I've gone on to exposing quite a few of these companies and their fraud. A few years ago, I covered one called ViSalus that was getting press in that community for growing quickly (today the pyramid has imploded and they are a quarter of what they were). ViSalus was a little different than other MLMs I had written about. They got a lot of young people, around ages 23-27 and they seemed to be the top marketers. ViSalus put out a a bunch of misleading information about their pyramid aimed at that young market.
With ViSalus' implosion, it seemed like many of the brainwashed young distributors didn't learn and jumped to Vemma's Young People Revolution. Vemma had taken the attack to get your kids to another level in trying to brainwash them into believe they were part of some kind of "revolution." In fact, it looks a lot more like the Young People Revolution is conning them into a pyramid scheme. I don't see how it is any different than the FTC and even the FBI and Department of Justice investigating a similar MLM, HerbaLife, for recruiting people into a pyramid scheme.
I've noticed that Vemma seems to have taken things a step further and going to the college campuses. Maybe ViSalus did the same, but it didn't seem as obvious to me. Nothing like convincing college kids with no income that they should be spending it on a $40 bottle of juice and/or a $75 case of 24 energy drinks.
However, this article isn't about this ViSalus or Vemma. It's about how MonaVie has decided to copy them to create their MonaVie Mynt program as a way to market to these young adults.
What is MonaVie Mynt
For a couple of weeks, MonaVie had a great page explaining MonaVie Mynt. They've since taken it down, but others on the internet have captured most of the important information. A simple Google search of this phrase shows:
"mynt™ is completely backed by MonaVie. It’s not a new company or a separate entity of MonaVie. It’s simply the brand name of MonaVie’s movement to attract those in the Gen C crowd and to create the next chapter in direct selling. mynt is a community of like-minded individuals who want to have fun!"
So as you can see there's really nothing of substance to mynt, it is just a bunch of marketing hype to group some people (Gen C) and segregate others (older generations). Here's some of MonaVie's brain-dead marketing from their blog:
"mynt is kind of like a Harley Davidson gang... but without bikes... and on Facebook." — Stephen Jones, MonaVie senior director of marketing, North America
“mynt is like throwing a pebble in the water; one simple act can create a #movemynt.” — Calli Mott, MonaVie director of North America
“mynt is completely innovative. It will change everything. Again.” — Katy Holt-Larsen, VP of North America
“mynt is not ‘the next big wave.’ Waves crash. We’ve created a movemynt!” — Mauricio Bellora, MonaVie president and CEO
These marketing quotes tell you nothing about mynt, often using undefined terms like "movemynt" to try to explain the undefined term "mynt."
It's hard to call mynt noteworthy when it keeps everything the same including the compensation structure. While on the topic of that compensation plan (PDF), there is an income disclosure statement from 2011. I guess it would be too much work for MonaVie to make 2013's numbers available... and I guess the same about the 2012 numbers. I'd see if they'd hire me, but it seems like they filled their quota of lazy... putting me to shame.
I should mention that mynt does have some new products. In particular they have two new kits of products. One kit costs $1050 and earns 600 PV (personal volume). Another kit costs $550, but only earns 250 PV (personal volume). Earning money is largely dependent on the PV of the people you recruit meaning that they are likely to push recruits to buy the $1050 kit to earn the 600 PV. After all, if you can recruit two people to buy that kit (1200 PV points) it is near the same as recruiting FIVE people who buy the $550 kit (1250 PV points). In fact, they even "bold" that buying the more expensive kit "Keeps you Active for 2 months!" This is a good time to remind that the FTC says MLMs with Required Minimum Purchases to Earn Commissions are Pyramid Schemes. Pushing this purchase as a way to stay in the business clearly is a red flag.
My analysis of the compensation plan above is purposely very simplistic, the compensation plan is so complex it would require more than a dozen blog posts to explain it. This complexity is another red flag of an illegal pyramid scheme.
The mynt products that MonaVie introduced themselves are the basic lotions and potions that are known throughout the industry. They have their protein shake, just like HerbaLife, ViSalus, Shakelee, One 24, Reliv, and a dozen other MLM companies. There's a "Burn" product based on green tea that can be purchased very cheaply (especially as the healthy drink itself) elsewhere. Then there is the "Cleanse" product... scientifically a load of bovine excrement. There's a "Build" product of amino acids... which you can get in your whey protein replacing the need for the shake product - killing two birds with one stone. Then there's a "Pro-bio" probiotic product, which claims to help your digestive system... if you have digestive problems that might be something, but living a healthy life means you don't need to improve blood sugar control and those with lactose digestion problems have a solution called Lactaid that is proven. Finally there's the energy drink... similar to the what Vemma's Verve that's been pushed to their Young People's Revolution.
At the end of the day, there's really nothing to see here... certainly nothing close to spending a $1050 on. I would do a more in-depth analysis of the value of the kits, but MonaVie hasn't given enough information to go on. For instance the expensive kit contains two bags of shake mix. How many pounds are in a bag? They don't say, right now.
At the end of the day, mynt appears to be a pile of empty marketing, with even more red flags of it being an illegal pyramid scheme than before, and some horribly priced "me too" products that don't even contain the juice the company was founded on. If this was a fiction novel, no publisher would take it because it simply is too unrealistic.
MonaVie Mynt has one thing going for them. They are focusing on young adults, who presumably haven't been burned by MLMs/pyramid schemes previously. Most likely their friends haven't had the experience of getting burned yet either. More and more it looks like MLM companies have churned through too many people and everyone who is not brainwashed knows it is a scam. It seems like they are admitting that their best plan is to brainwash them young before they know any better.
The MonaVie Mynt program is launching tomorrow. My bet is that Generation C will be connected and intelligent enough to say, "MonaVie, go stuff yourselves! We are smarter than to fall for your artificial hype and marketing gimmicks." Let's pray I'm correct.
I hope everyone had a good Fourth of July yesterday. It seems like the Wednesday holiday has put the whole week in slow motion. With that idea in mind, I figure it's a good time to take short break from the typical personal finance articles and cover that another topic that interests me: multi-level marketing companies scamming people.
Here's some of the news that I found particularly interesting:
Black Diamonds Leave MonaVie - The highest rank you can achieve in MonaVie is a Black Diamond. There are only a few people who reach this level and they make about a million dollars a year (according to the MonaVie Income Disclosure Statement). In short, these are dozen or so lottery winners in the millions who have joined MonaVie only to lose money over the years.
So why would people who were so fortunate to make their millions with MonaVie decide to give it up and leave to go somewhere else? These are the same people who put out countless videos suggesting that people MonaVie saved them from some financial disaster.
It's MLM's dirty little secret.... the product doesn't matter. People have known and written about this for years. Still you see distributors actually pretend that they are interested they are interested in the product. In some cases of congitive dissonance perhaps they actually are... at least until someone offers them more money to pitch another "ground breaking" product.
In this case another company that is growing, ZeekRewards (stay tuned for more on them next week), is offering these people a better deal to bring them over. Since these are independent business owners, you'd think they could sell juice and auction bids (that's what they are going to do) at the same time like how Wal-Mart sells toothpaste and televisions, right? That would only make sense in the real world, not the MLM distortion field.
These people who left MonaVie will sure push ZeekRewards and claim that it is a great business opportunity - despite the fact that they were gifted the top ranking position. This is what happened with many MonaVie Black Diamonds. They were gifted Black Diamond status after they moved from Amway with their followers. That's the other dirty secret of MLM, the few people at the top who are making the big money, didn't typically do anything with that company at all.
MonaVie is going to start enforcing it's Policies and Procedures - Before this news about the Black Diamonds leaving MonaVie, MonaVie President Randy Schroeder (who left the Agel, another MLM to join MonaVie) warned that MonaVie is going to have to enforce it's policies and procedures. It's about time, because over two years ago, I pointed out that Mitch Biggs Scams People and MonaVie Condones It. I couldn't get MonaVie to enforce it's Policies and Procedures and get rid of a high-ranking distributor who made illegal health claims about the products multiple times.
In this letter to MonaVie distributors, Randy Schroeder admits that MonaVie has "endured a time of turmoil." It's interesting that they are releasing this information now, claiming that it's passed. I noted in the past that Interest in MonaVie is Fading. Of course you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a Google Trends chart of MonaVie in the United States. It certainly doesn't look to me like that time has passed for MonaVie. It looks like the decline is steady.
Why is MonaVie enforcing their policies now? Here's Randy Schroeder's story:
"Two days ago, I received a message that led to a telephone call. It became clear to me that the time to fully enforce MonaVie policies has arrived. A great member of our distributor force told me of her dismay at the following situation: After working diligently for some time to help her husband see the value of the MonaVie opportunity with no avail, this member was able to persuade her husband to join her in St. Louis. Suddenly, he became her partner in yet another way—he fully committed himself to the development of their MonaVie business! Then, last week, this same husband was contacted by a member of their upline, attempting to recruit the couple into a competing business, all the while asserting that such activity was within MonaVie policy and would not be perceived negatively. What occurred? A reversal of the confidence and belief recently gained by the husband in our company and opportunity. The outcome was an effective unwinding of the great St. Louis experience. This is not fair and must not be allowed to occur even one more time."
In other words, they had this guy scammed into the MonaVie business and another business came along and pitched another offer suggesting that he would be free to do both opportunities. This lead to MonaVie losing a distributor because they hadn't fully been able to brainwash this person with their St. Louis experience. So rather than compete for distributors fairly and allow them to choose the best opportunity for their personal situation, MonaVie is going to pull out the cult tactics and restrict conversation about other opportunities.
Randy Schroeder closes up with the cult-ish, "you are either with us or against us" mentality:
"My message is very simple: It is time to decide. If you are involved with another company in our industry, decide today... will you commit yourself to success in our business or to another? At MonaVie, we are faithful and will remain faithful to the protection of the business that you build. Permanent income requires permanent commitment!"
How faithful were you to Agel, Mr. Schroeder? Oops we know the answer to that one.
"Unfortunately, as we all have experienced at some point in our lives, some relationships end in a less-than-positive or constructive manner. If you feel that the actions being taken through social media by Mick and Vick Karshner and Rob and Lisa Alwin are having a negative impact on you or the people in your organization, my simple suggestion is to log into your Facebook account and 'unfriend' the Karshners and Alwins. This will prevent distributors in your organization from being subjected to any disparaging posts and videos delivered to your Facebook news feed."
