Popehat Signal: Help A Blogger Threatened By A Multi-Level Marketer WorldVentures

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134 Responses

  1. Connie says:

    I went to investigate the 'not a scam' link and my company firewall rejected it for 'spam links'.

    Totally unsurprised…

    And shared on my Facebook to help with the exposure.

  2. Dan Weber says:

    Curse you Wil Wheaton!

  3. WDS says:

    I hope the Popehat signal gets a quick response, since the self imposed deadline by the bumptious attorney is two days away.

  4. Aelfric says:

    Best of luck to Ms. Yoder, and it says something about me that I subconsciously expected her to be based in Wisconsin….

  5. Dan T. says:

    The threat letter simultaneously demands that she remove her postings, and that she preserve them as evidence. (I guess that could be complied with by saving copies to her own computer and then deleting the online copies.)

  6. Fatwa Arbuckle says:

    Ken –

    Cheers yet again for your efforts in standing-up for First Amendment rights and helping folks fight censorious asshats.

  7. Julian says:

    Well I am not a lawyer, but isn't there a 4th way and just ignore that? A cease and desist letter is just a cheaper alternative to remove a legal wrongdoing before the other party goes to court. However they also need to find a legal reason to do so. As there clearly is non (because they would have stated it), I would just consider this a "smoke grenade" and a desperate attempt to just frighten her.

  8. SarahW says:

    But now I know about the grenades they lob, which is a warning sign, and coincidently found out that they exist and are all kinds of scammy. That's a good thing.

  9. Oliver says:

    No, you do not ignore such thuggery. You must
    fight it! This is called "Punching back twice as hard"

  10. tmitsss says:

    Take Me To Your Thought Leader;

    Shawn E. Tuma is an experienced business, litigation, and intellectual property attorney …he has developed a niche practice as a thought-leader in emerging areas of such as computer fraud, data breach, privacy, and social media law, with a strong command of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    And PH called him bumptious

  11. Dan Weber says:

    Julian makes me wonder: do you need to file a lawsuit in court to trigger anti-SLAPP? Or is the threat of a lawsuit enough? What's the test for when it's been triggered?

  12. Connie says:

    @Tmitsss – Social media law? This is a thing now?

  13. tmitsss says:

    Connie
    @Tmitsss – Social media law? This is a thing now?

    See, this why he is a thought leader and we are not.

  14. You can place a review on his Facebook page if you were so inclined – https://www.facebook.com/ComputerDataPrivacy/reviews

  15. Julian says:

    I agree, you should fight back publicly. But _I think_ legally this does not pose a real threat.

  16. Dan Weber says:

    I'm sure social media law is a thing, the same way Internet law is a thing.

    That is, there's not a section in the US code about "social media" but, if you are involved in a lawsuit about social media, you would want someone who knows the relevant case law.

    I suspect this guy knows it, and knows his client doesn't have a case, but is throwing the scary letter around anyway.

  17. Connie says:

    Oh dear me… his facebook is… fascinating.

    And by that I mean absolutely nothing is there except links to other things.

  18. mmmwright says:

    I LOVE these letters! Don't these attorneys read? Good work, Popehat!

  19. Dan Weber says:

    so, that lawyer's blog has this post:
    http://shawnetuma.com/2014/06/06/deleting-social-media-posts-during-lawsuits-can-be-sanctionable-spoliation-of-evidence/

    which contains this money quote:

    You cannot selectively delete individual posts from your social media account if those posts could potentially be relevant to the lawsuit.

    Is there a name for opposing counsel's lawyer demanding you do something that will get you in trouble with the court?

    Bonus: here's the image from that blog post in case this guy tries to scrub it. Hey, that would be irony, wouldn't it? http://imgur.com/SugKbKq

  20. Anon says:

    You are hereby on notice of your obligation to preserve evidence in anticipation of litigation regarding
    this matter. Parties to litigation have a duty to preserve potentially relevant evidence for the other
    parties’ use as evidence in pending or reasonably foreseeable litigation. See Gatto v. United Air Lines,
    Inc., et al., 2013 WL 1285285 (D. NJ Mar. 25, 2013) (deleting and deactivating Facebook account is
    sanctionable); See also Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 217 F.R.D. 309 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). The failure to do so
    is sanctionable by the Court as spoliation of evidence for which the other parties can obtain their costs,
    attorneys’ fees, and a spoliation inference for the jury. Gatto, 2013 WL 1285285; Tech Systems, Inc. v

    WorldVentures hereby demands that you (1) immediately cease and desist from publishing any
    further statements or information about WorldVentures in any form, and (2) immediately remove
    from the Internet all website pages, postings, or other information in any form that you have made
    regarding WorldVentures and ensure those statements are no longer publicly accessible

    Aren't these two statements in opposition as to the Facebook statement at least? You can't deactivate and must preserve statements but then you must remove statements and sites??

  21. z! says:

    Maybe Mr. Tuma should start by rereading FRCP 12(b)(6): “Failure to State a Claim for which Relief can be Granted”.

    (And did anyone else misread the firm as Button Tuna? or was that just me?)

  22. De_Village says:

    Funny bit is if you go to there web site and look at there blog they have a post that the Norwegian GOV just passed a ruling against them as being against the law there labeling it more of a scam. LOL!

  23. Robert Reese~ says:

    I offer to let Ms. Yoder repost her article(s) to my blogs. She'll both have Safe Harbor and force these scumbags to sue me too. I push back. Hard. ;c)

    Alternately, without her permission, I'll reblog them myself.

  24. ZarroTsu says:

    I have to compliment the balls on anyone who seriously tells a person that they made up information that uses the very website they represent as a citation.

  25. Bill says:

    Is there a specific state where you need a pro bono lawyer (e.g. hers or the scammers), or would it be a Federal matter?

  26. Good to have you back and enthusiastically bludgeoning the unrighteous, Ken.

    Hope whatever kept you away is well and truly past you.

  27. tmitsss says:

    "Oh dear me… his facebook is… fascinating.

    And by that I mean absolutely nothing is there except links to other things."

    Instapundit hardest hit

  28. Someone says:

    I kept reading Mr. Tuna.

    Keep up the coverage Ken, I enjoy your posts.

  29. azteclady says:

    I think if you have little disposable income, or some of "legal services" insurance, any state is a state where you need pro bono legal help when faced with legal threats.

  30. Chris says:

    Stephanie we're with you. This hype of World Venutres needs to end. I joined this company and it took me a year to realize their unethical ways. Stephanie, Thank You! You're helping people! Believe me!

  31. Ben E. says:

    z!, I think Button Tuna may just have been you… what I heard when I read that was {ARNIE}"It's not a Tuma"{/ARNIE}

    Very nice to see you back, Ken! You still make me wish I was a lawyer.

  32. FrancisT says:

    So I'm thinking this 11 month delay between the article being published and the legal demand sounds like someone wants to beat a statute of limitations deadline. I am not a lawyer but I seem to recall that many defamation and similar claims have a limit of 1 year.

  33. SirWired says:

    It's very easy to determine if an MLM company is or is not a scam. (Legitimate MLM companies do exist! It's not inherently flawed or illegal, it just seems to attract a high proportion of scum, in the same way that strip clubs do.)

