Tuesday, October 31, 2017

MLM and "Team Phoenix" the Halloween Special, with a Scary Character Known as Brandon Odom

Today's blog post is about Brandon Odom, the creator of "Team Phoenix", and how he decided to join a MLM called "Enagic" and create a "new" way to recruit. His technique isn't actually new, but it is cleverly modified, and it does seem to be working. He is using the technique of providing a "system" in which "90%" of the work is already "completed", and all you have to do is post advertisements. Once you have posted an advertisement, simply lead the prospect to his videos and let him take care of the rest. The problem is, the way in which you make money is directly correlated to the dollars a new member spends on an Enagic machine, and you will not make any money if the prospects do not purchase this machine. There are no retail sales to outside consumers, there is no formal training about the product, aside from some goofy home made YouTube videos by current members with no formal experience in this field, and there is no control over how you want to run the "business". This, much like organizations such as "WWDB" for Amway, is another cheesy rendition of a "fool-proof system" that is designed to profit off of, rather than enrich the adherents.

Here is a link to his, "The Dream Life Blueprint":

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fteamphoenixmarketing.com%2Fthe-dream-life-blueprint&h=ATN90PejeyMxqJ010PxWQO_UcEmBNVDXaCixt8i5frfZ3UeDA1Zw-PEq5JeDUyyZJFm7hHI_q0Ftn-vY9693T-uMO30n1j-Q_QgIbodx4a8kCnFwuKWzyKCW-TISvDhX6woZjWAHhg&s=1&enc=AZNhYIdEzgA-gN2QtKbWkgb7iEIYr_2NWZM-wGciLzk-UHb1zbZR-IXQxRTLpLE4NzeKIxqWdzM3vEU98tOxkHfR.

Some key visual techniques he uses are, bigger than usual font,

lots of spacing to make the text easier to read,

bold text in random places, bold and yellow text for really "important" stuff or bold italicized words, emoji's, and pictures. All of these devices are used to create a personal connection to the reader. Because he can't personally use his voice and character, he uses these techniques to create the person he thinks you want him to be, and this is his way of manipulating the targets into trusting him.

He also chooses to use language that targets a younger age group, particularly those that have just gotten out of the military or college and are looking for their next step in life. He uses testimonials, with pictures of young folks, to help make the targeting more effective, as well as emojis and a very informal writing style. He knows, probably from many years of practice, that his target market, is going to be between the ages of 25-40, and predominantly people that are in a transition period in life.

Here is a  synopsis of this 24-page "blueprint":

Pages 1-4: This is the "introduction" (I use quotes because he doesn't actually tell you anything about the "business"), which is designed to create a persona in which a prospect can relate. He tells you a story about his life, which could be true or could be embellished. He talks about the "struggle" that every MLMer loves to mention and he doesn't hold back on trigger phrases such as, "Imagine waking up without an alarm clock", "in your brand new life", "a few thousand bucks", "you only started this venture 5 months ago but are already earning enough money to replace you're [sic] full-time income", "you're spending more time with family", "you're getting out of debt", "you've got piece [sic] of mind for retirement security", and many more. 

He also uses hyperbole to emphasize his success and dedication to creating his "system". He mentions his income is "over 6-figures", he claims he "lost over $100,000" originally, and he says he has helped people earn "millions of dollars" in commissions. This should be taken very lightly since the average MLMer makes around $2,400.00 a year, which includes the top .1% that make hudreds of thousands or millions, and most wouldn't have, or be willing to risk, "$100,000" on any investment. Also, "millions of dollars" in commissions is incredibly vague, especially since he doesn't say how many people it took to get to that number, and means virtually nothing. If it took a million people to get to two million in commissions, that would be a very bad opportunity. It is important to consider the potential spin created by statements like these.

Pages 5-9: This section is a bunch of testimonials from average looking young couples (oddly they are all white) and their success. The success they describe in these testimonials is NOT normal, and this section violates the FTC's rules about using misleading testimonials. Again, the average MLMer doesn't make anything close to the claims these people are making. On a side note, the person that originally tried to get me to join is one of the people giving a testimonial, Ashley Krooks (fitting name), and you can read about that experience in my previous "Team Phoenix" post (http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2017/05/mlm-and-team-phoenixa-new-con.html). Again, he bolds all of the monies that were claimed to be made by these people, as well as a few trigger phrases, yet he still hasn't told us what the "business" is, how we make money, or anything else that would be relevant to this subject.

