Multi-Level Marketing

Published on July 9th, 2013

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What You Should Know about Vemma

UPDATE 12/15/16: Vemma reached a $238 million settlement with the FTC it a pyramid scheme case that bans Vemma from recruitment-focused business practices as well as from making deceptive income claims and unsubstantiated health claims. It requires the company to provide compliance reports by an independent auditor for the next 20 years. Read more here. What follows is TINA.org’s original investigation into the company. 

Vemma Nutrition Company promises it will “transform lives through ultra premium products and a generous compensation plan.” The Arizona-based company promises the chance to obtain “financial freedom” by becoming an affiliate.

The company offers a variety of supplement drinks including the  “insanely health” energy drink Verve that it touts is the official drink of the Phoenix Suns, as well as weight loss products. But is the company running a legitimate MLM business or an illegal pyramid scheme? Vemma CEO Benson K. Boreyko lists ten reasons to join Vemma in a video on the company’s website. But here are eleven things a Truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org) investigation has turned up about the company that we think you should know:

  1. The FTC has received more than 140 complaints about the company and its products, according to results of two Freedom of Information Act requests filed by TINA.org. Complaints range from allegations that the company is a pyramid scheme that preys on college and high school students to customers saying their credit cards were repeatedly charged for Vemma products they didn’t want. (Update: Vemma announced that starting Sept. 1 2013 it will no longer allow minors to join Vemma, though teens 14-17 who are already brand partners and have parental permission are grandfathered in and can continue. FTC complaints from parents, however, show that some underage teens are still signing up to be affiliates despite this ban.)
  2. In order to become an affiliate and be eligible for all bonuses and commissions with Vemma, you have to meet a plethora of requirements, such as buying a $500 special Vemma pack, having an auto delivery on file and obtaining about $150 worth of product each month or personally enroll at least six other “customers.”
  3. Boreyko has been in hot water with the FTC in the past. In 1999, the FTC went after him for a previous business, New Vision International, Inc., for claims that its dietary supplement the FTC referred to as “God’s Recipe,” could cure, prevent, or treat ADD and ADHD. As a result of the action, Boreyko agreed to an order banning him “directly or through any corporation, partnership, subsidiary, division or other device” from making any claims about the safety or efficacy of supplements without reliable scientific evidence to back them up. That agreement is in effect until 2019.
  4. The Environmental Research Center Inc., a nonprofit based in Calif., sued Vemma for products offered under the New Vision line that the center claimed exposed consumers to lead, a chemical listed as a carcinogen and reproductive toxin under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, without proper warning labels. As a result of the suit, the company agreed to submit its products to lead testing and put a warning label on them if they contained more than 0.5 micrograms of lead.
  5. Boreyko claims that Dr. Oz called the Vemma formula his “favorite fatigue fighter.” Oz, who announced he is going after phony endorsements using his name, does indeed list Verve on his website as a “surefire way to get a jolt of energy.” It’s one of the few products listed by name on Oz’s site. This is not an endorsement, his spokesperson insists. You see, Boreyko is an advisory board member of Oz’s charity, HealthCorps, and Vemma has been very supportive, to the tune of nearly $1 million in donations to the charity. “I’m sure Vemma is a favorite company of Dr. Oz because of its generosity,’’ said Oz spokesman Tim Sullivan. (Note: Up through 2014, Vemma required affiliates to forgo part of their commissions to donate to Dr. Oz’s charity.)
  6. The FDA cited Vemma after a November 2012 inspection of what was its Scottsdale headquarters (the company has since moved to Tempe) for not having a system in place to conduct investigations into customer complaints or pursue follow-up action. “Conducting a review and investigation is critical to the health and safety of the consumers,’’ the report stated. Complaints from consumers ranged from allergic reactions to the product to gastrointestinal problems after drinking the beverages. The company responded to the FDA report in December 2012 saying it had provided the FDA inspector with the customer complaint procedures it uses. (Adverse events reported to the FDA by consumers taking Verve and Vemma products can be found here.)
  7. Very few people actually make it to a level of true “financial freedom.” According to Vemma’s own income disclosure statement about 75 percent of active “brand partners” (distributors) on average make less than $1,400 a year by recruiting others to the company. Less than one percent make more than $100,000. And just .01 percent become Star Royal Ambassadors. In 2013, the vast majority of distributors (82,000 of them) grossed less than $1,600 on average per year. You might have a better chance at financial freedom by purchasing a lottery ticket.
  8. Boreyko often points to the fact that an overwhelming majority of new small businesses fail. But finance experts say that is not a fair comparison to make because affiliates aren’t starting a new business. They are marketing a product from a company that is already in business. Said William Keep, the dean of the business school of The College of New Jersey and an MLM and pyramid scheme expert: “The comparison to the failure of small businesses is bogus. While a high percentage of new businesses do fail, this is not true of new businesses within the same company. In other words, a high percent of new restaurants within the same restaurant chain do not fail; a high percent of retail stores within the same company do not fail; a high percent of sales representatives working for the same company do not fail. The high failure rate within an MLM generates margin and profit, while a high failure rate among company outlets, franchisees, or even sales representatives would be a disaster.”
  9. It appears that Vemma members’ compensation is based primarily on getting others to join their “team” and not on how many individual cans of Verve or other Vemma products they sell to actual customers not involved in Vemma. That sounds an awful lot like an illegal pyramid scheme.
  10. Vemma was deemed a pyramid scheme in Italy by the country’s Competition and Markets Authority (AGCM), which prohibited it from spreading or continuing its unfair business practices and sanctioned it  €100,000 (roughly $140,000). In addition, government officials in Austria and Switzerland are pressing for charges against the company based on its business structure.
  11. The highest earning couples in Vemma (the Alkazins and the Elliotts) and their downline members have been using unsubstantiated health claims to sell the Vemma business and its products in violation of the 1999 FTC consent order that Boreyko signed. (See # 4) Said Boreyko about the issue: “I am personally very troubled by what has allegedly transpired.” He later added that affiliates were fined or suspended but did not say who. TINA.org has alerted the FTC to the issue.

