FTC Action Against Alleged Pyramid Scheme Affirms DSA Membership Process

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 29, 2013) - Following the Jan. 28 announcement that an enforcement action against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing (FHTM) is being initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several attorneys general for allegedly operating a pyramid scheme, the Direct Selling Association (DSA) has received numerous inquiries regarding whether FHTM is a member of the Association. "FHTM is not a member of DSA,” confirmed President Joe Mariano. Additionally, he stated that “the Association’s membership application process is rigorous, and is designed to ensure that only legitimate direct selling companies become members of the direct selling industry's trade association."

FHTM had applied for DSA membership, but withdrew its application in 2011. A rigorous review of each applicant’s marketing and compensation plan is conducted to ensure compliance with DSA’s self-regulatory Code of Ethics. DSA works with applicant companies to address any deficiencies in policies and procedures prior to recommending to the Board of Directors that the company be approved for full membership. Mr. Mariano explained that "the membership review process serves to identify pyramid schemes that are masquerading as legitimate direct selling companies." Mr. Mariano also stated "that well over half of the companies that apply for membership in the Association withdraw their applications for a variety of reasons including failure to come into full compliance with the requirements of the DSA Code of Ethics," thus making the company ineligible for membership. Pyramid schemes and other fraudulent scams are ineligible for DSA membership.

While DSA cannot comment on the specific allegations regarding FHTM, Mr. Mariano commended the FTC and state attorneys general "for their comprehensive, ongoing efforts to identify and prosecute illegal and fraudulent pyramid schemes, an approach that is consistent with concerns raised by DSA through its membership application process and its long-established self-regulatory efforts."

As part of the membership review process, DSA welcomes comments from the public about pending member companies. A full list of pending members of the association can be found at www.dsa.org/pendingmembers.

For more information about DSA’s membership review process visit www.dsa.org/ethics/understanding-code/.

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About the Direct Selling Association

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) is a 102-year-old national trade association that represents companies who distribute products to customers through or with the assistance of independent salespersons who personally demonstrate and explain those products to the consumer, usually in the home or work place. Direct sellers are perhaps best known to the public as person-to-person, door-to-door, or home party plan sellers. Through the efforts of direct salespersons that provide personal demonstration, home delivery, and a variety of other sales-related services, direct-selling companies can offer quality products to consumers without substantial advertising or other barriers to entry found in other distribution systems, like brick-and-mortar stores. In 2011 there were approximately 15.6 million direct sellers in the U.S. with retail sales of nearly $30 billion.



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