[Bot Watch:] Fed up of the scamming MLM companies you come across?
Is it time you took a stand and took your interest further than just observing from a horrified distance?
If you would like to join the Anti-MLM Coalition in our fight, let’s get down to business! Here are some things you can do…
[Elle Beau:] Hey Bot Watch, before you begin, I’ve got the perfect meme for this…
[Bot Watch:] Trust you, Elle! 😉
Now, where was I…
Visit our Shop
Yes – we now have our very own store, with Zazzle! Take a look.
From t-shirts to mugs (and informative business cards), take a look and show your support for the #antiMLMmovement. The small profit from any sales will go towards helping us cover the costs of running the MLMtruth.org website and other services we use in our work.
For DIY fans, we also have some free downloadable PDFs so you can print our business cards at home!
First things first, visit our Templates page and download yourself a free banner.
Join Twitter (if you haven’t already) and follow the people/ sites that are likely to offer up-to-date information on MLM developments – we’re there on @antimlmwriters. If you are new to Twitter, have a look at this Wikihow article on how to get started.
(Hint: You can find our Twitter handles on the Coalition members page).
I have compiled a list of people/organisations to get you started on your Twitter mission. If you subscribe to the list, you will see all the valuable tweets they make. Add in some companies or people that you have an interest in as well. Make sure you also follow other non-MLM people/ pages of interest, otherwise you will be inundated with depressing tweets. Follow your favourite companies, actors, musicians to balance out the dark stuff. ‘Faces In Things’ is quite funny if you need a distraction.
Take a stand and comment on MLM tweets, showing up their lies. Tell people in MLMs that are making health claims that they are wrong (follow Emma for inspiration!). Follow the MLM companies’ official accounts so you can see what they are up to.
Retweet tweets that need to be heard, so that awareness can be spread to your followers.
Using Twitter as an anti-MLMer can be a passive or active activity. You can join in the arguments, retweet stuff, or just watch and gain information to stay up to date.
Join Facebook (if you haven’t already) and interact with the pages and groups that are likely to offer up-to-date information on MLM developments.
(Hint: You can find our own Facebook pages on the Coalition members page).
Join Juice Plus/MLM Lies Exposed Here, people post things they have seen and heard about MLMs, and there is often quite an enthusiastic discussion on the posts. It reveals the deceptive practices and obvious lies that people tell to try and recruit or sell their products.
Check out Timeless Vie, another Anti-MLM Coalition ally. Their original page was taken down due to people reporting them for using that well known hate/ racist word ‘Hun’. This ‘Emergency Shelter’ page is their back-up. They offer support and information to victims of MLMs, as well as being a parody of a well-known aloe MLM. 😉
Join Sounds like MLM but OK This international group has over 12,000 members, so there is a wealth of information posted.
(Hint: You can find our own Instagram links on the Coalition members page).
You could join in or observe discussions about MLMs, asking questions or sharing knowledge you have. You are sure to learn a lot here.
- Mumsnet This link will take you to the ‘money matters’ page. From here, look for the thread that contains the words ‘MLM botwatch’. The people here are very knowledgeable and you are welcome to join in and ask questions/ make contributions.
- Reddit have popular subreddits where MLM subjects are discussed. Notable ones are /r/antiMLM and /r/Youniqueamua (who were kind enough to make Elle Beau their patron saint!)
- Pink Truth is centred around the Mary Kay MLM but they have a good forum.
Report, Report, Report!
If you see an illegal health claim or dodgy advert for an MLM product you know is banned, report them. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK are the people to report advertising infringements to. They have advice on their website about what you can complain about. In the US, it is the FTC you need to complain to.
If you see an MLM is due to appear at an event, try complaining to the organisers, warning them of the MLM’s intention. If they are sponsoring an event, complain. Let people know about the event and complain, and others can also let their feelings be known. You can use these letter templates to draft your letter. If you want to remain anonymous, pass on the information to us here and we can complain about it. Make a noise. Tell people on Twitter, write letters, email, mention it on forums. If you want to explain to organisers why MLMs are a BAD THING, you can copy and paste from this piece or give them the link.
If you see someone in an MLM making claims or doing something dodgy, confront them or report them to their own MLM. MLMs have compliance departments that investigate dodgy behaviour. They are very quick to sanction people. So much for them being ‘independent business’ people! I try not to go down this route because people are often the unwitting victims and do not know what they are involved in. Sometimes, however, it is justified. Use your judgement.
If you see a scheme that is behaving like an illegal pyramid scheme you can report them to the police at Action Fraud via the phone or online. If a business is operating without having customers or breaks any of the pyramid scheme laws, they can be reported for investigation.
If you see an MLM being peddled in a Facebook group, speak up on the post if possible. Ideally before lots of people start asking for information. Let the admins know about MLMs and why they should be banned from the group. The admins might be interested to hear about the anti-MLM seal of approval from Timeless Vie. More about it from Elle Beau’s perspective here. The more people are exposed to seeing dissent against MLMs, the easier it will be for others to speak out too.
You can complain to Trading Standards if you see dodgy business dealings going on. Are products not what they should be? Are people being scammed by making payments and not getting the products? Are promises made and not honoured? Complain.
