The lethal combination of cult and pyramid in a multi-level marketing company was vividly explored in a recent newspaper series on the multi-level marketing company, NXIVM (pronounced like the acid reflux “purple” pill).
The four-part series in the Albany Times Union by James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish chronicles lawsuits, accusations of sexual abuse of female members, legal harassment cult-expert Rick Ross, possible regulatory violations and denials concerning whether that MLM company is both a pyramid scheme and what is commonly called a “commercial cult.”
For an analysis of how and why many people view MLM companies
to be commercial cults, see the False Profits Blog on this subject.
The founder of NXIVM, Keith Raniere, had previously operated the MLM company, Consumers’ BuyLine, which was later shut down by regulators, and then he opened another MLM company called Innovative Network, which later closed. Raniere, according to the story, had begun his MLM career as an Amway recruit.
Consumers’ Buyline was investigated or prosecuted by regulators in 20 states. It reportedly drew in over 250,000 consumers. After it closed, the story reported that Raniere signed a consent agreement with the New York Attorney General limiting his participation in any other MLM programs, but the regulators apparently had not investigated his subsequent ventures in MLM.