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Avoid ACN like the plague(r/Edmonton)
*Hello to all the non-Edmontonians/non-Canadians out there. Please keep in mind that given time, pyramid scheme recruiters will adapt and develop new strategies. This “guide” I’ve written was only specific to my experiences in Edmonton, but it’s clearly resonated with those of you who aren’t local. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other pyramid schemes/MLM companies out there, so be sure to do your due diligence. Like the old adage goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is…
Here’s a comprehensive cheat sheet to help you spot a pyramid scheme recruiter. Apologies for the incoming wall of text.
— Did a friend, family member, classmate, co-worker, acquaintance, nice guy from the gym, customer or total stranger ask you out to coffee in order to discuss a unique business opportunity? Is it a time sensitive offer? Is the opportunity only open to a select number of investors? It’s probably a pyramid scheme.
— Or, they might ask you if you ever wanted to own your own business. Or what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about money. If you’d like to retire by the time you’re XX years old… because they just so happen to know someone who actually DID retire young and is now sitting on their ass rolling in “passive/residual income”!
— The most dedicated of pyramid scheme recruiters are typically well dressed and well groomed. We’re talking flashy business suits and wing tips for men, and cocktail dresses and heels for women. You’d think they were hitting an upscale lounge for a New Year’s Eve party or something. THEY ARE TRYING TO CONVEY SUCCESS. Of course, you’ll also get some that are dressed in smart/business casual. You’ll easily recognize a pyramid scheme recruiter when you see them, because they look completely out of place at Starbucks.
— If you do go for coffee with them, try to make them pay for your coffee. They won’t, but force the issue (“C’mon, you’re the one who wanted me to meet with you!”) and watch them try and weasel their way out of it. They probably have a half dozen meetings lined up for the day, so they can’t afford to pay for so many expensive venti lattes. Or, they might pay because they want to keep you happy and more receptive to their scam.
— The recruiters will often “work” in pairs, as a married/engaged/dating couple. This helps make them appear more trustworthy to you. They’ll want you to bring your significant other along to the meeting if you’ve got one. They act VERY, VERY nice and charming and seem like they really want to get to know you and be friends. They’ll pay you inane compliments, like how you seem to them like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and you’re smart and shit. When you arrive for your meeting with them, they’ll greet you with a hug; and another one at the end of the meeting before you leave. It’s a cheap way for them to further build rapport with you. A hug conveys a higher level of personal intimacy and friendship than a mere handshake.
— They will say that they work as mentors, life coaches, entrepreneurs, or business owners. They initially won’t be very specific as to what type of business they run. They will dodge any probing questions you might have.
— They’ll tell you all about their mentors and life coaches, about how successful they are in life (“My mentor owns the most expensive apartment in Seattle!” — an actual quote I heard) and how grateful they are to have been taken under their wings.
— In their first meeting with you, they WILL NOT discuss business. Instead, they will tell you all about themselves — where they grew up, things that they’ve done, and how they’ve become the shining beacon of success sitting before you today. Then, they will try to get to know you and “evaluate” if you’re a good fit for the business — this is pure bullshit, but it makes you believe you have a chance of being qualified enough to join their exclusive club. They are propping up your ego and trying to make you feel special.
— They won’t tell you how they make money. They will never outright say the names of the companies they work for, because they know the negative connotations associated with Amway/World Wide Dream Builders, ACN, World Financial Group, Primerica, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Vector Marketing, etc. They want to get you curious and hooked first.
— They will ask if you’ve ever read any of Robert Kiyosaki’s books — RICH DAD POOR DAD, or THE BUSINESS OF THE 21ST CENTURY. These books have dark purple covers and are easily recognizable. Another book that’s gaining popularity is THE GO-GIVER. In general, be weary of any self-help/financial advice book they try to assign you as homework to read. Reading one single book ≠ a business degree.
— They may try to wow you and tell you about all the conventions they get to fly out to and attend in pseudo-exotic locations… like say, St. Louis! WOW, indeed!
— Do you work a crappy retail job? Are you a server at a restaurant? Are you university-aged (20’s)? Are you in debt? Pyramid scheme recruiters know you’re unsatisfied with your minimum wage job/life (especially in this economy!) and try to exploit your burning desire to “get ahead in life” by acting as a life line.
— Most recruiters are usually Caucasian and in their 20’s or 30’s. I’ve seen them begin to target immigrants from the Philippines and the Afro-Caribbean islands, who presumably have no reason to believe that the well dressed, rich-looking white person offering to share the secrets of wealth with them is actually trying to scam them.
— “It’s not a pyramid scheme!” Instead, they’ll call it multi level marketing (MLM), network marketing, direct selling, referral marketing, etc. They’ll resort to saying all the bad things you’ve read online/heard about Amway are rumors and lies, or were from bitter people who didn’t have what it took to make it in the business.
— They will usually have their coffee shop meetings on weekends and after dinner (~7 PM) on weekdays. That’s because they have day jobs (like pretty much everyone else.) The ironic thing is they won’t hesitate to talk shit about day jobs and how MLM will supposedly free you from the shackles of the 9-5 grind.
— That one friend you have on social media who only ever seems to post motivational quotes and status updates about how hard they’re “killing it”? Odds are pretty decent that they’re involved in a pyramid scheme. Motivational quotes are like scripture to pyramid scheme recruiters.
— When in doubt, use Google and common sense. If someone knew the secrets to financial success, why would they ever share that knowledge with pretty much anyone who crosses their path? Why are they doing YOU such a huge favor? Why is this sharkskin suited yuppie conducting high powered business meetings at the Second Cup if he’s already got it allllllllll figured out? Why won’t he pay for your coffee? Do not for a second believe when they say they want to “pay it forward” or “give back”. Nobody ever offers something in exchange for nothing. Be vigilant and skeptical.