This is something that's seen often in MLM, but it is rarely talked about. Distributors like to claim that MLM brings together a great community. In fact MonaVie uses the term "community commerce" quite a bit because people know that MLMs are a scam and "community commerce" sounds more positive. However, that only works until you decide to expand your horizons and explore another opportunities. If you do that, then MonaVie is going to tell people to "unfriend" you and the "negative" impact you have in showing them a competing opportunity. This is a whole new chapter to MonaVie and Negativity.
"Avoid any plan where the reward for recruiting new distributors is more than it is for selling products to the public. That’s a time tested tip-off to a pyramid scheme."
Randy's letters clearly state that this action to prevent people from leaving is about protecting distributor's businesses. If these distributors are rewarded more for selling product to the public, this would be a good thing for distributors' businesses... it would mean less competition from other others selling the same product to the public. However, if they are rewarded more for recruiting (a pyramid scheme) then losing the recruits would be damaging to their business and the pyramid scheme in general.
Some people wonder why I'm so against MLM companies and why I spend my trying to educate people to stay away from them. It's not just the bad business opportunities. It's not just the terrible products like $45 fruit juice. It's that these companies can't compete without preying on people's desire for financial freedom, brainwashing them (see the St. Louis experience), and applying cult tactics of information control all to make a dollar at the expense of millions of distributors who often out of work and desperate... the people who can least afford that dollar.
The short answer is yes. The longer answer? It is perhaps the most incredible example of deceptive marketing in the history of mankind.
What I've found is tons of irrefutable evidence supported by reputable third parties that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that appears to be illegal pyramid scheme, supported by nonsensical "scientific" studies and illegal medical claims.
That's a lot to digest. I'm going to give you a minute to re-read that.
Typically when people are interested in MonaVie, they are focused on two things: 1) The nutritional value of the product and 2) the business opportunity. After all, the promise of MonaVie marketing is health and wealth for you and all your friends.
MonaVie's Nutritional Value
Many of MonaVie's claims come on something called a ORAC value. It's a lab test that measures anti-oxidants in food. On the face of it higher ORAC seems better, but there's a lot more to it than that. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to try to explain ORAC to you. However, Dr. Jonny Bowden explains that MonaVie doesn't cure cancer and gives great detail about ORAC in the process.
Many distributors make the claim that drinking 4 ounces of MonaVie is like eating 13 fruits and thus is a way to save money. This is a huge lie. MonaVie put out marketing material that said it "Delivers the antioxidant capacity of approximately 13 servings of fruits and vegetables in just four ounces." MonaVie set up a the classic telephone game where the initial message conveyed changes as it passes through the downline and the words, "antioxidant capacity" get left out. In this statement, the antioxidant capacity is measured ORAC value, and the equivalent fruits and vegetables are not even mentioned. A MonaVie product specialist cleared this up when called, but MonaVie didn't issue a clarification or change its website for years... see more at Drinking MonaVie is Not Equal to Eating 13 Fruits.
To follow up on the above, a single apple has the antioxidant capacity of 9.5 ounces of MonaVie. If a person was relying on four ounces of MonaVie to give them the equivalent of 13 fruits, they are making a huge nutritional error as 13 apples has the equivalent ORAC value as 123 ounces of MonaVie. MonaVie Original retails for around $1.48 an ounce, so that's around $182 of juice for the equivalent antioxidant capacity of 13 apples.
A consortium of U.S. government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), USDA, and the FDA to put out guidelines on fruit and veggies and serving size. The result is that 4 ounces of MonaVie is a Serving of fruit which looks like 1 snack container of applesauce (4oz) or about 6 baby carrots. At MonaVie's retail price of around $6.00 for four ounces that's like buying a baby carrot for $1.00!
If you need a little more evidence on the nutritional value of MonaVie, Men's Journal put several fruit juices to the test using criteria set up by a director or clinical nutrition. The result was horrendous, "MonaVie tested extremely low in anthocyanins and phenolics. Even apple juice (which also tested poorly) has more phenolics..." and "Plus, MonaVie’s vitamin C level was five times lower than that of Welch’s Grape Juice. That’s not many nutrients, especially at $1.20 a serving." Website changes have divided the article into many pieces, but the you can read it in two parts: part 1 and part 2 with the MonaVie-specific comments.
The suit also uncovered an internal MonaVie memo by Ralph Carson, the company's chief science officer, who created the original juice. The memo was in response to raised eyebrows about claims being made about the juice. Carson cautioned that the drink was "expensive flavored water. Any claims made are purely hypothetical, unsubstantiated and, quite frankly, bogus."
Those claims that he's referring to are the illegal health claims that we'll get to in a bit.
Juice in general is not healthy
Another aspect to consider is that juice itself is shown not to be healthy. For years we thought it was healthy, but that thinking has changed and many view soda and juice as being the same. The HBO documentary Weight of a Nation clearly spells this out.
Here are some key quotes from that video: "Soda and other sugary drinks... is the only individual food that is directly related to obesity", "There is nothing in a soft drink that is good for you. A Twinkie or a potato chip or a candy bar has at least a little nutrition. These sugared beverages have none at all", and "Juice is just like soda... there is no difference. When you take fruit and you squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature's way of getting you to eat your fiber."
When we take the statements above together, juice the same as soda, soda having less nutrition than a potato chip, it is clear that MonaVie can't be nutritious. The processing has stripped out the fiber... the good part of the fruit. Some may argue that MonaVie is only four ounces a day and it's not going to contribute to obesity. Well that 120 calories a day does add up... in a year it is 12.5 pounds (43,800 yearly calories divided by 3,500 calories in a pound).
(To prevent MonaVie distributors claiming that HBO doesn't know anything about health, Weight of a Nation was done with "the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).")
As you can tell from the label above, MonaVie doesn't have much of the fiber that comes from fruit naturally. Recently MonaVie started to add "fake" fiber (Fibersol-2 / Maltodextrin), so consumers looking at the nutritional label could be easily tricked into thinking that they are getting the good part of the fruit.
MonaVie's Specialized Health Drinks
MonaVie adds a special ingredient or two to its basic juice to create a juice for a specific purpose. The above illustrated the minimal value of the juice alone. Let's look at a few versions:
MonaVie Active - This MonaVie juice's star ingredients is glucosamine. In four ounces of MonaVie Active there are 1500mg of glucosamine. On Amazon.com, I found that you can get 375 tablets of Kirkland Glucosamine HCI for a price of $22.55 (as of 6/8/2012). It takes two tablets to equal the 1500mg of glucosamine in MonaVie Active, which comes out to 12 cents a day.
For a year, the Kirkland glucosamine will cost you $43.80. For a year of MonaVie Active (4 ounces * 365 days = 1460 ounces is about 58 and half bottles (25 ounces per bottle). At the retail price of $45 a bottle, 58 bottles costs $2,610 a year. You can save some money by buying MonaVie Active in bulk, but you'll never get the price under $1000, especially with shipping. You'll save at least a thousand dollars, perhaps two thousand by going with the equivalent cheap solution from Amazon or your local drug store.
MonaVie Pulse - This MonaVie juice's star ingredients are plant sterols and resveratrol added. In four ounces of MonaVie Pulse there are 0.8g of plant sterols. I couldn't find the amount of resveratrol. On Amazon, I found CholestOff, which actually has 0.9g of plant sterols. The 240 tablets, 120 servings, costs $22.22, which is 18.5 cents a day or $67.59 a year.
MonaVie Pulse is typically the same price as MonaVie Active above (around $2610, but cheaper if bought in bulk) and it too will cost you thousands more than the much obvious cheaper solution.
What about the resveratrol? Without knowing how much is in MonaVie Pulse, we can't really make a fair price comparison. There is this resveratrol, which will cost you $76.19 a year. The combination of CholestOff and this resveratrol is still a bargain at around $140 compared to spending a couple of thousand dollars and not knowing how much resveratrol you'll get.
MonaVie M(mun) - This MonaVie juice's star ingredient is Wellmune, a patented derivative of baker's yeast from the pharmaceutical company, Biothera. Four ounces of MonaVie M(mun) has 250mg of Wellmune in it. Once again, I went to Amazon and found Immune Health Basics, which has 500mg of Wellmune. It costs $37.49 for 60 capsules or about 62.5 cents for 500mg. Since this is double the amount in MonaVie, the true cost per serving would be a little more than 31 cents. It costs $114 for a year's supply of the same amount of Immune Health Basics as you'd get in MonaVie M(mun).
The pricing of M(mun) follows that of MonaVie Active and MonaVie Pulse above, meaning that you'd save thousands by buying the capsules of Immune Health Basics.
When you do a little more research you'll find that Wellmune is also similar to beta glucans, a pill that you also might be able to find cheaply. When I last looked into Wellmune, around the time that MonaVie announced M(mun), research as to whether it was helpful was conflicting. One study of people found that they missed no more sick days than the placebo group when taking the product.
MonaVie MX - This MonaVie juice has the star ingredients of Active (glucosamine) and M(mun) Wellmune. Also, in addition to the basic 19 fruit juices in the juice it has 11 vegetables. Below, we'll cover in more detail why this isn't necessarily a good thing. As for pricing, this product like all of MonaVie juices is around $40, but in this case a few extra dollars due to having the glucosamine and the Wellmune in it.
MonaVie Essential and MonaVie Kosher - MonaVie essential seems to be a rework of "MonaVie Original" which is the basic juice with no star ingredients. MonaVie Kosher is a basic juice with no star ingredients that has been certified Kosher.
Bottom Line on MonaVie Nutrition: Any way you slice it (pun intended), MonaVie is not a good source of nutrition when compared to time-tested advice of just eating fruits and vegetables. If you are thinking about MonaVie as a dietary supplement, it represents the worst value for you dollar... and it isn't even close. The examples I gave of a single person spending thousands more than equivalent product is multiplied when you consider a family of four. That family could save an average of over $6000+ a year by replacing MonaVie's juices with products found in your drug store or on the Internet. Depending on your tax bracket, this simple decision could be the equivalent of getting a $10,000 raise tomorrow or winning a lottery that pays you $10,000 for life.
