Thursday 15 March 2018

Time line of an ill-informed encounter with 'Amway/MLM'.

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Statutory Warning

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%.


The following article briefly explains how I came to be researching, and writing about, cultic rackets in general and about 'Multi- Level Marketing' cultic rackets, in particular  


Throughout most of the period I describe below, I remained ill-informed. I preferred to believe that I was only dealing with members of my family. In the end, I had to face the sickening truth that I had, in fact, been dealing with the bosses of an 'MLM' cult. This gang of racketeers pose as 'Compassionate Christian Capitalists' - patriotic defenders of 'The American Way (Amway).' They have successfully hidden in plain sight for decades; stealing billions of dollars by peddling a never-ending chain of vulnerable persons a poisonous formula to commit social, psychological and financial suicide, but sugar-coated as 'risk-free Direct Selling Income Opportunity.' 

I eventually discovered that 'Amway' and a string of copy-cats ('Herbalife', 'Forever Living Products', 'NuSkin', 'Usana,' etc. ) have been the corporate fronts for a 'Long Con' - 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. 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 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. 

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.

Shackled to an Ambot.

By David Brear

  • During the economic boom of the 1980s, my mother lives in the old family home in a pleasant, upscale district of the historic West Yorkshire town of Halifax. As joint-owner, my mother has acquired this in its entirety after the sudden death of my father (an architect) in 1972. My mother once struggled to run a small business buying and selling antique paintings, books, maps and prints, but she has gradually dropped this to care for, and manage the affairs of, a succession of ailing friends and relatives. As her elderly charges die off, my mother inherits more money, valuables and property; whilst the value of her real-estate increases dramatically. As she gets older herself, my mother withdraws into a parallel world based on her deprived 1930s and 1940s childhood. In this way, she justifies hoarding things. Her home is quite large, but virtually the entire building is crammed with books, furniture, pictures and objects. Cupboards bulge with rotting bags of sugar and rusting cans of food. My mother has some (declared) savings and investments, and she employs a lawyer and accountant, but even they do not know the full extent of what she’d inherited. I am not allowed contact with her professional advisers. All documents are kept secret and my mother pretends she is still struggling to make ends meet. At the same time, she is paranoid about burglars and the tax authorities. My mother is an avid supporter of Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative government. Although brought up as a 'Methodist,' my mother has developed her own fatalistic belief system in which 'an invisible power rewards good people and punishes bad people, but whilst they are still alive.' My mother sees herself as a good person.
  • During the same period, my slightly older brother is a scruffy, university-educated (twenty-something) high school teacher living within about 5 miles of my mother. He has an arts degree and a standard teaching-certificate, but no business qualifications or commercial experience. My brother is a self-confessed cynic with a cruel sense of humour. He is fond of expressing outrageous right wing opinions. In his spare time, my brother improves his backstreet home, waxes his second-hand car, plays competitive sports and drinks beer with his pals. For his level of education, he isn’t well-paid, but he lives cheaply and saves part of his salary. My brother makes no secret of the fact that he loathes his job and despises his senior colleagues. He’s been passed-over for promotion, and almost fired, because of his reactionary views, provocative behaviour and lack of self-control. In my brother’s head he can’t possibly be at fault. He is convinced that the public education system is ‘run by politically-correct socialist idiots and weaklings.’ My brother has no religious belief or political affiliation, but he exhibits many narcissistic character traits and believes himself to be generally superior to everyone around him.
  • Towards the end of this frustrating period, something happens which shakes my brother to the core. In 1987, a group of middle-aged men (all stalwarts of my brother’s rugby club) are killed, or maimed, in an horrific crash involving a truck ploughing into the back of a mini-bus in which they are travelling. He has always lived in denial, but at the age of 30, my brother finally begins to take stock of his life. He realises that he is a powerless loser surrounded by powerless losers. He needs to escape before he is too old or he will be condemned to three more, miserable decades in the classroom. The only problem is that my brother can see no definite way of replacing his salary cheque. Privately, he is in total despair.