Pages 10-15: This section finally begins his "blueprint" meaning the first 9 pages were completely irrelevant drivel. This particular section focuses on his first step, "Find the perfect 'high ticket' [sic] offer to promote". He emphasizes "high-ticket" (I don't understand why he puts that in quotes), because Enagic water machines are extremely expensive, and he is trying to create a logical reason for why people should spend thousands of dollars. He suggests that high-ticket items are better to sell because you don't need to sell to as many customers. His example about why high-ticket items are better is hilariously faulty, he suggests it is better to make $1,000 dollar commission on machines that cost over $4,000 (25%), than it is to sell something for $27.00 and make a $12.00 commission (44%). Percentages are what matter, and it is much more practical to sell something for $27.00 than over $4,000.00 to the public.

He then uses an Alinsky tactic by suggesting this isn't MLM. He says, "...you've probably looked into various ways of earning extra money from home before. Maybe you even got involved with a multi-level marketing (MLM) program." It isn't a coincidence that he only mentions MLM as a way of making money from home, because Enagic is a MLM, and his "Team Phoenix Marketing" is just a propaganda machine to help recruit people into the MLM. This lie, aside from being bizarre, is the ultimate betrayal of trust. He suggests this is something different from any other MLM, and yet it is exactly the same. He even brings up the "60% to 75% attrition rate for distributors in the first year", which he cleverly uses as a lie to act as though his "business" is something different. He actually takes a damning statistic and spins it to meet his need.

Finally, he goes into another bizarre example involving price and value. Here is his logic, "the price doesn't matter as long as the customer believes deep down they are getting more value than the money they're paying. In other words, as long as you can deceive the person into believing they are getting something of tremendous value, then you can charge them whatever you want. This is one of his most honest lines, and it shows his delusional thought process. Value determines price, period. If something has more value, then the price will get higher. Because the Enagic machine has no value, because it doesn't work, you have to make the person "believe" they are getting a great value. This the logic every snake-oil salesperson uses.

He still hasn't told us the product is Enagic, but he has tried to get us to enroll in his "webinar", which will hopefully be more informational.

Pages 15-17: This section focuses on "Step #2: Create an 'Automatic' Sales Process" (again I'm not sure why he puts automatic in quotes)

First he says, "Your customers need to know, like and trust you in order for them to buy from you." This is the heart of the deceit. The product isn't relevant, and instead it is all about creating the relationship. This is important, because the product he is trying to sell doesn't actually have any value. Therefore, the only way to sell this product is to get "customers" to "know, like and trust" the snake-oil salesman. 

Next he talks about his "sales funnel". Once a person signs up for his webinar, or enters an e-mail address, it is game on. You will be subjected to repeat e-mails, daily, and invitations to continuously join his "webinar". This can be automated, meaning you can have an e-mail saved to a program, and then it will shoot it out to anyone that gives their information, and it won't stop until they unsubscribe. I previously signed up for his e-mail, and received at least 3 e-mails a day, every day, and didn't get any repeat e-mails for a week. He has put a lot of time into these automated e-mails, and the e-mails, much like this "blueprint", contain nothing about the product and focus solely on trigger phrases and emotional garbage.

At the end of this section he says, "**Special Bonus: When you work with me and my team we close sales on your behalf! Watch until the end to learn more**". Again, all he wants you to do is create advertisements for him, and he never wants you to mention his product "Enagic".

He also inserts another link to watch his "Webinar".

Pages 17-21: This section focuses on, "Step #3: Find People That Will Become Customers AKA 'Targeted Traffic'".

This section will focus on creating Facebook advertisements. This is niche version of creating a "system" that will help generate "sales" to "customers". The problem is, the "system" is already saturated with the people from the testimonials section, the sales are simply disguised pay-to-play fees, and the customers are only members of the organization.

His opening paragraph has this line, "Products and services don't sell themselves. People are the ones that give value to other people in exchange for money." This is some seriously spun nonsense. Products sell themselves all the time with catchy labels, nice looking bottles, preferred shelf space, and most importantly, the ability to work. People are necessary to promote a product, and create attention toward the product, but all of that is irrelevant if the product is garbage. I don't care how good a sales person is, if they are selling bovine excrement, then they will not get sales (supposing they aren't using deceit).

He then says, "I can show you not only how to profitably get offers in front of a lot of people on social media but how to get them in front of right people that will buy!"

This, much like the rest of this, is incredibly spun to sound significant. He is only offering to help create targeted ads on Facebook, and this is something Facebook and its development team has painstakingly worked on to make as easy as possible. He doesn't have some special hidden knowledge, much like a cult leader, and this doesn't guarantee any of the successes listed in the above testimonials. In fact, since those others have already saturated the market with their advertisements, chances are strong your advertisements will not be nearly as successful.

He then uses his other "business", "Batchata Addiction", as an advertisement sample, but it is really just an extra promotion for himself. He doesn't actually talk about the process of creating a Facebook advertisement. The advertisement he posted was also a resounding failure, from a business perspective, as he spent over double on advertising compared to the typical marketing budget.