    If a company seems to spend most of their time and effort training you to sell the product that is the ostensible purpose of the business (to people not involved in the business), it's probably legit. If all the time and effort is spent trying to get you to sign up other "sellers", it's a scam. (I believe the FTC requires 75% of the sales to be outside sales, but they do a horrible job enforcing the rule. I guess they figure that if people insist on being that stupid and gullible… well, it's wack-a-mole trying to shut them all down, and the penalties are feckless, in any case.)

    I wonder what the repercussions would be if the first response to the demand letter was simply a single sheet of paper consisting of the outline of an outstretched middle finger, and signed by the target and her lawyer.

  34. DaveK says:

    >"I hate to overuse the word "bumptious," but nothing else suits. Blustery? Blowhardish?"

    How about good ol'-fashioned barratry?

  35. I tried posting the URL to this post on their Facebook page and it wouldn't let me:

    https://www.facebook.com/WorldVentures

  36. gramps says:

    "Professional Philosophy
    Shawn believes his greatest strengths are his integrity, judgment, creativity, and intensity which help him best serve his clients. "

    With all those strengths going for him, are we to assume that Shawn Tuma, Esq. has by now become aware of Popehat and even browsed around enough to discover yesterday's post and comments?

    I'm guessing that it might be too late for him to gracefully back out of this one unscathed. And I don't see "grace" as one of his claimed strengths. I wonder how far he will push it.

  37. Dan Weber says:

    gramps, he has a professional duty to his client. He shouldn't "back out" just because the Internet said mean things to and about him.

  38. bridget says:

    Happy to help out if I can. Email me!

  39. Mika says:

    Typical bully tactic. Stand up for your right of freedom of speech.

  40. Matthew Cline says:

    I hope that WorldVenture supporters show up here. *crosses fingers*

  41. weberdan says:

    Whoa, I can respond to myself now? SWEET!

  42. WDS says:

    @Dan Weber,

    He shouldn't back out because the internet said mean things about him. He should back out because he has no case and by now should be able to figure out that the threatened person knows it, and will have some support to fight him.

  43. Dan Weber says:

    Remember we're talking about the lawyer. As crappy as it was for him to have written that demand for his client, it would be even crappier if he were to suddenly say "you know what? I never should have gotten involved" and dump his client. It's not like he suddenly found out his client lied to him about critical facts in the case.

  44. Dan says:

    @Dan Weber
    Yes, a lawyer has a professional duty to his client. He also has a duty to opposing parties, to the courts, and to the law in general. He violated his ethical duties when he sent a letter that he knew had no legal or factual basis (a conclusion which I draw from the fact that his demand letter fails to identify any specific false statements, IP violations, or deceptive trade practices, and from the fact that his demand that she never write anything about WV again goes far beyond the alleged harm done to WV).

    His ethical duties do not compel him (though they likely permit him) to immediately withdraw from all representation of World Ventures. But, unless he's simply very bad at drafting demand letters, they do preclude him from further pursuing this demand.

  45. saccw says:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20140208012400/http://twenty-somethingtravel.com/2013/07/worldventures-this-is-not-the-way-to-travel-the-world/

    The Wayback Machine paints a slightly different picture of her blog post, which has quite obviously been edited.

    Statements like "According to this study, 99% of WorldVentures associates actually LOSE money. 99%. 99% lose money. You can get better odds at a casino. " are likely to earn a C&D letter, especially when the study linked is an FTC study from 2011 that does not name WorldVentrures specifically, and only references MLM's in general. It seems like a legitimate complaint about the blog.

    There are also statements like "Additionally, someone involved with the company is shelling out for a good SEO specialist, because when you search for terms like “is worldVenture a scam?” or “worldVenture pyramid scheme” you will find tons of enthusiastic users expounding on why it’s definitely not a scam." will be difficult to defend without some evidence, which she probably won't have or will be difficult and expensive to obtain.

    There are a couple of others, but you get the point.

    That said, she's modified her post, so it's possible that this will die down on its own. It was a cease and desist, not a lawsuit, and the blogger appears to have cleaned things up. I didn't bother to read through the comments, which the blogger has claimed to have actively moderated, but that may be another sticky area.

  46. Ken White says:

    @saccw: If the 99% thing is their argument, it's going to be very hard for them to prevail for a number of reasons — one of which is that she links to the very study that she is (for the sake of argument) misreading.

    The SEO sentence is another classic example of opinion based on disclosed facts. "I think X because Y." Here she thinks they have an SEO expert because of the results that "is it a scam" yields. You may disagree with the conclusion based on those facts, but that doesn't make it an actionable false statement of fact.

  47. saccw says:

    @Ken: Would that defense really work? If I publish an article that makes the claim "Ken White is a lawyer who overcharges his clients", then link it to an article that asserts that 99% of lawyers overcharge their clients, can I just claim to have misread the article I was citing as evidence?

  48. weberdan says:

    If she edited her post months ago to remove those things (it seems she did so in May), is it really proper to say "cease and desist saying those things you already stopped saying?"

    The FTC PDF is written weirdly, such that an honest person could misread it as saying that 99% of WorldVenture members lose money.

  49. Gene Duffy says:

    All I have to say is " It's not a Tuma!"

  50. Vince Clortho says:

    @saccw

    Well, the statement that Ken White overcharges his clients WOULD be actionable, since it is obviously false. Ken is a bargain at any price.

  51. SirWired says:

    Even if the "99%" study didn't mention WorldVentures specifically, it wouldn't surprise me if 99% of their "business owners" lost money with this venture too. Once the monthly fees and all the motivational junk everybody is strongly encouraged to buy are taken into account, pretty much nobody actually turns a profit.

  52. JorgXMckie says:

    Didn't barratry used to be punishable by death in England? Is that still possible here? [I'm going from a long ago memory that the last two crimes punishable by death in England were barratry and "treason to the body of the king" which evidently meant having sex with the queen.]

  53. SaltyDroid says:

    You'd think that a lawyer who trained at the prestigious Pat Robertson School of Law would know better.

    … or not.

  54. Connie says:

    @Vince – I dunno. A pony can be pretty expensive to come by.

  55. machintelligence says:

    To clear up a possible source of confusion (I thought I had seen the WorldVenture name here in Denver) the company named WorldVentures (plural) is the one this post is talking about. WorldVenture (singular) is a Christian missionary organization based in Littleton, Colorado.

  56. perlhaqr says:

    I gotta say, that lawyer seems kinda fishy to me.

  57. CJK Fossman says:

    @saccw

    Read a little more closely. This is a quote from the referenced report. Note that it calls out World Ventures by name.

    World Ventures
    World Ventures Highlights – Marketing
    ―In November 2007 we gave away a brand new 2008 Mercedes C-300 Sports Sedan.
    ―In March 2008 we gave away a brand new 2008 Porsche Cayman. In November 2008 we gave away a brand new 2009 Mercedes C
    300 Sports Sedan. In March 2008 we launched a brand
    new Premium Service Program (PSP), featuring Video. [etc.].

    [All this sounds exciting, but World Venture fails to disclose that approximately 99% of all participants lose money]

    (emphasis in the original)

    As to her SEO statement, she has already cited supporting public information and explained how she drew the conclusion. IANAL but I believe by so doing she has cleared the bar for not claiming to have private information.

  58. Dan Weber says:

    CJK, I believe the "all" in that sentence is referring to all MLM participants. Although an honest person could misread it to be referring to only WV.

    Is access to private information necessary for a libel/slander suit?

