Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Robert FitzPatrick explains the origins of the pernicious 'Multi-Level Marketing' fairy story.






_________________________________________________________________________________



'Multi-Level Marketing' Warning.


The following deconstructed analysis has been formulated to sharpen the critical and evaluative faculties of all unwary persons approaching so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing' from the dangerous (subjective) point of view that it must be a business/industry, rather than from the safe (purely-objective) point of view that they don't really know what it is.

_________________________________________________________________________


More than half a century of quantifiable evidence proves beyond all reasonable doubt that:

  • the widely-misunderstood phenomenon that has become popularly-known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' (a.k.a. 'Network Marketing') is nothing more than an absurd, non-rational,  cultic, economic pseudo-science maliciously-designed to lure unwary persons into de facto servitude, dissociate them from external reality and not only steal their money, but also deceive them into unconsciously acting the role of bait to lure other unwary persons (particularly their friends and family members) into the same trap. 
  • the impressive-sounding made-up jargon term, 'MLM,' is therefore, the misleading title for an enticing structured-scenario of control which has been developed, and constantly acted out as  reality, by the instigators, and associates, of various copy-cat, major and minor, ongoing organised 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 'Long Cons*'  - comprising self-perpetuating rigged-market swindles**, a.k.a. 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, recruitment leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).
  • Apart from an insignificant minority of shills (whose leading-role in the 'Long Con' has been to pretend that anyone can achieve financial freedom simply by following their unquestioning example and exactly-duplicating a step-by-step-plan of recruitment and self-consumption)the hidden overall net-loss/churn rate for participation in so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100%.
________________________________________________________________________

*A 'Long Con' is a form of fraud maliciously designed to exploit victims' existing beliefs and instinctual desires and make them falsely-believe that they are exercising a completely free-choice. 'Long Cons' comprise an enticing structured-scenario of control acted out as reality over an extended period. Like theatrical plays, 'Long Cons' are written, directed and produced. They involve leading players and supporting players as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, script, etc. The hidden objective of 'Long Cons' is to convince unwary persons that fiction is fact and fact is fiction, progressively cutting them off from external reality. In this way, victims begin unconsciously to play along with the controlling-scenario and (in the false-expectation of future reward) large sums of money or valuables can be stolen from them. Classically, the victims of 'Long Cons' can become deluded to such an extent that they will abandon their education, jobs, careers, etc., empty their bank accounts, and/or beg, steal, borrow from friends, family members, etc.




_________________________________________________________________________

** The enticing structured-scenario of control fundamental to all 'rigged-market swindles' is that people can earn income by first contributing their own money to participate in a profitable commercial opportunity, but which is secretly an economically-unviable fake due to the fact that the (alleged) opportunity has been rigged so that it generates no significant, or sustainable, revenue other than that deriving from its own ill-informed participants. For more than 50 years, 'Multi-Level Marketing' racketeers have been allowed to dissimulate rigged-market swindles by offering endless-chains of victims various banal, but over-priced, products, and/or services, in exchange for unlawful losing-investment payments, on the pretext that 'MLM' products/services can then be regularly re-sold for a profit in significant quantities via expanding networks of distributors. However, since 'MLM' products/services cannot be regularly re-sold to the general public for a profit in significant quantities (based on value and demand), 'MLM' participants have, in fact, been peddled infinite shares of their own finite money (in the false expectation of future reward). 

Thus, in 'MLM' rackets, the innocent looking products/sevices' function has been to hide what is really occurring - i.e The operation of an unlawful, intrinsically fraudulent, rigged-market where effectively no non-salaried (transient) participant can generate an overall net-profit, because, unknown to the non-salaried (transient) participants, the market is in a permanent state of collapse and requires its non-salaried (transient) participants to keep finding further (temporary) de facto slaves to sustain the enticing illusion of stability and viability.

Meanwhile an insignificant (permanent) minority direct the 'Long Con' - raking in vast profits by selling into the rigged-market and by controlling/withholding all key-information concerning the rigged-market's actual catastrophic, ever-shifting results from its never-ending chain of (temporary) de facto slaves.

Although cure-all pills potions and vitamin/dietary supplements, household and beauty, products have been most-prevalent, it is possible to use any product, and/or service, to dissimulate a rigged-market swindle. There are even some 'MLM' rackets that have been hidden behind well-known traditional brands (albeit offered at fixed high prices). Some 'MLM' rackets have included 'cash-back/discount shopping cards, travel products, insurance, energy/communications services' and 'crypto-currencies' in their controlling scenarios.

No matter what bedazzling product/service has been dangled as bait, in 'MLM' rackets, there has been no significant or sustainable source of revenue other than never-ending chains of contractees of the 'MLM' front companies. These front-companies always pretend that their products/services are high quality and reasonably-priced and that for anyone prepared to put in some effort, the products/services can be sold on for a profit via expanding networks of distributors based on value and demand. In reality, the underlying reason why it has mainly only been (transient) 'MLM' contractees who have bought the various products /services (and not the general public) is because they have been tricked into unconsciously playing along with the controlling scenario which constantly says that via regular self-consumption and the recruitment of others to do the same, etc. ad infinitum, anyone can receive a future (unlimited) reward.

I've been examining the 'MLM' phenomenon for around 20 years. During this time, I've yet to find one so-called 'MLM' company that has voluntarily made key-information available to the public concerning the quantifiable results of its so-called 'income opportunity'.

Part of the key-information that all 'MLM' bosses seek to hide concerns the overall number of persons who have signed contracts since the front companies were instigated and the retention rates of these contractees. 

