Behind the headlines- analysis of a pro-MLM news article

I have become aware of a newspaper article that detailed how a woman had risen from being a desperate, poor single mum to a successful, rich business woman thanks to her involvement in a Multi Level Marketing (MLM) scheme. Regular readers of this blog will be aware of how unsuccessful most people are in this type of scheme. Was this woman one of the few real life success stories or was the article just regurgitating the MLM fairy story that is so often fed to new recruits?

Let’s have a closer look at the article. The link to the Daily Mail article is here. One of the principles of this website is to not make personal attacks so I won’t be identifying the woman involved by name, and I won’t make any disparaging personal comments about her. This article will just analyse the truth behind the claims that are presented in the newspaper.

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The above snippet is at the very beginning of the article and, already, the inconsistencies are there. It starts by saying she is ‘turning over £1 million’ and also ‘on track to make £1 million a year’. These statements have quite different meanings. How long has it taken her to ‘turnover £1 million’? What does ‘on track’ mean? We have seen MLMers make ‘on track’ claims before. It just means it is what they are aiming for, what they hope to achieve. It is this hope that keeps them clinging to their MLM long after everyone else can see it isn’t working.

This exact same story has been repeated in The Sun and this is their headline-

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How successful is she really and what is the truth behind the claims?

She doesn’t have ‘a staff of 400’ for a start. The 400 reps are tied to The Body Shop At Home to sell their products and are reliant on the company for brochures, advertising, products etc. They are sales reps with no employment rights. Officially they are considered self employed contractors for the company. They do not work for the rep in the story at all.

Something that jumps out at me, and also to other readers (see the comments at the end of the article) are the inconsistencies. She claims to be nearly a millionaire, or at least owning a million pound business, or maybe just being in charge of some people who have sold £1 million worth of product, either way, she is claiming to have a ‘rags-to-riches’ story. She is boasting about being really rich. If she is so rich, why is she hoping to get on the property ladder? And why is she planning on getting married in 2 years time? If she is so rich and successful, why doesn’t she just buy a house and get married whenever she likes? She sounds like she is still financially behaving like a non-rich person.

Perhaps houses are really expensive in Aghalee and it is impossible to get a deposit for such an expensive are? A quick search on Rightmove, however, will show you that you can buy a 4 bedroomed house for £125,00 or £220,000.

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If she had a million pounds, she could buy that house outright. Obviously she doesn’t have even £220,000, so she would need a mortgage. A mortgage could be obtained for this house with a £20,000 deposit. The thing with mortgages though is that you need to be able to prove a steady income, and MLM schemes would not count. The woman in this article seems to have been given a paid position in the company- managing the reps in the Northern Ireland division. Perhaps she is waiting until she has 6 months of payslips to prove her income?

If my theory is correct, the woman hasn’t accrued a fortune and anything she is able to afford now will be due to her paid employment, nothing to do with being a success in the MLM business.

The reality is more likely this-

Woman finds herself struggling for money, and out of desperation joins an MLM.

She finds it hard to make any money but realises her chances are better if she can recruit a lot of people. These people then spend money on products and starter kits, making profit for the MLM and raising the profile of the woman.

She qualifies for numerous incentive holidays with the company. I have tried to find out how much product people have to buy/sell to get this incentive but there are no details available anywhere. It is impossible to access any terms and conditions for the company. You have to express an interest on the website for a rep to contact you and then you can start finding out more.

She was successful in recruiting a lot of people.

Her recruiting got the attention of the MLM bosses who offered her a paid position.

Now, with a steady income, she is able to start saving for a mortgage deposit and then apply for one.

She can now start saving for a wedding.

 

My version of the woman’s story isn’t so exciting. Why would a misleading article like this be written in two different newspapers? The cynical part of me thinks that the ‘story’ was provided by the rep to the papers in an attempt to recruit more reps. One of the papers even has a video embedded of the rep explaining how great her ‘opportunity’ is.

In conclusion, this rep’s story is a non story and could result in more people joining an MLM scheme where 99.7% of people lose money.

If anyone wants to refute what I have said here, please comment below. Perhaps there is proof that the rep is actually very successful and has earned £1 million. If so, I would be very happy to look at it and issue a correction here.

 

Further Reading

Timeless Vie article on a real life experience of a Body Shop At Home rep.

Anti-MLM Coalition have a real life story of an ex-rep.

Bot Watch article on why conventional companies turn to the MLM model. Mentions Body Shop At Home.

A Reddit post on someone’s bad experience with Body Shop At Home.

 

What is happening to Forever Living?

In this post I will present some facts and evidence to you but I will leave it for you to make your own conclusions.

People have been wondering what is happening to Forever Living for a while now. Timeless Vie speculated about its future two years ago. See what they had to say here and here.

Timeless Vie said that Forever Living were reaching saturation point. They said that a company approaching saturation point would either introduce new products, or new markets. At the time of their article, FLP were trying to sell aloe vera products to horses. Since then they have brought out a new beauty range and this year they have rebranded their most popular drinks. Also, members seem to be increasingly chasing foreign markets.

Timeless Vie described some new rule changes that had been made to make it easier to achieve ranks. This has continued to be the case.

Lifecycles

The lifecycle of any living organism always follows roughly the same trajectory, whether it is a colony of bacteria or a species of animals. MLMs have often used this trajectory to show how well their company is doing, and they encourage people to join based on where their company is right now.

Have a look at some examples.

Here is someone trying to recruit people into Pink Zebra

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Let’s have a look at that chart

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They are suggesting that all you have to do to be in the top 2-3% of earners, you just have to join at the right time. Research shows it is incredibly difficult to earn any money in an MLM, so reps will be doing all they can to get themselves any advantage they can.

The chart above stops at stabilisation. Let’s see what science has to say about population survival charts that this chart is based on. Here is a chart documenting the rise and fall of a colony of bacteria.

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Here is what is happening to the human population in industrialised countries.

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In MLM terms, this means that initially there is a lot of excitement about a new company, loads of people join in pre-launch. They get more people to join and spend their money, they spam their friends and family and everyone gets bored of it. After a while the people who joined leave faster than the rate of people joining. This is the start of the death/ declining phase, or oversaturation.

I wonder where Forever Living Products are on this chart? Let’s look at some evidence. How has the UK company being doing financially over the last few years? Companies House has all the details we need on this. The money brought into the company is documented every year.

The 2017 report that looked at the company for  2016 has this to say

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This bit tells you how much profit they made in 2016.

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For a detailed breakdown of where the money came from, have a look at this

This shows the company earned a lot of money from things like success days and details

This shows that the company made a lot of money from success days, training materials and ‘delivery revenue’. The sales of goods has declined from 2015.

Let’s lay out the total turnover from over the past few years.

2011-£23,878,750

2012- £27,167,812

2013- £34,726,349

2014- £58,993,590

2015- £106,489,238

2016- £80,066,133

2017- we will find out in October this year.

