I thought it was a hoax. Surely this couldn’t be true? An actual college, offering a curriculum in “network marketing”????

You know – – network marketing – – as in multi-level marketing, as in legalized pyramid schemes. Yes, folks, it’s true. Bethany College in Kansas is going to be offering a curriculum in professional scamming!

But if a college is going to be teaching this network marketing, multi-level marketing stuff to students, then it has to be legit, right? Wrong.

I have no idea what would possess any educator to think that they ought to spend valuable classroom time teaching this type of legalized scam to students as if it was a legitimate business pursuit. I can only assume that the powers that be, namely one Robert Carlson, M.B.A., professor and chair of business, has done no research on MLM and has no idea how these scams operate. He says about the new network marketing stuff:

“Entrepreneurs have not been taught how to correctly use network marketing. This has led to many using unethical, unsustainable, and nonproductive network marketing business models. We want to fill the education gap and teach students how to use the foundations of servant leadership to successfully and honorably operate a network marketing business.”

The only education gap there is when it comes to MLM is educating the masses about what scams these companies are. The only people making money are the owners of the companies (yes, MLM is so lucrative that it’s a very attractive business model for owners) and a few pyramid toppers (who are making money at the expense of everyone below them).

A full 99% of people involved in multi-level marketing lose money. This figure has been demonstrated time and again by researchers analyzing the figures released by the companies. Here is just a small sampling of companies that have been analyzed:

Multi-level marketing is so bad, that even someone deeply involved with them says they’re scams! MLM is so bad that Penn & Teller devoted an episode of their cable show Bullshit! to the topic.

MLMs hide behind products and services that look legitimate. Without these, they would very clearly be illegal pyramid schemes. But with a product or service to use as the “front” for the scam, they appear legal. The sad fact is that very little actual retailing goes on in MLM.

Call it what you like – – network marketing, direct sales, MLM, dual marketing – – it is all the same scam, dressed up with different names meant to deflect attention away from the truth. Multi-level marketing isn’t a “business opportunity.” It is a scheme in which 99% of people lose money, giving their money to those above them in the pyramid. By design, the vast majority of the people in one of these schemes will be at the bottom of the pyramid with few to no people under them, and therefore no earnings.

Yet apparently there is something to be taught about these systems:

The curriculum includes both classroom education and experience-based practicum with network marketing mentors. Students will learn business practices, planning requirements, compensation plan variables, product distribution processes, marketing and advertising methods, and industry trends.

No amount of teaching will change the fact that these legalized pyramid schemes will leave 99% of the people with financial losses. This is obviously a much  higher failure rate than for legitimate businesses, but supporters of network marketing will tell you the people who fail just haven’t tried hard enough.

The faculty and staff of Bethany College should be ashamed that the school is going to be officially teaching scamming to its students. Even worse, the multi-level marketing curriculum is going to be taught through the college’s “Center for Servant Leadership.” That’s right… somewhere in the midst of teaching students to be servants and leaders, they are also going to be taught how to effectively scam others.


  1. Doc Bunkum 06/04/2011 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Too bad you went and blocked Lenny Clements from your blog – I’m sure he would have loved to respond to your piece with a 10 page rebuttal replete with footnotes and references .

    At least that’s what he’s whining about over on Moneyland –

    “BTW, I would have posted a response to Tracy Coenen on her blog, but this adamant defender of free speech and blogger’s first amendment rights censored my last round of responses to her commentary and has blocked my ability to post any new responses.”


  2. Tracy Coenen 06/04/2011 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Too bad Lenny, who lies about being a member of Mensa, has spent years showing the world how dumb he is –> talking about the First Amendment and free speech as it relates to my blog. You’d think by now that someone would tell him that freedom of speech doesn’t mean I have to allow his filth to dirty up my blog. 🙂

    • Doc Bunkum 06/14/2011 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Oh, good news! More information on this program from Lenny:

      “Bethany College is offering a degree in Marketing, with an emphasis on multilevel marketing. Also, they are developing a formal online certificate course that will focus on MLM.

      I am working with Bethany College as their consultant on this project. I will be interviewing David Frost, the Assistant Director of their Business Department, on my “Inside Network Marketing” podcast in a few days. The primary purpose of this interview is to offer more clarity to what Bethany is developing and to address any questions or concerns, such as those that have been posed within this thread. If you should have any others, please forward them to me at [email protected] and I will attempt to have them addressed during the interview.”


      Len Clements
      MarketWave, Inc.

      We can be sure this program is going to be a hit now that Lenny has his sticky fingers in the pie.

      I wonder if he’s charging them is standard
      $225.00 per hour
      (prorated, no minimum)
      $1,500.00 per day, 8 hour maximum
      (50% for travel days) fee?

  3. Tracy Coenen 06/14/2011 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    If this business about Lenny being a consultant to the college is true, what does it say about the college? Lenny is an abject failure in MLM, flailing around, jumping from MLM to MLM and still never making those big bucks. If he can’t do MLM “right” himself, what will he possibly teach the college about it?

  4. Doc Bunkum 06/15/2011 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Just to add, out of curiosity I did a search on Google this morning with the search string “Bethany College MLM program” – a common set of words most people would use if they’d have heard about this new program and wanted more info.

    Guess what came up as the #1 result for that search term? This blog! 🙂

    Bethany College teaching students how to scam others : Sequence …

  5. Doc Bunkum 06/19/2011 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    “I thought it was a hoax. Surely this couldn’t be true? An actual college, offering a curriculum in “network marketing”????”