  • By 1990, my mother is living with, and caring for, just one remaining sick elderly friend (an eccentric antiques dealer from whom she copies many of her miserly ways). My mother is sitting on all our family’s capital assets and is in deep denial. I live about 40 miles away and I visit her almost every week, but she never once comes to visit me. My mother never goes anywhere, and never parts with a penny, unless she believes it to be absolutely necessary. 
  • At the same time, my brother (who is still working as a teacher) has undergone a sudden radical personality transformation. Fired with wild optimism, he begins dressing like a businessman and he excitedly claims to have been introduced to a 'fantastic business opportunity.' My brother is obsessed with sharing this good news and he generally behaves like someone who has fallen head-over-heels in love. Later, I discover the object of my brother's blind devotion is 'Multi-Level Marketing' in the form of 'Amway,' but at this stage, he tries to recruit me by deliberately avoiding these controversial labels.
  • During the annual family Xmas meal (held at my mother's home), the mysterious phrase, 'I'm into Networking these days,' is casually dropped into the conversation. I take the bait and naively-ask my brother what exactly does he mean? He stares at me intently. To my complete surprise, he asks me what do I 'dream of achieving in life?' I almost choke with laughter, but my brother ignores my reaction and goes on to explain that working all your life just get the old-age pension is a waste of time... he's started his 'own Network Marketing Business for less than £100'... 'Networking is a risk-free way to achieve your dreams... although some money can be earned by selling some product for a 30% profit, unlimited residual income can also be earned in Networking by duplicating a proven 2-5 year business-building plan - consuming a monthly quantity of product, and by sponsoring others who then duplicate the same proven plan and consume the same monthly quantity of product, who then sponsor others,' etc. ad infinitum. 
  • To illustrate, my brother recounts a kitsch parable about a teacher who 'got into Network Marketing' and then, by 'following the plan,' was soon able to retire from his job (in front of astonished colleagues and pupils) and walk to freedom into the welcoming arms of his proud family and supportive  'business associates' who were all waiting for him at the school gates with a 'chauffeur-drive Limo.'
  • By this stage, I cannot believe what I'm hearing. My brother spouts a technical-sounding jargon - 'Upline', 'Downline', 'IBOs', 'Distributors,'  'Geometric Progression', 'Points Value' , Bonus Value' , 'The Compensation Plan.' He says that  he was 'introduced to Network Marketing by an old school friend (a lawyer)' and that 'the Compensation Plan was developed by Christians and is based on Christian ethics'...  'the more people you help to get into Networking: the more money you automatically earn'... 'Networking is not a selfish business, because you can't make money without helping others to make money.' 
  • My brother's girlfriend (another reluctant school teacher) sits beside him nodding in passive agreement. The pair's behaviour is both absurd and disturbing. They are like programmed robots. Much later I discover that fanatical 'Amway' evangelists are widely-referred to as 'Ambots.'
  • I refuse to hear anything more about my brother's 'business.' I continue to ridicule him - telling him that he has obviously fallen for a dumb pyramid scheme. My mother, who doesn't want to look beyond my brother's new-found optimism, is the most-shocked by my pessimistic response. My brother and his girlfriend remain calm and they counter my pyramid accusation by play-acting another part of their 'we are in business' narrative. They smile indulgently and speak to me as parents might speak to a stupid child. My brother insists that I don't know what I'm talking about... 'only fools turn down something without looking at it first.' He assures me that he personally knows 'people who have become millionaires in Networking'... I will 'regret not joining' him, 'because soon it will be too late.'
  • Since I have little in common with my brother, and I rarely have cause to meet with him, I dismiss the Xmas incident as weird, but unimportant. 
  • Not long afterwards, I go to live in France. I still keep in regular touch with my mother. Neither my brother nor his 'business' are mentioned in our conversations.
  • Months later, after my mother's remaining elderly charge has suddenly died and she is living by herself, she calls me with a frail voice. My mother says she has slipped on some ice and fallen heavily. She has broken no bones, but she remains badly shaken and exhausted. My mother tells me that she has been persuaded to consult a specialist and that she has been diagnosed as diabetic and that she also needs to have a heart pace-maker fitted. My brother and girlfriend have kindly volunteered to move into her home to take care of her. 