That just looks like a load of numbers. I prefer charts and pictures to show what is happening. Here is a graph showing the above figures.

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I wonder what this chart will look like at the end of this year when the 2017 figures are shown? We can look for clues. One of the things that Forever Living do each year is share some of their profits with the top people who brought in the most money and recruits to the company. If the cheques are smaller this year, that would indicate a decline in profits.

What did those cheques look like in 2016? The evidence for them is everywhere, as it is a good way to lure in new recruits. It makes it look like people are successful and it is possible to earn loads of money.

2015 Global Rally in Singapore

There were 97 cheque earners from the UK in 2015.

This was on the cover of FLP’s magazine. This is the highest earner in the UK. We’ll call her number 1.

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The following images are accessible from the FLP website and have been widely shared by a lot of reps in order to make their company look successful and to make it look profitable for people.

Another top earner, we’ll call her number 2.

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This one of the mid earners. She’ll be referred to as number 3.

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Number 4 is also a mid earner.

This one was number 8 in the UK in 2014. In 2015 she qualified for a cheque at the rally as the 11th biggest cheque earner.

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There were loads more cheques presented, I have only put three here as examples. Another indicator of success of the reps is the amount of people being promoted up the ranks. In FLP’s magazine for April 2015 they have listed the people being promoted to Managers in March.

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Here are the names that were promoted to Assistant manager-

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And these are most of the supervisors. There are about 250 supervisor promotions.

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Let’s see what their success day looked like when everyone got back from their cheque sharing extravaganza. They call the trip abroad, the Global Rally.

 

2016 Global Rally in Johannesburg, South Africa

We would expect the cheques to be bigger for the three reps whose cheques we have seen. This is because the company’s revenue was much higher this year than the previous year. Let’s see what they were in 2016. The cheque details for all the money awarded can be found on this slide share website. There were 176 cheque earners from the UK at the 2016 event.

Here is number 1’s cheque. It is about $12,000 less than the previous year. Proportionately, it is about the same as 2015.

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Here is number 2’s cheque. It is an increase of $325,054.54. That’s a massive increase of 48%.

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Number 3’s image was taken from a website of an FBO trying to entice people to join based on the large cheques.

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This cheque is a huge 1061.63% increase! Ten times her previous cheque!

 

 

 

 

 

Number 4.

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Number 4’s cheque has increased by a whopping $92,387 and she’s gone up a place in the cheque leader board. She must have been feeling pretty successful at this point.

These are the promotions for that month.

2016 promotions

supervisors1

supers

Again, there are about 250 supervisor promotions, the same as the previous year.

 

2017 Global Rally in Dubai

You can access the British cheque earners and their amounts at Forever Living’s own site. There were 108 cheques awarded.

 

Number 1’s cheque reduced.

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Number 2’s cheque reduced

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Number 3’s cheque also reduced.

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Number 4’s cheque has also reduced and she has dropped down to number 18 in the cheque league table.

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Let’s have a look at the promotions this year.

2017 promotions

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Notice the massive drop in supervisor promotions. 2015 and 2016 both had about 250 promotions at this level. Now there are only 28! A massive drop.

2018 Global Rally in Dallas, USA

To see the cheques that were awarded this year, go to Forever Living’s website.

Number 1 must be very disappointed with her cheque of $756,687.82.

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Number 2 got this

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Number 3’scheque is much lower than last year.

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Number 4 qualified to go to the rally but she didn’t qualify for a cheque this year. She must have been pretty devastated at that because all her team will have been expecting her to get one. I think the expectation is that the ‘business’ should grow year on year and once you start earning cheques, it should really take off. The cheques and recognition process is so public that their decline is out there for all to see.

I tried to find a list of promotions but it seems Forever Living don’t publish them anymore. Have a look at one of their online magazines.

A Bot Watcher has told me that Bob parker, the UK and Ireland boss of Forever living publishes the reps’ names for their promotions. The most up to date ones are here-

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Some graphs

There is a lot of information to digest above. I’ll put it in some graphs to make it clearer.

Here is an illustration of the three people’s cheques from above.

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Here are the number of promotions awarded in May of each year.

proms

 

‘Supervisor’ is the first promotion that a rep in Forever Living gets. The numbers have gone from a steady 250 a month, down to 28, and now 17. These are the bottom rung of the pyramid structure. Without enough of them, the whole structure won’t be able to support itself and could topple.

All of these bottom FBOs will be looking to the people at the top and will be watching them get their cheques. We know that the cheques are becoming smaller each year, but new joiners won’t necessarily be doing much research into the situation. They could well be being blinded by the cheques and aspiring to earn one themselves.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the cheque earners I have shown you above. FBO number 3 is actually number 10 in the UK. She is the tenth highest earner in Forever Living in the UK and as such, is considered successful. Her Facebook page has some inspirational posts. In the following images, she shares her thoughts on Forever Living’s future and her experience of it so far.

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Do we think things are getting better and better for Forever Living? How are things going for our person number 3? The tenth highest earner? She has registered her business activities with Companies House so we can go over and have a look at how successful she is.

Oh, she’s not doing so well. In August last year there was a meeting and a resolution was made.

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Her company has been voluntarily liquidated. It went through the courts in May 2018 and a liquidator was appointed. Here are the last accounts that summarise what has been happening.

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I’m no accountant (would love to hear from one), but it looks to me like a tax bill of £115,586.10 couldn’t be paid, resulting in the company being £63,078.10 in debt.

Whilst this person was in Dallas, holding a giant cheque and trying to recruit people off the back of her ‘success’, she was actually in quite a bit of debt. And this, remember, is the UK’s number ten in the list of earners.

I am not gloating at this poor person’s failure. I am sure it has been dreadful for her and extremely stressful. I feel more sorry for the unsuspecting people who might sign up under her, hoping to earn some money under her mentorship. What hope do they have of obtaining a promotion or earning any large cheques if one of the most successful people in the company is not earning anything?

Just one more photo before I leave you to ponder the direction this company are heading in.

A ‘success day’ from 2018, held in the London Paladium. Photos from this event show a less than half full room, or they just show the very front or corner, to make it look more full.

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This would have been unthinkable in 2016 when there were events in 4 different major cities in larger arenas and better attended.

How do you think the company is doing? Are there another 40 years in it as they are promising?

USI Tech, what’s going on?

2017-12-24

Recently USI Tech have caught my attention. First, a relative of an USI Tech member contacted me to share her concerns. She said she was very worried about her relative’s involvement in the scheme as she seemed to have had a personality transplant and was now obsessed with the company. The concerned relative couldn’t find much about it so turned to me for help. As always, once something is on my radar, I start noticing it when it appears and my concern and curiosity are piqued.

