Market America Pyramid Scheme Lawsuit


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 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 to continue to qualify as an enrollee, and other fees are incurred to attend training and events.

It’s interesting because Market America calls itself an un-franchise, and touts the following benefits of not being a franchise:

However, unlike a franchise, there are no franchise fees, monthly royalties, territorial restrictions, little to no risks and minimal startup expenses.

The monthly fees and required purchases may not technically be a monthly royalty, but it sounds awfully similar!

Among other things, the lawsuit says:

  • The company claims anyone can have financial success if they follow a two-year bluprint
  • MarketAmerica targets immigrant from China, hoping that they will sell products to their relatives in China
  • Over 90% of distributors in Market America lose money
  • MarketAmerica has a complicated system in which you create a full cycle (two complete pyramids) and an then re-enter each pyramid as a downline
  • You can pay a large fee to become a Master Unfranchise Owner, which is nothing but a fee for a speculative change to earn another source of income
  • Market America encourages inventory loading
  • Little money is made from retail sales. Money comes from distributors paying fees to MarketAmerica, meaning the distributors “… are primarily feeding off each other.”

Market America is trying to get the case transferred to federal court in North Carolina (where the company is based). At the same time, the company has filed suit in North Carolina to compel arbitration, as the distributor agreement signed by the plaintiffs includes an arbitration clause. The plaintiffs assert that the arbitration clause was not part of the terms of the agreement, and that it was a condition that they did not agree to.

Also interesting: In some filings made by Market America, reference is made to agreements and documents executed or signed by Yang and Lan. They are disputing the authenticity, suggesting they did may not have been the people who signed up on line or the people who signed documents.

9 thoughts on “Market America Pyramid Scheme Lawsuit

  1. Kevin liu

    More than 250 market america distributors are terminated by the company since Aug. 2017, most are Chinese. We are looking for legal help.

  2. Angie

    Hi, I have been introduce this system in Malaysia recently. Wonder is this another potential threat that trying to dig money from the innocent? Not sure about the business so wish to hear the advice from experts. Thanks.

  3. Garrette W. Peck, III

    In a 2017 federal lawsuit, two distributors accused the company of violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and California state law. The suit claims the company targets Chinese-American immigrants to sell products to friends and relatives in Asia. The lawsuit characterizes Market America’s business practice as “racketeering” and says that “while the executives tell distributors they can earn more than $560,000, only those at the top make that kind of money. Ninety percent of sellers do not receive a penny”.[3][29]

  4. Dece

    I was one of the poor suckers…not Chinese immigrant, smart, well educated, stay-at-home mom not wanting to go back into the prof world of back-stabbing & politicking…with the hope of making the money that I saw others make. I could not sell false dreams so I could not recruit for the life of me.

  5. Joyce and John Yuan

    Team Flushing, New York has over 200 distributors (included high pin income earners) and 95% Chinese American immigrants are terminated or account has “freeze” by the company since end of 2017, a few still under investigation for no reason by Market America. Looking for for legal advice and help.

  6. gary beversluis

    Flushing NY, caused all this, they scamming the system. Market America is great company. I started from the bottom.

  7. My Opinion

    Working for the IT department there is terrible. The chairs in the conference rooms were old and outdated. Like wear and tear with cotton sticking out when I was there. I’m disgusted with how they write fake reviews on glassdoor. Distributors who sell Market America products are nothing but customers to Market America. Plain and simple.

  8. Skeptic in IL

    This is the racket that had that hilarious segment on the John Oliver HBO Expose of MLM of the huckster running the swindle putting on some show where he was screaming at a gravestone for “Joe Nobody” about how he should have joined his fake-ass scam.

  9. JR

    I had a really good friend that I lost from gettin brainwashed and me trying to steer them clear from this predatory company that I could see through them from the beginning. I only joined to support my friend but after over a year of putting money in and seeing underhanded practices I had to get out and end my friendship. You are not allowed to tell people the real name of the company, they never told me about ongoing payments of around $150 a month to keep buying products and other fees then all the trips that they make you buy to show your dedication 3 $200 tickets for all the major events to show that everyone is swimming in the money. Overall I think it sad how this company looks to exploit Chinese people that need help not false hope with they greedy people.

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