Friday 28 December 2012

The bosses of 'Herbalife' have infiltrated Micro-Credit Institutions

Following the recent news that hedge fund manager, Bill Ackman, is holding aces and has, consequently, gone all-in (raising the short-selling table-stakes to more one billion US dollars) in what is effectively a poker showdown with the bosses of the 'Herbalife' mob, I have been asked to re-publish some of my previous articles exposing the 'Herbalife MLM Income Opportunity' bluff. These can only fill Bill Ackman's already-winning hand. _____________________________________________________________________________________

The Bosses of 'Herbalife' have been robbing the Grameen Bank via it's customers.


Alex Counts,  president, CEO and founder of Grameen Foundation. 

I was recently informed by a naive young employee of Grameen America that '99% of all loans are repaid by Grameen's American borrowers.'  However, evidence from Grameen Foundation would seem to prove quite conclusively that this anecdotal claim must be a lie. The same evidence also proves that, as recently as 2011, the naive head of Grameen Foundation, Alex Counts, did not have the slightest idea of the danger which 'MLM income opportunity' fraud poses not just to the poor, but to the very concept of micro-finance.

'Grameen America today has 7,000 clients, almost half of whom are served by its original branch in Queens – a modest one-room space in a neighborhood where one can find store signboards with writing in English, Spanish, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic and Korean.  The scale of operations outpaces virtually every other MFI in the United States.  It was exciting to sit in their office one recent afternoon and see how smoothly everything was proceeding – half-dozen center managers had each attended between three and five meetings, as they do every weekday, and by 1 p.m. the office was filling up with clients who were coming for their loans, which are renewed every six months if prior loans are paid on time (as almost all are).
It turns out that most centers are populated by people from the same Latin American country – all except one woman in the center I visited was from Mexico (the lone exception was from Ecuador).  Others are dominated by Dominicans or Guatemalans, while some are fairly mixed.  Most of the businesses are related to food (pushcart, catering, etc.), clothing and other retail (such as flowers).  About eight of the women in the center I visited – which had about 30 members attending – were involved in Herbalife, a kind of nutrition program sold through a network of women who are organized like Avon ladies.'

Alex Counts,  president, CEO and founder of Grameen Foundation. 

Frighteningly, the actual inventor of micro credit, Professor Muhammad Yunus, has appeared as key-note speaker at a Congress of the so-called 'World Federation of Direct Selling Associations.' Apparently, Prof. Yunus was also too naive to know that the majority of so-called 'Direct Selling' companies, like 'Herbalife' have been the corporate fronts for an insidious form of racketeering which has targeted the poor.

Many readers of this Blog probably know that Professor Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist who, in 1976, attempted to tackle the problem of world-poverty by founding the Grameen Bank. It is widely-reported that this respected international institution now distributes more than $100 millions of low interest, small (or micro-credit) loans annually, to persons (mostly women) without collateral, in order to help them to escape the poverty-trap by starting their own businesses and achieving financial self-sufficiency. 

Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, along with Grameen Bank, for their campaign to create economic and social development around the world. 

Muhammad Yunus U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the Medal of Freedom to Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House August 12, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to 16 recipients during the ceremony.

Amongst many other international awards, Muhammad Yunus received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama, in 2009.

It might come as a surprise for readers to learn that, legally, Grammeen Bank has not been classified as a bank in the USA and it has, therefore, not been subject to usual bank regulation. This is because Grameen America can't accept deposits from the public and, instead, raises capital through non-refundable deposits or 'donations.' In other words, Grameen has not been fully-accountable to the people financing it; for they are not investors and their motivation has not been profit. In 2008, Grameen America opened its first Branch in the New York borough of Queens. This was followed, in 2009, with a branch in the South Side of Omaha, Nebraska, where almost all borrowers have been unemployed, women immigrants from Latin America. 