I have decided to document anything USI Tech related here so that all the upto date information will be easy to find if you are concerned about this particular MLM. This is particularly important when you realises a Face Book group dedicated to exposing the company disappeared suddenly. The information needs to be preserved. Please send me any information you think should be included.

If you would like to see, join or follow the new face book group, go and have a look here.

Ethan Vanderbuilt has written about USI Tech in this blog post. Unsuprisingly, he considers it to be a scam (in his opinion). He has concluded it is a Ponzi scheme because people earn money when they get others to pay to join it. He looks into the people behind the scheme and where the company is actually located. It seems it may not be straightforward. The founders have a past of financial dodgyness, involving the authorities and people being arrested.

Here is USI Tech’s website.They are in the UK, regularly putting on seminars to try and recruit people. They claim to have a special programme (robot) that can trade in cryptocurrencies and magically make loads of money for investors easily.

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Here are some things that have been going on with the company.

December 15th 2017 British Columbia residents are warned not to invest in USI Tech as they do not have the necessary registrations.

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December 19th 2017 Ash, a crypto expert blogs about USI Tech and details the problems he sees with the company. He attended a recruitment event and analyses what is said there. The comments after this article are worth a read.

December 20th 2017. The Texas State Securities Board warn against investing in the company. They issued a cease and desist order because they are not properly registered in Texas and are breaking lots of rules. They state that USI Tech claim to be regulated by the FTC but this is blatantly untrue. Ethan Vanderbuilt examines this development. Here are the documents detailing the order.

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December 21st 2017  Nova Scotia’s securities commission warns people that it is illegal to run schemes in the way USI Tech are doing.

December 23rd 2017 The Financial and Consumer Services Commission of New Brunswick have warned against any involvement with the company. They call it an illegal investment scam and encourage people to report them. This is on their website

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December 24th 2017 Manitoba Securities Commisssion in Canada warns against USI Tech and states that companies offering high returns at low risk are often signs of fraud. They ask for people who have been involved with USI-Tech to contact them.

Which country will warn against USI Tech next? Will anyone get in trouble over it? Will people start coming forward about money they lost in this scheme? Any information, please contact me.

Testimonial use in MLMs

We already know that MLM often sell products with absurd health claims. Health claims that are not allowed by law. See here, here, and here about the laws around what health claims are allowable.

People in MLM schemes end up with products that are usually overpriced and of little actual use. The only way they can sell these products is to exaggerate their uses and make it sound like it has magical qualities. Have a look at TINA’s findings of false health claims made by MLMs.

Hence, you see posts like this on Facebook-

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However, these sorts of claims are frowned upon by the law, advertising authorities and the companies themselves. The companies tell their reps, outwardly at least, that they must not make health claims. They have compliance departments that are supposed to be finding these claims and asking their reps to stop.

If these wildly inacurate and illegal claims are not allowed, how are people supposed to sell them?

Juice Plus have come up with a great idea. Share testimonials. Then people are not making claims, they are just sharing stories. Here is an email from their compliance department to a Bot Watcher.

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“If someone has seen that the product has helped them with a specific condition, then we encourage them to tell their story in the first person”.

 

“share this story with your readers or tag them in the post.”

 

 

From this belief sprung the Juice Plus Testimonials page on Face Book. Here, people tell stories about how they took Juice Plus and their health condition improved. Here is a selection of some of those testimonies-

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You can find any medical condition there and use their stories to put on your own page if you are selling Juice Plus and want to make health claims without actually making health claims. Reps end up discussing their customers and working out which of their products to recommend. Totally not making any health claims though. Here’s an example of one such discussion.

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Well there you  go, The shakes must be ok in pregnancy, the rep says so. Even though she has no training. I’ve looked up the ingredients to see if there is any vitamin A in the shakes. There isn’t. Vitamin A can be found in their capsules, but not the shakes. I did find something interesting though. There was a link to click that was labelled

“California residents: Click here for Proposition 65 WARNING.”

I don’t live in California but thought I’d click anyway. This is what I found

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The shakes can cause birth defects. This is pretty serious and it concerns me greatly that reps are telling other reps and customers that it is safe because they used it and they were ok.

It should be pretty obvious that sharing testimonials is a very bad idea. We don’t know the truthfulness of these claims and they could be very harmful. People may try and come off their medications, or have false hope for their condition. There are many, many conditions catered for on the Facebook page and shared widely.

The Law in the UK

Section 15 of the non-broadcast CAP advertising code states what sort of claims can be made for foods or food supplements.

 

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So claims that Juice plus capsules can replace anti depressants would not be allowed. The claims that can be made are very clearly set out I these registers. But what about personal testimonies? Is it ok for someone to say that a product has helped with a condition?

There are some general rules that marketers must comply with when sharing testimonials-

  1. The marketer cannot be the consumer and give their own testimonial.
  2. The marketer must have written permission from the person making the testimonial.
  3. The marketer mush hold evidence the claim is true- evidence of the ordering history, email records (not Hotmail, but a provable email address), address of the customer and be able to prove the testimonial is genuine.

 

This next bit is very interesting, found on this page on the CAP website.

“Marketers may not use testimonials to circumvent the Code by making claims in a consumer review that they would not otherwise be permitted to make. For example, if a marketer doesn’t hold the evidence to substantiate an efficacy claim, they cannot use a testimonial which makes that claim.

Testimonials alone do not constitute substantiation so marketers should not rely on testimonials as support for any direct or implied claims made in the marketing communication.”

What claims are Juice Plus allowed to make?

I asked the MHRA who regulate medicines and supplements in the UK if any health claims are allowed to be made by Juice Plus (and Ariix and Herbalife). This is their reply

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Essentially, this means no health claims can be made for products from Juice Plus.

I told them about the Juice Plus Testimonials page and one of their investigators joined and had a look. They were very concerned about the sort of posts there and wanted to inform Trading Standards about the group. Unfortunately though, they realised the page originated in America so they could not do anything about it.

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I never heard back about anything Facebook said. The page still exists so I am assuming they took no notice.

 

Conclusions

If you can’t make a claim for a product legally, you cannot get around it by using a testimony.

Making health claims that are not proven or allowed could lead people to believing it and ditching their medicines/ treatment. This could lead to significant harm.

If you sell a product, you cannot make your own testimonies when advertising it.

The strict rules around allowable claims are there for a reason, do not break them just so you can make a bit of money. Especially if you are taking advantage of ill people, this is despicable.

 

Vida Divina breaks the law

Vida Divina launched  on 23rd September 2017 in the UK.

Here is their website.

Here is a list of their products. (note the products for ‘diabetes and prostrate health’!)

This is one of their products

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Here is the supplement information

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Do you see the word ‘melatonin’ there?  Melatonin is found in the body and it helps to regulate sleep. Research has shown it has some slight benefits in helping people temporarily with their sleep problems due to jet lag or irregular shift patterns. It helps only a very small amount and is not recommended for long term use or for standard insomnia.