  • My mother has become convinced that she doesn't have long to live. For a while, she freely-admits that, in the past, she had got her priorities all wrong. A substantial proportion of her inherited wealth is undeclared, it is stashed away in the form of cash, gold, jewellery, etc. My mother wants to make amends whilst she still has the chance. She is now obsessed with the idea of transferring ownership of her real estate to my brother and myself to avoid inheritance tax. She confesses that two apartments which she has inherited from my father's aunt should have been passed to my brother and myself years ago. My mother insists that everything will now be divided equally between her two sons.
  • I travel to see my mother who is still living alone. She has lost weight and although she is only in her 60s, she suddenly looks much older. She again tells me that she will not live much longer. My mother then says how happy she is that my brother is 'a completely changed man who has found a real purpose in his life'... he will 'soon be giving up teaching' ... he has 'become a financial consultant who helps people to start their own businesses'... he 'works with lawyers and accountants.'.. he is 'following a plan for his financial future'...  he 'loves his family and wants to help us.' 
  • My mother claims to have 'taken professional advice' and to have decided to transfer 50% of her property into my brother's name immediately. She says that my affairs are in a mess and I will be excluded until I get myself organised. She informs me that I'm a tax exile and that local tax-inspectors have been to her home searching for me... her will is being altered so that my brother will appear to inherit everything, but we can trust him to divide everything equally in the future.  When I explain that there is only one member of family hiding money from the taxman and it's certainly not me, my mother begins spouting my brother's new jargon and she now introduces the terms, 'Amway'  and 'Multi-Level Marketing.'
  • Although I've never heard of it, I quickly realise 'Amway' is the name of the organisation my brother has joined. My mother refuses to believe that this is some sort of too-good-to-be true, American pyramid scheme - the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet. She ridicules the fact that I've never heard of 'Amway.' She boasts that my brother 'is a University-educated man who has checked-out Amway with lawyers'... it is 'the world's largest private company' ... 'Amway gives a lot of money to charity.' My mother says that I 'can't be more wrong about Amway being a pyramid scheme, because Multi-Level Marketing is approved by governments around the world, is Christian-inspired and is supported by celebrities and leading members of the UK Conservative party'.... She has 'met my brother's business associates, they are all decent hard-working young couples trying to do something positive with their lives'... 'there are several local police officers involved with Amway.'
  • When pressed, my mother admits that she too had her doubts about 'Amway' at first, because it's American and she couldn't understand how it works. She briefly starts to agree with me, but then she suddenly becomes short of breath and panic-stricken; absolutely refusing any further discussion of my brother's 'Amway' involvement. She insists that by arguing with her and being disloyal to my brother, I'm trying to kill her and that in all financial matters, I now must deal exclusively with my brother.  
  • I am both horrified and bemused. I leave my mother's home and return to France not knowing what is going on, or what to do for the best. Some friends say that 'Amway' is a cult and I'm told a horror story about another teacher joining it and losing his home and marriage. I briefly consider contacting my mother's lawyer, and/or accountant, and/or doctor, but I decide not to. In truth, I don't know any of these people or exactly what to say to them. I remain certain that my family is under the influence of something stupid and potentially disastrous.
  • For a while, I have some limited contact with my brother, but he is insufferable and I start to avoid him. However, during a subsequent visit to see my mother, I am put under obligation to meet with my brother in private. My mother promises me that he will not speak about 'Amway,' ... he wants to help me' ...  I 'will be pleased.'
  • During our meeting, my brother behaves like he is now the head of the family, and I begin to lose my patience. I tell him that, in my opinion, his involvement with a pyramid scheme reveals him to be the last person to be given control of money. I warn him that I am considering taking the matter to a lawyer. My brother remains calm and tells me that I have no legal right to challenge our mother's decision ... she is not mentally-incapable and remains perfectly entitled to do whatever she wants to do with her property. He then invites me to agree that whatever he chooses to do with his life is his own affair. 
  • My brother now pretends affinity with me, he is on my side and does not agree with our mother's decision to exclude me, but 'we can't argue with her, because stress might kill her'... he feels guilty about how he bullied me when we were younger.. he now wants to 'make ammends' by 'helping' me. In this way, my brother gradually persuades me to drop my guard and disclose confidential information about my own finances, but I also want him to know why I'm so annoyed.  