This story was updated several times, most recently on 8/25/2015.

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An inherently deceptive form of multi-level marketing where participants are told they’ll get paid for recruiting other participants, and not necessarily for selling products or services. Typically, participants must pay some sort of initial investment in order to join, and will then earn a commission for each participant they recruit. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting consumers, pyramid schemes are doomed to collapse because the number of potential participants is limited.

A term most frequently used in association with multilevel marketing, it describes all the distributors who have been recruited to work under another distributor. Generally, distributors make money from the sales of all the other distributors below them in the business.

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36 Responses to What You Should Know about Vemma

  1. apetini says:

    Hello!

    My name is Anthony Petini and I would like to add my rebuttals into these allegations, as they seem to be misguided and ill-informed.

    Allegation number 1: The FTC may have received complaints from people, but ANYONE can report a company to the FTC. I could report Walmart to the FTC and while that allegation is completely false, it will still be a complaint filed against them. Also, I would like to point out that, if Vemma were an illegal pyramid scheme, why would the NBA have TWO teams involved in the company, why would NASCAR endorse the company, and why would TWO prime time TV shows have our products in display. I can tell you for a fact, that more than 30 lawyers have been at Vemma HQ to investigate the business itself and ensure that they are not getting into any illegal business activity that could have repercussions on both the networks, and the brands themselves. You can complain to the FTC all you want, but that does not make those allegations true. Regarding the credit card charges, we make sure that each new brand partner KNOWS that this is an auto-delivery every month. If someone does not know that their credit card is being charged, the enroller did not specify this, and the terms and conditions were not read.

    Allegation number 2: This “negative option offer” is an investment in building an asset. When you want to start your own business, whether it be a corner store in town or a McDonalds franchise, you MUST invest money to make money. Yes, this business is built by product purchases, so when new partners join, they invest in the company. The thing that distinguishes us from illegal pyramid schemes is that we offer a TANGIBLE product that is like no other. We offer a healthy energy drink, a super antioxidant drink, a weight loss program and a children’s supplement drink. EACH of which is revolutionary, and changing lives. When you invest the company, you are investing in health AND wealth. You are putting money into the company, and getting a product that is literally putting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals into your body that most of are not getting on our Mcdonalds and burger kind diets. I give you my word as a man, as a husband, as a father of two, that this product has changed my entire life both my health and in finances. In terms of the charged credit card that are “hard” to cancel. This is simply not true, if you want to cancel, you go onto your web site as if you were tracking your order and cancel the auto delivery, it is in plain sight and easy to find.

    Allegation number 3: We did have an A+ rating with the BBB, it was there prior to 2013. The reason the rating is being investigated is because we added 50,000 brand partners into our business THIS year alone. They removed the rating ONLY pending investigation and the rating will then be restored. As with explosive growth in any company, there will be a large number of complaints in this industry, as it is not for everyone, it takes a special kind of person to make it work. Those who either cannot do it, or were not trained to be able to do so, tend to cry scam when there is so many success stories from dedicated, motivated, and self-made leaders. It just works, but you have to be willing to learn.

