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Pyramids of Fortune?

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Thinking of joining a multilevel marketing program to make some extra money? Before diving in, make sure you’re not dealing with a pyramid scheme. They’re illegal, and for good reason.

Today, the FTC announced a complaint against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. (FHTM) for scamming consumers out of $169 million. The FTC alleged that the company operated an illegal pyramid scheme disguised as a multilevel marketing program, and claimed that anyone who joined could earn a substantial income. But the FTC investigators found that more than 90% of all the members earned less than $15 in a year. Most folks actually paid more to join FHTM than they earned.

What about all the rags-to-riches stories the company promotes? Only true for a few at the top tier.  In fact, the FTC charged, the company structured its business in a way that guarantees most people who join would lose money. The compensation plan is confusing, and commissions on product sales are very small. There’s no training on how to sell the products — things you might be familiar with and can buy elsewhere — like subscriptions to DISH Network, cell phone services, or dietary supplements. According to the FTC, the only way to make any money working for FHTM is to recruit other employees.

So what’s the bottom line for you? If you’re planning to buy into a multilevel marketing plan, get the details:     

  • If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is mainly based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s a pyramid scheme.
  • Even if a company sells products or services you’re familiar with — or boasts celebrity members — they may not be legitimate.
  • Don’t be fooled by rags-to-riches stories or portrayals of lavish lifestyles made possible by joining the program. These stories may not represent the experiences of most members.
Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


Can you look into the site Looks like a similar pyramid scheme site

If you'd like the FTC to look into a company's practices, please file a complaint at We use your complaints to investigate companies and bring lawsuits. We can't address complaints if they are submitted through blog comments.

Nicole, as usual when I click that link I get this:
Page Not Found
The page you're looking for is currently unavailable or does not exist.

It is possible that this page has been moved or renamed. You can use your browser's Back button to return to the previous page, go to the homepage, or you can browse or search for the information you're looking for.

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Sadly common for government links.

Apologies, Rob, I've corrected the link.

Perhaps the worst pyramid sompany is Mannatech (MTEX) was sued by the Teaxs a=Atorney Genreal but still in business. Right now they owe back taxes to the IRS, but has avoided paying some due to staute of liitations. Then FTC needs to close them down for good

Please look into 2010 Blessings .com My minister invited me to join.

I was taken in by the lies & hype at FHTM, is there anyway to recover our losses?

I'm in Consumers Ed reading this lol

What is known about "Fun & Fuel Promotions" in Encino CA

I would like to know more about this company Fun & Fuel Promotion in Encino CA

I received a packet in April 2013 from Fun and Fuel Promotions. There were phone numbers and people to contact that participated, my family and I sent in the money and was told we would. Receive our "Results" package by June 28th, no later than July 3rd, 2013. There is a telephone number that gives the callers information about their investmemts they made to this company. 800 772 1378. Why send in a certified letter to them, it supposidly they mailed out the packages to all who participated? This is the truth of what we are in the midst of. After doing our due diligence and checking it all out...hopefully they are truthfully HONEST!(July 3rd is tomorrow) !!!! No package Yet..smells fishy!

I would like to know something about it too. You can talk to real people while they're selling their mailing spots but now that it's payday you cannot talk to anyone on any phone number!! Do you know how to get in touch with them!

Can you give an opinion on Nerium

Can you please look at and tell me if the "opportunity" tab material would
be a good investment

Alert: Paul Orberson is at it again. As of 2/15/2013 He joined up with Zija as a rep and is said to have been brought in as one of the new top dogs of that pyramid and is signing up thousands of people for $1.00 with a company named: Zija.

Please check Seacret HQ. High pressure to join them; two weeks later I returned unopened agent starter kit. Was charged $60 and will not be reimbursed.

Hello, this is very good article what have you here.
I´d like to ask if you anyone hear about this -->
bannersbroker It seems very unreal. They promise fortune for everybody. But everybody with common sense will have doubts..
I think this is another sophistical pyramid system. I know personally few people and they are completely "brainwashed" from this company.

Please give me some answer about this company and i will spread it out to the people.
Thank you.