In America Melatonin is classed as a supplement, and as such, sellers are allowed to make claims about it. In the UK, however, it is a drug. The listing for it is in the British National Formulary.

This means that Melatonin cannot be sold as a supplement in the UK. It has to be prescribed by an authorised prescriber and come from a pharmacy. Vida Divina cannot sell it in their Sleep-N-Lose capsules. This would be breaking the law.

Which makes me wonder why it is for sale on Ebay in the UK.

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Ebay have been alerted to this breach of the law and they say that they will respond to each report of this item being sold as they get to it.

Come on EBay, it isn’t the public’s responsibility to report these incidences to you. You need to stop allowing these sales! And stop them now!

Vida Divina, you need to stop sending this product to the UK. You are being very irresponsible and need to ban this product immediately.

I will ask for Ebay and Vida Davina’s comments on this issue and report back their answers here. Don’t hold your breath for a swift resolution though.

 

Trading Standards

Someone has contacted Trading Standards about Vida Divina and their reply was very interesting.

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So to sell Vida Divina products in the UK, sellers need to –

+Register with local environmental health authority as a food business operator.

+Get special labels made up for putting on the products that comply with the law.

+Ensure that there is no mention of any health benefits to the products unless they are on the correct register.

+Ensure there are no new novel foods in the range.

Please note the bit that says ‘you could be prosecuted’.

I contacted the MHRA for clarification on melatonin sales in the U.K. This is what they said

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A bit more information to help you decide if you want anything to do with this company.

A bit on the background of the CEO, from Behind MLM. There are details on how he claimed the products in his last MLM cured him of his terminal cancer. And the problems previous MLM companies had that h was involved in.

This extract is from the above link.

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This video has come to light from Facebook. The man is working for Vida and is in America now at their conference. Look what he is advising his followers.

 

Is this how a company imports their products? He is advising they all stuff their suitcases with coffee and ‘blag customs’. How are 70 people going to explain suitcases full of improperly labelled coffee being brought into the UK to be sold illegally as weight loss products?

 

Other products they sell

Vida Divina sell tea as well. “Is that ordinary tea” I hear you ask, “or is it special tea?”

Have a look at this advert that has been brought to my attention

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There’s so much wrong with that advert, it’s difficult to know where to start! Needless to say, there is no such thing as ‘detoxing’ your body, tea won’t cure IBS, 95% of viruses aren’t from the bowel and this tea will not ‘have your insides back to healthy in no time’. It is certainly breaking advertising rules.

I have been shown this email where Vida Divina seem to be saying that the tea is not for resale in the UK, which would make the above advert even more dodgy.

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I have emailed Vida Divina today (26th Sep 2017) for a statement on whether their products are for resale in the UK and what their plans are for the products. I will keep you updated.

Let’s hope the reps aren’t buying too much of the stuff because then they’ll either have to sell it illegally, drink it all themselves or have it building up in their house.

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Oh.

Do you know what the authorities call this type of business? The type where there are no customers and you can only earn money through recruiting?

 

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Isagenix- cutting through the crap

Isagenix are coming to the UK soon. Cue lots of excitement from people joining the ‘opportunity’ and claiming you can earn money with this company.

There are a few problems though.

Financial

Maybe you are thinking of joining it yourself or maybe you have friends talking about it. Don’t take everything you hear at face value.

Let’s look at some cold, hard facts supplied by Isagenix themselves. Then make up your mind about whether you think it is a good opportunity or not.

Some Multi Level Marketing companies publish statistics on how much their people earn. Isagenix published stats for 2014 on

You can see it here.

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94.8% of people earned less than US $500 which , according to Isogenix, means they weren’t serious about their business so they must have just been involved because they love the products so much.

Maybe that is possible. Let’s assume that the more serious people worked hard and earned more than $500. These people apparently ‘devoted considerable time and effort into introducing others to Isogenix products and helping them do the same’.

The last chart at the bottom shows the yearly pay of the 5.2% of people in the company who earned money. Of these,  85% earned $2101 on average or less. That’s not much.

BUT, I hear you say. Some people have earned loads, look at the chart! Yes, some of those numbers do look nice. Some people even earned above the American poverty line.

In 2014 people with an income of more than $11,670 were considered to be above the poverty line. Source.

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The successful people in Isagenix.

0.36% of Isagenix people earned above the poverty line. 0.36% is what 7% of 5.2% looks like. That’s not very many people. And their earnings are not amazing either- on average about $15,000- $34,000.

These income figures do not take into account taxes that need to be paid, travel costs, phone bills, training, and all the other associated costs.

Some people however, will ignore all this and just look at the big earners. ‘Look’ they say, ‘ some people earn a massive amount!’

People who earn a massive amount.

Less than 1% of 5.2% earn on avearage $331,956.

This is less than 0.052% of people in the whole of Isagenix. This is NOT achievable for everyone.

Other scandals

An article by a well qualified nutritionist explains why the ingredients in the products aren’t what they seem. The article is called “How Isagenix Lies To Its Distributors And Consumers About GMOs, Preservatives, And Artificial Ingredients”

A doctor who fights against health frauds has written about the absurd health and science claims that Isagenix claim. Some of them are bizarre. Here is one quote

The claims on the Isagenix website are a mishmash of pseudoscience, myth, misrepresentation, and outright lies. For example:”  She goes through quite a few of these silly assertions that Isagenix make.

Another article here about the products and  being in the ‘business’.

I’m sure I’ll be able to add more points to this article as Isagenix infiltrates the UK. Let me know of anything you come across.

MLM and the New Enterprise allowance

There is a UK government initiative to help unemployed people start up their own businesses. It is called the New Enterprise Allowance. This sounds like a great idea. People with ideas and skills are given the means to set up a business and start making their own success, allowing them to come off benefits.

But then this sort of thing crops up-

screenshot-2017-03-05-20-51-15

 

 

And this one from a Scentsy bot explaining the details of the NEA

screenshot-2017-03-06-00-31-37

A Younique bot is trying to persuade unemployed people to get an NEA so they can join her.

screenshot-2017-03-06-00-38-34

 

Here’s someone from Maelle spouting the same type of thing. She wanted unemployed people to join her by using this money. This was before Maelle started trading. And before they had to stop trading because of a court order.

screenshot-2017-03-06-00-46-24

Timeless Vie have more examples of these types of posts.

You get the idea.

I have some concerns about these claims.

 

 

  1. Would an MLM be deemed as an appropriate type of business for this scheme?

This official government website has all the rules and details about the scheme. Here is a snippet-

screenshot-2017-03-05-21-24-53

Most MLMs state that the reps are self employed and work for the company although they tend to go to great pains to explain they are not employers. There is no doubt though that MLMs are big companies and the reps work for them. It is not really their business that they are starting from scratch.