    Allegation number 4: The FTC allegations against BK Boreyko were against his FATHERS company. The claims were from his father, BK inherited the company. BK realized that his father made a big mistake and so when he founded Vemma, he had the products clinically tested, not once, not twice, but THREE times, to ensure that the claims could be rationalized in the branding. He decided not to make the mistakes that his father made.

    Allegation number 5: The water used in the Vemma formulas is filtered using triple osmosis. The water is about as pure as it can get and there is not one single trace of lead in any of our products. The company Vemma, agreed to test its’ products for lead. I get product just about every month, and there is absolutely no warning label stating the possibility of the presence of lead. This allegation really irked me, mostly because it’s petty.

    Allegation number 6: Why are we cracking on Vemma for supporting charity? Dr Oz has had Verve (the energy drink), on his show three times in 2013 alone. He said a Verve a day and a handful of almonds is one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. He may not “endorse” the product, but he doesn’t really endorse a lot of products. He doesn’t even endorse Tylenol, he calls it headache medicine.

    Allegation number 7: This is a complaint that is stirring trouble without it even needing to. The company takes in and investigates every complaint about the product. They even have a label on the can that states that the product has not been approved by the FDA. The reason for this is that not every type of product is approved by the FDA and energy drinks happen to be one of those. I would venture and guess that monster and red bull are the reason. If the FDA investigated red bull and monster, they would be off the shelves. Go to the FDA site and you can find how many people these energy drinks have killed and hospitalized.

    Allegation number 8: When you join Vemma, you can either sell the product, or sell the opportunity. Each individual than has that same choice. The way that the business SHOULD be is this: The enroller signs on a brand partner > The enroller than trains the brand partner > The new brand partner duplicates the process and does the same for his enrollees. Again, each person invests in the company and receives product. There is no illegal exchanges of money, there is no unexplained charges. BK Boreyko has paid out over 750 million in bonuses to his brand partners. He is a philanthropist and genuinely cares about health and wellness as well as helping others achieve wealth beyond their wildest dreams. I’ll reiterate that you need to invest into any business you start on your own. We have been programmed to get up, go to work, come home, sleep, repeat. We know that, from kindergarten, we get up and go to school and return home. In the corporate world, we just know to do what we’re told in order to succeed. Network marketing is a new concept that not everyone understands just yet. People tend to be afraid of things they don’t understand and refuse to leave their comfort zones. For example, when the Wright brothers decided they were going to make a flying machine, people ridiculed them, told them that they were playing God and told them that it would never get anywhere. People would openly mock them and tell them that they were crazy. Does this sound familiar? I personally know PERSONALLY 3 people who make over 1000 a week in the company and am acquainted with over 30 people who make over 50,000 a month. This works, it just takes someone willing to step out of their comfort zone in order to make this work.

    Let me point out that I AM a brand partner, have been in the business for 3 months now and I have been steadily making more money with each passing month. This works, you just need to give it a chance and be WILLING to be taught how to succeed in the business. I promise that this is a viable business option, it just isn’t for everyone. Please don’t let people who could not make it work tell you that this does not work. Take it from someone who is starting to see some awesome results from hard work and a willingness to learn the process. Coming from someone who was in the corporate american position with a great job, this is definitely the better option, as YOU have control over your income, not the CEO of the company that YOU are paying to send on vacation.

    If you have any other questions, or would like to discuss anything regarding this business model, the company itself, or the opportunity, shoot me an email, I always make time for people! anthonypetini@gmail.com Thanks for reading!

    If you would rather speak over the phone, just email me your number and I can call you directly, looking forward to it! Again, that email is: anthonypetini@gmail.com

  2. Roland M. says:

    Anthony,
    I have actually spoke with the FTC and the compensation plan is exactly what they look for in a pyramid scheme. In being a brand partner, you are compensated based on recruitment. It is very clear that is how Vemma works (I spoke with them on the phone and that is what they told me), just look at the compensation document available on their website.

    Also, the explosive growth is what they look for. That makes it a large threat to consumers (how the FTC looks to see if it is a company worth pursuing). It is an industry number that over 90% of people lose money on these companies. So if 50,000 new people signed up, 45,000 if not more have lost money. When the FTC reviews that, which we won’t know if they are or aren’t, they will see that as a huge threat and could very well investigate or shut down Vemma.