Please check into the company I really like the Idea of this company but I hope that its not a scam.You 50.00 per month as membership and bring 7 people. They bring 7 people so forth and so on. In return they are promising to share 1/2 of their wealth with you by paying your following bills monthly as you bring members they will pay cell phone bill up to 25.00,electric bill 300.00, gas bill 100.00,water 50.00,rent 1k, car allowance 800.00, medical and dental 2k per month. Your commissions are paid by their Bank of America account and your bills will be paid by their Wells Fargo account.

If you'd like the FTC to look into a company's practices, please file a complaint at We use your complaints to investigate companies and bring lawsuits. We can't address complaints if they are submitted through blog comments.

I'm sobbing as i write this,I just realized I'm on the "sucker llist". I filed a complaint (FTC) and here is my senerio...
Paid $21,500 for business with marketing ads etc. never recieved the coaching to learn and take over to run while being launched.I was given a 300% return on my money within a 6 month garentee or refund would take place. I put the $21,500 on my credit cards. filed dispute,and credit card company is saying there's nothing they can do because I didn't dispute the charge within 90 or 120 days and that I gave merchant my card no. so it isn't considered fraud. I sent the cc companies an article found on (FTC)this site with the 1 of "INTERNET SOLUTIONS" other companies on the fraud list. Still the credit card companies refuse to do anything. Not one thing. What are my rights and laws for disputing a charge through the credit card company. Doesn't false pretense fall under the fraud catigory?
thanks SOS

What company was this I have a similar story

I have read a lot about FHTM's structure, compensations etc. but nobody mentioned that a rep won't get paid unless the new recruiter get 3 points by ordering any of the products indorse by the company.

Former Fhtm rep who never expected a free lunch! There are no guarantees in business period! Business is risk... MLM is a chance to earn a little or a lot .. Depending on your work ethic... I made a lot...only because I was willing to work hard! It is a shame that those who expect something for nothing always blame others. When you are looking for a business to start.. It is your responsibility to research and get the facts! There is no guarantee at a job if you don't show up!! Fhtm was a great company with tremendous vision to help others who wanted more and were willing to work hard ... Not a FREE as so many expected! Should you expect a company to pay you for doing nothing??? Absolutely NOT! Most will tell you that they personally benefited greatly from this company!!!!!!!!!

PO & TM knew exactly what they were doing if you were to look at the profit and loss reports, that were made available through Rob and Evans... you would see that most of the money was made from signing up reps (recruiting) yearly renewals and monthly website hosting fees... in the BP when it was stated that you made nickels dimes and quarters off using the services they were absolutely correct. This company was a scam and a fraud and I'm glad it was shut down. Those higher up in the FHTM sponsorship COC moved on to a company named zija and they're doing the same thing all over again. These people are MLM predators and they prey on those who are looking for hope. They talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. They are all certified masters of the meaningless gesture. Get your facts straight you know nothing of what was going at Fortune. Pack of liars and thieves. Go ahead and keep living in denial...PO was a crook !

Yes you are right. Many FHTM bots moved to Zija and Bob Proctor's wife's team moved to Zija when Vemma went belly up. Scoundrels all of them.

Isn't it strange that (1) all MLM companies deemed 'legal' although Retail Rules are ignored and (2) all MLM companies are exempt from the BizOp Rule, let alone (3) even FTC cannot distinctively tell 'illegal' schemes from 'legal' ones.

Thus, MLM is ILLEGAL because it sells almost only to its 'recruiting self-buyers' (aka "distributirs","prosuments") and based on the fake concept of some 'UNLIMITED' things (participants, income, possibilities etc) whereas the ratio is quite fixed and for the entry position it is about 1:800 - one "successful" at the expense of 800 "losers"--whatever skillful, diligent, and artful they might be.

Also it's weird about the MLM in the countries with no anti-pyramid laws because they take for granted: "Hey, it comes from the USA? Then it must be legit!"

What a load of rubbish!

I was just perusing the net as I often do and came across this site and was reading the posts and yours caught my attention and I just have to say a few words.

First and foremost, I have a question. Isn't the model for ALL businesses in the world to have an owner that makes money off of the people they employ? With YOUR logic, ALL businesses are illegal! As an owner of a business, your goal is to get people to do the work FOR you. A distributor is no different and if you think for ONE minute that it's not work to run a successful business from home, you are sadly mistaken!

