Home Business In whatever name, It is a pyramid scheme

In whatever name, It is a pyramid scheme


Dear Consumer’s Voice


A few weeks ago me and my workmate were approached by a lady claiming to be a representative of TVI (Travel Ventures International) which claims to be selling travel packages to people.  Apparently you become a consultant with them and sell travel packages.  You join by paying a fee of P2, 100, and then you get 8 nights free to a 5 star hotel and discount in car rentals and flight tickets.  From there you look for 3 people to join under you for which you will then receive $500 in reward and climb the ladder until you get $10,000.

Well I have been thinking of joining for a while. The company has meetings in the evenings on Sundays.  Well before I get ripped off I want to know the real truth.  Is this is a multilevel company like Amway?

You are very wise to be cautious.  Very wise indeed.

We first reported about TVI in February this year when another consumer asked us a very similar question.  I think it’s worth repeating the advice we gave again as a warning to all readers of The Voice.

TVI describe themselves as a Direct Selling company which is just another way of describing Multi-Level or Network Marketing schemes. Others would just describe them as a pyramid-structured selling scheme.

As with all MLM schemes they have a very glossy looking web site that is full of pictures of happy smiling people, rainbows, private jets, sunshine and empty promises. Their main page includes an invitation to find out “how a few extra hours can build a Multi Million Dollar Business for you and your family”.

Elsewhere on their web site, in the Frequently Asked Questions page, is a very interesting item. It poses the question “Do I need to sell any products?”. The answer is worth quoting in full:

“No. You don’t need to sell any products. TVI Express is a unique e-commerce opportunity allowing you to build the Business around the globe sitting at your home. However, we do support leaders who take initiatives to promote the opportunity offline conducting seminars and workshops about the Opportunity.”

So all you do is join, pay them the joining fee of $250, then recruit two other people and money miraculously appears from nowhere?

TVI is a classic pyramid scheme. What you do is recruit two other people, encourage them each to recruit another two and so on down the pyramid. Every recruit must pay the $250 entry fee and those amounts soon mount up. Once you’ve recruited 3 levels beneath you (15 victims, 6 who have recruited others) you get $250 cash and a $250 holiday voucher. But that’s after TVI have earned a total of $3,750. Your $250 isn’t much of a reward is it?

Your network must grow even more if you want to get to the next reward level. They claim that when you have 7 levels beneath you (255 people, 127 recruiting others beneath them) they’ll give you a massive $10,000. But that’s after TVI has earned a massive $63,750. Again that’s not so impressive is it? But anyway, let’s get real. Do you really think that your team will be able to find 255 people stupid enough to fall for this hogwash?

TVI promise to give you all sorts of vouchers for holidays as you build your network of fools. They promise “incentives ranging from Luxury cars to Private Jets and Splendid Villas in exotic locations around the world” but that’s just another part of the scam. What use is a holiday voucher if you can’t afford to go on holiday?

Like all pyramid schemes TVI WILL fail. Even the “legitimate” MLM schemes like Amway, who at least have products to sell, have been forced to concede that only a tiny minority of people who join make any profit.

TVI is simply unbelievable and should NOT be trusted. It’s a pyramid scheme and I guarantee that if you give them your money you’ll just be throwing it away.

