Friday, December 19, 2014

News Update 19-DEC-2014: Zhunrize Plea Deal; PlanB4You Busted; Zeek Money May Be Stolen; FDA Admonishes Herbalife

Lots of little news this week... Remember folks, don't accept random news items without attribution. I link to my sources, and you should click through to make sure I didn't lie to you (unlike others)


PlanB4You Ponzi Busted in Europe

PlanB4You was reportedly busted by local police (Google Translate of refdag.nl article)  when a seizure order was issued and bank account containing 2.5 million (?) have been frozen and multiple locations raided. Several luxury cars were apparently seized. And challenges to court have been denied.

PlanB4You (review by BehindMLM) is a virtually exact copy of Ad Surf Daily ponzi busted in the US in 2008, with 25% ROI in 25 days.


Zhunrize reaches Plea Deal with SEC, may go into receivership

Previously we reported that Zhunrize has been closed by SEC as a ponzi scheme, and at least one shill or troll claimed it was not true, and they had reopened. Seems every Ponzi scheme claimed this at one time or another, as there are reports this also happened with PlanB4You reported above.

Any way, to nail that rumor shut... (reported by BehindMLM) Zhunrize and owner Pan have reached separate deals with SEC to pay fines and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. The judge has yet to sign the deal but is expected to.

There may be criminal cases pending later. Receivership will be appointed if the deal is accepted and that's the end of that.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NEWS UPDATE: TelexFree may be the widest Ponzi scheme ever, surpassing ZeekRewards

Previously the Ponzi scheme with the widest reach is believed to be Zeek Rewards at 1 million victims and almost nine hundred million dollars. It was shut down in 2012 by SEC and other US agencies.

The bankruptcy trustee in charge of shutting down TelexFree after it tried to declare bankruptcy revealed that TelexFree fraud may be even bigger... with possibly up to 2.1 million victims and OVER a billion dollars.

There are 60000 victims in SOUTH AFRICA... the opposite side of the globe.

Boston Globe reported that some unscrupulous lawyers are encouraging victims to flood Darr's office with paper claims (i.e. physical documents).  He is NOT, repeat NOT taking paper claims because it cost too much to process. Soon claimants will be able to go to a website (much like Zeek Rewards Receivership) to file claims, and they will process the claims online.

Read the full article at  http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/12/16/telexfree-trustee-stephen-darr-may-have-toughest-job-boston/Wkk5JzcPtjfyar6c9QD1sI/story.html#

NEWS UPDATE: WCM777 Ponzi leader Phil Ming Xu used Ponzi money to fund House and Fashion Shop

The receiver attempting to recover assets from WCM777 Ponzi scheme operated by "Phil" Ming Xu has found more money laundered by Ming Xu.

When SEC caught up with Ming Xu and his ponzi scheme in March 2014, Xu signed a plea deal and a receiver was appointed to track down all the assets for eventual return to the victims. And the receiver, Krita L. Freitag, was sure finding a lot.

Xu had at least 54 different bank accounts under a dozen different company names at different banks, alleged the SEC in its restraining order back in March 2014. And the receiver was discovering even more assets that had been distributed to what appeared to be other companies, but are actually family members and friends. One attorney and friend of Xu got a 5 million loan from Xu days before restraining order. The same attorney also claimed to have lost a 200000 (two hundred thousand dollar) cashier's check that belongs to the receiver. In yet another case, unknown people were observed removing furniture and other property from assets frozen by court order and law enforcement had to be contacted to compel return of said assets.

Then there's the story of the missing million...


Friday, December 12, 2014

Bad Argument: Distributors can't lose money if they enjoy the product (WTF?!)

One of the contentious issues between MLM proponents and critics is the definition of a "customer" vs. a "distributor".

Logically, the differences are crystal clear:

Customer spends money, buys stuff (from distributors).

Distributor earns money, sells stuff (to customers).

However, in the MLM world, things are never so clear. And one of the arguments proponents often use is "if the distributor enjoys the product for internal consumption, they could not be considered having suffered financial loss".

Or as someone argued on reddit /r/vemma...
Because even those "poor souls" who join the business but don't earn commissions still aren't losing money, just like when you buy anything else in life that you ultimately consume or use you don't think of it as losing money. 
This is bogus logic. Can you imagine a bar owner drank all his own stock of liquor, and need to close the bar, and then tell himself, "I didn't really lose money because I got drunk"?

