Thursday 6 July 2023

Robert FitzPatrick's thoughts on his recent visit to 'Amway World HQ.'


In 1945, whilst most contemporary mainstream commentators were unable to look beyond the ends of their noses, with a perfect sense of irony, Eric Arthur Blair a.k.a. George Orwell (1903-1950) presented fact as fiction in an insightful 'fairy story' entitled, 'Animal Farm.' He revealed that totalitarianism is merely the oppressors' fiction mistaken for fact by the oppressed. In the same universal allegory, Orwell described how, at a time of vulnerability, almost any people's dream of a future, secure, Utopian existence can be hung over the entrance to a totalitarian deception. Indeed, the words that are always banished by totalitarian deceivers are, 'totalitarian' and 'deception.' Sadly, when it comes to examining the same enduring phenomenon, albeit with an ephemera'American/Capitalist' label, most contemporary, mainstream commentators have again been unable to look further than the ends of their noses. However, if they followed Orwell's example, and did some serious thinking, this is the reality-inverting nightmare they would find.

For more than 70 years, successive grinning generations of two Dutch-American families (DeVos and Van Andel) have got away with building 'Amway' - a labyrinth of legally-registered corporate structures, pursuing lawful, and/or unlawful, enterprises. They have used these private companies to peddle a pernicious totalitarian fairy story entitled, 'Multi-Level Marketing,’ which they, and their propagandists, have steadfastly pretended to have brought great benefit to humanity. During this shameful period, these two clans of world-class liars have become fabulously wealthy, whilst tens of millions of ill-informed individuals around the globe have quietly-continued to be churned through a dissimulated rigged-market swindle (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) and related advance fee frauds. At the same time, many of these victims have had their minds hijacked by a perversion of the ‘positive (good) versus negative (evil)’ Christian belief system. Although the unpaid proselytisers for this self-perpetuating crime-wave were given the illusion that they were making a free-choice, they were, in fact, subjected to co-ordinated, devious techniques of social, psychological and physical persuasion designed to facilitate the shutting down of their critical, and evaluative, faculties (without their fully-informed consent). In this way, a significant minority of chronic 'Amway' victims have been deceived into dissipating all their mental, physical and financial resources to the benefit of a sanctimonious little gang of self-proclaimed ‘compassionate Christian capitalists,’ whom they continued blindly to trust and follow no matter what suffering this entailed.

Major organised crime groups were supposedly identified by US legislators as a cancer that had previously been allowed to gnaw its way into the heart of the republic when, in 1970, severe criminal penalties, and powerful civil remedies, were finally provided as a defence in the form of the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Yet US federal prosecutors have (so far) done nothing to prevent the bosses of 'Amway' (the original, blame-the-victim 'MLM' racket), and their associate criminal enterprises, from maintaining control over billions of stolen dollars. Indeed, certain, corrupt senior political figures and legally-qualified law enforcement agents have enthusiastically assisted in protecting the group’s kitsch front - obstructing full-exposure of the sinister cult that has lurked behind it. Tellingly, the beneficiaries of the 'Amway' racket have invested some of their ill-gotten gains to infiltrate traditional culture to a degree which makes even the most-notorious Mafia 'Wise Guys' look like a bunch of amateurs. 

In the following article, Robert FitzPatrick offers his thoughts on his recent visit to 'Amway World HQ' in Ada Michigan. Readers should bear in mind that this impressive edifice (indeed, the entire bedazzling game of Utopian make-believe of which it has been a key-element), has been paid for by the unpaid labour of tens of millions of ill-informed individuals who have continued to be churned through the ranks of 'Amway' adherents over a period spanning several decades. 'Amway World HQ' remains only part of a classic information monoply which the bosses of 'Amway' (just like the bosses of any centrally-controlled totalitarian regime) have always sought to maintain. Yet in the USA, 'a deliberate scheme to obtain financial or similar gain by using false statements, misrepresentations, concealment of important information, or deceptive conduct,' is known in law as: 'criminal fraud.'

David Brear (copyright 2023)


by Robert L. FitzPatrick, Author of PONZINOMICS, the Untold Story of Multi-Level Marketing

July, 2023

From the outside or if you just drive by, the enormous facility in Ada Michigan would look like any large corporate center. There is a huge globe on display by the road and a row of national flags, signifying the worldwide reach of this company, whatever it is. 

