Warning: MLM Scams!
When I was younger, a friend took me out a few days after my birthday had passed but wouldn’t explain where we were going. When we reached our destination, I realized that she was not taking me out to dinner to make up for not attending my birthday party that weekend. Instead, we were in a sketchy neighborhood and about to go into a stranger’s house.
As the meeting began, the structure was oddly familiar. The presentation was lovely at first because it promised that the business would take you out of a bad neighborhood and you’d be able to afford a beautiful home in a nicer town. This business opportunity promised that we could all buy ourselves new cars and never have issues with money ever again. I decided to be brave and ask, “What’s so wrong with the neighborhoods we live in now? Why would we want to live in a house that’s a mile away from our nearest neighbor?”
The question seems strange now, but you have to understand that the presenter illustrated a picture-perfect lifestyle on 20 acres of land. Apparently these people were sick and tired of having to live the urban life. The presenter became passionate and responded with, “Why would you want to live somewhere that you have to hear gunshots every night? I want my kids to grow up in a safe neighborhood far away from here.” This response turned me off immediately and I quickly dispelled any and all information shared that night.
It became even clearer that the business they presented was nothing more than an MLM scam, especially when I asked the presenter’s downline about the speed of the Internet and his best answer was, “Oh, it’s fast.” “How fast is it exactly?” I asked again. “It’s fast,” he answered again. I wasn’t getting any clear answers and I wasn’t convinced to join a business that was quick to be condescending about the lifestyle many of us already shared. The claim about hearing gunshots every night was exaggerated. We usually only hear those on weekends and holidays, but not every night.
There were several reasons why the plan they presented was unattractive. The presenter demonstrated that he was ashamed of his current station in life and that he was looking for the fastest way out of it. It was difficult to understand or connect to his vision about what goals the business wanted to achieve and I realized that even the worst MLM fraud should be advocated by a representative who can at least be a little charming. The biggest deterrent was the fee they asked new members to pay up front. The total was about $400 and if you didn’t have it all then, they were willing to take half then and half later. Four hundred dollars?
No legal MLM should ask you to dish out that much money after one lousy meeting, especially one in which you are spoken down to by the presenter. The most heartbreaking moment of the evening was when my friend turned to me with disappointment in her eyes after I challenged the presenter. She said, “This is what is going to help my mom retire.” I saw in her eyes that she was passionate about making a huge change for her family, one that would help her mom take a break from working so many hours day in and day out. I understood her pain, but it was difficult to explain to her that she should have done some research to find out if this was a legal multi-level marketing opportunity.
If you look up a list of the biggest MLM scams, you will likely find the name of the company whose meeting I attended. I don’t regret the two hours of my life that I lost, but I do feel for the friends I saw there who were so emotionally invested in the promises made to them. They honestly believed they would succeed, and they did show for a very short period of time, but there was no long-term success at all. Years later, some of them have been able to admit that they regret the money they gave away when they signed up. Some change the subject altogether.