Finally, he uses more trigger phrases such as, "I've spent tens of thousands of dollars just on Facebook ads alone (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from them)." I'll call BS on that one, and you have now created a way to get people to pay you to spend money on Facebook advertisements instead of yourself AND they are paying you to do it. Another trigger phrase, "earn over $4,000 a month in commissions from my own high-ticket sales, how I'm earning residual (passive) income at the same time." Again, I'll call BS, and it isn't "passive" or "residual" if you have to keep promoting it constantly, spend lots of money, and constantly host "webinars". That is the opposite of passive.

He wraps this section by adding another link to his webinar, and still hasn't talked about "Enagic".

Pages 21-24: This section, commonly referred to in sales as "the offer".

This section also never refers to the actual "business opportunity" (Enagic), and is only designed as a sales pitch for his own "teaching".

He starts with a meaningless recapitulation of the three steps, and then talks about the cost of his program. He says, "We planned on pricing our community membership at $499 initially. That's a killer deal for everything you get with it (more on that in a sec) but we wanted to help as many people as possible get started with their own online business so we tossed that out the window."

Lots of stuff going on in this section. First, that "$499" is a ridiculous number and should be laughed at. Second, anyone that follows up a ridiculous number with "that's a killer deal", should really be laughed at. Third, why bold "help as many people as possible"? That's not the most important part of this statement, and this language is code for extract as much money from people as possible (obviously people aren't willing to pay $499 for some random guy's "training).

Brandon then says, "It's only $99 dollars to get started and its 100% Risk-Free." 

Again, lots to unpack here. First, how many different attention grabbing devices does he need for this sentence? There might as well have been a loud siren coming out of the speakers at the same time. This looks like someone just hit the lottery. Second, how did he just chop the price down 75%? This sales tactic is known as "price anchoring", and it has become a rampant problem in most retail settings. Anything can be marked down 75% as long as the starting price is high enough, and the idea of that large savings is enticing enough to fool lots of people into paying the real retail cost. Third, and most importantly, any time someone says, "guarantee", "risk-free", "fool-proof", or any of these other disarming phrases, you must be MORE armed. These phrases are not needed if something is legitimate, and are only used to manipulate people when things aren't legitimate. Again, if someone uses a term like "100% Risk-Free" (which is redundant), you should be running in the other direction.

As if this doesn't get worse, he then says,

"Pretty sweet deal huh?"

"So...what's the catch?"

"There is NO catch."

This is as bad as it gets. The visual attention grabbing devices are over utilized. The self-contained conversation is bizarre. The the reiteration of a non-risk "opportunity" screams the opposite. This is the cheesiest and most awful sales tactics a person could use.

He gets into his return policy, which he very generously cuts in half from the usual 30 days. He says, "We're going to give you complete access to our entire training suite, marketing system and community for a FULL 14 days to decide if our program is for you. That is your 'due diligence' period." The fact that he is calling this a "due diligence" period is ridiculous. 14 days (not sure why he chose that number) is not enough time to verify whether this program is effective, unless you already know its junk.

Finally, he talks again about the price only this time it has become a monthly subscription. He says, "we only charge $99 (USD) per month for you to maintain an active subscription and get full access to everything we provide." Wait, a second. Didn't he just say this was a $499.00 program that became a $99.00 program, yet now it could be as high as $1,188.00 a year and continue to charge? This is beyond ridiculous. The idea that you would have to maintain a subscription for a one-time teaching about Facebook ads is criminal, and he is preying on people that are extremely vulnerable.

Brandon Odom, if you are reading this, I have reported you and your garbage to the FTC, and I want you to know that your days are numbered. This type of exploitative and manipulative garbage is not acceptable and should not be ignored. You are a burden and a parasite on society.

***UPDATE***

I will be adding comments from Brandon Odom's apologists to this post. These people are important to acknowledge because they reflect cult-like manipulation Brandon has used on them.

Here is the a comment from "Michael Caldwell" on 10/31/17:

Wow, that was quite the read. And absolutely missed the mark entirely. So much time and effort spent to try and tear down something that has helped so many. You can report Brandon Odom and Team Phoenix all you want. You can scream from the highest mountain that we are all scammers and this is all bullshit. And you will still be wrong.
 

The system literally is only $99/month to start up. Should you like the business opportunity Enagic presents then you make a purchase of YOUR CHOICE and get started. There is ZERO catch. Dont like it? Cancel for a refund. It couldnt be any simpler than that. 

This community is full of some of the most incredible people ive ever had the pleasure of meeting. Enagics products are INCREDIBLE, and Enagic itself is beyond reproach. Go ahead, report them to. Im sure that will affect their A+ standing with the BBB. 

