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Top 10 Largest Pyramid Schemes

15 July 2021

Investment Scams Have Become Too Common. Take a Look at These Top 10 Largest Pyramid Schemes Out There.

Whether you see an upside-down triangle, swear it’s not a ponzi scheme, or call it an MLM aka multilevel marketing… if it looks like a pyramid and sounds like a pyramid, it’s a pyramid scheme.

They bank on entrepreneurial people buying into the dream of one day moving up the pyramid by having everyone downstream sell for them. The benefit from a network-based salesforce without the costs of a shopfront or salaries.

So, if you could just give us a moment of your time, we would like to tell you about the Top 10 Largest Pyramid Schemes.

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With that said, let’s get straight into the article.

10

Tupperware

Annual Sales: US$ 2 Billion

Tupperware might just be the OG of the pyramid movement. They started with their homebased Tupperware sales parties in 1948. Since then, they have been the household name in storing leftovers and keeping cereal fresh. They target moms and market their “food prep systems” while offering big savings for anyone hosting a Tupperware party in their home. It’s a business model that is still used today in MLM’s.

9

Coway

Annual sales: US$ 2.5 Billion

Coway started in 1989 in Korea. This Multi-Level Marketing company is now an international name in Water and air purifier products, as well as vacuum cleaners, bidets, and food waste and sewage treatment solutions for households. They offer once off sales, as well as rental services of their products, even mattress rentals!

Believe it or not, some of the pyramid schemes on this list sell even more outlandish products than bidets.

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8

The Three-Billion-Dollar Triplets – Natura, Mary Kay and Perfect

We didn’t feel that we could mention one of these beauty care MLM’s without the other, but all turnover in the $3 billion dollar range. Natura is a Brazilian company that boasts 6.6 million consultants worldwide, Perfect is often thought of as a Chinese Avon equivalent, but if Avon sold wine and laundry detergent on top of beauty products. And Mary Kay is the American in the sisterhood, well known for their offer of free make-up consultations.

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7

Vorwerk

Annual sales: US$ 4.3 Billion

Vorwerk specialises in German engineered home appliances. Their Thermomix cooking appliance is a firm favourite, as are their vacuum cleaners. What started in 1883 as a small family run business selling high-end carpets has reinvented itself through wars and revolutions. The latest acquisition of Jafra in 2004 added skin and body care products and cosmetics to their table.  

The German based company states that they have over 590,000 sales reps in over 70 countries.

6

Infinitus

Annual sales: US$ 4.5 Billion

China’s Infinitus is the parent company with a huge family of well-known brands under it. Lee Kum Keen, for example, is their cooking brand, recognised worldwide. Beautrio Skin Care are popular especially for their whitening products.

The Benelife Health Pillow is their posture pillow brand, and then they have the Infinitus named range of tonics and natural supplements promoting traditional Chinese wellness medicines. They have faced many lawsuits when sales reps have given bad health advice which has led to illness or even death.

The company has been around since 1994 and promotes its products in over 100 countries.  

5

Nu Skin

Annual sales: US$ 4.68 Billion

Nu Skin is a US originating MLM that has spread to a network of over 1.2million sales reps across the world. Nu Skin products are popular for their affordable skin care range and spa tools, as well as their Pharmanex supplement and weight loss brand.

Like many of the MLM’s on this list, Nu Skin and Pharmanex have paid out millions to settle lawsuits based on making unsubstantiated health claims about their products.

4

Herbalife

Annual sales: US$ 4.9 Billion

There aren’t many people left on the planet who haven’t had a “body scan” or been given some free Herbalife Shake powder. Like all good MLM’s the first one is free. After than its relentless recruiting to stay in the Herbalife loop.

Herbalife is one of the most recognised names in the Multi-level Marketing business. As early as 1996 they had a net worth of $250 million.

And although their triangle shaped recruitment business model was clearly a pyramid scheme, somehow they manage to fly under the radar even in countries where pyramid schemes are illegal.

Like many others, they have been embroiled in many scandals about the claims they make about their products.

3

Avon

Annual sales: US$ 5.5 Billion

Even if you don’t need anything when you pick up an Avon cosmetics and toiletries catalogue, by the time you’re through you will have an order jotted down. There is something about their unassuming zine-like sales material that catches one off guard to the tune of $5 billion in sales in 2018.

They sport a sales team of 6.4million people worldwide and claim the title of second-fastest growing direct selling company in the world.

2

Market America

Annual sales: US$ 7.3 Billion

In 1992 former Amway distributors, JR and Loren Ridinger, founded Market America. It offers a similar list of products to Amway, such as household cleaning supplies, jewellery, cosmetics and health and weight loss supplements, and in addition websites and water purifiers. It’s quite a basket of offerings.

Despite the name, Market America is big in Canada, Spain, Taiwan, China, Australia and Singapore too. In what we can only imagine is a brilliant marketing move, in 2010 they bought the shopping comparison website: Shop.com.

They have been in a lot of hot water over their company’s history. In 1999 they were accused of Securities Fraud and settled the case for $2 million in penalties. They have also been accused of being an illegal pyramid scheme, faced breach of contract and employment violation charges, corruption and racketeering, and false product claims. It’s a rap sheet almost as long as their product list.  

1

Amway

Annual Sales: US$ 8.8 Billion

Amway is short for American Way and was founded in 1959 by Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. In 2018 Forbes named Amway the 42nd largest privately held company in the US, and number 1 on their Direct Selling News Global 100 list.

Amway and sister company Alticor, conduct business in over 100 territories globally. Since their first move out of the US in 1971 to Australia, they haven’t stopped adding new countries to their sales territories. In 2014 they launched a loyalty card program in Russia partnered with Alfa-Bank called “Alfa-Amway”.

Their business practices have been investigated in many countries under suspicion of running a pyramid scheme and have paid tens of millions of dollars in fines but have never been found guilty.

Question:

Have you ever been involved in a pyramid scheme? How did it work out for you? Tell us in the comments below.