Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just How Absurd and Dangerous is 'Amway?' QCI contributing author, David Brear:


‘A lie can be half-way round the world before the truth has got its boots on.’

James Callaghan (1912-2005)


Readers who are unfortunate enough to have come into contact with ‘Amway’s’ handful of fanatical Internet apologists know that their devious motto is:

Always attack, never defend!

At the same time, these financially-illiterate sophists (led by David Steadson a.k.a. ‘ibofightback’ a.k.a.‘Insider’ etc.) invert reality by excluding all quantifiable evidence to the contrary whilst steadfastly pretending that the ‘Amway Business’ is an innocent victim under attack from outrageous lies spread by a jealous minority of violently anti-capitalist lunatics who know nothing whatsoever about commerce. In support of this typically-paranoid totalitarian fantasy, the apologists (who pose as independent) sneer arrogantly and wield reams of ‘statistics’ the origin of which can only be ‘Amway’s’ own bleating flock of reality-inverting apparatchiks. However, on closer inspection, this mystifying material turns out to be so absurd, that it almost beggars belief that anyone (outside the most-deluded of ‘Amway’s’unquestioning adherents) can fall for it.

For decades, the ‘Amway’ Ministry of Truth has proudly proclaimed millions of ‘Independent Business Owners’ conducting billions of dollars of ‘Sales’ in dozens of countries. Yet, given the accepted, average annual drop-out rate (approximately 50%), it is possible to extrapolate that, in the adult world of quantifiable reality, tens of millions of aspiring ‘Amway Distributors’ have vanished down the years, to be replaced by an endless chain of wide-eyed would-be millionaires. Only a 1-2% core-group of claimed adherents have remained bedazzled for periods exceeding 5 years and, in the end, even they have abandoned all (false) hope of achieving future redemption in the (non-existent) ‘Amway’ Utopia. Informed readers will notice the remarkable similarity between this ridiculous, self-inflating ‘Amway’ propaganda and that of ‘Scientology.’ Tellingly, the parent ‘Amway Corp.’(including its ever-expanding labyrinth of subsidiaries) has never voluntarily released any accurate, verifiable information as to what percentage of the organization’s (apparently impressive) global market has comprised authentic retail transactions (i.e. sales to persons who are not transient players of the ‘Amway’ game of make-believe). Sadly, it’s not just the ‘Amway’ faithful who have swallowed these sugar-coated lies. Despite having once paid a total of C$70 millions to avoid extradition and imprisonment for perpetrating the largest tax-fraud in Canadian legal history, the co-authors of the ‘Amway’ myth, Richard (‘Rich’) Marvin De Vos (b. March 4th. 1926) and Jay Van Andel (b. June 3rd. 1924. d. December 7th. 2004), and latterly their heirs, have been fêted as philanthropic billionaire-industrialists and exemplary Christian conservatives by an alarming number of casual observers in the international media and political, legal and religious establishment.

Back in the 1970s, when subjected to long-winded investigation by agents of the Federal Trade Commission (who had apparently twigged that the ‘Amway’ myth is a far too good to be true), it was discovered that ‘Amway’s’so-called ‘Multilevel Marketing Scheme’ was, in fact, strangely familiar. Exactly like its Soviet namesake,‘Amway’s’ own ‘Policy Board’/ Politburo (comprising members of the De Vos and Van Andel clans) held absolute control over the means of production, distribution and exchange. FTC agents also discovered that the price and quality of the ‘exclusive’ products being exchanged within ‘Amway’s’ Soviet-style command economy, were maintained in such a way as to render them (effectively) unsaleable on the open market. Contrary to what‘Amway’s’ own reality-inverting apparatchiks and propaganda constantly repeated, the organization’s grinning proselytisers were about as far removed from being ‘Independent Business Owners’ as it was possible to get. They were de facto slave-recruiters indoctrinated unconsciously to accept the following fiction as fact and to exclude all free-thinking individuals and quantifiable evidence challenging its authenticity:

You can buy ‘Amway’ products at a ‘wholesale price’ and then ‘retail’ them to your social contacts at ‘30% profit.’ This ‘short-term strategy’ is fine for some, but, in the end, it’s a ‘waste of time.’ If you are really serious about making big money, there’s ‘no need to sell anything.’ You can ‘Follow a Proven, 2-5 year Business-Building Plan’ and consume a regular quantity of ‘Money-Saving Products’ yourself whilst offering your friends and relations a ‘Helping Hand’ by bringing them onboard. In turn, your recruits can ‘Duplicate Exactly the same Plan’ and consume a regular quantity of ‘Money-Saving Products’ themselves whilst ‘Helping’ their own social contacts to do the same, etc… as ‘Amway’ undertakes to pay its ‘Distributors’ a escalating percentage commission on the totality of their monthly ‘Business Volume’ and on that of their recruits, and on that of the recruits of their recruits, etc… if the ‘Business Building Plan’ is ‘Followed’ correctly, payments automatically multiply in an infinitely-expanding geometric progression. The more people you ‘Help:’ the more money you earn!