  59. Justin S. says:

    I don't mean to hijack this blog entry, but thought y'all would be interested in knowing that Dennis Toeppen, the bus company owner and serial litigator in Illinois, is back in the news:

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/bus-stopped-suburban-express-owner-makes-bail-after-e-harassment-arrest/

  60. Wesley says:

    @saccw

    @Ken: Would that defense really work? If I publish an article that makes the claim "Ken White is a lawyer who overcharges his clients", then link it to an article that asserts that 99% of lawyers overcharge their clients, can I just claim to have misread the article I was citing as evidence?

    Yes, though independently because "overcharges" is clearly subjective opinion.

    The First Amendment strongly protects opinions based on matters of public concern. "Opinion" in this sense is almost indistinguishable from "conclusion," at least in the context of a conclusion drawn from disclosed facts. In the blog post, "WorldVentures has an SEO expert" is her opinion/conclusion, and the evidence/facts she cites is the results of her own internet searches. Her logic may be faulty and worthy of critique, and she may be drawing unreasonable inferences from those facts, but it is firmly protected opinion.

    There are also statements like "Additionally, someone involved with the company is shelling out for a good SEO specialist, because when you search for terms like “is worldVenture a scam?” or “worldVenture pyramid scheme” you will find tons of enthusiastic users expounding on why it’s definitely not a scam." will be difficult to defend without some evidence, which she probably won't have or will be difficult and expensive to obtain.

    She does not have to defend anything. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove malice: an actual knowledge of falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth. Truth is a defense to libel, but not a necessary one; the mere fact that a statement is false does not make it legally actionable.

  61. You says:

    Did Tuma ask Stephanie for permission to use her name in the C&D letter?

  62. Cystennin says:

    Interestingly enough, the site for twenty-somethingtravel.com is blocked by most secure gateways for having a reputation score of -7.3. The reason listed is for having been reported and verified as serving malware.

    Here is a link to the senderbase score for her site:

    http://www.senderbase.org/lookup/host/?search_string=twenty-somethingtravel.com

    I would be very interested to know how the report of the site serving malware was obtained because it seems pretty fishy that the site is no longer browsable by people behind advanced corporate firewalls that filter content based on reputations scores.

  63. J. says:

    Bumptious?

    bloviating, boisterous, bovine braggadocios, blowhards, bleating 'bout being bound by by laws. but besmirching them?

    I missed "Bumptious", but thank you.

  64. CJK Fossman says:

    @Dan Webber

    That "all" is part of the last sentence of a paragraph under a heading that references World Ventures. It refers to the claims made by World Ventures.

    If I recall correctly the next sentence is a heading referring to another MLM scheme.

  65. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    As a forensic SEO consultant with ORM experience, I'd say the cached content on her site about the SEO tactics used by World Ventures are pretty accurate. After perusing a number of links for various "scam" related phrases, I found enough to be pretty confident already that yeah, they've attempted (with the very typical half-assed success) to pollute legitimate search results with fake "it's not a scam" content.

    If myself or someone else with the right experience actually put in a few hours there'd likely be enough to validate her claim.

    Just my observation. Doubt this factor will ever see the light of a courtroom.

  66. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Cystennin — The report relates to the IP address where it is hosted. An unrelated site, okolosports.com, which is hosted at the same IP address, was reported for sending spam advertising its website.

    Okolosports.com may have been spamming, and their hosting service was remiss at enforcing their terms of service, bringing discredit on all their other customers. Or okolosports.com might have been victims of a joe job by an enemy which was sending fake spam in their name, and their hosting service was courageously standing behind their customer. You can't tell from the single email posted as evidence at Spamhaus.

  67. How do you go about getting the popehat signal up? I may need help w/a freedom of speech issue on the internet very soon. I reside in Utah. I want the information on hand for when I get my cease and desist letter or served papers.

  68. Matthew Cline says:

    She does not have to defend anything. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove malice: an actual knowledge of falsity or a reckless disregard for the truth.

    Does WorldVentures count as a "public figure" in this context?

  69. John G. says:

    Have her ping Marc Randazza – he's always been a major proponent of free speech, and wrote an epic slanging of the TSA employee who was threatening Amy Alkon with a slander suit over talking about the Gate Grope she endured.

  70. Ken White says:

    Never heard of him.

  71. Brandon says:

    "…which is totally true but not in the way I think he means it."

    Coffee, meet monitor. Monitor, coffee.

  72. markm says:

    I expect in that case Ken would send a letter pointing out the error, rather than send a threatening letter that claimed the blog was libelous but cited NO factual errors.

    Either Tuma merely put his signature on a form letter without doing any research on the facts of this case, or he cited no specifics because he knew that he had nothing. E.g., to win on the "99% of WorldVentures associates actually LOSE money" post, it would be necessary not only to point out the logic error in the post, but also for WorldVenture to submit records showing that less than 99% of their associates lost money. And I doubt that the court would consider "99%" libelous if it turns out that only 95% of the associates lose money – I think it would have to be a big enough difference to cast doubt on the conclusion that signing up with WV was a bad bet.

  73. SPQR says:

    Ken, are you signalling for Texas counsel or another state?

  74. Hudsonsedge says:

    SirWired, could I get a list of those "good" MLMs?

  75. Richard says:

    Hudsonsedge:
    Not a complete list by any means, but some classic examples of MLMs that aren't generally considered scams:
    Amway, Tupperware, Herbalife, Avon, Mary Kay, The Pampered Chef

    Now, I'm not saying that these are any better than the others, but these are the ones that pro-MLM people tend to point to when stating that MLM is not only used to scam people.

  76. jimmythefly says:

    Markm wrote:

    … to win on the "99% of WorldVentures associates actually LOSE money" post, it would be necessary not only to point out the logic error in the post, but also for WorldVenture to submit records showing that less than 99% of their associates lost money.

    Even then that wouldn't do it. They would need to show a third thing: That Stephanie Yoder KNEW that the 99% number was wrong, and that she intentionally published the false information anyways.

    That is, making a mistake because you drew your opinions from incorrect information is not something you are liable for.

  77. markm says:

    Jimmy: You seem to have confounded three different sorts of errors or lies: "KNEW that the 99% number was wrong" would be having information to the contrary, that is a deliberate lie, but that is not the case here. Nor did Yoder rely on incorrect information, which I think (IANAL) may or may not be a defense against libeling a private figure, but would be a defense against a public figure. (Surely a MLM company is a public figure?)

    She possibly misread correct information (or not, some commenters above think the source can be reasonably read to say 99% applies specifically to WV as well as to most MLM's in general). If the source was clear, this could be construed as reckless disregard for the truth. Draw the wrong judge and this would be a reason to deny summary judgment and schedule a jury trial – if WV could prove her post was substantially in error.

    Yoder has one more defense: was "99%" a literal statement of fact, or a rhetorical flourish for "the vast majority". I'd be very surprised if WV's books do not show that the vast majority of their associates lose money.

  78. markm says:

    Richard:

    Even definitely legitimate MLM organizations like Avon or Amway don't look good from the bottom of the pyramid. My wife was an Avon lady. She never sold as much product as she used herself or bought as samples, but it did get her discounts on her cosmetics, so whether she came out ahead or behind depends on how you account for that. To do much better than breaking even on Avon, you have to treat it as a nearly full-time job rather than a hobby, and to make a living you have to work very hard and get up a few levels.

