cydcor/Innovage multi-level-marketing sales cults. Luke St. Germaine, who last shared with us an excerpt from a book he’s working on about his experiences, has agreed to let Consumerist readers interview him. Put your questions in the comments or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s find out the straight scoop. For the backstory on what DS-MAX is all about, Eric Wolfram’s List of Known Scams gives a very comprehensive overview, and you can also check out these posts from our archive.
I got this spam recently. Looks like our spammer forgot to fill out his form fields! “Whatsup My parents are from #CSVFIELD(3)# too! Are you 100% sure you wish to get rid of this #CSVFIELD(2)#?”I love how vague and modular it is, it’s like spam madlibs!
Luke St. Germaine worked his way up the ladder of Cydcor, a spinoff of the notorious multi-level-marketing outfit DS-MAX, d/b/a Innovage aka Granton Marketing, from sales grunt to running his own office, until he saw the true face of the sales cult and got out the game. Exclusive to Consumerist, this is an excerpt from a novel he wrote about his experience.
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.
Remember the Monavie Acai juice Multi-Level-Marketing scam Chris Walters told you about a few weeks ago? There’s a whole community blog set up where people can post their Monavie stories as moderator-approved comments at purplehorror.com. Here’s one from a frustrated salesperson: “Our upline said that we weren’t pitching it the “right way”. Their idea of the right way was to lie. They didn’t think of it as lying, but it was… They would ask people if they had any medical conditions and whatever they said, the answer was always “Monavie can definitely help you with that.” Note the word “upline.” That’s a common word multi-level-marketing schemes use to refer to the person directly above you in their modified pyramid scheme.
I wanted to find out what Robert Allen’s “get-rich-quick in real estate with no money down” promise was all about, so when I saw a full page ad in the Daily Post advertising one of his free seminars recently, I went and checked it out. I’ll give you a full run-down later, but here’s the quick and dirty, and what I can tell about how the darn thing seems to function.
Despite Subprime Implosion, Robert Allen's Troops Still Pitch "Get Rich Quick In Real Estate With No Money Down"
Robert Allen promises to make you millions teaching you how to buy real estate with no money down. Unsurprisingly, Ripoffreport is littered with complaints about his company and those that use his name. Here’s the story they tell:
I’ve been approached by a friend to join up with MonaVie acai juice—it’s a “superfood” juice that’s sold through “network marketing.” I actually do like the product, and this is a friend I trust, but my alarm bells are still going off. I don’t want to get sucked into a scam, obviously. There’s nothing about this company on your site, so I thought I’d drop you a line and see if you had any advice.
The modern pyramid scheme has undergone slight tweaks in order to stay just with the bounds of the law, and still keep the fun scam times going. When you strip away all the pretty foil and chocolate, though, a naked Ponzi sits in the center, laughing his ass off.
Using the names of companies accused of being DS-Max (now known as Innovage) subsidiaries/affiliates on Ripoffreport and a list on DS-Max The Aftermath, I did a search of Monster, Hot Jobs, and other job sites to pick out real ads that are out there and should be avoided.
Like a sequel to a horror movie, the Amway brand name is bursting out of a shallow grave, reports ABCmoney:
The move also was widely viewed as a way of helping the company shed some of the negative connotations the Amway name had acquired. The Quixtar name, however, never resonated with the public.
Nu-Life, the company so mad at us about “adversely” affecting its DS-MAX trademark, saying that old DS-MAX became Innovage and Nu-Life has nothing to do with the actions of old DS-MAX or new Innovage…
A reader who used to work for Quantum Marketing, one of the “Aftermax” companies, (the term for companies that old DS-MAX (now known as Innovage) spawned), wrote several posts describing how his company scammed people who thought they were donating money to D.A.R.E.
While reporting the results of our undercover investigation into IDT-Energy through one of their marketing outfits, a battle waged in the background between us and the current owners of the DS-MAX trademark.