  • I tell my brother that I have made an agreement to buy my home in Northern France from an English friend who has fallen on hard times and who owes me money. My friend has previously bought the property cheaply as an investment and holiday home, but now his mortgage is in arrears and he owes several years of local taxes. He is desperate to sell it to me for only the value of his outstanding mortgage. However, I've just discovered that under French law, I cannot transfer the existing-mortgage into my name and, for various reasons, I cannot obtain a new mortgage loan. I have negotiated a delay with the mortgage-holding bank and local tax office, and I am currently paying only the interest on my friend's mortgage. Legally, I'm in an impossible position, because I'm neither tenant nor owner of my home. I had a project to convert part of my home into rental apartments and to live in the rest, but this is now completely blocked due to a lack of finance. I am considering abandoning my home and returning to the UK.
  • My brother asks me a rhetorical question: 'You' d like the finance for your project wouldn't you?'   When I reply, 'yes of course,' he says that by 'criticising his business,' I've been shooting myself in the foot... 'as the men of the family, we should now make all the decisions about money together... if I will support him: he will support me.'
  • My brother offers a convincing psychological analysis of my mother and her attitude towards towards me - she has always been deeply-insecure and is 'too emotional to have control over money'... she sees me as a child... no matter what I want to do, she will never support me. 
  • My brother suggests that he has the power to let me use family capital as collateral to finance the purchase and conversion of my home. I have serious doubts, because my brother has no commercial experience and I will be completely in his hands. For obvious reasons, I want to believe him. I don't want to abandon my home, but I don't have an alternative solution, so I half agree. We shake hands. My brother assures me that it will be safe for me to go ahead with my project, 'because we will work together as a team'...  he will simply follow my instructions.
  • My brother flies to France to visit me at his own expense. He takes dozens of photos and makes piles of notes about my project. He then behaves in very annoying way, lying about the departure time of his return-flight and criticising my driving. Thus,  deceiving me into driving much faster than is necessary on our way to the airport. I again dismiss this incident as weird, but unimportant.
  • After returning to the UK and consulting with persons whom he describes as  'business associates who can give us free advice,' my brother tells me to 'forget about banks and loans'... my project is such a 'good opportunity,' he 'can supply me with all the money to buy my home outright. He asks me how much money I already have access to and how much extra I will need in total. He quickly wires me enough money (£10 000) to settle my friend's outstanding mortgage arrears and local taxes. My brother asks for no receipt and does not explain exactly where this money has come from. I'm too grateful to ask. I tell my brother that once I've committed this money, there can be no turning back without a significant loss. With this payment, my brother has convinced me that he will keep his word about the rest of our agreement. I clearly explain that the full amount I still require in sterling is not a fixed-sum, due to unknown transfer fees, varying exchange rates, etc. My brother seems to understand, but keeps insisting that I must not speak to my mother about any of this and he implies that he will not honour the rest of our agreement, if I do.
  • Taking my brother at his word, I stop everything (except the most urgent restoration work on my home) to consolidate my own limited capital. I make all the arrangements with the interested third parties for the purchase and transfer of the property. I plan the transaction to be completed with a matter of a few weeks, but my brother starts to play a frustrating game and he keeps me waiting for over a year. He flatly refuses to explain exactly where my money will be coming from, and blames my mother for the delay. During this period, the cost of my home begins to rise in France. The exchange value of my family's sterling in the UK begins to fall. I cannot keep paying my friend's mortgage interest - I have not budgeted for this. I keep telling the mortgage-holding bank that I'm waiting for finance from my family in the UK. Recovery action is threatened. Penalty-interest is automatically imposed and this begins to accumulate. My brother excludes all this vital information as 'negative' and he boasts that he no longer watches television or reads newspapers ... he's too busy building his business. 