Would the DWP be brought into disrepute if it was discovered they were funding people to embark on a scheme where they were 99% likely to lose money? I would like to think so. The document states on page 9 that people will be refused if their proposal does not stand a “reasonable chance of success.” MLMs do not pass this test.

I found this promising reply on a business forum to someone asking if NEAs are a good thing.

screenshot-2017-03-05-22-47-14

 

2. What actually happens to someone embarking on this scheme?

They apply to the Job Centre.

Their business idea is assessed by a business mentor who assesses the viability of the plan. A business plan is made where income and outgoings are taken into consideration.

If accepted, the person has to stop claiming their normal out of work benefits.

The person starts trading and registers with HMRC.

A weekly allowance of £65 is paid for the first 13 weeks. Remember this is in place of their usual benefits (Job seeker’s allowance is currently up to £57.90 for 19-24 year olds and up to £79.10 for 25 or over).

This then drops down to £33 a week for the next 13 weeks. This represents a drop in income of between £24.90- £46.10 a week. Their low income is roughly halved.

They can apply for a government loan for start up costs of £500- £25,000 for 1-5 years at an annual interest rate of 6%.

These payments are not counted towards housing benefit, income tax, tax credits or universal credit.

After this time, it is expected the person will be supported by their new business. Are people able to earn a living from MLM schemes? The short answer is NO. A longer answer has been given by Robert Fitzpatrick, Pink Truth, some ex-MLM victims and Lazyman and money.

So now, the person has no unemployment benefits and they are expected to be supported by their ‘business’. Which will not be earning them any money. They will be in a worse position than before they applied for the NEA. It is disgusting that people are being conned into falling for this trap.

3. How many people have joined an MLM with one of these grants? And how many have applied and been rejected?

I have asked the DWP for this information under the Freedom of Information Act on 6th March 2017. I’ll let you know what reply I get. I’ll be waiting with baited breath.

I should have a reply by 3rd April 2017.

If anyone in an MLM has had one of these grants, please let me know. I will be very interested to hear what happened. Someone on Twitter claims to know some who have. I have asked her for details but she has not replied.

 

4. Do the bots that are promoting the NEA know that it will likely put the applicant into a desperate situation?

We know that people considering MLM are usually desperate. If someone is on benefits and considering doing this, it can be assumed that they are desperate. Let’s assume they are over 25 and receiving £70.10 in JSA. If they apply and are accepted (doubtful they would be), their income would drop to £65 a week for 13 weeks and then £33 a week for the next 13 weeks.

They would need to take out a loan to cover the costs of setting up their ‘business’. They would need £200 for the start up kit and then a bit more to cover some costs- product parties, online advertising, business cards etc. Let’s assume a low £200 for the basics. They will probably have been told by their upline that the costs are low. The calculation below shows how much those payments would be if it was spread over 3 years. The smallest timeframe where it might seem affordable.

Screenshot 2017-03-06 20.57.42

Once they have been enrolled on this scheme and seen their benefits drop off to £0 they are then reliant on their non-existent MLM income. And they’ll have a government loan to pay off.

How do people sleep at night after potentially sending people down this path? There are a few explanations-

a. They truly believe somehow, against all the evidence, that someone can earn an income from the MLM. They presumably would vet people to make sure they understood what you have to do to succeed and that they understand how unlikely it is that they will earn money easily.

b. The upline does not understand the process and really thinks that it is just a case of ‘popping down to the job centre’ for a bit of extra money to cover the cost of the start up kit. If this is true, it is absolutely insane that they can suggest people do this if they don’t even have a clue what they are proposing. Even a brief internet search will show what is involved.

c. The upline knows what will be involved and know that the person will fail.  They don’t care because it means they will get a bonus/ more team members for a while and their own income is increased for a bit.  This fits in with the common practice of uplines advising people to take out bank loans.

This MLM website  (pointed out to me by David Brear from ‘MLM’ The American Dream Made Nightmare) tells people to borrow from friends or family or get a bank loan for the start up fees. It notes that Screenshot 2017-03-06 21.20.37

Best to borrow from family or risk everything through a New Enterprise Allowance then.

 

CONCLUSION

The people encouraging victims to apply for an NEA are either naive and do not know what they are doing or they know exactly what they are doing and do not care.

Hopefully no one is able to progress their application through to actually losing it all on this risk. I will keep you updated.

I welcome any comments or information, especially if anyone has any details on people successfully applying and doing well in the scheme. I would also like to hear from people who have been encouraging this applications and hear their explanations.

UPDATES

Someone on the Mumsnet BotWatch discussion thread (Mumsnet, money matters, bot watch) has already asked the DWP some questions about the NEA and MLMs in March last year.

Screenshot 2017-03-06 22.19.40

Unfortunately, the DWP replied, saying they didn’t hold that information. That was in March 2016. I will endeavor to find out the information somehow.

No, Lifetree World, that is wrong.

Update-  10th March 2017. 

Lifetree World has now been liquidated, leaving many creditors. A lot of members had purchased goods and never received them, and many had bought into programs that promised more profit for them. They have all lost their money now. The only assets the company had when it was closed down was a car that still had finance on and some pretend money in a ‘Gateway’ account. This amounted to -£885 in assets and a total of £454,319 owing to everyone. Companies House have all the documents if you want to look at the details.

We won’t have heard the last of them though. Previous players in this company have gone on to form another MLM and another MLM team which moves people from MLM to MLM, ensuring a few of them will always be at the top of a pyramid somewhere. More on this in future blog posts.

 

Some things that LTW have done or said that may not be accurate.

Their prize cars

Every month members can pay to attend a meeting where they will be entered into a draw for a car, as long as they have spent the required amount of money in LTW by a specified date. Here is one of the prize cars.

Screenshot 2016-07-09 19.38.08

A bit of research shows there is outstanding finance on this vehicle-

Screenshot 2016-07-09 19.42.58

This means that when the car was ‘won’, it had not been paid for. It should not have been given as a prize. The winner cannot sell the car. It could be taken off them if whoever is responsible for the car debt stops paying.

 

LTW do not have affiliation with the DSA.

They were going through the process of application but no longer appear on the DSA’s webpage of prospective members. I am not accusing them of lying here, just that their impending membership was touted as proof they were a legitimate company.

Here is a common recruiting message used by LTW people-

Screenshot 2016-07-09 20.35.37.png

The DSA is not anything to do with the government, it is just a trade association. They have a code of ethics which members claim to adhere to. Much is made of this code and how LTW adhere to it. They obviously don’t adhere to it enough.

Here, an LTW adherent is explaining the £35 membership fee as a payment to the DSA. I wonder if there will be no fee now?

Screenshot 2016-07-09 21.14.43.png

Their ‘affiliation’ to Sky TV.

This affiliation has suddenly been announced and used as evidence that LTW is indeed a legitimate company. Surely Sky wouldn’t get involved in a dodgy company? That is what is claimed. Let’s see what LTW are saying. You could visit their ‘Sky portal page’ at SkyTvEurope . Here are the prices shown. It says at the bottom for LTW prices, you need to fill in a form and an ‘expert’ will contact you with a price. Why? Why not say what the price is?

