Tracy Coenen explains Ponzi schemes, a specific type of investment scheme in which the perpetrator recruits investors and then pays their “investment returns” with money from new investors.
Free speech is a privilege we enjoy in the United States. But it is anything but free. My personal price for the right to express my opinion about Medifast, Inc. was 5 years of my life and nearly $200,000. (Of course, that doesn’t include the emotional toll that the case took, as Medifast’s malicious pursuit of its meritless case against me was clearly designed to ruin me professionally.)
To summarize Medifast’s bogus case against the defendants:
- In May 2009, Barry Minkow and his Fraud Discovery Institute released a report about Medifast Inc. and its multi-level marketing arm called Take Shape For Life (TSFL)
- In September 2009, I wrote an article on this blog about Medifast and TSFL, exposing the fraud behind multi-level marketing (MLM)
- In February 2010, Medifast sued Barry Minkow, Robert Fitzpatrick, me, and others with claims of defamation, violations of California Corporations Code and Unfair Business Practices.
- Approximately two months later, my attorneys filed an anti-SLAPP motion.
Last year, infamous “MLM Lawyer” Kevin Grimes was sued by the receiver in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi scheme case. The gist of the suit was that Grimes knew or should have known that Zeek Rewards “…was perpetrating an unlawful scheme which involved a pyramid scheme, an unregistered investment contract and/or a Ponzi scheme.” The lawsuit alleged that Kevin Grimes and his firm Grimes & Reese PLLC (that firm is now R&R Law Group, while Grimes has joined the scumbag MLM attorneys at Thompson & Burton) knew that ZeekRewards was perpetrating a Ponzi scheme and provided the company with a bogus “compliance program” meant to make the company look legitimate.
The case has been settled, and Grimes will pay $1.175 to the receiver. Via Patrick Pretty:
Man on Top is a documentary about multi-level markeing (MLM). It being directed and produced by Paul Mathieu. The film tells the story of MLM and how it has cheated consumers out of billions of dollars with its fake business opportunity:
Man On Top is the story of multi-level marketing, the world’s most notorious business model.
A product of the post-war 1950’s economic boom, the proliferation of these thinly veiled pyramid schemes has enabled companies such as Amway and Herbalife to prey upon the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of millions of unsuspecting citizens, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
These economic cults, disguised as legitimate business opportunities, use coercive psychological tactics to trap the unsuspecting participants into a culture of deceit that promises a false American Dream. The results: empty bank accounts, shattered friendships, and billions of dollars of annual profit for the founders of MLM’s.
The film will feature whistleblowers, industry experts, government regulators, and MLM participants who detail their experiences within the tumultuous, dog-eat-dog business of multi-level marketing.
Our help is needed! Please contribute to the Man on Top Kickstarter campaign here.
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).
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
Tracy Coenen on CNBC, talking about business opportunity scams and multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes. Consumers beware!
Over 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.
Social media has been exploding over the last year with claims that essential oils have cured all sorts of diseases and illnesses. Obviously, this is a total scam. Even worse, essential oils are being pushed through multi-level marketing (also a scam) with companies such as doTERRA and Young Living.
What is the real story about essential oils and multi-level marketing? As our friend Lazy Man has said: No, Your MLM Health Product Doesn’t “Work.” (This most definitely includes Medifast, Herbalife, Xyngular, Isagenix, Usana, and any other MLM with a “health product.”)
Multi-level marketing companies are quick to tout the success of their “million dollar earners.” Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to make a million dollars?
Except that phrase “million dollar earner” hides the truth:
- What they don’t clearly mention is that this is cumulative earnings over a number of years, typically between 5 and 20 years.
- They also fail to mention that this is gross income, prior to any business expenses. The business expenses in multi-level marketing can get very high, and will include product purchases (in order to stay active and/or meet requirements for certain commission levels), travel, office expenses, training costs, business insurance, supplies, prizes for customers and downlines, venue rental for events, food for events, etc. The expenses can easily equal 40% to 60% of gross income.