It has recently been reported that many of the poor women who received their initial $1500 loans from Grameen America in New York and Omaha, have been persuaded to pour this borrowed-cash into 'Herbalife' and other 'MLM income opportunity' frauds, believing that they were going to achieve total financial freedom through buying a quota of products each month whilst recruiting their friends and relatives to duplicate the same endless-chain plan. In this way, numerous empty stores were transformed into so-called 'Herbalife Nutrition Clubs.' These were typically draped with green curtains and decorated with posters of soccer stars who play for clubs sponsored by 'Herbalife.' Sadly, these so-called 'Herbalife Clubs' continue to vanish and the loans which were used to create them, have not been repaid.

'Herbalife income opportunity' propaganda  from the UK

In reality, all so-called 'MLM income opportunities' have dissimulated closed-market swindles (i.e. without a significant or sustainable revenue other than that deriving unlawfully from a never-ending chain of losing investors, due to the fact that 'MLM' wampum always been effectively-unsaleable on the open market). Classically, other than an insignificant minority of schills at the top of these poverty-trap-pyramids, all so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' have had a 100% rolling loss/churn rate, whilst this key-information has been deliberately hidden from the public by their instigators.

Until recently the Grameen Bank has operated a somewhat naive policy of trusting its clients to make their own choice of business. However, for obvious reasons, certain Grameen staff have belatedly begun to advise their American borrowers not to get involved with 'Herbalife' in particular, and  with 'MLM' in general.

It is interesting to note that the US federal government's Small Business Administration (without actually naming any so-called 'MLM' companies, because that is forbidden by law) specifically lists all 'pyramid sales plans' as being ineligible for financial assistance; describing them as:

... 'plans, where a participant's primary incentive is based on the sales made by an ever-increasing number of participants. Such products as cosmetics, household goods, and other soft goods lend themselves to this type of business.'


The world of Micro-Finance appears to be in denial of a new toxic-debt scandal.

It has recently been reported that certain well-informed staff in the offices of Grameen America have finally applied common-sense and begun openly-warning potentially-vulnerable clients to avoid  'Multi-Level Marketing Income Opportunities' in general, and 'Herbalife' in particular. However, it was already a matter of public knowledge that a significant number of poor people around the world have been obtaining money from micro-finance institutions (like the Grameen Bank), but then progressively handing their borrowed-cash (which was intended to assist them is starting their own economically-viable, lawful business activities) to 'MLM' racketeers in the deluded belief that, by doing so, they would achieve financial independence. At the present time, due to a lack of full-disclosure by the senior officers of the micro-finance institutions concerned, it is impossible to determine exactly how much cash has been stolen in this way. One thing, however, is certain, this is a growing problem and one which has alarming parallels with the toxic-debt/liar-loans scandal - deliberately hidden for years, before it triggered the current world economic crisis. Anyone looking at this problem with fully-functioning critical faculties, should be able immediately to deduce that micro-finance institutions, in their present (opaque, let's trust everyone) form, could almost have been instigated for, or by, 'MLM Prosperity Gospel' racketeers. It is, therefore, supremely ironic that a recent initiative which has been universally-acclaimed as a means of escaping the poverty trap, has already been so widely-subverted by fabulously-wealthy thieves. However, had it been clearly-understood how cults function (via the manipulation of the existing beliefs and instinctual desires of their adherents), then their infiltration of micro-finance institutions could easily have been foreseen and prevented.

Decades ago (faced with investigation and media exposure), in order to continue to function, 'MLM' racketeers were obliged to hunt outside of the USA for fresh, ill-informed victims to deceive and exploit. For a while, this endless-chain recruitment fraud only infected developed countries, because victims need access to money to play the self-gratifying 'MLM' game of make-believe. However, parasitic groups, like 'Amway' and 'Herbalife,' are now able to feed off developing countries (where the average citizen has neither cash nor credit), because micro-finance institutions have conveniently provided otherwise-destitute people with sufficient cash.