The problem is, much of the population has been brain washed into thinking that direct sales is some kind of magical hoax, that if you "fall for it" you're stupid. SALES is SALES whether you're watching TV and see a commercial for Walmart or whether you have an individual trying to sell you vitamins! The majority of the population, yourself included, is just uneducated about direct sales.

Direct sales gives you, me and all the rest of the average joes in the world the chance to build a buisness...OUR OWN business at a FRACTION of the cost of the more traditional brick and mortar business. Don't even get me started on the "franchises" of the world! You're talking $50K at least, JUST to get started! If you wanted to start something you could call your own, and build it and earn an you have an extra $50K laying around to use to get started?? I don't think so.

I guess my number 1 message for not only you, but everyone else is, before you bash something or speak like "you know," then at least do a little research and find out EXACTLY what it is you're talking about, because in this case, you couldn't be more wrong.

James, you hit it right on. Business is 100% risk. I think if we all had a million dollars, we would not invest in a McDonalds. Although, some people do. It is the free enterprise system we live in. For those who do not make it, it does not justify crying scam! I literally hate the word scam as it is grossly overused. But I'll tell you what a scam is, it is every large corporation out there making millions of dollars and fighting legislation for workers to get a dollar raise. In these secret legal scams, what they do is position themselves at the top of the pyramid and never let anyone down below go past shift manager or the like. They are the ones the feds should go after. Most legit MLM's, people can actually get paid more than their sponsors and some even are able to position themselves at close to the top. And keep in mind, everyone at one point has just started. It is a level playing ground for everyone. Everyone always says the lower people always make money for the people on the top. This is rubbish. Also, they point to the fact that the MLM structure cannot be sustained because they will run out of people in the world. Give me a break! Does McDonald's ever run out of people to cook fries? The greatest MLM, legal or otherwise has never put a dent into the world population. Maybe when that time comes, the feds can put a warning out stating such is a possibility. Theory is a lot different from reality. You should also know that the people most prominent sources of scam information on the internet are from people self promoting their own "scams". Be on the lookout for those who write articles about scams and look on their website for banners and ads. In short, there is a lot of misinformation out there. What is fact is, we live in a free enterprise system, the feds are there to regulate, and any business venture is a risk. Know what you are getting into before you get into it. Not everyone was born to be in business.

The main difference between a pyramid scheme and an actual business is that in an actual legitimate business the employees get fully compensated for the work that they do. In a pyramid scheme it turns out that the only people that can make a living with the income they receive are the people at the top. The people (new recruits) at the bottom are forced to make an investment monetarily, but can never earn it back unless they trick someone else into signing up. But then a large chunk of that money from someone they talk into making an "investment" goes up to the person that recruited them. And then a chunk of that money goes up to the person that recruited that recruiter. Etc. That money ultimately gets funneled all the way up, into the hands of the "Top salesmen" who have done nothing except recruit people. There is no real work being done by them. That is not how legitimate businesses are run. A legitimate business takes hard work from everyone to keep it running and employees should expect payment for actual work that they do. Your comment sounds like you're trying to justify making money off of other people and not caring about compensating them for the work that they do.

Is there any information on the progress of the FTC charges against FHTM (Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing) operating as a pyramid scheme. I have multiple Teams across the United States that I am trying to help all of us with reimbursement of thousands of dollars over a 3 year period for Products "required" we buy to keep our business operating and NONE of us making any money. What is the status of this FTC action against FHTM?

Hi, for more information about the case you can call 202-326-2643.

someone asked about Nerium--that stuff is bunk. The main ingredient in the crap they sell is a very toxic plant--dangerous!

You unfortunately have no idea about that of which you speak.

Your thinking is great

what about telexfree in Brazil? now operating in other countries? new people joining for voip expensive programs and recieving money for posting spam as an online marketing service? is this a new pyramid scheme?

I have a student that is involved with a company called ANC. Suppossedly if you sign up, they will get all of your internet & cable service prices reduced. For just signing up? I don't think so. Has anyone had experience with this company? There is something about it that sounds very, very fishy. If someone could point me to any legal rulings with this company, I would appreciate it.