  • My personal situation becomes increasingly desperate, but the more worried, angry and upset I become: the more robotic my brother becomes. There is nothing I can do except try to appease him. I convince myself that he must soon honour our agreement. The alternative is unthinkable.
  • As I’d feared, I have no written contract and, therefore, no external avenue of complaint. When inevitably I approach my mother, believing that she is causing the delay, I cannot hide my frustration. I try to explain to her the mathematics of what is happening, but her mind is conditioned not to follow what I am saying. Instead, she begins to cry like a child, convinced that I must be trying to confuse her with complicated lies in order to get more money. My mother says I’ve got it wrong… she isn’t involved… my brother is ‘arranging everything’… he is acting in my ‘long-term interests,’ but I don’t understand this… I need to ‘have more faith’… everything I ‘dream of’ will come to me ‘eventually.’ 
  • My mother goes to my brother to report. When I try to talk to her again, my frustration is reinterpreted - I am ‘too selfish and impetuous’… I’ve broken my word… this proves I dnn’t care about her health… I am ‘only interested in money,’ etc. In this way, my brother controls all information entering my mother’s head. She is convinced that there is no need for her to listen to me or to consult her lawyer… I have got myself ‘into a mess’ and my brother will calmly save me, but I am ‘panicking.’ 
  • My brother still cannot tell me when my cash will be available or exactly how he is going to raise it. He tells me that there will now ‘have to be further conditions attached.’
  • My brother and girlfriend move into my mother's home. They start to tidy it up, making expensive improvements and redecorating, always using my mother's money. Almost every room is now stuffed with banal, but over-priced, 'Amway' products (pots, pans, coffee, soap, cleaning materials, toothpaste, makeup, shampoo, etc.). The robotic couple begin systematically dividing everyone and everything into 'negative' (to be excluded) vs 'positive' (to be included). e.g. Traditional products are banned from my mother's home and condemned as 'negative.' 
  • When visiting my mother, I discover that my brother and his girlfriend have a list of dozens of people they know, or whom they have met during their lives. My brother has been systematically contacting all these people one by one to try to recruit them. My mother has also supplied names for this list. My brother says that people who criticise 'Amway' are 'life's losers.' 
  • My brother and girlfriend buy quantities of American-published 'motivational'  books, magazines and recordings - some of which contain directly religious terms - and which constantly teach them the 'negative vs positive'  'winners vs losers' mindset on the pretext that this is part of the 'proven plan to achieve total financial freedom in Amway'. They speak about 'only listening to winners' and about attending 'Amway' meetings and seminars to learn the secrets of success. They boast about how rich and successful their 'Amway Diamond Leaders' are - particularly, the legendary American leader of their own Network, Dexter Yager.
  • 'Positive' images of my brother's 'Dreams and Goals' appear at strategic points in my mother's home. e.g. A large picture of macho black 4X4 vehicle in a mountain landscape, is fixed to the fridge.
  • My brother's scripted-claims are becoming increasingly grandiose. He says that, within 10 years, all supermarkets will have closed in the UK, because the 'Amway Business Model' is taking over. He now tells me about billions of £ being at stake ... I will miss-out if I don't get on board quickly.
  • My personal situation becomes even more desperate. I cut my living expenses and begin selling my personal possessions to hang on. At this time, sterling drops out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and its international exchange value collapses. I soon require my brother to supply more than twice the amount of sterling that we had previously discussed to complete my purchase, but his brain now quite literally cannot receive any 'negative' information. My purchase remains entirely in my name, but my brother and his mysterious 'advisers' control the final means of payment. I am made to look like a foolish, commercially-incompetent dreamer in front of all the interested third parties.
  • My closest friends can’t understand what is happening - why haven't I completed my purchase? - why have I gone cold on such a great project? The better people know me: the more unbelievable it all seems. I feel depressed and humiliated. For a while, I try not to let the situation affect my private life, but as my own resources dwindle to zero, I start losing sleep. I then find it difficult to control my anger. I am the voice of reason, but with the apparent face of insanity. 
  • In desperation, I go to see my brother I tell him that we have long-since passed the point of no return… if he doesn't come to his senses and take immediate action, I must quit my home, lose all my previous work and investment and return to England destitute… he has led me into a hole and I’d already stopped digging. Even if he immediately supplies twice the amount that we have previously discussed, I can no longer guarantee to complete the transaction and regularise my situation. The delay means that he needs to supply me with a lot more sterling and the sum is increasing all the time. I make a final attempt to give my brother a break-down of the figures, but, predictably, he isn’t in the slightest bit interested
