Have You Ever Been The Victim Of A Pyramid Scheme?
Jodie and I used to be really close friends until she got involved in an MLM. It all started when her mother ran into some financial trouble. The uncertainty about money coupled with a precarious home life proved to be the perfect petri dish for her recruitment in one of the world’s largest Multi-Level Marketing schemes.
It wasn’t long before Jodie followed in her footsteps, none the wiser. This, along with the growing prevalence of pyramid schemes, made me wonder about the profile of a recruiter. More specifically, I wanted to explore the common tactics many pyramid scheme recruiters use, hoping to help others avoid falling into a financial trap.
Anyone can be a pyramid scheme recruiter: a close friend, an acquaintance, a neighbor or a complete stranger that seems entirely too comfortable about approaching you. Here are 10 signs that can help you spot these pyramid schemers before it’s too late.
1. The Looks and the Motivational Quotes
Looking attractive and sharing motivational quotes are two universal things, but they stand out when it comes to potential pyramid scheme recruiters. If you meet them face to face and they look well put together, sporting nice accessories you might think nothing of it at first. On social media, pyramid scheme recruiters are also prone to sharing inspiring quotes that on the surface seem innocent.
So, what’s the harm? The issue lied when these people are trying to portray a lifestyle that makes others think they want to be like them, think like them. It’s no wonder, we see successful people every day and aspire to reach the same hights. Nothing wrong with that, and we shouldn’t brush others off simply because they seem so well put together.
Bud definitely keep in mind all these small details and if they seem to correlate with everything else on the list, run for the hills!
2. The Three Golden Words
Pyramid scheme recruiters will avoid telling you what company they’re working for form the get-go. The truth is, they’re probably aware of the bad names MLMs have gotten over the years and they’ll want to hook you in before dropping anything that could scare you.
What are they going to say, instead? That this is a unique business opportunity. In all honesty, those words don’t sound all that bad but think about it. What business worth their salt would avoid disclosing their name? The answer: they don’t. If a company has nothing to hide, they shouldn’t use shady tactics in order to lure unsuspecting employees or partners.
The phrase also works wonders in attracting people who are down on their luck but want to climb socially. The fact that it’s ‘unique’ is also a strategy of stroking someone’s ego, to make them feel special and valuable.
3. Won’t Talk about Details
Apart from the name of the company they’re representing, pyramid scheme recruiters will also avoid giving you details about their business model. This can be especially confusing for two groups of people:
Young folk who are just entering the job market. More often than we’d like to think, businesses like wrapping their offers in pretty bows. They do this in order to make them sound as appealing as possible. It’s only later on that younger people realize what they’ve applied for and by then, they will have already invested a lot of time and energy on the prospect of their new job.
The second category revolves around older people who are only ever used to one specific field. If you don’t have any background in marketing and sales, chances are you’re going to feel a little confused and blame it on your inexperience instead of on the lack of details you’re provided.
By making these avoidance, pyramid scheme recruiters are banking on your lack of knowledge and willingness to learn more from them.
4. The Fear of Speaking Up
One way or another, you’re going to eventually find out what you’re being recruited into. Sometimes pyramid scheme recruiters will ask you to join them for a presentation, typically at their house. That’s likely also when you’ll notice they’re trying to sell their amazing products to you so you can ‘try them out for yourself.
These meetings take place with larger groups of people in order to hinder an individual’s need to speak up. Research has been done on crowd conformity and MLMs won’t shy from applying such tactics. In a group setting, especially when participants are gullible and willing to do whatever it takes in order to earn money, people are far less likely to ask questions.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll have avoided the whole charade early on, so you don’t have to waste any more time.
5. Dispelling Rumors
“It’s not a pyramid scheme!” is something you’ll hear very often. If you’re even remotely aware of the bad reputation these businesses have and chose to bring up any concerns, pyramid scheme recruiters will be quick to correct you.
They’ll never admit to any wrongdoing and instead will pin the blame on rumors and bad actors spreading misinformation. What’s more, they’ll even remind you of the comfortable lifestyle they’re leading as proof.
Just keep in mind that they will have been informed what excuses to use in case anyone shares any doubt.
6. Clever Rhetoric
Pyramid scheme salespeople have a lot of tools at their disposal. Convincing you to buy their products is their bread and butter and they aren’t just doing it with the latest deals, they’re doing it by using clever language.