    I once went to an Amway recruiting presentation. What saves them from being fraudulent is that they get more income from actual sales products than from associates' fees and purchases of samples, and that the presentation is truthful if you pay attention and do the math. I learned from it that you won't make money until you have moved up a level and are getting a share of other associates' sales, and it won't work as a part-time job.

  79. DonaldB says:

    A little illumination on MLM schemes.

    They are all pyramid scheme. The vast majority of people involved do not make a normal profit. But for a few "legitimate" ones, you can come out ahead without being at the top of the pyramid.

    Amway is the MLM scheme that has the most comprehensive approach. They teach you to set it up a business, and document everything as a deductible business expense. Using the garage to store a few boxes of product? Write it off (and that fraction of the utilities) as a business expense. Driving to visit a friend? Sell them something and write the delivery off as a business expense. Need soap? "Evaluate" one of the products you are selling.. another expense. It works especially well because they have such a wide range of products.

    So if you think of a MLM scheme is a tax dodge, rather then a business that can make a real profit, it doesn't look quite as bad as the numbers suggest.

    Of course that doesn't apply here. Travel MLMs are usually a pretty bad deal. You tempt someone with the promise of a free trip. In exchange they become a salesperson, collection agent, take financial risk they don't know about or can't evaluate (e.g. are on the hook if someone drops out, a flight is canceled or a bus breaks down), and likely have to do a bunch of work while everyone else is enjoying the vacation.

  80. jimmythefly says:

    Thanks I see what you are saying.

    I misunderstood what you wrote, I though you were saying, essentially "conditions for a WorldVentures win are if they show A and B". To which I responded "They would additionally have to at least show C, A+B is not enough on it's own."

    I see now that you were saying more along the lines of "to get started World Ventures would have to at least show A and B…but that wouldn't automatically create the win, just get things moving."

  81. Tex says:

    WorldVentures looks like a typical MLM scam. Click on my name to see the details of Amway, the largest MLM scam, and most of them operate very similar to it.

    I sent her an invitation to use a Dallas area lawyer I used to beat Amway down after they frivolously sued me.

  82. Rick says:

    Why did Amway sue you?

  83. Richard says:

    @markm:
    As I said, I'm not saying these guys are any better than the rest. All I'm saying is that if you ask a MLM proponent for examples of legitimate MLMs, those few will probably be among those listed.

  84. Tex says:

    Because I was telling their distributors the truth about the Amway Tool Scam, and that the distributor was breaking Amway's own rules by advertising on Craigslist. Amway lost…BIGTIME.

  85. Fasolt says:

    @markm:

    "What saves them from being fraudulent is that they get more income from actual sales products than from associates' fees and purchases of samples…"

    I remembered something I had written in a paper I did a few years ago, and dug it out of my backup drive.

    MLMs give themselves a veneer of legitimacy by showing that their retail-based income meets the Federal Trade Commission’s guideline that at least 70% of their total revenue be made from retail sales. This guideline also states that these sales must be made from customers that are not sales associates or distributors. The MLMs uses a variety of creative interpretations of the 70% rule to attempt to convince the FTC they are in compliance. One such attempt by Amway in 1979 was rebuffed. Amway stated that they required their distributors to resell at least 70% of the product they purchased each month. Amway claimed that sales at a wholesale level from one distributor to another counted as retail sales and met the requirement. The FTC did not accept this claim since it violates the 70% of sales to customers other than distributors rule. After court ordered disclosure, Amway revealed that less than 20% of their sales were to non-Amway representatives.

  86. Tex says:

    Fasolt,

    Actually, most of the consumption is self consumption by the distributors, not samples or sales to external customers.

    Also, the 70% criteria is misunderstood. It is intended primarily to prevent inventory loading. There are normally separate rules for sales to external customers, such as Amway's 10 customer/month or 50 PV/month rule. Also, Amway's current 70% rule allows the self consumption (and samples) to count towards the 70%. Except for the occasional sale to downline, which is largely a relic of the past, as everybody, including customers, can order online, downline sales do NOT count towards the 70%. In fact, the 70% inventory rule itself is largely a relic of the past, as most people don't keep an inventory, they simply order when they need it, distributor and customer alike.

    Also, I don't believe the following statement is accurate, "Amway stated that they required their distributors to resell at least 70% of the product they purchased each month. Amway claimed that sales at a wholesale level from one distributor to another counted as retail sales and met the requirement. The FTC did not accept this claim since it violates the 70% of sales to customers other than distributors rule. After court ordered disclosure, Amway revealed that less than 20% of their sales were to non-Amway representatives."

    I don't recall seeing Amway claiming the 70% can include downline sales, do you have a link to that?

    I also don't recall seeing the 20% retail sales level, do you have a link to that?

    I should point out when Amway was sued in 2007, part of the lawsuit included a confidential study showing external customer volume was 3.4%. That link in on my blog, just go there and search for 3.4%, and you will find a copy of the original lawsuit. Me and many other Amway distributors are explicitly taught how to manipulate the computer to show a self consumption purchase look like an external sale. Also, many people use a close friend/relatives's credit card, ship the product to them, and then go over and pick them up, check in hand, to cheat the system as well. Throw in the "sympathy sales," which are technically legitimate, but obviously a significant part of the 3.4%, which are made to relatives and friends, and you have a full blown scam.

    Also, DeVos and Van Andel (the sons) gave a Wall Street Journal interview a couple of years ago, and when asked about the level of external sales, stated over 50%, a bald-faced lie, and even went on to say, for those not familiar with the FTC/SEC position that the PRIMARY source of income, and therefore at least 50% of external sales, must come from external sales, that 100% was sold at retail because the distributors buy the products as well.

    And all of the above doesn't even touch the Amway Tool Scam (ATS), the primary focus of my blog, which throws off 10X or more in ATS profit for the high level pins, and keeps the 99% of distributors operating at a net loss. Herbalife got rid of their most abusive part last year, the "lead generation" systems, which charged $130 PER NAME for people who may or may not even answer the phone, and they got rid of ALL tool profit last month, but these came ONLY because of Bill Ackman applying the pressure, with a $1.2 BILLION short on Herbalife stock. Unfortunately, Amway is privately owned, but that doesn't mean they can't be chopped down.

  87. Tex says:

    P.S., the first sentence above applies to almost ALL MLMs.

  88. Fasolt says:

    @Tex-I'll dig it up for you. The excerpt I posted was from a draft copy of the paper that did have the references in the text. I dropped them out of the posted excerpt since the draft copy didn't have the footnotes and Bibliography attached.

  89. Tex says:

    We agree on one thing, 3.4% is less than 20%. LOL

  90. > It's classic nominative fair use.

    And accusative fair use.

  91. Tex says:

    Fasolt, any update? To be frank, I think you may have been thinking of another MLM or situation, as I've studied Amway extensively and don't recall coming across the 20% figure. I may have missed it, but I don't think so.

  92. Fasolt says:

    @Tex
    Sorry about the delay. I gathered that information at http://www.pyramidschemealert.org in 2007. The specific link, no longer valid, was http://www.pyramidschemealert.org/PSAMain/news/MythofMLMIncome.doc.pdf.

    Fortunately, I kept a copy of the document referenced, and I just posted it to Scribd. Here's the link: The Myth of "Income Opportunity" in Multi-Level Marketing.

  93. Tex says:

    Thanks, I found the statement about less than 20% on page 27, but there was no reference to which court, which lawsuit, etc. I consider that an unsubstantiated claim, and I'll go with my experience and the 3.4% the Woodward 2007 lawsuit claimed.

