America is known as a beacon of hope for many around the world and for several more; a pilgrimage to the United States symbolized the beginning of a better life. This is exactly how I felt about a decade ago, when I embarked on the journey to the “Land of Opportunities”. The quest for the “American Dream” is one of the most daring and at times, costly experiences any immigrant can endure, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to experience a better life. Like most immigrant, I envisioned a land that gives an opportunity for prosperity and success, and a chance to move upward through hard work. Nine years later, I am still chasing the dream and sometimes wonder about the certainty of the dream.

James Truslow Adams in 1931, interpretation of the American dream is "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Deeply rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness", many spend their lives in pursue of this dream. While several have succeeded in acquiring the dream, for others it has been a disappointment. Some even question the authenticity of the “American Dream”. Having lived in the US for about a decade, I can emphatically say that there is an American dream, and we all are capable of achieving it, if we do the right thing. 

This article is intended not only to reassure us that the American Dream is still alive but also warn us about those promising the “American Dream” overnight. The American dream is not an overnight event. For most Americans, achieving the American dream is lifetime endeavor. While it is true that some people do get lucky along the way, for most people, it requires hard work and sound financial management.

The desire for overnight success has created an avenue for scammers to prey on those who believe they can take a shortcut to becoming successful. Because we have grown so greedy and desperate, several bogus companies have emerged, promising us overnight success. While most of their offers may seem like a good deal, beware of those companies, especially those using Multi-level marketing (MLM) or pyramid selling.  

A MLM company uses a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit.  This recruited sales force is referred to as the participant's "downline", and can provide multiple levels of compensation. Most commonly, the salespeople are expected to sell products directly to consumers by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing.

What most people who are lured into investing in companies that uses the MLM models for compensation do not know is that, those types of businesses are frequent subject of criticism and lawsuits. Most of the criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, cult-like behavior, price fixing of products, high initial entry costs.

These businesses emphasis on recruitment of others over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring members to purchase and use the company's products, exploitation of personal relationships as both sales and recruiting targets. Using complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, the company makes major money off its training events and materials, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members' enthusiasm and devotion.

One has to understand the concept behind multilevel marketing in order to grasp what I am alluding to. In a typical MLA setting, an independent non-salaried participants, referred to as distributors (or associates, independent business owners, dealers, franchise owners, independent agents, etc.), are authorized to distribute the company's products or services. They are awarded their own immediate retail profit from customers plus commission from the business, not downlines, through a multi-level marketing compensation plan, which is based upon the volume of products sold through their own sales efforts as well as that of their downline organization.

Independent distributors develop their organizations by either building an active consumer network, who buy direct from the company, or by recruiting a downline of independent distributors who also build a consumer network base, thereby expanding the overall organization. Additionally, distributors can also earn a profit by retailing products they purchased from the company at wholesale price.

Multi-level marketing binary tree structure
If this concept seems familiar, then you probably have come across a friend, family member, pastor or community leader in recent time that has sold you or tried to sell you such an elaborate business concept. Some of the most recent companies that have sprung up in our community are “Organo Gold, and now the Better Living phenomenon that is taking over the Liberian community. Such practice is becoming very prevalent in our community as I have seen several community leaders, including pastors, selling these so called lucrative investments either out of ignorance or the desire for immediate success.

Whatever the motivation behind individuals investing and encouraging others to invest in businesses that has all the warning sign of a pyramid scheme, is still incomprehensible. However, the community needs to be alerted sooner rather than later. Interestingly, it is community leaders who are encouraging individuals to engage in such a risky investment. When the true behind these schemes starts to unravel, it is going to take a huge toil on the community as most people are now going into their 401k and other retirement funds to fund these schemes. Unlike other MLM businesses that have come and go, the one that is expected to cause the most damage is the Better living global marketing. 

At the velocity at which this scam business is moving in the various immigrant communities, I predict it will be the most costly investment lost for those who have invested their money in this business. The reason is simple; Better Living Global Marketing business model is very simple and easy to understand, thus appealing a lot of individuals seeking immediate success.


Who would not want to take advantage of such a return on their investment? Imagine selling a Louis Vuitton purse which is originally retailed at $1,665, for $36,438 at a Bidders’ Paradise auction… All you have to do is bid one penny per bid at a starting bid of $165.0, if 62,824 place a bid ($793.24 -$165=$628.24 x 100 penny bids per dollar = 62,824 bids). This means that, at $0.58 per bid, the auction would make a whopping profit of $36,438 on that one Louis Vuitton purse. This profit is what Better Living Global marketing promise to share with the majority of its bidders. This would make a lot of sense if people were actually interested in bidding or they were actually bidding on those items. Research has proven the later.

