Wednesday, 26 August 2015

FTC axes 'MLM Income Opportunity' racket, 'Vemma.'

FTC Acts to Halt Vemma as Alleged Pyramid Scheme




Promised Unlimited Income Potential, But Most Participants Lose Money

FOR RELEASE
At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted an alleged pyramid scheme, Vemma Nutrition Company, that lures college students and other young adults with the prospect of getting rich without having a traditional 9-to-5 job. The FTC seeks to stop the operation, which earned more than $200 million annually in 2013 and 2014 and has affected consumers throughout the United States and in more than 50 other countries, from continuing as an unlawful pyramid.
“Rather than focusing on selling products, Vemma uses false promises of high income potential to convince consumers to pay money to join their organization,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are also alleging that Vemma is an illegal pyramid scheme.”
Vemma is a multilevel marketing company that claims to use its members, called “affiliates,” to promote its health and wellness drinks. According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants claim affiliates can earn substantial income by enrolling others either as affiliates or as customers, but Vemma focuses on recruitment rather than retail sales of its products to generate this income. The vast majority of participants make no money, and most of them lose money.
According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants’ websites, social media, and marketing materials show seemingly prosperous young people with luxury cars, jets, and yachts, and falsely claim that Vemma affiliates can earn substantial incomes – as much as $50,000 per week. The defendants allegedly claim that affiliates’ earning potential is limited only by their own efforts and that Vemma provides young adults an opportunity to bypass college and student loan debt. Vemma urges consumers to make an initial investment of $500-$600 for an “Affiliate Pack” of products and business tools, buy $150 in Vemma products each month to remain eligible for bonuses, and enroll others to do the same.
Consumer losses are inevitable because Vemma is an illegal pyramid scheme that rewards affiliates for recruiting participants rather than for selling products, the FTC alleges. The defendants provide affiliates little guidance for selling products, but instead teach them to give away products as samples when recruiting new participants. Vemma offers no meaningful discounts or incentives to encourage retail sales, according to the complaint.
In addition to allegedly running an illegal pyramid scheme, the defendants are charged with making false earnings claims, failing to disclose that Vemma’s structure ensures that most people who join will not earn substantial income, and furnishing affiliates with false and misleading materials to recruit others.
The defendants are Vemma Nutrition Company, Vemma International Holdings Inc., Tom Alkazin, and Benson K. Boreyko, who is under a 1999 court order after settling with the FTC for his involvement with New Vision International Inc.,  a multilevel marketing company that sold nutritional supplements. The complaint names Bethany Alkazin as a relief defendant who profited from the scheme. On August 21, 2015, the court halted the deceptive practices, froze the defendants’ assets, and appointed a temporary receiver over the business pending a trial.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint for permanent injunction was 5-0. The order was entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on August 21, 2015.
The FTC appreciates the assistance of the Attorney General Offices of Arizona, South Carolina, and Michigan, the Tempe Police Department, and the nonprofit organization Truth in Advertising in bringing this case.
To learn more about multilevel marketing, read Multilevel Marketing and Business Opportunity Scams.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook(link is external), follow us on Twitter(link is external), and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

CONTACT INFORMATION

MEDIA CONTACT:
Frank Dorman
Office of Public Affairs
202-326-2674

STAFF CONTACT:
Angeleque Linville
FTC’s Southwest Region
214-979-9381
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A brief analysis of the 'Vemma' racket.



 My evidence-based analysis of 'Vemma' can already be found on 'MLM The American Dream Made Nightmare.'




Briefly: 

'Vemma' is part of an ongoing criminogenic phenomenon of historic significance. It has been the legally-registered corporate front for an 'Amway' copy-cat blame the victim 'MLM Income Opportunity' cultic racket.





'Vemma' is a particularly insidious racket; for its bosses have been specifically targeting students - hiding their closed-market swindle, and related advance fee frauds, behind effectively-unsaleable wampum in the form of 'Verve' - an 'energy drink,' priced at a jaw-dropping $40+ per can.




More than half a century of quantifiable evidence, proves beyond all reasonable doubt that what has become popularly known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' is nothing more than an absurd, cultic, economic pseudo-science, and that the impressive-sounding made-up term 'MLM,' is, therefore, part of an extensive, thought-stopping, non-traditional jargon which has been developed, and constantly-repeated, by the instigators, and associates, of various, copy-cat, major, and minor, ongoing organized crime groups (hiding behind labyrinths of legally-registered corporate structures) to shut-down the critical, and evaluative, faculties of victims, and of casual observers, in order to perpetrate, and dissimulate, a series of blame-the-victim closed-market swindles or pyramid scams (dressed up as 'legitimate direct selling income opportunites'), and related advance-fee frauds (dressed up as 'legitimate training and motivation, self-betterment, programs, leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).


David Brear (copyright 2015)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The 'Lyoness' cult (secte) - an in-depth analysis.