If you focused this energy into self improvement and working towards a future of your design you would be absolutely blown away with the results. 

Thanks for the flame on my post, ill use push myself even harder to prove every single piece of hatred and doubt in that post wrong. 

Thank you Brandon for all youve done.

Important points to focus on in this comment,

The $99.00 a month has nothing to do with Enagic. That fee is for the "Team Phoenix Marketing" program. There is no requirement to be in "Team Phoenix Marketing" if you want to be an Enagic distributor. This is the same type of scam program World Wide Dream Builders is to Amway. Michael Caldwell has attempted to conflate the two.

Enagic's products are not "INCREDIBLE", in fact they don't work at all. Lazy Man does an excellent job investigating Enagic here, http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/kangen-water-scam/

The BBB is not a credible reference for MLM legitimacy. You should look to the FTC for this.

Here is a comment from "Derk Hagglund" on 10/31/17




Shit works bro, have fun at your 9-5 Why post a picture of someone else, and since when did some goofy giant check mean anything? As many of us have learned, it isn't impossible to be successful in MLM, but the success comes from the losses of many. Another person that presumes I am in a "9-5" because I don't do MLM. Interesting trend.

34 comments:

  1. Is it "John Doe" or "Geoff Rey"? I'm not sure why you seem to be obsessed with me. I'm not even angry over all the erroneous claims in this little hit piece of yours. I just feel sorry for you. You're probably hurting a lot inside. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brandon --

      Interesting short response. You seem so long-winded in the rest of your e-mails and propaganda pieces, and yet you have almost nothing to say for yourself here. This is surprising.

      Brandon said, "Is it "John Doe" or "Geoff Rey"?"

      Both people are one and the same.

      Brandon said, "I'm not sure why you seem to be obsessed with me."

      That's a pathetic ad hominem. Why not actually address the points I made, or preferably, shut down your ridiculous "business".

      If you really want to know. A deeper review of you was requested by a regular viewer of the blog.

      Brandon said, "I'm not even angry over all the erroneous claims in this little hit piece of yours."

      I couldn't care less about your feelings, but I wouldn't expect you to feel anything since you have a very high narcissism level.

      Brandon said, "I just feel sorry for you."

      No need.

      Brandon said, "You're probably hurting a lot inside."

      More lame ad hominems. Just address the content written.

      Brandon said, "Take care."

      Translation: "Oh piss off." Remember that one Brandon? Before you blocked me?

      Delete
    2. John - Perhaps the greatest irony in all of this, is the fact that all these arrogant (and predictable) little crooks (like Brandon Odom) have stolen the underlying modus operandi for their 'MLM' cultic rackets from established 'MLM' racketeers (like the bosses of the 'Herbalife' and 'Amway' mobs), but these much bigger crooks have never been able to lay legal claim to the pernicious 'MLM' controlling narrative, because that would entail them confessing.

      Once you understand this, the common-sense approach for legislators to have tackled the 'MLM' cultic racketeering phenomenon, would have been for them to have carefully formulated, and made public, its underlying modus operandi. Thus, laying legal claim to it.

      At the moment, one of the most effective, and dangerous, criminogenic systems ever conceived for ensnaring, and exploiting, vulnerable human beings en-mass, remains the intellectual property of no one.

      Delete
    3. David --

      I'm sure the bigger "'MLM' racketeers" have tried to lay claim to their criminal design but were convinced otherwise by their high-powered law teams. These people take personal anguish in seeing others profit from their handy-work, especially if they aren't getting a cut of the profits.

      That's an interesting point about not having any intellectual property. I could actually copy and paste his "blueprint" verbatim, attach "from the desk of John Doe", and start my own racket. I don't think he could do anything about it without self-implosion.

      I'll keep you updated on any news I receive from the FTC about this nut job.

      Delete
    4. Thanks John - This is a fascinating area.

      I've recently been involved in a private discussion about where, and when, the reality-inverting jargon term, 'Multi-Level Marketing,' was coined.

      As far as I'm aware, no one has ever actually laid claim to the first use of the term, but very specifically the 'Amway' mob has merely insisted that Carl F. Rehnborg 'created the first real MLM scheme in 1945.'

      I was once told by a retired FDA attorney, that Rehnborg first described his scheme only as 'a new business model,' and that 'MLM' only began to appear in print in either the late 1940s or early 1950s in 'Nutrilite News' (a propaganda magazine owned by Rehnborg).

      Today the term, 'MLM,' is repeated ad infinitum (without irony or qualification) even by regulators, journalists, academics, short sellers, etc. Yet, if you look through the old prosecution documents relating to front-companies like 'Nutrilite, Mytinger & Casselberry, Amway, etc.,' US government attorneys initially avoided repeating the term 'MLM,' because they seemed to have realised that it was BS invented by charlatans.

