Monday, June 11, 2018

MLM and MOBE / Brandon Odom Pt. 4

Today's blog post was inspired by a recent article written by Ethan Vanderbuilt called, "MOBE Scam Shutdown For Bilking $125 Million From Victims". In Ethan's article, he details the way in which the FTC has determined My Online Business Empire (MOBE), to be a scam and has had its assets frozen in a unanimous five to zero vote. This scam is referred to as a "business coaching scheme" The scam involves an endless recruitment scheme in which members get introduced to the program through online advertisements on social media. The advertisements are designed to lure new prospects into an "education system" that offers the opportunity to teach new members how to make thousands of dollars. The way in which they make thousands of dollars is by finding new people to enter the "education system" by purchasing advertisements for "MOBE". The "MOBE" costs can be exorbitant, ranging from nearly two thousand dollars to twenty-five thousand dollars, and this does not include the monthly fees. The more money you pay for the training, the larger commissions you will receive when new members pay for their "education system".

If you have been following this blog for a while, then you will see this "education system" looks similar to the other "education systems" Brandon Odom has designed for selling "Enagic". That's mainly due to the fact that Brandon Odom was a member of "MOBE" and there are videos of him promoting the platform. Here is the video:



The funniest part is the comment section in which Brandon has tried to get this video removed. He doesn't want people to make money from his content, unless he is also making money from it.

This is not the first FTC victory against "business coaching schemes", and it looks like they are going to take a more aggressive approach against these people. This type of fraud has been around for centuries, and even though this version involves "webinars" and social media, the hallmark characteristics remain the same as any other consumer fraud. There is a confidence person providing a worthless product or service that is designed to deceptively take money from unwitting participants. In this particular instance, "MOBE" as well as Brandon Odom have provided an "education system" that does not provide any real education or teaching that will help a person earn "thousands of dollars". Instead, the "education system" is a pay-to-play fee used as an entry to an endless recruiting scheme. The "education system" is an unnecessary addition to the fraud and it is designed to obfuscate the real "business opportunity".

This new FTC victory against "MOBE" may be the first step toward Brandon Odom and his "The Ace Initiative" buddies being caught for scamming others. I had previously given Brandon credit for creating "Team Phoenix Marketing", but he had only copied "MOBE" and "GAZ" (Global Affiliate Zone). He hasn't created a "business opportunity" or a unique "education system" that will make his members wealthy, and he has continued to profit from rather than enrich the people that have trusted his programs. Hopefully this video connecting Brandon to the "MOBE" scam will help direct attention to his other "businesses".

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Source:

https://ethanvanderbuilt.com/2018/06/11/mobe-scam-shutdown-for-bilking-125-million-from-victims/

https://brandonodom.theaceinitiative.com/brandon/lander

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/02/ftc-obtains-court-order-halting-business-coaching-scheme

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

MLM and Words



Today’s blog post is going to explore the words MLMers use to deceive potential recruits as they pitch their MLM “business opportunity”. Words, at face value, are codes designed to transfer a thought from one person’s brain to another. They are an agreed upon set of characters in a specific order which translates into a concept. Words do not have emotions, they do not have thoughts, they do not have tone, but rather they are a vessel in which people can convey the aforementioned from their head to another’s. By putting words in a specific order, and using a voice inflection, you can make a particular word(s) have a variety of different meanings, which is the reason language is considered an art. 

Even the simplest of phrases can be interpreted in a variety of different ways, and a sentence can only make sense if both people agree upon the meaning. A basic example could be the phrase, “How are you doing today?”. Depending on the person that comes from, the voice inflection they use, and what part of the world they are from, this phrase can be interpreted many ways. If you have an intimate relationship with the other person, then you may respond in kind and tell them how you are doing that day. If you do not have an intimate relationship with the person, then you may respond with a short answer, such as, “Good”, and then move into the next subject. If the person says the phrase sarcastically, then they may not actually care to know how you are and would rather have you ask them what is wrong. Again, it is all about context with words, not the actual words themselves.
            