In 1945, whilst most, contemporary mainstream commentators were unable to look beyond the ends of their noses, with a perfect sense of irony, Eric Arthur Blair a.k.a. George Orwell (1903-1950) presented fact as fiction in an insightful 'fairy story' entitled, 'Animal Farm.' He revealed that totalitarianism is merely the oppressors' fiction mistaken for fact by the oppressed.



In the same universal allegory, Orwell described how, at a time of vulnerability, almost any people's dream of a future, secure, Utopian existence can be hung over the entrance to a totalitarian deception. Indeed, the words that are always banished by totalitarian deceivers are, 'totalitarian' and 'deception.'




Sadly, when it comes to examining the same enduring phenomenon, albeit with an ephemeral 'Capitalist' label, most contemporary, mainstream commentators have again been unable to look further than the ends of their noses. However, if they followed Orwell's example, and did some serious thinking, this is the reality-inverting nightmare they would find.  

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'Lyoness'  ('Lyconet'has been presented externally as a traditional association. This was arbitrarily  defined by its ostensible instigator, 'Hubert Freidl, as a banal 'commercial' group. Internally, 'Lyoness' has been totalitarian (i.e. it is centrally-controlled and has required of its core-adherents an absolute subservience to the group and its leadership above all other persons). By its very nature, 'Lyoness' has never presented itself in its true colours. Consequently, no one has ever become involved with the organization as a result of his/her fully-informed consent.






'Lyoness' was instigated, and has been ruled, by psychologically dominant individuals and bodies of psychologically dominant individuals (with impressive, made-up ranks and titles), who have held themselves accountable to no one. These individuals have severe and inflexible Narcissistic Personalities (i.e. they suffer from a chronic psychological disorder, especially when resulting in a grandiose sense of self-importance/ righteousness and the compulsion to take advantage of others and to control others’ views of, and behaviour towards, them).* The leadership of 'Lyoness' has steadfastly pretended moral and intellectual authority whilst pursuing various, hidden, criminal objectives (mainly fraudulent). The admiration of 'Lyoness' adherents has only served to confirm, and magnify, the leaders’ strong sense of self-entitlement and fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beautyetc.

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‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder,’ is a psychological term first used in 1971 by Dr. Heinz Kohut (1913-1981). It was recognised as the name for a form of pathological narcissism in ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1980.’ Narcissistic traits (where a person talks highly of himself/herself to eliminate feelings of worthlessness) are common in, and considered ‘normal’ to, human psychological development. When these traits become accentuated by a failure of the social environment and persist into adulthood, they can intensify to the level of a severe mental disorder. Severe and inflexible NPD is thought to effect less than 1% of the general adult population. It occurs more frequently in men than women. In simple terms, NPD is reality-denying, total self-worship born of its sufferers’ unconscious belief that they are flawed in a way that makes them fundamentally unacceptable to others. In order to shield themselves from the intolerable rejection and isolation which they unconsciously believe would follow if others recognised their defective nature, NPD sufferers go to almost any lengths to control others’ view of, and behaviour towards, them. NPD sufferers often choose partners, and raise children, who exhibit ‘co-narcissism’ (a co-dependent personality disorder like co-alcoholism). Co-narcissists organize themselves around the needs of others (to whom they feel responsible), they accept blame easily, are eager to please, defer to others’ opinions and fear being seen as selfish if they act assertively. NPD was observed, and apparently well-understood, in ancient times. Self-evidently, the term, ‘narcissism,’ comes from the allegorical myth of Narcissus, the beautiful Greek youth who falls in love with his own reflection.



Currently, NPD has nine recognised diagnostic criteria (five of which are required for a diagnosis):

  •       has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
  •       is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, etc.
  •       believes that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people.
  •       requires excessive admiration.
  •       strong sense of self-entitlement.
  •       takes advantage of others to achieve his/her own ends.
  •       lacks empathy.
  •       is often envious or believes that others are envious of him/her.
  •       arrogant disposition.

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'Lyoness' has employed co-ordinated, devious techniques of social and psychological persuasion (variously described as: ‘covert hypnosis’, 'visualisation', 'duplication', ‘mental manipulation’, ‘coercive behaviour modification’, ‘group pressure’, ‘thought reform’, ‘ego destruction’, ‘mind control’, ‘brainwashing’, ‘neuro-linguistic programming’, ‘love bombing’, etc.). These techniques are designed to fulfil the hidden criminal objectives of 'Lyoness' leaders by provoking in the adherents an infantile total dependence on the group to the detriment of themselves and of their existing family, and/or other, relationships. 'Lyoness' has manipulated its adherents’ existing beliefs and instinctual desires, creating the illusion that they are exercising free will. In this way, 'Lyoness' adherents have also been surreptitiously coerced into following potentially harmful, physical procedures (sleep deprivation, repetitive chanting/ moving, etc.) which were similarly designed to facilitate the shutting down of an individual’s critical and evaluative faculties without his/ her fully-informed consent.