The readers of this Blog should be interested to learn that I have recently been told by someone working for the Grameen Foundation in Washington DC, that he (and apparently his senior colleagues) are fully-aware that  'MLM business/income opportunities,' like 'Herbalife' and 'Amway,' are 'pyramid frauds,' but that the Grameen Foundation has the intention of remaining publicly-silent on the issue. After this astonishing verbal declaration, I sent an e-mail to Todd Bernhardt, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Grameen Foundation in Washington DC, clearly informing him of the hidden menace that 'MLM income opportunity' racketeers pose to all poor individuals, families and communities around the world, and to the very concept of micro-finance. I then asked Mr. Bernhart: Who should be made aware of this important intelligence at the Grameen Foundation? At no point in my e-mail did I suggest that the Grameen Foundation is itself a micro-finance institution directly responsible for making loans to the poor. 

The following is part of Mr. Bernhart's Orwellian response:

'I’m sure my colleagues are concerned about the prospect of poor people being taken advantage of; I think what they might have been trying to explain is how we pursue our mission to empower the poor, and what our relationship is to the various Grameen entities around the world.

Though inspired by the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof. Muhammad Yunus, who helped found our organization and still serves on our Board as Director Emeritus, Grameen Foundation is in no way affiliated with Grameen Bank, the Bangladeshi microfinance institution (MFI) that Prof. Yunus founded in the late 1970s.  We also are not affiliated with Grameen American, an MFI that makes small loans to the poor in the United States. We are not a MFI – we do not make microloans or provide direct financial services to poor people anywhere in the world.

Instead, we work to support the microfinance sector around the world by providing products and services, including access to financing, that help make them more efficient and effective. We also work to empower the poor by providing them with mobile phone-based solutions that help them more effectively take care of their crops, animals, health and finances. These are the areas where we focus our attention, and our work has been very effective.

In the microfinance sector, MFIs are directly responsible for working with their clients, for assessing their creditworthiness and for providing guidance on how to use the funds that they lend them.  In the classic model of microfinance, such small loans should be used for productive, income-generating activities, and the vast majority of MFIs give this guidance to their clients, who typically follow a group-lending model where all five people in a borrowing group are responsible for each others’ loans.  Ultimately, however, it is the individual client’s responsibility to use their funds in a responsible manner, to ensure that they are able to pay back the loan they’ve taken and can continue to take out loans from the MFI.

As a non-profit organization, we constantly have to make decisions about how we can best use our limited resources to most effectively empower the poor.  We focus on the strategy spelled out above because we believe this is the best way to do the most possible good with the limited resources we have.  We do not communicate directly to poor people about multi-level marketing and other schemes because there are already many sources of information about these schemes out there, and we believe that people in the developing world – the people we are trying to help – already have access to this information.'

Roughly translated into plain English: The 'Director of Marketing and Communications' at the Grameen Foundation has first claimed his organization to have no connection with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh or with the Grameen Bank (which is not a bank) in the USA. Then (in complete contradiction of his opening statement), he goes on to state that his organization works to support these and other micro-finance institutions (with which it has no connection) and is 'on a mission to empower the poor.' Finally (in complete contradiction of his previous statements and his own job description), Mr. Bernhart then says that he and his colleagues do not communicate directly to poor people, because they believe that poor people already have access to many sources of information. 

Unfortunately, 'knowledge itself is power,' and (by the same token) ignorance is vulnerability. 

Meanwhile, in the adult world of quantifiable reality, countless millions of poor and vulnerable, potential 'MLM' victims in developing, and developed, countries, remain ignorant of the fact that more than 50 years of evidence (in the form of an almost total lack of payment of income tax), proves that, in practise, it has been impossible to generate an overall net-income lawfully by participating in a so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing business/income opportunity.' This, in theory, would involve regularly selling effectively-unsaleable 'MLM' products, and/or services, directly to the general public for a profit. Indeed, no one seriously disputes that (other than an insignificant minority of schills at the top of 'MLM' pyramids) the hidden overall loss/churn rate for all so-called 'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100%. Any micro-finance institution which has lent money to poor clients knowing that they were under the malign influence of 'MLM' racketeers has, in fact, been participating in a cruel fraud. Surely, years ago, the senior staff of micro-finance institutions must have spotted the glaring red flag that loans to would-be 'MLM' millionaires, never get repaid.

