BULLETIN: USDA Conducting ‘Review’ Of Food Stamp Claims Made By MPB Today Affiliates; ‘We Take This Matter Very Seriously,’ Agency Says

BULLETIN: UPDATED 9:21 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened a “review” of claims made by affiliates of a Florida-based, multilevel-marketing company, the agency said late this afternoon.

Members of MPB Today, an MLM program owned by a Pensacola-based grocery seller known as Southeastern Delivery, have targeted recipients of Food Stamps in promotions for the MLM program.

The agency did not say precisely what claims it would check in its review. MPB Today claims in a video sales pitch that a “one-time” purchase of $200 in groceries from Southeastern can “totally eliminate” future grocery bills.

“We take this matter very seriously,” a USDA spokeswoman told the PP Blog. “We are reviewing the situation.”

In general, the spokeswoman said, the agency wants “to make a determination if any regulations are being violated.”

MPB Today operates a 2×2 cycler matrix that is coupled with the home delivery of groceries. As the PP Blog first reported yesterday, some MPB Today affiliates are advising Food Stamp recipients that the high shipping costs of home-delivered groceries from Southeastern Delivery provide a compelling reason for them to join the MLM program and recruit other members.

Other MPB Today members have produced check-waving videos, placing them on YouTube to drive business to the firm. One of the YouTube videos claims the MLM program is “Govt. acknowledged.” The video further claims that Walmart is “affiliated” with MPB Today.

Walmart has not responded to a request for comment from the PP Blog.

Southeastern’s shipping costs for home-delivered groceries may total 50 percent of an order, according to the MPB Today website.

A Food Stamp recipient with a $200 order with Southeastern would be spending up to $300 to gain the same $200 of purchasing power offered by a local, walk-in grocery retailer.

Because of the high shipping costs, the Food Stamp customer should join the MPB Today program to qualify for free shipping and MLM payments for getting others to join, an affiliate suggested in a promotional Blog post titled “Shop Online With Food Stamps.”

In a Blog post, one MPB Today affiliate claimed that Southeastern Delivery, MPB Today's parent company, had the "sole right" to accept EBT debit transactions for Food Stamps in its market area. (Red highlight added to screen shot by PP Blog.)

Southeastern is authorized to accept Food Stamps, according to a USDA database. One MPB Today affiliate, however, claimed that Southeastern had “the sole right in their area to accept EBT (equivalent to food stamps/card across the US.).”

If the claim is true, it would mean that the government was favoring one local Food Stamp-participating retailer over another or creating a condition in which financially strapped consumers from Maine to California would be tempted to send their Food Stamp money to a Florida grocer that suggested a one-time payment could result in MLM riches that would end all food worries.

EBT is the government’s acronym for “Electronic Benefits Transfer” under the Food Stamp program, which is known as SNAP. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and is administered by USDA.

The affiliate’s claim that Southeastern had the “sole right” in its market area for EBT Food Stamp transactions is dubious. A USDA database shows that at least 25 stores within 2.39 miles of Southeastern’s immediate market area in Pensacola are authorized to accept Food Stamp transactions, including a Walmart that is less than a mile from Southeastern’s business address.

A federal database shows that at least 25 retailers in Southeastern's immediate market area are authorized to accept Food Stamp transactions.

There also are two Winn Dixie supermarkets within 1.2 miles of the address, according to the federal database.

The claim has led to questions about whether MPB Today affiliates were trying to steer nationwide business to Southeastern at the exclusion of authorized Food Stamp retailers that do not charge shipping fees, do not seek to solicit customers for an MLM program and may be more competitive on shelf prices.

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58 Responses to “BULLETIN: USDA Conducting ‘Review’ Of Food Stamp Claims Made By MPB Today Affiliates; ‘We Take This Matter Very Seriously,’ Agency Says”

  1. Joel: Will you please explain what is illegal about it?

    If you read the following “PREPARED STATEMENT OF DEBRA A. VALENTINE, GENERAL COUNSEL FOR THE U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION” which can be found here: http://www.ftc.gov/speeches/other/dvimf16.shtm you should come away with a far greater appreciation of the “hows and whys” of pyramid schemes, Joel.

    A shorter explanation from the Australian Govt. can be found here: http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/PyramidSchemesand the British Office of Fair Trading explanation/s can be seen here: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/consumers/fact-sheets/page38561.html

    Unfortunately, experience tells me that by the time we get to this stage of a pyramid scheme, it is already too late to save the money which has already been sent to the fraud/fraudsters.

    For all intents and purposes, the money is already “gone”

    The very nature of these scams means that the fraudsters will be able to keep their current members “on the hook” so to speak by employing a “trickle feed” repayment system, as happened with AdSurf Daily and others.

