Quality essays or investigative pieces about pyramid schemes?
January 17, 2012 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Quality essays or investigative pieces about pyramid schemes?

I remember reading this amazing essay about Amway from The Baffler in 1997: http://www.webraw.com/quixtar/archives/2004/12/amway_and_the_baffler.php

I'd like to read more first-person accounts of pyramid schemes or investigative pieces that really go in-depth. Can you think of any?
posted by Cwell to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Ron Chernow wrote a good essay about the history of Ponzi schemes in The New Yorker a couple years ago.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's also this 2006 New Yorker article about how a highly educated Massachusetts psychotherapist fell for a 419 (Nigerian) scam. It's not a pyramid scheme per se, but it depends on the same desire to profit from something that ought to seem too good to be true.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rob Cockerham of cockeyed.com has done some great work on multi-level marketing. You can read about it here.
posted by alphanerd at 4:17 PM on January 17, 2012

Best answer: Consumerist did a wonderful investigation of a company affiliated with DS-Max a couple years ago.

Pink Truth has loads of articles and stories of personal experiences from women involved with Mary Kay Cosmetics.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out the archived columns from the Make Money Fast Hall of Humiliation. The wayback machine has some other cuts of the site. In all, there was active content on that URL from 96 - 06, IIRC.

The site's primary focus was on pyramid schemes in email and newsgroup postings, but it branched out after the web really took off. All columns were focused investigations on specific perps.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:26 PM on January 17, 2012

A while back I got one of those bogus ≈5.00 charges on my credit card, I was 99% sure it was a scam but, wow. Most of what I learned I gathered from here and it makes for fascinating reading.

The part that I found most interesting is how the scammers recruit their mules and how they put lots and lots of effort into vetting them, not so much because they care, but because if they put a lot of effort into vetting them the mule is more likely to not question the legitimacy of the organization they're working for, build fake websites (with reams of purchasable e-books, mostly free .pdfs collected from the web) that aren't linked to anywhere and tagged "noindex" for the sole purpose of conniving the mule that they're really the US agent for some company, etc. The user MGD's interest in this stuff is obviously not just a hobby or anything, but I'm not sure if he works for the banking side of things or the law enforcement side of things.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:47 AM on January 18, 2012

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