When rigorously investigated, the overall hidden net-loss churn rates for so-called 'MLM income opportunites' has turned out to have been effectively 100%. Thus, anyone claiming (or implying) that it is possible for anyone to make a penny of net-profit, let alone a living, in an 'MLM,' cannot be telling the truth and will not provide quantifiable evidence to back up his/her anecdotal claims.



Although a significant number of 'MLM' front-companies (like 'Vemma', 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing', 'Wake Up Now') have been shut-down by commercial regulators, some of the biggest 'MLM' rackets (like 'Amway' ,'Herbalife', Forever Living Products' ) have continued to hide in plain sight whilst secretly churning tens of millions of losing participants over decades.




The quantifiable results of the self-perpetuating global 'Long Con' known as 'Multi Level Marketing,' have been fiendishly hidden by convincing victims that they are 'Independent Business Owners' and that any losses they incurred, must have been entirely their own fault for not working hard enough. 




Blog readers should observe how (in the above linked-videos) chronic victims of 'MLM' cults are incapable of describing what they were subjected to in accurate terms. Even though they are no longer physically playing along with the 'Long Con's' controlling-scenario, they unconsciously continue to think, and speak, using the jargon-laced 'MLM' script - illogically describing themselves as 'Distributors.' 

Chronic victims of blame-the-victim cultic rackets who have managed to escape and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived and exploited, are invariably destitute and dissociated from all their previous social contacts. For years afterwards, recovering cult victims 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. 

David Brear (copyright 2020) 

Monday, 13 January 2020

New California lawsuit reveals 'Amway/MLM' adherents are de facto slaves.







Amway Corp. has long faced controversy over its multi-level marketing business model. Now, the family-owned direct sales giant is accused in a lawsuit of ripping off the people who peddle its products by failing to pay them minimum wage.

It’s part of a wave of cases in California over who counts as an employee, a battle that’s heated up with a new state law that makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors to avoid giving them better pay and benefits.
Amway relies on what it calls “independent business owners,” who pay fees and buy its merchandise to sell to others, historically friends and neighbors. “Outside salespersons” are not typically treated as employees under California law, but William Orage claims in a suit filed Friday in state court in Oakland that his “principal task” at Amway was not sales, but the recruitment of new IBOs to pay Amway more fees and buy more products.

“Amway told me that being a so-called Independent Business Owner would give me a chance to be an entrepreneur and grow my own business –- but instead I spent hours every month trying to grow theirs,” Orage said in an emailed statement.

Amway didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. It has touted itself as the “world’s largest direct selling company,” with $8.8 billion in sales and more than a million “Amway Business Owners” in its network. It was co-founded by the late Richard DeVos, the billionaire conservative activist and father-in-law of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Its current co-chairman is his son Doug DeVos.

According to Orage’s lawsuit, Amway is heavily focused on recruiting new distributors because of the sign-up and annual renewal fees they pay. IBOs are incentivized to bring in new ones because they receive a premium on Amway products purchased by their recruits. Orage claims the company closely controls the sponsorship process, encouraging IBOs to attend numerous trainings and coaching sessions, and its heavy involvement means IBOs should be treated as employees under California law.
Orage, who left Amway in 2019, says he made only two product sales during his four years with the company and alleges that he received no pay for the time he spent in trainings and trying, ultimately without success, to recruit new IBOs.

He filed his complaint under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, which also allows him to seek government penalties for thousands of Californians who’ve worked for the company. If successful, Orage and other affected workers will receive a share of the recoveries. He’s backed in the case by the legal non-profits Towards Justice and Justice Catalyst Law.

Read More: California Helps Workers Sue Their Bosses. New York Has Noticed
Orage’s lawsuit is far from the first legal challenge to Amway’s business model. In 1979, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission found the company had fixed prices and overstated profitability, but decided it wasn’t an illegal pyramid scheme. In 2010, a former Amway subsidiary agreed to settle a suit alleging it ran a fraudulent pyramid scheme for an estimated $155 million.

California’s definition of who qualifies as an employee was broadened in a 2018 ruling by the state’s highest court. A law codifying that decision which took effect Jan. 1 is aimed at securing protections for gig workers.

“Amway has been using the ‘gig economy’ business model of using massive numbers of revenue-producing workers that are classified as independent contractors,” Brian Shearer, an attorney for Orage, said in an interview. “And they’ve been doing it for sixty years.”

Bloomberg (copyright 2020)

_________________________________________________________________________________



'Multi-Level Marketing' Warning.


The following deconstructed analysis has been formulated to sharpen the critical and evaluative faculties of all unwary persons approaching so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing' from the dangerous (subjective) point of view that it must be a business/industry, rather than from the safe (purely-objective) point of view that they don't really know what it is.

_________________________________________________________________________


More than half a century of quantifiable evidence proves beyond all reasonable doubt that:

  • the widely-misunderstood phenomenon that has become popularly-known as 'Multi-Level Marketing' (a.k.a. 'Network Marketing') is nothing more than an absurd, non-rational,  cultic, economic pseudo-science maliciously-designed to lure unwary persons into de facto servitude, dissociate them from external reality and not only steal their money, but also deceive them into unconsciously acting the role of bait to lure other unwary persons (particularly their friends and family members) into the same trap. 
  • the impressive-sounding made-up jargon term, 'MLM,' is therefore, the misleading title for an enticing structured-scenario of control which has been developed, and constantly acted out as  reality, by the instigators, and associates, of various copy-cat, major and minor, ongoing organised 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 'Long Cons*'  - comprising self-perpetuating rigged-market swindles**, a.k.a. 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, recruitment leads, lead generation systems,' etc.).
  • Apart from an insignificant minority of shills (whose leading-role in the 'Long Con' has been to pretend that anyone can achieve financial freedom simply by following their unquestioning example and exactly-duplicating a step-by-step-plan of recruitment and self-consumption)the hidden overall net-loss/churn rate for participation in so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100%.
________________________________________________________________________