    The company that the FTC shut down earlier this year had over 300k people sign up in the 11 year company history and that was considered a large consumer threat. So think about that when comparing Vemma. Like I said, the compensation document for Vemma is exactly what the FTC looks for in pyramid schemes.

    Multi-level marketing companies are not new by any means, they have been around for a long time. There are drug dealers that make more than $50,000 a month, does that make those businesses legal? Take a look at the FTC information on pyramid schemes, even give them a call if you want, but once you look at that and the past companies they have shut down, it is clear that Vemma is operating as a pyramid scheme.

    • tongster tongster says:

      Speaking of pyramid schemes, ever read Forbes.com’s article on that?
      Oh yeh and PsychologyToday had an article on ponzi schemes.

    • Real T. says:

      Hi Roland – I’m doing a story about this and there are a lot of misrepresentations. You claim to have spoken with the FTC (posted on July 9, 2013) and the person at the agency said it was a pyramid scam back then. Yet the agency (Commission) let this continue for over 2 years. Who did you speak with? I’d like to follow up with both of you before Friday. Thanks.

  3. JJerome711 says:

    40 Complaints in 3 years… gasp! That’s like…13.3 complaints a year, or a little over 1 per month. OHHHH man…

    Considering there are HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of brand partners and customers, I’d say that’s not to shabby!

    And, Illegal pyramid scheme? I mean, seriously…is that the best people can come up with?

    Network Marketing (or Multilevel Marketing) has been proven as a legitimate business since the landmark case against Amway brought on by the FTC in the 70’s. I sense some ignorance here.

    This website, (like many others similar) preys on peoples susceptibility to negativity. It’s no different then turning on the 10 o’clock news and the first thing they have on is how many murders happened for the day. People eat that stuff up. The only thing different, is that you don’t have to pay for the 10 o’clock news. Here, you can make a donation, and continue to hear how bad and evil the world is…right to your inbox! How convenient!

    The only duping going on here, is this website making things appear as they’re not. Are legitimate companies perfect? No. Do things happen that doesn’t look the greatest. Sometimes. Does that mean they’re bad? No.
    It’s funny…I don’t seem to find any REAL scams on here….such as links to Enron, The mortgage crises (big banks), politicians, student tuition and book prices, and that time you went to McDonalds and they accidentally forgot to put your ice cream Sunday in the bag.

    SMH

  4. Roland M. says:

    If that is so why did the FTC just shut down a company in 2013 as a pyramid scheme? Here is how you can tell the difference between an MLM and pyramid scheme, take a look at the compensation document, it is available publicly on the site. If it talks about compensation based on recruitment instead of retail sales, you have a problem.

    Vemma brain washes you to think the way they do. Here are the first 2 defenses that I get that Vemma is not a pyramid…
    1) We have a product
    2) We have been around for 9 years, if it was a pyramid scheme it would have been shut down.
    I’m not saying you guys aren’t smart but you act like you know everything when you have never done the research. I called the FTC and talked to one of the members that deals with pyramid schemes and he laughed at this. These by no means signal a legitimate company. The company they just shut down was around for 11 years, so age of the company means nothing. Herbalife has been around for 32 years, whether that is a pyramid scheme or not, I do not know. I have not done a lot of research on that one.

    You really have no evidence that it is not a pyramid scheme, you are just saying “It’s not a scam.” We are saying based on the system of operation and compensation for Vemma and the definition of a pyramid scheme by the FTC, it matches up. The big question will be is it seen as a large threat to consumers. The more members it has signed up, the bigger the threat.

    • JJerome711 says:

      That’s the most vague description of whether or not a company is a legitimate MLM/NM or a pyramid scheme I’ve ever heard. I know the difference, and can articulate it simply. Apparently you cannot.

      I don’t know if you work for this website or not, but honestly, if you’re going to try and refute a claim…. base it on factual, TRUTHFUL, empirical evidence.

      Here’s the evidence my friend:

      FACT: Vemma brand partners receive NO MONEY if there are not any products sold. You DO NOT make ANY commissions on simply signing up a new member. You MUST make a sale in order to make any types of commissions from those products. (This is the main criteria to decipher a legitimate company from a ponzi, money-game, or pyramid scheme)

      FACT: Vemma has THREE double blind placebo studies independently done on it’s formula. (Having legitimate, market-consumable product(s) is the second criteria for a legitimate MLM company).

      FACT: Auto-orders are VOLUNTARY, and many, many, many legitimate companies offer an way to pay for things (like bills, products, and services) with a monthly automatic debit option.

