Herbalife is Not Like Vemma, Unless It Is

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In light of the recent shutdown of multi-level marketing company Vemma (following allegations that it is a pyramid scheme),there has been much discussion of Herbalife. Is it a more legitimate MLM, or is it a pyramid scheme like Vemma and others that have been shut down before it (BurnLounge, Fortune Hi Tech Marketing, etc.)???

“Analyst” Tim Ramey, longtime Herbalife cheerleader, contends that Herbalife is not like Vemma:

Our opinion has always been that Vemma was likely an illegal structure – it has that endless chain feature where “Affiliates” are incentivized to buy a high-priced starter kit with minimal real value, only to turn around and very quickly find two, three or four others to do the same so that they can reap a quick profit and recoup their initial “investment,” said Ramey.

This is a familiar argument. MLMs left standing after one is shut down claim that THEIR company doesn’t pay for recruiting. And technically it appears that they don’t. Except they do. They may not have a “high priced starter kit” or may not pay a “commission” on the starter kit. Instead, they encourage distributors to buy a bunch of products up front and commission is paid on those. Since those products could theoretically be sold, I suppose that’s not paying for recruiting so much it is paying for getting the recruit to buy some overpriced, hard-to-sell products. MLM attorneys will tell you that you have to make it look like you’re not paying for recruiting or the kit. Continue reading

MLMs as Pyramid Schemes (Vemma Shut Down)

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vemma logoMulti-level marketing companies – – MLMs for short – – go to great lengths to distance themselves from pyramid schemes. The Direct Selling Association (a lobbying group funded by multi-level marketing companies that helps ensure our government continues to allow MLMs to operate) says that legitimate MLMs have legitimate products or services for sale and base compensation primarily on the sales of projects. In contrast, they say that pyramid schemes focus on recruiting and base compensation on recruiting.

In reality, multi-level marketing companies have products that are simply a “front” for the real business, which is recruiting. They talk about all the riches distributors can earn, knowing that almost everyone who participates will lose money. (And when those losses inevitably occur, the companies say it is the fault of the distributors who must not have worked hard enough.)

And yesterday, the FTC took steps toward shutting down one MLM, Vemma, saying: Continue reading

Jennifer McKinney Fraud Update

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It’s been a while since we have looked at the many legal troubles of Jennifer McKinney (aka “MckMama”) and her husband Israel McKinney. In short, Jennifer and her husband have repeatedly stiffed creditors for hundreds of thousands of dollars, losing FOUR houses and having their bankruptcy filing denied after trustee Gene Doeling busted them for lying in their court filings.

This week, the McKinneys lost the fourth house. Marine Credit Union obtained a default judgment against them after they failed to even respond to the lawsuit filed against them for failing to make payments on their house. The bank got a judgment of $334,105 (plus interest) for the house, and $2,528 for attorneys’ fees. The McKinney’s (well, really the bank’s) house at W5441 Innsbruck Road in West Salem, WI will be sold at a sheriff’s auction. Marine Credit Union can pursue the McKinneys for any deficiency (if the sale price of the house does not cover the total that they owe). Continue reading

Roca Labs Complaints

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Remember Roca Labs? The company that is suing all sorts of meanies who said mean things about the company and its jars of goop? Well, Marc Randazza (counsel for Opinion Corp and a defendant in a separate lawsuit Roca Labs brought against him) unearthed some interesting public records regarding Roca Labs:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m just gonna leave these right here for any of the people out there who have felt the victimizing thwack of Roca Labs’ censorious sting. You see, Roca Labs is very very very upset if you say anything bad about them.

So upset that they file legal claims and bar complaints to try and shut you up if you dare speak out.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this stuff.

This Roca Labs user got sick from the product (Roca User got sick)

Here is a complaint about their deceptive trade practices (Deceptive trade practices)

Here is another Roca Labs user who got sick and complained about their trade practices (Sick and trade)

Here is a report from an FDA Special Agent documenting a consumer report about Roca Labs’ product allegedly being packaged in a garage with cockroaches on the floor, with no gloves or protective gear (spcial agent)

If you’re being sued by Roca Labs (or if you’re handing cases or complaints against them) please enjoy these documents with my compliments.

I can see why they might have very hurt feelings.

Nevada Anti-SLAPP Law Threatened

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In 2013, Nevada enacted an anti-SLAPP law… something all states should have, but only 28 do (and those laws vary in quality). SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” It’s basically the type of lawsuit that is filed in order to get people to shut up.

