I was listening to sports radio on the short trip home from daycare earlier last week and the hosts were talking about something that caught my attention. It seems that Seth Davis, a Sports Illustrated writer and CBS college basketball analyst, has been tweeting out his mother's website.
There's nothing wrong or unusual with that... unless your mom is suggesting you buy her snake oil products because she beat cancer. And that's what Elaine Gibson (Seth Davis' mother) is doing on her Renewed Living, Inc website.
I have seen hundreds of similar websites since I started following MLM companies. I've seen them for Youngevity and MonaVie doesn't cure cancer. Also the inventor said in court that such claims are "... unsubstantiated and, quite frankly, bogus."
For some reason that is unknown to me, these types of website fly under the radar of the media. I can only guess they assume that no one falls for the snake oil and people like Elaine Gibson are dismissed as the nuts they are.
However, if someone famous gives the snake oil website a platform, it can get media attention. This is exactly what has happened with Seth Davis promoting his mother's website. In February, DeadSpin wrote,
Seth Davis Promotes His Mom's Hoax Cancer Cures. It is a tremendous read.
You should read it. Like now. Don't worry, I'll still be here.
Done. Good. Now we can continue.
(Side note: It was great to see a bigger media story take on Joseph Mercola and his quackery, which the FDA has repeated warned him about. Yet people still seem to think he's reputable for some silly reason.)
The DeadSpin article reveals Seth Davis Tweeting that his mother had chemotherapy, which is something that seems to be missing from Elaine Gibson's website. Perhaps selling alternative cancer therapy cures doesn't work well when you are taking traditional cancer medicine?
The DeadSpin article missed on one VERY big and critical detail.
I could sense the multi-level marketing (MLM) from the first page. I directly went to the products to see what she's selling. She was selling showerheads, a "no suds" laundry system, clean drinking water, clean air, and infrared sauna, and clean energy.
I love cleanliness. I'm not against any of that stuff (though I don't know enough about infrared saunas).
I haven't figured out the mystery behind the showerheads (who makes them), but many of the products are all from Vollara an MLM company:
- "No Suds" Laundry System - This is Vollara's LaundryPure system.
- Clean Drinking Water - This is Vollara's LivingWater system.
- Clean Air - This is Vollara's FreshAir line of products.
- InfraRed Spa - This isn't come from Vollara, but comes from a company called Clearlight, which according to a Ripoff Report article appears to be a scam on its own.
- Clean Energy - This is Vollara's SteadyPower product.
The SteadyPower is the most interesting to me. It clearly has nothing to do with beating cancer. You can't even reasonably stretch that to be true. The sales pitch for it Elaine Gibson's site makes no sense either. The device is supposed to reduce electrical line noise that causes "snow" on televisions. The snow on televisions came from antenna reception and digital signals eliminated that years ago. It has nothing to do with electric line noise. Also the hum from fluorescent lights do not come from line noise as her site claims.
Other benefits on the SteadyPower is that it "Installs* easily with immediate benefits" and is "maintenance free". The "*" there means that "SteadyPower must be installed by a licensed qualified electrical contractor only." As my wife said, "Our solar panels install easily as I eat this sandwich." Things are easy when you pay someone else to do the hard work.
It also protects against surges and spikes, which is great, but I didn't need to spend $600 for my surge protectors (which are also "maintenance free"). And most of my products don't need them. The pitch is that your electronics will live longer. My mother has VCRs from the early 1990s that are still fine. I have radios from the 1970s that work fine today. My mother still has a television in her bedroom that I remember buying with my father in 1984.
The life of any electrical product I have ever owned was never shortened by electrical noise. There was a mechanical failure with a dryer. Or a computer became obsolete (or had some other physical failure such as a drop). SteadyPower's marketing itself is an interesting scam aside from Elaine Gibson's beating cancer story.
The obvious question here is: Isn't it an amazing coincidence that Vollara's very different products somehow hold the key to beating cancer? There's some anti-cancer magic in the logo that no one else's products have? Is that really something that a sane person believes?
Or maybe there's something more obvious going on. Perhaps it was indicated by Elaine Gibson's Facebook post/share here:
"We are excited about our Vollara regional meeting here in the Washington, DC / Virginia area June 25 & 26. Come and learn how to share the technology & grow your business. Want to put $$$$ in the bank? Great fellowship and JOE URSO will be jopining us on Saturday. Let's rock together!!!!"
The Vollara products are insanely expensive. Elaine Gibson wants to sell you LivingWater purifier at $2200. This is how they promise people "$$$$."
Elaine Gibson isn't just a salesperson for Vollara. She's also created some questionable nutrition guides that she sells. For example, she sells a "SuperFoods" guide that says, "In this kitchen-ready guide, you’ll learn what Superfoods are, why you need them how to add Superfoods to your diet, plus, how not to be fooled by imitation Superfoods."
However, "superfood has no definition by nutritionists, dieticians, and scientists". So there's no such thing as an imitation superfood, when the term has no real definition to start with.
So is Vollara a scam? I haven't spend a ton of time researching the company itself, but at a minimum they can get themselves in a bunch of legal hot water by letting Elaine Gibson sell the products with her obvious sales pitch of having beat cancer. As a story getting some national attention, they should have stopped her last month. Often companies claim that they can't police their salesforce. That's bull poop. They don't want to because doing so reduces their sales and makes their salesforce think, "that could happen to me too."
Also, their marketing of SteadyPower looks like a clear scam.
Finally, as I wrote a week or two ago, a legitimate company with legitimate products wouldn't use MLM/pyramid schemes to sell their products. It makes no sense to take the business risk that your entire company could be shut down by the FTC for being a pyramid scheme at any moment. From another view, the FDA could come after Vollara for its part in Gibson's cancer hoax (Deadspin's words). A legitimate company and product doesn't need to involve itself in that kind of quackery.
However, if you are a scam, you might as well go all in and grab any money you can while you can. If it means running a pyramid scheme, go for it. If it means letting quacks sell your products as a cancer cure, stuff that money in your pocket.
In my opinion it is clear to me that Vollara is a scam, even aside from Elaine Gibson. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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