      Delete
    5. David --

      I have found these terms to be popping up as "new versions" of this scheme continue to appear. A lot of the "financial gurus" that come along have large enough egos they believe they are actually creating something new, therefore they must have a new term.

      My favorite example is Eric Worre and his BS "Network Marketing" term. While I haven't found definitive proof that the term was actually coined by him, he has used it so much, and has made himself a self-proclaimed "pro", that I dubbed him the creator. In fact, this is why I started to investigate Zahner.

      Tyson Zahner was making videos about Amway and other major MLM scams while using the MLM term. Later, he changed his terminology to Network Marketing, which I can only assume was due to the "rising popularity" thanks to Worre, and he changed his YouTube name from "Tyson Zahner" to "NetworkMarketingSuccess". Then Tyson did, what all "financial gurus" do, and started his own ridiculous term "attraction marketing". To date, there hasn't been any justifiable difference between "attraction marketing" and "MLM", yet these people act as though it is something from a different stratosphere.

      Once these new terms are coined, as you mentioned, they are repeated ad infinitum, and similarly to "The big lie" strategy. As long as they continue to be repeated, whether they have meaning or not, they will start to gain traction. It is incredibly frustrating, as an anti-MLM blogger, to see these terms continue to pop up, because it is the same type of thought-stopping jargon that has been around for decades, and it continues to work.

      Delete
    6. Always check the domain registration; teamphoenixmarketing.com was registered June 12, 2016. 18 months...

      Kind of a short period of time to work up to six figures, as well as helping others earn "millions of dollars in commissions".

      Just a few minutes time and it's so easy to cut through the crap and see the lies.

      Here's a list of euphemisms that I have seen used for product-based pyramid schemes:

      MLM, Relationship Marketing, Referral Marketing, Inline Marketing, Dual Marketing, Consumer Direct Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Seller Assisted Marketing, Home-based Business Franchising...

      If you know of more, please post them; I will add them and keep a running list.

      Delete
    7. Pinkvictim --

      Thank you for looking up the registration date. I just taught myself how to do it, and will include that in the future. I may make a follow-up post about the weird, "Income Disclosure", and "Terms" pages they have at the bottom of their page.

      It is a short duration, but these schemes hit hard and fast. I have seen a couple of their advertisements on Facebook, and they are extremely effective. I saw at least 1200 people comment on one advertisement asking for "info", and assuming they can get a typical 2% conversion, that's 24 people purchasing $4,000.00 machines. That would be at total revenue of $96,000.00 and according to Brandon's "Blueprint", that would be $24,000.00 in commissions. That is only one advertisement that probably didn't run longer than a month. Assuming that is a stable trajectory (which we both know it's not), $24,000 over 18 months would be $432,000.00, and if everyone in that testimonial section was able to do it, 10 people total, then they would have accrued over $4 million dollars in commissions. Sadly, it is technically possible for these people to have achieved those heinous numbers, but I agree it is highly unlikely.

      Some other terms I have heard are: Circular Marketing, Attraction Marketing, and Network Marketing. Be careful naming affiliate marketing, that is actually a legal form of marketing that blue chip companies use. The problem is, MLMs started to try to take that term and misuse it, but real affiliate marketing is something viable.

      My interpretation of affiliate marketing is, you start a website that looks a lot like the main company's website, and as long as people buy a product by going through your website's portal, then you earn a commission based on dollars spent. This is a very reasonable premise, and is advantageous to both the affiliate marketer and the parent company. You can go to any major company's website and see a link at the bottom which goes into details about becoming an affiliate.

      Delete
    8. "Circular" marketing... heh. Think about that: We are all marketing in a circle, to each other, no one from the outside... Even the names allude to violations of the FTC guidelines.

      I didn't list it because "network" marketing is a given. LOL

      Sure affiliate marketing is legit, but as you point out, MLM'ers try to hide their scams behind a bunch of legitimate sounding gobbledygook. I only include it because that's the moniker that some product-based pyramids try to hide behind.

      Delete
    9. pinkvictim --

      I like your interpretation of "Circular" marketing. The way I heard it was actually a little different and not nearly as deep. In the Amway meetings, they would draw circles on a board, and that would be considered "ciruclar marketing". Again, not as deep as your interpretation, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had a double meaning.

      It's really frustrating when MLMers use legitimate terms, such as "affiliate" and "direct sales", to hide the MLM name. That should be something in which they can be held accountable, but it is probably the least damaging thing we talk about. Much like the rest of the MLM story, I would be shocked if someone came out and said, "Hey, I'm an affiliate marketer, and I don't want to be associated with that scum".