In simple terms, vulnerable Americans (who, for whatever personal reasons, needed to believe in the self-perpetuating and self-gratifying ‘Amway’ myth of ‘total financial freedom in 2-5 years’), were actually being peddled infinite shares in what could only be their own finite dollars. Since the centrally-controlled ‘Amway’ market was deliberately designed to produce no real external revenue, no matter how the cash in that hermetic system was divided by its all-powerful treasurers, it was a mathematical impossibility for the overwhelming majority of its powerless participants to receive a profit. The whole of ‘Amway’s’ fiercely complex ‘Compensation Plan’ was, therefore, nothing more than thought-stopping hocus-pocus, but the po-faced agents at the FTC apparently never fully-grasped how the trick was pulled.

Consequently, after 10 years of less-than-intellectually-rigorous FTC enquiries and hearings, ‘Amway’ was merely fined a derisory sum for ‘price-fixing,’ and its greedy rulers were not only allowed to keep their counterfeit company registered in the USA, but also to expand their counterfeit commercial activities overseas. This was because their attorneys steadfastly pretended affinity with the federal regulators and drafted a ‘rule’ which appeared to oblige ‘Amway’ agents to sell-on at least 70% of their own purchases to non-agents before they could qualify to receive commission payments. Interestingly, the US regulators can’t have been completely duped by this devious tactic, because they also compelled ‘Amway’s’ corporate officers to publish accurate and verifiable information about the actual derisory average levels of commission payments. Obviously, this part-regulation only applied in the USA (where ‘Amway’ recruitment took such a dramatic nose-dive that it eventually had to become ‘Quixtar’), whilst all the subsequent evidence proves that the ‘70% rule’ might as well not exist, because, unbelievably, the FTC omitted to introduce any independent instrument to enforce it, or to warn the regulatory authorities internationally of what had really been occurring in the USA. Thus, when ‘Amway’s’ counterfeit commercial activities were recently investigated in the UK, it was discovered that (just as in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s) the organization’s so-called ‘Multilevel Marketing Scheme’ was, in fact, still a ‘Soviet’-style command economy (centrally-controlled by the ‘Amway’ Politburo in the USA), and that the price and quality of the products being exchanged within it, were maintained in such a way as to render them (effectively) unsaleable on the open market. Approximately 96% (and possibly even more) of all ‘Amway UK’s’ claimed ‘Sales,’ were a puerile fiction. Over a period of 35 years, the secret, rolling failure-rate for powerless participants in the premeditated ‘Amway’ closed-market in the UK was (effectively) 100%. Yet again, contrary to what‘Amway’s’ reality-inverting apparatchiks and propaganda constantly repeated, vulnerable British citizens were being peddled the same old Utopian fiction as fact. They were also being indoctrinated to exclude all free-thinking individuals and quantifiable evidence challenging its authenticity.

Mysteriously, senior civil servants in Britain’s Ministry for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (who, off the record, freely-accept that it is impossible to make money in ‘Amway’ and that its core-adherents are brainwashed pawns) chose only to challenge ‘Amway UK’ in the civil courts, rather than try to trigger a diplomatically-embarrassing, international criminal enquiry. However, Lawyers acting for the UK government, like their American counterparts, again failed to explain to both the UK High Court and the UK Appeal Court that, without external revenue (due to the deliberately banal quality and exorbitant pricing of products) ‘Amway’s’ so called ‘Business Model’ is fundamentally fraudulent and that the so-called ‘Compensation Plan’ is utter nonsense. This time, ‘Amway UK’ escaped closure by announcing the expulsion a couple of over-zealous ‘Diamond Distributors’ (including Jerry Scriven) as well as steadfastly pretending innocence and by promising to reform its future activities. However, the counterfeit company is now obliged to publish accurate and verifiable information about the actual, derisory, average levels of commission payments, and its current claimed ‘Distributor’ numbers have dropped to an almost insignificant level.