Screenshot 2016-07-09 22.35.50.png

I had a look at Sky’s actual page and found their prices to be a bit different.

Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.11.26

Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.11.36

The movies and sports bundles with Sky are a lot cheaper than through LTW. But LTW do say that you can get a cheaper deal if you register your interest with them. So I clicked on the ‘register’ button. I got this form to complete-

Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.15.42.png

That’s a lot of personal information to be giving to someone to find out a price of a product. I looked for the privacy information to see what happens to my data. There is no privacy information. What will happen with all that data? Why do they need it to tell you their prices?

I found an LTW training video where they tell you the prices of the packages. Here they are

Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.26.26Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.26.52Screenshot 2016-07-09 23.27.14

The prices here are much cheaper than Sky! They are offered through a company called Ipik solutions, not directly through Sky as suggested by LTW people.

Who are Ipik Solutions? Their web page looks exactly like the LTW page, just with ‘Ipik Solutions’ instead of ‘skytveurope’ at the top. There are no contact details, no address. They are not registered at Companies House. Does this sound at all dodgy to anyone? The language used on this website is poor. I don’t mean rude, just badly written. Except for the bits that they have copied directly from Sky.

I have found a company called Ipik Solutions that are based in London on UKlisting.net. They say this-

About and Description

We are an independent satellite and TV aerial installer and wholesale electronic accessories expert. For more information please inbox us now!

We are an independent satellite and TV aerial installer and wholesale electronic accessories expert. For more information please inbox or call us on 03334440112 now! We are your local SKY expert offering customize services & advice on your TV, Phone & Broadband needs. We let you pick the bespoke packages & installations within your budget.”

 

Sounds like it could be them. They have a Facebook page too. There is an Ipik Solutions based in India but I have been unable to establish if there are any links between the two companies.

At the bottom of SkyEuropeTV’s website is this information.

Screenshot 2016-07-18 20.30.31

Apex Junction are registered at Companies House and Bilal Awan is the director. He is also the director of Sky TV Europe Ltd. They were both registered last summer. Interestingly, Bilal is in the MLM called ACN, as is Rizwan Gohar (more on him later).

And then there is this message we received from SKY.

Screenshot 2016-07-19 12.48.38.png

 

 

Their little dispute with a perfume company

LTW had a disagreement with a company called Per-Scent which ended up with LTW owing Per-Scent money. It looks like this ended in Per-Scent issuing a petition in the courts to have LTW wound down. This means that they wanted LTW to be dissolved and the money owed to them finally be paid. We know this petition was served and the case came to court.

LTW maintained that it had all been sorted out before the court date and the case would not be heard. It would be scrubbed from the Gazzette they said. Here is a FB status from one of LTW’s shills.

Screenshot 2016-07-15 22.23.32.png

It did come to court and the case WAS heard.

Screenshot 2016-07-15 22.02.25

This website explains what a winding up petition is and what happens. Interestingly, one of the things that happens once a petition is advertised is that bank accounts are frozen, meaning suppliers and employees can’t be paid.

This could possibly explain the problems experienced by some people in LTW not being paid their bonuses this month. Look at this You Tube clip at 9 minutes where a shill is explaining what she has been told.

The products

The issues with the products are covered in this post towards the end.

Essentially, LTW claim that they are making deals directly with the suppliers, cutting out all the expensive stages in between and then passing on the savings to members. A little digging revealed that their stock was all end of line stuff. You cannot purchase these products in normal shops as they have been replaced with more upto date packaging. The very basic idea behind the whole enterprise turned out to be false.

 

Rizwan Gohar

I have avoided commenting on this man because he seemed to be an IBO with LTW and his shady past was not directly affecting anyone. But now it seems, evidence is appearing that he may be playing a bigger part in the company than ‘just an IBO’.

His shady past involves having four convictions before being caught and sentenced to prison for stealing cars worth more than £150,000. He was caught on a ferry on the way to Ireland with one of the stolen cars. Part of this crime involved the set up of a fraudulent, fake company and using stolen credit cards. Read the Stoke Sentinel for the story.

Rizwan seems to have been in on LTW from the beginning. He was involved in setting it up. Here is evidence he set up the websites for LTW. He owns the websites.

Screenshot 2016-07-15 12.57.18.png

 

Disgruntled LTW members have been emailing LTW and complaining about the company. Rizwan Gohar has been replying to these people.

 

Screenshot 2016-07-15 15.29.26.png

 

Rizwan has been the subject of a bankruptcy order in relation to a failed business he was a director of.

Screenshot 2016-07-15 15.41.59.png

Here are some companies he has been involved in by holding an officership. All these companies have been dissolved.

Screenshot 2016-07-15 20.06.03.png

Should Rizwan really be holding such a position of responsibility and LTW lying about his role in the whole scheme? Would you trust him with your details? Would you give money to a company he is involved in?

Conclusion

Please think carefully before getting involved in LTW. As they say in MLM, do your due dilligence. But don’t then ignore what you find.

Critique of a Slenderiix paper

The paper can be found here.

This paper has been given by people peddling Ariix products as evidence that it works. Here are the products mentionned in the paper.

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.18.55

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.19.21

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.19.46

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.19.56

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.21.04

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.21.13

So that is what is claimed by Ariix. They also claim this-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 10.25.11.png

Let’s not just take their word for it, let’s have a look at the actual paper and evaluate it properly. I would like to point out that I have been trained in how to analyse a research paper and even worked in clinical research for a year.

Context of the study

  • The publication that the study appeared in. This paper was given to me as a pdf and no journal is mentioned on it. Where did this paper appear? Was it peer reviewed? Normally a paper is submitted to a journal and it then goes through a vigorous process of reading and checking by experts in the field. Only if the experts agree that the study is a good one, will it be published. Different journals have different levels of credibility and expertise. It would be useful to know which journal it appeared in (If any).

If it has not been in a peer-reviewed journal, this immediately casts doubt onto its                credibility.

Who did the study?

It is useful to know the background of the researchers. Do they have the proper expertise? What papers have they published in the past? Are they credible? What institution do they work for? It is common practice to research the authors of papers as this is all relevant.

There is no mention of who carried out the research or where. This is extremely unusual in a research paper. In fact, when research is quoted, you start with the names of the authors. There is a mention of someone called Dr Hurt who interviewed the participants. I initially googled ‘Dr Hurt’ and found this-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 19.56.50.png

He is a character from Batman. I assumed it wasn’t him that wrote the paper. He’s a psychiatrist.

 

Googling ‘Dr Hurt ariix’ reveals this-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 14.51.29.png

Dr Hurt worked for Ariix. She seemed to have a part in designing the products. She is not the best person to be testing these products. She will not be non-biased at all. In fact, normally research papers have a section where authors declare interests that might conflict with the study. There is no such section here.