This brings me to the words MLMers use to manipulate their downlines and potential recruits. Because MLMers use words to obfuscate reality when they are pitching the “business opportunity”, the obfuscation must continue throughout the duration of a person’s involvement within the MLM. This leads to an alternate reality in which a core MLM believer cannot relate to the reality of others and causes them to break away from the rest of their community. A professional MLM wordsmith will be able to spin anything to suit their narrative and will work diligently to dispel any potential outside interference that could result in an MLMer having doubt. MLMers use their words as a form of unrelenting control over their members; this type of control is necessary to keep MLMers involved in the “business”.
            
So, let’s review some of the ways in which MLMers use their words to deceive people into believing their “business opportunity” is good:

1. You can make money working MLM part-time, and it can be a great source to subsidize your monthly income.

Answer: MLM has historically been a terrible investment of time and money. Whether you work part-time or full-time at MLM, there is an over 99% chance you will not make a return on investment. For every one person that was able to accomplish this, close to a thousand were not. Therefore, it is not accurate to suggest a person can make money at MLM part-time, when, according to the statistics, it is a mathematical certainty a person will fail.

2. “Corporate America” is a pyramid. There is a CEO, then there are general managers, then there are supervisors, and finally employees.

Answer: The pyramid shape of a business does not equate to it being a pyramid scheme. The structure of the business model is not the same as the structure of a compensation plan. It is an unfortunate coincidence that the two share the same shape, but fundamentally, there is nothing else they have in common. If the money is earned through the sales of goods or services to people outside of the business, then that is a legitimate business model. If the money is earned through a series of recruiting and purchases from members within the business, then that is a pyramid scheme.

3. Running an MLM business is easy. You will have a mentor that will teach you the process of duplication.

Answer: This is coded language for saying you will have a member that came before you, commonly referred to as an upline, teach you the “business opportunity” pitch, then release you to the world and have you “duplicate” by finding new people to be pitched the “business opportunity”. This process will repeat ad infinitum until there are no people left, the business collapses, or the business is shut down by the law. If someone ever approaches you about a “duplication” opportunity, then they are trying to recruit you into an endless chain program (commonly referred to as a pyramid scheme).

These examples are just a small portion of the many ways in which MLMers use their words to create mental gymnastics for their recruits. MLMers will also use “buzz words” designed to create imagery within a person’s head. Some examples include, dreams, freedom, wealth, religion, marriage, and friendship. These words are used as a specific tool to transport someone from the “business opportunity” to a ideological utopian world . The relationship between these "buzz words"and MLM are antithetical, and yet, MLMers will use language to manipulate the "buzz words" into suiting their narrative.

Here are some examples in which MLMers use "buzz words" incorrectly to create imagery of MLM that doesn't exist:

1. MLM will bring you closer to the dreams, freedom, and lifestyle you deserve. MLMs will give you opportunities a "traditional job" cannot.

Answer: MLMs have the highest failure rates of any business. MLMs have almost never given people their dreams, this excludes the creators and "master distributors", and the freedom MLMs give comes at a heavy cost. MLMers may be able to wake up whenever they want, but they better have a great income, or they will find that their MLM freedom will lead them to destitution. 

2. MLMs hold Christian values and are able to bring more than money to members. They will have a "business" by helping others, which is both profitable and good for the community.

Answer: MLMs violate multiple commandments, and they do not help people become closer with God. MLMers will worship their uplines and MLM creators, they will not remember the Sabbath, but rather force you to attend a seminar, they will make you choose uplines over your mother and father, they will lie to you about the "business opportunity", they are covetous of others. MLM leaders are not only bad religious actors, but bad people as well.

3. MLMs help keep marriages together, unlike "traditional jobs" that force spouses to be separated for many hours a day.

Answer: MLMs force marriages to go through a large number of problems. First, if only one spouse is interested in the MLM, the MLMer may suggest it is important to put the MLM before the spouse. Second, MLM is a money sink, since between 95-99% of all MLMers do not make money, and therefore can put a financial strain on a marriage. Third, MLMs require participation at odd hours and in strange places. Sure, you may both be in attendance, but you aren't focusing on your marriage, but rather recruitment of new members to the MLM. Most MLMers don't want to be spending their free time away from children to go show people the "plan", and they are not recruited based on the "opportunity" to present the "business" together.

4. MLM will introduce you to a group of people that will be your friends, family, neighbors, lovers, and anything else they need you to be.