      FACT: Vemma offers a 30-day, money back guarantee of ALL of it’s products.

      FACT: The NBA investigated Vemma for over a YEAR before allowing the Verve energy drink to become the OFFICIAL energy drink of the phoenix suns.

      The FACT that you don’t know whether or not Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, tells me that you simply don’t know what a pyramid (ponzi, money-game) scheme really is!

      • Simon says:

        It’s always good when someone is willing to provide facts.

        If you could link me to these independent double-blind placebo studies I’d be very happy to read them. Also, some information about the year long NBA investigation of Vemma would be great.

        I’ll eagerly await your reply, as I’d like to learn as much as possible about this company.

      • vicfirthplayer says:

        People have a very warped view of what a pyramid scheme actually is. The fact is that having a tangible product or commodity and notable sponsors does NOT exclude a company from being a pyramid scheme. Neither does the possibility of making more money than the person above you (fyi, that very rarely happens).

        As long as company draws the majority of its income from recruiting individuals and not from actual customer retailing, it is engaging in an unsustainable form of business and is therefore a pyramid scheme.

        I will explain to the best extent of my abilities, why Vemma fits this archetype. Detailed explanations and statistics behind my reasoning are in the form of hyperlinks (I urge you to click and read).

        1) Vemma forces affiliates to purchase a minimum of around $150 dollars of product a month in order to remain “qualified” to receive their residual income. There is no good reason for this. The products, despite their relatively high quality, are horrendously overpriced. This is a symptom common across all MLMs; due to the way the pay system is structured one purchase of Vemma product (customer or affiliate) may have to pay out commissions over multiple levels which is why the price is inflated accordingly.

        2) While they tout “financial freedom” and “being your own boss” . . . its far from the truth. Due to the forced (yes, forced) product reorders in #1, a minimum of 75% of Vemma affiliates are losing money every year. Consistently, Vemma’s own income disclosure has showed that 92 – 95% of Vemma affiliates are making less than minimum wage even before the monthly reorders are accounted for!

        3) Because each brand partner is an “independent distributor”, Vemma has no way to hold them accountable if they lie. And the lies are rampant. Because the pressure to recruit is so high, lying about income and what “rank” they are in order to impress prospects. Whenever they are caught, Vemma always says that they are just a “few bad eggs” when in reality they are a product of the culture fostered within the company by leaders starting way at the top.

        4) The CEO BK Boreyko is incredibly shady (not that Vemma affiliates will tell you).

        First, his name is Benson K Boreyko. He purposefully changed his name because he falsely claimed that his old company’s product “God’s Recipe” could cure ADD and ADHD in children.

        Second, BK Boreyko banned minors from joining the company allegedly because of the FDA’s concerns about energy drinks (in reality it was because the chant of “SCAM!” from teachers and parents was becoming problematic) . . . and then actively instructed his underlings on how to circumvent the policy and continue to recruit minors!

        5) Vemma affiliates will claim that Corporate America is the real pyramid scheme. That is illogical and asinine.

        6) There are very few customers in the Vemma business. An MLM company’s legality is tied to how much of its income is coming from non-affiliate members purchasing the company’s product.

        Well, there’s a lot of evidence that no significant customer base exists. First off, from my personal experience and current Vemma affiliates’ experience . . . the customer to affiliate ratio is pitiful. Sure there are a select few that managed to get a good amount of customers and they are promoted heavily but they are the minority. There are plenty of reasons for this.

        Vemma affiliates will claim anywhere between 80 – 85% customer base but have absolutely NO PROOF that it exists. No paperwork or anything (i.e. the same reason Herbalife is under pressure from the FTC). BK Boreyko actually wrote a letter to the FTC in 2006 asking them not to make MLMs reveal their customer bases.

        A.k.a. the CEO has valiantly resisting revealing the only piece of data that would prove his company is legal.

        In Conclusion:

        Vemma affiliates will tell you that their income is from “product sales” not “recruitment” . . . yet when the recruits are the ones being forced to purchase the majority of the product there’s no difference. So we have a company in which the vast majority of members lose money directly in order to make money for the top members . . . and to reach their level you have to do the same to your family and friends. Where the CEO claims to be helping young people but was willing to lie to parents of children with ADD and ADHD and continue sneaking minors into his company . . . so he can force them to purchase product and raise the profit line (while calling it “product sales”)

        • vicfirthplayer says:

          This is may give you some more information
          http://pyramidschemealert.org/

        • tongster tongster says:

          Based on what I’ve seen people write on this article and others elsewhere, it seems that they are missing out on a piece of information from the company’s compensation plan. Basically, the major difference between a “customer” and a “Brand Partner” is that the latter gets to make money. Otherwise, the two categories are the same when it comes to cost. If a person was going to buy a product everyday, they might as well become a Brand Partner. The cost to them is the same. It would therefore make sense why a customer would elect to become a Brand Partner. Note that they can exercise this option later. The company offers a referral program where you can get free product if you refer three customers. Both customers and Brand Partners (btw, now called “Affiliates”) alike get a free website for referral purposes.

