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Multi Level Marketing (MLM), Pyramiding and Networking Scams has Urban-Dumb Effect unless it is SugarFree

That night was supposed to be a good jamming, slam dancing night. All was set - the mood, the unintentional black shirts (thanked-goodness Anjho didn’t pursue her emo-laslas-pulso necktie outfit she was planning the other night), we got the best spot near the stage and we are really hyped up for a sweaty, energy draining night. Why of course, that was an ITCHYWORMS-SUGARFREE-URBANDUB Independence Day Rakista concert.

It was held in Crossroad 77 Convenarium in QC and as usual, we arrived a little late, but of course like all rock concerts, it started fashionably late. So our timing was also perfect – or that is what we thought.

Everything started with The Blast of the…What?

The invited bands turned out to be just "guests"
Weird things slowly unfold as soon as the front row guests in tuxedo  showed up – Oh my gums! They looked like preachers. The crowd is also not your usual jammers – there are lots of prim and proper Gen-X and Y and a lot of baby boomers. Can you imagine a concert with long speeches, a ballroom dance number followed by an amateur hip-hop dance?

We thought we attended the wrong event, maybe this is a charismatic group, a cult gathering perhaps and the band concert is in the other room?   

By the way, the concert was sponsored by Core of Infinity (Global Fusion Incorporated), which I thought was a new Internet broadband product and was dubbed as “The BLAST of the B.L.E.S.T.” We all thought it was a grand product launching, because there are raffle draws with cash prizes to over 220K Pesos and a downpayment for a BRAND NEW MAZDA 3! – cool eh?

This is Sparta!

Photo-op outside the venue before getting drunk
Then the real BLAST begins when the emcee shouted “Do you want to be a millionaire!!!  I didn’t saw any Spartans with Jesus’s abs but I heard them answered – Awoo! Awoo!

Beyond the dizzying strobe lights, all suddenly became clear now – This is not a concert, this is Sparta!!!  LOL

I heard that question before when my college friend lured me into attending an “opportunity” seminar in a company called Forever Living. That damn question, which is of course not actually a question, followed by an enumeration of answers - that include big incomes, a new house and lot and expensive cars, financial freedom and huge bank accounts while working part-time - confirmed our suspicion that we are attending a "business opportunity presentation" of a networking company.

Urban-Dumb Effect of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), Pyramiding and Networking Scams

Ok, let me set this straight. I don’t mean to offend anyone, and I just want to pour out my thoughts about MLM, this is purely my personal opinion, I’m entitled to it and you are entitled to yours which you can write in the comments section below. I suggest you stop reading at this point if you are a die-hard awoo-awoo fan of Multi-Level Marketing or you can read on and enlighten me. Maybe you can convince me and perhaps you could recruit me as your downline. I believe that the best downlines are those converted MLM non-believers. 

What the hell is Urban Dumb Effect anyway? Well, I just invented it, and it’s not a parody of the Urbandub band.

Based on my observation when it comes to convincing people, MLM die-hard tends to become aggressive and obnoxious more than ordinary salespeople. Usually there will be a mood shot of a large new home, a luxury car, a yacht, perhaps a beautiful family enjoying a luxury vacation, and so on. If you ever gave a hint that you doubt them or the product, they will defend their proposal like defending their religion – to the point of making you feel like an Urban Dumb, and dumber and dumber. 

Since most of them are not salespeople by nature, and MLM attract people without any experience selling that particular product or service, they usually sell by attacking the "conscience" or “I-just-want-to-help-you drama." Thus, sales pressure is exerted by focusing on their millionaire members (usually those on the top of the pyramid), as an example.

Worst of all worst, they will even mention God. In that concert I attended, I heard one speaker said “Those of you who wants to be a millionaire, raise your hand!” Of course not all raised their hand, so he said “God is watching you, those who didn’t raise their hand will not get the blessing.” And so the speaker will repeat the question again. It is also common for other networking companies. Well it is an age-old tactic, when men talk of God, it always give an impression that they are doing something that should not be taken lightly. Even the Pope, I suppose, will find it absurd and pointless.

Funny enough, I always feel sick in my gut that there is some hidden agenda or deception. These tactics definitely turns me off, it definitely makes me feel treated like an urban dumb. 

