Return on Investment for College Degrees

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Sometimes it is fun to get away from the topics of fraud and divorce. I thought these were some great resources on some of the highest paying jobs to help you figure out where you might get the greatest return on your investment if you’re thinking about higher education.

Payscale.com says some of the highest paying Bachelors degrees by salary include things like petroleum engineering, actuarial science, geophysics, and other science-y types of careers. You can search by major to see how what you’re interested in stacks up. It’s nice that they show both early career pay and mid-career pay. Public accounting comes in at #30 with early career pay of $57,500 and mid-career pay of $110,000.

They also have a list for highest paying Associate degrees, for those who might not be want to go to school for so long. The top degrees in that list are earning in the high $30s and low $40s in their early careers, and there are a lot of interesting sounding jobs in the list.

 

False Claims in Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

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One of the most upsetting parts of the recruitment into a multi-level marketing company is the false earnings claims. People are lured into these companies with the promises of riches. It is not only done by presenting the tiny fraction of people at the top of the pyramid as typical when they are not. It is also done with outright lies about the level of income that “average” person can expect to make.

The entire business model of MLM is built around lies. Lies about how much you’ll have to work, how you’ll make your money (if you even make any), what you’ll have to do, and how you’ll develop new leads. They lie about how easy the whole thing is, and how you’ll be successful if you’re just willing to put in the time. (The truth is that you’re almost guaranteed to fail.)

Here are some of the most common lies told in the recruiting process:

1. You will be your own boss. You can set your own hours and dictate how you do business. (Not really true. The MLM company tells you how you’re allowed to do business.) You can control how much you make based on how much you’re willing to work. (Not true either. Your earnings are limited by your ability to recruit and the amount of money those recruits are are willing to put in the scheme.) Continue reading

Jeunesse Is a Pyramid Scheme, Says Expert

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In October, a billion dollar class action lawsuit was filed against Jeunesse, alleging that the multi-level marketing company (MLM) is actually a pyramid scheme. Truth in Advertising summarizes the lawsuit:

The lawsuit, which was filed Oct. 12 in California federal district court by three current distributors and one former distributor, names 15 defendants and 100 unknown defendants that plaintiffs allege are responsible for the injuries and harm they incurred. Named defendants include Kim Hui, who held the second-highest distributor rank in Jeunesse as a Presidential Diamond director, and her company US Global System (USGS), as well as four Diamond directors in Hui’s downline, May Chang, Yvonne Yen, Samson Li and Lisa Wang.

The lawsuit says Jeunesse Global makes tons of money in Hong Kong and China by exploiting Chinese American distributors, and the company’s “… conduct violates foreign laws and constitutes money laundering and tax evasion.” Truth in Advertising reports:

The complaint most likely implicates violations of foreign law because in 2005, the Chinese government enacted a law called Regulation of Direct Sales and Regulation on Prohibition of Chuanxiao (Chuanxiao roughly translates to MLM). According to this regulation, direct sales are permitted in mainland China but MLMs are notThe suit seeks to hold defendants liable for fraudulent business practices, false advertising, and violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, among other things.

This lawsuit was the latest in a series of class action lawsuits filed against Jeunesse  recently. A July 2016 suit alleged that the company is  pyramid scheme and there are secret compensation packages. A December 2016 lawsuit alleged that the company is a pyramid scheme and preys on Chinese American Immigrants. Continue reading

Year-End Tax Planning Tips for Consumers

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Now is the time when everyone scrambles to get their tax situation in order. There are some tax moves you should make BEFORE the end of the year, so act now.

I was interviewed in 2008 on CNBC about year-end tax planning. The advice is still relevant today, and each one of these tips still applies. These are some really great things you should do before December 31.

Lack of Retail Sales in MLM

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When someone introduces you to multi-level marketing (MLM), they are likely talking to you about the sales aspect of the company. They are talking about the fabulous product (maybe even about how it “sells itself”) and they are probably downplaying the recruiting aspect (since so many people hate the recruiting concept).

MLMs like to call themselves “direct sales,” another attempt to focus on the selling of the product, even though the companies live and die by recruiting. The product or service being sold is simply the bait to get someone in. It is used as the “cover” for the scam, as a product or service is necessary to combat claims of being a pyramid scheme.

The truth is that people involved in MLM do little actual retailing of products or services to third-party customers (non-members of the scheme). The vast majority of the purchases of products and services are made by the members of the MLMs themselves, either to stock inventory (which they will probably never be able to sell) or for personal consumption.