  5. Simon says:

    Thanks for the links. However, you’ve linked me to two studies (not three) and nothing on the NBA investigation?

    This may not be something you’ll like to hear, but that’s some pretty inadequate science to back up the claims made by Vemma.

    I’m sure you’ve read about these trials and know that neither is of any scale or duration (especially the second one) to be making such bold assertions from. It’s actually a little scary to be selling this as such a healthy product, when there needs to be many more studies carried out.

    I think the telling thing is that it is classified as a supplement and as such, escapes stringent regulation from the FDA. Anything such as this, with has a list of ingredients longer than your arm, should be treated with caution. It’s certainly not something you should be drinking every day when there is such scant science behind the product itself.

    Bottom line, it’s simply a marketing ploy for yet another energy drink on the market.

  6. Simon says:

    I wasn’t aware I needed credentials to apply some straightforward critical thinking.

    Neither of these studies are overly complicated, nor do they run into reams of pages with scientific language that a layman couldn’t understand.

    I’m not questioning the veracity of the studies (although I’m sure some would), just how small and short each one is and the possible fair conclusions that can be drawn from that. I stand by what I said previously, that the science is inadequate when trying to make health claims on this product.

    It should also be noted that these “independent” studies were done by the same people and both carried out in China. I find that a little odd, given Vemma is an American company, but perhaps that’s just me.

    People shouldn’t be intimidated by science or convinced simply because something has been
    “clinically studied”. You should always be asking, what type of study was it? How long was it? How many people were involved? Is it truly independent? Are they peer reviewed? What conclusions do they draw? etc. All of that should be common sense on any product you have concerns about and especially on supplements, that are so poorly regulated.

    • JJerome711 says:

      First of all, no where has Vemma EVER made ANY types of health claims. (This is illegal!) This is NOT allowed by the FDA, because this is a supplement, and not a pharmaceutical drug. Only drugs are allowed to make health claims. However, under the DSHEA Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSHEA), companies ARE allowed (and encouraged) to show studies that show that what is claimed to be in the supplement is actually there, and that it actually provides some health benefit based on sound scientific studies….like the ones that Vemma has done.

      “(In addition, the Federal Trade Commission maintains authority over supplement advertising: Manufacturers must report truthfully what their products contain and must have proof backing up any claims they make. Finally, the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act of 2006 requires what’s known as “adverse event reporting,” the FDA’s way of informing the public about any incidents related to a product once it is on the market. This is the same system of reporting used for FDA-approved drugs and biologics.” (http://www.anh-usa.org/dshea/).

      In a nutshell, the FDA prohibits any company to make the claim that, say, their orange juice, which contains Vitamin C CURES scurvy. However, we all know that scurvy is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. So, what we are allowed to say, is that good quality supplements can promote good health and wellness through essential nutrients that will allow the body to heal itself. This isn’t any different then your doctor (for good reason) saying the taking vitamins is a good idea. The scientific studies just prove that what Vemma says are in it’s products are actually in there, and that yes, they do have a positive effect that is empirically observable. This is what separates legitimate companies from the ones who are making bogus claims on their product, and companies like Vemma welcome with open arms this kind of scrutiny!

      So, secondly…in the end, I’m inclined to believe that more people are willing to trust the results of the gold standard of scientific testing (double blind, placebo, independent study), that’s published in a respectable journal, then some guy on the internet that’s calling out a respectable study for basically not being stringent enough.

      Perhaps that some “straightforward critical thinking” should be used to determine that companies are not mandated to provide this sort of testing, and that Vemma is actually an exception to the norm in that it’s providing these independent studies to generate a level of transparency and truth about it’s products not found in other supplement manufacturers.