An update

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  1. What a cynical Jurnalist! you write before you research! The reality of a cynical mind has no room for new ideas, so the wise said! This is not a well researched article and it does not live up to the standards of good jurnalism and i will equateyour utterances to great people who made very stupid comments and missed out on great opportunities with their followers!
    “Radio has no future! Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible! X-rays will prove to be a hoax!” — Lord Kelvin, British scientist and President of the British Royal Society, 1890. Guglielmo Marconi and the wright brothers never listened to such cynical minds and invented the radio and heavier than air machine respectively.
    “I think there is a world market for maybe five personal computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943. With such thinking, Bill Gates was handed the Market on a silver plate and IBM lost out…now guess who is the richest man on earth.
    “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” — Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
    “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” — Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project.
    “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” — Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.
    So Mr Jurnalist, you are instilling your cynical mind in to those who dont know or have not researched about it themselves. The possibility is most of the ppl will listen to you and believe you, without having to apply their mind to what you are talking about.
    As a matter of fact, Amway and TVI are not scams, im a member of neither of these but i took my time to find out about them, they are straight forward business opportunities. They are not “Get rich quick” schemes, neither are they Pyramid Schemes. Amway needs you to work hard and they will never cheat on you, Amway thrives on your success and for you to be succesfull you work hard in the business, you make it your lifestyle and encouradge those who join to also do the same. Instead of buying your basic needs from PicknPay, Choppies etc, you buy them from Amway, and if everyone in your group does the same thing, you have a share in the Profits. Currently, buying from a retail store, you don’t get any profits from that. The profit is shared between the Manufacturer and the retail store. Amway has excluded retail stores and they share their profits with the consumer! Intelligent ppl will attend the seminars and understand, not get information from a cynical mind! I attended Amway seminar last week and im going to join, I saw all the models and how it works, I don’t expect to be rich the following day! Robert Kiosaki of “Rich Dad fame”, who is a multi millionaire himself, cannot endorse a scam.

  2. Omang wena o kwalan abe o lebala leina lagago , Pyramid or circle tlogela , O tlhokile dikgang tseo ka di kwalang ,The next thing u call TVI hogwash, shame on you , This is an honest business that is legal and some people are jobless out there and ba leka go dira matshelo for their kids , wena o tsamaa o kwala matlakala a ka tvi .

    if you feel tvi wont work for you ,You are not batswana se aketse babangwe ore it wont work o ise o leke ,Kante legone omang ??We dont need people like you writing lies on this column , ah ah ,.Stick to what you know o lese maaka,, o ntenne , nxa

  3. For those serious about their need to gain financial freedom..Reading this article will mislead you people.I have joined TVI and before i joined i had lot of thoughts about dis business..As of now i m glad and thankful to my Batswana friends who introduced me to dis business.

    My Asian friends have long told me that, they success lies in their desire to take risk..so peoples if you want 2 join TVI..determination,hard-work and team-work is the way to go in this business..You recruit people and you work with them to even recruit more people, while you keep advancing to the top and getting ur rewards yah thats the deal..very very easy….!

    I m currently heading for $10,000 hopeful i will reach there in 2 months if not less..Lets the voice spread propaganda and discourage Batswana from being invester…!

    By the way how can some people trust network marketing if they know nothing about it..?Hehehehe ke Batswana ga dumele gore motho o ka itirela madi a ntse fa batshe..ba dumela mo go fufuleng..!

    In this time of technological revolution and information age..hard-work and sweating are no longer ways of making zaka Batswana betsho…!

    Nna ke a hustler.ke dira madi ka di tsela tsothe tse di molemo..lo tla sala foo le ntse le kwala maaaka mo bo the-voice…Even spreading of web-Links to customer is business nowaday..!

    Waitse bo the-voice le bone….I m expecting an apology from the voice..in regard to this misleading infor.

  4. @Mmualebe 11. Of course the first people will benefit. It is the last people who will not benefit. population of Botswana is 2million. So 1!3!9!27!81!243! > 14 Million. Ke gore motho ale 1 batla 3people. Then 3 ppl gets 27ppl. 27 gets 81. 81 gets 243. numbers do not lie. Fa otsaya batswana bothe, le dikgomo tsa rona, dintsa, ditonki, ditlou gare tshware 14million. Formulara ke inverted permutation(!). Year 1 statistics. lesang go omana le sa dira dipalo. Ke sone se o bonang batswana re tsiediwa mothofo. o akanya gore o ka ya go robala ko grand palm kana mowana safari mothofo kana 5 star ke P1000 per night wake up.

  5. Good people of the beautiful Botswana, do not be fooled by people who come and scam you with their stupid so called investment… I wonder if this stupid pyramid is even registered as a business in Botswana. If I see any of you coming to my doorstep talking about this foolish investment expect a BIg punch on your mouth….. TVI is A BIG SCAM, people please hear me……

  6. I live in Canada. The population of Botswana is immaterial to the equation of success as it pattens to the internet-age of network marketing.