  • Without a flicker of emotion, my brother attacks me on a vicious personal level designed to reduce me to the position of a guilty child. He stares at me and, in a mocking voice, accuses me of being ‘whining little loser’… a ‘lazy little parasite’… a ‘pathetic little wimp’ who can’t stand on my own feet and accept responsibility for my own actions… I am ‘obsessed with money’… it was my own ‘free-choice’ to buy such a large property and to accept his ‘help’… I’d said ‘yes,’ no one had forced me… any extra cost istherefore, the result of my own ‘selfishness and greed’… I am now ‘searching for a scapegoat. When I still try to stand up to him, my brother counters by producing my mother’s diary and reading aloud from it. I am portrayed as a childish liar and bloodsucker who doesn't care whether she lives or dies. At that moment, I feel physically sick in the pit of my stomach. I put my hands on my head. My instincts tell me to pin my brother to the wall and tell him to stick the money, but I manage to reason that this must be exactly what he wants.
  • Suddenly, my brother switches-off the vicious ego-destroying drill-sergeant, and switches-on the kindly ego-building father-figure. He offers me immediate deliverance, but only if he can ‘present the Amway business opportunity’ to me. I am dumbstruck. For an instant, I can’t think straight. He shepherds me into the room where he does all his recruiting and closes the door. What follows was truly weird - like having a witch-doctor perform a voodoo incantation whilst you bleed to death. My brother stares at me again, but this time he is smiling in triumph. He is almost drooling with excitement. He then launches a relentless barrage of hypnotic Amway’ jargon. Simultaneously, he starts to drawing a mystifying pattern (a pyramid of circles, containing numbers and percentages, connected by lines) on a large, blank sheet of paper - he is ‘about to go Direct in the UK’s biggest Amway Network, International Business Systems or IBS for short’, he’s always ‘visualised us building the business together’…‘MLM’ is a ‘duplication business’ - this is the ‘IBS Plan’ … he ‘exactly duplicates’ his ‘Uplines’s example’ and buys at least ‘200 ‘PV’ of positive product every month’ if he ‘sponsors’ me, I will become his ‘Downline’… if I then ‘exactly duplicate’ the ‘Upline example’ and buy at least ‘200 PV of positive product per month’ and then ‘sponsor 6 Downlines,’ who each ‘exactly duplicated’ the ‘Upline example’ and buy at least ‘200 PV of positive product per month’ who then ‘sponsor 6 more Downlines,’ who each then ‘sponsor 6 more Downlines,’ etc… ‘within 2-5 years we can both be Diamond Distributors earning a minimum of £ 37 000 ($ 50 000) a year in commission from all the thousands of Distributors automatically multiplying in our Downline groups.’
  • After 5 minutes, that feel like a lifetime, I angrily walk out. The atmosphere is indescribable. I’ve seen, and heard, more than enough to realise that, from the start, my brother must have been deliberately sabotaging my life. He is now trying to exploit my vulnerability to force me to join his crackpot pyramid schemebut he is genuinely convinced that he is acting in my long term interests. I return home exhausted and depressed. Two weeks later, my brother lures me back to England with a promise of the cash we’d discussed more than a year before. When all the additional costs are taken into consideration, this amount now represents an enormous net-loss. However, my brother’s poisoned mind is incapable of receiving what it systematically reinterprets as ‘negative’ information. I realise that it is pointless trying to explain to him the actual sum now required to complete my purchase. My brother solemnly proclaims that he has tried his best to ‘help’ me by bringing me into his ‘business,’ but my refusal has finally proved to him that I am ‘just a selfish loser’… he can’t be held responsible for my ‘failure’… even if I ‘beg to join Amway,’ it is ‘now too late.’ Under normal circumstances I would laugh, but it has become impossible to see any comedy in this tragic situation.
