Twitter’s Biggest Scams Part 4: The Trump Network

Part 4 of a series

Yes, it’s THAT Trump.  “The Donald” is actually behind this Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) program.  A key difference between this and the other MLM programs explained this week is that there is an actual product exchanging hands – nutritional aids.

The Trump Network was launched in the fall of 2009 — actually a re-branding of a pre-existing 12-year-old company — apparently endorsed by Trump himself.

They sell vitamins and supplements, which are popular with many other recruiting MLM companies. It costs $48 to join the program, and then you buy a marketing kit for $497 to start selling. Trump pitches it as a “gift” to the recession-wounded America, and says it is geared toward making Americans healthier.

Like a lot of MLM companies, it’s light on product information and heavy on buzzwords (the recession, the national debate over healthcare, green/organic product popularity). The actual product being sold is an afterthought on the website, highlighting opportunities in the “explosive health and wellness wave” instead.

Becauset they sell vitamins, The Trump Network can skirt being called a “pyramid scheme” but it still looks that way in practice.  People who join the network earn most of their money from enrollment fees and maintenance costs. The independent “distributors” are then pushed to recruit more distributors of their own. In many schemes of this kind, they are required to buy more inventory than they can probably ever sell, shifting focus toward recruitment as a means of re-couping their investment, which is unlikely.

One MLM resource >website did a “review” of the Trump network and explained the “get rich” process:

“You call your sponsor, and they tell you what they were told, which is basically useless, and so you fall for the most gullible, stupid strategies that you could possible engage in – depending on your friends, neighbors, and relatives to make you rich.”

I think one of the most disturbing aspects of this initiative is the judgment of Donald Trump to lend his name to something that is built on such shaky ground. Here’s a guy whose brand is synonymous with the gold standard of quality – why jeopardize his brand by implying  riches are at hand to people who are probably suffering?

Note: some of the debate in the comment section of this post focuses on the real value of the Trump brand name. This is addressed in WSJ article on a court case on this topic: click for article

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