    Mind you Botswana can NEVER survive exlcusively on the income it derives from the miniscule 2million people who live in that landlocked, yet rich country of you. So, the WORLD my friend is the market.

    I’m glad the first person’s response was in English because I learned so much from it.

    Thanks for the narrow-mindedness that spurred this intelligent discussion.

  7. @Bamenda 1!3!9!27!81!243!729!2187!=10 460 353 203 (about 10.4 Billion ppl). Almost twice the global population. You talk of internet less than 2 billion access internet most of them are kids who cant afford this shit. It takes 6 or seven steps to exhaust all those who can afford this ridiculous pyramid. Live in Canada or Africa makes no difference sweetheart. You have fools so do we, you have prisoners so do we, you have rapists so do we, you have toilets so do we, you have prostituts so do we, you have polution from cars so do we, have a good day it was nice stuffing you enjoy

  8. A pyramid by any architecture is a pyramid…a scheme by any design is a scheme…and the secret aim is to defraud! We do not need research or rocket science to decipher scheming crooks!

  9. So you also have not so inteligent people like Bamenda in Canada. Then I need to adjust my thinking of the so called developed world. Even politics is a pyramid only 1 president and others. Monarchy one king/queen and and the rest. Any business is a pyramid director then a number of departmental managers, senior profesionals, junior profesionals and the down troden mass who keeps your offices look spotless and sparkling.

    This TVI is a very stupid pyramid. Pyramid in that you have to go through someone before you can register.

  10. @Mpho — you have only proven that some people cannot anticipate the future. You did NOT prove that TVI Express is legitimate.

    @Kaygee — same for you. You prove that TVI Express pays some people. However, how many people did you personally recruit? It requires 200+ people under you for you to be paid $10000… into your eWallet. You should not celebrate or endorse until you see money in YOUR hand (or bank), and maybe never.

  11. @Mpho — you need your eyes checked. Kiyosaki says network marketing is good. He did NOT endorse TVI Express. Your reasoning “Kiyosaki could not endorse a scam” is correct, and he did not.

    You do not see the truth: TVI Express do not sell things. TVI Express FAQ is very clear “you do not need to sell any products”. Compare to Amway, TVI Express no valid comparison.

    Amway sells real products. You buy from Amway representative without joining, yes? I buy vitamin. I buy detergent. I buy more Amway stuff.

    I buy what from TVI Express? Nothing. Only thing I can buy is membership. Maybe I buy trip from TVI Express? No. TVI Express “travel portal” same as Travelocity.com. Travelocity.com FREE TO USE. Cost nothing. No membership fee. Why pay $250 to TVI Express to use free service?

    Amway comparison to TVI Express is not valid. You speak only partial truth and bad logic.

  12. @Mpho:
    I think you need to do a lot of reading, most of the stuff you cite you probably heard it somewhere. For your info business models of IBM and Microsoft are completeley different Bill Gates concentrated on software that can be used in any computer and IBM wanted to sell computers + software to a few individuals). Yes, IBM made a mistake. Its porbably the same mistake that Apple made. Some of the great stuff you cited about things that some people thought where impossible you probably heard them in your meetings and maybe the TVI website. Please note that the cites are irrelevant to what TVI does. They are only used to brainwash people. TVI knows that by using these cites, you will think everything is easily possible.
    You mention that most people will believe the Journalist, well yes that is very true and it will not be in vain. Mind you, TVI have also thrown those cites to make people like you believe them.
    Whatever business model TVI talk about, at the end of the day it is a pyramid scheme. Worse still, they dont sell anything unlike Amway. To me any business model that makes you sweat for them to realise great profits whilst you get crumbs is a pyramid scheme. It is a morden day slavery. Its even worse when it does not sell anything. The greatest weapon of pyramid schemes is brain washing. To prove their point they will show you one or two people who have been successful and tell you how much you have to work. What they will never tell you is how much you make for them.