Does MonaVie Work?
While the talk of many, many testimonials may seem convincing, such testimonials are typical with any MLM product, especially health ones. The fact that you can many testimonials for dozens of other MLM products shows that these testimonials are not unique to MonaVie products... or any ingredients in those products. Instead, there's a wide variety of psychological phenomena with MLM health products that give people the perception that the products work. For more details see: No Your MLM Health Product Does Not "Work."
No Barriers to Entry - Since anyone can be a distributor for usually very little money, anyone can be your direct competitor.
MLM Distributors Lack Control of the Business - MonaVie can take your business away whenever it feels like it for whatever reason they want. I think MJ DeMarco might have said it best in his book Millionaire Fast Lane, "I was involved in four MLM companies. Not once do I remember dictating product decisions, research and marketing, marketing restriction, rules, cost analysis or any other activity fundamental to owning a business. As a network marketer, you don't own a business - you own a job managing and creating a sales organization... MLM distributors are commissioned employees disguised as entrepreneurs."
Below we'll get to the point about MonaVie and pyramid schemes. We'll cover how "creating a sales organization in MLM" can be considered as participating in illegal pyramid scheme.
MLM and the Reality of Saturation - Recruiting people into MonaVie is where the Diamonds make their money. The problem is that the market is already saturated. You simply can't go to the top of the pyramid anymore because those positions have been taken for years. In order to get there you have to build thousands of people under you and if those people wanted to be juice salesmen they would have been long before now.
Understanding the Churn Rate in MLM - Somewhere between 60% and 90% of distributors in MLMs leave the business every year because of the first bullet point above. They didn't make any money. MLMs replace these people with new hopefuls because their sales pitch is enticing. When MonaVie recruits someone they tell them that they too can have health and wealth for them and all their friends. Who wouldn't want that? The scheme churns through people every year with enough people quitting and joining so that the pyramid scheme never explodes past the population of the earth.
MLM distributors like say that it is up to the person to do the work and not be "Lazy." Well I'm an expert on Lazy and I can tell you that isn't the truth. In MLM, losing is not a matter of effort, it's a mathematical certainty. The circumstances surrounding the system set people up to fail.
MonaVie's Illegal Health Claims
When I first wrote about MonaVie and wondered why people would spend $45 on juice, I had no idea how the product was marketed. I was shocked as distributors left comments connecting MonaVie to helping with cancer, autism, fibromyalgia, and just about any and every other medical condition under the sun. MonaVie has not been approved by the FDA to help with such conditions making these claims illegal.
Dallin Larsen held "fireside chats" with hundreds of people. There is one "fireside" chat on Archive.org. He tells this convincing story how Dynamic Essentials is part of a publicly traded company with products in Wal-Mart and that they found this fascinating ingredient called Limu Moui. He goes on to essentially claim that limu that unique benefits to help with the system. At the 7:25 minute mark of the audio, Larsen tells of how he just came back from a tour talking to people who have used the product and tells of the stories he heard and how it has helping with asthma, arthritis, chronic fatique, fibromyalgia, lupis, migrane headaches, etc. He then goes to say that "We can't make [the claim that you aren't going to get cancer and heart disease]... I know that this product is having a benefitial impact on people's health.
MonaVie, is an identical copy-cat of Royal Tongan Limu juice, but with acai instead of limu. The illegal health claims that I've seen in the comments on my article and elsewhere on the Internet come straight from the leadership.
Newsweek did a story on MonaVie in which Dallin Larsen acknowledged that while MonaVie has an 18-person compliance team which investigates distributors making false claims, "It's next to impossible, like herding cats." In short, MonaVie opened Pandora's Box with their distribution system. The proper solution to fix this systemic problem is to distribute the product like Ocean Spray or Welch which doesn't have these problems. MonaVie refuses this logical solution that would prevent consumers from be defrauded out of their hard-earned money and still allow them to get the product to those who were interested in it.
When I found MonaVie distributor Mitch Biggs claiming that MonaVie prevents swine flu, I decided to help out MonaVie's compliance team and let them know. Mitch Biggs should know better. He was a MonaVie Emerald Executive, one of the top 166 distributors at the time, who make an average $155,000 a year. My goal was to find out how MonaVie would enforce the its policies and procedures which allow it to end a distributorship who is caught making illegal claims. Would MonaVie do what's right and make an example to show distributors that they can't be making these claims? Or would MonaVie cave, not wanting to create a rift amongst its distributors? The answer: Mitch Biggs Scams People and MonaVie Condones It.
A recent commenter suggested that MonaVie's compliance was doing its job, so I showed him this story, which is about two years ago as of this pointing (June 2012). I decided to go an look and see if MonaVie is still letting Mitch Biggs be a distributor, which lead me to this video on a local news show. It seems like Mitch and Ashley Biggs are making erroneous and deceptive claims multiple times saying that MonaVie is an "easy, convenient and tasteful, way to get your fruit every day" and "just an easy, easy, way to get your fruit." As we saw in a section above, MonaVie's Nutritional Value, this is quite untrue. The spot even took the effort to bring a vase of 13 fruits to illustrate the deception.
It may seem like I'm picking on one distributor, but this is a leading distributor who was made an example of once before and yet continues to break the law publicly. If this is the stuff that is going on in the open, imagine what is going on behind closed doors!
Some may suggest that this is an isolated case - one example of a bad seed that every industry has. That's simply untrue. It is a systematic problem which is so prevalent that Dr. Johnny Bowden's article that I mentioned at the very beginning of this article was titled, "No More Claiming MonaVie Cures Cancer!" These are the kinds of things that happens when you tell distributors that they can be millionaires if you recruit enough people to buy a juice that happens to be priced at 20 times more than other juices. The distributors have to come up with some way to market the obscenely overpriced product. They are naturally going to try to make a point that it is a value for consumers as a replacement for medicine or something seemingly expensive like buying a vase of 13 fruits.
MonaVie's Deceptive Marketing
If I were to go into depth about MonaVie's deceptive marketing, I would never finish writing this article. This article is already so long that I wonder if you'll read it. There's just too much to say. I also think I covered a lot of it above. So here I'll just give a few more examples:
In the above section, MonaVie's Nutritional Value, I went into detailed the 13-servings of fruit and ORAC score myth. That's a typical example of the marketing to keep in mind. Here are a few others:
19 fruits in the juice - MonaVie adds all these juices because the public has a perception that more juices is better. That's not necessarily true. Regular readers know that a mutual fund with more stocks does not necessarily out-perform those with fewer stocks. A pizza with a 7-cheese blend is not necessarily better than one with a 3-cheese blend. In fact, the more ingredients, the easier it is to dilute the ingredients that MonaVie touts like acai. When you have 18 other fruits in addition to acai, the amount of acai could be less than 6% and still be the first ingredient on the list. However, if MonaVie only had 2 fruits and acai was listed first, you'd know that you are getting at least 50% acai in every ounce.
Freeze-dried acai - For years MonaVie touted the amount of freeze-dried acai because it had a huge ORAC score. The reason it got such a high score is the fact that water was taken out, which allowed them to pack more powder per ounce. However, it was shown that MonaVie is less than 2% freeze-dried acai, meaning that even with a high score, there wasn't enough of it to make a significant difference.
MonaVie relies heavily on their Scientific Advisory Board, specifically Dr. Alexander Schauss. Schauss has a long list of reputation problems. One of them was that he faked his credentials and got a mail-order PhD degree from California Coast University. MonaVie pitched Schauss as an expert on acai, but they are the only ones who recognized him for anything like this. The reality is that Schauss was the supplier of his OptiAcai brand to MonaVie.
Schauss, through his AIBMR Life Sciences, pumped out a lot of "research" which could fool some people into thinking that there was actual science. In fact, MonaVie product specialist Erica Bryant wrote distributors to tell them that AIBMR is the only source of that they should use. Some of this research led to ridiculous papers such as this “Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study” on MonaVie by Schauss. It doesn't take a scientist to see that it was made for the specific purpose of giving distributors fuel to recruit more people. Tellingly, the final conclusion of the study made mention of another study that showed that eating fruit had positive results as well.
MonaVie: An Illegal Pyramid Scheme?
I believe MonaVie is an illegal pyramid scheme. Here's why:
How you can help put an end to the scam
The best way to put an end to this scam is to go to the FTC Complaint Assistant and file a complaint. A recent article on CNBC had comments from the FTC saying that few people file complaints on these schemes and thus they rarely put in the resources to investigate them. There are two reasons why there are so few complaints:
People are brainwashed from the beginning that the system "works", and "the only variable is you." Thus people feel as if it is their own failure rather than recognizing the system was mathematically set up to fail over 99% of people from the beginning.
The FTC doesn't do anything. You leave a complaint and that's the end of it. The complainant gets no follow-up from the FTC and there's never any evidence that the complaint is ever read. It's fundamentally terrible system... but that's what we have to work with.
With that said, if you're as upset as I am about people being lied to and defrauded out of their money, please leave a complaint. If you do, please sent me a quick mail. This way, I'll have an idea of the minimum number of complaints that MonaVie is getting.
Update: MonaVie has started marketing to college students and those who have recently graduated. These are probably the worst candidates for such overpriced MLM products. They have little income and often high student loans. I believe that MLMs have nowhere else to turn as the general population know that it's a scam. I think they believe they will catch them early before they've gathered the wisdom to know to stay away.
[Editor's Note: This article itself is a constant work in progress. I didn't have the space to get into explaining the scamming behind MonaVie's MORE charity. Publication deadlines force me to publish this without proofreading. In the future, I hope to go into more of MonaVie's products like its RVL line of weight loss, which is a copy of other other MLMs and also a terrible value compared to the equivalents in stores. However, at this point, it does more to help people to get this information in their hands quickly and that means saving some of the editing for another day.]
When I first started Lazy Man and Money, I said that I'd probably write about technology 5% of the time or so. This is one of those times. Don't be scared. It really is a more of a David vs. Goliath story - one of the few that hasn't hit the movies yet. (I'm getting word into Morgan Spurlock soon.) If you are willing to bare with me, I'll make it interesting. I'll wrap the technology references in real world analogies - like a crushed pill in apple sauce, you won't even notice.