'Prosperity Gospel' cults like 'Amway' and 'Herbalife' have been deliberately designed to shut-down the critical and evaluative faculties of not only their victims, but also those of all casual observers. To the average person, famous people, like Madeleine Albright and David Beckham cannot possibly be associated with a racket, but when you have billions of dollars, it is possible to buy just about anyone (particularly, in the USA). Thus, Mr Bernhart's apparently genuine belief that poor people already have access to information about 'MLM' schemes, is revealed as being naive to the point of crass stupidity; particularly, when you know that 'MLM' racketeers have invested many millions of dollars of their ill-gotten gains in keeping the world ignorant of quantifiable reality in order to preserve and peddle their pernicious fiction as fact.

(Whilst watching this deceptively-kitsch video of the 'Amway' version of the 'MLM' Utopian fairytale,, keep in mind that the quantifiable evidence proves beyond all reasonable doubt that, since 1959, tens of millions of individuals around the world have been churned through the so-called 'Amway MLM income opportunity' whilst the actual, hidden net-profitability rate for so-called 'Amway Independent Business Owners' has been effectively-zero). 

Mr. Beckham is a personality who, although extremely wealthy, is not exactly noted for his intellectual capacities, but, in the case of Ms. Albright, it is difficult to believe that someone with her background and achievements can have fallen for a 'capitalist' adaptation of the age-old totalitarian/Utopian fairy story. Surely, she must have read George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.' Consequently, I am publicly asking Madeleine Albright the following, common-sense question:

Exactly what quantifiable evidence have you seen which proves that a significant number of people have actually earned an overall net-income lawfully from regularly retailing 'Herbalife' products to the general public for a profit?

However, it shouldn't be me asking this question of Madeleine Albright, it should be law enforcement agents.

Self-evidently, the recruiting, and/or co-opting, of celebrities and opinion-makers, for the purpose of promoting and hiding fraud, is one of the oldest, thought-stopping cultic tricks in the book. In respect of 'MLM Income Opportunity' fraud, this propaganda by association clearly forms part of an overall pattern of ongoing major racketeering activity (as defined by the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970).

For all poor persons who have been persuaded to invest their money, time and effort in the exploitative racket known as 'MLM,' it has been the same as buying, and getting others to buy, monthly-tickets for a fake lottery fixed so that no one (except the handful of manipulative crooks who organized it) can win. The minority of apparent 'MLM' winners have all steadfastly pretended to have achieved a form of secure Utopian existence ('total financial freedom'by exactly duplicating the 100% positive attitude and behaviour of their own leaders, and by following a proven plan of recruitment and self-consumption. In reality, a large proportion of the cash generated by 'MLM Prosperity Gospel' racketeers has secretly derived from their peddling countless millions of effectively-valueless publications, recordings, tickets meetings, etc., on the fraudulent pretext that these exclusive materials are vital to achieving success in 'MLM.'

Apparently, it has not been in the interests of micro-finance institutions to make a full-disclosure of their 'MLM'-related losses, because these institutions depend on maintaining their clean image in order to keep acquiring non-refundable deposits or 'donations.' Unfortunately, at the present time, any person or body of persons, making a cash-deposit with a micro-finance institution (certain that they are helping to empower the poor), risks their 'donation' winding up in the bulging pockets of billionaire 'MLM' racketeers.

David Brear (copyright 2012)

Thursday 27 December 2012

Bill Ackman: The End is Nigh for the 'Herbalife' lie.