Answer: This is the strangest part of MLM. It is supposed to be a "business opportunity" about making money, but they are heavily involved with the personal lives of their members. This is where the obfuscation between business and pleasure becomes an issue, and it is part of the reason people refer to MLMs as cults.

To reiterate, MLMers are expert wordsmiths that use language as a weapon to convert unsuspecting and uninformed people to their programs. They will approach people inappropriately, such as at a shopping mart with their family, at a restaurant or coffee shop, or at a "traditional job", and they will prey on people in vulnerable positions. They will use their words to distort the "business opportunity" and use reality-inverting jargon to create a narrative that doesn't exist. They are psychological black-belts that have been trained in the dark arts of the confidence game.

The best way to defend oneself against the linguistic weaponry of MLMers is to question them at every point. Hold them accountable for the words they use, and make sure you are understanding everything they are saying. Don't let them make claims without a form of evidence, and don't let them use rhetoric as a means of efficacy. Most MLMers will fall apart once they realize their prospect isn't going to be an unquestioning pawn for recruitment.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

MLM and The Ace Initiative/Brandon Odom part 3

***UPDATE 2*** The comments part of the post has been updated. New comments from "Michael Coble" and "Dr. Travis Fox" have been added.

***UPDATE 1*** Travis Fox is not a doctor. This post has been heavily updated to reflect this new information. I have posted three links in the source section that talk about his fake doctorate.

If you want to see what I previously wrote about Brandon and "Team Phoenix Marketing", you can click on part one here and part two here.

Today's blog post is, yet again, about Brandon Odom and his "new" scam, "The Ace Initiative". "The Ace Initiative" much like "Team Phoenix Marketing", "Digital Genius Lab", and "Global Affiliate Zone", is a training scam designed to teach people how to make Facebook advertisements for the sole purpose of getting new potential recruits to watch a "webinar" about joining "The Ace Initiative". After a recruit watches the vague "webinar", which explains nothing about the product or service, they are instructed to pay $99.00 a month for the opportunity to get a "90% complete system" in which "The Ace Initiative" will provide all of the necessary resources to help earn "big ticket" commissions. The "big ticket" item is a water ionizing machine from "Enagic", an MLM, that costs thousands of dollars. In order to join "The Ace Initiative", a new recruit must buy one of these water ionizing machines, even if they don't need it, to then qualify for the opportunity to sell the water ionizing machine. "The Ace Initiative", exactly like the other three listed above, is a misleading training scam designed to lure unsuspecting consumers into an MLM.

Here is what "The Ace Initiative" has to say about their service:
"Our program empowers students and clients to go from "survival mode" to "thrive mode" in every area of their lives.  Our members learn the fastest, simplest way to generating life-enhancing incomes through a profitable online affiliate business of their own. "
1. They cannot guarantee this is a "profitable online affiliate business" without expressly giving a proper income disclosure document. This is something they will never be able to provide, because the business is designed to profit from, rather than enrich the newest recruits. Here is what the FTC has to say about false income claims.

2. This is not an "affiliate business". Here is the definition of a real "affiliate marketing" business. MLM commonly uses this terminology to deceptively appear as something they are not. Affiliate marketing does not require the affiliate marketer to purchase of any goods or services in order to receive commissions and bonuses, and they do not get paid for recruitment. These are unique MLM characteristics.
"As they progress, they receive training to help them overcome obstacles and limiting beliefs and discover their true passions in life."
 "They" are not being recruited to "overcome obstacles and limiting beliefs". "They" are being recruited to spend large amounts of money on "Enagic" water ioninzing machines and useless "training". "They" are going to "discover their true passions in life" probably aren't promoting fake "training" for the "business opportunity" to sell useless water ionizing machines.
"You see, we know that success is a science.  It's a proven, duplicatable process.  Travis Fox, one of our founding partners, has perfected the use of "Subconscious Autocoding™" to help people improve their lives in a variety of areas such as competitive athletics, weight-loss, addictions, phobias, sales, business and more."
 "Success is a science" is a partially stolen quote from Oscar Wilde. "The Ace Initiative" is a plagiarized idea from "Global Affiliate Zone". "Duplicatable process" is a plagiarized line from Amway. This Amway line is the fundamental flaw in the MLM scheme. The "duplication" refers to endless recruiting rather than the focus on selling a good or service, which ensures a large number of participants will not make money.

