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Is Vemma a Scam?

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When I wrote about the MonaVie Scam more than 5 years ago, I was amazed to get over 6,500 comments. Over time, the indisputable information from dozens of researchers lead me to make the easy conclusion, "MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that appears to be illegal pyramid scheme, fraudulently supported by nonsensical 'scientific' studies, and illegal medical claims from its paid salesforce."

To make a long story slightly shorter, these articles brought in MLM distributors to defend their industry. One challenged me to come up with something bad about ViSalus. It was pretty easy to show ViSalus was a scam as well with the terrible product, terrible marketing, and the founder running what the FTC guidelines quite clearly state is a pyramid scheme.

What does all this have to do with Vemma? In the past couple of months, I've been getting comments about Vemma being the next big MLM scam. In particular, commenter Jeff in that ViSalus article has been giving updates of his friend adventures in ViSalus, from when he got a BMW to when he lost his business because the people under him quit when they couldn't recruit others. Jeff explains that his friend left ViSalus and joined Vemma and how MLM has managed to destroy just about everything important in his life. Jeff also tells of how his friend has been three other MLMs and lost $10,000 in them, but what caught my attention is that the latest, Vemma, is "specializ[ing] in recruiting college and high school students to sell their energy drink" and "train[ing] their distributors how to sign up high school students without their parents knowing." I share his conclusion: "That’s a special level of MLM scumminess."

It's interesting MLMers are going back to Vemma. It's essentially the same juice scam that MonaVie was, but with Mangosteen as its "special ingredient" instead of acai berries. It's still an obscenely expensive product that is a dollar an ounce or more... . I'm sure Vemma distributors are going to hate this comparison. However, these posts have a way of getting very long and spending a lot of words on the topic isn't worth it. Most importantly, it's worth noting that juice, in general, is not healthy. There's really no need to split hairs with Xango, Xowii, Nopalea, Jusuru, MonaVie, Zrii, and Vemma distributors about the merits of their particular juice scam. If you don't believe me, Dr. Johnny Bowden debunked them all years ago. File this article away in your memory, because we'll be coming back to it later.

Sorry for the lengthy introduction about why I am writing the article. MLM distributors always claim that I pick on companies to personally profit from them and it couldn't be further from the truth. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that spending nearly $40 on a small bottle of juice and getting tricked into a scheme that costs nearly everyone thousands of dollars is exactly the kind of topic that attracts consumer advocates like me. If you are a distributor and don't want your company picked on, grab your pitch fork and run to Vemma's headquarters for fueling the fire.

Vemma's Product and Marketing Scam

Remember that article from Dr. Johnny Bowden that I mentioned above? If you haven't read it, give it a read now, I'll wait. Done? Good. Now you are prepared to understand why Vemma's marketing of ORAC scores is complete bunk. Vemma brags about 4800 units of ORAC per 2 ounce serving, but a small amount of cinnamon, oregano, or cloves can do the same job. They brag that "Vemma boasts superior antioxidant protection...", but fail to mention that research is showing that antioxidants are simply not helpful as science has hoped. However, it's a big industry, and companies like Vemma need to sell their $37 bottle of juice.

It gets worse as Vemma uses what I call the Total cereal advertising scam. Remember those funny commercials in the 80's that it would take X bowls of Brand X cereal to equal the nutrition in one bowl in Total? If not here's one example starting George Jefferson (okay it was the actor who played George). The logic is that brand X may only have 25% of the RDA of Riboflavin, so you'd have to eat 4 bowls to get the 100% in Total. Lost in the marketing is that you might end up getting 20 times the vitamin C, 5 times the fiber, 3 times the protein and a bunch of other good things in those 4 bowls of another brand. Raisin Bran could have pulled the same marketing trick on Total saying that you need to eat 3 bowls of Total to equal the fiber in a bowl of Raisin Bran.

Now that we've established the ridiculousness and deceptiveness of this type of advertising here are some examples from Vemma's marketing page:

  1. "55 eggs to equal the amount of Vitamin D"
  2. "62 oz of cheddar cheese to equal the amount of Vitamin B-12"
  3. "61 cups of tomatoes to equal the amount of Folate"

That sounds impressive, right? Let's take the first one, the 55 eggs for the vitamin D in Vemma. If you look up Vemma's Supplement Facts (note that they aren't Nutritional Facts, because it's marketed as a supplement, not a food or juice), you'll find that Vemma has 1,000 IU of Vitamin D per 2 ounce serving (16,000 IUs per 32 ounce bottle). Sounds incredible until you realize that this Liquid Vitamin D has 2,000 IU per drop and is $20 for 900 servings. That's 2.2 cents per serving for double of what's in Vemma. Vemma is effectively putting 8 drops, or less than 18 cents worth of Vitamin D supplement in every bottle. You can bet that Vemma is getting better bulk pricing than we are on Amazon.

Vemma has 15 mcg of Vitamin B-12, per 2 ounce serving (that's the 62 ounces of cheddar cheese). Amazon has 100 lozenges, with each having 2,000 mcg of B-12 for $8. One lozenge alone would be enough to supplement 133 servings (8 and a third bottles) of Vemma.

I shouldn't need to go further into these examples. The bottom line is that a good multivitamin could supply all this for a fraction of the cost. Notonly that, but you shouldn't be buying vitamins and supplements anyway.

One final product thought , in all the food mentioned there, there's a lot of calcium (cheese, spinach, etc.) and I couldn't find any on the Vemma label (though Vemma does list that there's calcium in their FAQ). Score one for the food.

Vemma's "Paid at Home" Scam

One (or more) Vemma distributor(s) has copied the Income at Home Scam that was covered by PT Money (and of course the previous link in extensive detail). These people created a 85% for example (PDF).)

Here I'll take a break an address a big problem with this disclosure. It uses the words "generate a profit", when it should say, "earns an income." The numbers used are clearly from Vemma's Income Disclosure Statement (PDF). No MLM even attempts to track distributor profit, because they don't care about these expenses... they vary from distributor to distributor. So those people earning an income between $667 and $1326 will likely end up spending more than that in juice, conferences (fees for the conference, hotel, flight, food, etc.), training materials for themselves and their downline, samples, and other associated costs. That's not a profit, but a loss.

So to put this in perspective, let's imagine 100,000 people in at a football stadium and they all decide to become Vemma distributors. If we apply the MonaVie's 85% inactive number, since Vemma doesn't seem to give their own, only 15,000 would make the income disclosure statement at all. From there some 75% would earn an income between $667 and $1326, which likely isn't profitable after expenses. Of the original 100,000 you are now left with 3750 people or 3.75% that might be actually generating a profit for their time spent. I would classify the other 96.25% as people who are wasting their time not generating a profit - a minimum wage employee at McDonalds would be more profitable.

And if you are looking to replace your own income, your odds are much, much lower - obviously depending on your income. The Paid at Home site mentions that this "require[s] hard work, desire, diligence, leadership and talent." So why anyone would want to take such an incredibly risky gamble to hopefully get to where they already are while still working hard is beyond me.

Finally don't get me started on how the website displays a "Positive SSL Secure" logo on its website without actually using SSL. Can you say positive fraud? I thought so.

Vemma's Business Opportunity

I went into this in more detail than I originally intended in the Paid at Home section above. That example should give you a good idea of what to expect. However, I suggest you read this article on the business of MLM to truly understand how bad of a business opportunity Vemma, an MLM, is.

Vemma's Young People Revolution Scam

As mentioned in the beginning, Vemma is now purposely targeting high school and college kids. The idea is that these minds are easy to mold and they likely haven't been subjected to MLM scams before. As MLMs churn through millions of people each year, the older generations have already been burnt, they need fresh blood and the next generation or expanding to a new country is the only place to get it.

The aforementioned ViSalus really went after the youth market with it's The Pyramid Thing video essentially flaunting their scheme. However, in the past year (as I write this in August 2013), ViSalus has lost half it's distributors from a year ago and haven't been able to replace the churned people.

You don't have to do any real research to figure out that Vemma's Young People Revolution is an illegal pyramid scheme. The first 30 seconds of this video makes it quite clear:

"The person who invited you today... is not trying to sell you two cases of anything. I can guarantee you that. They are just trying to present you with an opportunity to get you out whatever financial situation you are in into the one you want."

Why does that make it clear it is an illegal pyramid scheme? Here's the FTC words:

"Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money."

So yeah, the Young People Revolution isn't going to bother you by being legal and selling a product. Instead they are going to focus on recruiting you into an "opportunity" where the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them. Boom illegal pyramid scheme.

You'd think that the FTC would shut down Vemma, but they simply don't have the federal funding to fight these companies as the New York Post points out. The FTC can't even fight Free Credit Report due to financial constraints.

Because of this, there's a big chicken vs. egg problem that allows these schemes to continue. The FTC only acts when a number of people complain they've been defrauded by these schemes. People believe that if the schemes were fraudulent they would have been shut down by the FTC long ago and don't waste their time complaining about it.

Pyramid Scheme?

A Vemma distributor in the comments wanted to make the point that the products are a good value. Specifically Doug Boyd wrote:

"Its easy to toss the word pyramid around and I can tell you the real reason why all these companies are NOT pyramid schemes; they have a real product and in the case of Vemma’s Verve there is a demand for it."

MLMers tell themselves that a company with a product can't be a pyramid scheme. They are wrong and simply lying to themselves. The FTC has an educational page about MLMs and pyramid schemes, which says:

"Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money."

Note that there is no mention about whether the product is real. The question of demand is important though. Are the people making money from recruiting people who sell to those recruits (i.e. making money from the downline) or are they selling the product to the average person not involved in Vemma? It's not likely you'll get that data from Vemma. If you see them tout someone making a million dollars, they must really be hustling to do those sales outside of Vemma or it would seem to be a pyramid scheme according to the FTC.