'Lyoness' has comprised groups, and sub-groups, of previously diverse individuals bonded by their unconscious acceptance of the self-gratifying, but wholly imaginary, scenario that they alone represent a positive or protective force of purity and absolute righteousness derived from their leadership’s exclusive access to a superior knowledge, and that they alone oppose a negative or adversarial force of impurity and evil. Whilst this two-dimensional, or dualistic, narrative remains the 'Lyoness' adherents’ model of reality, they are, in effect, constrained to modify their individual personalities and behaviour accordingly.







The leaders of 'Lyoness' have sought to overwhelm their adherents emotionally and intellectually by pretending that progressive initiation into their own superior knowledge (coupled with total belief in its authenticity and unconditional deference to the authority of its higher initiates) will defeat a negative, adversarial force of impurity and evil, and automatically lead to future, exclusive redemption in a secure Utopian existenceBy making total belief a prerequisite of redemption,'Lyoness' adherents have been drawn into a closed-logic trap (i.e. failure to achieve redemption is solely the fault of the individual who didn’t believe totally). Cultic pseudo-science is always essentially the same hypnotic hocus-pocus, but it can be peddled in an infinite variety of forms and combinations (‘spiritual’, ‘medical’, ‘philosophical’, cosmological,’extraterrestrial’, ‘political’, ‘racial’, ‘mathematical’, ‘economic’, New-Age’, 'magical', etc.), often with impressive, made-up, technical-sounding names. It is tailored to fit the spirit of the times and to attract a broad range of persons, but especially those open to an exclusive offer of salvation (i.e. the: sick, traumatized, poor, dissatisfied, bereaved, vanquished, disillusioned, oppressed, lonely, insecure, aimless, etc.). However, at a moment of vulnerability, anyone (no matter what their: age, sex, nationality, state of mental/ physical health, level of education, wealth, etc.) can need to believe in a non-rational, cultic pseudo-science. Typically, obedient 'Lyoness' adherents have been granted ego-inflating ranks and titles, whilst non-initiates have been referred to using derogatory, dehumanizing terms. 



Although initiation can at first appear to be reasonable and benefits achievable, the 'Lyoness' economic pseudo-science gradually becomes evermore costly and mystifying. Ultimately, it is completely incomprehensible and its claimed benefits are never quantifiable. The self-righteous euphoria and relentless enthusiasm of 'Lyoness' proselytizers can be highly infectious and deeply misleading. They are convinced that their own salvation also depends on saving others.






The leaders of 'Lyoness' have sought to control all information entering not only their adherents’ minds, but also that entering the minds of casual observers. This has been achieved by constantly denigrating all external sources of information whilst constantly repeating the group’s reality-inverting key words and images, and/or by the physical isolation of adherents. 'Lyoness' leaders have systematically categorized, condemned and excluded as unenlightened, negative, impure, evil, etc. all free-thinking individuals and any quantifiable evidence challenging the authenticity of their imaginary scenario of control. In this way, the minds of 'Lyoness' adherents have become converted to accept only what their leadership arbitrarily sanctions as enlightened, positive, pure, absolutely righteous, etc. Consequently, 'Lyoness' adherents habitually communicate amongst themselves using their group’s thought-stopping ritual 'Income Opportunity' jargon, and they find it difficult, if not impossible, to communicate with negative persons outside of their group whom they falsely believe to be not only doomed, but also to be a suppressive threat to redemption.

In 'Lyoness,' a core-group of adherents has been gradually dissociated from external reality and reformed into deployable agents and de facto slaves, furthering the hidden criminal objectives of their leaders, completely dependent on a collective paranoid delusion of absolute moral and intellectual supremacy fundamental to the maintenance of their individual self-esteem/identity and related psychological function. It has become impossible for such unquestioning 'Lyoness' fanatics to see humour in their situation or to feel pity for, or to empathise with, non-adherents. Their minds have been programmed to interpret the manipulation, and/or cheating, and/or dispossession, and/or destruction, of inferior outsiders (particularly, those who challenge their group’s controlling scenario) as perfectly justifiable.








The leaders of 'Lyoness' have continued to use stolen funds to infiltrate traditional culture and to organize the creation, and/or dissolution, and/or subversion, of further (apparently independent) corporate structures pursuing lawful, and/or unlawful, activities in order to prevent, and/or divert, investigation and isolate themselves from liability. In this way, the 'Lyoness' racket has been hiding in plain sight and has survived all ill-informed, isolated low-level challenges spreading like a cancer enslaving the minds, and destroying the lives, of countless individuals in the process. At the same time, its leaders have acquired absolute control over capital sums which place them alongside the most notorious racketeers in history. They have operated behind an ever-expanding, and changing, front of ‘limited-liability, commercial companies,’ and/or ‘non-profit-making associations,’ etc. 