*A 'Long Con' is a form of fraud maliciously designed to exploit victims' existing beliefs and instinctual desires and make them falsely-believe that they are exercising a completely free-choice. 'Long Cons' comprise an enticing structured-scenario of control acted out as reality over an extended period. Like theatrical plays, 'Long Cons' are written, directed and produced. They involve leading players and supporting players as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, script, etc. The hidden objective of 'Long Cons' is to convince unwary persons that fiction is fact and fact is fiction, progressively cutting them off from external reality. In this way, victims begin unconsciously to play along with the controlling-scenario and (in the false-expectation of future reward) large sums of money or valuables can be stolen from them. Classically, the victims of 'Long Cons' can become deluded to such an extent that they will abandon their education, jobs, careers, etc., empty their bank accounts, and/or beg, steal, borrow from friends, family members, etc.



_________________________________________________________________________

** The enticing structured-scenario of control fundamental to all 'rigged-market swindles' is that people can earn income by first contributing their own money to participate in a profitable commercial opportunity, but which is secretly an economically-unviable fake due to the fact that the (alleged) opportunity has been rigged so that it generates no significant, or sustainable, revenue other than that deriving from its own ill-informed participants. For more than 50 years, 'Multi-Level Marketing' racketeers have been allowed to dissimulate rigged-market swindles by offering endless-chains of victims various banal, but over-priced, products, and/or services, in exchange for unlawful losing-investment payments, on the pretext that 'MLM' products/services can then be regularly re-sold for a profit in significant quantities via expanding networks of distributors. However, since 'MLM' products/services cannot be regularly re-sold to the general public for a profit in significant quantities (based on value and demand), 'MLM' participants have, in fact, been peddled infinite shares of their own finite money (in the false expectation of future reward). 

Thus, in 'MLM' rackets, the innocent looking products/sevices' function has been to hide what is really occurring - i.e The operation of an unlawful, intrinsically fraudulent, rigged-market where effectively no non-salaried (transient) participant can generate an overall net-profit, because, unknown to the non-salaried (transient) participants, the market is in a permanent state of collapse and requires its non-salaried (transient) participants to keep finding further (temporary) de facto slaves to sustain the enticing illusion of stability and viability.

Meanwhile an insignificant (permanent) minority direct the 'Long Con' - raking in vast profits by selling into the rigged-market and by controlling/withholding all key-information concerning the rigged-market's actual catastrophic, ever-shifting results from its never-ending chain of (temporary) de facto slaves.

Although cure-all pills potions and vitamin/dietary supplements, household and beauty, products have been most-prevalent, it is possible to use any product, and/or service, to dissimulate a rigged-market swindle. There are even some 'MLM' rackets that have been hidden behind well-known traditional brands (albeit offered at fixed high prices). Some 'MLM' rackets have included 'cash-back/discount shopping cards, travel products, insurance, energy/communications services' and 'crypto-currencies' in their controlling scenarios.

No matter what bedazzling product/service has been dangled as bait, in 'MLM' rackets, there has been no significant or sustainable source of revenue other than never-ending chains of contractees of the 'MLM' front companies. These front-companies always pretend that their products/services are high quality and reasonably-priced and that for anyone prepared to put in some effort, the products/services can be sold on for a profit via expanding networks of distributors based on value and demand. In reality, the underlying reason why it has mainly only been (transient) 'MLM' contractees who have bought the various products /services (and not the general public) is because they have been tricked into unconsciously playing along with the controlling scenario which constantly says that via regular self-consumption and the recruitment of others to do the same, etc. ad infinitum, anyone can receive a future (unlimited) reward.

I've been examining the 'MLM' phenomenon for around 20 years. During this time, I've yet to find one so-called 'MLM' company that has voluntarily made key-information available to the public concerning the quantifiable results of its so-called 'income opportunity'.

Part of the key-information that all 'MLM' bosses seek to hide concerns the overall number of persons who have signed contracts since the front companies were instigated and the retention rates of these contractees. 

When rigorously investigated, the overall hidden net-loss churn rates for so-called 'MLM income opportunites' has turned out to have been effectively 100%. Thus, anyone claiming (or implying) that it is possible for anyone to make a penny of net-profit, let alone a living, in an 'MLM,' cannot be telling the truth and will not provide quantifiable evidence to back up his/her anecdotal claims.



Although a significant number of 'MLM' front-companies (like 'Vemma', 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing', 'Wake Up Now') have been shut-down by commercial regulators, some of the biggest 'MLM' rackets (like 'Amway' ,'Herbalife', Forever Living Products' ) have continued to hide in plain sight whilst secretly churning tens of millions of losing participants over decades.




The quantifiable results of the self-perpetuating global 'Long Con' known as 'Multi Level Marketing,' have been fiendishly hidden by convincing victims that they are 'Independent Business Owners' and that any losses they incurred, must have been entirely their own fault for not working hard enough. 




Blog readers should observe how (in the above linked-videos) chronic victims of 'MLM' cults are incapable of describing what they were subjected to in accurate terms. Even though they are no longer physically playing along with the 'Long Con's' controlling-scenario, they unconsciously continue to think, and speak, using the jargon-laced 'MLM' script - illogically describing themselves as 'Distributors.' 

