Content Note: This post series talks about companies who utilize multi-level marketing, also known as MLM or pyramid scheme as their business model, and the anti-MLM stance. This post series will also depict real-life interactions on social media between yours truly and someone who’s been caught up in an MLM. I’ve obscured all identifying deets. If you still think you know who the sender is, I want you leave them alone, and leave them to it. Don’t approach them, and don’t cause them any harm. Although I refer to them as hunbots in here, we need to remember that they’re also victims at the end of the day, and when we’re in shitty places, we sometimes do stupid crap that’s outta character for us.
Full disclosure: I got caught up in what I learned was an MLM back in college, one of the lesser evils among the MLM companies. I stuck w/ it for several years, and sold to friends, family, and my mom’s coworkers. I held off on the shop talk unless someone asked about it. I never recruited anyone, since it never felt right to me for some reason I couldn’t put a name to. I’ll say that I ended up breaking even by the time I hung up my hat, and I know I was one of the lucky ones. It coulda ended so much worse.
For many, it does.
In the years that followed, I was neutral toward MLMs, w/ some apathy thrown in, until I came across a YouTuber who puts out anti-MLM content, and the subreddit dedicated to anti-MLM content also.
It brought up memories of a former classmate of mine, Kris, who spent their senior year in dire straits due to funerals, and some ongoing addiction issues going on w/ the adults in their life. Very similar to my own place at the time, only we didn’t have the multiple funerals they had.
It was after we graduated high school, and it was the summer of my first nightmare of a job search, which ended up being rewarded w/ an abusive employer from hell. Kris reached out to us just before our phone was shut off, and they wanted to invite us to this event going on. Since that former classmate isn’t here to defend themselves, and for the sake of anonymity, I’m using they/them pronouns. Kris also isn’t their real name, but we’ll pretend it is for the sake of the story. Kris and I weren’t super close in high school, but we talked quite a bit. I never really saw Kris outside the confines of school, even though they lived in one of the apartment complexes I bike/bus/walk by sometimes.
The first time, Kris and one of their friends from this event, Callie, took me to her place, which was someone’s basement in a house in a different part of town. Callie told us all about the “business opportunity,” and went on and on about how So-and-so was the bee’s knees. I saw the Britt World Wide college-style sticker in the back window of the car she drove, and it honestly looked like she was a college student. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out to be Scamway. They were working on their answer to Amazon, Dixtar, which no longer exists.
Callie, Kris, and I were in the living room part of the basement, and Callie did some kind of sales pitch. She gave us both some of these energy drinks and these glorified candy bars. Kris had already left w/ their family, so it was just Callie and me. Callie left me feeling like she was a long lost friend of mine, and I poured out my life story to her. We finally got to my house, and she told me there was an event going on the next day. Kris’s parents would be by early.
I went into my room, and tried one of the energy drinks. It was horrible, and even that’s giving it too much credit. Then I tried one of the glorified candy bars. This thing sucked donkey balls, and it was like it was made from dog food or something. It was hard as a rock, and I threw what was left of it out the back window for the birds.
Kris’s parents, who I’ll refer to as Hal and Melinda, came by our house to pick me and my mom up in this beat-up late 1980s Bonneville. We all got to talking about our shitty lives, and the mess we were in. Hal and Melinda took us to this conference center in a wholly different part of town I still have no idea how to get to, or even what bus goes by there.
Hal, Melinda, Kris, my mom, and I got there early, like around 8am. We came into the conference room to the super loud music on the speakers, and all kinds of wares on display around the reception area. There was more of those heinous energy drinks that tasted like ass, cranked up to 11. The conference room was packed, and we sat in there for hours on end as this bigshot dressed in a super expensive outfit stood on that stage. They bragged lyrical about how they threw a party when they quit their job, at the company they worked at, no less. They went on and on about their kids, too.
I won’t even name the bigshot or their partner, since they were so high up in the ranks at the time, but at the end of the day, they’re nothing but scammers. The bigshot then took out this laptop computer, and bragged about how it cost like 2 thousand bucks or whatever.
They then shifted their attention to someone in the audience who had 1800 names on their list, and the room erupted in cheers and applause.
It was noon by the time we were allowed a break, and my mom was miserable. Her illness hadn’t yet picked up the momentum, but looking back, her illness was there. More super loud music, more sales pitches.
It was about 5 in the evening when this ended, and we were back at Callie’s place. There, one of the others drew this diagram that took on the form of a triangle. Callie then gave me a form to fill out, and then told me to make a list of names of those I knew.
“She’s really going to town!” said Callie as I wrote down names. Some were actually ppl I knew at one time or another, and others I made up on the spot. I ended up keeping the list, since I didn’t have phone numbers. They were cool w/ that, strangely enough.
Kris’s parents took us home, and they told us all about how Callie and the others we met raised the money to get them into the “business opportunity.” We knew the same thing wasn’t gonna happen for us, and we decided it wasn’t for us. That was the last I saw of Kris until our class reunion, and while I forgot to ask if their parents were still in Scamway, I have a hunch they probably moved on from it. At least I hope they did, no worse for the wear.
I wonder what’s become of Callie in the 18 years it’s been since all that happened. She had nearly nothing to show for all her hard work in Scamway, living in some stranger’s basement. I hope for her sake, she’s made peace w/ whatever she did or didn’t do while she was involved in Scamway, cut her losses, and moved on to greener pastures.
As for the Bigshot and their partner, I haven’t been able to find anything on them beyond a post about their scammy doings on some consumer advocacy website. From what a commenter said in response to the post, Bigshot and their partner have since moved on from Scamway to other equally shady ventures in crypto. I wonder how Bigshot and their partner could even remotely live w/ themselves knowing ppl like Hal and Melinda were suffering so badly in the hopes of being able to get by, and that they made their living off of ppl like Hal and Melinda in the first place.
Fuck Bigshot and their partner, and the horses they both rode in on. They’re serial scammers who deserve each other, and they’re living proof there’s an ass for every seat. I couldn’t live w/ myself, but hey, that’s just me. Anyways, stick around for the next installment, where I’ll be sharing messages and pitch-slaps from MLM hunbots trying to recruit me into their pyramids.
Over to you, readers. Have you ever had a similar experience w/ an MLM or pyramid scheme? Is this something that hits closer to home for you? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop it all like it’s hot and let’s talk.