Unbeknown to the UK High Court and Appeal Court, the identical closed-market swindle was uncovered in France in the mid-1980s; when a minority of confused former ‘Amway’ core-adherents approached consumer, and cult, advice associations complaining of massive financial losses and dissociation from their friends and families. At that time, ‘Amway’ dodged official investigation in France by announcing the expulsion of an over-zealous ‘Diamond Distributor,’ Jean Godzich, and around 80 other over-zealous ‘Distributors,’ for breaking the ‘Amway Code of Ethics.’ The company then steadfastly pretended innocence and promised to reform its future activities, but its claimed numbers of ‘Distributors’ fell from ‘90 000’ to less than ‘5000.’ Godzich went on to operate the identical close-market swindle, complete with (effectively) unsaleable products and a ‘Code of Ethics,’ using a mystifying labyrinth of corporate structures labelled, ‘le Groupement,’ before his re-branded, counterfeit commercial activities were challenged.

In the early 1990s, a complaint was filed against ‘le Groupement’ by a government-funded, French, cult advice group, ‘UNADFI’ (National Union of Associations for the Defence of the Family and the Individual), in conjunction with a consumer advice association, the Women’s Social and Civic Union, on behalf of around 300 destitute former core-adherents. This led to a police enquiry. A French parliamentary report soon revealed that more telephone enquiries (almost 1000 per year) were being made to UNADFI about ‘le Groupement,’ than about ‘Scientology.’ Godzich and 12 associates steadfastly protested their innocence, but they were eventually charged with operating a pyramid scam. In the mean time, the counterfeit company was successfully sued in the civil courts by its victims, but its declared assets were insufficient to pay its debts. ‘Groupement’ was bankrupted and compulsorily wound-up in 1995. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Jean Godzich, but he had already escaped to the USA with a large amount of cash. At this time, approximately 1500 deeply-deluded core-adherents picketed the offices of UNADFI in Paris. The building was occupied, files stolen and a senior UNADFI volunteer, Mathieu Cossu, was held prisoner for several hours and obliged to make a video statement that ‘le Groupement was not a cult.’ Prior to this Jean Godzich had tried to give UNADFI a donation one million French francs (approximately 160 000 Euros). When this blatant bribe was refused, Jean Godzich financed the creation of an (apparently independent) ‘anti-mental manipulation association.’ It was generally believed by paranoid core-adherents that Groupement was the victim of an anti-capitalist conspiracy and that UNADFI was a form of extreme-socialist cult itself.

Some of the other tactics used by Godzich to try to maintain his absolute monopoly of information in France were classics of a cultic movement. A code of silence was introduced along with an internal system of dispute resolution to discourage more dissidents from coming forward. Malicious lawsuits were filed against all external critics in which Godzich posed as victim. Traditional culture was infiltrated via gifts to charity, sponsorship of sport, etc.

The criminal case against Jean Godzich (in absentia) and his associates, didn’t come to trial until the Summer of 2000. At this time, no evidence was presented by the prosecution relating to the much larger ‘advanced fee fraud’ hiding behind ‘le Groupement,’ and the pyramid fraud charge was dropped on technicalities. Amazingly, French law recognizes counterfeit ‘investment schemes’ (or Ponzi schemes) without external revenue or profits to divide, but it does not yet accept that counterfeit ‘marketing schemes’ without external revenue or profits to divide are just a more-sustainable variation of essentially the same crime. However, in January 2007, Jean Godzich received a custodial prison sentence (by default) of 3 years from the Correctional Tribunal of Evreux (Dept. of Eure, Normandy), for illegally transferring around 6 millions Euros of his French-registered company’s social funds to the USA (prior to its compulsory closure in 1995). An international arrest warrant was issued for Godzich (a citizen of both France and the USA) and he was given an additional fine of 500 000 Euros for failing to turn up for his trial in October 2006. Three of his former associates were given suspended prison sentences ranging from 8 months to 2 years along with fines ranging from 10 000 to 80 000 Euros.