Chronic victims of blame-the-victim cultic rackets who have managed to escape and confront the ego-destroying reality that they’ve been systematically deceived and exploited, are invariably destitute and dissociated from all their previous social contacts. For years afterwards, recovering cult victims 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. 

David Brear (copyright 2019) 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Wife of 'Amway' crime boss, Betsy DeVos, caught protecting other racketeers.








The irony of the above videos is exquisite, because the current US Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is the wife of Richard DeVos Jnr., who is a wealthy blame-the-victim 'Multi-Level Marketing income opportunity' cultic racketeer. 

In brief, in recent years, a number of racketeers have been caught, prosecuted and fined heavily, for defrauding vulnerable young Americans by setting up legally-registered, but fake, so-called 'for profit colleges' which will enrol literally anyone who is prepared to pay. Victims of these classic Long Cons* have been lured into obtaining federal government sponsored student loans in pursuit of effectively-valueless 'degrees' with which they can never hope to obtain real employment and the means of loan repayment. Various court rulings have decided that since hundreds of thousands of young debtors have been the victims of copy-cat frauds, their debts should be cancelled, or refunded, by the Education Dept. However, the financial remedies for this terrible situation (which were previously put in place by the Obama administration), have been obstructed by Betsy DeVos in defiance of court rulings, to the detriment of the poor victims, but to the benefit of the wealthy racketeers. 


________________________________________________________________________




*A 'Long Con' is a form of fraud maliciously designed to exploit victims' existing beliefs and instinctual desires and make them falsely-believe that they are exercising a completely free-choice. 'Long Cons' comprise an enticing structured-scenario of control acted out as reality over an extended period. Like theatrical plays, 'Long Cons' are written, directed and produced. They involve leading players and supporting players as well as props, sets, extras, costumes, script, etc. The hidden objective of 'Long Cons' is to convince unwary persons that fiction is fact and fact is fiction, progressively cutting them off from external reality. In this way, victims begin unconsciously to play along with the controlling-scenario and (in the false-expectation of future reward) large sums of money or valuables can be stolen from them. Classically, the victims of 'Long Cons' can become deluded to such an extent that they will abandon their education, jobs, careers, etc., empty their bank accounts, and/or beg, steal, borrow from friends, family members, etc.

_________________________________________________________________________
The DeVos family became billionaires via the peddling of a fake, and essentially valueless, so-called 'MLM income opportunity' which has lured, and continues to lure, many millions of vulnerable persons into a classic Long Con, and invariably debt, all over the world. Thus, Betsy DeVos is one of the last people who should ever have been placed in a position of power in the US government.

For the benefit of all the journalists currently looking at Ms. DeVos, the following article is a brief history, and analysis, of the 'Amway/Qixtar/Nutrilite' racket.

________________________________________________________________________





See original image

Carl F. Rehnborg (1887-1973)


Carl F. Rehnborg and his first family, circa 1920


Throughout the 1950s, 'Nutrilite' was a highly-controversial trademark owned by Carl F. Rehnborg a.k.a. 'Dr.' Rehnborg, a previously-penniless, American toothpaste-salesman (of German origin) who'd acquired a considerable fortune by reinventing himself as a historically-important, visionary-scientist, autodidactic scholar and philanthropic businessman. Lawyers from the US Food and Drug Administration Bureau of Enforcement, who successfully-challenged the authenticity of some of Rehnborg's many absurd lies in the federal courts during two decades, privately knew him to be nothing more than one of a trio of sinister quacks protected by an echelon of expensive attorneys who had combined, and updated, the medicine show and Ponzi-scheme to reflect the spirit of the age. However, just like his contemporary, L. Ron Hubbard, Rehnborg was no ordinary charlatan; he exhibited the diagnostic criteria of severe and inflexible Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 


Former penniless science-fiction author, turned multi-millionaire, cultic racketeer, L. Ron Hubbard, posing as a historically-important,visionary scientist and philanthropist who had discovered the secret of how ordinary humans can become healthy, wealthy happy and free super humans. Hubbard was also prepared to share this secret with anyone (for a price).






Tellingly, Rehnborg's own comic-book version of his life and achievements (set-down in various published documents, including a book signed by his son, and heir, Sam Rehnborg), reads uncannily like the autobiography dreamt-up by 'Scientology' instigator, L. Ron Hubbard (a man who was once famously described as 'a combination of  Baron M√ľnchausen and Adolf Hitler').


Unfortunately, just as with the followers and casual observers of Hubbard, the only information made available to the followers and casual observers of Rehnborg, has been carefully controlled.


Rehnborg, Circa 1927.

Thus, to date, the world has been led to believe that Rehnborg (who was born in 1887 in   Florida) :- 

- was a noted-child-prodigy who read voraciously and who amazed his teachers with his detailed knowledge of: philosophy, religion, history, politics, astronomy, mathematics, aerodynamics, chemistry and human rights. 

- was  fluent in many languages, including Chinese. 

- was not a believer, but he studied Christianity, making a boyhood pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt.

- had a great passion in his teen-age years - the study of planet Earth, its population, its food reserves, and the 'technology of conservation of natural products, but his first love was always the science of nutrition. 

 - was, by the tender age of 27, already a 'doctor of chemistry' who had moved to Tianjin in China to work as an accountant for an American Oil company.

- ran a shipbuilding company, before becoming the representative of the 'American Dairy Company' and, eventually, the representative of 'Colgate Products Company' in Shanghai.