  94. Tex says:

    Also, a brief review of that document shows it is riddled with errors.

  95. Fasolt says:

    @Tex
    I agree. At the time, I used a few of his points as references and didn't closely analyze the rest of the statements he makes. Most of my paper dealt with three other MLMs, one of which he mentions (Melaleuca). Most of my references were to other websites, a book and two magazine articles on the subject.

    It was a short paper and the professor wasn't looking for a lot of depth on the sources, only that we follow the dictates of the assignment. His document is thin on references other than the financial statement numbers he uses. If I had thought about it more at that time, I would have dropped his references. If that had been a true research paper or a technical paper, I would have certainly only been able to use references that cited other sources that I could verify.

    Your research is much more rigorous and I'm citing you if I ever have to do another paper on MLMs. :)

  96. Tex says:

    You don't know how much I appreciate that. My blog cites the source for every single claim I make, plus I have 16 years of inside experience, so I can put any fact within a valid, practical framework, instead of an academic/theoretical one. I take pride in being accurate, it helps with credibility. Besides, the facts are so amazing, there is no need to distort them.

    By the way, what type of assignment and course subject was the paper for?

  97. Fasolt says:

    From what I can remember from the class, we were discussing Ponzi schemes and related business models. I believe we were given a variety of topics to write an essay on and I picked MLMs as they related to Ponzi schemes. It was for an Economics 202 class.

  98. Tex says:

    Interesting, about how long ago was that?

  99. Fasolt says:

    2007

  100. Wil says:

    Oh help me and save me from Worldvenures.
    Give me a break!
    Really people?
    The BBB gave it a B-? So what? I don't have a problem with WV. Walmart took American jobs to China and you still shop there. So what, right?
    (If you make a statement, at least get the facts correct.) Worldventures has a 24 hour concierge service that is dedicated to answering anything, 24 hours a day. Their job is to help the members in every way possible. There is no such thing as "can't get through." WV is in the U.S. and 28 other countries with more to come. The income disclosure is based on an 8 year old company. How do expect that that there are going to be an abundance of top income earners? Amway went MLM in the mid 1950's and the abundance of top earners did not appear until the early 1970's… get it? WV doesn't pay a commission as low as $40, it would be closer to $100. So, that "median" commission statement is just as misleading as your claim that WV is misleading. (If I stopped right here, who is the real scammer? Ken White or WV?) I mean really let us take into consideration another angle. If you talked crap about a Microsoft presentation to discredit them and placed a blog with your "truthful" experience, MS would feel the threat of you attempting to ward of present and future customers. Of course they would send a lawyer your way, especially when you have never had anything to do with their business, you were only exposed to a "presentation." There is a difference between an opinion and slander or trade-libel. This is what happened with Steph from 20somethingtravel. Her comments were her own. She made claims of easy and fast money. She claims that WV is not the way to travel. She got all of this information from a 10 minute presentation, not as experienced WV rep. If I earned $3000 last month and used a part of that money for a $1000 trip, then I got paid to travel; so how is that not the way to travel? I find WV very easy work compared to McDonald's for instance. But that's just me. I am an experienced rep. Steph is not and was not. I would say that my experience is not typical. I would never tell others that my experience will be theirs. Everyone must put forth their own effort and create their own experience. Some will do better than others, even better than me. Do the owners of a business not have the right to protect their interest from attackers like Steph? What would have been better is for Steph to personally attack the individual that made the presentation. If you go to a restaurant and the food was terrible, is the entire restaurant at fault or just the cook? Maybe Steph should have talked to other reps or maybe the up-line of the presenter before making her statements. Steph should be responsible for what she says and place the blame where it belongs. No one cares if you state your opinion, just be correct and responsible for what you say. How hard is that?

  101. Robert~ says:

    I see the WV apologist trolls have finally discovered this blog entry.

    The problems, Wil, of your comments are so vast it's hard to know where to start.

    Perhaps from the beginning:

    "Give me a break!"

    No.

    "Really people?"

    Yes.

    "The BBB gave it a B-? So what? I don't have a problem with WV."

    It's so nice that you don't have a problem with WV. Other people do. Get over it. Personally, I'd say a B- is too generous.

    "Walmart took American jobs to China and you still shop there. So what, right?"

    Do you know what a 'straw man' argument is, Wil? Google it.

    "(If you make a statement, at least get the facts correct.)"

    You'd be wise to heed your own advice.

    "Worldventures has a 24 hour concierge service that is dedicated to answering anything, 24 hours a day. Their job is to help the members in every way possible. There is no such thing as "can't get through."

    My wife works part time at a place that staffs nurses. She carries a cellphone with her in the evenings as their 24-hour concierge service. Her job is to also help in every way possible an the callers can ask anything, though the response from her is "call back during regular business hours" for anything she can't answer herself.

    No such thing as "can't get through". Is that a guarantee or statement of fact, Wil? No such thing as the board operator taking a porcelain vacation? No technical difficulties possible?

    "WV is in the U.S. and 28 other countries with more to come. The income disclosure is based on an 8 year old company. How do expect that that there are going to be an abundance of top income earners?"

    Care to try that again? This time using more comprehensible English?

    "Amway went MLM in the mid 1950's and the abundance of top earners did not appear until the early 1970's… get it?"

    Last time I checked, the blogger wasn't being sued by Amway.

    "WV doesn't pay a commission as low as $40, it would be closer to $100."

    Another statement of fact, Wil? Care to cite your source?

    "So, that 'median' commission statement is just as misleading as your claim that WV is misleading. (If I stopped right here, who is the real scammer? Ken White or WV?)"

    Careful, Wil, lest you open yourself to your own libel suit. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm betting that more than one on this list is.

    "I mean really let us take into consideration another angle. If you talked crap about a Microsoft presentation to discredit them and placed a blog with your "truthful" experience, MS would feel the threat of you attempting to ward of present and future customers. Of course they would send a lawyer your way, especially when you have never had anything to do with their business, you were only exposed to a "presentation." "

    First of all, that "presentation" is all that is necessary for the type of blog entry that was written. However, she continued to do research and provided more information.

    Regardless, Microsoft has nothing to do with this. Just another straw man in your little army of weak arguments.

    "There is a difference between an opinion and slander or trade-libel. This is what happened with Steph from 20somethingtravel. Her comments were her own. She made claims of easy and fast money. She claims that WV is not the way to travel. She got all of this information from a 10 minute presentation, not as experienced WV rep."

    It doesn't matter how experienced the rep was. He was an official rep. That's all that matters with regards to experience. And yes, she made claims based on her research and her 10-minute presentation. Where are the lies? There has to be intentional falsehoods, Wil. Furthermore, her statements are easily protected speech.

    "If I earned $3000 last month and used a part of that money for a $1000 trip, then I got paid to travel"

    No, not really.

    "so how is that not the way to travel?"

    How many of your associates earn $3,000 per month? What is that number's percentage of total number of reps? Not only that, if it costs 1/3 of your pay to travel, then that's not being paid to travel. That's paying your employer to be employed. If I work sales that require travel, I expect my employer to pay all of my travel expenses plus additional expenses for me to be traveling, such as per diem, tips, transportation, and such.

