Herbalife $HLF CEO Michael Johnson on Recruiting


michael-johnson-herbalife-recruitingLast week a video was posted to YouTube showing Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson talking about recruiting. Herbalife had the video pulled from YouTube on the basis of copyright infringement. That is most certainly a bogus claim. I’m not an attorney, but I’m smart enough to understand the concept of fair use:

In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would not be considered an illegal infringement.

The clip was a part of a longer video (about 71 minutes long) was first reported on in June 2015 by Michelle Celarier at the NY Post. The video clip posted last week was about a minute and a half long, and it was posted in order for people to comment upon it. No one was trying to steal some copyrighted materials from Herbalife and infringe on that copyright. Instead, the whole point was to expose what Michael Johnson said about Herbalife’s recruiting.

So why would Herbalife want to make a bogus copyright claim? Because the clip of CEO Michael Johnson put the company in a really bad light. And we can’t have that! Continue reading

Why Multi-Level Marketing Companies are Pyramid Schemes


Bill Ackman and Pershing Square produced an educational video about multi-level marketing companies and how and why they are pyramid schemes. Yes, I often hear:

  • “Pyramid schemes are illegal!”
  • “If XYZ Company was a pyramid scheme, the government would shut them down!”

Yes, pyramid schemes are illegal. No, our government generally doesn’t shut down pyramid schemes masquerading as multi-level marketing. Continue reading

Herbalife’s Fake Business Opportunity


MLM bussines structure.In a video released this week, Pershing Square (the hedge fund that exposed the Herbalife fraud) contrasts Herbalife’s public statements about the “business opportunity” with the statements made behind closed doors.

Herbalife claims to offer “the best business opportunity on the face of the earth.” But the reality is that it is an opportunity in which you are almost guaranteed to fail, with 96% of distributors making less than half of what is earned by employees making minimum wage (per the video). Despite Herbalife executives and high level distributors publicly repeating how lots of money can be made, the numbers really look like this (according to the video): Continue reading

Herbalife False Health Claims


Multi-level marketing companies that advertise shakes and potions designed to help you lose weight and get healthier are generally all guilty of the same offense: Distributors making false health claims.  The products are generally terrible for losing weight and maintaining the weight loss. And the health benefits are nothing more than one could get from eating well and taking a simple multivitamin.

Nonetheless, people involved in MLMs routinely claim these potions cure things like ADHD, arthritis, high cholesterol, lupus, asthma, migraines, cancer, fibromyalgia, and more. The most disturbing part of this is when the distributors encourage people to stop taking medications that are critical to their health. This advice is simply dangerous.

Today Bill Ackman released a video demonstrating that Herbalife distributors are violating U.S. law by making false and deceptive claims about the Herbalife products. How do they get away with this? The company likely would contend that there is nothing illegal about distributors giving personal testimonials about the results they received from the products.  Good luck with that defense. Continue reading

Herbalife Documentary by Herb Greenberg: Selling the American Dream


herbalife-selling-the-american-dreamHerb Greenberg, a stocks commentator for CNBC did a ten-month investigation of multi-level marketing company Herbalife. Its conclusion is this 20 minute documentary, and the timing couldn’t be better. Herbalife has been accused of being a pyramid scheme again, this time by Bill Ackman of Pershing Square.

Despite the fact that CEO Michael Johnson claims he’s never heard of Herbalife being referred to as a scam, there are plenty of people who will tell you different. This documentary is a very, very good piece and well worth the time to watch.

Is Herbalife a Scam?


Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson says he’s never heard anyone refer to HLF as a scam in the last ten years. Funny, but it seems the internet has heard such things. So much that Herbalife distributors write articles and produce videos that attempt to rank well in Google for the search phrase “herbalife scam.” If their pro-Herbalife  information is all that shows up when a potential distributor is searching for the truth about the company, the “negative” side will never be seen.

Thanks for this video, Salty Droid! Continue reading

More on Herbalife, Bill Ackman, and Law Enforcement


As we patiently wait for Herbalife’s “analyst and investor meeting” on January 10 to address the pyramid scheme allegations made by short seller Bill Ackman, there is plenty of good discussion of HLF around the world wide web.

Kid Dynamite said Bill Ackman is wrong about Herbalife, citing that:

  • HLF  is not a pyramid scheme because commissions are paid based on sales of products, not recruitment (Wrong. Commissions are paid largely based on required minimum purchases of products by recruits.)
  • Herbalife has not committed accounting fraud in reporting their product sales. (I’m not so sure about that. The numbers as reported are deliberately and materially misleading.) Continue reading

If Herbalife Was a Pyramid Scheme, It Would Have Collapsed By Now


herbalifeOne of the most common arguments used against those who deem multi-level marketing companies pyramid schemes, is that pyramid schemes collapse. Because Herbalife hasn’t collapsed, it must not be a pyramid scheme. Because the company has avoided total collapse for more than 30 years, it can’t possibly be a pyramid scheme. That is false, and I will demonstrate the falsity with the help of Bill Ackman.

Recruiting is the Name of the Game

A pyramid scheme has been defined as a scheme in which the participants obtain their monetary benefits primarily from recruitment rather than the sale of goods and services to consumers. Continue reading

Bill Ackman on His Herbalife Short


Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) has been hit by a short seller again. Earlier this year it was David Einhorn simply asking questions about the business. This time it is Bill Ackman calling Herbalife a pyramid scheme and laying out his case.

Pyramid scheme allegations are nothing new. Each time, Herbalife vehemently denies it is a pyramid scheme, and says it’s a legitimate company, with legitimate products, and a legitimate business opportunity. It is this “business opportunity” that merits the pyramid scheme allegations.

Herb Greenberg of CNBC has been researching Herbalife for a long time. Back in May, Greeberg pointed out the reasons he thinks investors should worry about Herbalife: Continue reading