Vemma's Excessive Product Prices

To understand why pricing is important it helps to read: The $100 Pen Pyramid Scheme. I'll wait. Back? Good.

So now that we understand why overpriced products can lead to pyramid schemes, it's worth looking at Vemma's pricing of the Verve product. I did a little math using the publicly available and well-known Amazon.com website (pricing as of 2/3/2014):

The price for Vemma is almost twice as much as the most expensive energy drink I typically can find in the store. If you read my article Save Money on Energy Drinks (and Caffeine), you'll know how you can energy drinks, such as the popular brand Amp, with twice the serving size for only a dollar. That's ~6 cents a ounce vs. ~33 cents an ounce for Verve. One can certainly see why the FTC suggests, "Many companies that market their products through distributors sell quality items at competitive prices. But some offer goods that are overpriced... Find out what will you be selling. Are similar products on the market? Is the product priced competitively?"

Is the Vemma Verve, like the $100 Pen Pyramid Scheme? Let's put it to a challenge and see if Verve sells in stores at 33 cents an ounce. Let's see if there is natural demand for the product when purchasing product isn't a de facto requirement for entry into a "business opportunity."

Some History on the Vemma's Founder, BK Boreyko

This isn't the first time that BK Boreyko has scammed people. The FTC has caught him defrauding people in the past. That time it was New Vision International (sounds like Young People's Revolution, right?) and the product was God's Recipe. In that case Boreyko was caught pitching the product as treating ADD and ADHD without the necessarily scientific evidence.

Given all the above, is this really the kind of person you think will make you rich, legally?

Vemma Declared a Pyramid Scheme in Italy

Consumer website, Truth In Advertising, has reported that Vemma Was Deemed Pyramid Scheme in Italy. They've also noted that Vemma Affiliates’ Health Claims Violate FTC Order.

It is a great article and a must read for anyone considering it in any country. Here are some interesting statistics from the article:

  • Only 27% of associates were eligible for bonuses by regularly ordering products from Vemma.
  • Fewer than 100 individuals on average generated six-month sales commissions higher than €1,000 (about $1,300 in June 2013), while nearly all the other associates received quite low or even paltry compensation.
  • A significant portion of the orders consisted of purchases made by associates themselves, presumably for their own consumption, which in the network are known as “autoship” sales.
  • Approximately 20% of the total income generated from product sales was obtained from the sale of expensive Vemma packages called “Builder Packs” that cost €599 or €999 (about $700 to $1,300 in June 2013), and over 60% was generated from autoship sales.
  • Only about 16% of the income was generated from the sale of products to third parties.
  • Only 24% of associates had a VAT number, which would enable them to sell products to third parties.

Remember that FTC quote above? With only 16% of sales coming from third parties it is clear that the money people make is not based on such sales. Instead it seems to come from the 80% of "Builder Packs" and monthly autoship to distributors. Using those guidelines, it is easy to why Italy would declare it a pyramid scheme.

Truth in Advertising further reports that the watchdog organization found, "A synergistic role in enhancing the effectiveness of Vemma’s pyramid scheme is generally the misleading representation of the supplements, so as to make them more attractive by attributing to them properties they do not possess..."

These claims are so common in the world of MLM health products, that I wrote an article about it, No, Your MLM Health Product Doesn't "Work", which was republished by the doctors at AITSE.org.

Truth in Advertising also quotes the Vemma saying two contradictory statements:

"If your goal is to become a household brand, it only makes sense to make a few more necessary operational and compensation plan changes to complete the move. To be more like Amazon.com and less like Amway."

followed by:

"Vemma’s Compensation Plan won’t change; we’ll just describe it differently in updated terms to better explain how we do business."

Truth in Advertising's final conclusion was:

"Truth be told, as a practical matter Vemma’s new compensation plan still suffers from many of the multiple faults that Italy’s AGCM found with the old pyramid plan."

Final Thoughts on Vemma

Typically when I write about MLM, I'll get a distributor who tries to find one area where the article isn't 100% accurate, points it out, and then suggests that I shouldn't write about things that I don't know about or haven't researched. Typically, the article is accurate and the distributor is the one mistaken about his/her own business. Secondly if one minor piece of information is incorrect, it doesn't mean the article as a whole is incorrect. Third Vemma, like all MLMs seems to purposely make its compensation difficult to understand with its own terminology not used in other businesses. Finally, this space is intended as a place where we can all learn more about Vemma. As you can tell, I've put a ton of research into Vemma. I shouldn't even have to write this, but I've found that people who get tricked into being MLM distributors often lack the critical thinking skills to understand this.

I could go on and on, but anyone with an IQ over 80 should have known more than a thousand words ago that this is a huge scam and to stay away from it. I took the expression beating a dead horse to the ultimate level with this one.

Update: There's a great article on Vemma on Cincinnati.com.

Update: Now NBC News is writing about Vemma: Controversial energy drink company targets students as sellers. Interestingly the person the news team interviewed told a typical story of recruitment and got immediately suspended by the company. That's what happens if your claims are high profile to an undercover news team. If it had been to you or me, Vemma would never have known or suspended him.

Last updated on October 13, 2015.

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61 Responses to “Is Vemma a Scam?”

  1. oxide says:

    Recently, my teen-aged son told me he was meeting a friend about some type of opportunity to make some money. I kind of fluffed it off not thinking much until he arrived at home all excited and explained to us what is was. A small group of other young adults were presenting him with an “opportunity” to “get in early” with a company called Vemma. Without having much knowledge about this company, what struck me was the “best” part…that is he was pitched that the “best part was that he really didn’t have to sell any product” but rather get a bunch of his buddy’s to sign up. The more buddies he got, the better. But to get in, you have to get some kind of “sign up” kit which was worth around $500! I don’t remember the exact number, but somewhere around there. I also recall this included juice but can’t be certain.

    Now, I haven’t spent anytime educating my son about possible scams and get rich schemes but did provide some advice. That is, NEVER sign up to ANYTHING where the person approaches you and asks you for money or any personal information without having any prior knowledge. If you approach something or someone, that is different, because you likely would have done some research prior. Thankfully he remembered this advice because he said he was so close to signing up but wanted to check with us first. He remembered what I had said.

    Without hesitation, I did a quick search and did find Jeff’s comments within the Visalus thread regarding how they target young adults/high school students etc. Prior to this, my son was all excited and thought “hey, I probably will sign up and see what happens”. I found this comment very interesting because it’s incredible how this industry brain washes its victims into thinking it’s the distributors fault if they fail. What strikes me the most is how little income my son makes and how easily he fluffs off $500!!! I swear, the MLM has a secret underworld where they train in the art of voodoo curses!

    Anyway, I provided Jeff’s comments along with general facts regarding pyramid schemes to see how similar it was to the presentation he just had. Well, I guess it was enough what had I sent him because the topic never came up again – and I don’t see a stockpile of Vemma juice in our garage.

    LM, thanks so much for posting this and everything else to create the awareness.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Oxide, thanks for for the comment.

      I’ve been thinking about fluffing off $500 and I think kids maybe can do that because they are tempted with much larger sums.

  2. Jeff says:

    Vemma, yeah. What a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and that’s saying something in MLM. They do indeed target college and high school students, you should hear the stuff they say at meetings, unbelievable.

    I saw one meeting where the presenter was coaching people how to teach kids under 18 to trick their parents into giving them them money to sign up as distributors. He told them that the kids should tell their parents they needed money to buy their energy drinks, because it’s easier to get them to agree to that than to get them to agree to give them money to sign up for a pyramid scheme. If I can find that video again, I’ll post it.

    Well there must be some pushback as B.K. Recently announced that they will only be enrolling people over the age of 18, but….there are ways around that distributors are passing around.

    http://yprpariah.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/vemma-ceo-bk-boreyko-still-recruiting-minors/

    That website, YPR Pariah, is most excellent in regards to exposing Vemma. Vemma also has some amusing and dedicated anti-Vemma people posting on Twitter hijacking their hashtags, especially #YPR .

  3. David says:

    Thank you, I say this because I have tried to tell family the same thing but they just don’t want to admit defeat. I wish more people would publish information on these scams as researched as this. Unfortunately Vemma pays a lot of money to people for their silence or their support through sponsorship.

  4. Robin says:

    I could go on and on about how wrong you guys are about Vemma, It’s changed my life. The training in personal development is so valuable. The knowledge regarding how to make money is priceless and the support you get when you reach out is fantastic. If any of you think Vemma brainwashes people you are sadly mistaken. Your kids are better off learning how to make money from a millionaire in vemma that you or their teachers making 50-70 thousand a year. I’m 18 years old and will be a millionaire by 20 even if I dont make vemma work I now have the knowledge and self confidence in myself to do whatever I set my mind to. Go study Bob proctor

    • Lazy Man says:

      And there’s the problem with the MLM brainwashing. It’s been well known that MLM brainwashes people and cult experts have studied it extensively.

      Though Vemma doesn’t give the statistics to prove it, I am very sure that every Vemma millionaire is one because they’ve recruited other people to join Vemma… that’s very much the core definition of a pyramid scheme. No, my kids are better served learning real world skills from reputable academic institutions than some con man.

      Bob Proctor’s bills are paid by promoting MLM. Go read the Consumer Awareness Institute: http://mlm-thetruth.com/research/mlm-statistics/shocking-stats/ and see how over 99% of people lose money.

