Dateline investigation - "In Pursuit of the Almighty Dollar" (2004)

'Pyramid schemes': Illegitimate businesses that enrich themselves not from product sales but off of their own salesmen/women. They attract people with promises of easy money and keep them through cult-like tactics.

What are cult-like tactics?

- Increase separation of target with family through constant meetings until a wedge is formed between family and cult ("trust us -- they don't understand you like we do")

- Total obedience and trust in hierarchical structure -- emotions based conditioning ("this is the BEST way, it is the ONLY way... Listen to what this guy has to say, he is the leader, he is a success, and he KNOWS what he's talking about. Everyone that listens to him and does exactly what he says will succeed").

- Condition followers to express hostility toward ANY criticism

- Greater monetary demands over time (fees, donations)

- Constant, repetitive slogans invoked every single meeting ("We cannot be without you and me").

- Constant calls for recruitment ("the most important thing you can do is recruit your friends, bring your family! Absolute strangers aren't as good -- why not make it easy and bring someone you know!")


Lasrever: I know people that are still stuck in cults like Amway/Quickstar. There are even friends in my life still brainwashed by Quickstar who spend enormous amounts of time/money on this scam.

If someone you care about is involved please teach them about 'pyramid schemes': "The essential idea behind each scam is that the individual makes only one payment, but is promised to somehow receive exponential benefits from other people as a reward. A common example might be an offer that, for a fee, allows the victim to sell the same offer to other people, or receive bonuses through other people they refer. Each sale includes a fee to the original seller.

Clearly, the flaw is that there is no end benefit; the money simply travels up the chain, and only the originator (or at best a very few) wins in swindling his followers. Of course, the people in the worst situation are the ones at the bottom of the pyramid: those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves. To embellish the act, most such scams will have fake referrals, testimonials, and information."

This is not something to be taken lightly if someone you care about is involved. If you know someone that is already involved read the list on what cults do to brainwash people and see if there's a corroboration.
- video encodings still in process -