  7. Simon says:

    So you haven’t been on Vemma’s website or ever listened to any of their promotional material? Let’s take a little look at a few of the claims;

    “Protect and support a healthy heart*
    Enhance immune response and support immune system*
    Create abundant energy*
    Fight against free radicals*
    Promote good vision*
    Support a normal, healthy intestinal tract*
    Maintain healthy skin, eyes, teeth, gums and hair*”

    Now you might be wondering, what’s that star by each of these? Funnily enough;
    “*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

    This being the problem with the dietary supplement regulations. They’re woefully inadequate to provide the public with decent information and leave the overwhelming majority to be taken in by all sorts of flimsy and in some cases, pseudo, science.

    So, secondly…in the end, I’m inclined to believe that more people are willing to trust the results of the gold standard of scientific testing (double blind, placebo, independent study), that’s published in a respectable journal, then some guy on the internet that’s calling out a respectable study for basically not being stringent enough.

    This is my point entirely and exactly why Vemma has these “independent” studies.

    Someone hears “clinically studied” and makes the assumption that the product backed by hard science. They don’t actually look into the science and figure out for themselves if it’s actually decent. Also, if Vemma didn’t have these studies, they lose an apparent authority in making claims to how fantastically healthy this. So it’s disingenuous to claim that Vemma are a paragon of honesty, when the benefit is to them and is why these tests are actually done.

    I’m not suggesting people believe everything I say just because I say it. In the same way I’d advise against anyone believing these studies are wonderful, based on your word or that of BK. I want people to look for themselves, see the whole picture, read an ingredients list, talk to their doctor etc. The better understanding people have, the better equipped they are to make their decisions.

  8. JJerome711 says:

    This is my last comment, because I’m done arguing in circles….

    I’m aware of what the asterisk means, and it’s a standard disclaimer that ALL supplements are required to have. It’s nothing new, and it certainly doesn’t mean that there is some sort of issue with any supplement that bears it. It simply means that unlike a pharmaceutical drug, which is required to have certain tests to prove it’s SPECIFIC drug claim, supplements are designed for overall wellness for the body by providing nutrients to SUPPORT healthy body functions. Supplements are NOT drugs, and they won’t pass any of the drug tests (for example….LD 50 ratings) because they aren’t toxic chemicals that are fatal in large doses, among other criteria.

    This isn’t “woefully inadequate” like you would like to believe, because of protections from the FTC, FDA (Vemma’s manufacturing plant is FDA inspected on a regular basis) and independent studies Vemma is allowed to use under the DSHEA law.

    I understand your concern (although excessive), but people already have looked for themselves, and obviously most reasonable people can discern by all the things you’ve already mentioned that the Vemma formula is in fact legit, and there is acceptable scientific testings (not only by us….read the mens health article I previously provided) to show that it does help provide for a healthy body like Vemma says it does. I understand your angle and concern for companies to falsely advertise and claim things that aren’t true…but there is a line between being a healthy skeptic (good) and ignorance about the facts (bad).

    I agree with you that people SHOULD be more skeptic of things in their world though, because that’s exactly why we have the kinds of problems we do right now in many, many different aspects in modern society. I think we’d both agree that people follow authority and accept reality blindly most of the time, and that allows for bad people to do bad things sometimes. I personally welcome skepticism, and I know that the people over a Vemma do as well. It’s the only way we can get rid of competitors who DON’T have the kinds of support for their products like Vemma does. I myself, fully support more rigorous, independent testing from commercial labs because it’s the only way to show that indeed, things are what they say they are without a conflict of interest.

    This is my last post on the matter.

  9. Simon says:

    This will also be my last post on this subject as I feel anyone should be able to make a reasonable decision about the product itself by now.

    Firstly, it’s not what I want to believe, it is widely accepted that the dietary supplement regulation is poor in the US; http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietarysupplements/dietary-supplements-fda-regulations
    http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/fda-regulate-herbal-supplements2.htm
    http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/diabetes/news/print/endocrine-today/%7B08bb7db6-3241-42cc-958d-d3fa20dfd16e%7D/dietary-supplements-the-good-bad-and-ugly
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17502539
    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=196217

    The protections put in place (that you mention) only mean that you can be pretty assured you aren’t being sold poison in a can. They don’t help you to know if a product is beneficial to your health and if it’s claims are indeed true or not.

    The fact that twice you have referred to Vemma carrying out these “independent” studies should speak volumes to anyone reading this. As should the fact that there is a link to a piece in Men’s Journal that consists of 5 sentences, without proper citing, as some form of “acceptable scientific testing”.

    Regarding ignorance of the facts, I’ll just point something out. You asserted a number of FACTS, of which I wanted to know more on two of them. One, you failed to provide any information on and the other was claimed to have 3 independent studies when it was, in fact, just 2 (both being carried out by the same people).