  5. oxide says:

    Robin (con man in training) said:

    “Your kids are better off learning how to make money from a millionaire in vemma that you or their teachers making 50-70 thousand a year. I’m 18 years old and will be a millionaire by 20 even if I dont make vemma work I now have the knowledge and self confidence in myself to do whatever I set my mind to.”

    What are the chances Tim Sales said this when he was 18 :-)

  6. Joshua says:

    Nice review whether people try to bash Vemma or not at the end of the day it is an mlm and you have potential to make money off of it.

    • Lazy Man says:

      And you have the potential of an anvil falling on your head every time you leave the house too. The point is not to expect either to happen, because it is so extremely rare. You also have a 100% chance of making money at a minimum wage job in any fast food restaurant.

  7. Andrew says:

    if mlm’s are pyramid schemes then Corporate america is a pyramid scheme. Think about, an owner starts a business and recruits people to work for him making him money. The ceo is at the top making the most and the people at the bottom cant make more than the ceo. My advice stop blogging and go try it, then make your own opinion about it. Other than that you’re probably making only 40k a year and you work 40 plu hours a week with no freedom or time to do stuff with your family.

  8. Andrew says:

    Ive read your article and call bull [Editor’s Note: poop]. the example you said about the ceo, vice pres. and software engineer is ridiculous. First off the ceo started as the software engineer and now has other engineers working for him, making him the ceo. and as his business grow he gets more engineers working for him and making those first engineers he recruited in the beginning to now the vice president or managers. Now I am curious to know what your degree is? Are you business major or you just some schmuck off the street trying to criticize things that are different to you.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I think you misinterpreted my article completely. It was about how typical roles in typical companies make money. It looks like you are trying to make specific points about Vemma when you say, “First off the ceo started as the software engineer and now has other engineers working for him, making him the ceo. and as his business grow he gets more engineers working for him and making those first engineers he recruited in the beginning to now the vice president or managers.”

      It ignored the fact that a company can replace the CEO with another CEO. Microsoft is in the process of doing it now with Steve Ballmer. They aren’t about to hire the next person in their hierarchy. And companies can hire their own CFOs from business schools of their choosing.

      As for what my degrees are in, you should read my about page. Oh and you can see my Mensa Card here: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/whats-in-lazy-mans-wallet/.

      Do you have multiple degrees from a top 30 university and do you have proof of an IQ in the 98 percentile? Do you get your writing mentioned in the publications that I have highlighed? Or are you just some schmuck off the street trying to scam people about the difference of hierarchical vs. pyramid schemes.

  9. Christian says:

    Hey word of advice for you man.
    “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof,” said Confucius, “when your own doorstep is unclean”.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Christian,

      So you are saying that, according to Confucius, it would be wrong of me to complain about someone murdering my entire family if I cut off my mattress tags?

      Sorry, your hypothetical fails at the most basic level. More than than, you fail to show my doorstep is unclean… it is.

  10. Andrew says:

    First of your bio doesn’t say where you went to school or what your degrees are, and i’m not a blogger so i wouldn’t have my writings mentioned. Then 3rd i am just a schmuck that is proving you wrong in areas that you are wrong in. Then the ceo’s have to be trained by other ceo’s right? they don’t just pop out of there mothers and become a ceo. Also i thought your article was about how vemma is a scam?

    • Lazy Man says:

      My bio clearly states: “I graduated from a top 30 university with degrees in Computer Science and Linguistics.”

      It doesn’t say where I went to school, because people with that information could find out who I am. I am anonymous for the reasons that I state at the end of this article: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/lifevantage-protandim-scam/. It’s up to you to combine the information about my history… it’s the norm for my industry.

      CEOs are not trained by other CEOs in general. Many CIO’s take over as CEOs. Many CEOs start their own companies outright. Many go on big, long executive searches for a CEO.

      So you say, “Also i thought your article was about how vemma is a scam?” Did you read the article? Why did you post many comments about unrelated things and not address the main point you wanted to make?

  11. Andrew says:

    so we are just taking you word on you went to a top 30 university? my main point is you’re ignorant and think you’re right about everything. Also it is that you’re wrong about vemma being a scam. How does having a computer science degree make you titled to tell people what business opportunities are scams? Just because you read your moms magazines doesn’t mean you’re the next Donald Trump. Also you tell how every part of the vemma business is a scam, so how isn’t your article about vemma being a scam?

    • Lazy Man says:

      You don’t have to take me on my word about my top 30 University education. As I stated previously, it is very common for personal finance authors to be anonymous to disclose their opinions. See: http://cashmoneylife.com/should-you-blog-anonymously/. You shouldn’t rely on credentials and instead focus on the argument being made and weigh it on its own credentials.

      Your comment sounds like you are trying to play me as ignorant (you state it specifically), but you fail to show anything that I am wrong about.

      You said, “How does having a computer science degree make you titled to tell people what business opportunities are scams?” Well, let’s pretend that someone had a business opportunity on selling real estate with no money down. This is what Tom Vu did. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Vu. So…. what you are saying is that someone has to have to business degree in real estate to show that it doesn’t work? What about people, i.e. me, who put together extensive evidence?

      It’s not about my school education, which is extensive, or my Mom’s magazines (also extensive…), you like to just throw out things and see what sticks.

      You said, “Also you tell how every part of the vemma business is a scam, so how isn’t your article about vemma being a scam?” Well if someone were to explain why a product is part of an illegal pyramid scheme, it wouldn’t make sense to ask why that person’s article is not a scam, right?

      You should to learn to make logical arguments.

  12. Tearbag says:

    I talk to my kids (ages 12 and 9) about the dangers if drugs, unprotected sex, strangers, and MLMs. I am not kidding.

  13. Doug Boyd (Vemma Distributor) says:

    Wow, do top 30 universities consider Wiki a scholarly source for citations? lol My college was not top 30, but knew better. Listen, I usually do not chime in to these overtly bias rants but I always wonder how people go broke in MLM companies or their lives are ruined? We all know a small percent in any one company end up being rich, but many people make a few hundred bones on the side and get free product in the process. Why are they never mentioned?

    And what added costs are you talking about besides products? Wake up bro its 2014 and social media provides access to anyone, anywhere from the comfort of home. I’ve never had to buy any print or attend any meet out of my local area. I joined Vemma because I hate normal energy drinks and drinking too much coffee gave me kidney stones (so sais my doc).. I paid a little more than what a Redbull costs per can, less than a Starbucks foo foo drink in the beginning and after 2 months my product is now free. I got about 14 total people in the biz and thats that. Now I wont say it was easy because its not and definitely not for everyone. But if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, what a perfect, low cost place to test the water. For the love of god would you rather your son take out a biz lone of 6 figures and start a Pizza restaurant (with high failure rates in the industry) and then fall on his face and likely never recover? That happens all the time yet I cannot find a review on your site of small business entrepreneurs being idiots…

    Its easy to toss the word pyramid around and I can tell you the real reason why all these companies are NOT pyramid schemes; they have a real product and in the case of Vemma’s Verve there is a demand for it. Has nothing to do with funding, rather no legal means to do so.

    If anyone is really interested in a MLM or knowing what their children are getting into, they should look to what makes an MLM successful: Product, Timing, and Company. I wouldn’t suggest anyone getting into a MLM unless they enjoy and want the product. But I wouldn’t deter them based on a bunch or regurgitated text from one blog to another about weird–tiny pieces of business model or product that no one cares about. I have no idea about all the 12 vitamins in my Verve, but I do know I like the taste, its now for free, I get the energy I need and I’m happy.

    A final thought… If your lazy, the MLM or small biz world is not for you.

    Stick to being told what to do and you will always do what your told. Make decisions for yourself in life, with calculated risk, NOT blind risk, and you will find yourself in places you never thought you could be.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I point to Wikipedia because in 2005 it was found to be as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica, and it has only gotten a lot better since. If you believe the Wikipedia articles I cited to be inaccurate please explain why rather than just throw out fear, uncertainty, and doubt because you don’t like the source.

      I cited the FTC as well, you have any problems with that?

      Not many people make a few hundred on the side and get free product. That’s why they aren’t ever mentioned. The companies aren’t in the business of giving out free product. If you look at the income disclosure statement which is broken down well here: http://yprpariah.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/vemmas-income-disclosure-is-misleading/, you’ll see that most people lose money.

      The products are the added costs. They price them so astronomically high. There’s also the standard tools (motivation crap) that are everywhere in MLM. There are the conference fees as well. This Forbes article gives a real world example of a person who spent $20,000 and had their marriage ruined.

      You give a perfect example of why it is a terrible business. You had to bring in 14 people to pay for overpriced product to dig yourself out of the hole. Now there are 14 other people in the hole that have to each get 14 more people and nearly 200 people are in the hole. At the end of the day, there are a lot of people who aren’t going to be able to recruit 14 people and end in the hole. It’s simply not sustainable, and couldn’t be a clearer example of a pyramid scheme.

      It’s a good thing that pizza places cost so much to open. If they were free you might see a thousand pizza places in a small city. There simply isn’t that much demand for pizza and you’d see them all go out of business. That’s one of the fundamental problems of MLM. They are happy to create an a salesforce even if there’s no demand for the product. There’s no barrier to entry. This is covered in detail in my article here: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/the-business-of-mlm/. And don’t even touch on the failure rates. I covered that math here: http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/now-we-cant-trust-the-ftc-to-protect-consumers/. It’s much, much worse for those in MLM.

      Having a real product doesn’t make a company not a pyramid scheme. I think you should read the article again because you clearly missed the FTC’s quote that I clearly laid out for you. That’s yet another of the problems with MLM, the MLMers spread disinformation and misinformation from their uplines.

      You can start a successful small business is you are lazy. I don’t recommend it, though.