The Guatemalans Attack!
If you've seen my website over the last few days you've seen a message of: "Did you find this website slow to load or unresponsive? I have been a victim of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) attack and I have strong evidence that MonaVie is responsible which I will provide in a few days."
I've had a few people ask ask why my website is slow or why they can't get to it at all. A DDoS attack is when bunches of computers (perhaps hundreds or thousands) overload your website at once. A website is a lot like a tunnel, it can only handle only so many people at once. Big websites like Google have a really big tunnel that can handle just about anyone (billions will get you that). Smaller websites have to decide what is a reasonable size tunnel for the amount of people who typically want to get through. A denial of service attack effectively clogs that tunnel with hundreds or thousands more traffic, which creates traffic jams and crashes. This is what you've seen. Typically such attacks come from one other computer, which is easy to block - you just take away the access from that computer to your road.
However, in this case the attacks are coming from tens or hundreds of thousands of computers from all over the world. This makes it difficult - nearly impossible - to take away the access from any one computer launching the attack. Typically someone will write a computer virus that allows them take control of these computers for this purpose. The users of these computers probably don't even realize it. In this case, I can see that all the computers are coming from Guatemala, Nicaragua, and dozens of similar smaller countries.
What is interesting is that launching these illegal attacks have become surprisingly affordable and common. I found this article on about digital hitmen for hire. The article explains that for about $1200 a month you can hire a Russian group who will launch these attacks for you.
I tried to explain this situation to my wife while fighting the attack. I tend to dumb down the technology aspects as I know that's not where her interests lie. My over-simplistic explanation, in the heat of defending the attack, came out as something like, "It looks like MonaVie has hired the Russians to send an army of Guatemalans to attack my website." As soon as I said it, I figured that 99% of society would be fitting me for a straitjacket. My wife in a great moment of levity joked:
"Matate, El Hombre de Cansado, Matate!"
My wife's Spanish is better than mine, but we are about 15 years removed from our last Spanish class. Nonetheless, I got the joke. She followed it up noting that Jack Bauer is available and this seems right up his alley.
In this world of politically correctness, allow me to fully disclose that I don't know that any Russians were involved. The "Guatemalans" serve as a convenient shorthand for the tens of thousands of computers in dozens of countries involved in the attack. As for MonaVie, well let's get to that...
MonaVie Behind the attacks?
On Feb 3, 2012, I found my JuiceScam website attacked. JuiceScam is a consumer advocacy site warning people about the transgressions of MonaVie, a multi-level marketing company that sells $45 bottles of juice. The scam is so complex, with more layers than an onion, that it truly does require a full website to explain. MonaVie, naturally, hasn't taken too kindly to this. They've threatened me with legal action twice complaining about my rankings in Google. Specifically they've said:
"When an individual types in MonaVie at www.google.com, in the search box, and clicks on Google Search, the first page of Google that appears is:
MonaVie realized that they had no legal grounds to stop me from publishing the truth about their company. If you are MonaVie, what do you do next? You send a letter to your distributors telling them about your online reputation management including the following:
"One of the many factors that Google uses to determine which websites should rank in the top positions is the popularity of a website. To determine popularity of a website, they look to see how many people link to it. Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote. The more votes you get, the better.
If you have a website, a blog, participate in forums or other people’s blogs, link to official MonaVie websites and social profiles when you have the opportunity.
For example, if you are writing a post in a forum talking about how you love MonaVie Pulse, make sure to link the words “MonaVie Pulse” to the Pulse microsite (www.monaviepulse.com)."
"If you link to any negative websites, take down the link. You may have inadvertently linked to a negative site on your website or blog when discussing their website. Just as links will help us promote positive MonaVie sites, they will also help negative sites rank better.
If you see a negative website in the search engine results, don’t click on it. If lots of people are clicking on a negative website on the search engine results page, Google may rank it higher because it sees that so many people are clicking on it."
That was over 6 months ago and things hadn't changed. Google still ranked my site very highly.
So let's recap:
MonaVie threatened to sue me to get me out of Google's rankings.
MonaVie enlisted their distributors to try to hide the truth.
My site exposing MonaVie's transgressions was attacked by a DoS attack. Google has openly said that they stop showing websites up when they are not reliable. They believe that such websites shouldn't be showcased to visitors because it is a poor experience for Google users (which is true).
This attack has given MonaVie has gotten exactly what they have repeatedly stated they were looking for. Someone searching Google for my article would find that it doesn't exist at all today. The 6000 comments that people spent years writing will not available to most
When I stated that "I have strong evidence that MonaVie is responsible" this is what I was referring to. MonaVie had motive, opportunity, and had shown intent on several previous occasions.
Is that strong evidence? I'll let the reader be the judge.
Note 1: I'm working with a group to get my site protected against such attacks. It has taken a little time and I thank you for your patience during this time. I hope to have it finished up this weekend, if the organization can give me a few hours of their time. Otherwise look for improvements early next week.
Note 2: Though I use the term "hack your website" in the title, many, including myself, consider a DDoS not entirely a hack. It is not like they break into your website and steal any information. I went with the term because it is better understood by the average person for when someone attempts an illegal technological attack, which is accurate here.
Note 3: I could go into much more detail about the attacks, but in interest of protecting myself from the attackers, I don't want to give details of what I do and do not specifically know.
I hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays? I've been going at a little slower pace here at Lazy Man and Money as I try to live up to my name by spending more time with friends and family. However, it's time to get back to work and I figured I'd start with this.
Speaking of scammers, here is some info about the Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption.
You must own, and reside on that property and you are required to be a permanent resident of Massachusetts to claim the exemption.
Hmmm, may be a problem [what he thinks my name is]. Have you not been a permanent resident of [where he thinks I live] for quite some time, all the while claiming the exemption in Mass as a permanent resident? tsk tsk.
You should publish some of these on your blog, readers may be quite interested. Maybe in the business section would be more suitable. Do you have a ‘How To Scam The Govt.’ section on [Lazy Man and Money]?
While the commenter wasn't accurate with what they thought my information was, the person did know enough and was specific enough to make me think, "This just doesn't seem to be a bluff. At least if it is a bluff, this person it is a pretty good one."
A Little Background about Me and MonaVie
The article I wrote garnered a lot of comments and a lot of information about the scam came to light. There was so much information that I had to create another website, MonaVie Scam to better organize the information and help people find it. With more than 100 articles, I still have only scratched a tiny fraction of what's in the comments here. That fraction is enough to provide irrefutable evidence supported by reputable third parties that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that may be an illegal pyramid scheme, which is itself wrapped in illegal medical claims, supported by nonsensical "scientific" studies, and tied to a fraudulent charity.
That's enough background, let me give MonaVie an example on how one is open and publicly addresses criticisms - in this case, this cyber-stalker's claim.
Evaluating the Cyberstalker's Claim
On first glance, it seems like this person has obtained access to my private tax filings, right? That's the clear implication with the use of "claiming the exemption" and "How To Scam The Govt." quote. The unusual thing is that if this person actually had my tax filings, they would have realized that they had the wrong information about me. The other thing they would have noticed is that I haven't prepared my own taxes in years. I'm very sure that my enrolled agent wouldn't allow me to take a tax exemption in MA, when I file my taxes with CA as my primary residence. Not only would my tax person not allow it, it would be the easiest thing in the world to find in an audit.
When I talked to my enrolled agent, they explained that you can't claim a homesteaders exemption - there's no place on the tax form for such a thing. I didn't understand why until I contacted my real estate lawyer. He pointed out that the Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption has nothing to do with taxes. here's a lawyer's explanation of Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption:
"The estate of homestead, or 'homestead exemption', provides protection and security to homeowners, eliminating the threat that the equity in their principal residence could be exposed to satisfy common debts or obligations."
As you can tell, the "homestead exemption" isn't related to taxes, it is about providing a safe haven from debt collectors in the form of a primary residence. So for one to "claim a homesteader exemption", I would have to be in debt and I would have to invoke this form of protection - two things that aren't close to happening. As I have taken rental income from the property in question, it is clear that I wouldn't be able to "claim a homesteader exemption."
So where did this cyber-stalker come up with this? When you buy a home, you fill out a number of documents. If you have a good lawyer, you also fill out a Declaration of Homestead so that you can have this protection in case you need it. The document is a matter of public record. I could look up my mom's or anyone else's. It seems to me that the cyber-stalker looked up that I had filed this document when I bought my home. Confusing matters more, in some states, such as Florida it seems, there appears to be a homesteader tax exemption. With this you can see that you have to actively prove residency when taking that tax claim.
An exemption from having your primary residence taken away from you in a bankruptcy event (for example) and a tax exemption are two totally unrelated things.
To make the cyber-stalker look even more ridiculous, there's the fact that I probably can claim this equity protection in the future. My lawyer pointed to the great Massachusetts Homesteader FAQ on SalemDeeds.com (a Registry of Deeds in MA). Under "Can my Homestead be terminated?" is this:
"Yes, the estate of homestead may be terminated by any of the following methods:
abandonment of the home as a principal residence by the owner, owner’s spouse, former spouse or minor children, only as they apply to rights of the persons who abandoned the home. Military service shall not be considered abandonment;"
So while I have abandoned the home as a principal residence, our move was for my wife's military service. I'm exempt from abandonment, which means I can claim exemption as if I had lived there the entire time.
Grading this Cyber-stalker
Since this cyber-stalker thought he was going to teach me a lesson, I thought I'd flip it back on him. I'll play the teacher and grade the attempt:
Sleuthing Skills: B - Give credit to where credit is due. He got enough information about me right. In my defense, I don't aim to be that anonymous, I just wanted to be able to share my income and net worth and other financial topics without it getting back to my manager at a job. It wasn't until MonaVie distributor Glenn Siesser threatened to kill me, that I thought it might be a good idea to remain anonymous for safety reasons. Still, I know how people can cyber-stalk me. It takes a little technical knowledge. I would have given him an A, but again, with some of the information inaccurate, I had to dock him a letter.