 - witnessed ‘mass-starvation’ in China, before surviving a ‘siege of Shanghai’ by supplementing his diet (and that of his starving friends) with an improvised, vitamin and mineral-enriched broth made from grasses, vegetables, powdered limestone, ground-up bones and rusty nails, etc.

- sailed across the Pacific (studying its many island-cultures on the way) and landed on the West Coast of the USA, where, despite having no money, he managed to establish a 'research laboratory’ in his modest loft-apartment on California’s Balboa Island.


- selflessly dedicated 6 years of his life (1927-1934) to develop a ‘Revolutionary New Food Supplement’ to save mankind from starvation, assisted only by his dutiful young wife, Edith.

- first naively tried to give his wonderful new formula away, but the cynical world wasn’t interested, so, in 1934, he reluctantly decided to create ‘California Vitamins Inc.’ 

- moved his flourishing  ‘Business’ to a ‘Manufacturing and Processing Facility’ in Buena Park, California, and created the ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ in 1939. 

- acting in association with a ‘Network Sponsoring Company’, ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ (to whom he’d sold ‘Exclusive Nutrilite Distribution Rights’) created the ‘World’s First Multi-Level Marketing Scheme’

- had lived the American dream, starting from nothing to become an admired and respected millionaire through ‘Helping 15 thousands fellow Americans to build their own MLM Businesses.’ 



Exactly like L.Ron Hubbard, scant quantifiable evidence has been produced to prove that Rehnborg was qualified (let alone expert) in anything, other than lying to vulnerable people to get their money. There is even reason to doubt that Rehnborg (who apparently did once work for 'Colgate & Co') was in China in the exact period he claimed during, and after, WWI; whilst all the other exciting episodes in his various occidental and oriental odysseys are largely anecdotal. However, the truth about Rehnborg’s convoluted ‘Rags to Riches’ American fairy story is an entirely different matter.


See original image


In 1934, Rehnborg (aged 48) legally-registered ‘California Vitamins Inc.’allegedly to manufacture and distribute what he arbitrarily defined as 'the World’s First Multi-Mineral/Multivitamin Plant-Based Food Supplement - a Unique Combination of Vitamins and Minerals in a Special Base.’  At first, this so-called ‘Health Tonic’ was brewed up, and peddled as 'Vita-6'  a.k.a. 'Vitasol,' in insignificant quantities. Consequently, it was of no particular interest to regulators.





However, anyone with an ounce of common sense could immediately tell that Rehnborg’s ‘invention’ was just another essentially-inert potion (in the absurd tradition of the medicine show); a random mixture of cheaply-procured common substances with an expensive price tag. It had probably taken Rehnborg 6 hours to concoct, not 6 years.



Aerial View of Nutrilite Products Inc. Plant



By 1939, Rehnborg had spotted the existing term, 'Nutrilites' (probably in an old scientific magazine). So he legally-changed the name of his pay-to-play game of make-believe to the technical-sounding ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ and moved his quackery onto an almost unprecedented scale. Soon, Rehnborg was legally employing dozens of white-coated workers in purpose-built industrial buildings in Buena ParkCalifornia. He also acquired an alfalfa farm near to the city of Hemet in California's San Jacinto valley. All the necessary capital to pay for these impressive sites and their modern equipment had apparently come from his second wife. To his followers and casual observers, Rehnborg’s activity looked like any other lawful enterprise. His staff were ordinary honest folk, to whom the truth was also unthinkable.


At this time, Rehnborg rechristened his potion ‘Nutrilite Double X (‘XX’Supplement.’ He now proposed to offer it as two ‘complimentary products’ in one pack -  comprising little green bottles of bright red ‘Multivitamin Capsules’ and boxes of pale-coloured ‘Multi-Mineral Tablets.’ The product was deliberately designed to look modern and scientific (like a proprietary medicine), but, tellingly, the price was fixed at just less than $20 a box (the equivalent of several hundred dollars today). 






See original image
See original image


See original image
Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but in 1940 Charlie Chaplin's celebrated satire of 'Nazi' Germany, 'The Great Dictator', had transformed the Swastika into the 'Double Cross.'


Rehnborg claimed that the ‘XX’ brand-name was derived from the Roman numeral representing twenty. It should have been read as ‘double cross;’ for when the former toothpaste salesman’s pricey 'medicine' was routinely analysed by independent chemists working for the FDA, it was discovered that (although it contained essentially what it said on the labels and was quite harmless) ‘XX Supplement’ really did mostly comprise a random mixture of cheaply-procured, common substances in which vitamins and minerals naturally occur (dried vegetable extracts: alfalfa; parsley; watercress; yeast; etc.). FDA experts later estimated that XX Supplement’  cost no more than a few cents a pack to produce. Thus, FDA lawyers must have known that Rehnborg was, in fact, using authentic pharmaceutical equipment to mass-produce a precisely-measured, harmless placebo, but labelled as a ‘Health Tonic’ (a meaningless term), and peddling it at an exorbitant mark-up (certainly, more than 1000%). This crack-pot pseudo-scientific swindle, which was tantamount to a self-styled 'alchemist' stamping a valueless amalgam of base-metals, 'Pure Gold,and selling it for the price of pure gold, could have been quickly nipped in the bud, simply by charging Rehnborg with criminal fraud. Apparently, prosecutors never considered the possibility that they might be dealing with someone with severe psychological problems whose own inflexible delusions were contagious. Instead, at first, FDA lawyers felt obliged to take no action; reasoning that, by truthfully listing the banal ingredients, but avoiding making any specific therapeutic claims, on his packaging, Rehnborg had found a loophole in federal laws concerning criminal misbranding of medicines. As result, an up-dated version of an age-old fiction was permitted to be mass-marketed as fact to an unsuspecting public. Unfortunately, the lack of any rigorous, official challenge only brought its author more credibility. Not surprisingly, a host of copy-cat 'Unique Vitamin and Mineral Health-Tonic’ scams quickly sprang up.