  14. Doug Boyd (Vemma Distributor) says:

    This is fun.. ;-)

    See here is the problem guy. Your articles are completely bias an this detracts readers. Its why there are hundreds of thousands of people participating in MLM and you can’t stop it. Your not credible just because you quote the FTC and regardless of what the FTC puts out about pyramid schemes, Vemma is still legally making money every day, clear out in the open. So how is that possible if they are a pyramid and pyramids are illegal? Enlighten us…

    Next, I can’t believe the arrogance of someone to boast about their own IQ and background especially when it has nothing to do with the relevance of this topic. Your using all secondary research when you could be far more credible by at least giving a company a try and invest a little of your own time and money. If you did, then you would know of the 14 people I put brought to Vemma, I really only put 3 of them in myself. the others I help grow their teams to get them started and on their way. You would know there is no point to fooling someone into joining for the short term because this is a long term investment. Finally, you would know how absurd it would be to lose 20,000 on this business model. At base entry you just pay 134 for 2 cases of energy drink. thats 2.80 a can and very comparable to mainstream competitors Redbull and Monster. So regardless of the platform it was aired on, if you lost 20,000 on a MLM like Vemma, guess what… Your an idiot and you would have lost that money somewhere else anyway.

    Now you talk about over priced product, but I bet your the same guy that buys a $4 cup of coffee at Starbucks… You probably rock some $200 Dr. Martin shoes instead of a $40 pair of Sketchers. Whether that is you or not, I can tell you it is a lot of Americans out there and no one seems to care when Nike, Starbucks, or Redbull sell product at grossly over priced amounts. So why should they care if Vemma, Herbalife or Amway do it?

    Now before you insult everyone with more hyperlinks, why don’t you listen for second. Everyone is not as dumb as you make them out to be. At each meet I attend with new prospects we have someone there that is making money, and I have a lot of people that have been int he biz from 3 to 10 months that are making nice weekly earnings. They are only paying for their 48 cans of drink and they drink 30 themselves and use 18 as samples. No one pays for anything else so they are well above the REAL break-even point. You make it sound like money earners are unicorns or myths. Do you really think so many people join just based on Alex Morton’s motivational speaking.? NO, they personally know someone making money.

    Tell you what I’ll bring you into the biz, you give it an honest shot and I bet we can get you to the break even point, maybe beyond. Then, no matter what happens you just increased the credibility of your writing that much more and maybe you can post future blogs with a little less bias. No contracts, no start ups, at worst case you bought to cases of energy drink.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’m also biased against spousal abuse and if I see people promoting it I’m going to detract readers from it. There are hundreds of thousands of people abusing their spouses and I can’t stop it. It doesn’t mean that we should just ignore it. Every individual you help makes the world a better place.

      You say I am not credible because I quote the FTC? This is the definition of being credible, citing a credible source. What source did you cite, just the Doug Boyd source?

      You probably don’t know that Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing claimed to be legally making money every day. In 2010, in USA Today the President said, “If it were illegal, I wouldn’t be standing here.” Fast forward to early 2013 when the FTC shut the company down, saying “In its decade of operation, FHTM has defrauded hundreds of thousands of customers out of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

      So how did Fortune Hi-Tech do it, even when one of the largest newspapers in the country exposed the fraud in depth years before the FTC was able to shut it down? The answer is complicated. For one, the FTC doesn’t have the funding for a legal fight against private companies. For another the FTC openly admits that they don’t investigate companies unless people complain. People don’t complain because they feel that if it was illegal the FTC would have already shut the company down (using the logic that the President of FHTM used).

      Consider yourself enlightened.

      I didn’t boast about my background and IQ. Andrew asked about my qualifications saying, “Now I am curious to know what your degree is? Are you business major or you just some schmuck off the street trying to criticize things that are different to you.” I was simply answering him to show that I’m not some schmuck off the street. I agree that it doesn’t have to do with the topic, but if I don’t address the question people then attack my credibility for it. Either you Vemma distributors want to know my credentials or not. If you ask and I give you a truthful response don’t call it arrogant boasting.

      Doug said, “Your using all secondary research when you could be far more credible by at least giving a company a try and invest a little of your own time and money.”

      I use all secondary sources for my knowledge about jumping off a bridge or playing Russian Roulette. In fact, by being on the outside, I am not biased like you. Read more: MLM Mind Game: Real Life Experience vs. External Perspective

      Doug said, “If you did, then you would know of the 14 people I put brought to Vemma, I really only put 3 of them in myself. the others I help grow their teams to get them started and on their way.”

      So when I join Vemma, they give me the background of how many people Doug Boyd put directly into Vemma? That seems unlikely. In any case, it would be better time spent educating people about illegal pyramid schemes. “Growing a team” is MLM code for recruiting into my pyramid scheme.

      Doug said, “You would know there is no point to fooling someone into joining for the short term because this is a long term investment.”

      Having looked at the churn rates of many MLMs, for most people it is short term. The hope is to keep people in long-term paying month after month so you don’t have recruit new people to pay the old. However, typically after a few months people get it and move on.

      As for the person who lost $20,000 it is more common than you think. I’m not going to say it is very common, but I’ve read dozens of people admitting it. People like you pitch it as $134 for entry so it sounds like no big investment. Then they find that they have to spend $150 in product each month (it varies based on MLM) to continue to be “active” while in the business. That’s $1800, maybe $2000 with shipping, a year right there (remember you said it was a long-term investment). Then when people aren’t having instant success, because the system is mathematically designed for failure, people are encouraged to spend thousands more on tools to motivate themselves and/or get leads on the Internet. Don’t forget the annual conferences with conference feeds, flights, hotels, restaurants, etc.

      Yes, people may be idiots for spending $20,000 on this stuff, but they already proved they weren’t intelligent by getting involved in MLM in the first place. Clearly all the tool systems and MLM lead software businesses wouldn’t exist if there weren’t MLM idiots buying them.

      As for the $2.80 a can for an energy drink, my friend Amthrax wrote about this with MonaVie EMV five years ago. It was at the exact price point. Consumers tired of paying $2 for an energy drink back in 2008. If you are looking I can give you information on how to Save Money on Energy Drinks (and Caffeine). Hint, a dollar store typically has them for, you guessed it, one dollar. For $365 I could have an energy drink every day of the year… much cheaper than spending $1500 or $2000 on Vemma.

      Maybe you should take a little more time to read if I’m the guy who spends $4 at Starbucks or has a $200 pair of Doc Martens. This website is about making the most of your money and I have well over 1500 articles for you to read on the topic so you don’t have to look stupid conjecturing erroneously.

      Starbucks has restaurant overhead and its pricing is in line with other coffee shops of the same type. Nike shoes are also priced more or less in line with other brands like New Balance and Reebok. Redbull’s pricing is a little absurd and its why I don’t drink the stuff. Monster cables are ridiculously expensive as well and I don’t advocate people get those. However, under no stretch of the imagination are the businesses pyramid schemes. In order to receive a paycheck for Nike, they don’t require you to spend thousands on their shoes each year. The same is true for Starbucks and Redbull.

      Doug said, “Now before you insult everyone with more hyperlinks, why don’t you listen for second.”

      Why would anyone be insulted with well-cited, well-researched information that backs up my view? They should be more insulted by your lack of ability to support your statements.

      Doug said, “At each meet I attend with new prospects we have someone there that is making money, and I have a lot of people that have been int he biz from 3 to 10 months that are making nice weekly earnings.”

      That’s by design… are you going to bring prospects to a meeting where everyone is losing money? I’m sure that pitch goes real well. “Nice weekly earnings” aren’t necessarily profits. Take out expenses and then divide by hours spent and on average it is far below minimum wage. This can be shown for numerous MLMs and as I showed earlier Vemma’s income disclosure statement is no different. Don’t go making a bad MLM argument using absolutes and putting words in my mouth by saying that money earners don’t exist. As in any pyramid scheme, there are people making money, but that’s only because they’ve gotten people below them who are not.

      Doug said, “Do you really think so many people join just based on Alex Morton’s motivational speaking.? NO, they personally know someone making money.”

      Using that logic, if I joined Vemma today, I couldn’t possibly succeed. I don’t personally know someone making money and hence I couldn’t build a team since they too would not know anyone making money. It’s worth pointing out that that 99.99% of all the people I’ve ever met also do not know anyone making money in Vemma, so they’d fail at the business as well. That sounds craptastic!

      Doug said, “Tell you what I’ll bring you into the biz, you give it an honest shot and I bet we can get you to the break even point, maybe beyond. Then, no matter what happens you just increased the credibility of your writing that much more and maybe you can post future blogs with a little less bias. No contracts, no start ups, at worst case you bought to cases of energy drink.”

      I’m going to try to explain it simply. By getting me, you, or Teddy Ruxpin, to the break even point, you’ve inflicted the losses on numerous other people. I don’t know how else to put it in your head how selfish that is. You are probably too brainwashed to think about yourself to understand the whole system, but I’m not.

    • Doug says:

      Wow, when you compare spousal abuse to MLM organisations it shows how off the reservation you are my friend.

      I can tell that your probably not much of a doer, rather a guy that reads about what going on in the world and comes to conclusions though the eyes of others. Because of your biased writing style you likely only listen to like-minded people, which is horribly boring and limiting.