    Very few members ever take the time to work out how long, at their current rate of payment it will take before their initial “investment” is covered or, for that matter, how many new members must be found to allow the “find 2 and it’s free” strategy to work.

    For example, an interest rate of 1% per week can appear to be astronomical when compared to the rates being offered by banks.

    HOWEVER, at 1% per week return, it will take 100 weeks before the initial investment amount is “covered”

    100 weeks, as in almost 2 YEARS, before the “investor” starts making a profit.

    Which gives the fraudster a free hand to pull up stakes and disappear with the loot about one minute after the new member sign-up rate begins to slow or stall.

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  2. Joel,

    Pls see LRM’s post. As for legal referral-type MLM companies, Amway and Mary Kay are two. The have real products and generate the majority of their revenue from product sales (although some might say overpriced — fundamentally MLM is not a very cost-efficient way to market and so the extra costs are borne by the end user. Don’t believe it? Walmart is reknown for their cost cutting efficiency, and in fact they are arguably the most efficient enterprise in the world in bringing products to market. Somehow they have done this without being MLM. I myself am neutral on MLM, I just know it is not efficient.) They do not offer immense returns to their members, and they do not cycle large amounts of money as a percentage of total revenue from the most recent to join members to the members who joined earlier. They do have an upstream sales commision model which is legal, provided that the majority of the commissions going upstream come out of the purchase price of the product. Legal MLM is quite different that the scam MLM. Peel away the veneer of something like Regenesis and one can use a mathematical analysis to reveal an illegal pyramid. AFAIK, every single 2×2 is a pyramid scheme, but that would only include the couple dozen I have looked at or read about. Others here are far more experienced, but I don’t think they’ve ever seen a non-pyramid 2×2.

    Joel: Will you please explain what is illegal about it? Also, in your opinion, will you please tell me which referral marketing companies are legal?

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  3. Joel,

    As an addendum, let’s carry through the MPB matrix for a while to see what happens. When the first person cycles through, there are a total of 7 people who are members. 1 person at the top, two on the second layer, and 4 on the thrid layer. For simplicity let’s assume no one cycles more than once (this assumption is the “best case” for MPB in terms of the numbers — allowing people to cycle makes the numbers worse). When the second group of two people reach the top of their respective matrices, there are now 15 people in MPB — the first cycler, these two new cyclers, the four who were on row 3 previously and are now on row 2, and eight new members — four each on the bottom of the two matrices. On the next cycle, the four people who were at the bottom of the first matrix get to the top of their own matrix. Each of those matrices has 7 people, plus the three people who have previously cycled. The equation that tells you how many people who are in MPB is:

    Members = [2 ^ (Complete Cycles + 2)]-1

    So we get the following table:

    Complete Cycles Members
    1 7
    2 15
    3 31
    4 63
    5 127
    6 255

    and so on. At each step, the number of members double. Eventually the numbers get too big for this business to be sustainable.

    10 4095
    15 131,071
    20 4,194,303
    25 134,217,727 (Population of Japan = 127,000,000)

    Think MPB Can sign up everyone in Japan?

    30 4,294,967,295

    OK, let’s assume somehow we reach cycle 30 and 2/3 of the worlds population have signed up, and look at the winners and losers. (We cannot go to cycle 31, because that would mean we need to sign up some 1.5 biliion more people than are presently on the planet….) At cycle 30, a total of 536,870,912 people reach the top of their own matrix. A total of 1,087,741,823 have cycled through their own matrix for all cycles 1-30. At cycle 30, there are also two people in the second row and four on the third row. So, that means there are 1,073,741,824 “second row” people who have not been paid (and never will be because there are no people left in the world to join) and 2,147,483,648 “third row” people who will never get paid. That’s the pyramid math — eventually you need everyone in the world to join, and even then, the pyramid collapses. When it does, and it must, the vast majority of the people who join a pyramid scheme are destined to lose money. That’s why they are illegal. They can never, ever be a “fair” “investment” — they will always separate money from victims.

    littleroundman: If you read the following ….snip…. Very few members ever take the time to work out how long, at their current rate of payment it will take before their initial “investment” is covered or, for that matter, how many new members must be found to allow the “find 2 and it’s free” strategy to work…..snip….

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  4. Thank you, Entertained. Thank you, LRM.

    Many readers will find high value in these comments — and I’m appreciative.

    Regards,

    Patrick

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  5. littleroundman:
    Very few members ever take the time to work out how long, at their current rate of payment it will take before their initial “investment” is covered or, for that matter, how many new members must be found to allow the “find 2 and it’s free” strategy to work.For example, an interest rate of 1% per week can appear to be astronomical when compared to the rates being offered by banks.HOWEVER, at 1% per week return, it will take 100 weeks before the initial investment amount is “covered”100 weeks, as in almost 2 YEARS, before the “investor” starts making a profit.Which gives the fraudster a free hand to pull up stakes and disappear with the loot about one minute after the new member sign-up rate begins to slow or stall.

