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Pyramid Schemes: How They’re Hidden and How to Know You Should Get Out


In this day and age in the digital world, new opportunities are presenting themselves on every web page and spam email. A not-so-new opportunity arising are jobs with “flexible schedules” and are “fully online”. Did you know that these specific jobs can cause you to actually lose money rather than make any sort of profit?

A common thread of these “Multi-Level Marketing” Companies is that they target mainly women immediately once they graduate high school. They recruit online through their sellers and “boss babes”, or independent women who work for themselves and sell “their” products, who want to get more people on their teams to sell, sell, sell. You’d be surprised how many people fall for these things – and there’s no question why. The tempting idea that you can make money straight from your phone on your own hours selling and recruiting more people to do the same thing is so convenient. The problem is that these companies are riddled with problematic histories and continuously harmful actions. Below is a list of more common MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) Companies around the triangle that I personally have seen friends and peers succumb to.

  • Arbonne

  • Vector Marketing

  • Young Living Essential Oils

  • Scentsy

  • Younique

  • Mary Kay

  • Cutco

  • HerbaLife

  • Monat

  • Juice Plus (Juice+)

These companies go by a few different names, so if you see a company you work for listed, don’t come after me saying “but that’s not how it really is – I work for myself and it’s my company-“ But no you don’t. The purpose here isn’t to shame those who are in pyramid schemes, but to bring light to the business model and their harmful practices and why they should be avoided in the long run.

A few of the ones local to the triangle that don’t seem as bad are Mary Kay, Juice+, Cutco, and Vector Marketing- so why are these companies still harmful?

The fact you have to pay for your inventory

You shouldn’t have to pay for the inventory of product that you’re selling. In normal jobs, the sellers are given the product to distribute and in turn, they sell it for the price and will make a share of the profit of that product. Many companies, like Cutco, will make you buy some $99.00 “starter kit” that you have to sell for a jacked up price in order to make any money at all. Considering these are essentially AliExpress knives that the “boss babes” are trying to sell at Wusthof prices, there’s a reason people don’t become returning customers. Check out the reviews of what is described as a 'ponsy scheme' by some users.

The actual breakdown of profits within the company

It’s no secret that the top percentage of employees within certain MLM’s can afford a Tesla and get free trips – but that’s really just a few people at the top. I have friends’ moms who are happily working for these companies – but they’re in the smallest fraction of the top percentile that makes an incredible amount of profit. What a lot of people don’t hear about is the general majority of those who may make up to around $90.00 per MONTH. A lot of the breakdown for Monat specifically is seen through pinterest photos by people linking the official Monat website to the image with positive “#monatpartner” tags along with it. Seeing as these people are coming from a positive outlook on the company, there’s no way to spin these direct listings of profit as biased against their employer. What can be more alarming is the fact that even as a Market Mentor, someone in the top half of positions, can only make up to around $48,000-$50,000 ANNUALLY – and this is only if you last long enough in the company to work your way up the pyramid.

The Bad Reputations and Lawsuits

If it isn’t enough to see the monthly breakdown of paychecks, the sheer amount of lawsuits and reputations these companies harbor should at least give concern to look into your employer more. Since the last point touched on Monat, let’s dive more into their reputation as a brand of hair care. Monat is a brand that highlights how their products do wonders for hair – especially those with curly hair. The pictures they provide for Before and After shots look enticing, except that those aren’t the real consumers of their product. A shocking amount of sources display how the products damage hair, can cause hair loss, and even scalp issues. The Women’s Health website has an article accounting real women who have used the products and given their real feedback for their experience – some of which are even pursuing legal action. They provide the fact that there are over 500 complaints filed under the Better Business Bureau in South Florida alone.

Another company with staggering lawsuits would be Young Living. They are an essential oil company that pushes the fact that their oils can help cure illnesses and diseases rather than real scientific medical practices. The article Class Action published details why there are some lawsuits being created as well as how to add your own.


If you want to look into more lawsuits about these MLM’s, they’re all public information and can be found online. 


Money Trickles Down

If you work in a company where the money goes through everyone in higher positions before you, this is a sign. Typically, if you sell a product, you get a cut of the profit. In these companies, your boss gets a cut because they recruit you. After your boss, their boss gets a cut because they recruited your boss, and it goes on forever. Typically, the highest up gets the most money and that’s why they make the most overall. What I just described happens to be a Pyramid Scheme. Some of you may be angry and want to defend your job and company, and that’s fine. What really matters is to get you thinking about how your company runs itself and to investigate further.

So why did I write this article? To spread more awareness on these companies. I am in no way trying to tell people they’re stupid for following and being employees of them, but I do want to bring light to why in the long run they are not good options in the long run. I know this only touched on a few things, but I just wanted to get it out there that almost all of these MLM companies have all of the issues stated above and typically much more.


As someone who watches a lot of Anti-MLM videos on YouTube, obviously I have a bias. I personally believe that these companies need to be taken down and that their employees deserve better. In these videos, there are sources in the description and they most often are coming from former employees’ accounts of working there and public information about the company that are typically stating cold hard facts.

I know I follow a lot of women who have been roped into these companies and truly believe in the work that they do- and that’s great for them! However, being someone in the underclass range of age in college students, I’ve witnessed so many people get brainwashed into believing websites like Working Carolinas aren’t trying to take advantage of their nature of believing in the good.

To sum it up, if the company you work sounds like anything I just talked about in this article, there should be some research done about it. If you research and are still fine with it, no harm was done anyways. If you research it and things start to click and you realize you need to get out of that situation, good. If this article helps at least 1 person understand the situations pyramid schemes can put them in, that’s all that I could hope for.

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