      I love your “Thats by design” comment. Would Nike tell you a specific shoe design sucks and is not very comfortable? Should I not show success stories of other clients in my marketing company?? Should restaurants not say their food is the best in the area to draw attention? All of that is by design. So why would a Vemma partner not share a success story, living and breathing at a meeting? I feeling you don’t quite like marketers either… lol

      What I know:
      – I pay 134 for my product a month 48 cans, that includes shipping. (NO START UP, NO SURPRISES)
      – I spend most my time talking to people at places I planned to be at anyway or on social media during down time so I don’t view it is labor intensive
      – My network has increased considerably in the months I’ve been with the company, which has driven marketing company by opening up new leads
      – I am making money above the break-even, the REAL break-even, not the one you drummed up with all these additional expenses (I can only speak for Vemma, I do not know what other MLM’s charge)
      – If you buy a 1 dollar energy drink, it will absolutely taste like a 1 dollar energy drink (yuck)
      – No matter who Starbucks or Nike compete against, their products are grossly over priced

      And I’m very happy to quote myself on the subject because I’m actually doing, NOT reading about it.

      Plenty of talkers out there my friend. Why don’t you get into the business of doing, you will find it much more rewarding.

      BTW: Funny you chose MLM as the subject matter for many of your blogs… Wonder if that was by design due to the massive popularity on the subject.. hhhmmm ;-)

    • Lazy Man says:

      I didn’t compare MLM to spousal abuse, I was simply illustrating how far off your arguments were… so ridiculous that they can be used to support spousal abuse. I could have made a more accurate comparison such as fraud, specifically snake oil salesmen, but since you left the door open for a more extreme example I took it. Maybe now you realize how silly those arguments were.

      You are right, I’m not much of a doer. You’ve got 14 people in your scheme. I have had nearly 3.5 million readers. Continue with your ridiculous arguments…

      You say that I likely only listen to like-minded people, and yet, I’m here writing about MLM having a conversation with someone who possibly couldn’t be less like-minded. In contast, MLMers often tell each other to tune out the others and if they don’t agree with they are being negative. MLM companies turns to thought control to prevent mass exodus. (Oops there’s another well-cited link backing up my point for you.)

      You seem to think that because there’s someone showing up at meetings who makes money, it is a selling point. It’s a non-event because the companies plan to have those people at the meetings. Don’t go off into the other extreme about Nike not saying that their shoes suck. Simply acknowledge it is a non-event and move on.

      Doug said, “Should I not show success stories of other clients in my marketing company?”

      Exactly, according to the FTC you should not. I will direct you to this page about the FTC endorsement guidelines:

      Testimonials claiming specific results usually will be interpreted to mean that the endorser’s experience is what others can expect. Statements like “Results not typical” or “Individual results may vary” won’t change that interpretation. That leaves advertisers with two choices:

      • Have adequate proof to back up the claim that the results shown in the ad are typical, or
      • Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the ad

      So you can’t bring in an Alex Morton to say how much he makes in Vemma without having adequate proof that the average person makes that amount too (which probably isn’t the case unless Alex Morton is at the bottom) or unless you make it clear to everyone that the expected performance is to make less than minimum wage. Essentially, to market the opportunity within the FTC’s guidelines, you do have to take the step to say that Vemma’s opportunity sucks. These are the FTC rules that are designed to help consumers to avoid fraud. Don’t get made at me, I’m just the messanger here.

      I love your stance. Starbucks and Nike are overpriced, but $1 energy drinks taste like $1 energy drinks. Starbucks and Nike are priced around the same as Seattle’s Best Coffee, Pete’s Coffee, and Reebok and New Balance respectively. If they are priced more it is by a small margin, maybe 10% to 20%.

      Let’s look at the Red Bull and Vemma that you compare:

      Red Bull Energy Drink, 8.4-Ounce Cans (Pack of 24) – Price is $38 and it includes free shipping.
      24- 8.3 Oz Cans Vemma Verve Bold Energy Drinks – Price is $78.00 (more than double) or $90 with shipping.

      That’s an apples to apples comparison and it is more than double, nearly triple the cost of the Red Bull that I already acknowledged is overpriced. Taking it a step further, the price with shipping of Verve there is $3.75 for 8.3 ounces or 45 cents an ounce. The energy drinks at a dollar store (brands like Rip-It and Amp’d) or Aldi (their Gridlock brand tastes exactly like Monster) come in at 6.25 cents an ounce (16 ounces for a dollar).

      So your Vemma drinks is 7.2 times as expensive as a comparable product. That would be like Starbucks selling a $17.20 latte vs. the $2.39 McCafe version at McDonalds. I know you say that you can get it cheaper at $2.80, but you are still getting stuck paying 33 cents an ounce instead of 6 cents an ounce… more than 5 times much

      You could save your “team/pyramid” thousands of dollars per year by just making the smarter purchasing decision. You won’t do it though, because you get your drink for free because you’ve convinced a bunch of others to pay 5 times more than they should. Keep being selfish about your personal break-even or above break-even story and keep your head in the sand about how everyone else is getting ripped off.

      I choose MLM as the subject matter for my blogs, because people come to me asking my opinion on the topic since I famously thoroughly exposed the MonaVie scam years ago. MLMs aren’t very popular… fewer than 5% of people in the US are in them. In contrast my articles on straight-up personal finance topics is applicable to everyone.

  15. Mary says:

    Vemma’s marketing arm to generate leads Global Power Systems is a complete scam. They generate their leads through a company that advertises work at home programs–they promote an audio program that they lead you to believe has multiple motivational DVD ‘s to listen to and you get a business coach to work with you. They tell you it’s part of a wellness program but never mention the name or product. The charge is $9.95 for shipping and the program is free. Then send you an email you’ll be hearing from your coach in 24-72 hours–when the coach does call, they reading from a script telling you that your package has been mailed to you–it’s exactly what they’re going over with you and on the website they give you with the 4 steps to it and that website will answer all you questions, because she can’t answer them–when you finish all those steps she call you back at a later time–all this time still no mention of the company. When she calls back she does a 3 way with a sizzle call that finally tells you the cost to join and the company–then when she gets back on the call she ready to sign you up and charge your credit card before they even give you a chance to think about it. I didn’t because they couldn’t run my card–then started checking out the wellness program and realized their products weren’t for me and then let her know I wasn’t interested–then she tells me unless I return it in 14 days I’ll be charged another $35.00. I called FedEx to cancel and have it shipped back they did so–but get a load of this–there was no return address on the envelope so I got it anyway. Ended up calling the credit card company to cancel that card and have a new 1 ussued so she can’t charge me–this is what you pay $9.95 for a 8 page brochure with a dvd attached. The whole packet in’t worth $10.00 much less $35.00 that she said she paid for it & is only free to you if you join the company. because there is no return address it can’t be returned and then you’ve expected to pay $10.00 to return it if you don’t join. My coach is Debbie Williams from Omaha, Ne.

  16. Missy says:

    I was tricked into joining vemma in September at my college along with my boyfriend. We joined in the middle of a “growth” stage at my school. I’m very glad we split the cost as it was wasted money. We heard the speeches and met with the people. I sat with my fellow vemma people for weeks on end, listening memorizing the lines and learning how to do it. I went off and did everything I was supossed to. Over time I saw people drop out, while we were encouraged to stay to continue it. And we stayed for a while. Every night when I got home I was sent texts and messages from people, encouraging me to listen in on these business calls to learn how to grow my business. I’m glad I never wasted my time. The highest level person I met was a silver and on the way to get his “free” car, however only pulling in $200 a month from vemma. He had 50 people under him, including rock stars (although he never told me who). So what did I have to look up to? I person who spent nearly every waking hour on growing his “business” only to make $200 a month? A person who paid no attention in class, but then left to talk to people all day, and then go home to get on these stupid calls. I make more money at my part time job, and never have to worry about going home to my work. And lets say you do manage to make money and be able to rest for a little bit, you’re still going to have to work to keep people coming in. gotta keep those “legs even” to cycle. If you don’t, you lose that money and are stuck with cans of product that seriously suck. Even selling them you won’t break even. The only people who have made serious bank are those who joined very early, and live in places with access to tons of prospects. Those people who speak at conventions and stuff also clearly pull in checks for speaking about how amazing everything is, when in reality it’s not.

    Also the whole talk about how “it costs the same as redbull and monster” stuff is pure bull crap. I can buy a case wholesale for $1.50 a can, then you mark it up to $3.25 a can, and make a profit of $1.75. You can’t do that with verve as you already pay full price. You’re spending money on cases of drinks to give away to people hoping to get them in, so that they buy cases. The money from the other cases the downline buys is used to pay for the uplines “free product”. The money can only continue as long as you have people coming in and putting out $76 a case. I don’t like living my life that way. Ill stick to my $8 an hour job where I put in less effort and yet make more money than many people in vemma without having to con people into buying drinks or signing more people to continue the chain. Lets be honest. Most people don’t join wanting the drink, they want the money. If it was about the drink, it would be in stores and there would be no need to sign people into it and people would also just buy the drink.

    I could seriously write a book with all the crap I went through.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Missy,

      Thanks for the article. This is why I write about MLM companies. There are so many caught up in the brainwashing that they can’t see what you’ve clearly laid out. As you say, the people join not because of the product, but because they are pitched that it is a legit business opportunity… it just requires spend, spend, money and never quit.

      There are a few books already written. Merchants of Deception is a good one. It’s free here: https://archive.org/details/MerchantsOfDeception

  17. james ruiz says:

    Thanks for this article, I was thinking of joining Vemma without doing any research and now I am glad that I have. What they told me was that I had to pay or $300 for a sample pack or one that was about half that for less sample packs, then I had to pay for 2 websites at about $30 per site or, if I couldn’t afford the sites, that I could do like another distributor did and start with Facebook and work from there and I could also make good money that way like she did. I guess that now that I read your article, the best way to make money is to stop being lazy and looking for easy ways to make a ton of money. My word of advice here is to really believe in the old saying “If it’s too good to be true then it usually is” so stop believing in everything you hear or read about these get rich quick schemes and to start to save your money to get what you want, you will appreciate it more and as my mom always said to me, other than they old saying, is that get what you need not what you want and also if you don’t have the money for it then you don’t really need it.

