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Book Review: False Profits

False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes, by Robert L. Fitzpatrick and Joyce Reynolds, explores the history and cultural context of MLMs and pyramid schemes. It isn’t a great book for understanding the intricacies of today’s multi-level marketing companies. It explains why so many people join these groups and recruit others. The book goes into why so many people are attracted to pyramid schemes and the quick rise of MLMs over the past decades.

Tip: Amazon is useful to preview the book and even to buy. However, always check your local library for the absolute best (free!) prices on books. Most libraries even have eBooks available!

The authors dive deep into the New Age movement. It’s important to note that the book was written over 20 years ago. The cultural context has changed dramatically but the relevance can’t be overstated. The book is often prophetic.

One thing we’ll point out is how much more prevalent and adept multi-level marketing has become. The book probably underestimates this. The internet is a lot more powerful and ubiquitous than the analysis expects. The author implies a much closer relationship of new-age thinking and the MLM and pyramid scheme business models than is proving to be the case these days. Today, we are seeing MLM models thrive globally under very different cultural contexts and with different motivations.

Regardless, this is a fascinating analysis and helpful to understand the staggering rise of multi-level marketing in the United States. It’s useful to understand the underpinnings of the messaging and marketing of the largest and most successful MLM companies.

False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes; Robert L. Fitzpatrick and Joyce K. Reynolds; 1997. Amazon Listing (I got my copy from my local library!)

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