  13. @ Kaygee and Bamenda. Thanx to the brain washing, you two have also been hoodwinked by TVI. Kaygee, you talk about you will make your $10000 in two months but dont tell us when you started with TVI? In that period, how many manhours have you put into that?
    You Bamenda, you talk about numbers only when they favour you. Could you also please be kind enough to give us the numbers (manhours and number of people) that will make you reach?
    BAGAETSHO, GA KE GAKOLOGELWE OPE E RE A JA A BO A RE TLA RE JE! Even the richest guy, that chap from Mexico, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, they will never invite you to help you get rich.

  14. @TUTU.
    I have done a lot of reading. and i have not heard what i said from a TVI website! To start, let me say i dont know a lot about TVI, i only heard about it from radio mall, but i wont just dismiss it because i dont really how it works, but now i think i know a lot about Amway, that is why i want to join. If there is someone who has been scammed by TVI may they please share their experience…, it is best that way because i cannot believe anyone who says maths is difficult when they have not done maths, that is how i operate. If you come with the model that was presented to you when you joined and you religious followed the terms, and it still didnt work out, then i will agree that it is scam. If you join and dont do what you are required to do and then when it doesnt work out, you have yourself to blame! and i wont believe that it is scam.

    I heard a certain Dr Masenya who was an Economics Lecturer at UB is in Amway. I know some accountants in Botswana, and some successfull people travel all the way from Bots to SA to recruit people i to their teams, and the Afrikaaners here are joining! Amway is not scam i have seen how it works and im going to join it month end, regardless of what thevoice says.
    And again Mr…im a software engineer, about Microsoft and IBM, I knew what i was talking about, IBM blundered big time because they couldnt read in to the future about the potential of PCs, otherwise they would have ventured there because they are in business, but because of cynical ppl they did not. Your reasoning that IBM wants to sell business to few ppl leaves a lot to say about your thinking! Who in Business would want to sell to few ppl?
    lastly, i dont think i said Kiyosaki endorsed TVI, he endorsed Network Marketing, that you guys call scam! I have a tape and he calls it a business of the 21st century. One more thing, im sure TVI has a website, you can go in there and see if the statements i made are from TVI, it will be by coincidence! I do some reasearch and i end up with a lot of information that i get on my own…start to google and see if the statements i made are anyway associated with TVI. im not going to defend TVI, if they have scamed ppl it must be known…but i know there is no one who will come out and say Amway scammed them because they will be lying!

    Another typical example of what is happening here…when i was young and Gaborone was being devided, ppl being given business plots, some of our parents where there, and all they could say was “We dont want businesses in Gaborone, after all rona dibusiness tsa rona re tla di dira ko gae!” Others who saw in to the future got the plots and today we are accusing them of greed and of owning those plots, mme entse e le rona le batsadi barona ba re rileng ga re di tlhoke. About Amway, i am very sure this jurnalist didmisses it but he is not a member, he just writes negative things. I want him to say so and so joined and this is how they were scamed, then i will belive him. he will also have to prove their formular as hoax to warn other people like me. All he has done is to paint them bad for no reason because nowhere is he presenting the victims of the scam and dismantling their trick.

    @Name (required)
    I dont know a lot about TVI, but could you please justify your usage of factorial to prove TVI is scam.

    my advice to people is, please extend your reality to accomodate new things. something that was wrong yesterday will not neccesarily be wrong today, condition your mind for such things. the thinking that schemes are ment to defraud ppl do not make sense! How come ppl believe in Medical aid schemes, insuarence schemes etc? When they all started, they experienced such cynical thinking, and when people got sent to private hospitals, the cynical minds bowed their heads in shame. Look at something first before

  15. Does the name Barney Madoff ring a bell in any of the readers mind?? Just google his name and you will have plenty of knowledge about pyramid schemes enough to give you a PhD in the area. Well the guy is now booked in a luxury US government five star hotel aka state penitentiary for a cool 150 years courtesy of pyramid schemes. What I enjoy most about him is the vile jokes he is spewing from the government hotel about the morons he conned. Have fun!!!

  16. @Hitman Sakeng — slight correction. Bernard Madoff’s crime is running a “Ponzi Scheme”, which is not Pyramid Scheme, but a very close relative. You can check wikipedia for the difference.