Ackman excoriates Herbalife and pledges at least $25 million to charity at a Sohn Conference Foundation event in New York on Dec. 20
William 'Bill' Ackman

Ironically, on December 20th. 2012 (the day before the 'Apocalypse' was falsely-predicted), hedge fund manager, William 'Bill' Ackman, attempted to bring to an end the reality-inverting, parallel world known as 'Herbalife.' Mr. Ackman admits to holding a short-selling position involving more than US$1 billion (at cost) of effectively-valueless 'Herbalife' stock, but he also has stated that any profits which he might gain will be given to charity.

As various informed-observers have noted, Mr. Ackman's analysis of 'Herbalife' as a pyramid scam dissimulated behind effectively-unsaleable pseudo-scientific, wampum, contains virtually nothing original.  I, and a considerable number of other commentators (notably, Robert FitzPatrick and Bruce Craig), arrived at, and broadcast, this obvious conclusion many years ago, but law enforcement agents, legislators and the mainstream media largely-ignored us. Tellingly, even in the light of Mr. Ackman's  recent, dramatic intervention, the wider-world still doesn't seem to have grasped the enormity of the lie entitled 'MLM.'  

I'm particularly flattered by Mr. Ackman's ultimate conclusion that 'Herbalife' stock is worth $0, given the title of my own article from much earlier this year, 'Herbalife and Nu Skin shares are proved to be effectively-valueless.'

David Brear (Copyright 2012)

The absurd 'Lyoness' propaganda is strangely-familiar.

Readers please note that, as a result of well-informed complaints to Carrefour in France and Lego in Denmark, both these reputable European companies now no longer do business with the 'Lyoness'  racketeers ( Jan 7th, 2013).

'Income Opportunity' racketeers, Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos, 
posing as second generation economic saviours

In 1996, my brother (who was, at that time, a fanatical 'Amway' core-adherent) looked me in the eye and (in all seriousness) tried to convince me that :

Within 10 years, all supermarkets would be closed in Britain, because the 'Amway MLM business model' was taking over.

 My brother then went on to inform me that:
  •  'Negative information about Amway' was 'being fed to the media and to persons like myself, by the owners of other businesses,' who were 'scared to death.'
  •  'Amway' would be 'the dominant business in the 21st. century.' 
  •  'Billions of pounds' were 'at stake in Britain alone.' 
  • I would 'kick myself in the future' for refusing to join 'Amway.'
During 2012, this Blog has received many, similar, scripted-comments from an assortment of intellectually-castrated 'Income Opportunity' cult adherents and thinly-disguised 'Income Opportunity' cult propagandists. Most of this reality-inverting/denying bullshit has not been posted, because 'MLM The American Dream Made Nightmare' is not a platform for the bosses of organized crime groups. However, every now and then, this Blog receives comments which are so absurd that they deserve to be posted.

e.g. This morning an anonymous correspondent attempted to post the following, strangely-familiar, drivel in response to my article on the 'Lyoness' racket : 

'Lyoness is a great company that has the MLM industry scared to death. The old MLM guru's a spreading scam rumors to stop their people from leaving and joining Lyoness. This tactic will not work. By 2015, Lyoness will own the industry. '

Thus, the authors of this comment are attempting to broadcast the extraordinary fairy story that 'Lyoness' is in opposition to 'MLM' and that this Blog is actually a pro- 'MLM' propaganda Site.

'Income Opportunity' racketeer, Hubert Freidl, posing as the world's latest economic saviour.

Now if anyone should still be in any doubt as to whether 'Income Opportunity' groups, like 'Lyoness' and 'Amway' can be described as cults or their core-adherents diagnosed as psychotic:  as part of my research into the 'Lyoness' cult, I recently had a disturbing telephone conversation with a deeply-deluded, Irish 'Lyoness' core-adherent who (in all seriousness) tried to convince me that:

  • 'Within 3 years, 25% of all the world's consumers will be Lyoness members.' 
  • 'Hubert Freidl is going to save the world economy.'

David Brear (copyright 2012)