Although they can appear to be euphorically happy, will insist that no one is controlling them and that they are excercizing free will, the inflexible long-term core-adherents of 'Lyoness' are demonstrably-psychotic (i.e. suffering from psychosis, a severe mental derangement, especially when resulting in delusions and loss of contact with external reality); for anyone implying that they have generated an overall net-income lawfully by regularly retailing 'Lyoness' services to the general public (based on value and demand), is not telling the truth.





'Lyoness' itself can be accurately described as being only one part of a largely-unrecognized, ongoing, criminogenic / cultic phenomenon of historic significance. The quantifiable evidence demonstrates that, for decades, right under the noses of ill-informed, and/or naive, and /or corrupt, regulators, legislators, journalists, etc., hundreds of copy-cat 'Network Marketing / income opportunity' rackets have been organized so that effectively 100% of all contributing participants were compelled to lose their money, whilst the insignificant percentage of bosses have shared billions of dollars of unlawful revenue which they have laundered as lawful 'sales.'


'Lyoness' adherents who have managed to break with their group and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived, exploited and blamed, have been invariably destitute and dissociated from their previous social contacts.

Classically, the overwhelming majority of 'Lyoness' victims have remained silent. For many years afterwards, recovering former cult adherents can suffer from  psychological problems (which are also generally indicative of the victims of abuse): depression; overwhelming feelings (guilt, grief, shame, fear, anger, embarrassment, etc.); dependency/ inability to make decisions; retarded psychological/ intellectual development; suicidal thoughts; panic/ anxiety attacks; extreme identity confusion; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; insomnia/ nightmares; eating disorders; psychosomatic illness; fear of forming intimate relationships; inability to trust; etc.




Confused ex-'Lyoness' core- adherent, Andrew Plimmer, still unconciously recites thought-stopping 'commercial' jargon.

To give readers a revealing glimpse of the lasting-damage 'income opportunity' cults can inflict on the minds of ordinary ill-informed everyday people - a middle-aged Australian man, Andrew Plimmer, has had dozens of tragicomic propaganda videos posted on Youtube in which he recites the '100% positive Network Marketing' fairy story and attacks the traditional world.

www.youtube.com/watchv=BBVsGCn_Ltw&index=6&list=PLcCYDF4az2QhJcCJMRdD2WAesKzyvFZuX

Since January 2012, Mr Plimmer has been an unquestioning core-adherent of the unoriginal 'Lyoness' fairy story. However, 'Lyoness' is currently facing prosecution as a pyramid scheme in Australia and this fact seems finally to have stimulated Mr. Plimmer's dormant critical and evaluative faculties

www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-action-against-alleged-pyramid-scheme-operator.

Just over a month ago, Mr. Plimmer suddenly posted a new video on Youtube in which he tells a very different story, i.e. the truth (or rather a significant part of the truth); for Mr. Plimmer still cannot face the reality that, in 'Lyoness,' he, and countless persons around the globe, have been subjected to co-ordinated devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion designed to enslave and defraud vulnerable individuals, and prevent them from complaining

www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV01xNflmOk

Illogically, even though he now confesses to being 'treated like shit,' losing tens of thousands of Au$ and never fully-understanding how 'Lyoness' functions, Mr. Plimmer still insists that 'Networking Marketing' is a 'great concept.' Whilst all his other reality-inverting videos remain posted.

www.youtube.com/channel/UC_DMiR-A3k-066YiVViAmnQ

Readers of this in-depth analysis  (particularly, law enforcement agents) are warned that the leaders of the most-destructive cults have ultimately become megalomaniacal psychopaths (i.e. suffering from a chronic mental disorder, especially when resulting in paranoid delusions of grandeur and self-righteousness, and the compulsion to pursue grandiose objectives). The unconditional deference of their deluded adherents only served to confirm, and magnify, the leaders’ own paranoid delusions. This type of cult leader will seek to maintain an absolute monopoly of information whilst perpetrating, and/or directing, evermore heinous crimes. They will sustain their activities by the imposition of arbitrary contracts and codes (secrecydenunciation, confession,justice, punishment, etc.) within their groups, and by the use of humiliation, and/or intimidation, and/or calumny, and/or malicious prosecution (where they pose as victims), and/or sophism, and/or the infiltration of traditional culture, and/or corruption, and/or intelligence gathering and blackmail, and/or extortion, and/or physical isolation, and/or violence, and/or assassination, etc., to repress any internal or external dissent.



David Brear (copyright 2015)


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 Questionnaire for Past,

 and Present,

'Lyoness' Adherents.

(short version) 



(Respondents are advised first to read all the questions before making any answer).

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1. Was the person who first approached you to participate in 'Lyoness' a friend or relative, i.e. a person with whom you enjoyed a relationship based on love and trust? (if yes, give brief details).