Dr Hurt’s qualifications

It is normal practice to examine the qualifications of authors of papers. It is standard practice for CVs to be submitted to Journals when papers are being submitted to a journal. It is normal for critical readers to examine the available evidence of an author’s qualifications and job role. I am not getting personal or nasty here, I am just doing what is expected in a thorough review.

Dr Hurt is the only name mentioned in the paper so I can only look at her information. Here is her LinkedIn profile-

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.21.33

Ah, it says this on her profile-

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.22.56

So she was the only person involved in the study. OK, let’s look at her qualifications.

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.23.34

What is a ‘Fellow, functional Endocrinology’? A quick goole tells me a ‘fellowship’ is obtained in the US by a physician or dentist undertaking about a year of additional medical training. More details can be found here about the qualification. It is open to people with a phd and is an online course.

Dr Hart’s phd was gained in Kingdom College of Natural Health. Is this an acredited college? No. This is from their own website.

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.42.00

The KCNH just do distance and online courses. It is possible to get a degree there in 30 days if you already think you know the subject! You can just take the test and skip the course.Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.59.40.png

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.56.17.png

I do not know if Marlisa got her doctorate this way or if she studied hard for years. Either way, it isn’t recognised by the US Education Department.

What about Liberty University where she got her Bachelor’s degree? This is a very Christian University where their programs are ‘Christ-centred’. Her degree is in Human ecology which is the study of humans in their environment.

Is someone with a ‘Christ-centred’ degree in human ecology and a non-accredited phd the best person to be conducting a clinical trial?

 

When was the article written/ published?

Normally, papers have the date mentioned somewhere on it. It is important to know the date so the research can be put in context. Also, studies are normally referred to by author and year published as a way of identifying it. This is how a research paper should be referenced-

Screenshot 2016-05-13 09.33.52

Note that the information contains the names of the authors, date, title, journal it was in. Every single piece of this information is missing from the Slenderiix study.

Note also that the above example was taken from the reference list of the Slenderiix paper. It was one of the few that was correctly referenced. Most of the other references were of a very poor standard, well below that expected of an A-Level student (for our non-UK readers, A-Levels are undertaken by 16-18 year olds).

 

What is being studied?

  • Normally I would look at the title of the paper next to see what it was examining. There is no title. This is very unusual for a proper scientific paper.

 

  • This is mentioned in the abstract- “Exploring the relationship of an exclusive homeopathic weight loss tincture combined with therapeutic nutrition in relation to reversal of visceral adipose fat tissue stores and serum inflammatory markers, which indicate risk factors for leading causes of death, including congestive heart disease and hormone-related cancers.”

The dependent variable here (the thing that you are trying to effect) is amount of visceral adipose fat tissue stores and serum inflammatory markers.

The independent variable here (the thing you have control over and are tweaking) is the homeopathic weight loss tincture and therapeutic nutrition.

Right, so we’ve managed to work out what they are testing. Let’s see how they went about it.

Design of the study

  • In the Abstract the phrase “A Randomized, Blind, Placebo-Controlled Cross-Over Study:” is used. This is good news. This is nearly the gold standard for research studies.
  • Randomised means that people are allocated to groups randomly, not chosen by a researcher which might bias the results.
  • Blind means that the participants don’t know if they are in the experimental or control group. This is supposed to weed out any placebo effect. This is not a double-blind study, where the researchers don’t know who is in what group. When it is not double-blinded, there is the possibility of researchers interpreting information in a biased way.
  • Placebo-controlled means that there was a group of participants who had exactly the same treatment as the experimental group except they were given products without active ingredients. The participants themselves wouldn’t know if they were having the active ingredients or an inactive substance. It is important that the products taken look and feel the same. They would be treated the same by the researchers as well if it was a double-blind trial but this isn’t one of those.
  • Cross-over means that the same people were put through being in the placebo group and experimental group.  They essentially act as their own control. This would factor out any differences found being down to individual differences in the participants. For example, if you have a young person and an old person in the group, their age wouldn’t affect anything because they would be in the control group and experimental group. Old control vs olds experimental and young control vs young experimental. Their age would become irrelevant.

 

Is the study Placebo controlled?

  • If the study is placebo controlled, then there should be an experimental group where they try the product/method and a placebo group where the participants have exactly the same as the experimental group except their products do not contain any of the active ingredients. Because it is a cross-over study, each person should be in each group over a period of time.  This should mean we can see if it is these specific products that have made the difference, rather than just being involved in a study and having the help and support of the researchers.

Having a look at the paper  though, they describe their groups like this-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 11.42.19

There is no mention at all of a placebo group. There is mention that the people in group C have a placebo instead of Slenderiix. But they are still having the other two elements of the program so this is not a placebo group. Each group appears to just be doing different components of the weight loss program. These groups might be useful when trying to determine which element is having any effect, but it would be an entirely different study to the one that is presumably being done.

Later the groups are referred to like this

Screenshot 2016-05-11 11.58.50

Group C seems to be labelled as a placebo group now. This is not a placebo group at all. This is quite deceptive in my opinion.

Then these two pieces of information appear-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 12.03.04.png

This sounds like a control group where the participants had no diet. Where did this group come from? How many people were in it?

Screenshot 2016-05-11 12.02.06.png

Now there is a diet only group as well. Where has this come from? Note Group C is still being referred to as a placebo group. Where are the people who had no diet?

From the information given, it is very unclear exactly who is in what group. There doesn’t appear to be a proper placebo group.

 

Is the study a cross-over study?

The study does not appear to be a proper cross-over study where all the participants serve in all the groups so they are their own control. The paper has this to say about it-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 13.34.09.png

This means that for the first 4 weeks there were groups A,B,C and D (plus the mysterious diet only and no diet groups) and for the remaining 8 weeks, A,B and C joined D. On the charts the people stayed in their labelled groups even though they had changed regimes. All very confusing.

This is not a cross-over study.

 

What do we know about the particpants?

The paper has this to say-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 12.12.55.png

Only 19 of the participants completed the experiment. This is an extremely small group and is not representative of the population. The men:women ratio is very uneven, why not just choose one sex to study? Or do half and half?

Because the study is a crossover study it should not need as many participants because each person will be used in each group. However, as this is not a true cross-over study that is irrelevant.

19 participants is an extremely low number to use. There is no reason to use such a small number of people in this study. It just undermines any results found.

 

 

Results

What did they find in relation to the initial research question? I.e. visceral fat stores and inflammatory markers?

  • visceral fat stores.

The most accurate way to measure visceral fat stores in with CT imaging. I would expect a proper clinical trial testing a product to use this most accurate method. There other, less accurate ways to measure it according to this health website.

Screenshot 2016-05-11 14.05.31.png

So there’s a few ways to measure it- each becoming less accurate. They are- CT, Bioelectrical impedence machines, waist to hip ratio.