At this point, I should like to mention former White House Adviser (on the ‘Religious Right’ to the Bush administration), Doug Wead, who has recently found it necessary to post reality-inverting material on one of his own propaganda Blogs, in which he begins to refer to the Godzich/‘Groupement’ affair, but, tellingly, not by name. In fact, Wead’s propaganda (like that of ‘Amway’s’ instigators) is far more interesting from the point of view of what is excluded rather than what is included. That said, Wead casually acknowledges that he was once an ‘Amway Diamond Distributor’ and that he remains a ‘friend’ of Dexter Yager. However, he steadfastly pretends to be an innocent victim under attack from lies posted by ‘Amway critics’ on the Net. Apparently, it has been suggested (by certain ‘critics’) that Wead helped set up ‘Amway’ and then ‘le Groupement’ in France, and that a warrant was issued for his arrest in France. I should like to set the record straight. Although it is true to say that Wead’s name never appeared on any of the incorporation documents of the counterfeit companies that comprised the French chapter of the ‘Amway/Groupement’ myth, his name did feature on countless books, magazines and recordings sold to hundreds of thousands of ‘Amway’ and ‘Groupement’ victims in France (first during the 1980s and then during the 1990s). He even co-authored books with Dexter Yager and Jean Godzich. Wead was also a regular paid-speaker at ‘Groupement’ mass-rallies. Wead was undoubtedly a major beneficiary of a conspiracy to commit, and occult, an ‘advanced fee fraud’ using a mystifying labyrinth of ever-expanding and changing (apparently independent) corporate structures designed to prevent, and/or divert, investigation and isolate beneficiaries like himself from liability. Just as in the UK, it was Wead’s acknowledged ‘friend,’ Dexter Yager, who received the lion’s share of the illicit cash. Whether, he was the final beneficiary, is still a matter of conjecture. Yager led the ‘Amway Network’ of which Godzich and Wead were members. Yager continued to supply the identical books and recordings to Godzich, even after he’d been publicly expelled from ‘Amway France.’ These fraudulent materials were French translations produced by Canadian companies controlled by Yager. In the mid-1990s, French network television journalists traced Jean Godzich to Phoenix Arizona, where they discovered that he and Wead shared an office and that they were both regular ‘Prosperity Gospel Preachers’ at the ‘First Assembly of God.’ During a 10 year period, thousands of deluded core-‘Groupement’ adherents had been peddled grossly-over-priced tickets to visit Phoenix via a Belgian-registered travel agency owned (on paper) by Godzich and his (then) wife. These individuals had received full-immersion baptism into the ‘First Assembly of God’ from Jean Godzich’s brother, Pastor Leo Mark Godzich. The sinister ceremonies were caught on film by hidden cameras, but (when interviewed by a French television journalist) Godzich steadfastly denied their existence.

Given their track records, one would have to be pretty naïve, and/or dim, to believe anything that Messrs. Yager, Godzich or Wead has to say on any subject, let alone ‘Multilevel Marketing.’ Interestingly, Wead now claims to have long-since retired from ‘Amway’ to become a ‘best-selling author and American historian; However, if by ‘historian,’ Wead means someone who is concerned to discover the truth about the past and to give as accurate a representation of it as possible, then, in respect of ‘Amway,’ he is not a historian. However, Wead is not just another pathetic little narcissist (like David Steadson), steadfastly denying the ‘Amway’ financial holocaust - he’s one of the shameless racketeers responsible for it.

As stated in a previous article, two High Court Judges in the world’s largest democracy have already deduced that what purports to be the ‘World’s Largest Direct Selling Company,’ is actually a global fraud. Exactly the same alarming evidence has been uncovered in India as was found in the USA in the 1960s and 1970s, in France in the 1980s and 1990s and in the UK at the beginning of the 21st. century. Confused Indian victims have come forward to complain of massive financial losses coupled with dissociation from friends and family. However, on this occasion, although all the usual devious tactics are being pursued by the corporate officers of ‘Amway India Enterprises’, and their aggressive echelon of attorneys, in a desperate attempt to maintain their paymasters’ absolute monopoly of information (including the issuing of two malicious, High Court writs to block a police investigation), Chief Justice C.S. Singhvi, and Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy, of the High Court of Judicature, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, have concluded that ‘Amway’s’ so-called ‘Multilevel Marketing Scheme’ is in breach of well-conceived, Indian legislation (dating from the 1970s) which bans all ‘money circulation schemes,’ no matter how ingeniously they are disguised. The High Court has ordered that the Hyderabad Criminal Investigation Dept. should be allowed to continue to follow whatever procedures are permitted by Indian law to hold the corporate officers of ‘Amway India Enterprises’ to account.

Currently (just as in Britain and France in the recent past), the sanctimonious little gang of Bible-thumping, US-based charlatans behind the ‘Amway’ myth remain out of reach of the Indian authorities. It is to be hoped that the new Obama administration will not permit this pernicious international racket to continue for much longer.

Copyright David Brear April 2009

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