I am no stranger to such suits. I was sued in this fashion by Medifast Inc. (aka Take Shape for Life) in 2010, and it took over five years for me to be dismissed, have the dismissal affirmed, and have the court order Medifast to pay my attorneys’ fees. The whole point of the Medifast lawsuit was to make me stop saying unflattering things about the company. And to scare anyone else who might dare to say bad things about the company…. the cost of litigation is tremendous, and companies like Medifast use the threat of litigation to shut up their critics. Continue reading

Medifast is Ordered to Pay Fees…. Five Years After Filing a SLAPP Suit

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It’s taken more than five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispose of the frivolous and unethical lawsuit Medifast Inc. (aka Take Shape For Life) and their dishonest attorneys filed against Tracy Coenen and Sequence Inc.

You will recall that I won my anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, and Medifast appealed, ensuring that the suit would drag on for years. In June 2014, the appeals court affirmed my dismissal and told Medifast to suck it. But of course, Medifast STILL wanted to fight… this time about the attorneys’ fees they were legally obligated to reimburse.

Yesterday the court ordered Medifast to pay nearly $200,000 and never darken my door again:

In accordance with those orders and decisions, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that:

(1) This action is dismissed as to defendants TRACY COENEN and SEQUENCE, INC., and judgment is hereby entered in their favor;
(2) Plaintiffs BRADLEY MACDONALD and MEDIFAST, INC. shall take nothing by way of their First Amended Complaint against defendants TRACY COENEN and SEQUENCE, Inc.; and
(3) Judgment is entered in favor of defendants TRACY COENEN and SEQUENCE, INC., and against plaintiffs BRADLEY MACDONALD and MEDIFAST, INC., jointly and severally, in the amounts of $190,520.50 for attorney’s fees, $7,502.00 for nontaxable costs related to the proceedings in the District Court, and $855.00 for costs in the Ninth Circuit (for a total of $198,877.50).

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that plaintiffs, jointly and severally, shall be obligated to pay defendants TRACY COENEN and SEQUENCE, INC. the aforesaid sums, each with interest accruing at the legal rate from the date of entry of judgment until paid in full.

IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: April 20, 2015

Continue reading

Naturopathic Medicine Scam

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Alternative forms of medicine and therapy are all the rage. What are they an “alternative” to? Traditional western medicine, which is science-based. The American Cancer Society describes naturopathy:

Naturopathic medicine is a complete alternative care system that uses a wide range of approaches such as nutrition, herbs, manipulation of the body, exercise, stress reduction, and acupuncture. Parts of naturopathy are sometimes used as complementary therapy along with mainstream medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a holistic approach (meaning it is intended to treat the whole person) that tries to enlist the healing power of the body and nature to fight disease.

While there are some benefits to naturopathy, patients should not be fooled into thinking that it is a legitimate treatment for any medical condition. Yes, things like stress reduction and acupuncture can have positive benefits to the body overall. Proper exercise and paying close attention to your body and the signs it is giving are good.

But when consumers substitute naturopathy for real medical treatments, they are going down a dangerous path. Real doctors will tell you that naturopathy is nothing but quackery. Continue reading

Arbitration Scam on Consumers

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Back in the day, arbitration was a reasonable alternative to court rooms. Consumers could seek justice when they were wronged, but in a forum that was quicker and cheaper than going to court. Unfortunately, arbitration has become nothing but a scam on consumers. Companies force consumers into arbitration via their contracts, mainly because the process favors the companies so heavily.

Namely, the arbitration clauses prohibit consumers from banding together to file class action lawsuits. Class action suits have a tarnished image, but are often the only option when there are thousands of consumers who have been harmed by products and services, but the monetary harm to each is relatively small. It is financially impossible for each consumer to pursue a relatively small case, so banding together in class action lawsuits creates economics that make sense. Continue reading

Multi-Level Marketing is not a Business (It’s a Pyramid Scheme)

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direct-selling-pyramid-schemeOver the weekend, cracked.com posted an insightful article about the realities of multi-level marketing. Simply put, MLM is the same thing as pyramid scheme. It’s not a business. Almost everyone loses money. The behaviors are cult-like. And you will NOT be successful with MLM, so don’t bother trying to recruit your friends and family.

Author Kathy Benjamin calls pyramid schemes the world’s fastest growing industry, and she is right. You see the evidence all over Facebook. Several of you friends are inviting you to their party, or they’re posting staged before and after pictures and leaving cryptic messages that say “ask me how!” They often will not mention the name of the product they’re pushing, because they know they’ll lose you as a potential victim if you Google the product before they can fill your head with lies about how good the product is. Continue reading