I'm not sure what "subconscious autocoding" is, but it sounds like brainwashing. According to this biography about Dr. Travis Fox, he could be qualified to help people with the conditions and mindsets listed above , but they do not qualify him to help with business. Travis Fox is not a doctor, has never been a doctor, has no accredited degrees in psychology or clinical hypnotherapy. Regardless of Travis Fox's background, these techniques do not help with MLM. This is where the line, between appropriate and inappropriate uses of psychology, gets blurred. There are very useful situations for hypnotherapy and subconscious programming, but it can also be extremely dangerous if it is used for inappropriate self-gain, such as with MLM. I'm not sure how Dr. Fox got involved with Brandon, but this seems to be a poor business decisions.
"He teaches clients to redefine and refine, to maximum optimization, their automatic processes, interrupt conscious negative thoughts and arrive at a higher degree of "output performance" on command."
This, again, sounds like brainwashing. This is not the way in which people should be using these treatments, and it is extremely dangerous as it can manipulate unsuspecting consumers into financial peril.  People should not need to be programmed for this type of endeavor, and a doctor, which Travis Fox isn't, should not use their expertise for financial gain.
"For the past 25 years, his methodologies were reserved for the elites: professional athletes in golf, football,  competitive fighting, high-net worth individuals and top corporations.
But now you can benefit from them as well." 
This "business opportunity" has nothing in common with the professions listed above. "The Ace Initiative" is trying to use false equivocation to say the training from Dr. Fox will somehow be relevant for selling water ionizing machines.
"Our ultimate vision is to empower our program alumni to build the businesses and lives of their dreams by leveraging our expertise, resources and vast business network."
This statement is both vague and convoluted. Since "The Ace Initiative" is a "business" designed to advertise "The Ace Initiative", and subsequently sell an "Enagic" water ioninzing machine, the only way to "build the business" is to use "The Ace Initiative" so you can get more people to "build the business". In other words, in order to "leverage" their "expertise, resources and vast business network" to "build your business", you must promote "The Ace Initiative". This circular logic is used to confuse and obfuscate the reality of the scam.
"We invite you to explore how we can serve you in effecting a radical, positive change in your life today and look forward to meeting you online in our mastermind community and in person at one of our 2 or 7 day live events throughout the world."
Translation: "The Ace Initiative" can't wait for you to sign-up and start promoting them on Facebook. They can't wait for you to start recruiting and getting people to watch their "webinar". They can't wait for you and the people you recruit to buy a useless "Enagic" water ionizing machine. They can't wait for you to spend your money so they can profit.

These quotes were taken from the front page of their website, which I'm not going to link since I don't promote scams, and none of it has anything to do with what "The Ace Initiative" is or what they promote. If I did not translate a lot of the vague and misleading jargon, people would not have a clue as to what this "program" is, how much it will cost, or how a person makes money. These details are consistently avoided by Brandon, and the rest of MLMers, because they want the opportunity to brainwash their recruits before explaining the terrible "opportunity". MLMers, like Brandon, want to focus on hype and misleading testimonials rather than the actual "opportunity", because the "opportunity" is not something to be excited about.

"The Ace Initiative", exactly like "Global Affiliate Zone" (The scam that taught Brandon), and "Team Phoenix Marketing (Brandon's first attempt at running the scam), is designed as a second layer to the MLM scam. This concept was started in Amway with organizations known as "Line of Sponsorhip" (LOS). Instead of signing up for Amway directly, a recruit has to sign up for this secondary organization and purchase their "tools", for the "opportunity" to purchase Amway products. "The Ace Initiative" has the exact same relationship with "Enagic". Instead of signing up as an "Enagic" distributor, a recruit is signing up for the "The Ace Initiative" and paying for their "tools" to help market "Enagic". They have made it even more convoluted by placing "Enagic" on the back burner and treating it as an auxiliary purchase for the "opportunity", but the concept remains the same. "The Ace Initiative" is a separate cost that offers nothing of material value for the "opportunity" to earn commissions by recruiting people into "Enagic".

*UPDATE*

This section is going to be regularly updated with comments from "The Ace Initiative" members.