Which method did this study use to measure visceral fat?

They talk about weight loss amounts and produce charts and graphs but this is irrelevant to the question being asked. We want to know about visceral fat, the dangerous type that can increase your chances of having health problems. Normal weight loss is not a good indicator of this.

In the write up of results there is mention of some measurements taken. There are no figures, no statistical analysis. There is some anecdotal information thrown in too.

Screenshot 2016-05-11 14.21.49.png

There does not seem to be any attempt to measure waist-hip ratios which would have given some idea of visceral fat loss. (The third best way to measure this fat.) I am suspicious as to why the researchers have not done a thorough analysis and made their results properly known, seeing as this is what they initially set out to test.

 

  • serum inflammatory markers.

The best way to measure these according to Patient is to measure three things-

Screenshot 2016-05-11 14.16.37.png

The study reports that over half of the participants did not have their blood tests repeated after the 12 weeks. This is a major concern and seriously puts any results into jeopardy. There were only 19 participants anyway, to lose half of them at this stage is catastrophic! They blame the participants’ own doctors because they were supposed to be doing the tests. Why are the researchers not doing the blood tests? This all sounds a bit odd!

Anyway, what blood tests were done on the remaining 10 participants?

These are the tests that were done on the people in the non-placebo groups.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 14.35.16

ESR and PV are not tested for. CRP is though. The CRP levels have been shown to reduce in the non placebo people and this is statistically significant.

What about in comparison to the placebo group then? Which is the comparison we are here to make. They don’t mention the placebo group on their own, but lump all the post-study blood together here and say they all improved.Screenshot 2016-05-11 14.40.17

Serum inflammatory markers have not been tested for adequately or compared between the groups at all. In fact, only one of the markers was tested, and then not properly compared.

Analysis of the paper’s conclusions

The conclusion does not mention at all the results of what hey set out to test. This is the bit where the original question is revisited, the results related back to this and meaningful conclusions drawn as to what the results might mean. Instead there is a rambling essay of things that were discovered along the way but this is meaningless if it was not studied properly.

 

Other observations

Many statements are included in the paper that are not backed up with research. This is very poor for a scientific study. If you are going to state something as a fact in a paper, you need to back it up. It is not enough to just include a list of references at the end. You need to annotate points as they arise. Sometimes this is done, mostly it is not.

There are many pages of irrelevant details that serve as descriptions of Ariix products. This is totally unnecessary.

The aim of the paper. Why was it written? This is offered in the introduction-

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.05.07

I would have to conclude, after examining the evidence, that this is not a proper study at all, it is a very poor attempt at one. The inclusion of statements such as this one

Screenshot 2016-05-13 10.08.44.png

ring alarm bells at the assumptions being made. It is my considered opinion that this paper is psuedoscientific.

 

Conclusions

This is not in a peer-reviewed journal which means it has not been checked by experts. (As happens with normal research)

It is written by someone working for the company and she may also have been involved in making the product. Her professional qualifications are doubtful.

It is not placebo controlled as claimed in the paper.

It is not a cross-over study as claimed in the paper.

They set out to test visceral fat stores and inflammatory markers. They didn’t test visceral fat stores. Only half the people had inflammatory markers tested.

Only 23 people started the study, 19 completed it, 10 had blood tests done.

There are many pages of irrelevant information about the products.

The study is rambling, and disjointed. Groups of participants appear and disappear with no explanation. It is not properly referenced and follows very few basic scientific paper standards.

This study cannot be trusted in any way. No meaningful conclusions can be made from it. IT DOES NOT SHOW THAT SLENDERIIX IS EFFECTIVE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forever Living using sick children, Great Ormond Street Hospital and a charity to make unsubstantiated health claims.

Have you seen any claims from Forever Living (FL) salespeople about their products and links with Great Ormond Street Hospital? Or with the skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)?

In case you haven’t heard of EB, here is some information from an NHS website.

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Here are some examples of Forever Living distributors making health claims using GOSH/ sick children/ EB in order to sell their creams.

From a distributor’s blog

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Here is someone from FLP trying to get sufferers of EB to use the products on Facebook. There weren’t any replies to the question.

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Here a distributor is making claims about Gelly being used in the burns department at GOSH.

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Here, a distributor is making claims in a local publication to promote the company.

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I have personally heard a Forever distributor say that FL products are used at GOSH for putting on burns. I thought at the time that this didn’t sound right but kept quiet because I was at my friend’s house and it was her ‘launch party’.

This charity worker also heard of these claims. Her name is Janice and she seems to have worked/ works for DEBRA, a charity supporting patients and their families with EB. She became concerned about claims that were being made to people with EB and other DEBRA workers.

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These are the claims she was talking about. This is the message that was sent from someone selling these products.

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This document can be found here. I’m not sure of its context, it seems to just be floating around the internet on its own.

I decided to do a bit of investigating of the issue myself.

 

I found this on page 16 of Forever Living’s ad pack where they say what statements their salespeople are allowed to use.

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With regards to the first statement of money being raised, I found this in Company check that makes the information at Companies House available to the public. It is taken from their records for 2001.

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Was this statement audited? Is there footage of giant cheques being presented? Or was it just a statement put in the introduction with no need to prove it?

Timeless Vie, on behalf of Bot Watch, asked Forever Living Products (UK) to verify the facts mentioned in the ad pack. They did not reply. They asked again. No answers.

So I asked Great Ormond Street Hospital if they had received any money for funding these nurses. This was their reply.

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Maybe Forever Living’s distributors did raise that money. There is no evidence for it, but none against it either.

 

What about the other claims in that ad pack?

Janice (the woman who was researching the spurious claims) got a reply from the specialist EB dietician at GOSH about the Forever Living claims-

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I asked Great Ormond Street more questions. This is their reply. Their answers are in bold type.

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I asked DEBRA what their thoughts were on these claims. This is what they said-

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In conclusion,

Forever Living’s distributors are claiming their products have been used in research on EB at Great Ormond Street Hospital. They imply it was successful, so successful in fact, that you can get their product from the dermatology department there. They have associated themselves with DEBRA.

GOSH have no records of any research being carried out there, their creme wasn’t available there and it is not available there now. DEBRA do not endorse any products.

The health claims surrounding EB and Propolis creme are endorsed by FL themselves. There is no evidence to support these claims.

Using sick children, a well known NHS Children’s hospital and a charity to sell moisturiser is unacceptable. No health claims should be being made for this product as it is not licenced by the MHRA. For more on this issue, visit my other blog posts on it- Part one and part two.

If you sell these products, please stop making fraudulent claims.

 

Update- Since publishing this article it has come to light that Forever Living have told their distributors to stop associating them with GOSH. This was on a Mumsnet thread discussing the issue-

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I’d be happy to add a comment from Forever Living themselves if they want to leave one.