Helpful Info About MLMs

Learn more about the dangerous practices of Multi-Level Marketing. (Click on a link to jump to that section)

Videos and Films


Further Reading About MLMs

Lists of MLMs (beyond Health & Wellness)

DSA Members on the Naughty List

Videos and Films

Want to watch some great videos that explain why MLMs are so dangerous?

Vice’s Why Women Are Quitting Their Side Hustle: Leaving LuLaRoe


Secrets of the Multi-Level Millionaires by BBC reporter Ellie Flynn (“Ellie Undercover”)

Multilevel Marketing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
A fact-based expose about the dangers of MLMs, including clips from promotional videos and celebrity endorsements.

BBC Stories: Multi-level marketing (MLM): Supporters Vs Critics
An excellent overview of the damage and destruction caused by MLMs in the United Kingdom.

Who Joins MLM Scams?
Ethan Vanderbuilt was interviewed by Robert Hansen of WZRD 88.3 FM radio in Chicago. Listen to the video here:

Multi-Level Marketing: American Dream or Deception? Watchdog, Robert FitzPatrick
David Ortiz interviews Robert FitzPatrick in this really interesting video.

Napoleon Dynamite
This 2004 cult classic portrays a dysfunctional yet hilarious family including Uncle Rico, who gets into some sticky situations with his direct-sales Tupperware venture.

LuLaRoe is a Waste of Money
In this video, GlitterandLazers (aka plus-size fashion & lifestyle blogger and author Anna O’Brien) provides a super-honest review of LuLaRoe. She describes the flaws in construction, design, and quality of LuLaRoe’s products, as well as their lack of accountability in apologizing for their mistakes.

Teen Titans Go! Pyramid Scheme

Betting on Zero: The Ultimate Shakedown
I learned so much about the crafty behind-the-scenes planning of MLMs from this movie. It is written and directed by Ted Braun as he investigates controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman’s journey to expose the massive MLM giant Herbalife.

American Greed on CNBC
This true-crime series narrated by Stacy Keach provides an in-depth look at Ponzi Schemes, White Collar Crimes, Sweetheart Swindles, Religious Fraud, greed, deception, and even murder.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath
MLMs operate with the same fundamental beliefs and ideologies as cults. Scientology (or the “Church” of Scientology) is one of the biggest and most controversial cults in history. In this incredible documentary series, actor and activist Leah Remini exposes the deceptions, intimidation tactics, and abuse done at the hands of Scientology’s leaders.

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Also, check out my articles:

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The Dream
A 12-part series about the history of MLMs, the dangers, and what it’s like to join one.

The Perils of Multi-Level Marketing Programs
This is a fantastic 46-minute podcast interview on WBUR’s OnPoint featuring:

  • Alden Wicker, freelance journalist covering sustainability and personal finance. (@AldenWicker)
  • Bonnie Patten, attorney and executive director of Truth in Advertising, educating the public about deceptive marketing, who has testified before Congress and assisted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in bringing class action lawsuits against multilevel-marketing companies. (@bonniepatten)
  • Christina Hinks, former LuLaRoe distributor who blogs at MommyGyver.  (@MommyGyver)

The Art of Charm podcast interview with Robert FitzPatrick
This is a really intelligent, logical explanation of why MLMs have “hijacked the American Dream.”

Sounds Like MLM But OK Podcast
Although a bit irreverant and crass, this awesome show is hosted by quirky consumer advocates Sasha Zazzi (a licensed funeral director) and Katie Young (a licensed esthetician).

That’s a Cult? Podcast Ep. 2: MLM Schemes
This podcast by British journalist Helen McCarthy sheds light on a variety of schemes and scams. In episode 2, she interviews MLM truth-seekers Elle BeauJohn Evans of Juice Plus / MLM Lies Exposed, and Jerome from The Finance Guy.

That’s a Cult has a resource page that includes a TON of helpful links as well.

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Further Reading About MLMs

The Globe and Mail opinion article Multilevel Marketing Sells a Dream. Don’t Buy It

Mario’s Blog (Mario De’Cristofano) wrote a great piece called Why MLM is a Disaster

Career Contessa (Caileen Kehayas Holden) shared What is Multi-Level Marketing + Why Women Are Targets

HuffPost wrote an article about Moms, Mormons, and the Military: MLMs Are A Nightmare For Women And Everyone They Know. Multilevel marketing companies sell women on the dream of being their own boss, yet as many as 99% may end up losing money.

Vanity Fair wrote This Podcast Can’t Legally Tell You Amway Is a Pyramid Scheme. Get an exclusive early listen to The Dream, hosted by Jane Marie, which digs into the under-explored world of multi-level marketing schemes.

The Guardian shared an excellent article about the cultish grip of MLMs: “They have you in a cultish grip”: the women losing thousands to online beauty schemes

From writer Jessica Wood at Medium: The Lies of the Bossbabes — How MLMs are Holding Back Feminism

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a whole section dedicated to its guidelines on Multi-Level Marketing.

The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) wrote a Position Paper on Multilevel Marketing of Health Products.