Threat Appearance: A - I love the whole, "I caught you cheating on your taxes" angle because it A) looks like he had access to my taxes which is concerning and B) has what he feels is evidence is do me some kind of financial harm and/or jail time.
Threat Substance: F- - It's hard for me to give a grade low enough on this one. It was wrong on every level possible.
Final Grade: D - All the sleuthing skills and threats in the world don't add up to much without the substance to back it up. There's a reason why people aren't worried about empty threats.
It's interesting to me that someone would even have the thought process to try to attack me. It's not that I think of myself as untouchable, but that I'm just the messenger. If I were caught for tax evasion and/or murdering a dozen people, it still wouldn't change what MonaVie is. The attack itself only serves to make MonaVie look more desperate. It also puts an even brighter spotlight on the negative aspects of MLM and highlights why people should not get involved with them. I just don't see Ocean Spray employees cyber-stalking its critics.
This event serves not only backfires by tainting MonaVie's public image, but it also renews my focus to make the truth about such practices known. In all honesty, I haven't really cared much about MonaVie for some time. I considered that dead horse well-beaten long ago. MonaVie's been going downhill over the last couple of years. I'm much more concerned about Nerium and that scam, which is much more confusing for the average consumer and seems to have snarled many more people. However when this comes along, it brings my attention back to MonaVie.
Over the weekend a lot news about MonaVie came across my virtual desk. That's quite unusual, weekends tend to be a quiet time for news.
For those curious what MonaVie is I asked if MonaVie is a scam more than 3 years ago. I was surprised that company was selling bottles of juice at $45 and more surprised from a personal finance perspective that people were buying them. One of the pieces of news was related to that, but let's save the most interesting stuff for the end. First, I'd like bring up a couple of MonaVie blog posts that people pointed out to me recently.
So many things come to mind from that statement. On the surface it seems like we can add a new term of "community commerce" to the DoubleSpeak of MLM vs. Network Marketing vs. Direct Selling. MonaVie is best described as multi-level marketing. It isn't direct selling. Direct selling doesn't necessary have a multi-level approach to it that the the FTC views as a potential for a pyramid scheme. MonaVie isn't "community commerce" either. Such a term would apply to an Ebay method of selling, which MonaVie prohibits.
Linguistics aside, let's get to the question of the billion people who never be employed. First, MonaVie doesn't cite where that number comes from. Second, as the blog post points out, that the situation is bleakest in third world countries. MonaVie is not available in most of them. The other thing that MonaVie doesn't mention - to be a distributor of MonaVie, you have to buy about $1700 of product a year. The very first person commenting on the post got the message, "...however not successful passing the message due to the high cost of the product, when people don’t have money they don’t buy a health beverage for $143 a case every months." Ignoring his grammar, the message is obvious, unemployed people shouldn't be paying $1700 a year for the juice. This can only be more true, when there are people in third world countries where $45 is a life-changing amount of money. How much rice can be bought for $45 to feed the hungry? Is 100 pounds an exaggeration (about 50 cents a pound when bought in bulk) or is that conservative? That will get you 25 ounces of MonaVie. Who are you going to get to buy your $45 juice? Every MonaVie distributor knows that first thing people cut when times aren't good are luxury items like the Rolex watches, Tiffany's jewelry, and $45 juices.
Many of the comments from MonaVie distributors on the blog post are interesting from a personal finance perspective. Here are a few:
"People today are paying more than two cases of MonaVie juice a month to go to a job they hate! Add up the cost of gas, clothes, childcare and food monthly. MonaVie offers the greatest opportunity return for the 'COST' of my time and money!" There are costs associated with most jobs, but MonaVie is no exception. The $1700 in product is a big one. However, there are others such as gas, conference fees, hotel events, tools to sell the product, etc. As we'll find out 99% of people don't even make enough to cover the product.
"It’s unfortunate, because long-term most will continue being broke for years to come wasting their money on cigarettes, alcohol, clothes, makeup, coffees, pops and other junk foods and fast foods, etc." MonaVie replaces none of these things. It is just one more expense to add to all the others.
"...people will buy 6 and twelve packs of beer, $30 dollar bottles of wine and pay $10 a glass while eating at a restaurant all day long."
However, the worst of it are the ones that MonaVie published that make false and illegal claims. I made a point to keep a screenshot of the page, but I'm betting MonaVie takes down once I publish this. Joyce Schmitz comment:
"Cheaper than medication and much better for you too. It is a way to get your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables."
The FTC and FDA are quite clear that a comparison between a juice and medication can't be made.
As for getting our daily requirement of fruits and vegetables, here's a form from the CDC, Fruits and Veggies Matter website. According to it, I (a 35 year old male with moderate exercise) need 2 cups of fruit and 3.5 cups of vegetables. According to the same website, 4 ounces of MonaVie's 100% fruit juice counts as a 1/2 cup of fruit. At $1.43 an ounce, my fruit would cost $22.88 of MonaVie juice and the website is clear to point out that it would be less than ideal since it wouldn't have fiber that fruit has. MonaVie also contains no vegetables, so I'm out of luck there.
Commenter Dave W. Clark doesn't seem to understand this, "The Dietary Standards of the United States are changing to http://myplate.gov (50% vegi’s and fruits) on every meal. The cost and storage of vegatables alone is quite costly." Clearly MonaVie is much more expensive.
Here's the ad that they put in USA Today that the blog post was referring to:
You'll have to click it to see the larger version, but one thing you'll find is that MonaVie claims that "direct selling employs 75,000,000 people" (notice that they emphasize all the zeros rather than just say million). That's an odd phrase. First when they talk of "direct selling" do they mean the MLM type or the traditional type (like a door-to-door salesman or an Ebay sale). Typically with "direct selling" they mean MLM, but if they are including non-MLM businesses then MonaVie has no business conflating the two very separate enterprises. The other thing odd about the sentence is the term "employs." It is well-known that distributors are Independent Business Owners (IBOs) and are not employees, which is how MonaVie can get away with paying less than minimum wage (on average), providing them with no benefits (such as health, eye care, or dental for example), and require them to buy product to earn their income.
MonaVie is offering a solution to the recession that is worse than going to casino and putting your money on the roulette wheel.
MonaVie and Layoffs
Another reader pointed me to another MonaVie blog post Never Worry About Layoffs Again. Once again MonaVie makes the claim, "Many are saying goodbye to their 9-5 work (horse) jobs and embracing the only scalable model to address the global concerns related to unemployment and underemployment – community commerce."
While it is surprising that MonaVie would continue to harp on its "solution" where most people lose money, that's not the big irony here. The irony is that MonaVie's corporate entity has experienced layoffs themselves over the last year. An anonymous tipster forwarded me an email from MonaVie's Dell Brown to employees in August of 2010 announcing the layoffs. In it was the following choice quote:
"This week we will be announcing our restructuring plans, which will include the elimination of jobs. This has been a painful process. We have devoted employees who have sacrificed for the sake of the company and our distributors. Some of you will find that your positions have been eliminated. I am sorry for the pain and disruption that this may cause in the lives of those who are affected. Many of the positions that have been eliminated belong to strong, capable, and hard-working employees who have performed well in their posts."
The tipster also said the following, "This was the first major round of layoffs to occur. The most recent round of layoffs occurred last week, resulting in the loss of fifty or so employees."
When you match up the timeline from the tipster and the publishing of this post, one has to wonder how a company could be more insensitive. More important though, how can being a MonaVie distributor be a global solution for unemployment or underemployment, when the company itself can't scale to support the few number of actual employees it has?
MonaVie's Scheme Comes Under Fire in a Class Action Lawsuit
The complaint makes a very compelling argument that "MonaVie is marketed and sold to vulnerable customers at an outrageously inflated price because defendants [MonaVie] and their 'independent distributors' create false hopes for preventing and treating illness by generating false and misleading advertisements and claims about the health benefits of drinking Mona Vie juice."
The 40 pages go into great detail and yet only cover about 1/5th of the information that's available on MonaVie Scam. I'm glad that pointed out that Lou Niles dressed up in surgical scrubs and pretended he was an oncologist in a famous video that been seen on YouTube tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of times. The suit also makes a point to compare MonaVie to the CEO's Dallin Larsen's previous juice company, Royal Tongan Limu, where the Department of Justice and FTC raided the warehouses and destroyed the product due to the level of illegal claim. The comparisons are shocking.
The lawsuit in Arkansas is dead on about every point. Think about Joyce Schmitz comment above of "Cheaper than medication and much better for you too." These are the comments that MonaVie is allowing to be published on their very website. The comment has been there for over a month too. The only thing that I found disappointing in this lawsuit is that Joel Neal Oliver, nor his lawyers contacted me so I could give them even more information.
If you are involved in MonaVie, thinking of getting involved, you owe it to yourself to read the complaint. If you know someone involved, I hope you will forward this post to them before it's too late. If MonaVie goes out of business the distributors lose their income too.
"One of the biggest challenges of a company as big as MonaVie is managing what people say about it online. MonaVie has one great advantage over other companies in that we have countless distributors that wish to support the company and help manage the company’s online image. If you’d like to know how you can help promote MonaVie’s good reputation online, then keep reading!
Why Reputation Management?
All successful companies attract opposition. Online reputation management is the most effective way to combat this negativity. Online Reputation Management consists of managing what people see on the Internet when they are researching the company.
MonaVie’s corporate team is very active in managing our online reputation. Over the last several months, we’ve seen great improvements on the search results pages by promoting some of MonaVie’s corporate websites, which, in turn, push down negative websites. When searching for “MonaVie” on search engines, the first several pages are filled with MonaVie product microsites, social networks, and other corporate websites.
Why We Need Your Help
MonaVie Corporate can do a lot of the Online Reputation Management, but Google looks to see what the masses are saying about a company, not just Corporate. As a MonaVie distributor you are in a unique position to increase the positive content that searchers will find online because you are seen by Google as a third party, and not part of MonaVie Corporate. With the ongoing reputation management efforts of MonaVie Corporate and our amazing distributors, we can be even more successful in managing our online reputation.
How You Can Help
One of the many factors that Google uses to determine which websites should rank in the top positions is the popularity of a website. To determine popularity of a website, they look to see how many people link to it. Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote. The more votes you get, the better.