2. Did the 'Lyoness' recruiter(s) present a bleak picture of the world of traditional employment, in which most people are forced to go out to work for 45 years with only retirement and a limited pension to look forward to?


3. Did the recruiter(s) present the 'Lyoness Income Opportunity' as a viable alternative to the world of traditional employment, in which it is possible for anyone to retire and enjoy total financial freedom, after a just a few years of concentrated effort?


4. At the time you were recruited, would you say that you were entirely satisfied with life; particularly, your achievements, education, career/employment status/prospects, home, relationships, social standing, salary, health, weight, physical appearance, etc.?


5. How would you describe your level of satisfaction with your life at the time you were recruited?

6. When, and how, were you first approached to participate in 'Lyoness' and when was the name 'Lyoness' first mentioned?'

  • Was 'Lyoness' first presented to you individually or as part of a group?
  • Did the presentation comprise drawing circles containing numbers and percentages on a board or sheet of paper? 
  • Did you fully-understand the presentation?
  • Was the presentation given by a man with a woman nodding in agreement next to him?
  • Were you given to believe that anyone could understand 'Lyoness?'
  • Did the recruiters seem generally happy and excited as though they had wonderful news to share?

7. What prior knowledge did you have of 'income opportunities?'



8. What was your initial reaction when you were approached?



9. At the time you signed up, what did you believe to be the success-rate of persons participating in 'Lyoness' (i.e. about what percentage of participants did you think made an overall net-income out of 'Lyoness')?



10. Were you ever shown any independent quantifiable evidence (e.g. income tax payment receipts) proving that anyone has ever made an overall net-income out of participating in 'Lyoness?'



11. Did you ever ask to see such evidence? 



12. Could you give a brief explanation of what you understand by the term pyramid scheme or scam?



13. What would you say was the essential identifying characteristic of pyramid scams, Ponzi schemes, money circulation games, chain letter scams, etc.?



 14. Were you given to believe that 'Lyoness' cannot possibly be a fraud, because it had obtained  certification from companies like Quality Austria and TÜV Rheinland?



15. Were you given to believe that 'Lyoness' cannot possibly be a fraud, because it has existed for decades and has been investigated and approved by governments around the world?



16. Were you given to believe that 'Lyoness' cannot possibly be a fraud, because celebrities have endorsed it?


17. Were you given to believe that 'Lyoness' cannot possibly be a fraud, because of its involvement with charity?

18. Were you given to believe that 'Lyoness' cannot possibly be a fraud, because it has sponsored professional sport?

19. What was your main motivation for joining 'Lyoness' :
  •  to earn income?
  •  to buy products and/or services at a discount price?
20. Before you signed up for 'Lyoness,' were your encouraged by the recruiter to seek independent legal/financial advice?

21. Did you ever seek independent legal/financial advice? (if yes, give brief details).

22.  What factor would you say initially convinced you that 'Lyoness' was an authentic opportunity to earn income?

23. At the time you signed up for 'Lyoness,' did you have any knowledge of pernicious groups that employ co-ordinated devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion - designed to shut down the critical and evaluative faculties of ill-informed individuals in order to exploit them and prevent them from complaining?

24. Could you give a brief explanation of what you understand by the terms:
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming?
  • brainwashing?
  • coercive behaviour modification?
  • group pressure?
  • covert hypnosis?
  • ego-destruction?
  • thought reform?
  • mental manipulation?
  • love bombing?
25. Were you given to believe that it is possible for anyone to replace their income by participating in 'Lyoness?'

26. Were you given to believe that after achieving a certain level of income in 'Lyoness' you could cease all activity and receive the same residual income for the rest of your life?

27. Were you given to believe that this residual income could be passed on to your descendants after your death?

28. During your time in 'Lyoness'were you taught that the 'exact duplication of a proven step-by-step plan' could automatically bring anyone 'total financial freedom?'