    Another consideration is that you made only $3,000, and had to pay another $1,000 to do your job. Your net income is only $2,000. There aren't many places in this country that consider $500/week a living wage. I'd certainly have better things to use that $1,000 on every month than on travel.

    "I find WV very easy work compared to McDonald's for instance."

    Wow. That's some comparison!

    "But that's just me. I am an experienced rep."

    And you are only netting $2K per month?

    "Steph is not and was not. I would say that my experience is not typical."

    You are also saying that it is atypical to net $2,000 per month.

    "I would never tell others that my experience will be theirs. Everyone must put forth their own effort and create their own experience. Some will do better than others, even better than me."

    So there is some slight glimmer of hope that people might earn more than $100 per day?

    "Do the owners of a business not have the right to protect their interest from attackers like Steph?"

    Only if she's intentionally lying.

    "What would have been better is for Steph to personally attack the individual that made the presentation."

    What? Did you listen to yourself as you wrote that?

    "If you go to a restaurant and the food was terrible, is the entire restaurant at fault or just the cook?"

    Again with the irrelevant argument. Could you please stay on topic?

    "Maybe Steph should have talked to other reps or maybe the up-line of the presenter before making her statements."

    Maybe you should have talked to other people before making your statements here as an official representative of WV. The fact is, she didn't need to. She witnessed the trained presentation by an official representative of WV. She went home and did some research. Then she presented her findings and her opinion on her blog.

    "Steph should be responsible for what she says and place the blame where it belongs."

    There's no wrongdoing for her to be responsible. The blame belongs squarely on WV.

    "No one cares if you state your opinion, just be correct and responsible for what you say. How hard is that?"

    Indeed, Wil. Indeed.

  102. V says:

    @Wil
    I think you overestimate how soon Microsoft would (threaten to) sue a random blogger.

    If you go to a restaurant and the food was terrible, is the entire restaurant at fault or just the cook?

    The restaurant (or the customer for not knowing what they like). Who the restaurant management thinks is at fault is their business, but they chose the people that: buy the ingredients, choose what goes on the menu, prepare the meals, serve the customers, clean the dishes and much more.

  103. Fasolt says:

    @Wil:

    In the name of all that is holy and doesn't suck, use necessary and correct punctuation. You could have also broken that screed up into paragraphs.

    Walmart took American jobs to China and you still shop there. So what, right?

    What does that have to do with anything? So Walmart is a scammer? It's also not a MLM.

    (If I stopped right here, who is the real scammer? Ken White or WV?)

    You're not really suggesting Ken is or could be a scammer, are you?

    Amway went MLM in the mid 1950's and the abundance of top earners did not appear until the early 1970's… get it?

    What are we supposed to get? It takes awhile for the number of top earners to grow? That would certainly be true if the company grows the numbers of new recruits.

    If you talked crap about a Microsoft presentation to discredit them and placed a blog with your "truthful" experience, MS would feel the threat of you attempting to ward of(sic) present and future customers. Of course they would send a lawyer your way, especially when you have never had anything to do with their business, you were only exposed to a "presentation."

    That's an awkward analogy. What sort of Microsoft presentation are you using as an example? Microsoft is not a MLM. If you saw a presentation on one of their products, let us say Power Point for example, you are free to post negative comments about the product.

    I find WV very easy work compared to McDonald's for instance.

    Another non-MLM example and a matter of opinion. Perhaps you just weren't happy at McDonald's.

    Everyone must put forth their own effort and create their own experience. Some will do better than others, even better than me.

    She should have just worked harder, correct?

    What would have been better is for Steph to personally attack the individual that made the presentation.

    I'm assuming you mean legally attack, rather than physically attack. I am not a lawyer, so please, any lawyers here jump right in and crush my ignorant opinion on this one, but I don't think Steph can legally attack someone for presenting information related to that company if that information is provided by the company. That'd be shooting the messenger, correct? I am of course assuming that the information in these seminars is not just made up or thrown together haphazardly by some random representative who drew the short straw.

    If you go to a restaurant and the food was terrible, is the entire restaurant at fault or just the cook?

    The restaurant is at fault if they keep a crappy chef employed there.

    Maybe Steph should have talked to other reps or maybe the up-line of the presenter before making her statements.

    I'm sure that would have solved the whole thing before it even got started.

    Steph should be responsible for what she says and place the blame where it belongs.

    Where does the blame belong? Steph? Her up-line for not helping her out? That presenter she should have personally attacked?

    No one cares if you state your opinion, just be correct and responsible for what you say. How hard is that?

    True, I don't care about many stated opinions, but they don't have to be correct opinions. They don't have even to be responsible opinions, just not libelous ones. I don't think she defamed your company. That's my opinion. I based it on what I know and what other, more qualified persons than I, have stated in this thread.

  104. Fasolt says:

    I'd like to amend something to my comment above regarding this statement:

    I am not a lawyer, so please, any lawyers here jump right in and crush my ignorant opinion on this one, but I don't think Steph can legally attack someone for presenting information related to that company if that information is provided by the company.

    Perhaps Steph can legally attack the presenter(s) if they had knowingly presented false information about the company or if they were in on the scam. Based on what you said, it's obviously not a scam, so your company really should take the lead here and go after the presenter(s) for spreading false information about WV. I certainly wouldn't want rogue presenters spreading exaggerated claims about my company if I owned one.

  105. Jim says:

    The right to free speech includes the right to be wrong, the right to be incorrect, the right to make mistakes, the right to make exaggerated claims, the right to be "false" and worse. You can call the owner a horse's ass if you want, even if the owner is not a horse's ass.

    It's the right to free speech, not the right to right speech. We want people to speak out, to offer their opinions, right or wrong, true or false, column A or column B, without the worry that if they said something wrong someone else will make them pay in court.

  106. Tex says:

    Let's simplify Wil's diatribe. There are 2 main issues to look for when inspecting an MLM:

    1. Are there little to no products sold to non-participants, i.e., customers? If the answer is yes, it is an illegal pyramid.

    2. Is there a lot of money being made by the company and/or high level distributors via the tools, and are they honest about it? If the answer is Yes and No, it is RICO fraud.

    Most MLMs operate very similar to Amway, the world's largest MLM scam. Click on my name for the details.

    Steph indicated the travel packages are overpriced, so I doubt there are very many external sales to customers being made, therefore WV is probably an illegal pyramid.

    I saw other comments about expensive "training," so WV is probably a RICO fraud as well. Case closed. Next!

    P.S., and of course Steph has every right to her opinion. She didn't make up anything that I can tell, so libel isn't available to WV. Amway tried the same trick on me and lost BIGTIME!

  107. Wil says:

    Wow, you guys are just as funny as you claim me to be. So, let me clear a few things up.

    First, your education lesson.

    Three requirements are needed to exercise a Right…

    1. All Rights have responsibilities. If you fail to be responsible for everything that you do or say, then you are NOT exercising a Right. Hiding behind statements like, “It’s just an opinion, does not excuse irresponsibility. Also, having the right to be wrong does not justify irresponsibility. (As a non-member, Steph would not know the discounted travel that is offered to members. Her claim is that WV is not the way to travel. This is why even her on-line research would pose as invalid. Members are given travel reward points AND we earn Rovia bucks that are applied towards any travel, thus making each excursion far less expensive than the non-member would pay. There are members that have had a completely Free vacation by following our membership system. NO ONE would experience this as a non-member.)