"Kate Mueller" says:
"I am glad I joined The ACE Initiative because it’s nothing like you describe it in your review.
I made my decision based on facts and personal experience with the system, the people who have created it and others who are part of our amazing community."
It's good to see Kate decided to read the review, address none of my points, and then blindly continue on her merry way. It seems the programming is quite strong.

Here is a comment from "Bryan Hodgson", one of the three founders and alleged "7-Figure Earner"
"2 things before moving forward with the allegations you have made against The Ace Initiative LLC:
1.) False statements of facts that harm the reputation of an individual or business, aren’t protected under constitutional free speech provisions..
You in which have done the following:
A.) Published or otherwise broadcast an unprivileged, false statement of fact about The Ace Initiative LLC.
B.) Caused material harm to The Ace Initiative LLC by publishing or broadcasting said false statements of fact.
C.) Acted Negligently or with Actual Malice.
2.) We the founders of The Ace Initiative LLC. Will allow 24 hours to have the following blog post
(http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.mx/2018/04/mlm-and-ace-initiativebrandon-odom-part.html?m=1)
To be take down otherwise further legal action will be taken against both Geoff Rey as well as Themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com and all entities subject to this matter.
If said request isn’t met the following conversation will be communicated from and only from the attorney’s who represent The Ace Initiative LLC."
There are lots of issues with this threat, but I would first like to thank Mr. Hodgson for taking the time to be very creative in his attempt to scare me. If I were an amateur, I may actually consider this a very credible threat.

Here are some glaring issues with his comment.

1. Starting a sentence with the number "2", instead of spelling it out, makes the comment look far less professional. It is clear this was hastily put together.


2. The first sentence doesn't make sense. Why would you move forward with my allegations? Shouldn't you be moving forward with your own allegations?

3. Which alleged statements were false? I'll be more than happy to correct the record.

4. Letter "A.)" is the exact same as "1.)"

5. What is "Material Harm"?

6. Good luck proving "C.)".

7. It's probably not smart to take legal action against an alias. Good luck finding "Geoff Rey".

8. Why wouldn't you have your attorneys contact me first? It doesn't make sense to make this kind of threat, unless you don't actually have attorneys.

Again, I have to give Mr. Hodgson credit for his creativity, but he is going to have to do a lot better than this. I'm sorry to burst your bubble Mr. Hodgson, but the blog post will remain where it is.

A comment from "Michael Coble":
"Hey Geoff, The things you are sharing are inappropriate and should not be on Facebook. Please take them down. I’m a humble school teacher with a wife with fibromyalgia who the product line does wonders for. I don’t know why on earth you would go out of your way to slander our online endeavors. I get being upset if someone wasn’t up front with you but We personally are 100% upfront about all costs and investment with everyone we speak to. I’ve never had a conversation with you and you leave a 1* review full of spite on my fan page? Please remove it."
Ah, the old feel pity for me line. I don't care if you are a "humble school teacher" or a murderous gang member, you are perpetrating a fraud and you should be ashamed. I feel terrible that you have a position of influence over others, and hopefully those people do not fall prey to any of your schemes.

I'm also fairly certain you can't make the claim that these machines help with fibromyalgia. That is a violation of the FTC's rules and regulations about distributors making health claims.

Hopefully you aren't an English teacher, because nothing I have written would be considered slanderous. The correct term you are looking for is libel, which I also have not done.

 I don't need to have a conversation with a fraudster like you. You MLMers are all the same.

I had a conversation with "Dr." Travis Fox, which overall was very pleasant. However, he is a seasoned snake-oil salesman, and he has learned it is better to keep things as pleasant as possible. Here is one comment that proved he isn't as pure as he may seem.
"The product itself help with autistic son who refused the drunk water regardless of “Filter” prior use."
This is also a violation of the FTC's rules and regulations about distributors making health claims about their MLM product. This is one of the most dubious lines MLMers regularly make. Not only is there no science to support these claims, but they have a financial incentive to sell the product and they have no shame when it comes to weaponizing their children. Even if we take the premise that this machine worked for helping with autism, the fact remains that MLM is the worst possible method for selling the product, and they are trying to profit by appealing to the emotions of those that are sympathetic to the MLMers plight.

