In his long segment on Last Week Tonight, HBO host John Oliver took dead aim at multi-level marketing companies which are ostensibly in the business of selling consumer products, but are actually pyramid schemes that leave gullible would-be entrepreneurs broke and wondering how they got suckered.
Oliver's verdict? "They're f*cking awful."
Pointing out that MLM's booked over $36 billion in sales last year, Oliver noted, "You probably know someone who is considering joining an MLM, or who already has and posts about it 10 times a day on Facebook or Instagram. And if you do know someone like that, or have considered signing up yourself, this story is important."
With that, Oliver took a deep dive into companies like Herbalife, Mary Kay and Vemma, which sell potential distributors on the idea of untold riches by selling their products -- but with the real money coming from recruiting friends and associates into the fold and getting a cut of their sales and the sales of people they recruit.
Which is a pyramid scheme, although the companies deny it.
Taking specific aim at Herbalife's CEO Michael Johnson, Oliver noted the company recently settled an FTC complaint which accused the nutrition and supplement giant of favoring recruitment over retail sales. Herbalife ended up paying a $200 million fine -- without admitting guilt -- despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, with the settlement bluntly stating the company was expected to start operating "legitimately."
For his part, CEO Johnson called it a victory for Herbalife, telling his network of distributors via video, "We've got great news. We've reached an agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that ensures that our mission to improve people's lives will continue to thrive. This is really great news and it comes at a time when our business if growing bigger and better all of the time."
"Oh, f*ck you," a disgusted Oliver exclaimed. "He didn't just polish that turd. He put it in a bottle and convinced people they can make a fortune selling nutritional turds in their spare time."
Concerned that more and more people will see their life savings wasted on MLM's promises of easy money, Oliver launched his own MLM, calling it what it is, #ThisIsAPyramid, and urging viewers to share the video below.
'I want to tell you about a fantastic product that you can share with friends and family, "he pitched. "The product is this entire video about why MLM's are f*cking awful. Let me break it down for you: by sharing this video you can be a leading distributor for a web video of the dangers of MLM's. You can do this full-time or part-time and give your family the lifestyle they deserve, which is frankly not getting caught up in this bullshit. "
Watch the entire video below -- and please pass it on to friends and family.