    2. All Rights derive from property. If you own it, then you have the right to do whatever you wish with it. (Steph does not own WV. Steph does not have the right to defame WV, especially as an outsider looking in. Again, she is a non-member with only a presentation as her only WV experience. I have seen great presentations and terrible presentations. In both cases, the presentation represents the individual, not the company. Why? Because WV is not selling the membership, the sales rep is doing the selling. So, each person performs based on their own abilities. I know a sales rep that stutters. His presentations are 3 times longer than most others because he repeats, stalls, and stutters. Some may say his presentation was awful, does that mean that WV is an awful business?)

    3. A properly exercised Right does not conflict with the Rights of others. (Stating a fact is one thing. Facts and opinions are not the same. An opinion is based on judgment. Therefore, a judgment that is based on un-supporting facts like, “WV has B- at the BBB,” has nothing to do with an appalling presentation. This one example of conflicting information leads to misinformation. Again, ALL businesses have unhappy or unsatisfied customers, patrons, or just unhappy people in general. The BBB rating was not based on travel or anything that involves illegal wrongdoings. Yet, Steph has warned everyone to stay clear of WV based on her research that was clearly invalid to begin with. Thus, steering potential future members away and infringing on the Rights of WV as a legal entity that provides a better income potential than most 9 to 5 jobs.)

    Second, some of you have criticized my rhetoric, but none of you have brought any FACTS to overrule my previous statement. This is why I am finding humor in your replies. Again, responding with your personal opinions is not the same as responding with irrefutable facts. But that is just fine, because Steph did not have all of her facts together either.

  108. Robert~ says:

    Wil,

    I noticed your complete and utter failure to address even a single rebuttal here.

    Nonetheless, here are where you are repeatedly wrong. Again.

    If you fail to be responsible for everything that you do or say, then you are NOT exercising a Right.

    According to your logic, this means that you are not exercising a right.

    Fact: holding a factually incorrect opinion doesn't equate to irresponsibility. The neat things about opinions is they may be factually incorrect but they not necessarily irresponsible. You don't seem to understand the difference between factually incorrect and subjectively incorrect. I'd call that irresponsible on your part based on your use of the word.

    All rights derive from property.

    That's amazingly obtuse. Your entire second argument falls apart due to that factually incorrect premise.

    Facts and opinions are not the same

    Thank you for making my point for me. This is a major part the problem you have. Another major part is that your comments indicate that you do not understand how rights work.

    Again, responding with your personal opinions is not the same as responding with irrefutable facts.

    I couldn't have said it better myself, Wil, about your own posts thus far. It's clear that you have difficulty using logic, and apparently have only a tenuous grasp on legal concepts. You seem to misunderstand the definition of several words you've used thus far. Your posts would be quite humorous if they weren't so sad, and paint WV in an increasingly poor light, in my opinion, as an official representative.

    tl,dr: Wil digs hole deeper, cuts sewer line in process.

  109. Fasolt says:

    @Wil:

    So, based on your statement about Rights, I can beat you about the head and shoulders with a Baseball bat since that bat is my property and I can do anything I want with it?

  110. Fasolt says:

    There is some fascinating reading over at ethanvanderbuilt dot com. Had to spell that out, the SPAM filters caught my attempt at using the link. Click on the Scams tab and select World Ventures on the "F to Z" option.

    A few highlights:

    WorldVentures had a F rating with the BBB at the end of 2013

    Reason for Rating

    Factors that lowered WorldVentures Marketing, LLC's rating include:

    43 complaints filed against business
    Failure to respond to 2 complaints filed against business.
    5 complaints filed against business that were not resolved.

    Complaints are regarding misrepresentation of the promised savings on travel, slow or non delivery of promised refunds and dissatisfaction with customer service. Specifically, customers complain that paying the company fee and following the company business model does not provide promised savings as stated by company representatives. The company resolves complaints by offering refunds or referring to the agreement for explanation. However, customers complain that the refund was delayed or not received. Additionally, customers indicate that they have difficulty contacting the company.

    Where was that famed 24/7 assistance, I wonder?

    Income Disclosure

    80.18% Earned no income.

    Average income for an independent representative was $190.15

    95% on average are losing money according to their own income disclosure and reports that take into account expenses have WorldVentures ranked as one of the worst MLMs for you losing money: 99.97%.

    I think we should all congratulate Wil on his/her outstanding performance. Netting $2,000 a month with WV makes Wil a superstar.

    From one of the BBB complaints:

    After accessing and exploring the website I found that the destinations were the same but packaged differently to make the website seem more expansive.

    I called the Regional Manager again to complain about the destination and availability issues, and again I got the run-around and was offered another suggestion, which was to shop other travel websites and if I found a destination on another website they would match the cost, if this was the solution to my issues then WorldVenture is offering a service that is free from other travel entities, so why should I pay for something that is free?

    Dammit, now you have a rogue webmaster and Regional Director screwing up the company's image. Wil, I beg you, please report this to senior management and have this taken care of.

  111. Fasolt says:

    @Wil:

    Concerning item 1 above:

    Members are given travel reward points AND we earn Rovia bucks that are applied towards any travel, thus making each excursion far less expensive than the non-member would pay.

    You forgot to mention this tidbit (quoted from Ethan Vanderbuilt's site):

    Essentially all your fees for joining and monthly membership go into a “piggy bank”. Unfortunately these are not all available immediately, expire after a year and are only good for DreamTrips Rewards (not normal DreamTrips and not airfare). Check the dream trips rewards available. Make sure you select DreamTrips Rewards and update. You will find the destinations are very limited.

    Wil? Is that true or false?

    These fees are something of a buzz-kill:

    DreamTrips One Time Fee $199.95 Monthly Fee $26.99
    DreamTrips Life One Time Fee $199.95 Monthly Fee $54.99
    International DreamTrips Life One Time Fee $199.95 Monthly Fee $49.98
    Luxury DreamTrips One Time Fee $999.99 Monthly Fee $99.99
    DreamTrips U One Time Fee $99.99 Monthly Fee $20.99

    Become a representative $99 one time $10.99 per month.

    $360 to start with a DreamTrips package and become a representative.

    Do DreamTrips include flights. No. You have to book that separately. What a dream!

    Wil, please tell me that's just crazy talk.

    There are members that have had a completely Free vacation by following our membership system. NO ONE would experience this as a non-member.)

    So, only members of WV get free vacations? You're shutting out non-members? Wow.

  112. Tex says:

    Wil, your "analysis" didn't include what is required to prove libel. The bottom line is WV is an illegal pyramid (lack of retail sales to external customers) and RICO fraud (tool scam).

  113. Kat says:

    I see Jennifer's blog article about WorldVentures is still there and has not been taken down. Any updates?

  114. Tex says:

    I live in Plano, and WV just joined the Chamber of Commerce. I sent them an email, copied below, and haven't heard back from them:

    On Sunday, August 3, 2014 12:19 PM, Tex wrote:

    Jamee,

    I understand WorldVentures (W-V) is a new Plano Chamber of Commerce member (http://www.worldventurespress.com/blog/2014/07/31/worldventures-becomes-member-of-plano-chamber-of-commerce/).

    While I understand W-V brings dues to the Chamber, I believe W-V will damage the reputation of the Chamber and result in monetary losses to other Chamber members becoming W-V predator victims, and I would advise you to drop them. They are probably an illegal pyramid, as are most MLM companies.