  17. @Mpho — Attack on scam disguised as MLM is not the same as attack on MLM. You do not see the difference. TVI Express is a scam disguised as MLM. There are many legitimate MLM out there to join.

  18. Mpho… you are a member, yes? Why must someone be in TVI Express to say bad things about it?

    What will you say after he joined? You will probably say 1) he is not good at promoting his “team” or 2) he is only saying that because he wants to push a different MLM.

    And if he not in TVI Express, you say “he does not understand. he must join to understand”. Which is what you say now.

    No matter what he say, you attack.

    You did not attack any of the facts presented in article.

    You only “imply” that perhaps we do not understand “new” idea.

    You only “imply” that perhaps TVI Express is not a scam.

    You only “imply”, you did not prove anything.

    Pyramid scheme are old, very old. The 2×3 “matrix”? Exact copy of “airplane game”, and ‘stagecoach game’ before that in America since 1800’s. Look in Wikipedia. Exact same picture as in article. Genealogy? 1-2-4-8 pyramid, same as 2×3 matrix.

    Use new names for old scam is not new at all. Selling nothing and make money is not new at all. It is a crime.

  19. most of u say that it is a pyramid scheme. but just look at facebook or myspace before they started. it just kept on adding up. get 4 people and they will get another for of their own. its just the fact that people are lazy to even recruit. they invest thinking money would come right away without even working. for any business, you have to work your butt off. the article is not well researched. if u look at a corporate, they get all of the money while the people underneath them have a set wage. they also have no or VERY little chance to be the owner of the company. in network marketing such as TVI, you get paid depending on your performance. if u work u get money, if u dont work, then u do not get money. I dont think TVI gets all the money just like what this article said. The people who work gets the most part of the earned money because the more they work, the more money they get.

  20. TVI ke tse di tsweletseng join o tsene mo dijong.I joined TVI mid April 2010.Right now i am about to double my investment 2 times (P8400.)

  21. hey!there is no greed here.my friend paid for me coz i cdnt,i worked hard to move to compensation.i give him his 2.1 and pocket 2.1 ta ta!where is greed then?it is those like u who r driven by fear who discredit network marketing.my free advice is attend meetings,learn,be armed with knowledge then attack.eseng jalo join them.i see u waiting to say i told u so,but tell u what, with tvi o letile lefifi.

  22. cool article , all i can say is for those of you who joined TVI or like organizations and earned your money back or better, then good for you guys , the only sad thing about all of this is when everything’s done ,the people on the lowest ladder under you will have made zilch hehe , but who cares about that right? its human nature to take what you want and leave S#&* for those you dont know and dont even care about lol

  23. @ootisis — double investment? You mean $250 in eWallet and a code that may be worth $250 if you sold to new recruit?

    You can sell code to new recruit to join. That means you take money directly from late joiner to program. Make you part of scam. You have sold no product or service, correct? So where does money come from? Or you do not want to know?

    Also, much trouble in transfering eWallet money to your pocket. Must pay fees. Conversion fees. Program fees. Do not celebrate early.

    @pat otis — Of course, you think you work hard. You work hard dragging other people into program and sold nothing. You never think how business make money and sell nothing. Sell no product. Sell no service. You or any one you recruit sell anything? I think not. You only recruit. They only recruit. Where money come from? You do not care.

    My free advice is think some more. Their free advice is think less, recruit more. Only people I know that tell you to think less are either cults or scammers. You decide who is right.

  24. @jj – you are mistaken. TVI Express is not MLM or network marketing. TVI Express FAQ says “you do not need to sell any product”. No sales, no marketing. Cannot be MLM or network marketing.

    In fact, just other day TVI Express Indonesia Leader Gornawan says “TVI Express is NOT MLM” to reporter. Who do you believe?

  25. What a nice article. I personally think that TVI should be categorized as illegal, but the thing is, Indonesia doesn’t have legal rule concerning a pyramid scheme, yet. So, we just have to take care of ourselves.
    The fact is, TVI does have a license in Indonesia, but it states that the company sells ‘electronic products’ which is absolutely UNTRUE.
    Furthermore, Indonesia Direct Selling Association does not recommend people to join this company.
    Hope people would listen.