As WWII drew to its close, ‘Nutrilite’ had lost its novelty and Rehnborg's wife's money was running out. So, Rehnborg (who was approaching 60) teamed-up with two respectable-looking associates, Lee S. Mytinger and William S. Casselberry (later described by FDA officials as a ‘cemetery-plot salesman’ and a ‘psychologist’). The result was ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.,’ a second corporate structure peddling ‘Exclusive Commission-Agency Rights’ to ‘Distribute XX Supplement’ using (what was first defined by the company’s owners as) a ‘New Business Model.’ In theory… you could try to sell ‘XX  Supplement’ to your social contacts for a small profit, but, if you wanted to make big money, you didn’t need to sell anything… you could buy a monthly quota of ‘XX Supplement’ yourself and sign-up your social contacts to do the same… your ‘Sponsored Recruits’ would then ‘Sponsor’ their own social contacts, etc., ‘compensation’ would automatically multiply in an infinitely-expanding geometric progression

‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ offered a mind-numbing contract’ in which the ‘company’ undertook to pay its ‘Independent Distributors’ an escalating ‘monthly commission’ on the totality of their escalating ‘Business Volume’(i.e. their own regular monthly purchasesfalsely defined as sales’, added to the regular monthly purchases, falsely defined as ‘sales’, of their ‘Sponsored Recruits’, and those of the recruits of their recruits, etc. etc. ad infinitum).

In reality, the new set-up was merely the original mystifying lie with a second mystifying chapter added, but to casual observers ‘Nutrilite Products Company Inc.’ appeared to be exclusively manufacturing for, and wholesaling ‘XX Supplement’ to, ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.,’ whose commission agents, in turn, appeared to be retailing it to the public for a profit. Although ‘XX Supplement’ was presented as ‘Unique,’ it mostly comprised substances which could easily be bought at a fraction of their exorbitant, assembled fixed-price, in traditional retail outlets. The product was effectively-impossible to sell to the general public for a profit on the open market. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of its final customers were merely the non-salaried agents of the second corporate structure, which itself was the sole agent of the first corporate structure. In order for them to maintain the false hope that if they signed-up further contributing participants they would automatically become rich, the participants in this dissimulated money circulation game were obliged by its rules to keep handing-over a monthly payment to Mytinger and Casselberry, to be shared with Rehnborg. From all rational points of view (medical, economic, legal, etc.), ‘XX Supplement’ might have well not existed; for it was just a convenient means of laundering illegal losing investment payments in a closed-market swindle, or pyramid scheme,  based on the crack-pot, non-rational theory that endless-chain recruitment + endless payments by the recruits = endless profits for the recruits. New victims were supplied with a $49.50 ‘Business Kit’ (i.e. a large cardboard box stuffed with a month’s supply of ‘XX Supplement’ and a fat folder containing page after page of mind-numbing pseudo-economic/medical presentations and diagrams, and instructions in how to go about remembering, contacting and recruiting everyone they’d ever known during their lives). These presentations contained the concrete evidence which FDA lawyers could use to prosecute Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry. Contributing participants were being instructed to smile, project excitement and enthusiasm, and to recite a precisely-worded script which proclaimed ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ to be ‘good value,’ because it could ‘cure or prevent,’ virtually any known human illness.



Even though it wasn’t his area of responsibility, FDA Legal Counsel (1939-1971), William W. Goodrich, was probably the first senior US law enforcement agent to deduce that the innocent baby that Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry had baptised a ‘New Business Model’ (later to become known as: ‘Multi-Level Marketing’) was actually the same old delinquent previously known a 'pyramid scam.’ Again, anyone with an ounce of common-sense could work out immediately that, since Rehnborg had been peddling medical alchemythe strong likelihood was that Mytinger and Casselberry were peddling economic alchemy. The sinister trio of quacks were obviously acting in association, but agents of the Food and Drug Administration and those of the Federal Trade Commission acted independently. At this time, anti-racketeering legislation did not yet exist in the USA. However, in the late 1940s, the rapidly-expanding ‘XX Supplement’ dossier was already in the hands of FTC lawyers. Apparently, prosecutors still never considered the possibility that they might be dealing with persons suffering from severe psychological problems and whose own inflexible delusions were contagious. Instead, they still felt obliged to take no action; this time reasoning that Mytinger and Casselberry appeared to have found a loophole in federal law prohibiting fraud. For even today, the fundamental identifying characteristic of all pyramid scams and Ponzi schemes, has not yet been accurately defined by legislators. As a result, another updated version of an age-old fiction was permitted to be mass-marketed as fact to an unsuspecting publicYet again, the lack of any rigorous official challenge only brought its authors more credibility. Not surprisingly, a host of copy-cat 'income opportunity' swindles (camouflaged by banal, but pricey, wampum) quickly sprang up.