That’s not retailing. That’s making purchases within the scheme. The members of the mutli-level marketing company likely wouldn’t buy those products or services if they weren’t in the scheme. They’re making purchases for a variety of reasons: to move to the next level, to “qualify” for a commission check, etc.

Continue reading

WorldVentures Pyramid Scheme Lawsuit

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Back in May, a class action lawsuit was filed against multi-level marketing company WorldVentures. This is the travel MLM that encourages distributors to share photos of themselves holding signs saying “You Should Be Here.”  It is marketed as a direct sales travel club, yet the “start a business” part of their website doesn’t even mention what you will be selling or doing. The World Ventures compensation plan mentions making money from selling products and from recruiting others, yet the entire document speaks only to the money that is made from enrolling new distributors (called enrolling new product customers). Making money from selling something seems to be wholly disregarded.

It’s not surprising then, that the lawsuit filed against WorldVentures by Melody Yiru accuses the company of being an endless chain recruitment scheme that is prohibited under California law. The lawsuit says, among other things: Continue reading

Market America Pyramid Scheme Lawsuit

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In May 2017, Market America was hit with a class action lawsuit in federal court in California by plaintiffs Chuanjie Yang and Ollie Lan. The lawsuit calls MarketAmerica a pyramid scheme that is taking advantage of Chinese American immigrants.

MarketAmerica is a multi-level marketing company that has a number or product lines including Isotonix supplements, Motives cosmetics, and others. It also uses what it calls a “product brokerage concept,” which is essentially a massive affiliate program which pays a small amount of cash back to the the distributor when purchases are made at certain retailers while on the shop.com website. (This sounds just like Shop to Earn, a defunct MLM that screamed pyramid scheme.)

Per the lawsuit, Market America requires a start-up fee of $399 and an ongoing monthly fee of $129. Distributors must also spend $100 to $300 per month on shop.com to continue to qualify as an enrollee, and other fees are incurred to attend training and events. Continue reading

Almost No One Makes Money in MLM

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Nothing ever changes in multi-level marketing. Even when it looks like the government is taking action against a company like Herbalife, other MLMs continue with business as usual.

Almost everyone loses money in MLM. Which means almost no one makes money in MLM. This is a universal truth. More than 99% of distributors will lose money, and this is GUARANTEED by how these schemes are set-up. No matter how hard you work or how well you follow the guidelines, you still have almost no chance of success.

Six years ago the Salt Lake Tribune published an article about the reality of multi-level marketing. The numbers haven’t changed, and we see the same thing happening no matter the company. Continue reading

LuLaRoe Class Action Lawsuits

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In the past couple of weeks, multi-level marketing company LuLaRoe (the seller of weirdly patterned leggings) has been hit with two class action lawsuits and a whole bunch of negative publicity.  The first LuLaRoe class action lawsuit was filed on October 13 in federal court in California, and the lead plaintiffs are Stella Lemberg, Jeni Laurence, Amandra Bluder, and Carissa Stuckart. The complaint has all kinds of words I like: scheme, bait, lure, and cheating.

The focus of this lawsuit is a promise LuLaRoe made in April 2017. The company said that consultants (who spend upwards of $5,000 to sign up and purchase an initial inventory package) could cancel their agreements and receive a 100% refund of the wholesale value of the inventory they purchased with no exceptions or conditions. Distributors would also get free shipping for the inventory they returned. The policy had no expiration date, but the lawsuit alleges that on September 13, 2017 the company changed the policy to offer a 90% refund (at most) with lots of conditions and exceptions, and no free shipping. Continue reading

Ponzinomics: MLM Fraud and the FTC

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Robert FitzPatrick, president of Pyramid Scheme Alert has written a new book about multi-level marketing and how the FTC allows these pyramid schemes to exist. In PONZINOMICS, the FTC’s Protection of Multi-Level Marketing, he discusses the political interests involved in MLM and the lack of action by FTC officials.

What is “Ponzinomics”? FitzPatrick uses the term to describe the scourge of multi-level marketing, which is nothing more than a pyramid scheme, but has been presented as a viable business opportunity. The government in the United States has gone so far as to protect these criminal enterprises which prey on millions of people each year, using cult-like tactics in furtherance of their pyramid schemes.

The book talks about the lure of the (false) income opportunity and the use of testimonials and the flaunting of wealth to draw people in.  FitzPatrick also discusses the tactics used to draw in new victims, as well as “blaming the victims” when the venture inevitably fails.

I’ll update you here when the book is available.