      Delete
    10. I forgot to add that I use npros.com for a fair amount of research on the people behind the scams. It helps to connect the dots and show how the top cons often founders, or are invited to join in the founding of, their own cons.

      As an example, it's how I traced Rick Gutman and Dallin Larsen and their scummy dealings.

      Give it a try next time you're doing some research.

      Delete
    11. John and pinkvictim - you are right at the heart of the matter here - and I love your common-sense approach.

      When members of my family were under the influence of the 'Amway' racketeers, and I was complaining like mad to complacent UK government regulators, I found that these officials were unable to give me a plain language explanation of what defines a pyramid scheme; so I sat down and worked out the following - and gave it to them.

      --------------------------------------------------

      The universal identifying characteristic of all pyramids scams, Ponzis schemes, money circulation games, chain-letter scams, pyramid selling scams, etc. (no matter how they are falsely presented by their instigators), is that, when rigorously investigated, they are revealed to have no significant, or sustainable, revenue other than their own losing participants (who are deceived into handing over their money in the false expectation of future reward).

      In order to sustain 'MLM' rackets, it has therefore been vital for the instigators to hide the quantifiable results of their so-called 'income opportunities' (i.e. effectively 100% overall loss/churn rates for participants).

      --------------------------------------------------

      Lately, 'MLM' racketeers have been allowed to re-label all their losing participants as 'customers' and 'members,' but even this liguistic dodge forms part of the overall pattern of ongoing major racketeering activity.

      About 20 years ago, I coined the term, 'dissimulated closed-market swindle' to describe the above criminal activity, but then I decided to alter this term to: 'dissimulated rigged-market swindle.'

      Delete
    12. David --

      All we can do is try to have some kind of discourse about the subject at this point. I fear, even though there is tons of research and information, that we are still at the beginning stages of stopping this madness. The more we talk about MLM, the closer we can get to stopping it.

      The term "end user" is ubiquitous among MLM rackets. It is a gigantic red flag when someone cannot properly separate customer from distributor, and the fact that these instigators are trying their hardest to morph the two, shows the dubious nature of their "opportunity". I have continuously tried to mention this point, because it directly violates the terms of the 1979 Amway vs. United States case. There should be at least 70% of sales to retail customers, and there must be at least 10 retail customers before a new recruit can be introduced to the "opportunity". By coining the term "end user" they have obfuscated the reality in which these two rules continue to be violated by every MLM.

      I can confirm this reality with my own person experience in which I was taught it is about teaching others to shop at "their store" instead of the grocery store. The focus was not to sell products from "our store" to retail customers. This deliberate language is used to deceive their recruits into joining a pyramid scheme, and it clearly violates the previous two rules.

      Delete
    13. John - The ultimate, arrogant (absurd) defence of 'MLM' racketeering is:

      --------------------------------------------------

      Read the word 'seller (distributor)' as, 'buyer (customer), stupid,' then fraud becomes legal.

      ---------------------------------------------------

      The 1979 ruling is/was quite remarkable in its failure to recognise publicly the unoriginal, and non-rational, nature of the economic pseudo-science popularly called, 'MLM.'

      The ruling was even more remarkable in its failure to recognise that 'MLM'-peddling organisations, like 'Amway,' can only be criminogenic and, therefore, they cannot be reformed.

      In 1979, via the application of common-sense, an absolute ban could have been placed on the instigation of any economically-unviable counterfeit 'direct selling scheme' which offered to pay commission to its contractees on the contractees' own 'purchases' and on the 'purchases' of all further contractees whom they recruit, etc. ad infinitum, because these 'purchases' would obviously be unlawful (rigged-market) commodity investment payments based on the false-expectation of a future reward.

      What has actually been peddled in 'MLM' rackets is the crack-pot theory that:

      Infinite recruitment + infinite payments by the recruits = infinite profits for the recruits.

      Delete
    14. Oh, he actually took the time to read it and post a comment. Talk about pathetic.

      Delete
    15. Anonymous --

      Brandon Odom, much like the rest of these hoodlums, has a severe level of narcissism. His ego, much like Zahner, was clearly bruised. He is transparent, and his emotionally driven response shows he is wildly insecure.

      Delete
    16. David --

      That switch of terminology reminds me of the John Oliver piece against "Trump University". In the instruction manual, according to Oliver, he instructed his salespersons to never say "Thank you", but instead switch it to "Congratulations" completely altering their mental state. It was genius, and the way it made customers say thank you afterward was astonishing.

      I wasn't trying to suggest that the rules of the Amway 1979 verdict were adequate, but rather, that should give a platform for attacking MLM further since they cannot abide by those rules. If MLMs ever tried to follow the rules, then they would fail quite quickly because as you stated, "Infinite recruitment + infinite payments by the recruits = infinite profits for the recruits". Nowhere in that phrase is there anything to deal with actual sales or a focus on products.

