Friday, December 6, 2013

Paul Orberson dead at 57, best known for his pyramid scheme FHTM

English: Paul Orberson speaking at a convention.
English: Paul Orberson speaking at a convention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Paul Orberson, controversial head of Fortune High Tech Marketing (FHTM), is dead at age of 57 from his kidney cancer, diagnosed in 2003, as reported by the Kentuckian.

Orberson start out humbly and went to college on a baseball scholarship, before eventually returning to his hometown as a high school basketball coach. During that time, he started doing Excel Communications that sell long distance phone service through MLM. He claimed that after doing Excel for 4 years he made a million dollars and retired to Florida in 1996. but boredom drove him to start a new company in 2001... Fortune High Tech Marketing. He signed up a couple famous companies such as Cingular (now AT&T Wireless) and GE Security in order to offer their products, and 12 people paid $299 to join. A month later, sales force grew to 1200 (each of whom paid $299). From there the company grew very quickly across the US, Canada, and UK.

In 2003, Orberson was diagnosed with kidney cancer but apparently forced it into remission.

Over the years, FHTM was charged by several states such as Texas, Montana, and North Carolina as pyramid schemes, and settled with each with fines and promises to reform certain practices.

English: Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. (FHTM...
English: Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. (FHTM) Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That came to an abrupt end in January 2013 when the Federal Trade Commission, along with multiple states, including his home state of Kentucky, brought suit and killed the company as a pyramid scheme. Later audits revealed that while Orberson and his top lieutenants shared over 40 million in profits average ANNUAL commission of a typical FHTM affiliate is about 1000 dollars (not counting expenses).

The Federal case against FHTM is still pending where FHTM reps are still in settlement talks with the FTC lawyers. Next court report is due on December 10th, 2013. Is it not known at this time if Orberson's death will affect the settlement talk.

Orberson was rather fondly remembered in Kentucky, being a generous man who donated to various causes in the state. He is survived by wife and 2 sons.

Orberson was well known for blaming everybody else for FHTM's problems. When interviewed for various problems in Texas in previous years, he blamed "overzealous reps". Various "misunderstanding" by officials was also implied but not stated. You can find such news reports online.

The class action lawsuit against FHTM is still pending.

FHTM also brought us "Joe Isaacs", whose adventures can fill a book... and there was such as book... written by Joe Isaacs. A former FHTM affiliate, he created some Internet tools and forums for FHTM affiliates, only to see FHTM squash it with trademark infringement suit, which he lost, and he transformed himself into a self-proclaimed anti-FHTM crusader and tried to claim credit to FHTM's demise. Last time we heard about Joe Isaacs, he just helped suspect ponzi scheme TelexFree obtain a telecom license in the US.

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  1. I remember Paul from back in the days at Excel Communications during the mid 90's when I was aggressively promoting there at the same time. He was a smart marketer and knew that you had to keep the conversation real simple with prospects.

    He knew that he needed to quickly remove himself out of the equation so the prospect did not base the opportunity on him alone. I learned a lot from his wisdom then. Condolences to the family and friends of Paul. He will be missed.

    1. I can accept his story that the some rogue reps may have escaped his control and made promises that can't be ekpt, but that's at least partly his responsibility as head of the company, and is an endemic problem in the MLM system itself: the lack of rep oversight.

  2. FYI - The story was great until you got to the last paragraph where the facts disappeared and the BS prevailed. Isaacs never lost a case filed by FHTM. He was in fact the catalyst that caused the FTC to shut them down and his book is the reality of the situation. You should read it before commenting on things you have no clue about. What does Isaacs have to do with TelexFREE?

    1. There is no proof that he's the catalyst. He's merely the most vocal of FHTM critics.

      And he did indeed "lost" several cases filed by FHTM... such as FHTM winning the decision for him to stop using the various domain names and the service name. He voluntarily done so rather than through a court decision ordering him to is still a loss.

      Joe Isaacs is running ISG Telecom, which helped TelexFree file for long distance operating license. Did you bother reading that OTHER article, instead of posting over here?

  3. Belated update: FHTM fined 169 million in settlement. If it agrees to give up about 8 million in properties promptly the fines will be reduced.

  4. I competed in baseball against Paul and his brother growing up. Because of him, Boyle County was a formidable foe. He was a friend, solid Left-handed pitcher, and joined our Summer Travel Team helping us Win the State and Runner up in SE Regional play. I am so very saddened n shocked to just learn he's gone. Death is disturbing; I regret having not connected with him over the years. My bad and our loss Paul. Grace2u.

  5. Hey! I remember my parents, brother and uncle snubbing me for a considerable stretch of time around 1998-2000 because I had no interest in signing on to this guy's pyramid scheme, & they were incapable of talking about anything else. Would be nice to have those thanksgivings & christmases back.