Any time an MLMer decides to weaponize the sick for their own self-gain, there should be an immediate red flag raised. The ulterior motives of these MLMers outweigh their concern for the sickly.
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Sources:

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/selling-work-home-or-other-business-opportunity-revised-rule

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing

https://www.allamericanspeakers.com/celebritytalentbios/Dr.+Travis+Fox/6051

http://fakedoctorate.blogspot.com/2017/11/reader-feedback-on-travis-fox.html

http://fakedoctorate.blogspot.com/2013/04/attorney-for-travis-fox-speaks-out.html

http://fakedoctorate.blogspot.com/2012/11/travis-fox-fake-doctorate.html
Our ultimate vision is to empower our program alumni to build the businesses and lives of their dreams by leveraging our expertise, resources and vast business network


Thursday, April 5, 2018

MLM and Digital Genius Lab

Today's blog post is about a "new" scam called "Digital Genius Lab". This post may look eerily familiar to a previous post about "Team Phoenix Marketing", and their leader Brandon Odom, especially since some of the members are the same. The new leaders of this group are the "Original Power Couple", Sean Malone and his wife Melissa, as well as Chris Baden. Together, these three have created a platform called "Digital Genius Lab", which is designed to do "90% of the work" when starting your "Affiliate Marketing" business. Let me be clear, this isn't real affiliate marketing, which you can learn about here, but rather a clever ruse to get people to purchase monthly training to advertise their MLM product. These hucksters, similar to Brandon, all seemed to have started from a group called "Global Affiliate Zone" (GAZ), and have splintered into separate factions to try and create their own method for selling training and water ionizing machines. They have learned, due to their vast time in "GAZ" and other MLMs, that the money is not made by selling the MLM product, but rather coming up with a clever way to get people to want to join.

"Digital Genius Lab" seems to have risen from the ashes of "Team Phoenix Marketing", which apparently has dissipated, and has transferred some of the members to the new scam. One of the members, Ashley Krooks, is the person that originally tried to get me into "Team Phoenix Marketing", and has now become a high-ranking member of the new scam. Not only is Ashley featured in their introductory "webinar", but she has now become a "mentor". I was originally introduced to "Digital Genius Lab" through Ashley's website, which conveniently didn't change at all from her "Team Phoenix Marketing" website, and was immediately signed up for the free "webinar" and an e-mail list.

The e-mails are nearly identical to Brandon's, which spam messages as often as three times a day, and are addressed from a pseudonym "Genie", who is the wife of "Digit". These two people of mystery, that are allegedly not the "original power couple", have one sole purpose, get people to click on the "webinar" link. They use anecdotal stories, emoji's, and buzz words, such as "dreams", "9-5", "Rat race", "become your own boss", yet fail to disclose what the actual "business opportunity" is or how people will become successful. The e-mails are very similar to a robot voice calling your phone. They are written into an automated e-mailing system and eventually will repeat themselves if you stay on the e-mail list long enough.

The introductory "webinar" is also nearly identical to the "Team Phoenix Marketing" "webinar". It is an hour long video that talks about dreams, Sean Malone's struggles, how this allegedly is not another MLM, some nonsense about being involved with a non-profit in Africa, how their program is "90%" complete (same number as "Team Phoenix Marketing"), the $99.00 per month cost for their "training" (Also the same number as "Team Phoenix Marketing"), and some anecdotal rags to riches stories from some of their highest ranking members. Once again, much like the "Team Phoenix Marketing" "webinar", this "webinar" did not detail how the program was going to make you money, what the "big ticket item" is (Same terminology as "Team Phoenix Marketing"), or the role a new prospect was recruited to do. That hidden knowledge was only available after you pay the $99.00 fee.

Interestingly, reviews for "Digital Genius Lab" are already popping up online, and they are much more accurate than anything I had read from other "Team Phoenix Marketing" reviews. I'm not sure why "Team Phoenix Marketing" was able to fly under the radar, but I'm glad to see people are already investigating this fraud, which can be deemed a third generation attempt to hawk "Enagic" water ionizing machines. In fact one reviewer, Jack Cao, actually signed up for the service and went through the process of becoming a "Digital Genius Lab" member. His detailed review expressly shows the two levels of the fraud ("Digital Genius Lab" and "Enagic"), and how they use deceit to lure unsuspecting consumers into an unwanted and very expensive purchase.