Windshield View of Amway World Headquarters

There is no other indicator of the nature of the company, its products, where they could be purchased or who buys them, whatever they are

The company offers a “self-guided” tour to visitors that walks you through a short circular hallway toward the back of the lobby area. Everywhere else is closed to the public without appointment. The “tour” offers wall displays about products that Amway apparently sells. They appear to be the most ordinary of consumer goods that one sees in grocery, convenience, health food stores, malls, or online. But most people have never heard of or would remember the brand names of any Amway products, and no one has ever seen them in a retail store of any kind. 

Have you heard of “Glister” brand toothbrushes? They are highlighted on the Amway tour. A package of four of the Amway/Glister toothbrushes sells for $12.50 or $3.13 each. They look like any toothbrush. Are they special or different? The Amway website states, “Soft and medium bristles help remove plaque even between teeth, and gently massage gums. Flexible neck eases pressure on teeth and gums. Reach hard-to-brush areas with tapered head.” Yes, that’s pretty much what toothbrushes do.

A quick search on turns up a package of six Colgate branded toothbrushes with the typical traits of toothbrushes. It sells for $4.44, or $.74 a brush. Amway’s toothbrush cost four times (400%) more!

Okay, how about the “Atmosphere Sky” home air purifier. Heard of it? It’s the one Amway sells – for $1,590. 

Shopping on Amazon, it’s hard to find an air purifier anywhere nearly this expensive. For New Yorkers in one of the most densely populated cities in America and recently suffering from thick smoke of Canadian forest fires, New York Times recently tested 50 different air purifiers and recommended one that sells for under $200.

So, questions normally arise: how do Amway’s extremely high priced commodities get sold? Where? In today’s hyper-competitive, globally-sourced market, why would anyone buy these unknown products over so many other well-known brands in stores and online and pay these exorbitant prices? 

The largest section of the display highlights vitamin pills branded “Nutrilite”, which, despite not being sold in stores, the display claims are the most “popular” of all vitamin brands in the world – without explaining how this could be. A bottle of 60 capsules of Nutrilite Vitamin C, 500 mg., time-released sells for $20 or $.33 a pill. Taking Amway Vitamin C daily costs $120 a year. offers the well known and respected Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C, same mg. and time-released for $.07 a pill, $25 a year. Amway’s cost nearly 5 times (500%) more!  

Perplexing Questions, No Clues, Paranoid or Real?

These product and sales questions lead to the most perplexing question of all: how could such an enormous facility exist that produces and sells ordinary products that few people have ever heard of, can’t be found in any store, and are uncompetitively priced?

The displays offer no clues to these questions. Billions are claimed in sales with no mention of retail outlets, prices, marketing strategies or product differentiation. To anyone in marketing, sales or distribution, Amway would be an economic mystery.  Taking the self-guided tour would undo everything learned.

Without any background on what Amway is and with so little substantive information offered, one could even be forgiven for suspecting the entire presentation and the large buildings on the “campus” are fake, maybe an elaborate front for a giant money laundering scheme, like Madoff’s “hedge fund” operations that never did stock trades and issued fake quarterly reports.

That would not be paranoia. It is precisely what Amway is being accused of now by federal regulators in India that sued Amway. The products, the suit claims, serve as a mechanism for laundering money obtained in a giant Ponzi scheme, and all its “profits” and “commissions” are therefore illegal. Essentially, the same charges were brought against the company in the United States by the FTC in 1975 and have been brought by “distributors” in civil lawsuits.

But, if you don’t know what Amway is, that shocking information would also be unknown. So, back to the perplexing “self-guided” tour… 

Founders, Famous for What?

Besides the incredibly high priced but utterly ordinary products, there is another prominent presence in the lobby and on the tour. Two men, both deceased, heralded as the founders of Amway, are depicted in life-size photos and cardboard cutouts like legendary historical figures. The lobby is almost a museum dedicated to their work, whatever it was. But, if you don’t know what Amway is, you will likely never have heard of them, any more than you would the brands of the products on display. Strangely, Amway’s current company leaders are not referenced at all.

Why would these two departed people be so exalted for a business selling such ordinary commodity products? Apparently, they did not invent anything, no breakthrough technology, no innovation that changed how we live or shop. They are not a Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison or even Bill Gates. If what they did is historically or economically significant, why does the tour not explain plainly what the company is and what it does?