  18. Hannah says:

    Recently one Facebook I have seen new (all male same age) recruits to Vemma. You could pick them out in a crowd because each status minutes after joining is littered with the same phrases over and over. This comes with a request for others to message them and to join.
    I have been confronted with this opportunity to join before however they were very close friends of mine and truly respected my polite decline.
    There was always something fishy about this corporation to me however I never researched it until now.
    A friend of mine whom confronted me the other day about attending a meeting promptly got into an argument with me over the validity of Vemma.
    I had seen his status on Facebook so did not even have to ask questions on what meeting he would like me to attend.
    He began to toss out the overly-used phrases and “facts” on the company I see in every direction I turn when there is positive feedback.
    They brainwash everyone and as you stated is more or less using tactics cults use to recruit people.
    Now before I debunked his idea I researched the company for a good hour or so before again declining this “opportunity”.
    He was persistent however and I know the only reason he was so persistent was because he won’t make a dime unless I join and pay $500 for a case of energy drinks which I will never touch (I would much rather stick to my tea and coffee with an occasional monster here and there).
    With this argument he told me he already made his money back within the month he has been with them. I believed this because I believe Vemma would re-imburse you to get you to believe you will be successful staying with them.
    I proceeded to tell him all of the misinformation Vemma leads their brainwashed followers to believe. They are not affiliated with the NBA as they so like to boast, in fact the co-executive president of communications Micheal Bass spoke out about how they have no partnership with Vemma and never dove into researching the companies structure.
    Instantly he debunked that validation and began uttering the same robot-like phrases all of these young adults are taught to utter.
    As many Vemma representatives on here have done, he began to insult my credibility, my intelligence, and told me how I will be unsuccessful in the future UNLESS I join Vemma.
    This set me off and I threw a ton of facts his way much like you had done, to discredit his idiotic stance to which he had no logical response to and left.
    I currently work part time (was full time yet I asked them to cut my hours) at a job I love. Here I have learned responsibility, work ethic, and I am making decent money for a 19 year old (about 15k a year if I was still working full time).
    In my opinion, Vemma is like a cult. Those of us who have done our research before going in and becoming brainwashed have realized this and is why we refuse to be out thousands of dollars a year with no chance of being a millionaire by the time we’re 20. These Tom, Dick, and Harry’s are specifically trained in the art of psychological manipulation to say, breathe, and look the right way to persuade YOU to believe you could be like the .1 % of Vemma Reps who did become successful.
    An argument I made about how Vemma is not a reputable business is my father. My friend told me you cannot simply toss people under you and become successful. Well. . .true, you cannot do this. What is done however is becoming successful through your own merit with hard work and determination. After this success if fulfilled and you need more people to keep your business growing you hire them and they are instantly under you. These people are not required to hire other people and buy x amount of products to get paid.
    As stated in the former my father is a car salesman. He is placed under people the instant he get a job, the head of said company most likely paying no mind to whom a specific dealer hires or doesn’t hire. Now my father is not required to buy x amount of cars for y price and has to recruit x amount of people who have to buy x amount of cars for y price in order for him to get paid. And that’s how a business should be run. He is trusted to make a sale and if he doesn’t then he is out of the job, that simple.
    It irks me how Vemma is brainwashing young adults by the masses to buy into this scheme.
    Basically I could be successful by selling tampons to kids for hundreds of dollars and just telling them they’ll get paid by getting new people to buy said tampons from me.
    Ridiculous is my say, pyramid schemes only equal success for the man at the very top, don’t be fooled.

  19. Vogel says:

    Hannah, you are very wise, specially for someone so young. Your friend is dead wrong; I see great success in your future.

  20. Sarah says:

    I personally think you’re a an absolute idiot and this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever actually wasted my time reading.
    Probably coming from an ugly old fat man who has had no success in his filthy life that he spends his time doing reviews on company’s that has actually NOTHING to do with you.

    I have been apart of Vemma for going on 6 months now and have already created an income of minimum 1000$ a week which is more then any job I have ever tried. Soon enough that grand a week will grow into multiple grand a week and I havnt even turned 20 yet, how is that?
    I also dropped out of HighSchool at year 10 and was told that I would be nothing all my life.

    Now the comments concerning ‘Only the people at the top make the money’ IS NOT TRUE. I have a team of hundreds and 80% of them are making an income which is just as much as there part time job.
    Its the 21st century ya old pricks get with it or die old and poor. Catchya

    • Lazy Man says:

      Someone drank too much Hatorade last night.

      I’m in good shape, 38, and have set up a $200,000 annual income. I hold multiple degrees from a Top 40 school.

      The fact that you dropped out of high school and are not 20 pretty much explains my point. You probably don’t even know what a pyramid scheme is. You may think you do from your upline, but I doubt you know what the FTC looks for.

      Vemma has disclosed the annual earnings themselves on their website. Their disclosure supports the claim “only the people at the top make the money.” If you want to prove Vemma wrong by sending me all the evidence you have to the contrary, please go ahead.

  21. James says:

    I wouldn’t waste my breath with that kid Sarah Lazy Man, let her learn the hard way when it all falls down then she will say “If only I would have listened” like we all have in the past and sometimes still do. She will learn, I hope. She is young and will recover when the company goes down in flames in multiple lawsuits.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Let’s hope. I get the impression she’ll just jump to another MLM thinking that “This wasn’t the one.”

    • James says:

      That is the problem with kids now days, big money no work and I hope she doesn’t do that, if she is really making that kind of money I hope she is putting it aside for when she really needs it when all comes crashing down and not spend it at the mall like she won the power ball because she will need it.

  22. […] seems like every MLM wants to sell an energy drink nowadays. It seems like Verve! is a core component of Vemma's scam. Not to be left behind MonaVie's Mynt is pushing their EMV energy drink. It makes sense. Energy […]

  23. Johnny Bravo says:

    Anyone know what happened to YPR Pariah? Something smells. He said he had done his work and he would stop creating new content. He stated he would leave the blog to sway people in the future. Now the blog is gone and only a warning not to repost anything from it.
    I think the Vemma legal machine scared him away. Way to go BK.

  24. james milner says:

    before you join vemma make sure you check out the facts!! now everyone is entitled to their own opinion but facts are facts check this video out! helped me a lot! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYxGcxKy_-o

  25. uvm_manager says:

    I read the blog but skipped most the post, so this may be old news, but vemma verge is not that new, it actually came out about the time of red bull, well was in a trial in 2005, the only reason I know is I was living in WA and it was to be a TX based company and they sent me two bottles to try, and it tasted like shit. Than I was contacted about an opportunity to get on the ground breaking release. I passed. I am amazed to see it made a come back. I guess in MLM if you wait around long enough history will repeat itself.

  26. chris s says:

    You post these articles for lazy people that expect fortunes to fall in their lap. Many people make money with network marketing and if you expect to “recruit, recruit, recruit” you will fail. Clearly you have no experience other than writing blogs confirming people to continue thinking IN the box and working at their 9-5 job. Many people fail, and the only person to blame for your failure is YOU! Regardless, this blogger is almost as dumb as the debt guy… He gets paid to sell advertising to all the morons who read this garbage!

  27. Joshua Robinson says:

    [Editor’s note: This is a very long comment that was submitted with paragraphs, so I’ve done the best I can to space it out. I’ve also added in my responses for comments, so to ensure that everything is covered.]

    So Lazy man, you are honestly doing a dis-service to all the people you are saying Vemma is a scam to. I love how every review like this is always one sided and focuses on how most MLM’s recruit, recruit, recruit. But Vemma is actually set up to help you in your business instead of hurt you. They don’t make you buy product to generate sales, but to impose a minimum amount of product you should be going through in order to be successful in the business. Do you have sales experience? I’m thinking you don’t, because if you did there are some rules you would know about selling. 1. You must consume or use your product on a daily basis. How can you morally ask someone else to do it if you don’t? How can you give stories and experiences about the product if you have none?

    [Editor’s Response: Vemma can’t be set up to help you in your business, because they don’t limit the number of salesmen to ensure a proper balance of supply and demand. Read more here.

    The FTC has written (paraphrased), MLMs with Required Minimum Purchases to Earn Commissions are Pyramid Schemes.

    I love Kind nutritional bars and referenced them on blog before. I earn a commission if someone buys them on Amazon. I don’t buy them all the time and I don’t have a minimum purchase to buy the product. I don’t need to use them everyday to tell people they are great. I don’t need everyone else to consume them on a daily basis either. You won’t hear me give stories or experiences about Kind bars, just like I wouldn’t give a story or experience about an apple.

    This is a perfect example of how a good product can be sold by word of mouth without pyramid schemes, cults, illegal medical testimonials and all the nasty stuff that comes with these scams.]

    2. When you are selling something that you consume, you have to have it for people to try, some are going to like it and some are not going to like it. But its not fair to make someone buy something before they try it. You have to have product to sample, Period.

    [Editor’s Response: Legitimate companies supply their salesforce with samples. If you ask Vemma to give you small shots for free in order to sell cases of drinks they should have zero problem of supplying them to you. If they have any complaints, you can be sure they aren’t interested in working on mutually beneficial business relationship, but instead trying to soak distributors by getting them t buy as much product as possible in pursuit of the terrible business opportunity.]

    The first two rules cover the products that they have you order every month, even though its never, and I repeat never been mandatory or the only way to stay active in the business. If you make three sales a month, thats right THREE SALES, your business is free. The people who were paying monthly were unable to produce three sales in a months time.