Dr. Jon Taylor is a strong MLM opponent who has written extensively about the flaws and deceptions used by predatory businesses. He wrote a very compelling article called “The Case (for and) against Multi-level Marketing.

Dr. Taylor has presented the FTC with a list of 81 members of the Direct Selling Association who qualify as a Product-Based Pyramid Scheme per the FTC’s guidelines. For even more, check out Dr. Taylor’s in-depth study which has been shared by the FTC.

Forbes Magazine published a Corporate Scandal Sheet in 2002, which provides a wealth of knowledge.

MLM-the-Truth has an extensive collection of documents, articles, and research about the dangerous tactics used by Multi-Level Marketing companies.

The Economist wrote a piece about China’s crackdown on MLMs. Chinese official call these types of businesses “business cults.” Victims held a rally in Beijing in 2017, and hundreds of MLMs have been closed down.

David Brear is an author and anti-MLM campaigner who wrote a detailed article about the cult-like dangers of MLMs

One More Cup of Coffee by blogger Nathaniell Brenes has a fantastic overview of why the term “Home-Based Business” is so closely tied to MLMs, and the reasons it is an unsustainable structure.

Business Insider article “5 Signs that MLM “Opportunity” Might Be a Scam”

Reddit has an awesome message board called “antiMLM.”

Finance Guy shared the details of why only a few people in the MLM pyramid make most of the money, while everyone else pays into the system.

The Anti-MLM Coalition is a group of individuals who are passionate about ending deceptive and predatory business practices of MLM companies.

BotWatch has a wealth of resources about MLM practices including Investigations, a Directory of MLM companies, and MLM in the News

Ethan Vanderbuilt has a scam-buster who has written some fantastic reviews (see his Index of Scams for a complete list)

Income Disclosure StatementsTracy Coenen, CPA, CFF of Sequence Inc. has gathered the income disclosure statements of many MLMs, which clearly show that their promise of “unlimited income” is deceptive; most contractors earn minimum wage or less (not counting their overhead costs, which is often more than their annual earnings).

That’s Normal shared an article called Everyone Hates Your MLM

The Art of Manliness published an awesome post, So You (Or Your Wife) Wants to Join a Multi-Level Marketing Company

Pyramid Scheme Alert founded by deception and fraud expert and anti-MLM advocate Robert FitzPatrick

False Profits blog, started by deception expert Robert FitzPatrick, has an article called “The 10 Big Lies of Multi-Level Marketing

Pink Truth (facts and opinions about Mary Kay Cosmetics) 99% of Distributors Lose Money in Multi-Level Marketing

Elle Beau, an Anti-MLM Coalition blogger and Former Younique (#Poonique) rep, shared a 15-chapter story about her MLM experience

The Atlantic published an article by Darlena Cunha called Beware of Selling Yoga Pants on Facebook(subtitled Is the social-media gig economy a form of entrepreneurship, fraud—or something else entirely?)

Quartz Media journalist Alden Wicker (who founded Ethical Writers & Creatives) shared the powerful article Multilevel-Marketing Companies Like LuLaRoe are Forcing People Into Debt and Psychological Crisis

A (MLM) Skeptic is a fantastic site with tons of articles and investigative articles about MLM scams. I especially enjoyed the article MLM Basics: Why are there so many names for MLM?

Talented Ladies Club has shared several helpful and well researched pieces including Thinking of joining an MLM? Read the truth behind the ‘income opportunity’ and The 10 ugly truths MLMs don’t want you to know

Bloomburg Businessweek wrote an in-depth article about fashion MLM LuLaRoe: Thousands of Women Say LuLaRoe’s Legging Empire Is a ScamListen to an interview about this at Here&Now.

Ways to Avoid Scams Online has a great article, I Confidently Can Say, MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) is a Scam

MLM Watch

Behind MLM

Ripoff Report

PBS’s American Experience has a great segment on the history of Direct Sales. article about the Direct Sales Model through history

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Lists of MLMs (beyond Health & Wellness)

I’ve collected a compendium of MLM and Network Marketing companies in the Health & Wellness space. Read it here.

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If you’re interested in MLM companies that focus on other industries (finance, vacations, foods, jewelry, fragrance, wine, appliances, household products, etc.), check out the awesome resources below:

MLM the Whole Truth has collected a massive list of Network Marketing Companies.

QuackWatch shares a list of Promoters of Questionable Methods and/or Advice

Financial Industry Scam has an extensive list of MLMs, including details on FTC cases and investigations.

The DSA (Direct Selling Association) list of members. (Side note: I do not believe the DSA is a reliable source of “trustworthy” direct sales and MLM companies, since many of their members are also on the FTC’s “Pyramid Scheme Watch List)

Host a Party Online has a list of Direct Sales Companies specializing in the party/host sales technique.

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DSA Members on the “Naughty List”

The Direct Sales Association (DSA) is a “national trade association for companies that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers.”

Several DSA members are engaging in potentially unethical and/or fraudulent practices, per a report on “Product-Based Pyramid Schemes” that go against FTC guidelines (Exhibit 2, on page 8).

The following companies are members of the DSA and also fit the FTC’s “Pyramid Scheme” guidelines:

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Complete List MLM Companies


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