  • My brother then supplies approximately 80 % of the sterling he’d previously agreed. At the last moment, he obliges me to sign a blank receipt and to promise that I will only use the payment for my project. By this stage, I would have accepted almost anything to save my home, but, soon afterwards, I discovered that my brother hasn’t been using family money at all. He had emptied his own, and his partner’s, savings accounts - this explains the odd amount. At the same time, he has convinced my mother that I have freely signed an agreement to accept his generous payment as my entire inheritance… I’ve been given exactly what I’d requested to complete my transaction. My brother has made sure there are no witnesses to what has really occurred. He has arbitrarily decided that, for the purpose of their division, our family’s properties are worth a tiny fraction of their market-value. He has reams of his own contemporaneous notes to prove his case, but these take no account of the subsequent delay. My brother then gives-up his job and begins pretending that he’s ‘retired thanks to the Amway business opportunity. In reality, he is using his stolen prosperity (and his partner’s salary) to bedazzle his prospective recruits and finance his allied ‘Amway’ activities. I am now more than ready to tell him exactly what I think, but when I try to confront him by telephone, he laughs at me and hangs up. I cannot control my anger - I do not recognise myself.
  • As a result of the intervention of a close friend, who persuades my mother to consult her lawyer, I am again offered deliverance, but only if I ‘agree’ to sign a legally-binding contract. However, I am not allowed to communicate directly with the lawyer and I cannot afford legal representation. I have to attempt to negotiate the contract through my friend, but she is being overwhelmed by constant claims that my mother will die if there is any argument. To my friend, it is unthinkable that anyone can be so manipulative. In the end, my friend is begging me to remain silent. Consequently, the contract reflects my brother’s comic-book model of reality. In short, I am falsely blamed for everything. Ironically, when my mother’s lawyer discovers the rising market-value of my home (approximately 3X the outstanding mortgage-debt), he advises her to raise a loan in England (using family property as collateral) and complete its purchase using French lawyers to instruct the interested third-parties. The one time I meet with my mother and brother is when the contract has to be signed. My mother and brother travel to France. To show his disdain, my brother turns up at the Notaire's office wearing a sort of tracksuit.
  • Only at this point, am I allowed to read the contract. When I start to challenge it, my mother begins clutching at her chest and gasping for breath. In the end, I feel obliged to comply. The atmosphere is again indescribable. On the contract, the previous (net-loss) payment is now falsely recorded as a ‘personal loan’ from my brother. My friend had been verbally assured that ‘this is for reasons of tax’… he will ‘never demand repayment.’ Although the contract gives me 6 months before any interest is due, I am made responsible for an additional sterling-loan (recorded as being from my mother) and for two sets of lawyers’ fees (10 % of the total debt). Interestingly, my brother declares his occupation to be a ‘qualified schoolteacher’ - there is no mention of his ‘Amway Distributorship' or his recent 'retirement.' 
  • In total, it has taken over two years to conclude a relatively simple house purchase that I had planned to take no more than 2 months, and it could not have been finalised at a worse time. My urgent instructions (which were quasi-identical to the long-winded, and expensive, advice of my mother’s lawyers) were completely ignored. With all the unnecessary delay, the cost of the transaction in sterling has doubled. Instead of having a home and 100 % equity, producing a secure rental-income and financing another business (which had been my overall strategy), I am saddled with a major debt and no lawful means of servicing it. I have already lost an incalculable amount of time and income, whilst a self-defeating clause in the contract now prevents me from legally-renting out any part of my home. However, the money has long-since become secondary. My peace of mind and state of physical health are disintegrating along with my way of life. Several close relationships have already become strained to breaking-point. For this reason, I cannot bring myself to speak with my family.
  • I hear nothing for almost 6 months and I am starting to recover. My mother (at the instigation of my brother) sends me a leaflet from another American-registered company, ‘Marketing Group International.’ Its ‘British office’ wants an up-front payment of approximately $300 ‘to offer European houses for sale in Hong Kong’  -  it is an obvious ‘advance-fee fraud,’ but my name is already filled-in on a form in my mother’s distinctive handwriting. When I contact her lawyer in England to express my concern, he claims that she has no knowledge of this, and he demands a crippling interest payment not only on behalf of my mother, but also on behalf of my brother (contrary to the assurance he gave to my friend). The lawyer insists that if I refuse to comply, I will be risking my mother’s life. Thanks to my brother, I have neither equity nor income. Subsequently, a lawsuit is filed against me in France to take possession, and force the sale, of my home. My only possible defence witness is my friend who negotiated the contract. However, she now refuses to become involved. She is fearful that she might be blamed if my mother drops dead. Although my mother’s name is on the documentation, in reality, all the proceeds of any sale will only go to the benefit of my brother and his invisible ‘Amway associates.’