    [Editor’s Response: Three sales is extremely difficult at Vemma’s prices. Also since people have incentive to join Vemma for the discount, no intelligent person would pay retail price. You have to find some very uneducated consumers who are willing to excessive prices and not look for a discount… and they have to like the product. You might as well ask people to hit 10 consecutive holes-in-one at TPC Sawgrass as a way to avoid paying for their personal volume. It doesn’t matter if there is a second way to qualify, if it is window dressing that isn’t used.]

    3. This is the mathematical formula basis for selling. Psychology has an 80-10-10 rule(you can look this up). 10% of people are always going to be inclined to say “yes” (it does not matter the context of them saying yes or what they are saying yes to, its just a general rule). 10% are always going to be inclined to say “no”. The other 80% of people will say yes or no based upon the person who is offering something or selling something. This rule is the basis of all sales and you can find it in almost any sales book or psychology book for that matter.

    [Editor’s Response: I tried to find this and only came up with an 80-10-10 raw diet. I don’t doubt that it exists, but it isn’t common. I also think it makes an assumption that the product is priced at a fair market value. MLM products aren’t because they have an admission fee to the business backed into the purchase. That’s why after studying dozens of them, every one of them is 5x or 20x pricier than its common competitor, and often at lower quality.

    Use a little common sense. If you run a gas station with $50/gal gas, you aren’t going to get 10% of the market.]

    So with that knowledge, two packs of product (that’s the minimum of start off with) is 48 cans. So if you take those 48 cans and split them down the middle so 24 for yourself and 24 for samples. You ask every person who you give samples to buy from you. Thats guaranteed two people off the 10-80-10 rule. The other 22 people are going to say yes or no based off price, taste, and circumstance.

    [Editor’s Response: It is quite clear that price isn’t a selling point. As some commented the taste is terrible, but that’s subjective. There’s no real “circumstance” to enegry drinks. Maybe you can sell one or two cans by being at the right place at the right time, but supermarkets and gas stations are far more convenience.]

    But training is provided for you so you can help those 22 people make the best decision for them (not for you). This business only works if the person likes the product and wants to drink the product. So it doesn’t help if you push product on people. I’ve had years of sales training so I would know how to formulate this without Vemma telling me how much product I should buy. But for the average person who wants to start in Vemma because they enjoy drinking the products and want to make money helping others enjoy the same happiness they do, don’t typically have the knowledge that I do, so vemma helps them out by giving them this outline.

    [Editor’s Response: Well, it doesn’t seem the salespeople are using this “training.” The videos that were referenced seemed to show college age kids recruiting heavily into what many have implied is an obvious pyramid scheme.]

    That’s right, this outline is given to everyone who joins. Not all of the explanation of the numbers and psychology behind it. But just the simple fact that one case is for you and the other is for you to give out as samples.

    [Editor’s Response: Oh, now I get it. So this is how they get suckers to buy twice as much product. It’s just Harper’s Magazine wrote: “They couldn’t have it all because Mary Kay’s business model (like that of any multilevel-marketing enterprise) is designed primarily to profit from, rather than enrich, its workforce.”

    So go back and have them give you 1 oz. shots for free to use as samples.]

    The only way you can not do well in this business is to not get all your product out every month.

    [Editor’s Response: Yes, and at the pricing this is a very common thing. Also, another way to not do well is to end up drinking it yourself.]

    The other problem I have with your review is that vemma presents itself in a way that they feel is best and is still true. You have a problem with that and feel they are trying to twist the information.

    [Editor’s Response: I have a problem with how it looks like a pyramid scheme. It targets people who typically can’t afford the pricing of the products and tempts them into the false hope of a “business opportunity” wihtout being upfront about 99% of people losing their money. The previous charges against the CEO running it doesn’t help my opinion any.]

    But what you fail to understand is that its healthy, period. It does what it says its going to do, period. If you want to compare it to red bull. Have you met anyone who can drink just one red bull and be good all day? Doubt it, because they are going to crash, and that is proven. But I can show you tons of people, who can go all day off one verve energy drink and don’t have a crash. You have to pay for quality point blank. Most people I know will typically have 2 or 3 energy drinks a day or 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Where with our energy drinks you only typically need one. That’s where you save you money.

    [Editor’s Response: No one is going to give energy drinks points for being healthy. Let’s look at what Brown University tells its students about energy drinks, “5-hour energy drink advertises ‘no crash,’ but this claim is referring to no ‘sugar crash’ because the drink has artificial sweeteners.” Thus Sugar-free Red Bull is just as “no-crash” (no sugar crash) as Verve.

    At the end of the day, the caffeine content is going to be the caffeine content. There’s no secret science in Verve that is proven to prevent crashes.]

    Reviewers like to base their reviews in a perfect world, but we don’t live in a perfect world. There is honestly nothing bad you can say about the product.

    [Editor’s Response: I think I said a lot already. Did you read what I and others have written? Even if the product were good, the focus is on the pyramid, the pricing, and the explotation of people with less exposure to such schemes.]

    Now the vemma opportunity, can be done by anyone. But I will say its not for everyone and you hear that all the time from people in this business. We aren’t looking for everyone, just the serious people. The stories you hear in the above comments are about people who were misled by the presenters of this opportunity, people who weren’t looking to create a stable business but just trying to get some quick money. They were simply untrained people and believe me it’s not hard to make a lot of money and be untrained in Vemma and its not up to Vemma to train you to keep you business running, even though they provide you with suggestions of what you should read and what you should be studying in order for you business to continue to grow.

    [Editor’s Response: As has been proven mathematically, failure is not a matter of effort, but it is a mathematical certainty that is backed into the business plan. By definition not everyone can be successful. Around 99% are going to fail regardless of how much work they put in and how good salespeople they are.]

    This is a business run by the individual. So when people don’t take this seriously and run their business like a business, they don’t make the money they thought they were going to make and say its a scam. But then you have people like me in Vemma, who tell you exactly how much work you will have to do and how much time you have to spend in order to make however much you want to make and in the time span you can make it. The only problem with any MLM system is that it revolves around people and as we know people are not perfect. So vemma experiences go from amazing and awful depending on the people they had to deal with.

    [Editor’s Response: Again, it isn’t a problem with the people. It is a problem with the pyramid nature of the compensation plan. We can solve all sorts of problems by simply allowing it to be a single-level commission structure. Then you have no opportunity for it to be a pyramid scheme. If you are a fan of the product, you should FORCE Vemma to change to this right away so that they don’t get shut down.]

    But at the end of the day when you decide to do vemma, you are the one who spent your hard earned money to be apart of this opportunity and if someone isn’t helping you to the capacity you thought they would its up to you to help yourself. This is the 21st century and we have the internet. If you want to know how to do something you can look it up. But most people are too lazy to do that. Most people are too lazy to do real research about an industry or a company and rely on people like you to do it for them and don’t understand your bias towards the review and the research done. That’s why most people don’t do well in MLM because they are lazy. If you really want to learn about vemma, whether it is really for you or how it really works, feel free to ask me. I have been with the company for 2 years and did 3 months of research on the Vemma before joining.

    [Editor’s Response: I have shown that I have done the real industry in MLM. I have dozens of articles and I am a respected expert in the field. I cited relevant articles from reliable sources such as Truth in Advertising and NBC’s Today Show. I also deleted Joshua’s contact information at the bottom. This is the place to advertise your Vemma business. If someone wants to buy it, it’s available on Amazon and Ebay.]

  28. Joyful says:

    Can I ask, without all the ravings about MLM. Is Vemma a healthy product or not.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Which of their products are you asking about? Healthy is usually relative to something else.

      It really doesn’t make sense to evaluate any MLM products without the MLM. If they were good enough to exist without the MLM, they would. If the products were reputable, they wouldn’t need a pyramid scheme to get people to buy them.

  29. Nathan says:

    Great article… I was introduced to Vemma back in 2012 and unfortunately I got sold into the HYPE of the company (energy drinks, make lots of money, earn free BMW/Mercedes Benz. Lost over $1,500 in 6 months… Don’t waist your time or your money people! STAY AWAY

    • Mark says:

      Nathan,
      Let me guess, your upline told you that you didn’t work hard enough and the only way to fail was to quit?

      It’s a typical reaction to blame the victim, those people have no shame!

  30. Michell Rodríguez says:

    It is not a scam, it’s a legitimate network marketing company buddy! Not perfect, true, but a great one.

    As everything in life some people like, some people don´t or don´t understand it.

    Go and build something valuable to make this a better world instead of being criticizing what others do and misleading people with some no valuable arguments.

    By the way “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic” I would add nor for a lazy.

    Regards.

    • Lazy Man says:

      It certainly doesn’t seem legit in any way. I see that the company has a class action lawsuit against it in New York for the illegal health claims.

      I believe both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert have huge memorials. No one erected a statue of MLM marketer.

  31. Katherine says:

    Lazy man, love this website.

    I’m from England and nearly bought into this Vemma malarkey. My friend bought into it hook, line and sinker and came to me with an exciting business model that could make us all rich… I was sceptical but REALLY hoped that it wasn’t ‘too good to be true’, as it sounded. So I told him I was keen to make some money and I would do some research and let him know…

    Firstly I looked at all the promotional stuff he sent me; all looked brilliant, although I hate energy drinks (Yorkshire tea all the way) I thought if I can make as much money as they say then I can get behind it… I then had a meeting with him to discuss it further and was told about how recruiting gets you more money (even though he wasn’t 100% sure on the specifics yet as he was new and hadn’t made any money) and that seemed fishy to me.