By 1947, Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry were steadfastly pretending  ‘15 000 Successful Distributorships in the USA,’ with ‘sales’ totalling ‘$500 000 dollars per month.’ They had also organised the production of a ‘Free’ booklet, ‘How to Get Well and Stay Well’, in which they further pretended that ‘Nutrilite Double X Supplement’ had ‘cured or greatly helped such common ailments’ as : ‘Low blood pressure, Ulcers, Mental depression, Pyorrhoea, Muscular twitching, rickets, Worry over small things, Tonsillitis, Hay Fever, Sensitivity to noise, Underweight, Easily tired, Gas in stomach, Cuts heal slowly, Faulty vision, Headache, Constipation, Anaemia Boils, Flabby tissues, Hysterical tendency, Eczema, Overweight, Faulty memory, Lack of ambition, Certain Bone conditions, Nervousness, Nosebleed, Insomnia, Allergies, Asthma, Restlessness, Bad skin colour, Poor appetite, Biliousness, Neuritis, Night blindness, Migraine, High blood pressure, Sinus trouble, Lack of concentration, Dental caries, Irregular heartbeat, Colitis, Craving for sour foods, Arthritis, Rheumatism, Neuralgia, Deafness, Subject to colds.’



Rhenborg now cast himself in the role of ‘Scientific Adviser’ to ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ He toured the USA preaching the gospel to wide-eyed ‘Distributors’ - ‘for less than $20 a month’‘Nutrilite Double X Supplement’ was the ‘Answer to Man’s Search for Health.’ After both companies’ owners were approached by FDA officials and warned that they could face criminal prosecution for misbranding, the booklet was ‘revised.’ Specific therapeutic claims were supposed to be eliminated. ‘All illnesses’ suddenly became a ‘state of nonhealth’ produced by ‘chemical imbalance’.… ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ cured nothing, it merely ‘enabled people to Get Well and stay Well’ by themselves. However, pages 41-52 of the booklet still recounted alleged case-histories explaining that ‘Nutrilite brought relief from such ailments as diabetes, feeble mindedness, stomach pains, sneezing and weeping.’ Not surprisingly, the FDA officials were not impressed, so they finally launched a number of raids, and seizures of ‘Nutrilite XX Supplement’ and associated publications.





In 1951, after a series of lawsuits, appeals and counter suits (in which Mytinger and Casselberry hired top lawyers who portrayed their clients as American capitalist heroes being crushed by Soviet-style bureaucracy), the FDA obtained (on behalf of the people) a permanent Supreme Court injunction against ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.’ preventing Distributors’ from referring to 50 publications making false claims about ‘Health Tonics and Food Supplements’ (including various ‘Revised Editions’ of ‘How to Get Well and Stay Well). FDA agents soon found that the injunction was being flouted. As a result of mounting complaints, they infiltrated the organization (as potential recruits) and recorded deluded proselytisers chanting the same cure-all mantra about ‘XX Supplement.’ Faced with more litigation and fearing that their monopoly of information might be lost, in 1954, Rehnborg, Mytinger and Casselberry hired a leading advertising agency which handled the clean-cut, but fading, Hollywood star, Alan Ladd. Along with his wife and children, Alan Ladd then briefly-featured in a kitsch 'Nutrilite' advertising campaign - published in various mainstream magazines right up until 1959.  

Alan Ladd (who secretly suffered from chronic depression and who had problems with alcohol and narcotics) was, however, soon to be air-brushed out of the 'Nutrilite' fairy story.



 


The charlatan-trio, 'Mytinger, Casselberry and Rehnborg,' also paid a team of Hollywood professionals to produce a 20 minute colour propaganda film, From the Ground up’ (featuring themselves as three nice ordinary American guys turned philanthropic scientists and industrialists), and they began to publish their own propaganda magazine, ‘Nutrilite News'’ (stuffed with colour photos of happy, healthy and wealthy ‘Distributors').



Amway Co-Founders Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel (bottom row, second and third from the right, respectively) and their group of senior key agents pose with Nutrilite Founder Carl F. Rehnborg and his wife Edith Rehnborg, in front of their tour bus, 1956.
Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel (2nd and 3rd from the right, front row), Carl F. Rehnborg (immediately behind Van Andel, second row), circa 1950.




Soon, the 'Nutrilite' show was touring the USA on a motor coach (like a 'Tent Revivalist' group).  Mytinger, Casselberry and Rehnborg had begun organizing pay-to-enter ‘Rallies and Seminars'’ (addressed by allegedly ‘Successful Christian Distributors’ like Rich De Vos and Jay Van Andel). No quantifiable evidence (in the form of audited accounts) was ever produced to prove what percentage of claimed ‘sales'’ were authentic retail transactions to the general public for a profit (based on value and demand), or how many people who’d signed a contract'’ with ‘Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.'’ had actually received an overall net-profit from the operation of what its instigators arbitrarily defined as an MLM income opportunity’. Excluding the tiny percentage of grinning shills at the top of the pyramid, the hidden, rolling insolvency/churn-rate was 100%. Since there was no significant or sustainable external revenue, participants were actually buying infinite shares in their own finite money. 



 Richard DeVos                                                    Jay Van Andel

Circa 1950


In 1959, when it seemed that ‘Mytinger and Casselberry/Nutrilite Products Inc.’ might finally be shut down (under the ‘Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act 3381-3383’, rather than anti-fraud legislation) De Vos and Van Andel hid behind familiar, patriotic words and images stolen from contemporary popular culture. They created the ‘American Way Association’ - the first of what was to become a shoal of red, white and blue herrings.

Previously, the two up-and-coming charlatans, Mytinger and Casselberry, gravitated towards the established (but ageing) Rehnborg, and vice versa. Rehnborg seems to have reflected the pair's own narcissistic delusions as reality and behaved as though they were important businessmen/psychologists, whilst the pair treated him as though he really was an important and respected scientist/ philanthropic businessman. This was the point at which'Nutrilite Inc.' (a legally-registered, and industrialized, pseudo-scientific swindle), began to transform into a highly-organized, self-perpetuating, blame-the-victim 'Prosperity Gospel' cultic racket - tailor-made to fit the existing beliefs and instinctual desires of a broad range of people - peddling a perversion of the 'American Dream' whilst giving victims the illusion that they were making free choices. 