David Brear (copyright 2018)


  1. Thank you for telling your story David, I do hope you will continue. You’re one of the strongest, clearest voices in the battle against MLM that I have encountered. Sadly, while the anti MLM movement seems to be growing, there are still far too many who are unaware and ill-informed in an environment where cultic positive/negative thinking, prosperity gospel, law of attraction nonsense is floating around wholly accepted and unconsidered by tens upon tens of millions becoming more and more vulnerable all the time.

    1. Anonymous - Talking of people who are ill-informed, 20 years ago I was invited to meet with two senior UK Home Office officials who (supposedly) had responsibility for advising the Home Secretary about, and developing Government policy towards, 'cultic' groups operating in the UK.

      These two characters were under the influence of a British academic, Prof. Eileen Barker (a former actress, turned sociologist, who has been widely condemned as being one of the world's leading cult apologists). Consequently, these officials had absolutely no understanding whatsoever of how cults function, but they still pretended moral and intellectual authority.

      A third junior official (who was very supportive) attended the meeting. Privately, he was outraged by the way I was treated.

      The testimony (and analysis) I gave these two Home Office twits 20 years ago was essentially the same as that contained in this article.

      Since that time, I have never heard another word from the UK Home Office, and no effective law enforcement action has been taken against 'MLM' cultic rackets operating in Britain.

      As a result of my complaints, UK trade regulators did try to close 'Amway UK Ltd.' in 2007 using a civil bankruptcy procedure linked to trading schemes legislation designed to prohibit pyramid schemes. At this time, my personal testimony was not made available to the High Court Judge who heard the case.

      'Amway UK's' CEO was allowed to commit perjury by pretending to the same Judge that the company had been completely unaware of any illegal practises occurring within its ranks.

      Furthermore, 'Amway UK Ltd.' was allowed to continue to exist in the UK without any penalty after its officers and legal representatives promised the judge that the company's 'business model' had been modified.

      Numerous senior, and junior, British government officials have been clearly informed by me that 'MLM' companies front criminal cultic rackets, but no official mechanism has ever been put in place to monitor this vast criminal enterprise in the UK, let alone try to stop it.

      Legalistically, no such thing as a cult exists in Britain and no anti-racketeering legislation exists in Britain.

  2. Thanks for sharing, David. The social damage of product-based pyramids is incalculable.

    1. pinkvictim - Good to hear from you.

      I'll be following this article up with an account of what happened when I finally realised how 'MLM' cults function and I tried to complain.

  3. trail of destruction

    1. Unfortunately Simita, my ill-informed 'Amway' encounter was only to become even more of a nightmare.

  4. David, are all MLMs cults? Surely they aren't all as dangerous as Amway?

    1. Anonymous - The evidence proves that all 'Amway' copy-cat groups (i.e. those employing thought-stopping 'MLM' jargon, and hiding the quantifiable results of their mystifying fake 'income opportunities') have been the constituent parts of an overall, ongoing criminogenic phenomenon of historic significance.

      It has been a complete waste of time challenging the individual parts of the 'MLM' phenomenon, or trying to assess the level of danger that each one of these essentially-identical rackets represents, rather than confronting the reality that it is the officially-urecognised criminogenic phenomenon itself which has been, and remains, the real danger.