Greed is always not Sugarfree

Marketing presentation of the most tricky pyramiding or multilevel marketing groups often start by appealing to the materialism and greed of their prospects – new home, cars, weekly cash, grand vacations. This works most of the time because, in general, we want to have everything we like. To do this, we must take from our fellow human beings who like the same thing – in our case it’s about money, and I don’t mean illegally robbed them or something like that. Yes, greed is universally condemned but it is ever present.

Homo Homini Lupus

Sometimes, it is very obvious that some MLMers are the ones who badly need money – to the point of “sponsoring” others or paying the membership fees as loan just to make them their “downlines” so as not to lose the “opportunity.” Maybe they have not only conned them and profited at their expense, they also made them feel like losers, since they are not able to make a success of the hopeless MLM scheme. Why not simply ask friends and family or relatives for help rather than taking money from them under false pretenses – and also selling them products?

Homo homini lupus – Man is a wolf to man.

Is Multi Level Marketing Illegal?

Scary question eh? So which is legal and which is illegal?

Pyramiding involves the investment of money in which you have to recruit your downlines and earn a certain percentage from their membership fee or whatever they call it, and earn again from the recruits of the recruits. That is illegal!

To make it legal, some companies offer products, mostly food supplement, vitamins beauty products and other services which they called Multi Level Marketing.

So yes, we have to acknowledge that some multi level marketing based companies are completely legit and reputable. They are not all scams waiting to trick and lure you. But most of them are – especially the aggressive one. 

However, according to the report by Max de Leon appeared in Manila Times (April 28, 2003) there is a very thin line between multi level marketing and a pyramid schemes. De Leon also mentioned that in MLMs the product is not the real reason people are enticed to join. The product offered is merely the excuse to legitimize the real and probably illegal moneymaking scam.

Anyway, it is always up to you if you will let your naivete and greed guide your decisions.

Why are they acting like itchy worms?

Do you observe it too? Most MLM scammers are like itchy worms – they always have that very high confidence. Some of them will even proudly tell you that they gave up their hard-earned profession to focus on this business full time.

On the contrary, Dean and Laura Vandruff [in the article “What’s wrong with multi level marketing?”] argued that if their product or service is so great, then why isn't it being sold through the customary marketing system that has served human society for thousands of years? Why does it need to resort to a "special marketing" scheme like an MLM? Why does everyone need to be so inexperienced at marketing their product! Is the product just a thin cover for what is really a pyramid scheme of exploiting others?

The Vandruffs further summarized that:

1. MLMs are "doomed by design" to recruit too many salespeople, who in turn will then attempt to recruit even more salespeople, ad infinitum.

2. For many, the real attraction of involvement in multi-level marketing is the thinly veiled pyramid con-scheme made quasi-legal by the presence of a product or service.

3. The ethical concessions necessary to be "successful" in many MLM companies are stark and difficult to deal with for most people.

4. Friends and family should be treated as such, and not as "marks" for exploitation.

Ok, enough of this long post. I now subject all my beliefs and what I learned to your criticisms. But please pay attention to common sense.  
You might also want to check out:
» The Myths and Facts of MLM (Multi-Level Marketing)
» What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing? 
» MLM vs. pyramiding scams: Know the difference
» Section “k.” and “Article 53” of the Republic Act 7394 or The Consumer Act of the Philippines.
» Concert Photos


I received a text (SMS) message today (July 08, 2010) from an unknown mobile Number, there's something fishy in the message, so I checked some forums and found out it's an MLM scam: Here's the text message F.Y.I.

From: 09196296589
Greetings! Attend by special invitation only. You're one of those chosen to attend AIM Global's Entrepreneurial Workshop on July 9, Friday 2:45 pm to 5:30pm at Unit 301 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower ADB Ave. Ortigas Centre Pasig City (at the back of Robinson's Galleria).
Outline of events include : >Business & Livelihood Opportunities >College Scholarship Assistance >A chance for an all expenses paid to USA trip with multiple state entry visa assistance. R.S.V.P. If interested, please text in your fullname with the phrase "YES! I WANT TO BE PART OF IT" for seat reservation. Come and be part of this life changing business education! Reserve now! Thank you so much and God Bless! ~Mr. Nestor Gonzaga of AIM Global, Inc.

1 comment:

  1. A gigantic yell out to the essayist who emptied his spirit into this blog.
    mason soiza


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