If you have a website, a blog, participate in forums or other people’s blogs, link to official MonaVie websites and social profiles when you have the opportunity.
For example, if you are writing a post in a forum talking about how you love MonaVie Pulse, make sure to link the words “MonaVie Pulse” to the Pulse microsite (www.monaviepulse.com).
Here is a list of official MonaVie websites and social profiles that you can link to:
[... cut out links for brevity ...]
What NOT to Do
If you link to any negative websites, take down the link. You may have inadvertently linked to a negative site on your website or blog when discussing their website. Just as links will help us promote positive MonaVie sites, they will also help negative sites rank better.
If you see a negative website in the search engine results, don’t click on it. If lots of people are clicking on a negative website on the search engine results page, Google may rank it higher because it sees that so many people are clicking on it.
Avoid visiting or commenting on negative sites. If the negative sites are receiving a lot of traffic and comments from visitors, search engines will think it is a popular site and rank it in the top positions.
With your help, we can make sure MonaVie is well represented online when perspective customers, distributors, or anyone else researches the company.
It would be nice if MonaVie could engage criticism head-on in a public forum. I know if someone were to call this website, Lazy Man and Money, a scam, I would try to understand their point of view and defend the accusations publicly. It's a no-brainer. This is what a reputable person or business would do. MonaVie Consumers and/or prospective business owners should want MonaVie to be transparent and address the issues. Instead MonaVie has chosen to abandon their biggest supporters and try to obscure the criticism. This is what companies do when they know they have no defense for the criticism.
In other words, since MonaVie knows that they are scamming people, they don't even attempt to defend their business and instead take the costly and time-consuming step to prevent people from learning about the scam.
"For someone thinking about starting a business, you had better get as much information as possible. This includes both the good and the bad. If all you see is one point of view — a one-sided point of view in the case of MonaVie’s 'positive' websites — you’re shortchanging yourself."
This is the kind of wise insight that MonaVie wants to block from consumers. Instead they'd like you to view a microsite, essentially a commercial, for MonaVie.
I like to think that the general public doesn't like to be manipulated like this. In my opinion it's not only bad public relations and the wrong way to do business, but it is also the cowardly way to conduct yourself.
It begs the question, "If MonaVie was trying to improve it's reputation, isn't generating all this negative PR through an attempt to manipulate Google exactly the opposite way to go about it?"
I ask you, the reader to please help me fight back this manipulation. Spread the word of what MonaVie is trying to do and blog, Tweet, Facebook, Reddit (there's a handy button below) the following sites that try to get the best information to the public:
Earlier this week, Google changed its algorithm for ranking how websites return in its search results. The aim was to reduce the rankings of content that Google considers low-quality. If you aren't a web site owner, you probably didn't notice. Now that I've told you, probably don't care. Those who are web developers either got a nasty or pleasant surprise. More than a few of my blogger friends were upset they lost their rankings. Google rankings are extremely important for many website owners. Since most people use Google to find information, a drop in rankings means a loss in traffic... and a loss in income.
For the bloggers who have seen their rankings drop it is a difficult time. I know they work hard and their content is very good quality. One blogger I know lost half of his traffic. My heart goes out to this person. I always knew this was a possibility. It's one of the things you sign on for when you are a blogger. From a business perspective, it's less than ideal to have another business, in this case Google, have such a major impact on your business.
Wondering about how my websites have done? They've almost all increased in traffic. In fact, the rankings may be too good. For most website owners the close to the top the better. In checking this morning, my posts exposing the MonaVie scam was #2. MonaVie has already threatened to sue me twice because... in their words:
When an individual types in MonaVie at www.google.com, in the search box, and clicks on Google Search, the first page of Google that appears is:
Before they were concerned when my article showed up as the #5 or #6 results. With Google's change putting me at the #2 ranking, I half expect they'll take further action of some kind against me. Let's face it, it's easier for them to complain about one person expressing his opinion than take on Google and their rankings. It's much easier for MonaVie to suppress the truth, than try to defend the criticisms.
With that said, let's get to the links from other personal finance sites.
I apologize in advance for another post about the evils of some multi-level networking scams. A reader alerted me to this this crazy rant by Orrin Woodward saying, "Looks as if your blogs are getting to Mr. Woodward... I do assume he's talking about [Lazy Man and Money] and Juice Scam." After reading the post, I had to agree that it could be directed at me, but it is written generically enough to apply to multiple critics of Team. Needless to say, this particular post has got me more riled up than I've been in some time. However, before I get into the post, let me give you a little background on Orrin Woodward and Team.
Orrin Woodward and Team
For those who aren't familiar with Orrin Woodward, consider yourself quite lucky. He's the chairman and co-founder of an organization called Team. Team sells leadership "tools", mostly to distributors involved in the MonaVie scam that I sometimes write about. However, rather than take my words for it, let me quote what Forbes has to say about Team:
Team is one step ahead of all these juice selling schemes. It is a pyramid atop a pyramid. It is selling motivational aids to help MonaVie vendors move the juice. But wait. If you can't earn back the $258 you've spent on the motivational lectures by selling $39 juice bottles, you could earn it back in another way--getting people to buy $258 motivational lectures. If you're good, you flog the lectures to other people, who sell them to yet others. Everybody gets rich. Everybody, that is, except the last round of buyers. That's the theory, anyway. The reality is that a mere 1% of Team members make any money from involvement with the firm.
You may have noticed that before the quote, I put "tools" in quotes. Orrin Woodward is quoted in that same as saying, "What I try to give most of all is hope and encouragement." So he's selling motivation... motivation to get involved in something that causes people to lose money 99% of the time. Forbes article continues:
Hope is an expensive commodity. Most Team members spend more buying its motivational aids and MonaVie's juice than they ever take in. Roger Lareau, a Michigan alarm company employee, says his wife has rung up $20,000 in debt buying Team sales tools and Amway products and is now on to selling MonaVie juice. Their marriage has fallen apart as a result. "She still thinks Team is going to set her free one day," he says.
This is why I get so riled up with MonaVie and organizations like Team. I get a lot of comments from people who share Roger Lareau's story. It brings debt and destruction to families.
With that out of the way, I'd like to address the crazy rant by Orrin Woodward that I mentioned earlier. I'll break down the post bit by bit and tell you what Orrin Woodward is really trying to say. (Some of this may overlap the response by Amthrax about Orrin Woodward's Coercion Through Edification.)
I have spent the last several years studying the scams, schemes, and cons perpetrated on the American masses through the use of coercion. As a Top 10 Leadership Guru, I cannot sit by idly and watch Americans lose their freedoms without speaking up.
The mention of the Top 10 Leadership Guru is laughable. If you look at Orrin's website, there are at least three random blogs with rankings and in some Orrin ranks Top 30 and in others he is Top 25. The websites aren't reputable and seem to exist only to publish this list of opinions. If you look at LeadershipGurus.net for example, the criteria "excluded political, military and business leaders and focused on those practitioners who develop and instil leadership in others... We shortlist 60 names then did a Google search for ranking." So they exclude many natural leaders and then do a Google search (which is biased towards controversial figures like Orrin Woodward) for the ranking. That "Top 10 Leadership Guru" title sure sounds like a lot of bovine excrement. Update: Amthrax breaks down Arthur Carmazzi: The Truth Behind LeadershipGurus.net, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. As suspected, the website is a scam and anyone believing it will likely buy a bridge from you.
Next, Orrin Woodward attempts to play the hero by helping protect freedom for Americans. The particular freedom that he wants to protect is the one that causes 99% of people to lose money so that he can stay at the top of his pyramid scheme (Forbes' words remember). That's the freedom that put Roger Lareau in $20,000 and potential divorce. So protecting freedom for Americans... more bovine excrement.
No scam can last unless backed by a monopoly of force/coercion.
Looking at Webster's Dictionary of "scam", there is nothing tying force or coercion into scam. The definition is, "a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation", and gives the examples of "1. She was the victim of an insurance scam." and "2. a sophisticated credit card scam." Neither of these examples have to do with an element of force.
Government is the only true monopoly of force available in any society. Coercion requires force, which involves either government intervention or mafia type tactics. Free enterprise businesses, like Network Marketing, cannot be a scam, since people are free to come and free to go, they will simply leave and the scam will collapse. Government scams like social security, income taxes, and fiat money inflation, to name just a few, take advantage of the masses, since the masses are forced to participate against their will, whether their needs are being met or not. Learning and defending American freedoms, against the encroachment of coercive government interventions, has become a key educational plank in my readings, writings and speeches of late.
Amthrax said it best here: Coercion Through Edification. "Through tapes, CDs and seminars, he plants up two life possibilities in the mind of TEAM members. 1. If you stick with TEAM and follow its principles, you will succeed. 2. If you don't do what TEAM does, you will fail in life. How is that not coercion through edification and fear?"
Orrin Woodward doesn't seem to be aware of the second definition for coerce according to Webster "to compel to an act or choice." Coercion does NOT require force For example, everyone has probably witnessed an act of coercion through peer-pressure. In such cases, people are coerced, but clearly are not forced.
Thus we note two pieces of bovine excrement here: 1. Scams do require force and 2. Coercion does not require force.
Also of note, he tries to bundle Network Marketing under the umbrella of "free enterprise business" to give it an air of legitimacy. Good one.
I won't even go into the idiocy behind his comment about income tax being a government scam. Income tax pays for many of the things that make America great. Of course, if he doesn't want to pay it, he can take himself and his business elsewhere.
Scams coerce participation
If someone attempts a scam, without the power of coercion, it will not last. For example, if someone attempted to sell a property for twice the market rate, perhaps a clueless customer would fall for it, but it couldn't last as the market will quickly identify the offending party and avoid any business dealing with him.... Many will call Network Marketing a scam, but unless backed by coercion, meaning people are not free to leave, Networking cannot be a scam. Networking has been around for well over sixty years, and scams cannot last that long unless backed by some form of coercion.