29. As part of this 'proven plan,' were you taught:
  • to alter you habitual way of speaking? (if yes, give a brief explanation)
  • to alter your habitual way of dressing? (if yes, give a brief explanation)
  • to alter you habitual way of eating? (if yes, give a brief explanation)
  • to alter your habitual sleep pattern? (if yes, give a brief explanation)
  • to alter you habitual social contacts? (if yes, give a brief explanation)
  • that everyone above you in your 'Network' was your 'Upline' and everyone beneath you was your 'Downline?'
  • that your 'Upline' was there to help you and was to be 'admired and respected?'
  • that your 'Upline's success depended on helping his/her 'Downline' to succeed?'
  • to divide everyone, and everything, in your life into 'negative' vs 'positive?'
  • that you should draw up a list of prospective 'Lyoness' recruits comprising everyone you had ever encountered in your life?
  • that you should progressively contact all these 'prospects' and attempt to recruit them using a precisely-worded 'positive' script?
  • that when trying to recruit 'prospects' you should exhibit excitement and enthusiasm, and recite your own personal 'story' describing how your life had been been transformed for the better by 'Lyoness?'
  • that you should never say anything 'negative' about 'Lyoness?'
  • that you should never listen to, or look at, anything 'negative' about 'Lyoness?'
  • that all persons who refused to join you (particularly, those who said 'Lyoness' is a scam) were to be deemed 'negative' and a threat to your own success?
  • that all 'negative' persons were to be deemed 'losers, whiners, dream stealers,' etc., and should be excluded from your life?
  • that all persons with regular jobs were to be labelled losers?
  • that you should only have contact with 'positive winners?'
  • that you should regularly buy, and listen to, recordings of 'positive winners?'
  • that you should regularly buy tickets to, and attend, extended meetings conducted by 'positive winners' at which you took part in group, rythmic chanting and moving?
  • that you should regularly buy, and read, publications, written by 'positive winners?'
  • that you should exactly duplicate the 100% positive mental attitude and behaviour of the 'positive winners' in your 'Upline?'
  • that you should regularly visualize your 'dreams an goals' in life (luxury cars, expensive houses, exotic holiday destinations, etc.)?
  • that you should fix images of your 'dreams and goals' in strategic places in your home? 
  • that all persons who develop a '100% positive mental attitude and never quit, ultimately achieve their dreams and goals in Lyoness?'
  • that all persons who 'fail to achieve their dreams and goals in Lyoness, are negative losers, whiners, quitters etc., who always try to blame others, when they only have themselves to blame?'
  • that you should disclose personal information about yourself, and about your friends and family, to your 'Upline?'
  • that you should gather personal information about your 'prospects' (i.e. the persons whom you wanted to recruit) in order to find their 'hot button' (i.e. a specific means of approach tailored to an individual's personal situation and which could get him/her excited about 'Lyoness').
30. As a result of duplicating the 'proven Lyoness plan,' approximately how much money did you lose overall?

31. As a result of duplicating the 'proven Lyoness plan,' approximately how many days per week were you active and approximately how much of your own time did you commit each day?

32. How long did you remain under contract to 'Lyoness?' 

33. Did you ever manage to recruit anyone into 'Lyoness?' (if yes, give brief details).

34. What level(s), if any, did you rise to in the 'Lyoness' hierarchy? (give brief details).
35. Exactly how were you described on your 'Lyoness' contract(s)?

36. As a result of your involvement with 'Lyoness,' did you lose contact with any family members, and/or with anyone with whom you had previously been close? (if yes, give brief details).

37. Have you filed, or attempted to file, a complaint about 'Lyoness' with any law enforcement agency? (if yes, give brief details).


David Brear (copyright 2015)

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A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO CULTISM 

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Who hasn’t heard about cults? The word, ‘cult,’ has been thrown around so often that most of us now take it for granted that we must know exactly what it means. To be honest, very few people have sought out sufficient background material to be able to form a lucid picture of cultism which requires the formulation of the essential identifying characteristics of the phenomenon. Even the most-diligent news reports have tended to examine individual cultic groups in close-up, leaving the wider phenomenon either out of shot or out of focus. However, in recent years, it has become a matter of public record that, as a result of unprotected exposure to one of an ever-growing and evolving catalogue of apparently diverse and innocent groups, almost anyone can begin to exhibit remarkably uniform symptoms. In everyday terms, it is as though they’ve fallen head over heels in love. Although this initial euphoria is often short-lived, a significant minority will subsequently undergo a nightmarish transformation and recklessly dissipate all their mental, and/or physical, and/or financial, resources to the benefit of some hitherto unknown person(s), whom they continue to trust and follow no matter what suffering this entails. Only when enough victims of one of these latter-day ‘Pied-Pipers’ wind up in psychiatric hospitals or on mortuary slabs is the word, ‘cult,’ liberally applied by the popular press. It is then always revealed that there had been some timely attempt(s) to warn the authorities, but they couldn’t intervene, because, legalistically, cultism does not exist. That said, all cosmopolitan people readily accept that cults most-certainly do exist, but, due to the prevalent style of media coverage, we habitually think of them only as remote, and grotesque, freak-shows.

In my experience, if it is suggested that ‘we should all be on our guard against cultism, because it is actually much closer to us than we like to think,’ the average person is immediately convinced that such an idea is absurd. This instinctual reaction is usually accompanied by one, or more, of the following comments:
                                            
  • ·     ‘Don’t worry, I wasn’t born yesterday, a cult couldn’t fool me or anyone in my family… only idiots and weaklings join cults.’

  • ·     ‘In a free society everyone has the right to believe in what they want… if adults decide to hand over their time and money to some charismatic guru, it’s their own business.’


  • ·     ‘One man’s cult is another man’s religion.’


  • ·     ‘I suppose you’re including all the people who believe Elvis is still alive.’


  • ·     ‘Unless they are being physically held as prisoners, adults always have a free-choice to walk away if they don’t like what’s happening to them.’


