Thursday, April 21, 2016

Scam Tactics: Indignantly imply everybody else is wrong i.e. Nerium Proponent's Comment Dissected

English: There are no symbols that represent s...
skepticism, skeptical inquiry, critical thinking,
critical inquiry, and truth-seeking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When you see a random claim, do you simply accept it as is, or do you adopt the Reagan doctrine: "Trust, but verify"?  A skeptic uses the latter.

Indeed, scam tactics often simply deny everything, randomly make some claims, and claimed to be outraged at the lack of facts presented.

Recently I came across this comment by a Nerium proponent. I am going to number the claims (i.e. sentences that appear to be factual, not merely an opinion), and let's verify each one.
Get your facts correct please. Nerium sold at Sears was counterfeit. (1) You will no longer find it there. (2)
The extract itself, NAE-8 is patented. (3) Look it up. Do a tiny bit of research on Jeff Olson (4) (you’ll kick yourself for your ignorance).
The before & afters are from its distributors. (5) One bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch & that apple was taken care of (6) – & others warned.
Most importantly, results from the night treatment are published in the peer-reviewed literature. (7) Try looking up the Journal of Aging, Science, Jr of Clinical & Investigative Dermatology, etc…… (8)
The patented extract is the first superantioxidant on the planet. Look it up. (9)
Please don’t confuse searching with research! Try it, you might just learn something new!

Claim 1: Was Nerium sold at Sears counterfeit?

As we have not seen this listed ANYWHERE (search for Nerium + Sears just brings up similar night creams) we'll have to say "unverifiable", as we have nothing to show either true, or false.


Claim 2: Is Nerium sold at Sears?

Nope, nothing there.

TRUE (but inconsequential, how often have you seen MLM products in retail? Never!)

Claim 3: Is NAE-8 patented?

Nope, NAE-8 is a registered trademark, not a patent. Nerium appears to hold at least two patents on how to extract oleander and aloe, but NAE-8 is not "patented", just trademarked as "non-medicated skin care preparation ingredient" under cosmetics.


Claim 4: Is there anything surprising on Jeff Olson?

Searching for Jeff Olson shows that he used to ran People's Network, a Self-Improvement TV Channel, that got bought by Prepaid Legal in 1997ish, and he became Prepaid Legal's CEO in 1999. In 2001 PL was hit by Wyoming Attorney General with charges of illegal income claims, then SEC also hit Prepaid Legal for misclaiming expenses as assets (i.e. inflating its financial situation). PL was sued hundreds of times in Missouri, won a few, lost more, decided to settle the remaining 400+ cases. Then things were quite until 2009, when both FTC and SEC subpoenaed some documents for fact-finding missions. In 2011 PL was bought out and reorganized, and Olson left (or was forced out) and started Nerium.

Nothing too surprising, or worthy of emulation, IMHO. Got lucky and got acquired, had to wield whip on sales force to keep them in line, and got forced out during corporate shuffle.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Is it just series of bad judgment, or "once a thief, always a thief"?

Given that how many of the Ponzi pimps have been around for years, it's quite surprising that people aren't using Google enough and pick up their history.

One of the most vocal supporters of OneCoin was Thomas E. McMurrain. This is him pitching his "Welcome to OneCoin AlphaTeam"

Thomas E. McMurrain, pitching his OneCoin Alpha Team
The guy really needs better green-screening. The sun is clearly coming from the RIGHT in the photo background, but his face is lighted from the LEFT.  But who said that these folks are exactly detail oriented?

But if you bothered searching his name for a bit (never mind his self-PR like "7th Disruption", a book he "wrote" to promote OneCoin) you'll find some rather... disturbing details, like how he kept picking losers... Such as... Solavei

Tom McMurrain touring country w/ Solavei in 2012
Solavei went belly up in 2015

For those who didn't keep up, Solavei closed its doors in late 2015.  Which is apparently when Tommy here picked up the OneCoin banner. He apparently posted on Facebook when Vemma was closed by FTC "come join us in OneCoin", much like ambulance chasers.

So what was Tommy doing before 2015? Well, we need to count, but there's FlexKom... a scheme that went nowhere except Turkey and pushed by Ponzi-pimp Ian Driscoll, formerly of BannerBroker.