"Digital Genius Lab", much like "Team Phoenix Marketing", much like "Global Affiliate Zone", are all copycat scams involving fake training and the purchase of an overpriced and unscientific water ionizing machine from "Enagic". Not only are these programs unoriginal versions of the tools scams from MLMs like "Amway", but "Enagic" is also an unoriginal version of an MLM like "Amway". These amateur charlatans are using the lessons they learned from original frauds to create new frauds with different methods of chicanery. Instead of using lecture halls, they are using YouTube. Instead of recruiting in person at Starbucks, they are using Facebook advertisements. One of the most prolific fraudster's, Robert Kiyosaki, wrote a book titled, "Businesses of the 21st Century", which couldn't be a more apt way to describe these versions of the MLM fraud.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sources:

https://barenakedscam.com/digital-genius-lab-review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

MLM and Identity Politics (Argumentum Ad Hominem)

Today's blog post is about the use of group identity to determine the efficacy of a claim. All too often people are being discredited because they have not experienced being in a particular group, and therefore can not speak about the group's trials and tribulations. In America, identity politics is at a fevered pitch and is being used as a weapon to defend ludicrous assertions. An example would be the current movement to abolish the Second Amendment because of a school shooting that happened in Florida. The group's premise is to solely blame guns for the shooting and ignore the other facts, such as the failure of the cops to stop this person at the scene, the failure of the cops to stop this person after more than forty visits to the person's house, and the failure of the FBI after they were informed about this person over a month in advance. Then the group will use their identity, as school shooting survivors, to defend their position against the Second Amendment and assert that their identity is what gives their position credibility. This logic is not only wrong, but dangerous as the group can attempt to discredit experts and statistics by simply stating they aren't part of the group.

Now, this isn't meant to suggest groups cannot have a correct assertion based on their identity, but rather they need to substantiate that assertion with something other than identity. If a small group of people from a particular ethnic background suggest that someone is racist, then they must provide evidence to support this claim. If the group's only argument for the claim is, they are all of a particular ethnic background, then that is not sufficient for determining whether or not the person is racist. However, if the group is able to provide evidence, such as all of them were denied service because of their background, then they can make the claim that the person is racist.

MLMs use a form of this tactic regularly to undermine the critical arguments of others about their "business". This type of red herring is referred to as an ad hominem attack, because they are choosing to attack the source rather than the claim. An example of an MLMer using their identity as a way to defend their position would be, "That person has never been in an MLM". This suggests that no amount of research or logic can validate a particular position against MLM because the critic hasn't been a part of the group. This type of reasoning is flawed because the person may hold that position based on research and information they have gathered from former MLMers, and experience with MLM does not solely determine the ability to understand MLM.

MLMers use these types of tactics because the research reflects very poorly on their "business opportunity". Any opportunity to distract from the statistics and analyses of MLM will be taken, because there is no honest way to defend the outrageous losses of MLM victims. Simply stating a person's position or claim is invalid because they aren't part of a group is not sufficient. Yet, MLMers successfully use this tactic because there is a lack of skepticism.

Here are some of the other ways in which MLMs use their identity to defend their position:

"That person has never owned their own business before." Funny, because an MLMer also doesn't own their business.

"That person has never invested in anything before." Also funny, because "investing" in MLM means buying products at retail.

"That person doesn't have the same mindset as a business owner". Interesting, an MLMer still has to listen to a boss, they just call them "upline".

Monday, March 26, 2018

MLM and Style Over Substance Fallacy

Today's blog post is about confidence people utilizing their superficial appearance to portray themselves as a credible source. The way in which people dress is the most effective method for creating a version of themselves they want others to see. This technique is specifically designed to disarm potential skepticism by appearing to be a point of authority. MLMers regularly transform themselves by wearing a specific garb people associate with success, which helps them pitch their "business opportunity" more successfully. They will also insist that other MLMers dress in formal attire at meetings and seminars, because the illusion of success must be flawless in order to attract new members.

MLMers regularly use gimmicks, such as videos of mansions and super cars, to substantiate their appearance of success. These videos are not valuable for investing in the "business opportunity", since they do not have anything to do with the actual idea or how a person will make money. The focus on hype and results is designed to obfuscate the reality of the MLM, which is a near 100% failure rate, and to give people the illusion that this is something they can attain.