  • ·     ‘Perhaps some cult members get harmed, but that’s their problem not mine.’


  • ·     ‘Cults have been around for centuries, there’s nothing new to learn about them.’ etc.


Whilst these opinions can all seem valid to the ill-informed, the underlying facts prove them to be nothing more than ego-protecting self-deceptions, which completely miss the point. It’s easy to understand that ‘knowledge itself is power,’ but it’s altogether harder to accept that (by the same token) ignorance is vulnerability. Obviously, cults never announce themselves, but their many disguises continue to adapt to mirror the changing spirit of the times. Throughout the ages, a dangerous minority of mythomaniacs, charlatans and would-be demagogues have always been able to get their human prey to sail blindly into positions of subjection, by first bedazzling them with all manner of false beacons which seemed so welcoming and authentic that the majority of people could not have been expected to determine exactly what was lurking behind them. Even though most of us want to deny it, at a moment of weakness all of us can need to listen to the latest cultic voice of insanity; especially when it appeals to our existing beliefs and instinctual desires, and originates from the apparent face of reason. To casual observers, the phenomenon might seem to be a ridiculous anachronism, but cultism or occultism has survived the tide of history and continues to wreck countless lives, simply because its instigators keep updating the lyrics of their siren song. Totalitarianism itself is enduring, its camouflage is ephemeral.

Young children’s unconscious acceptance of ‘Santa Claus’ as total reality, stems from a fictitious scenario reflected as fact by the traditional culture in which they live. Up to a certain age, children are not equipped to challenge the model of reality offered to them by authoritarian figures within their family groups; particularly, their parents. Therefore, once children have been converted to a self-gratifying, non-rational belief in ‘Santa,' the truth (that they are actually being deceived by the people whom they instinctively trust and follow) is unthinkable. The scenario can then be expanded to modify children’s behaviour — ‘Santa’ has magical powers… he can see and hear everything they do at all times… he will reward them for unquestioning belief and punish them for dissent. Only when they attain the necessary level of intellectual/psychological development, can children begin to use their critical and evaluative faculties and come to realise that ‘Santa’ is merely a game of make believe. If you think about it, what I’ve just described is the most elementary form of self-perpetuating, non-rational/esoteric, ritual belief system - perfectly tailored to fit infantile minds, and reliant on the maintenance of an absolute monopoly of information presented using a constant repetition of reality-inverting key words and images combined with pseudo-scientific mystification and closed-logic.


When analysed with the same level of intellectual rigour, many of the basic procedures and conditions required to establish cultic groups turn out not to be a mystery at all. They are revealed as only more-sophisticated versions of those which also propagate the benign ‘Santa’ deception. As such, they are frighteningly easy to replicate. However, the instigators of cults are anything but benign and, interestingly, many of their most-deluded subjects and convincing apologists turn out to be well-educated adults who have simply become incapable of facing the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been fooled by what is merely a game of make believe. No sane person would ever suggest trying to ban ‘Santa,’ and everyone lies to their children at some time to modify their behaviour, but consider the variety of destructive behaviour that an authoritarian adult (with hidden criminal objectives) could get dependent children to follow by exploiting their unconscious acceptance of the same imaginary, but nonetheless emotionally and intellectually overwhelming, narrative as total reality. The unpalatable truth is that, just by perverting the closed-logic rules of the game, anything - from theft by proxy to sexual, and/or violent, abuse - becomes possible.

Prior to publication, a number of people were given unfinished copies of my overall analysis to appraise. Although no reader could refute its content, the reactions of a minority were split into two groups; these were as different as chalk and cheese. Those who had already survived a direct personal experience of cultism devoured it. Others, who had never knowingly encountered the phenomenon, found the analysis less easy to digest; they generally described its tone as ‘alarmist’ or like a 'conspiracy theory.' One man (a middle-aged, American academic) was sure that it had been written by a naïve soul who had suddenly discovered the world to be a cruel place, and who now wanted to shout about it. Several years ago, when I was naïve, I might have agreed with him. In fact, I now blush when I remember a conversation I once had with a senior citizen of the Czech republic (a survivor of rule by the ‘Nazi’ and ‘Soviet’ myths), in which I coolly dismissed his passionate contention that any country whose own citizens mistakenly believed themselves to be immune to totalitarianism, faced the greatest risk of from it. Today, in the light of a traumatic personal encounter in Europe with the large, American-based cultic group known as 'Amway,' I have come to understand that I could not have been more wrong. However, many of the crass opinions which cultism continues to attract are completely predictable, because, even as adults, we all instinctively want to shut out of our minds any information that disturbs our habitual model of the world. Sadly, anyone who searches for the truth about cultism, and who then speaks plainly, is forced to ask a lot of people to think the unthinkable; so I make no apologies for this.

