And the Leaves that are Green Turn to Brown - MLM Penny Auctions
By Jeffrey Babener, © 2012 / 2013
And the leaves that are green turn to brown
And they wither in the wind
And they crumble in your hands….
– Simon and Garfunkel
The recent SEC prosecution and demise of MLM penny auction business, Zeek Rewards, followed by dramatic
changes in other copycat MLM penny auction programs, is the latest in a cycle that too often hits the MLM/Network
Marketing/Direct Selling industry.
See the SEC complaint against ZeekRewards. [PDF] Or, read the FULL TEXT online.
In general, the scenarios of pyramid schemes have roots going back more than 40 years to Dare to Be Great, a
program in which individuals were invited to pay $5,000 to attend training seminars, where they were trained to go
find others to pay $5,000 to attend the training seminars, and so on. In recent years, modern day pyramid versions
of Dare To Be Great are merely variations of the same thing. In the cycle, which often lasts 12 to 24 months,
reaching a crescendo in the last 6 months prior to shut down, individuals are hyped to pay large sums of money for
worthless products or services, overpriced products or services, or even “air,” intangible rights, licenses, or online
service packages. Huge commissions are paid for finding others to do the same. Companies camouflage the
pyramid schemes, claiming to be legitimate network marketing companies. Sometimes they “drop” names of so
called industry experts, pundits, leaders, or even attorneys, who seem to be complicit in allowing their association
to create a veneer of legitimacy.
In the excitement of the “quick money,” prospects “buy into” the illusion… to a point that, when the pyramid
collapses or is shut down by an AG, FTC or SEC, they are not sure whether their anger should be directed toward
the promoters of the pyramid, and a top cadre of “pied piper,” “heavy hitters” and “industry celebrity cheerleaders
with financial interests,” or whether they should accept the promoters defense that the demise is the result of
overzealous government regulators.
Unfortunately, the “rationalization” is a delusion, and surprisingly, many individuals, so called MLM Junkies, who live
at the periphery of the legitimate direct selling industry, are too quickly pulled in to the next “great opportunity,” and
unfortunately, they bring with them many honest, hard working networkers who are caught up in the hysteria.
Legitimate companies find some of their best talent lured away – momentarily – until the collapse of the pyramid
schemes, hoping that the next scam will not come along for a while.
But they keep coming and the cheerleaders keep cheering. They follow in the recent tradition of Gold Unlimited,
SkyBiz, Equinox, Renaissance the Tax People, and most recently the onslaught of the MLM penny auction
programs. And in the end, human greed for the quick money may be the answer, or as Shakespeare explained in
Julius Caesar, the fault Dear Brutus in is not the stars, but in ourselves.
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