To make matter worse, bidders are requested to purchase bids in advance. One bid costs $0.58 cents (USD) and bids are sold in 2,000 bid packages called a Unit. Each unit costs $1,175 including a $15 annual fee When people see an item that they’re interested in winning, they begin to bid on that item. Bidding begins at about 10% of Hong Kong retail and becomes an active auction the second someone places the first bid. A reverse timer is set at 20 seconds. Once the first bid is placed, the clock begins a countdown from 20, 19, 18, 17 etc…and every time a bid is placed, the price of the item increases by one penny and resets the clock back to 20 seconds.

This process repeats until the clock hits zero. The auction can last minutes or even days depending on how many people are bidding on the item. The last person to place a bid becomes the winner once the clock runs down to zero or when the “surprise price” is reached. The “surprise price” is a price set by the company that is less than 50% of the retail price, so you always get an excellent deal. Whenever that price is reached, the person that lands on that magic number wins the auction. Otherwise, the win goes to the last person who places a bid before the clock hits zero.


Despite the history of the MLM penny auction niche revealing otherwise, proponents of Better Living Global Marketing will no doubt attempt to try to convince people that the “success” of the Bidder’s Paradise auctions pays out the ROIs to investors. Interestingly, this may seem like a great business concept, based on how it is easily laid out, when the reality is this business does not make money from their so called bidder paradise. They actually strive on their elaborate multi-level marketing strategy, which is the first red flag.

Better Living Global marketing recruits their affiliates to join and invest at least $1175 into the business. For their investment, Better Living Global Marketing make the implied guarantee of a positive Rate of return (ROI) over 99 days, in addition to the other bonuses and commissions paid out through the compensation plan. They also created a forced re-investment through an appropriately named sustainability and reserve wallets. Everything else is converted to number on a screen, placed into a third e-wallet and is withdrawable as long as the company has money to pay affiliates out with.

The Rebirth of the Now Closed Zeek Reward Program

Now if this doesn't scare you, check out the Zeek Rewards program that Better Living Global market is model after. Just like Zeek Rewards, the sale pitch of the business is the Bidder’s Paradise penny auction, specifically the notion that it sustains the daily ROI Better Living Global Marketing pays out its affiliates. Zeek Rewards and every other MLM penny auction after it, however, have proven that the penny auction sides of the MLM companies that run them are not successful.

During this investigation, no MLM penny auction was found that has taken off on the merits of the penny auction itself. Those companies that have found success have done so on the merits of their compensation plan, which revolve around taking in money from new affiliates and using it to pay out existing affiliates.

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to see the risk involved in such an investment. The fact that there is no regulatory body to guarantee the security of your investment should be enough ground for skepticism. 

Secondly, this business is oversea, meaning they are out of reach by the US security exchange commission, FDIC, and other US financial regulatory body. Some proponents of this business have cited that too much regulation in the US is the reason such a lucrative business is not based in the US… Well, I would rather have control that will secure my investment than a free market to gamble my finance away.

More importantly, this business is a complete replica of the just closed ZeekRewards from Lexington, North Carolina. For those who are not aware of the ZeekRewards scheme, this company was started by Paul Burks in early 2010 as an online penny auction site. Originally called Zeekler, a penny auctions in which consumers compete to pay pennies on the dollar for name brand products such as ipads. Each bid costs as much as $1, so participating can become expensive and the sites can earn nice profits when multiple users bid against each other.
In January 2011, Zeekler incorporated an aspect of MLM into the business when they launched ZeekRewards. The program offered a share of the penny auction's profits to people who invested money, promoted the business on other websites and recruited other participants. Under a complicated formula, investors were issued "profit points" that grew every day. 

There is nothing wrong with investing money into a business that will generate extra income; however, we have to be mindful as community leaders how we encourage others to invest in shady financial institutions. As people go into their savings and other retirement funds to invest in such an elaborate Ponzi scheme, they need to understand that impact of losing all they have worked for over a get-rich-quick scheme.

In conclusion, I will leave few points for current or potential affiliate of this program to ponder on. While it is true that some are making short term profits, can the Better Living Global Marketing sustain the returns? If recruitment stopped altogether, and everyone decides to draw down on their e-wallets, instead of letting it ride, how will this business survive? This is no different from a Las Vegas gambling trip where one may win for a while but  at the end of the weekend, you are going to wake up with a hangover.  THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS… A HINT TO A WISE…



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