Facts and Figures

The economic mysteries that the Amway tour raises are answered once some basic facts and figures about the company are discovered. As an author and researcher of “multi-level marketing” and having been contacted by countless Amway distributors over a 20-year span, and having served as expert in court cases against Amway, I am all too familiar with these facts. 

I know that 99.9% of all people, all over the world who have ever invested in the Amway “business” from when it started to today, never gained a net profit. Few remain active in the business more than a year or two. I know that Amway’s “compensation” plan sends most payments, per transaction, to the top 1-5%, dooming all others. I know the Amway pay plan and business model, based on “endless chain” recruiting, and some of its products were copied directly from the previous employer of the Amway founders, called “Nutrilite”. Amway’s future founders worked there for a decade before starting a directly competitive company and taking 5,000 of Nutrilite’s distributors. Later, they acquired what was left of Nutrilite.

I know Amway settled charges and paid the largest fine to date in a criminal tax evasion case in Canada and that Amway is being sued now by regulators in India for running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi and money laundering scheme. I’ve read all the books by former Amway recruits that dramatically detail cult accusations. I have been contacted by many former Amway “distributors” who told me of their ruined families, divorces, foreclosure and bankruptcies that they say stem from being Amway “direct sellers.”

I’ve researched the history of Amway and how it turned its pyramid recruiting model, promising “unlimited income” and “infinite expansion” into a religious crusade, branding those who criticize or quit the company as “pathetic losers.” I know Amway has sued critics. I learned how Amway’s political connections in Michigan were used when the congressman of their home district became president, just when Amway was being federally prosecuted as a pyramid fraud.

As for the marketing mysteries, Amway’s products, it turns out, are mostly sold only to the contract salespeople. Some of them may convince a few family and friends to buy them for a little while. Most never sell any goods to anyone. The company is supposedly based on millions of people gaining profits from retail selling, but I have never encountered anyone who claimed sustainable profits from “direct selling” of Amway goods. 

Factoring lack of consumer interest or need for personal salespeople, the tiny retail profit margin offered to Amway “resellers”, the high prices of the commodities, the lack of product differentiation, the unlimited increase of “sales” people in every area, driven by the hyped-up, recruiting-based income promises and causing excess competition, it is clear that profitable and sustainable “direct selling” of Amway goods is an economic impossibility.

Mystery Customers

Nevertheless, it is indisputable and fully documented that all Amway recruits – tens of millions of people worldwide – buy Amway products, at least for the little while they are under contract. This fundamental piece of information – that the “salespeople” are the primary “customers” – answers the question of why there is no advertising. There are, effectively, no sustainable retail customers, no stable customer base, to advertise to. Salespeople are under contract to Amway as “distributors.” No company needs to advertise to their distributors.

But if nearly all the “distributors” don’t sell and gain no net profit from the Amway “business,” why do they buy, if only for a little while? Why would they pay so much more for Amway’s commodity toothbrushes, vitamin C and air purifiers? Why wouldn’t they just go to stores or shop online like everyone else and enjoy greater choice, much lower prices and more convenience? Without advertising, how do they even find out about these unknown Amway products?

Of course, I know the answer to these questions too, but only after much research and plowing through mountains of disinformation and overcoming my own bewilderment that what I saw could be true.

For those solicited by Amway recruiters and who want to understand what Amway is or anyone who ponders the mysteries raised in the self-guided tour, the questions about the “business” always lead to another set of mysteries. The new questions are not about economics and marketing. Rather, how is it possible that millions of people are induced not only to pay to become “direct sellers” of products that are virtually unsellable on a profitable basis, but to personally buy them. 

Dark Corners, Disbelief, Extreme Irony

That deeper inquiry leads inevitably into areas of criminal law and the corruption and negligence of law enforcement regarding pyramid scheme frauds. It pulls the inquirer into Amway’s origins, its true history, prosecutions, lawsuits, promises of wealth and happiness, and shocking statistics on consumer losses and personal tragedies related to the “business.” It leads into the dark corners of undue influence, Big Lie deception, intimidation, shaming and brainwashing.

The inquiry into the fates and motives of Amway’s “direct sellers”, its main “customers,” takes one into the depths of extreme irony, disbelief, and confusion. Little wonder the “tour” seeks to distract the visitor with toothbrushes and vitamin pills and strangely offers so little about the substance of the company.

