Flying below the radar of investigating agencies are several powerful Multi-national, multilevel marketing companies making billions on the basic premise of man’s greed in many countries of the world including the poorest of the poor. The web of deceit of companies running mathematically impossible pyramid and ponzi schemes under the guise of direct selling is a startling tale of political patronage and unholy nexus that lures gullible people to lose their money, relationships and sanity. “Marauders of Hope’ by senior Journalist Aruna Ravikumar is a first of its kind book on the subject that heralds her entry as an author and gives a clear insight into the methods adopted by fraudulent ‘get rich schemes’ that are high on promise and low on results. It is by any measure a bold attempt and one that was undertaken after extensive research perhaps as a corollary to her career as a Journalist. Powerful companies like Amway, Herbalife, Tupperware, Forever Living products and others and their activities in countries like India which have inspired several local firms to adopt similar devious methods are discussed here at length with the author wondering why no action is being taken despite a vast cross section of society including students, unemployed youth and women being affected.
The book makes a powerful read as it traces the beginnings of Civilization from the barter system to times when greed replaced need traversing the span of fraudulent schemes that claim legitimacy based on their staying power in countries far removed from theirs. In the Indian scenario post liberalization these firms set shop and in two decades amassed enormous wealth operating Money Circulation Schemes (MCS) banned by the Indian Government as far back as the late seventies. The book talks about the manner in which these companies have been running schemes banned under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes, PCMCS (Banning) Act, 1978 where schemes making quick and easy money through commission based enrolment have been pronounced illegal. Magnetic beds, nutra-ceuticals, weight loss products, gold coins, online forms and others have victims across the spectrum. In short it’s their losses that make fraudsters rich.
Aruna elaborates the modus operandi of these firms, the aggressive, over the top and cult like techniques of marketing, the ‘mouse traps’ laid out with confidence, the charitable programmes and funding for government programmes aimed at image building in thorough detail. The book contains victim narratives, the “passing the buck’ mentality of various institutions and loopholes in legislation that are taken advantage of. However as she reiterates this is not just a book about the dark side of humanity but has within it details of officials, non-government organizations, whistle- blowers and concerned citizens who have done their bit to stop the loot of marauders. It also has a chapter that outlines ways in which fraudsters can be halted in their tracks.
The book may have referred to the Indian context but its appeal is universal. Marauders employ the same methods in all parts of the world and repercussions are similar. It is an eye opener because of the eye for detail, precise analysis and the sheer courage of calling out the high and mighty corporations of the world. This is a game changer and needs to be read by all citizens of the world who realize that betrayal of trust at the core of “Marauders of Hope” is a cancer that needs to be arrested and prevented from spreading.