Just a few months later, it apparently did not pay Tanju Colak a Turkish ex-footballer and local celebrity, whom joined FlexKom a while back. Mr. Colak sued and FlexKom lost. A possible class action lawsuit was still undetermined as of 2014, and I can't search in Turkish to find an update, but it is said to possibly involve 40000 FlexKom members in Turkey. The business also seem to have gone quiet at the end of 2014. Definitely NOT another winner, something that sells itself, as Mr. McMurrain claimed, if it can't even sell itself on their home continent.

So what else did Mr. McMurrain involve himself in? No less than one of the widest spread Ponzi schemes in US history:  ZeekRewards.

Tommy here registered a "join Zeek and make me $$$" domain in March 2012. For the record, Zeek Rewards was shut down in August 2012 by Secret Service, SEC, and other Federal agencies.  Again, Tommy can't seem to pick a winner.

So what was Tommy doing even before this?  TVI Express... an international pyramid scheme.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Scam Absurdities: Birds of a Feather Flock Together, or the Rodrigues and Filho financial links

There was an old saying: Birds of a Feather, Flock Together

Basically means: like attracts like.

So how does this apply to Ponzi schemes? One needs to look no further than Sanderlay Rodrigues De Vasconcelos aka "Sann Rodrigues", and his ties to Daniel Rojo Filho.

For those of you who don't know "Sann" Rodrigues... he used to go by the title "First Millionaire TelexFree US". That's right... he's a "net winner" in the TelexFree scam in both Brazil and the US. Previously he operated a Ponzi scheme called FoneClub that was shut down by the SEC around 2006. Oh, gee, now here he is again, a top leader in ANOTHER Ponzi scheme, TelexFree, shut down by the the SEC! But it gets better. At the time Sann was in Brazil, and he simply came up with a new scheme... called iFreeX.  And within a few months Massachussetts called it suspect Ponzi, which apparently prompted Brazilian authorities to raid his recruiting seminar and invited him downtown for a long chat.  He was released but apparently under travel restrictions, roughly March 2015 or so.

MLMSkeptic was immediately reminded of the circumstances how half of the TelexFree US, Carlos Wanzeler, escaped the country... by driving into Canada ahead of the authorities with his daughter, leaving his wife behind, and from there they flew to Brazil, where they cannot be extradited against their will (as per Brazilian constitution. Wanzeler still holds Brazilian citizenship). When his wife Katia Wanzeler tried to join them she was arrested at the airport by Federal agents, minutes before she got on the plane.  She had previous told Federal agents serving a search warrant on the Wanzeler house that Carlos is staying at a hotel when it was later discovered that when she told the Federal agents Carlos and daughter was in fact heading toward the Canadian border in a car registered to her company.

But we're here to talk about Sann Rodrigues... Any way... Apparently Sann Rodrigues managed to get himself out of Brazil despite Brazilians told him to not go anywhere. So when he disappeared, Brazilian authorities put out a Interpol Red WANTED notice:

Interpol Wanted Notice for Sann Rodrigues
So when he showed up in Newark, New Jersey (yes, in the US) getting back into the US... He was promptly arrested for VISA fraud. He had apparently neglected to mention that he was arrested for Ponzi scheme back in 2008 or so... among other problems. He posted bail, had his passport (and those of his family) confiscated, only to be arrested AGAIN for the Interpol warrant. He spent another weekend in jail until Brazilians eventually responded "you can keep him for now".

Okay, so what does this have to do with Daniel Rojo Filho? And who is Daniel Rojo Filho? Pretty complex guy... and "ambassador of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel", according to a Mexican article.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

MLM Basics: Why a MLM Comp Plan is MORE important than the product, not less

One of the biggest mistakes a MLM "noobs" makes is put all the emphasis on the product, without analyzing the business model itself, i.e. the compensation plan, or in jargon, "comp plan".  (Or perhaps there's only a cursory glance). They are all enthusiastic about the product. OMG, it totally works. I (blah blah blah blah),  product is (blah blah blah blah). You have to try it! It's totally legit! I didn't believe at first but now I do! (blah blah blah blah)

When critics / concerned friends/family told them the company is likely a pyramid because of X, Y, and Z, the first thing out of their mouth is "it can't possibly be a scam, the product works".