To know of Amway’s cult control leading to the separation of many Amway followers from family and life-long friends and their very own identities, and to be aware of the pain and despair of the millions of Amway “losers”, one must stand and ponder in utter amazement the words displayed over the founders’ images in the lobby: Freedom, Family, Hope, and Reward.

Sunday 2 July 2023

'MLM Direct Selling' has been the front for a racket - Robert FitzPatrick presents the often-ignored truth about the real direct selling industry .

Today in the USA and elsewhere, due to many competitive commercial factors (supermarkets, discount stores, Online shopping, etc.) hardly anyone buys consumer goods on his/her door-step. 

Historically, door-to-door direct selling (or what used to be known as peddling) was a very common way of doing business in the USA, but at the start of the 20th century its image was blighted by fly-by-night quacks and charlatans. In an age when most women did not go to work, and even the middle-class had servants to cook, clean and receive visitors, door-step products were invariably cheap and cheerful, and aimed at ordinary housewives. From just before WWI until the 1970s, the 'Direct Selling Association' was a national trade association in the USA that represented (and was only financed by) a number of generally-reputable commercial companies of various sizes. These businesses used to generate profits by regularly selling everyday goods (perfumes, cosmetics, costume jewellery, household products, books, etc.) directly to the general public through salaried, and/or non-salaried, commission agents. Although unethical high-pressure sales tactics were increasingly used by new, and less-reputable, DSA members, in their traditional format, direct retail transactions were authentic and lawful, because they were based on value and demand. Furthermore, the DSA members originally tried to keep fly-by-night quacks and charlatans at bay, and, at one time they agreed that the number of commission agencies for any particular company, should be limited in given geographical/population areas. This common-sense measure was intended to prevent counter-productive internal disputes amongst the sales-force and to enable individual sellers to have a fair chance of finding sufficient loyal customers to make a decent living. 

Today, when examined in splendid isolation by casual observers, the self-proclaimed activities of the corporate structures forming 'Direct Selling Associations' internationally, can appear to be the same as above. However, when the wider-evidence is examined, during the second half of the 20th century (as door-to-door selling died out in the USA and elsewhere) the membership of 'DSAs' came largely to comprise an ever-growing number of so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing/income opportunity' companies ('Amway', 'Herbalife', 'Nu Skin', 'Forever Living Products', etc.) which have been used to dissimulate rigged-market swindles or pyramid schemes. The racketeers behind these counterfeit direct selling companies, have acquired their wealth by steadfastly pretending moral and intellectual authority, whilst deceiving an endless-chain of victims (now comprising countless millions of individuals around the globe) into making regular losing-investments in exchange for effectively-unsaleable commodities (i.e. banal, but grossly-overpriced products, often of a dubious pseudo-scientific nature with highly-exaggerated, and/or miraculous, claimed benefits which cannot be quantified). These transactions, already totalling many billions of stolen dollars, have actually been based on the false-expectation of future reward. However, they have been laundered as lawful retail sales based on value and demand. 

The outrageous 'MLM direct selling'  lie, has been hiding in plain sight for so long: that many people now not only accept it as the truth, but they have laughed out loud at rational persons suggesting that, in reality, so-called 'MLM recruiters' are adherents of the crackpot pseudo-economic theory that  endless chain recruitment +  endless payments by the recruits = endless profits for the recruits. However, it is important for readers to distinguish between short-term participants and chronic, core-believers in the 'MLM income opportunity' fairy story. The overwhelming majority of people who have been taken-in by 'MLM,' have quit within a short time, usually because they find it impossible to convert, and/or maintain, other contributing recruits, and/or they have no cash, or credit, to continue contributing themselves. Since they were invariably recruited by a friend or relative, they have little reason to complain, and they wouldn't know exactly what to say, or where to complain, anyway. 

The accepted annual drop-out rate in groups like 'Amway', 'Herbalife', etc., has always been well in excess of 50%. Those who have persisted for more than 3 years, has been no more than 5%. However, if you ignore the insignificant number of shills at the top of the recruitment pyramids, the overall hidden net-loss/churn rate for paticipation in so-called  'MLM income opportunities,' has always been effectively 100% (by design). Thus, the constant public-proclamations by the boses of the largest, long-established groups like 'Amway'  that their sales-force has always been expanding for decades and lately comprises 'millions of Independent Business Owners conducting billions of dollars of sales annually,' is a grotesque distortion of ever-shifting reality.  