      Delete
  2. Oh man, seeing this is amazing.

    Someone finally figured out what this guy was doing and exposed it. Thank you for doing this John.

    I still find it crazy how these guys seem to double back on themselves so much. They say they are not a “make money quick” scheme. Yet as pointed out, they have been up for only around a year and a half. Also noticed that it’s always the same guys on the webinars as well claiming they made money. The guy running this thing claims he was scammed himself, and is now running this.

    Catch terms used as well here, “direct sales”, “affiliate marketing” both of which are completely different to the MLM machine being run here.

    And the Enagic products not only are “snake oil on tap”. They aren’t even that competitive compared to other ionizers.

    Il hoping other bloggers, and websites take notice of this and start exposing what’s really happening behind the $99 paywall (I guess now $99/month).

    Anon who was almost duped by Team Phoenix.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous --

      Thank you for the comment! I would love to hear more of your inside scoop about their tactics, and what you actually get with that $99.00 a month fee.

      The, "I was scammed before and have learned" line is commonly used by charlatans. It is an attempt to convince others that they are one of the "good ones", and by seeing the evils of the "other ones", they have made something pure. You can see this technique used in politics all the time. It is also a common Alinsky tactic, you blame someone for the very thing you are doing, that way people don't look at you as a the bad person. For some reason that psychological technique works very well, and people continue to do utilize this strategy to further their agendas.

      Again, be careful using the term "affiliate marketing" in association with MLM. That is a tricky subject because there are legitimate practices with affiliate marketing. Unfortunately poseurs in MLM don't care if their version of the term is a lie, they will still claim it as their own.

      "Direct Sales" once referred to people that would go door-to-door selling soaps, vacuum cleaners, newspapers, and other household items. This term morphed, much like political parties, when early Amway members continued to use it, even though they weren't going door-to-door any more. It is an odd phenomenon, because they got away from this style of selling, and yet they used it to describe MLM and obfuscate the reality of their "business". In fact, there is an organization called the DSA (Direct Sellers Association), which used to resemble a group focused on promoting the door-to-door sales people, and yet now it exists as a group to promote MLM. The transformation happened silently, and it went from having a reasonable purpose to perpetuating a criminal fraud.

      I highly recommend you read Lazymanandmoney's article on Enagic and Kangen water. The science behind Kangen water is incredibly faulty, and to date, nobody has proven that alkaline water does anything productive. In fact, most of the tests have shown that your stomach is already acidic, therefore any ionized water will immediately be normalized. Also, the "micro cluster" nonsense has been thoroughly debunked. Unfortunately, alkaline water, much like vitamins and supplements, is in an unregulated market which the FDA continues to allow to exist. It is frustrating, but at the end of the day it brings in a lot of money.

      Hopefully there will be real change in the future. Maybe if the FTC takes a look into Odom and his friend's shenanigans, they may actually make an effort to go after Enagic as well.

      Delete
    2. I was that same person that commented back in August on the other article. I’m aware of Enagic’s shenanigans (and the articles debunking their claims). I brought those terms up because I know that’s false, the real terms are as you said. They do that because they don’t want people to think they are yet another MLM (which in fact they are).

      I just hope the FTC actuslly does something about this, they have been undermined so much by representatives that stand up for these companies.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous --

      It is too hard to tell what will happen. The best thing to do is keep trying and hope for success.

      Delete
  3. Speaking as someone who persistently complained about 'Amway/MLM,' and who actually sat face to face with a senior regulator (and his legal advisors) in the UK, I don't hold out much hope that US regulators will take swift action against the boss(es) of any isolated, counterfeit 'direct selling' company, unless they are forced to, by a deluge of well-informed complaints or by media pressure.

    The UK government allowed the 'Amway' racket to thrive in Britain for more than 30 years, before a small group of senior trade regulators made a half-hearted effort to close one of the counterfeit 'direct selling' companies fronting it. By that time, dozens of other 'MLM' rackets, fronted by 'Amway' copy-cat counterfeit 'direct selling' companies, had arrived.

    That said, I would still encourage people to complain to regulators and also to contact the media.

    Regulatory bodies have become like fire brigades sat playing cards in their fire stations whilst hundreds of false beacons, lit by heavily disguised wreckers, rage around them. When challenged, the fire chiefs' defence is that it's not their job to prevent the lighting of false beacons, they are only paid to try to put out dangerous fires (if they get called) and to advise members of the public about general fire safety.

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    Replies
    1. David --

      That's an interesting idea to get the media involved. I'm not sure if anyone takes local news seriously anymore in the U.S., but it definitely wouldn't hurt to try and get a report in the local Scottsdale news.