This is probably the most important part of Orrin Woodward's post. Since we established above that coercion does not require force, we can look at what coercive forces play into MLMs in general. I've talked to thousands of MLM distributors over time, and almost always they point to the business opportunity or compensation plan... not the product. Those distributors will talk about how much money the people at the top of the pyramid make and they'll never mention that 99.64% of MonaVie distributors lose money. These are just a couple of ways that people are coerced by the scam to buy a product that is priced above market price. MLM isn't someone making a transaction on a product or service as Orrin Woodward tries to present it. It is someone trying to buy into a dream that they've been promised is within their reach if only they work hard enough... even though it has been mathematically proven time and again that it is untrue.
MonaVie lays a couple of levels on the typical MLM scheme. For one, you have top distributors like Mitch Biggs claiming MonaVie prevents swine flu, which is highly illegal. Claims like these and thousands of others give the impression that MonaVie has medicinal properties. Some of that may be placebo effect and some of it may be dishonest distributors. The bottom line is that people are coerced into believing that its market price should be dictated by the price of medicine and not the price of juice. To borrow from Woodward's example, it is as if someone told you that the property happened to contain a Fountain of Youth.
In Networking, some will win, and some will lose, but that simply defines life, not a scam.
The above quote is also true of pyramid schemes which illegal in many countries including the United States. Do we just say, "Let the Bernie Madoffs take our money, that's life?" I wonder what would happen if I robbed Orrin Woodward's home and took valuables. Would he say, "some will win, and some will lose, but that simply defines life?" I'm guessing not.
I love my business relationship with Dallin Larsen and MonaVie, and I have friends in many other Networking companies. There are many great companies and leaders in Networking and the more we lift one another, the more the Networking tide rises for all in our profession. I don't have to attack another enterprise in order to build my own. If you really believe in your Networking business, just build it, allowing your actions to speak louder than your words. Leaders will flock from around the world if you have truly created a better business model. Any business that has been successful over the years, if not the decades, must be serving their customers in order to survive in a true free enterprise model.
This is where I start to think that he's addressing me. I do attack MonaVie and Team it does build my own enterprise. However, I had established Lazy Man and Money years before I heard about MonaVie. Also, I think that anyone trying to help consumers (as Lazy Man and Money's mission is), should attack businesses that cause 99% of people to lose their money and provide no value in return.
Amthrax points out: "Orrin certainly did his share of badmouthing after being terminated by Amway a few years back. Of course, you won't hear any more criticism coming from his mouth, certainly not after signing a confidential agreement with Amway." In fact, Orrin Woodward tried to whitewash the situation, asking for people to remove all materials relating to the dispute. Woodward offers up another piece of bovine excrement for your enjoyment.
Success isn't easy, but then again, neither is failure
When people call the entire Network Marketing profession a scam, merely because they didn't succeed, it demonstrates their lack of understanding of scams and personal responsibility. No one should teach that success in Networking is easy, since it's not, but failure certainly isn't easy either. Malcolm Gladwell, a best selling author, teaches that success in any field requires 10,000 hours of diligent study and action. Anything less, and that person is still an amateur in his profession. For someone to try Networking for several years, and then state it's a scam, is simply a version of Aesop's fables, sour grapes from an amateur fox who couldn't reach the desired fruit. For example, in high school, I wrestled in many tournaments. I could not of imagined any wrestler calling the tournament a scam because he didn't receive a medal. The sour grapes wrestler would have been laughed out of the arena, since many do not win medals, not having at that moment, learned the skills and put in the hours to win at a tournament level.
Is it possible that people are just calling a spade a spade? I call many MLMs scams and I don't participate in any of them. It's quite possible that people call it a scam, because of the coercion which disrupts the market value of a product as well as the fact that 99% of people lose money. When someone fails to sell 25 ounce bottles of juice for between $37 and $45 when there are other more nutritious products available for $4 for 46 ounces, it is insane to blame it "lack of personal responsibility." If I were to open up a store and sell Honda Civics for $200,000 a piece failure is the expectation.
Orrin Woodward doesn't two other interesting things in the above paragraph. He wants people to stick with Network Marketing even though it clearly doesn't mathematically work. To him, it is a number's game. He knows that 0.5% will make some kind of money and 99.5% will not. So he wants to keep that 99.5% buying tools and juice as long as possible. Thus he gives a "Network Marketing isn't easy" and "success requires 10,000 hours." If you do the math on 10,000 hours it turns out to be working 8 hours a day for 250 days a year (taking some weekends off) for 5 years. Is that the kind of commitment you want to make to something that fails 99.5% of the time? I don't know about you, but that sounds crazy.
And as for the Malcolm Gladwell and 10,000 hours claim... maybe Orrin Woodward should pay attention to what he reads more. I reviewed Outliers, the book where Malcolm Gladwell makes the statement. The important part of the chapter was that the examples cited (The Beatles, Bill Joy, and Bill Gates) all had a unique opportunity advantage such as being in the right place at the right time. Gladwell points out that being born around 1955 in Silicon Valley put both the aforementioned Bills in place to be the right age to have youthful exuberance at the time that personal computers were picking up steam. He also says that a similar thing happened during the Industrial Revolution. This unique opportunity is necessary in addition to the 10,000 hours of work. With Network Marketing, you have no unique opportunity advantage.
It is interesting that Woodward brings up the wrestling. I've always said that it wouldn't have mattered how hard I practiced to be the next Michael Jordan (or even just any NBA player), I just lacked the talent and physical make-up. Orrin Woodward would like you to believe that buying his tools will give you the skills that you need to be Michael Jordan, but it is like buying Nike Air shoes and going to basketball camp. The NBA can only have so many basketball players in it just as MLMs are mathematically set up to only allow a few people to succeed. The system is against you. The wise thing would be to recognize that failure has nothing to do with your work ethic.
Anonymous Victims Online
In today's society, people can write anonymously about his victimization, crying about his lack of results, claiming to be scammed from the Networkers (better wrestlers) who kicked their butts in free enterprise, while claiming it was rigged against them, even though others seemed to win while they were whining. If someone felt they were hurt, why not seek out the leaders of the company or community for resolution? Doesn't this sounds like the right thing, not to mention the honorable thing to do? Rather than post anonymously, hiding their identities as well as their real motives, assaulting the reputations of people that they don't personally know, why not call the community leaders or the company to get the issue resolved? Any reputable company would serve the customer in a heartbeat.
Here is where I think that Orrin Woodward is addressing my Juice Scam website. I believe this because if you search Google for "MonaVie Team" you get an anonymous post about someone's experience with Team MonaVie. More and more people are writing about their bad experiences Team nowadays. Here is an Ex-MonaVie & TEAM distributor explaining his metamorphosis, though he's not anonymous. If he's wondering why I'm anonymous, it's because I've been anonymous long before I heard about MonaVie. Even if I wasn't anonymous it can be a wise idea to be anonymous when speaking out against MLMs... sometimes a MonaVie distributor will threaten to kill you.
I've always left the door open for MonaVie to discuss things in an open forum. They have refused my requests. Perhaps Orrin Woodward and Team would be more willing. I really haven't been as concerned with them, since I focus more on MonaVie. Orrin's solution of calling the company or community leaders doesn't work as it doesn't lead to public debate, which is sorely needed.
If anyone leaves the TEAM unhappy, it wasn't through lack of concern, but through lack of interest by the customer to address.
I've heard numerous cases where this is the complete opposite of the truth. People bring their concerns to their upline and the upline tells them not to worry and tries to sell them another tool to motivate them more.
Perhaps, the real reason that many post in Networking are anonymous, postings that act as if they are upset at the company, are because they are from competitors, not real customers. These are the bottom feeders of Networking, the parasite marketers, who, believing in a win-lose scarcity mentality, blatantly attack one company's reputation for the alleged benefits supplied to their current company. Sadly, this egregious behavior happens often, leading to much of the negative written online. When the perceived opportunity for gain exceeds the applied character of those involved, parasite marketing will typically occur.
Free to Win & Free to Lose
In America, one is free to win, free to lose, and, even free to blame. But unless one is forced against his will, a force that's necessary for any real scam, one will look silly to blame his loss on anything but his own incompetence. It's foolish to blame others, who worked harder, applied themselves more, and developed the skills to win. Calling winners names, calling the tournament (profession) a scam, pointing fingers at others, all in an effort to salve a wounded pride. This may take the focus off off his lack of skills temporarily, but it reveals more about the character of the sender of the toxic message than the receiver's character. It seems that 'passing the buck' is endemic in today's society, but one of the goals of the Networking is to teach people personal responsibility. Accepting responsibility is the beginning of all leadership growth. In Networking, unless the person was forced to attend meetings against his will, forced to buy materials without a buy back provision, why is he passing judgment on others for his lack of results? The minute you blame others for your failures is the minute you surrender responsibility for your own life.
Once again, Orrin uses the erroneous definition of coercing to try to make it sound it can't be scam. Once again, scams have nothing to do with required force.
It has been mathematically proven time and again that more than 99% of people lose their money. You can read this math of MonaVie's own Income Disclosure Statement. Or you can watch Brian Dunning on Network Marketing. Instead of owning up to that basic math that applies not only to MonaVie, but Network Marketing in general, Orrin tries to pass the buck on the person. You failed at your goal of being an NFL quarterback, then it is your fault. It has nothing to do with the fact that success in the "tournament (profession)" is stacked against you and can only happen for a few people. Orrin's bovine excrement reveals more of his character.
In the Team, we teach that freedom is a gift and we support your freedom to win, lose or leave, voting with your own feet. The tens of thousands who are part of TEAM, were not coerced into joining, but joined freely by buying into the leadership culture. The TEAM leaders win by serving customers, not controlling them, even offering a 30 day, no questions asked, 100% return policy for any items purchased. No business would be foolish enough to publicly state that, unless they knew that 99.99% plus of their customers were happily served. All reputable Networking companies in our profession offer similar refund policies.
Of course, using mind control techniques and cult behavior most certainly counts as coercing. Those people who "joined freely" were often not presented the correct information.
The 30-day money back guarantee is something that almost every company offers. Even male enhancement pills that are also shown not to work have such guarantees. They are any number of people who realize that they wasted their money, but the 30-days had long passed.
Orrin goes to list a couple of videos of the top successful people to further try to convince people that it is the norm, not the exception. It is essentially showing videos of lottery winners and saying, "See we won the lottery, you can too!"