Have you been the victim of a pyramid scheme? Do you suspect a company is an illegal pyramid scheme? Is there a dodgy financial scam going on? Report to Action Fraud in the UK which is a branch of the police. In the US, look up on this page where you can report different types of scams to.
Share your experience
Tell your story and help spread the truth. Make sure there’s lots of evidence out there for people researching joining one of these schemes. Make sure that the truth outweighs the propaganda. You can do this in a number of ways-
- If you are a talented writer, consider telling your side of things. Either write for us as a guest writer or start your own blog. If you want your story told but don’t want your name revealed, we can post it for you anonymously on this website. Just check our guidelines and get in touch.
- Not a writer? Consider giving us a brief rundown of what happened or what information you have so you can go on our database. You never know – you might be needed when a reporter contacts us, looking for people to interview. This happens quite regularly. Unfortunately we are often not able to find people who are willing to help. This means the story doesn’t get written. It would be really useful to have you on our list, along with details of whether you need to anonymous or not. Drop us a message through our contact form.
- Add your voice to our Twitter discussions or website forums, and make sure people hear what you have to say.
Share your expertise
Do you have any skills or knowledge that you think might help the cause? Do you think your professional knowledge might be useful to us? Could you act as a consultant for us and help us with technical aspects for articles and investigations we might be undertaking?
Maybe you could help us with a bit of your time, sending emails for us to MLMs making enquiries, researching stuff on the internet for us, being our eyes and ears.
Perhaps you’ve got a good idea for a blog post or would even like to write an article for us. We’d love to hear from you.
Recognise an MLM/Pyramid scheme
To be a true Bot Watcher, you need to make sure you know what you are looking at. If you see a company and you suspect it may be an MLM, you could look it up on my own Directory of MLMs. If it isn’t there, it still might be an MLM, but just hasn’t been put on the list yet (there’s so many).
If you Google the name of the company, followed by ‘MLM’, often you will get loads of results, if it is one. Look for posts of people trying to recruit into it.
The key things you are looking for are-
1. There is usually a mention of a ‘compensation plan’ instead of a wage or hourly rate.
2. Look for terms like ‘team building’ or ‘recruiting’ or a chance to grow your team.
3. Are there pictures of cruises, holidays, cars, piles of money? Promises of what you can obtain if you join?
4. Search for the company on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. Are the sellers using a lot of emojis and unable to spell correctly? They may be making outrageously incorrect statements or just seem dodgy.
5. Do not rely on websites that claim “it is not a scam or pyramid scheme” if they then try and get you to join. It is a very common thing to see people put titles on posts such as ‘Is company X a scam?’ or ‘Don’t join company X until you read/watch this’. These are always written by people in the schemes trying to trick people who are suspicious and change their minds to join them. Don’t fall for it.
6. If in doubt, contact us. We’ll get back to you pretty quickly with an answer. Then, I can add the details of the company onto the Directory.
Learn what you can about these schemes. Have a look at some blogs on the subject, read some books, watch some programs or short YouTube clips to learn more. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Check These Websites Out
Each of the Anti-MLM Coalition members has their own website, full of valuable information for any dedicated Bot Watcher. Of course, also we strongly recommend you view the websites for our Allies too.
- Pyramid Scheme Alert is a consumer organisation that confronts the abuses of MLMs. Full of information.
- Truth IN Advertising (TINA) is an American website that fight false and misleading advertising. As such, there are many mentions of MLM scams.
- False Profits by Robert L. FitzPatrick, an MLM academic, coalition ally and expert witness on the subject.
- MLM The American Dream Made Nightmare by David Brear gives detailed analysis on the subject. He’s been researching MLM for over 20 years.
Videos to watch
Betting On Zero is a very informative documentary that looks at Herbalife and the deceptive practices that go on. It also looks at the financial battle going on with the company’s shares. It’s more interesting than I’m describing here! You can stream this film on Netflix or buy on iTunes. Here is a free trailer for it.
The Checkout is an Australian consumer affairs television series. We highly recommend their “Opportunity Knocking” satirical look at MLMs, and Zoë Norton Lodge‘s “Door Knockers” song and dance about Arbonne.
This episode of John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ takes a satirical look at multi-level marketing, focusing on Herbalife (but the message applies to all MLMs).
How to spot a pyramid scheme video. This explains the basics of how pyramid schemes/MLMs work. 6 mins 21 seconds long.
Check Our Reading List
The following recommended books are sure to be found at your local library, or via any e-reader service. Alternatively, we have provided the links to each book on Amazon, to give you a general idea of where you can purchase a copy.
Steven Alan Hassan (born 1954) is an American mental health counsellor who has written on the subject of mind control and how to help people who have been harmed by the experience. He has been helping people exit destructive cults since 1976 [Wikipedia].
- Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback – 28 Mar 2015) by Steven Hassan
- Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs (Paperback – 14 Jun 2012) by Steven Hassan
Robert L. FitzPatrick
- False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes (Paperback – 1 May 1997) by
- Merchants of Deception (Paperback – 23 Oct 2009) by Eric Scheibeler (former Amway ‘Emerald’ Distributor)