    The business practices aside, this “supplement” should be considered for what it is, an energy drink. Any health claims (and lack of supporting science) should be treated with a rather large pinch of salt, until there is some good science on the product(s).

  10. Tony2050 says:

    I just want to say something about the peer-reviewed studies on mangosteen. I have done research in a biomedical lab, I know what goes what is involved in having a study published. First, why is it independent? Well, companies can’t have studies run on themselves. That will put bias into the publication and it will NEVER be published. Having a study published in a journal means that it has to be peer-reviewed. Which means that first the study is conducted, which usually takes anywhere from 2-12 months. THEN it is submitted to be published and is heavily scrutinized by top researchers in the field for about 2-3 months that look for any possible bias or problems in the data, THEN it is usually sent back to the lab that conducted the study and they have to revise it, THEN it is sent back in, AND then it might be published. Most do not know what a peer-reviewed publication means. Nothing in scientific journals does not go through this process. Second, complaining that they are too short to mean anything? A paper is as long as the study is. The longest paper I have read is 18 pages, and that was a study looking at EVERYTHING imaginable about how insulin resistance can affect the onset of Alzheimer’s. Yes, diabetes plays a role in the pathology of Alzheimer’s. Don’t believe it, because a diabetes organization did not conduct the study? That is basically what you are saying.

    • Science Q. says:

      Tony2050: I appreciate your input about the process of publishing a peer-reviewed study. I am not taking part in the argument but I just wanted to say that I believe that when Simon was criticizing the studies, he meant “short” as in duration and “small” as in sample size. I am a health professional student and reading the clinical studies boasted by Vemma, I cannot help but notice the small statistical power that comes from monitoring only 59 subjects for only 30 days or monitoring only 20 subjects for only 24 hours. I have a feeling that is what Simon meant. As someone who has done biomedical research, what is your opinion on the Vemma clinical studies?

  11. billw says:

    There are two things that appear on this web page that prove beyond a doubt that Vemma is a pyramid scheme:

    1. The desperate attempts at proving that it is not a pyramid scheme. Let’s face it, you don’t need to define porn to know it when you see it.
    2. The cult-like commitment of adherents to the strictures and claims of the Vemma ‘company’ and its charlatan founder.

    Earth to cultists: get a real job.

  12. Real T. says:

    For the Irony section of your website – in Paragraph 2 above you ask if the company is running a legitimate MLM with a link in which Vemma qualifies as a MLM company.

  13. Real T. says:

    In item 2 on your list: I do not see in the company comp plan where a $500 purchase is required. You also state that is no monthly purchase required if an affiliate has 6 or more customers. If that is accurate it must be removed from any complaints.

  14. Real T. says:

    Item 5 on your list – giving to OZ charity presumption. The clip is short and does not say what the charity is. Also specifies a fund raising period and mentions forgoing commissions on a specific product Net? and that there are additional donations. Are you claiming that the donations are bad or that there is something illegal about donations? Not drawing the connection about why you included a seemingly positive attribute on your otherwise negative article.

  15. Real T. says:

    Item 3 has to go too – This guys history is irrelevant and the “reliable scientific evidence” hurdle has been cleared by virtue of existing studies on the ingredients in the product.

  16. Real T. says:

    Item 6 needs to go too. The company moving is inconsequential. Given the sheer volume of products consumed and only 60 – 68 “incidents” it would be very difficult to determine causation without the initial condition of the individuals involved. For instance a sick person could be taking the product and vomit when taking anything would have the same result. Your FOI-14-9000 (with your logo prominently displayed) is apparently duplicated…

  17. Real T. says:

    Item 7 -“You might have a better chance at financial freedom by purchasing a lottery ticket”. A lottery ticket? Do the math… Your chances of being taken as a serious journalist are better than a lottery ticket.

  18. Real T. says:

    Item 8 is unclear. It sounds like Boreyko and Keep agree on the rate of business failures. There is mention of an unfair comparison. You would have to get very detailed to have this conversation make sense. There are too many factors. Sales representatives turnover in all companies.

  19. Real T. says:

    Item 9 – Nice link to the comp plan which specifies almost all compensation in relationship to volume (affiliates or customer). Your assertion of getting other to “join your team” includes customers and affiliates as stated in their comp plan. Your statement in 9 is neither accurate or true.

  20. Real T. says:

    Item 10 – you forgot to mention http://nypost.com/2014/04/26/verve-ruling-hits-a-nerve/ in which Vemma made the changes asked for and was back in business. Oh, and look – you are mentioned in the article…

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