After years of a near-blackout of investigative or insightful media coverage of multi-level marketing (MLM), a shift appears to be occurring. There are more reports and the quality is far better. At the top of the list of recent reports on MLM is the investigative series by Aljazeera America.
Aljazeera America series on MLM, focusing on Amway, Vemma, and Herbalife, and includes an editorial from William K. Black
- Aljazeera article focused on Vemma and its attack on students and young people, by Laura Rena Murray and Atossa Abrahamian
- Aljazeera article focused on Herbalife and its attack on Latinos, by Kate Kilpatrick
- Aljazeera article focused on Amway showing misuse of religion and other mind-control techniques used in Amway recruiting, by Alia Malek
- Overview of “Legal Remedies” to address the harm and deception of MLMs, by Alia Malek
The editorial by famed anti-fraud writer, former regulator and university professor, William K. Black at the end of the Aljazeera series went to the bottom-line about MLM’s false “business opportunity” proposition on which it peddles products. He wrote:
“Any “investment” program that requires you to recruit other “investors” in order to be successful is a form of pyramid scheme.”
- MLM is in Rolling Stone Magazine! But Not in a Good Way… Another is the feature article on the MLM, Vemma, in Rolling Stone Magazine, entitled “Selling the Bro Dream: Are Frat Boys Peddling Vemma Sucker?” by Caleb Hannan. Pyramid Scheme Alert spent many hours assisting the writer of that article with contacts, background, information sources, MLM explanation, etc. The article offers much needed color and insight, while not going into depth on the larger issues of mind control and cultism, which are particularly significant in Vemma’s methods of attack on students. The actual – and devastating – financial loss rates are also minimized, leaving an impression of a slightly possible income opportunity where none actually exists for the newest recruits. Nevertheless, there is much excellent material in this illuminating feature and it is in a widely-read publication. See the Rolling Stone article focused on Vemma, by Caleb Hannan
- Add to these the ongoing articles in the New York Post by Michelle Celarier about the affairs of Herbalife and efforts of the hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital to expose it as a predatory pyramid. Pershing has taken a major short position on the Herbalife stock in the expectation of profiting when the stock goes down under the weight of truthful exposition.
- In addition to the news media coverage, two documentaries on MLM in the USA are being filmed and will be released in 2015. Filmmaker, Ted Braun, the director of the National Board of Review-nominated and NAACP Image Award-winning documentary “Darfur Now,” will direct one of these MLM-documentaries focusing on MLM and Wall Street. The film will be produced by Glen Zipper, the producer of the Oscar-winning film, “Undefeated,” and Devin Adair.
- International interest is also increasing in MLM reporting and investigation. The Russian Television network, Channel One, is working on a MLM documentary, which Pyramid Scheme Alert has assisted with interview, resources and contacts.