    More details are coming out about what this 4 yr MLM program at Bethany College really is, and it appears the facts don’t quite match the story being told. Imagine that!

    From Lennys’ recent podcast interview with David Smith, Associate Professor of Business at Bethany College, we learn that, in fact, what Bethany College intends to do is include a THREE HOUR credit option on network marketing in its’ FOUR YEAR marketing course.

    From the Bethany College website:

    “Bethany is the first institution to offer network marketing as a major. The program’s mission is to promote integrity, trust, and transparency in network marketing, a business model that is underrepresented in education.”

    Further down the page is the actual curriculum:

    “Network Marketing Courses May Include:
    BU270 Network Marketing……………………………………………………………… 3 hrs
    BU387 Network Marketing Practicum……………………………………………….. 12 hrs”

    So you spend all of 3 hrs. in class learning about MLM, then they assign you to a mentor and you go stand on a street corner for 12 hrs. handing out flyers to strangers inviting them to a hotel meeting, and you can graduate from the marketing program with a major in MLM!


  6. Lee D 06/20/2011 at 8:10 am - Reply

    That just makes sense. Nobody who’s attracted to being in an MLM is going to be able to stick with anything for four years.

  7. Tyler H 12/06/2011 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I see the word SCAM a lot but only one statistic to back it up…99% of people loose money because 99% of people do it wrong. A successful network marketing company needs one goal and that is to help make it’s people successful. If everybody fails then ultimately your company fails which and I still see many successful NM companies. FYI, the McDonald’s Corporation is a NM company so if these companies are such a scam then your contributing to them every time you buy a big mac.

    • Tracy Coenen 12/07/2011 at 7:37 am - Reply

      No, Tyler, McDonalds is NOT a “network marketing” company. And 99% fail because of the way the system is built. The only real winners in MLM are the people who own the MLMs…. because they know fools like you will give them money over and over and over again, and will justify it by telling themselves they haven’t “done it right” yet.

  8. jan beaumont 08/29/2014 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    I am sad when an individual like yourself makes such unfounded comments. I guess you are just as ignorant when it comes to the stock market as well as conventional business model, law, education, etc.

    Do further review of this topic before opening your mouth!!

    • Tracy Coenen 08/29/2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Jan – My comments are indeed very well-founded. I have been researching multi-level marketing companies for nearly a decade. They are legalized pyramid schemes… i.e. our government looks the other way, allowing the fraud to continue.

  9. Rick 10/11/2014 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Tracy, it sounds like you may have personal story. Have you shared it somewhere? I have to say that I felt he same way after being involved in two different product related MLM’s.
    1. Both involved selling overpriced products to friends.
    2. Both involved selling products that I had to sell them on using.
    3. Both involved selling products that I had to stock and deliver.
    4. Both involved bookkeeping on my part.

    I recently found:
    – A MLM that isn’t product based.
    – Everyone I know is already using it.
    – I can get it for my friends for cheaper, or even practically free.
    – Company is A+ rated with BBB.
    – Has less than 3% of market share.
    – Has hit $1 billion in revenue in less than 10 years.
    – Has over a million customers.
    – Company has lots of awards and credibility.
    – They don’t pay for advertising, they use word-of-mouth. (MLM)
    – They pay people who produce the most, and lead others to produce. (MLM)
    – They don’t care what color you are, what your gender is, or what your education level is.
    – The harder you work, the more you get paid.
    – The more you help others, the more you get paid.
    – The company wants to pay you more, and more.
    – When Elvis recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” he produced something for which he was continually paid (residual income). Other than MLM, what other job provides residual income for the average person? I know there are some, but not many.
    – I have two friends in their 30’s who have worked with this company for less than 8 years and no longer have to work.

    Why would 13 US states, including CA, NY, NJ, IL, PN, and TX license them if they were a fraud?

    Why would “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author Robert Kiyosaki endorse network marketing? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnljriVClKQ

  10. Tracy Coenen 10/12/2014 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Congratulations, Rick. You are officially part of a pyramid scheme. If there is nothing to buy and people are paying practically nothing for “it”… then they are paying for a recruiting opportunity, which is exactly what a pyramid scheme is.

    Your friends DO have to work. MLM uses the lie that “I retired!!!” to recruit. They didn’t retire. They still work pushing their scam. And the money they make is not an honest living. It is made by scamming people to join a pyramid scheme in which they are almost guaranteed to lose their money.

    Robert Kiyosaki is a clown. Mainly because he lied in all of his books about his background. But also because he “endorses” MLM without the slightest bit of knowledge of the truth… that 99% or more lose money in MLM and it is not a business. It is a scam.

    Please promote your scam elsewhere.

  11. Tracy Coenen 10/12/2014 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Yes, that’s a wonderful resource, and easily proves that the MLM you’re shilling is a pyramid scheme:

    – No genuine product or service (the key here being GENUINE)
    – Promises high returns in a short time
    – Easy money or passive income (that’s what you’re talking about when you say someone doesn’t have to work anymore and there is “residual income”)
    – No demonstrated revenue from retail sales (because there are almost no retail sales happening with 3rd party customers)
    – Buy-in required
    – Complex commission structure (I don’t even have to ask about this one, because all MLMs have complex payouts to a bunch of levels… overrides, bonuses, etc that you couldn’t possibly begin to calculate yourself.)
    – Emphasis on recruiting (they all do)

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