Another man started to read my analysis and decided that it contained ‘intemperate language.’ He felt sure that it was  ‘going to be a sermon’ in which I would ‘attempt to impose ideas of morality’ on him. That opinion made me go back to my original text and remove any suggestion of preaching, because that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t pretend to be perfect, and I fully recognise that morality is only what is generally regarded as an acceptable standard of behaviour by whatever culture we live in. I tried to base my investigation of cultism on quantifiable evidence, and my analysis on rules made by democratic institutions defining what is criminal, and/or unethical. I didn’t invent this evidence or write these rules, but I couldn’t escape the fact that cultism involves the subversion of traditional codes of morality. Like my wise Czech acquaintance, I have had the dubious privilege of witnessing for myself how unsuspecting individuals can be tricked into entering a counterfeit culture in which their existing perceptions of right and wrong are overturned and then made absolute. As a result, I now accept that apparently rational persons can suddenly abandon all reason and allow themselves to be systematically abused, exploited and even slaughtered whilst participating in the systematic abuse, exploitation and slaughter of others. In short, I am describing how it is possible to enslave any human being, but without the use of chains. This, in itself, is an ego-destroying reality which, self-evidently, many onlookers will wish to deny. However, when this reality is faced, at first it can become impossible to find appropriate words (other than expletives) to describe the results of cultism. Even presiding judges, in related cases, have felt it necessary to deliver verdicts using emotive terms such as ‘evil,’ ‘sinister,’ ‘depraved,’ ‘obnoxious,’ etc., to express publicly their own private outrage. Unfortunately, many other well-intentioned people have been, and continue to be, completely fooled by the seductive words and images shielding the instigators of cultism. The great paradox of the phenomenon is that persons under cultic influence will steadfastly claim to be absolutely righteous, even when all the quantifiable evidence proves their behaviour to be (at best) misguided, or (at worst) downright evil. Although they are demonstrably dissociated from external reality, cult adherents are always certain that they alone represent the ‘truth’ and they act accordingly.

In my overall analysis, I have tried to demystify cultism by using an accurate, deconstructed vocabulary to describe the phenomenon. As a result of my own extensive investigation, I am entirely satisfied that all groups exhibiting certain essential characteristics, are manifestations of the same problem. The historical evidence has led me to the inescapable conclusion that the only real differences between cults are the exact motives and mental state of their leaders, and the length of time they survive before they face a well-informed and determined challenge.

Cultism is a trap. Obviously, anyone who only examines the bait in a trap and who remains unaware of its true purpose, risks getting caught themselves. Just like a mousetrap, the basic design for the cultic trap has remained the same down the centuries even if the presentation of the bait has become evermore sophisticated. Sadly, many commentators have found it impossible - when faced with the apparently illogical results of cultism - to abandon their existing academic, and professional, disciplines, which are anchored in the logic of the traditional world. Consequently, their understanding has often been made impossible by misplaced objectivity. However, it must be remembered that a counterfeit banknote might be 99.9 % perfect, but the bit that is not makes all of it a fake. Similarly, in order to have any chance of understanding cultism, it must be approached from the apparently subjective point of view that its results are always the product of a contagious deception, the victims of which unconsciously accept fiction as fact. Only then, can the phenomenon be examined with genuine objectivity. Once this vital principle has been learned, the apparently authentic words and images reflected by persons under the influence of cultism - like those printed on counterfeit banknotes - are revealed as dangerous distractions. They should never be taken at face value and, therefore, I try to remind the reader of this at all times. Any commentator who repeats the reality-inverting shielding-terminology of any cultic group, but without detailed qualification (or heavy irony), demonstrates that he/she remains at a pitifully low-level of understanding.

In truth, if it wasn’t for its tragic consequences, then cultism would be nothing more than a sick joke. However, until an individual is confronted by a nightmarish change in the personality and behaviour of a loved-one, then they can never really appreciate the full horror of the phenomenon. I realised a long time ago that there are always some people who will never be able to accept what I describe, because, for them to do so, they would have to abandon too many self-deceptions supporting their own view of themselves. Like many others before me, a soul-destroying experience with members of my own family forced me to abandon most of mine. Then, through close contact with the survivors of various cults and my research into the deeper origins of ‘Nazism’ and the ‘New Global Terrorism,’ I came to the further, inescapable conclusion that it is actually impossible to exaggerate the potential menace ultimately posed by the creators of these counterfeit cultures, or their significance to the history and future of civilization. I then found great comfort in the opinions of some of my critics, because the people who first tried to warn the world of the horror lurking behind an apparently absurd, little gang of sanctimonious charlatans - calling themselves the ‘National Socialist German Workers Party’ and led by a hitherto unknown, German Army veteran playing the comic-book role of ordinary man turned superman - were also dismissed as ‘alarmists.’

Whilst it remains generally misunderstood, cultism will continue to be an unnecessary threat to the lives, liberty and happiness of all communities, families and individuals all over the world.


David Brear (copyright  2015)