    I then went to any and all other sources, actively seeking consumer websites and trying to find a balanced argument on their business model… That’s when I was a little disappointed to find it was all pyramids and snake oil. I tried to tell my friend and was met with “well you shouldn’t listen to the nay-sayers”, “don’t listen to them, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life” and words to that effect, to the point I now don’t say anything about Vemma so I can still see my friend.

    I seem to have become slightly obsessed with researching MLMs now, it is disgusting how they can brainwash people the way they do so that even someone losing money (or not quite breaking even) will defend their cult to the end, at great detriment to themselves.

    I also found it hard to understand why someone would recommend this to a friend or family member?! It feels greedy and immoral to desperately recruit someone you know and care about into a system where they are almost guaranteed to lose. I know my friend is fully brainwashed and I have been building a collection of articles and evidence of their scam to show him when he feels ready.

    Even in the Vemma terms and conditions (which I read in full) they say by signing up you waive your right to badmouth Vemma or take them to court. – How could you put your trust in a company that tells you, even if it does go tits up you cannot say anything about it.

    Shocking, disgusting, immoral, greedy, self-serving (and mostly self-harming) plebs that get into this need to wake up. Sure a handful of people will make money but I don’t want to be associated with those kind of people who are happy to throw anyone under a bus just so they can get by.

    Thanks for letting me rant! Keep up the good work.

  32. P says:

    Vemma is strong in Colombia South America and followers are questioning FTC regulations the title of this articles states that it closed bc it promised college students ‘easy money’ http://www.las2orillas.co/la-empresa-cerro-por-prometerle-los-universitarios-la-plata-facil/

  33. […] two years ago, I wrote about the Vemma scam. I'll toot my own horn for 45 seconds… but only so I can embed one of my favorite […]

  34. Vogel says:

    I found this writeup on the Vemma case by MLM attorney Jeffrey A. Babener to be quite interesting. He’s basically sounding an alarm bell (or death knell) signaling the end of MLM’s lawless Wild West days. It seems like a contradiction considering that he’s an MLM shill/apologist but reading between the lines you can see quite a bit of subtle denial and duplicity. More on that later; but first some background on Babener
    http://www.worldofdirectselling.com/vemma-preparing-for-the-ftc/

    He is one of a small handful of lawyers who exclusively represent skeezy MLM companies.
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mlmlegal

    His list of clients include the following infamous MLM companies:
    http://www.mlmattorney.com/Biography.html
    https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_comments/business-opportunity-rule-535221-00071/535221-00071.pdf

    Excel Communications: Subject of FTC cease and desist order; founders went on to start Fortune-Hi Tech, which was busted as a pyramid scheme by the FTC.
    https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/cases/1996/06/9523436d.pdf
    http://pyramidschemealert.org/fortune-high-tech-rests-in-peace-while-zombie-mlms-stalk-the-public/
    http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/28/2493747/federal-state-officials-send-workers.html

    ACN: Subject of class action lawsuit and enforcement action in Montana for pyramid scheming
    http://www.businessforhome.org/2014/10/class-action-complaint-against-acn-and-xoom-energy/
    http://pyramidschemealert.org/montana-vs-acn-a-david-and-goliath-battle/

    Cell Tech: Sued in California for false advertizing and in a wrongful death lawsuit related to one of their supplement products
    http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/death-prompts-cell-tech-lawsuit/article_554d34aa-c68d-529e-bc4a-ab62ab1a48be.html
    http://www.mlmwatch.org/04C/CT/suit.html

    Enagic: Idiotic MLM selling Kangen filtration systems that produce miracle-cure water
    http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/kangen-water-scam/

    Nerium International: Yet another deceptive snakeoil MLM
    http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/nerium-scam/

    Prepaid Legal: Subject of a 3-year FTC investigation
    http://newsok.com/article/3479952

    NuSkin: Paid out multimillion dollar settlements in FTC lawsuits.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nu_Skin_Enterprises

    Melaleuca: Subject of numerous run-ins with state and federal regulatory agencies, including violations of anti-pyramid scheme laws.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_L._VanderSloot#Melaleuca.2C_Inc

    USANA: Utah snakeoil MLM; subject of an SEC probe; widely criticized as a pyramid scheme.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USANA_Health_Sciences#Business_model
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USANA_Health_Sciences#Lawsuit

    That’s a pretty sordid list and it wouldn’t be unfair to characterize Babener as an enabler; a profiteer at the expense of the public interest.

    Babener petitioned against key provisions of the FTC’s Proposed Business Opportunity rule that had been designed to provide safeguards to consumers. Under pressure from people like Babener, it was eventually amended to exclusively exempt MLM companies.
    .

    “His efforts, along with many others in the industry, contributed to the FTC decision to effectively exclude MLM, Direct Selling, and Network Marketing Companies, and their millions of distributors, from potentially onerous impact on the Direct Selling Industry.”
    http://documents.jdsupra.com/4045af4c-79fa-4dc2-b561-2d209959ba68.pdf

    This is a direct quote from Babener regarding the Proposed Rule:

    “The FTC and the direct selling industry are on the same wavelength in their goal of furthering consumer protection. However, virtually every constituency in the direct selling industry, companies, distributors, industry experts and professionals, believe that the FTC’s Proposed Business Opportunity Rule dramatically misses the mark in achieving this goal, is not premised on an informed view of the industry and issues surrounding it, does not further consumer protection against “frauds and cheats,” unintentionally casts an overly broad net that severely hampers the ability of legitimate businesses to operate and, if implemented, will have the result of crippling a major channel of distribution in the U.S. as well as the livelihoods of 14 million Americans that look to direct selling to help support their families.”
    https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_comments/2006/07/522418-70034.pdf

    Of course this is utter BS. The Rule would have protected about 13,999,000 Americans while crippling maybe a thousand or so serial scammers that are at the root of this societal scourge. It’s very clear what side Babener’s bread is buttered on. He’s bought and paid for by MLMs.

    He also pushed to maintain the frustratingly vague and widely abused “70 Percent Rule”, stemming from a landmark Amway case:

    “The 70 Percent Rule is a Sound Policy.
    So, the next time you hear a reference to the 70 percent rule, you can put it in its proper perspective. It was not ordained by the gods, but it was the product of good common sense. (Obviously, it doesn’t have a place in the company that is selling services, but for companies that are selling inventory of products.) The 70 percent rule has served well both the industry and the public.”
    http://www.mlmconsultantadvice.com/babener_11.html

    Babener’s latest article points out 5 factors that were decisive in the action against Vemma. He fails to mention that all of them can be applied to virtually every MLM in existence:

    1. Distributors were told to give away product.
    2. There was little evidence of retailing or emphasis on retailing or teaching or training to retail.
    3. There was up-front emphasis on buying fast-start packs of $500-$600, plus sign up for $150 per month autoship to qualify for commissions, rather than service an actual need.
    4. The FTC asserted the evidence showed that Vemma targeted vulnerable college age students with promises of fast wealth from working “the system” of buying and recruiting.
    5. The FTC cited to Vemma’s earnings disclosure, claiming it was inadequate and deceptive to show the entire picture by limiting disclosure to earnings of active distributors rather than disclosing earnings of all individuals who signed up, of which the vast majority had no income.

    Babener also seems to be giving a tacit warning to the MLM industry to start covering their tracks:

    “Factor One: What You Say Will Come Back to Haunt You: Times have changed. We live in a transparent and instant world of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snapchat. What is said in company webinars, conference calls, back office messages, tweets, Facebook, conferences and conventions, is recorded on smart phones, captured on computers and uploaded immediately… i.e., it’s all public and the world is invited to listen. To paraphrase the Field of Dreams, if you say it, they will come… and that includes distributors, recruits, customers… and yes, the FTC. And the FTC is looking for “low lying fruit” to submit in its lawsuit and application for an injunction. If you give it to them, they will use it… and it may be too late to play “catch up” and “explain” to the court.”

    What I found to be the most obtuse part of his op-ed was the following statement.

    “But, post-Vemma, a new imperative task is mandated for direct selling companies to avoid and be prepared to avoid the Vemma scenario. For the most part, few, if any, direct selling companies have committed their resources to tracking the destination of product and to objectively assuring that product is bought in amounts that are reasonably needed rather than amounts to qualify in the plan for commissions. In an FTC ambush, they are caught completely “off guard.”

    This is nonsense because it ignores the reality that MLM companies fail to track this information on purpose, knowing full well that they aren’t meeting legal requirements. It’s cannot be an accident that MLM companies consistently ensure that the borderline between distributor and customer is ambiguous. If they were transparent about this distinction, they would get busted and cease to exist. If they were on the up and up, they would have jumped at the chance to prove their legitimacy long, long ago.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Nicely written Vogel. I especially liked the phrase, “which side his bread is buttered on.” I have to steal that.

      Not to take this too far off-topic, but it is interesting how there’s a lot of focus on the 70% guideline, but not on the 10-customer guideline that was also part of the Amway case.

      The only reason MLMs are caught “off-guard” by the FTC is because the FTC has looked the other way for a couple of decades.

      The good news is that they are starting to look at these more, even if they one-off cases. Perhaps the better news is that I’ve found the comments on my posts are more likely to be from people on Facebook who are pissed off at their friends pitching this stuff than people with an interest in the MLM itself.

      I just went back and looked through the last 13 comments over the last 3 days on all MLM posts that I’ve written. Of those 13, ALL 13 OF THEM of them were praising the article, venting about their friends’ annoying pitches, or directly telling people how to report this stuff to the FTC. There wasn’t one supporting the MLM.

  35. […] Earlier this year the FTC halted Vemma alleging it was a pyramid scheme. That was nearly two years after I asked if Is Vemma a Scam? […]

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