    WorldVentures Becomes Member of Plano Chamber of Commerce – WorldVentures Press
    WorldVentures™, the leading international direct seller of vacation club memberships, is pleased to announce its membership in the Plano Chamber…
    View on http://www.worldventurespress.com
    Preview by Yahoo

    When a blogger exercised their First Amendment right to their opinion recently: http://twenty-somethingtravel.com/2013/07/worldventures-this-is-not-the-way-to-travel-the-world/, W-V sent them a nasty gram: WorldVentures threaten travel blogger, demand censorship, and I don't think W-V is the type of member you want.

    image

    WorldVentures threaten travel blogger, demand censorship
    If one Googles the term “WorldVentures” today, above is typical of the results returned.
    View on behindmlm.com
    Preview by Yahoo

    I am available to discuss this with you individually or in a Chamber group setting, with or without W-V present.

    Regards,
    Scott Johnson
    Real Address
    Real Phone Number

  115. Tex says:

    Here's the email I sent to the lawyer who sent the nastygram to Steph, perhaps we can get an update from him:

    Me
    To stuma@brittontuma.com
    Jul 15
    Shawn,

    A little light on the billable hours? http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/CONDUCTYOURSELFBEFOREYOUWRECKYOURSELF.pdf

  116. Kat says:

    Hopefully the Plano Chamber of Commerce takes a closer look at WV and the complaints/concerns. Wonder if more can be done with the Better Business Bureau in Plano for whatever that's worth, since many people do seem to use the BBB when researching companies. Looks like the BBB put a red "alert" link on their listing for WorldVentures….which is interesting.

  117. Tex says:

    Since they have had plenty of time to contact me and haven't, it looks like they are more interested in WV's dues ($) than anything else. Perhaps I'll call the Chamber of Commerce next week. I saw the BBB warning when investigating this a 3 or so weeks ago, and expect the usual MLM explanation if/when it comes up: many people are losers/quitters, didn't have a big enough dream, are lazy (this one is actually true), etc.

  118. Cthippo says:

    You know the thing that sucks when a MLM scam goes belly up?

    A few of them actually make decent products.

    My aunt was involved in one called Equinox a few years back and while a lot of their stuff was useless, there were a few things I really liked. Unfortunately, the products disappeared with the company.

  119. Tex says:

    The loss of a few decent products is significantly overwhelmed by the financial and other damage caused to millions of people.

  120. Brian says:

    Eh, honestly, the problem with the MLM industry is the outrageous income claims that distributors make.

    Can you make money with MLM? Yes.

    Is it insanely easy? No.

    It's a essentially a micro franchise. If you don't treat it like a business, you won't see great amounts of income. The low threshold to entry into MLM businesses does seem to attract people who are predisposed to over exaggerate how much someone can return off of a little amount of work.

    Are MLMs pyramid schemes? Nope. Some pyramid schemes pose as MLMs though. Google "Race Cycler" for a prime example.

    Want more information on the topic from reputable sources. See below.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2014/08/29/would-you-join-a-multi-level-marketing-company-for-retirement-income/

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/35744

  121. Tex says:

    No, the problem is two-fold:
    1. They lie about how much money they make from tools, and
    2. They lie about how much product can be sold to external customers.

    This makes most MLMs RICO fraud (#1) and illegal pyramids (#2).

    The "experts" you referenced don't have a clue what they're talking about.

  122. Jesse Singh says:

    The problem with Network Marketing is this.. people join these businesses expecting to become
    millionaires without investing in the proper education to master the craft.

    You need the right education.

    Network Marketing isn't a scam, but it isn't a "Get Rich Quick" scheme that most distributors
    make it look like.

    Actual work is involved.

  123. Kat says:

    Stephanie's blog is still up. Cool! Any word from her? Is this still an issue?

  124. Tex says:

    Jesse,

    You're a liar. While there may be a very small fraction of people joining an MLM as a get rich quick scheme, FAR more are told how easy it is as mechanism for them to join in the first place. Others are told there is real work involved, but then get ripped off on the "education/training" systems, and these systems are often the source of most of the uplines' profit. But they lie about this, making the prospects and downline believe their wealthy lifestyles came from the MLM products. This is called RICO fraud. Throw in the overpriced products that can't be sold except to "sympathy" customers, such as parents/siblings/close friends, and most of the MLMs out there are full fledged illegal pyramid scams dressed up to look like legitimate businesses.

    It even shows up in YOUR website, "http://www.worklesslivemoretoday.com/" LOL

    Kat,

    I haven't communicated with Stephanie recently, but it appears the lawyer's letter was a scare tactic that didn't work.

  125. Donna Carter says:

    There is no MLM that is a get rich quick scheme, actually it's harder work than most jobs would ever be, that's why so many people fail in them because they don't put in the consistent effort for long enough. Basically in MLM or networking, you must be honest, totally authentic, diligent, and patient. Going slam dunk and calling all your closest family and friends, is not the answer. I understand that people get excited for a short period then just give up because it didn't work. Well it doesn't work like that. World Ventures at least has a product that is desirable, Vacations! It won't work for everyone, it will work though. It's not a scam, it's a business and appears to be a good business model. I am not associated. I feel that their product is very appealing and therefore customers are going to be satisfied, therefore building a business should be very achievable. People in networking have to stop recruiting everyone and start building a customer base. That would be refreshing.

  126. Tex says:

    Donna, do you tell your prospects that MLM is harder than most jobs would ever be? If so, I believe you are in a tiny minority. The real reasons most people fail is because the products are overpriced, which makes them almost impossible to sell to customers and the tool scams make people lose even more money.

    Stephanie update – I wrote her an email and she responded she can't say anything for a little while. I asked her when she expects to be able to provide more information and have not heard back from her. I'm sure Donna thinks the First Amendment should be suspended when it comes to telling the truth about MLM scams, don't you Donna?

  127. Tracy Coenen says:

    Donna and other MLM apologists:

    Almost EVERYONE in MLMs is GUARANTEED to lose money. The system guarantees these losses, regardless of how much hard work and effort is put forth by participants. MLM is not a business by any stretch of the imagination. MLM is a pyramid scheme that, by and large, the government in the United States allows to operate.

  128. Tex says:

    Tracy, one of the major problems is the critics refuse to work together to make their voices so loud the government can't ignore it.

  1. July 9, 2014

    […] Earlier this week, I received a private message asking for PTBA assistance on legal advice regarding a copyright infringement notice. This morning I saw PTBA member Stephanie Yoder under fire from a "frivolous, thuggish, [and] vague threat" (thanks Popehat). […]

  2. July 9, 2014

    […] @AditLimited: soon as I started reading popehat.com/2014/07/09/pop… about @WorldVentures I thought pyramid/ponzi scam. Checked their site – confirms […]

  3. July 10, 2014

    […] Now she's being sued by WorldVentures. Read more about it here: Popehat Signal: Help A Blogger Threatened By A Multi-Level Marketer WorldVentures […]

  4. July 12, 2014

    […] Over at Popehat, another Popehat signal has been launched. […]

  5. July 13, 2014

    […] on July 2nd and picked up by PopeHat (link to the cease and desist is in the article), "business attorney" Shawn E. Tuma […]

  6. July 15, 2014

    […] December 2, 2013 WorldVentures Scam? Yes It Is In My Opinion. Update: WorldVentures is using legal action to silence bloggers that point out the issues with this company. WorldVentures Scam Claims Fun, Freedom and […]

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