Since this post is already too long, I'm not going to post a conclusion. I'll leave you to draw your own.
Update: When I told my good friend at The Soap Boxers about the post, he made two great points:
"if there's coercion (particularly physical), it's really not even a scam - it's extortion."
Paraphrased, "In response to Woodward's assertion of 'If someone attempts a scam, without the power of coercion, it will not last'... That's the cornerstone of his argument, and it is faulty. There have been a lot of long lasting scams over the years - Madoff and Ponzi, for example. The power of greed can be pretty effective."
I got an interesting email a yesterday from a person who says his name is DeeDee (yep he really chose the email address of [email protected]) that I'd like to share with all of you. It isn't very much related to personal finance, but I know a lot of you are interested in my MonaVie saga. You don't need to know the saga for the rest of this (but I think it is a riveting read, if I say so myself). If you are interested (you don't need to read it for the rest of this) you can read a the full version of my MonaVie experience here.)
I've been watching the [Lazy Man's MonaVie article] and [MonaVie Scam] blogs for some time and I've decided it's time to do something about the grief you've caused for so many people by allowing corporately sponsored thugs like Vogel and Food Tech do their dirty work in the name of allegedly helping consumers.
Vogel and Food Tech have not advocated any particular corporation. They have advocated that people eat fruit rather than buy MonaVie, but that's really no different than what Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Dean Edell, or Dr. Jonny Bowden say about MonaVie. An article that I posted recently has Dr. Joe Schwarcz warning acai health claims in general. Why this guy decided to single out my articles I don't know. As readers will see this guy has done his research and since he can't pin Vogel or Food Tech to any specific corporations his assertion falls flat on its face.
The truth is, and I've said it many times here before, MonaVie's cost of $5000 (for a family of four) is prohibitive and all evidence shows MonaVie lacks nutrition. MonaVie, LLC has failed to address this issue in a public forum. So yes, Vogel, Food Tech, and myself are helping consumers... there's not "allegedly" about it.
I feel both [Lazy Man's MonaVie article] and [MonaVie Scam] are completely one sided and mostly half truths. If anyone tries to expand on anything that doesn't suit your or their agenda then you simply sluff it off as off topic or not important to the point that your henchmen are making.
There are numerous comments on both [my MonaVie article] and [my MonaVie Scam website] where people have their say. With any open forum on a controversial topic there are people (i.e. trolls) who just add noise to the conversation in an effort to derail discussion. That's why I moderate the posts. You don't get to 7000 total comments by "sluffing it off."
So here is what will transpire over the coming days.
The blackmailing begins...
You, [Lazy Man's name] of [Lazy Man's Location], will have multiple letters of complaint delivered by registered mail to everyone you associate with, including but not limited to your current and past employers as well as anyone with whom you are currently consulting, or have consulted with in the past. These letters will explain what your blogs are doing to hard working individuals, how they are devastating them financially, as well as how you're taking money away from those less fortunate people in the slums of Brazil that are being affected by your actions and the actions of those you encourage to post on your blogs for your own personal gain.
This guy has done his homework, my hat is off to him. I think it would be humorous to see him waste money on registered letters of complaint to my past and current employers. As he mentions later on, he's seen my LinkedIn page, but it hasn't been updated in years... literally. My past employers could care less, I haven't worked at any of them in years. My current employers (if he knew them) also would care less (and they are well-aware of my website). I'm pretty sure all people would enjoy that their former (or current) employee is protecting people with both my MonaVie article and my MonaVie Scam websites.
Again, these "hard working individuals..." are scamming people to buying overpriced juice... via illegal medical claims (see [my MonaVie Scam website] for extensive proof of that. Let's talk about Emerald (very, very high ranking) MonaVie Distributor Mitch Biggs and his illegal claims about how MonaVie is organic and helps with swine flu.) These people are welcome to sell other products that actually provide value (yep, MonaVie lacks nutrition. I hear that Pampered Chef makes some quality products that aren't priced 20x over what you'd find at competing stores.
As for being the cause of devastating them financially, this very, very large PDF, has MonaVie Black Diamond (one of the highest rankings attainable in the scam) Kelly Bangert saying, "I don't blame the company [for all the people beneath her losing their homes and their cars] or anyone for that matter, the economy has hit us all hard!!!! (Page 31 of that PDF)." So while I'd love to take credit, it's quite possible that people realized it's not very wise to spend $5000 a year on juice. And they probably also figured out it isn't worth spending another few thousand on tools and going to conferences to join a business that pays minimum wage (see MonaVie's income disclosure statement) for 85% of the distributors who are fortunate enough to make a dime at all.
Then I'll encourage the IRS takes a closer look at [Lazy Man's] personal and business returns for the past few years, just to make sure that all of the revenue from clicks and affiliate programs associated with all of your blogs and other websites has been properly documented and accounted for. Also, I will send letters of complaint to any and every AD on any of your blogs stating that I as well as thousands of people will not purchase their products if they continue to advertise on your blogs and sites.
I'm going to take a stab that the IRS has a process in place where they "sluff off" (I have to start using that more often) people who encourage them to do more work without some kind of solid evidence. Maybe I should encourage the IRS to look into my neighbor's taxes as he hasn't returned my rake from last fall. The bagger at the grocery store gives me a funny look sometimes too, so I'll tell the IRS to look into his taxes as well.
Most of the ads on my blogs are bought through Google AdSense, so you'd have to email tens of millions of people. It's good you have "all the time in the world" (as you state later in this email)
Also, your business associate and good friend [Lazy Man's friend] will have letters of complaint sent to the [the state of Lazy Man's friend's] Bar and probably to his partners at the firm just for good measure. After all, he is listed on some of your websites in the WHOIS, so it's obvious he is your business partner. You can change all the info if you like, but I have copies of everything I need. I've been collecting data for more than 7 months now. It was nice how you changed all of the emails from [email protected] on all of those WP sites, but again, it was too late, I have Snag It screen grab video of every entry so I know they are all your sites which again, ties [Lazy Man's friend] into them, his name, your email address.
Well my "business partner" (the person you mentioned) never really set up a website as you can see. Not that it matters, because he's perfectly entitled to set up a website. I'm very sure that the Bar association would laugh at your letters as you have him in no wrong-doing. In fact, it would be great if you really did go after my lawyer friend... I think we'd have an class action lawsuit against MonaVie.
Everything that I've found ties nicely in with your Facebook pages, Twitter pages, the LinkedIn pages and on and on. Isn't the Internet a cool tool? As far as I can see there are no issues sharing all of that information about you with anyone that may have an interest in it, and I bet there are a few people that do.
The Internet is cool! As I've said on my site in the past, I am not active on Facebook, Twitter... and my LinkedIn page is several years old. Of course you know this, so enjoy all that Internet goodness there.
So to stop the wheels from going into motion, and they will go into motion on August 25th at 12:00 noon PST, you simply have to do the following...
Take down the [MonaVie Scam] blog completely, and take down the [Lazy Man's MonaVie articles] and anything relating to the snake oil pages on Lazy Man, that's it. Pretty simple really.
The extreme blackmail continues. So he is asking me to hide the truth about MonaVie. Hmmm, that seems awfully suspicious. If MonaVie was really a quality product or quality company they'd openly debate the topics on my website. They can't, so they want to blackmail me into hiding the truth.
You may reply if you wish but this is the last communication you'll receive from me regarding this matter. This is not open to discussion and there are no other options. If you decide to post this on your blog then I will post unedited versions on multiple blogs [Lazy Man] of [Lazy Man's Location], software engineer. I'll also do press releases to make sure everyone knows [Lazy Man] of [Lazy Man's Location] runs these and other blogs. I will make it my number one priority and believe me, I have all the time in the world.
Your threat of "This is not open to discussion and there are no other options" starts out great. Unfortunately it goes downhill quickly when you offer to pay for press releases to publicize both my MonaVie article and my MonaVie Scam websites.
So if this whole attack blog thing is worth it to you then by all means, carry on, but you've made this personal and I'll handle it as such, and I will not stop sending letters to everyone listed, and also sharing your information which can be found online, until the [MonaVie Scam] and the specified [Lazy Man MonaVie] blog pages are down. This also extends to any new blogs, pages or sites you put up that do the same.
It's pretty unusual that this anonymous person said that I've made it personal. How could I have made it personal with someone who won't disclose their name?
This person doesn't realize that I don't really care much about my anonymity. I only did it because other personal finance bloggers did it. It was the cool thing to do in 2006. Plus, I think the "Who is Lazy Man?" mystery may be fun for some readers. You can read more about personal finance bloggers and anonymity here.
Have a nice day
"There is only the truth of the signal... You can't stop the signal, Mal. Everything goes somewhere, and I go everywhere. " - Mr. Universe, Serenity
Now that I've finished with his email, I'm going to make a counter proposal. This is not open to discussion and there are no other options. In fact, by the time he reads this, I've already sent the following letter to MonaVie's legal team as well as chief blogger, Shante Schroeder. So it's not actually a proposal as it's done.
To the lawyers of MonaVie:
It is a shame that I have to write this letter to you. Unfortunately, your company has given me no choice.
As you know, you've previously harassed me with two empty legal threats (see: here and here). Your employees have harassed me further by calling me an annoying douche
On August 23rd, 2010, I got an email from someone associated with MonaVie, LLC attempting to blackmail me by revealing my name and location.
Clearly, MonaVie, LLC and those affiliated with it, pose a very real threat to my safety. As such, I'm seeking proper legal council to hold MonaVie, LLC liable for the transgressions mentioned above. As I'm sure you know from the recent Limewire litigation, your company can be legally held responsible for the actions of those affiliated with it acting on behalf of your company.
I am not going to wait until Glenn Siesser (or anyone else affiliated with MonaVie) or DeeDee ([email protected]) makes due on their threats. I strongly recommend that MonaVie, LLC spread word throughout it's organization that it would be extremely bad for MonaVie, LLC if these threats continue.
It is very, very curious that MonaVie is some how scraping the web. I don't know if they are paying people off with bags of money or people are finding their websites are getting hacked. Either way, it looks like someone is trying to cover-up free speech about MonaVie... and doing it anyway they can.
Please leave any comments on my previous MonaVie post: MonaVie Scam?
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