      My last response from the FTC was dismal. They sent me a link to their basic "How to avoid scams" page, and they closed the case. I'm not sure what they actually reviewed, if anything, because I didn't get any actual feedback. I'm sure it got filed away somewhere, and eventually if enough start to pile up they may take further action.

      I have come to the same realization about these agencies and their "danger scale". It seems like these agencies are too high up in the ivory tower to see the common crooks snatching purses below. As nice as it is that they pursue action against mega criminal organizations, such as Herbalife, the damage that groups like "Team Phoenix" does is exponentially higher when you put all of them together. It is also distressing to see Facebook embrace these money-making schemes. Facebook loves to censor controversial topics that don't support their narrative, but they don't care about scam advertisements lining their pockets. The Facebook service is becoming more of a disservice every day.

      Also, I popped on my account today and found ANOTHER new "Team Phoenix advertisement from an "Ashlin Olsen". She already had at least 130 people commenting on her post, which was nearly identical to the others, and had her posing standing outside of an Aston Martin. It would be comical if it wasn't so sickening, although most comics would put the two together for their routines anyway.

      Delete
    2. We are not the first, or the last, people to have placed our faith in our government's regulators to take action against the 'MLM' phenomenonon, only to learn the shameful reality.

      Delete
  4. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4118974-defense-mlm-politics-less-real-business

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    Replies
    1. David --

      That's a great article from Dean Keep. He has always had a great understanding of the MLM scheme, and his point about basic math involving 20 million distributors making 35 billion is fantastic. I hope he continues to write and continues to investigate this subject.

      Delete
  5. Great post, John! I think it helps to keep reporting these con-artists since I believe society will eventually catch up with us and the spotlight will be on these types of scams. As they continue to victimize people the anti-MLM movement will continue to grow.

    As far as "MLM" goes, it can be really difficult defeating these terms of obfuscation like "multi-level marketing" because as soon as one is abandoned, there 10 more new terms to take its place, as you have already pointed out. Similarly, the FTC could shut down one of the big pyramid schemes and 100 will take its place.

    It's similar to all the euphemistic names street drugs go under; each town often has a different name for heroin, sometimes certain dealers will have their own unique brand name. Arguably a better analogy is the term of obfuscation "alternative medicine" instead of quackery.

    No one wants to buy quackery, but they're okay with "alternative medicine". No one wants to join a pyramid scheme, but they will gladly join a network marketing/MLM/direct selling company.

    Oh and most MLMs may be scams some will admit, but they are doing one of the few good ones. I always feel like punching a wall whenever I hear that one.

    As an aside, what's with all the network marketers and con-artists with the name "Brandon"? I keep running into them. It's not a very common name, but it seems like it's common among con-artists. While it may be more common among African-Americans, the crooks I'm always running into are white. Probably meaningless, may be confirmation bias.

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. Anonymous --

      Sorry for the late response. This post is one of my most popular and somehow this comment slipped past me.

      I believe you are right about the anti-MLM movement growing. People don't like to be deceived, but more importantly, people usually don't want others to fall into the same traps.

      David Brear has addressed the issue of this being similar to a hydra (cut out one MLM and two more grow back). The best way to attack MLM is through the racketeering statutes. It was the only way in which the mob was thoroughly attacked and ultimately decimated. Whatever is left of the mob is a parasite compared to what it used to be.

      Obfuscation is key. They aren't clever enough to come up with new scams, so they have to come up with new ways to present the same one. It is similar to music in this regard and how people keep writing the same love songs. We have heard them millions (not hyperbole) of times in different versions, but they are all the same.

      I've always been amazed at how effective these name switches can be. It's a sign that our schools are not emphasizing the critical nature of ideas, but rather addressing rote facts that must be regurgitated at a moment's notice. The focus on someone's ability to remember a date vs. why something happened on that date and how to stop it from happening again is a huge crisis.

      Yes, the whole, "My MLM is different" is truly frustrating. I'm glad you are able to see that this is just a lame method to shut down critical analysis, because if they really wanted to investigate their MLM, they would not like what they find.

      The other point to this is, if the original idea is bad, then why try and build something based on that original idea and hope it will be better? Take fractions for example. 1/2 can be written many different ways, i.e 2/4, 3/6, 4/8, but they all mean the same thing. If I change the name or product, but keep the fundamental idea the same, then it is overall the same. It doesn't magically become something new and wonderful, unlike the way in which they try to portray this.

      I believe the idea behind behind the name "Brandon" being related to MLM nonsense is a false correlation at best, but quite funny. Thank you for pointing that out, it was a good chuckle.

      Thank you for your feedback! It's what lets me know I'm doing the right thing!

      Delete
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