There's another reason though... consuming the stock prevents distributor from getting a refund.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

MLM Mythbusting: Is MLM really a growth industry? (The Numbers May Surprise You)

When you listen to MLMers / Network Marketers, you're often told that MLM is the big thing, it's "experiencing record growth", it's "amassing fortunes for millions of people each year", it's "#1 millionaire producing industry", big companies are going MLM, and so on and so forth. They'll dazzle you with numbers such as

  • Every week 150000 people join network marketing around the world (but how many quit?)
  • Worldwide sales of MLM is estimated to be 90 billion (still less than 1% of world economy)
  • DSA estimates 200 million new distributors in next 10 years (again, how many quit?)
Is MLM actually growing that much, when compared to other industries? Let's look a little closer. 

Is MLM the "next big thing"?

Claims have been made since the 1990's that MLM is the next big thing.  Back in 1990, Richard Poe wrote in Success magazine that network marketing is "the most powerful way to reach consumers in the 90s". He also wrote a few books, specifically, Wave 4.  This quote was reproduced ad infinitum by various MLMers trying to legitimize their own little niche. You can see this example where the author changed it to "21st century economy".

Basically, they've been saying it for THREE DECADES (going into FOURTH) and it STILL haven't come true. 



Those claims had not come true. Internet soon surpassed network marketing as the way to reach consumers, with online shopping, and ready access to review sites, peer reviews, and more. E-Commerce is a 289 BILLION dollar industry in 2012. For comparison, direct sales and network marketing is a 31.6 Billion industry in 2012, as per DSA. (see below)

One more point of comparison... Total US retail for 2012 is $4.9 TRILLION.  That makes direct sales 0.64% of stuff sold. It's a niche market, and it's not growing much, and hadn't done so for decades. 


Is MLM "experiencing record growth"? 

A lot of places repeat big words like "record growth"... 



The problem is... relative to what? DSA itself reports that sales has been down since 2006 and only just recovered in 2013 or 2014 (not counting inflation). See for yourself (all graphs courtesy of DSA.org):

1991 to 2000

2000 to 2008

2008 to 2012 (latest data from DSA)

So "record growth"... In relation to what, exactly?  It's now 2014 and they probably did break their old 2006 record... but that just means they are not as recession proof as they claimed to be... 

Also, is 31 billion a lot? Again, in relation to what?  Franchising is a 740 billion industry as of 2011, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers analysis. And franchising started at about the same time as network marketing.  In fact, franchising may have success rate of up to 95% (the stats are old, per 1991, and no new data had been compiled since)

"Record growth" statement is meaningless. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

WSJ: T. LeMont Silver Blames Everyone But Himself for Being Sued as "Net Winner" in Zeek

Wall Street Journal article, published 2014-DEC-03 specifically named T. LeMont Silver, a Zeek "net winner" (i.e. he got more than he put in while others lost money), and serial Ponzi participant, as someone who admits he's an idiot, yet blames everybody except himself.

In the WSJ article SEC on Lookout for Web-Based Pyramid Schemes by Jean Eaglesham, it specifically named GoFunPlaces (and its parent eAdGear) as a scam shut down by the SEC.

At the end, Mr. T. LeMont Silver Sr. was mentioned by name, where the author wrote:

"Mr. Silver said he is a marketer with little knowledge of the business operations of the companies he promotes"

Yet he wants you to join him in making money.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Indian police arrested "YOBSN" heads (3 Indians, 1 non-Indian) for International Pyramid Scheme

First reported by PatrickPretty.com


The scam that was referred to "International MLM Fraud" is YOBSN, aka "Smart Media Technologies" (but also known as Social Media Technologies, Automatic Geek, and so on.)

Quoting from the BangalaruCityPolice's Facebook account:
On Dec. 3, “acting on a complaint received at the office of DCP Crime, CCB F&M squad raided Room No 225 of Hotel Capital, Raj Bhavan Road, where 4 accused persons were explaining, advertising & collecting enrollment fee from new victims of YOBSN SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK MLM fraud web based company ( hosted from US ) and run through a website www.socialmediatechnologies.com . . .
New members are lured with promise of big money in USD $s by pushing the ‘CREATING YOUR OWN SOCIAL NETWORK’ tagline and encouraging members to bring in more members & growing their pyramid on the LEFT & RIGHT side.
They advertise by saying that when a company like Facebook etc is making billions of $s from social network, why can’t you make money.
This company runs a Web site called Smart Media Technologies. Any person can become a member by paying 8000 to 25000 INR as per their capacity. Then the person has to introduce Two persons (Left & Right member) to invest for which he would get 25% BONUS each as commission. As the pyramid grows, he would get more bonus. Each member is given a username/password and the commission earned & number of members introduced is meticulously accounted in the login itself. In fact, each user can see his pyramid and the amount of commission earned by it.