    I made my $200 back after my first week… The payment for MPB is a one time $200. I’ve talked to over 30 people who have had multiple cycles in their first few weeks.

    It’s not like ASD where someone has to click a button every ten seconds and then they make a certain % off of their “investment”.

    MPB has paid me each time for referring people and completing my team of six, many of whom have actually bought groceries from their website (product).

    I’m wondering, have any of you watched a compensation plan video?

    Thanks you for the links, I will check them out later today when I have some more free time.

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  6. Joel: MPB has paid me each time for referring people and completing my team of six, MANY OF WHOM HAVE ACTUALLY BOUGHT GROCERIES FROM THEIR WEBSITE (product).

    Sigh,

    sometimes being a “naysayer” can be so tiresome,

    especially when defenders of obviously fraudulent pyramid schemes inadvertently demonstrate the illegality of the scheme in which they’re participating.

    If “many” and not “all” have actually bought groceries, it can only mean “many” haven’t purchased groceries and are making money based solely on recruiting.

    Joel,

    it doesn’t matter to the authorities if there is the potential to sell product if people can make money based solely on recruitment of new members, ESPECIALLY if there’s some sort of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” system in place where people are advised to ignore the sale of product and concentrate instead on the recruiting aspect of the business.

    The legality or otherwise of the MLM aspect of the sales/recruitment angle STILL doesn’t alter the fact that a 2 X 2 matrix is mathematically bound to fail the bulk of members.

    At this stage of the MPBToday saga, there are really only 3 possible outcomes for anyone with money “invested”

    The law will getcha, the math will getcha or the fraudsters will getcha.

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  7. Joel: I made my $200 back after my first week…

    That’s the “it’s paying so it must be real” excuse. You and the other 30 people are of the 14% who “win”. Try thinking beyond yourself for a minute & look at how may more people need to join before they also “win”.

    Joel: It’s not like ASD where someone has to click a button every ten seconds and then they make a certain % off of their “investment”.

    The “product” is irrelevant, it’s still a pyramid scheme. I posted a video of the compensation plan produced by one of the pyramid promoters, even they said the voucher was worthless because of the shipping charges.

    Joel: I’m wondering, have any of you watched a compensation plan video?

    Yes, the one mentioned above drew nice diagrams to demonstrate. Nice pyramid shaped diagrams. Other videos have shown cheques being waved (“it’s paying so it must be real”), others have explained the compensation plan by insulting US politicians or by using religion to get punters to sign up.

    LRM & Entertained – using logic, reason & maths to prove this is a pyramid scheme means nothing to the pyramid promoters. All they see is the promise of $$$$ and nothing will change their mind. Until it collapses. Then they are told they didn’t try hard enough etc. It’s the same old excuses, same old pattern, and often the same old people involved.

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  8. Joel: I made my $200 back after my first week…

    Joel,

    Respectfully, that is immaterial. It is not evidence that no pyramid/Ponzi exists. Beyond that, it is the type of comment that helps scams flourish.

    Joel: The payment for MPB is a one time $200.

    This is another classic hallmark of a scam. 2×2 matrices are infamous for this. Perhaps you could benefit by performing some research on Regenesis2x2. Like MPB Today, it was promoted on the Ponzi boards.

    Joel: I’ve talked to over 30 people who have had multiple cycles in their first few weeks.

    Immaterial. Also sets the stage for a scam to mushroom.

    Joel: It’s not like ASD where someone has to click a button every ten seconds and then they make a certain % off of their “investment”.

    Largely immaterial. Material in the sense that some ASD hucksters also are selling MPB Today and that ASD victims are targets of the sales pitch — i.e., you were a loser in ASD, but MPB Today creates winners. Within hours of the Feds’ seizure of tens of millions of dollars in the ASD case, the vultures were on forums telling the folks the remedies for their ASD miseries were cash-gifting programs and other autosurfs.

    Joel: MPB has paid me each time for referring people and completing my team of six, many of whom have actually bought groceries from their website (product).

    Helps set the stage for people to get fleeced. Beyond that, how “many” is “many?” Given that some MPB members are actually discouraging people from buying groceries from Southeastern — which I believe to be the principal wink-nod of this “program” — the “play” is to get people into the matrix.

    Along those lines, I believe the “grocery voucher” play is the rankest of deceptions. MPB Today seems exceptionally willing to hand $200 at a time over to Walmart — all while purporting to be in the grocery business. I think that’s a huge RED FLAG.

    Joel: I’m wondering, have any of you watched a compensation plan video?

    Yes, including one recommended by ASAMonitor pitchman “Ken Russo.”

    If they named a city after certain MPB Today video pitchmen, “Wink-Nod” would be an excellent name choice.

    Patrick

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