ACN has been around since 1993. They are a very successful Company that has been featured in many publications as well as The Apprentice TV show. As with ANY BUSINESS you get out of it what you put into it. There are some very successful people in that company and some who made no money. Guess which ones worked the hardest. That is makes a successful business..

Infinity 2 Global is an up and coming Ponzi/Pyramid Scheme. The only way to make money is to recruit new members. The faux products are social media apps and an online casino that promises "revenue sharing" for members who invest up to $5000 for a "position"

Does anyone have any experience with Social Zing? Matt Morse, Terry & Sandy Walker are associated with this company. They were also part of the Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Co, which could be a red flag?

Very Red flag....don't have anything to do with any of those people they are all crooks and liars

Exactly what are you basing this on?? Do you even know what SocialZing is, what it does and how it works??

From my experience, people that just give one liners like this, with absolutely NO justification or reasoning are either afraid to take a step forward in their life and don't want anyone else to either, OR they are just "brainwashed" into thinking that direct sales is the brother of the boogey both cases, if you're going to bash something so outright, at least give your OWN experiences as to why.

Fun and Fuel Promotions in Encino is a scam. I "bought" 4 spots at $500.00 apiece. When it came payout time, I got a letter saying they made no money for the advertising campaign I invested in. They sent me a voucher for discount airline tickets. It it pretty much useless because the voucher has so many restrictions(holes) in it, it makes Swiss cheese look solid. Never used the restaurant voucher they sent me. Do not send your money to this company!!!! You will lose your money!!! I lost $2,000.00!!!

How many people have been dragged into It Works? Seems like they have decent products but rep talks all about how much you can make by having others working under you and reaching the “Diamond” level. Any comments?

Does anyone know whether or not FeederMatrix is a pyramid scheme. I've sent messages however do not get responses. It's really not a whole lot of money to get into the program. It has eight levels and income is generated by bringing other people into the program. Each level that you pay for gives you a product to download. They say they are a 4x4 forced matrix. Really would like ANY input on this.....the other thing is that one of auto-popuated online merchant services choice is SolidTrust Pay.....Help!!!

Just want to know if anyone has had experience with World Ventures (WV), headquartered in Plano, TX. The product they sell/promote is travel and they recruit people to buy into travel site and or promote WV travel as an independent business with claims of great income levels dependent on number of people recruited. WV has rec'd awards as leader in travel industry for providing low cost travel opportunities for persons enrolled in their program. They provide training opportunities; recognize achievers at various recruitment levels in their magazine. They build bottle schools/build water wells in underdeveloped countries as part of giving back to humanity for their success. But WV is a company based on number of people recruited and only seems to benefit original founders of program and those who achieve various levels thru recruitment efforts. Is this company a good or bad pyramid?

JeunesseGlobal is definitely a pyramid scam in my opinion. $1200 to join if you want to be able to recruit people. Later I learned the top dog Randy Ray was criminally investigated by the Florida State Attorney General in the past for 'Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices Act, F.S. 501.201. et. seq., production and/or soliciting on behalf of a chain letter or pyramid club.'. My bad. Beware.

My wife and her family are SUCKED into Jeunesse global. I tried to tell them what a pyramid scheme, MLM are illegal, yet they don't believe a single word I said, and they think i am jealous of their success. A google search is not turning anything up on Jeunesse Global, therefore I think they are wiping the net with IT solider for their negative review. Very Alarming.... where can i find out more on this Florida State Attorney General's Criminal Investigation? Any news? Thanks.

This is the website of Florida's State Attorney General.

MLM's are not illegal!!! Get a life

MLM's are NOT illegal. AMWAY beat the American Court system and won on that one.
Multi-level marketing companies follow a similar concept to a pyramid scheme, which is a reason for most of the confusion, except that two significant differences exist.
One difference is that members at any level of a multi-level marketing model can theoretically make income through the company’s products and/or services without signing up any new members.
The second difference is that members of any level in a multi-level can earn more than the people who signed them up.
Finally, multi-level marketing companies are legal although structured almost exactly like a pyramid scheme, which believe it or not, is the same structure of most common jobs


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