Laughing in the Face of Fraud

Government regulators and most news media turn their heads or find other diversions from the reality of a fraud epidemic on Main Street America. But some comedians, movie producers, comic strip writers, and television sit-coms are finding rich material in the mass folly and pathos. Indeed, laughter, ridicule and satire may be the best weapons consumers have against wily pyramid promoters. So clever and disguised are their tactics that one risks entrapment by taking them seriously at all.

Here is a list of movies and clips on multi-level marketing fraud that not only bring a smile but also open eyes and minds. It appears that comedians and satirists see the fraud of multi-level marketing plainly, while regulators and the main stream media are flummoxed.
  • A new full length movie, entitled “Change Your Life!”, is described by its producer, Transcendental Media, as a mockumentary, starring Tony Plana (Ugly Betty, 24, Three Amigos)…(that) pokes fun at America's obsession with instant success, motivational books, MLMs and the lust for effortless prosperity that nearly bankrupted the U.S.A. See the trailer
  • Comedians Penn & Teller dedicated an entire segment of their popular ShowTime series, BullS_t, to expose multi-level marketing. The segment is entitled “Easy Money.” A 5-minute YouTube clip of the show is available. A longer 9-minute clip is also available. Note: The longer piece has some profanity, and the full show has nudity and profanity.
  • Comic strip character, Dilbert, despairs after being misleadingly invited to a luncheon with a MLMer, co-worker.
  • Television comedian, Steven Colbert lampoons MLM lies by having the most trusted voice in America, Morgan Freeman, try to sound and look sincere while speaking about Amway.
  • The British sitcom, Peep Show, has a very funny take on pyramid recruiting, entitled “This is not a Pyramid Scheme” (note some profanity in the 4-minute YouTube clip)
  • A “fierce and funny satire on multi-level marketing” is how the mockumentary movie, “Believe!” is described. Viewers will surely recognize Amway in this clever and humorous drama about when the American Dream becomes a nightmare.
  • The comedy show, The Office, depicts bungling office manager, Michael Scott, recruiting his very own staff members into a pyramid marketing scheme. How many people have been in similar situations?
If you are wondering why comedians are able to see right through the frauds, but regulators and journalists do not, it is important to learn about the work of one key person in lobbying and public relations for multi-level marketing. That national figure is the noted economist, Dr. Lasdwun N. Luzes. He is a popular speaker at Amway meetings, a lobbyist for the Direct Selling Association, a fierce critic of consumer protection and a fervent anti-regulation spokesman.
After the last presidential election, Dr. Luzes’ career appeared to take a downturn but today he is again in demand. He is reportedly having success in lobbying the staff of the Federal Trade Commission to oppose requirements for full disclosure by MLM companies, claiming that honest disclosure is a financial burden on them and having to reveal the truth could force many MLM companies out of business. He also helped negotiate the recent $150 million settlement that Amway reached in the class action fraud suit brought by consumers. The settlement was the largest in MLM history, but it does allow Amway to continue its operations and avoids a catastrophic jury trial. His amazingly successful career is generally unknown to consumers, but he is reportedly revered on Wall Street and among the largest banks and mortgage companies that emulate his tactics. It is said that he was a confidant of Bernard Madoff.
See a summary of his exploits.