There has been a significant minority of chronic 'MLM' proselytizers, with access to cash or credit, who continue as de facto slave recruiters, sometimes for decades. In many cases, these dangerously-deluded, self-righteous persons will do, or say, anything to sign-up, and/or maintain, recruits - convinced that they will only achieve total financial freedom by helping others to achieve it .They have been indoctrinated to ignore their mounting losses/debts and to commit everything they can get their hands on. Some even steal from their friends and families, and/or deprive themselves, and/or their families, of food, heating, etc. In the very worst cases, gung-ho 'MLM' adherents known as 'Road Warriors' have been indoctrinated to go without sleep and have ended up dead at the wheels of their cars - crashing whilst en route to late-night recruitment meetings.

David Brear (copyright 2023)


International Association to Expose, Study and Prevent Pyramid Schemes
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July, 2023
From: Robert L. FitzPatrick

Dear Readers, Colleagues and Friends,

A Fable, not Fiction

DIRECT SELLING, a Nonfiction Fable, is now published and available on in paperback and Kindle versions.

DIRECT SELLING is a companion book to PONZINOMICS and FALSE PROFITS, but it takes a very different approach.

Just over 100 pages with illustrations, it presents its truths through a timeless story. It is set in a bygone era, when real direct selling still existed, but its lessons are more relevant now than ever.
DIRECT SELLING, a Non-Fiction Fable is about what real direct selling is, in contrast to the false history and claims made by "multi-level marketing" (MLM) recruiters. Real direct selling hardly exists today. Effectively, it went extinct nearly 40 years ago. Who sees door-to-door salespeople anymore? Who would need or want a salesperson coming into their home (or online) to sell commodities?
So how is it possible that more than 20 million are recruited as "direct sellers" into MLMs each year in America? And, why do some who learned from experience or analysis that MLM is pyramid fraud still refer to it as "direct selling"?

Unaware or Intimidated

Most of those recruited today into MLM – believing it to be direct selling – have never seen real direct selling. Many were not even born before it largely disappeared. They never had to make a sale, face-to-face, knowing that if they fail, they can’t pay next month’s bills. They’ve never spent lonely days searching for “prospects” or had doors slammed in their faces. Without that experience or knowledge, they can be cruelly misled by false claims and misrepresentations of direct selling as "opportunity of a lifetime", "no selling required," and the Big Lie that MLM is direct selling. Real direct sellers don't recruit new – and competing – direct sellers.

By dramatically showing what real direct selling was and is, DIRECT SELLING pierces the myth that protects "MLM" from being seen and called out for what it is, a pyramid recruiting scam.

There are some who call MLM "direct selling" even though they realize it is a scam or have directly experienced loss. Why? They have been told, over and over again, that direct selling is the descendant of the revered Yankee Peddler, the purest form of free enterprise. Questioning MLM's "direct selling" identity, they are lectured, impugns "business opportunity", and the entrepreneurial spirit. It is "negative thinking." It also contradicts the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Chamber of Commerce, authorities that declare that MLM is "legitimate." Questioning MLM, they are told, is almost… un-American!

The invented myth of direct selling overwhelms the truth and negates direct experience, confirming the adage that if a lie is told often enough it replaces the truth.
As DIRECT SELLING reveals, real direct selling was never "pure" or patriotic, but brutally hard on the soul, and it could be ruthless and unethical in methods. It was never glamorous, but laborious, routine, and stressful. No one who did it ever believed it was a path to "unlimited" wealth. Few people could withstand the rejections and disrespect, and of those who did so, few wanted to.

Besides stealing direct selling's old identity, multi-level marketing carried forward some of its worst methods of deception used by sales companies to recruit salespeople and by direct sellers trained to pressure customers. These methods – vividly presented in the story – are deviously employed by MLM to manipulate millions into pyramid schemes.

Detour from Livelihood

Beyond a real-life and often darkly humorous depiction of door-to-door sales, DIRECT SELLING confronts the deeper question of vocation and livelihood – the opportunity and the freedom to pursue work in accord with our personal values and talents. This is the true meaning of the American Dream.

The book addresses how that dream can be highjacked by lures of "unlimited" income, "self-employment" and degrading assertions that self-worth is measured in dollars.

DIRECT SELLING is about every person’s quest for meaningful work and personal freedom with integrity, and the forces that would abuse and manipulate that quest, the real "dream stealers."