Evidently, US law enforcement agents never fully-understood that Rehnborg, Mytinger, Casselberry, DeVos, Van Andel and their close-associates, were dangerous manipulators who magnified each others' narcissistic delusions. The longer they went unchallenged: the more adherents they ensnared and the more-capital they acquired. The more capital they acquired: the easier it became to deceive more adherents and the more severe, and inflexible, their own delusions became. Sadly, and exactly like L. Ron Hubbard, the more convinced of their importance Rehnborg, Mytinger, Casselberry, DeVos and Van Andel became: the more convincing they became.


On September 6th 1949 (along with Michael Pacetti), two, clean-cut, hitherto-unremarkable USAAF veterans of Dutch Protestant origin, Richard DeVos (aged 23) and Jay Van Andel (aged 25), registered the ‘Ja-Ri Corporation.’ However, throughout the 1950s, this (apparently independent) company was the agent of both Nutrilite Products Company Inc.' and of  'Mytinger and Casselberry Inc.'

The two Pentacostalists, DeVos and Van Andel spent ten years perfecting their own sanctimonious 'MLM' act, before finally setting up a copy-cat 'income opportunity' racket.

 'Amway' frst operated as an affinity fraud targetting the flag-waving adherents of Evangelical Churches in the Bible Belt. Most early 'Amway' adherents were already trained to defer systematically to the moral and intellectual authority of their pastors - so De Vos and Van Andel simply dressed up, and behaved, exactly likerespectable Church pastors. They taught their male followers to duplicate their clean-cut example. Thus, alcohol, cigarettes and even beards were forbidden. Amway men had to wear a suit and tie, whilst Amwaywomen were forbidden to wear pants or anything too sexy. Indeed, until relatively recently, 'Amway Network Leaders' were commonly referred to as 'Black Hats.'






Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but at almost exactly the time that the American Way Association'  first appeared, ‘Elmer Gantry' was playing to packed movie-theatres all over America.

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The classic movie, 'Elmer Gantry' (released in 1960), was written and directed by Richard Brooks and is loosely-based on a novel of 1927 by the Nobel prize-winning author, Sinclair LewisIn the Movie, 'Gantry' (played by Burt Lancaster) is a grinning charlatan in a loud suit - a hard-drinking whore-chasing travelling-salesman, who, for sexual and financial motives, attaches himself to the beautiful 'Sister Sharon' (played by Jean Simmons), the focus of a profitable 'Tent Revivalist' group working the Bible-Belt during Prohibition (1920-1933). 'Elmer Gantry' keeps his grin, but he dons a sombre suit and black hat, and is reborn as 'Brother Gantry' 'Charismatic Preacher' and 'Moral Crusader'. He soon discovers that he has the power to create mass-hysteria, and reap tens of thousands of dollars, by manipulating individuals' existing beliefs and instinctual desires. At a key-moment in the movie, a Protestant Minister (bedazzled by 'Brother Gantry's' offer to fill his church coffers) abandons the traditional Christian message and proclaims: 'Business is business, that's the American Way'.
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Initially (and with an irony that is close to exquisite), in order to dodge being drawn into the ongoing FDA investigation of 'Nutrilite,' De Vos and Van Andel got rid of the pills and potions and now laundered all the unlawful investment payments into their copy-cat, dissimulated, closed-market swindle, behind the claim that they were selling a laundry detergent  (i.e. banal, but effectively-unsaleable, non-'medicinal' pseudo-scientific wampum of their own fabrication). Again, the updated snake oil stain remover was deliberately designed to look modern and scientific, whilst De Vos and Van Andel grinned from ear as they too steadfastly pretended that these strangely-familiar, cheaply-procured mixtures of common substances, were all-American, exclusive, good-value and unique.

The original 'Nutrilite' lie was progressively-absorbed back into the spin-off 'Amway' (aka 'Quixtar') lie, 1972-1994, where it still is peddled as the truth.

Only after the 'MLM' virus had spread to almost every State of the Union, did the US Federal Trade Commission finally make a half-hearted attempt to close-down 'Amway.' After receiving a significant number of complaints,  FTC prosecutors, advised by specialist economists, recognised that what they were faced with, was not a direct selling scheme, but as a classic pyramid scam, without a significant or sustainable source of revenue other than its own victims, but hidden behind a smokescreen of products. However, after years of investigations and hearings, in 1979, a naive, and/or corrupt, federal judge ruled that although 'Amway' had previously been massively in breach of the law and would have to pay fines, the company would be allowed to continue to trade. This was because the judge accepted the latest unbelievable chapter of the 'MLM' fairy story. i.e. That 'Amway' s owners were respectable Christian businessmen who were vehemently opposed to  pyramid schemes and that, consequently, they had stopped fixing prices and introduced their own rules which would, henceforth, oblige the members of 'Amway's' sales force to sell at least 70% (by value) of the products which they had bought wholesale from the company, to at least 10 customers, before they could receive commission paymentsAmazingly, no independent, common-sense mechanism was created to ensure that this latest twist in the fairy story was true, and that 'Amway' would now be in compliance with the law.

Not surprisingly, this tragicomic judgement was seen as an open-invitation to thieve, and, consequently, a whole host of 'Amway' copy-cat 'MLM' rackets soon began to appear.   


David Brear (copyright 2019)