They are suffering from the "blind men and an elephant" problem... They cannot understand that what they experienced  may be true for them, but is NOT the WHOLE truth.

Here's a very simple analogy... Take a look at this car:

Those of you who know cars should be able to tell, by the GT-R badge on the hood, that this is an older generation, Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), which is a two-door coupe.

Except this is not a coupe. It's a station wagon. A five-door station wagon Nissan GT-R, and no, it's NOT photoshop(ed).

The point is if you ONLY look at the nose of the car, you'd have assumed it's a GT-R. But it's not. You have to see the entire body to realize this is NOT a coupe but a station wagon.

Similarly if you ONLY look at the products of a MLM, you could not have gotten "the whole picture", on whether the company may be a scam or not.

That's why the compensation plan, i.e. what you need to do to get paid by a MLM, is FAR MORE important than the product... It is the PRIMARY indicator on whether the company is a pyramid scheme... or a real MLM.

So how do you determine which is which?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Charity MLM? What a joke, and here's proof

Here's a simple and logical premise: MLM and Charity does NOT mix.

Think about it. MLM is a MONEY MAKING enterprise, both for the company itself, and for the individual affiliates. Charity is.. altruism. The two goals are mutually conflicting.

That doesn't stop a bunch of lame MLMs from trying to cash in on the charity angle, some by claiming it is helping kids where you "donate" your money to them, and they will deliver the food to kids in some third world country. Another claim that by participating in their penny auction your bids will be partially donated toward a worthy cause. There are many other variations, but they all include a supposedly non-profit charity making profit AND income for participants.

And in 2016, it turns out that leader of one of these so-called charity MLM is the largest tax cheat in the state of Oregon.

A gentleman by the name of Randall "Randy" Jeffers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do You Know Where Your Money Went If You Invested in a Suspect Scheme?

According to court documents made public recently, ZeekRewards ponzi scheme victims may have a longer wait if any money can be recovered, for millions of their money held by payment processor for Zeek being a high risk client, may have been in several Eastern European Banks that have been shut down for fraud, and chances for recovery is remote.

Zeek Rewards was a Ponzi scheme in North Carolina that ensnared MILLIONS of victims in the US and beyond by promising massive profit sharing from the alleged penny auction business if they "purchase" bids to be given away as promotional items and in return gets a profit share based on amount of bids purchased for the next 90 days at daily rate of up to 1.8%. The scheme collapsed in 2012 when facilities was raided by SEC and Secret Service agents and entire operation closed down. Since that time, a receiver has attempted to recover tens of millions of dollars held by third-parties, who were supposed to obey court orders not to move the money, and to be eventually returned. Yet it is clear now this order was not obeyed on many occasions, and tens of millions have gone missing.

Before the collapse of Zeek in 2012 Zeek consultant "Keith Laggos", MLM Expert, boasted that he helped Zeek management to move payment operations abroad. People then didn't ask why. The reason can only be that US financial institutions no longer want to touch Zeek. Now, millions of dollars are out of the US, and potentially out of the reach of the victims, all thanks to efforts of Zeek to continue operating its criminal enterprise by moving money overseas. If this all sounds confusing as heck, let's start from the beginning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Scam Psychology: Presumption of hate

One of the more... insidious aspects of MLM is how its members will often NOT listen to "reason", even if it's coming from people they used to trust, like family members and best friends. They are often screaming for some understanding, that they really are trying to improve their situation, and why are people around them so... defeatist, and so on. They will appear to be completely brainwashed.

(Sidebar: China claims to have found a new type of paranoid disorder they temporarily named pyramid cult sales disorder. )

But what motivates such... hate? It's a combination of factors, but generally, it has to do with how you perceive people on the other side, and its origin was longstanding.

In a research by Liane Young at Boston College, it was revealed that both Democrats and Republicans (political parties in the US) claim that they were motivated by positive emotions such as love and loyalty to their party members, and their opponents were motivated primarily by hate and animosity.

In other words: "I think you hate me, therefore I hate you."  It's basically preemptive hate.