BBC Documentary Follows Women 'Scammed' By Multi-Level Marketing
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If you were offered the opportunity to make a six-figure salary from the comfort of your own home, without the need for any qualifications or so much as an interview, would you take it?
We don't blame you; these are just some of the promises that come with multi-level marketing (MLM), and unsurprisingly, lots of people find themselves signing up.
Multi-level marketing, also known as network marketing, is a means of selling products through individual distributors. If you sign up with an MLM company, you do not earn a salary, but you work from home and make money by earning commission on the products you sell, while having to cover you own expenses.
It may seem like the dream job for those looking to make a bit of extra cash on the side - that is, if you make any money at all.
A new BBC Three documentary, Ellie Undercover: Secrets of the Multi-Level Millionaires, examines the multi-billion dollar industry and investigates the ethics behind MLM companies that have been accused of illegal pyramid selling, systematic targeting of vulnerable people by recruiters and even brainwashing.
In the documentary, journalist Ellie Flynn goes undercover to speak to people working in the industry and former sellers such as Vickie.
Vickie, from Cornwall, was recruited by billion dollar MLM company, Nu Skin, and explains that she was one of many women who were targetted by recruiters due to her vulnerable status as a young mum. Like many, Vickie signed up while was in a "desperate situation," pregnant with her second child and concerned about finances.
The mum-of-two told Ellie how she was attracted to the prospect because of the cars, nice houses and money that the she saw the "people at the top" - aka the best sellers in the company who only make up 0.004 per cent of the workforce (that's just 36 people) - raking in.
"I spent hours day in day out [working], particularly before I gave birth, because I wanted to build up and income for when I gave birth," Vickie explained, even revealing she spent the first eight hours of her 25 hour labour trying to sell products.
Vickie claimed than in six months working for Nu Skin, she made a meagre £20.
But Vickie's story echos thousands of others like hers: in 2017, Nu Skin had over 90,000 active distributors in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Of these sellers, 89 per cent didn't make any commission at all.
Ellie Undercover: Secrets of the Multi-Level Millionaires in on BBC on Saturday 27th April.