LML recruiters know this all too well. They’ll rely on empathy by hinting that they were once in your position too. If they feel you’re not convinced they’ll mention how ‘a lot of people feel or felt the same’. ‘Believe me’ or ‘trust me’ are also prevalent. Masterfully combining these tactics will make them look more trustworthy and down to Earth.
Watch out for the distinctions they make about those who have joined their group and those who haven’t. The language they use when mentioning the former will be sprinkled with positive words. On the other hand, they might show remorse over those who they’ve lost to show how much they care.
7. Notions Around 9-5 Jobs
MLMs rely heavily on the notion of working for yourself. That, coupled with spending as little time as possible to grow your business, thus having more time for your dreams, are very clever tactics. More often than not they’ll make 9-5 jobs sound atrocious.
Here’s the catch, pyramid scheme recruiters are probably working 9-5 jobs themselves in order to actually support themselves. It’s not even farfetched to think you might meet a recruiter in the office!
Keep an eye out for when they mention they’ll be available next. If it’s during the evenings or weekends, try to see if they’ll agree to earlier meetings during the week. If they’re adamant that they can’t or only offer up typical lunch times, chances are they’re at their regular job but don’t want you to find out.
9. Infuriatingly Friendly
The bottom line is that pyramid scheme recruiters don’t just want you to join the company because they think you’re a great fit. They get commissions out of anything you buy and sell so it’s in their best interest to try and convince you. Why else do you think they’ve targeted you?
In order to do so, they’ll come off as extremely friendly. They don’t want to alienate potential targets so their friendliness might be off the charts. I’m not saying you should avoid cheerful people in general because of this, but I do think you should take a step back and look at your interactions objectively.
If it seems like they’re going way out of their way to make you feel more comfortable and welcome, ask yourself if it’s within normal bounds.
8. Success, Mentorship, Entrepreneurship
You’ll hear nothing but praise for the business. Most times, pyramid scheme recruiters will refer to themselves as entrepreneurs. They’ll probably put forward a rags to riches story to make you feel like you, too can achieve what they’ve achieved.
Mentorship is also a huge talking point. Most pyramid scheme recruiters will glorify their mentors, tell you what fancy new cars they’re driving, where they live, how happy they are. All of this while not so subtly implying that if you work hard and have fun doing it, you’ll follow in their footsteps.
Not only that, but some recruiters will give so much praise and then ask if you wouldn’t like to mentor someone else eventually. Sharing knowledge and fortune with others is made to sound like a higher calling in order to make you feel even more empowered.
Bragging about Conferences and Trips
The biggest MLMs on the market frequently organize conferences and trips and I guarantee you, you’ll never stop hearing about them. At times the destinations sound truly glamorous, making you think that they’re easily attainable. Other times they’ll make even the blandest trips sound like the adventures of a lifetime.
It all depends on your individual perception, so take everything with a grain of salt.
10. Fantasizing about Financial Stability
There is a chance that pyramid scheme recruiters won’t just outright ask you to fantasize about your financial stability. Some might do it subtly by pointing out their own and how easy it was to achieve, supposedly. Others will ask you questions about where you see yourself.
‘Wouldn’t you like to…’
‘Wouldn’t it be freat if…’
‘Don’t you wish….’
They’ll make you think theirs is their only solution and that you’re extremely privileged to have this opportunity. Everything will tie in at this point. Keeping rumors at bay while describing their incredible lifestyles is how they operate.
So don’t allow yourself to be fooled by these tactics. If you’re in a hard place, it’s very easy to fall prey. Susceptible people have fallen for these tricks by the hundreds and many of them have immense financial burdens because of them.
So, what happened to Jodie? Well, we lost touch. I couldn’t speak to her without her trying to sell me stuff and last I heard she moved to a different country to keep on recruiting, often with great difficulty and with financial support from distant family members.
Do you have any experience with pyramid scheme recruiters? Share them and help others avoid them before it’s too late! I’d love to hear from you in the comments! If you want to learn some more on the subject, Amazon can help you out. Check out: How to Avoid Pyramid Schemes and Find a Good Network Marketing Opportunity
We hope this article was beneficial to you. And if you’re looking for another interesting read, we highly suggest: 13 Amazing Ways to Save Money on Education, Banking, and Investing!