Another trick MLMers use is "love-bombing", which is designed to deceive potential investors into thinking the MLMers care about their well-being. Instead of explaining the "business opportunity", the MLMer will focus on specific emotional needs or wants of the potential recruit. They may listen to personal stories, use physical contact (such as hugs), or do a host of other activities that make the potential recruit feel special."Love-bombing", is a particularly effective red herring on younger individuals, especially since they will be the least skeptical of ulterior motives.

The most important part of investing is the idea, not the way in which the idea is presented. Sure, it helps to look a certain way, have a certain amount of energy and passion, and be well-spoken, but if your idea is bad, then no savvy investor will care. Television shows, such as "Shark Tank" and "Dragons' Den", are fantastic references for showing how to handle opportunities that are presented from convincing actors.

Here is a video from "Dragons' Den" in which a person tries to pitch "Lyoness":

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MLM and the Argumentum Ad Populum Fallacy

Today's blog post pertains to a common fallacy which uses popularity to determine efficacy. This tactic is commonly used as an emotional appeal instead of a logical deduction, and the idea is to obfuscate reality by suggesting a large group of people can't all be wrong. However, throughout history we have seen large groups of people are routinely wrong, and some examples involve, slave owners in the United States, Nazi's in Germany, Fascists in Italy, Islamic State in Syria and Libya, and many many others. I had previously written about the mob mentality, and how it can make people inherit certain behaviors they would deem unsavory, therefore it doesn't make sense that a large group would determine something to be authentic. If anything, a large group of people can spiral and become less good as it grows, take the government as an example. The idea that a large group of people can prove something to be legitimate is flawed, and yet this fallacy continues to be used by MLM apologists. 

One of the biggest issues with this logic is the subjectivity of determining when a group is big enough to be considered authentic. There aren't any parameters for this logic, therefore a large group to one person may be a small group to another person. The news is a great example of the inconsistency in labeling big groups and small groups. One example would be the Las Vegas shooting versus the Florida massacre. If someone were to judge these two by their identifying titles, then they would think the Florida massacre was considerably larger than the Las Vegas shooting. The actual numbers are quite different, and by a wide margin. The Florida massacre left seventeen dead and fourteen injured versus Vegas which left fifty-eight dead and eight-hundred fifty-one injured, according to Google. Yet, Vegas was labeled as a shooting and Florida was a massacre. Now, there was some clear bias as Florida involved children at a school, which is a much more emotional topic than a concert being attacked, but objectively the labels should have been reversed.

The context in which the group is being labeled is also extremely important for determining whether or not the group would be considered small or large. Going back to the Florida massacre example, a group of 17 people killed is a large number, considering a mass shooting is labeled as four or more people being killed. According to this fallacy, it would be fair to say every group of 17 people or more would be considered large, yet we know this to be untrue. If 17 senators voted against a bill, then we would consider that group to be very small and an overwhelming majority, 83 senators would make the bill pass. Therefore, simply focusing on a number cannot hold any weight, since context must be defined.

A final issue with this logic is, what happens when a big group runs into a bigger group? What I mean by this is, let's say there are approximately eighteen million MLMers in the world, according to qurora, in 2015. That would be considered a big group, except the population of the world was seven billion, meaning less than .3% of the world's population was involved in MLM. Does that now mean that MLM is not a big group? To take this a step farther, let's say people say MLM is legitimate because eighteen million people were participating. Can we then say MLM is not legitimate because seven billion people didn't?

The idea or qualifying a group as large, and therefore assuming they have an absolute truth, should be a red flag. There should be better qualifying characteristics than a number, and the person pitching the MLM should be giving those qualifications instead of this fallacy. The idea that a certain number of people couldn't be wrong is asinine, and it perpetuates a mentality of blind obedience.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Here is my version of this quote as it relates to this article. I have a dream that people will judge a business opportunity based on its merits and not on fallacies and misinformation.

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Sources:

https://www.quora.com/How-many-MLM-network-marketing-distributors-are-there-in-the-U-S

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/14/us/florida-high-school-shooting/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Las_Vegas_shooting