It is not just innocent youngsters or homemakers who are swept away by the promises of multi-level marketing (MLM) companies. Distinguished defence scientist V.K. Saraswat, now a NITI Aayog member, confessed to have fallen prey to MLM fraud too.
At the release of journalist Aruna Ravikumar’s book, Marauders of Hope, here on Sunday, Mr. Saraswat recalled how he has browsed a well-written online article ‘You can reduce your weight in seven days’ by a ‘doctor’ with All India Institute of Medical Science when he thought of losing weight a few years ago. In the article, the purported doctor stated that he started researching on obesity after his brother died due to the weight-related issues and had found a plant in South Africa, which had medicinal values to reduce weight, Mr. Saraswat said.
“It had got lakhs of hits on the internet, and the product was being sold for ₹ 2,000. Believing the same, I bought one and there was no change at all. I still weigh 84 kg,” the senior defence scientist said, warning people not to get trapped in such ‘scams’.
“Nobody in the system dares to shut down such companies. Amway still continues to do its business in the same way for the past several years,” he said.
Earlier, sharing his own experience with MLM companies and people associated with it, Chief National Coach of Indian badminton team Pullela Gopichand said that several sportspersons were the victims of such firms.
“Many of my teammates paused their career and took up something of this sort (MLM business) that was easy and they spent a couple of years thinking that will be their career. By the time they came out of it, feeling guilty, they had lost support of their friends and family, who felt betrayed,” he said.
The Padma Shri awardee said that very recently he encountered a person who persuaded him to put money into an MLM company. “For some reason, I didn’t do it. I know many badminton players who have done it and lost their hard-earned money,” Mr. Gopichand said.
Cyberabad Police Commissioner V.C. Sajjanar, DCsP S.M. Vijay Kumar, Rohini Priyadarshini, retired IAS officer EAS Sharma, actors Lakshmi Manchu, V.K Naresh and deputy dean of ISB Sanjay Kallapur were present at the event.