Network-Marketing Pitchman Camps Out At SEC Website, Produces Commercial For Achieve Community, Unison Wealth And Trinity Lines; ‘They’re Passive . . . You Just Kind Of Put Your Money Down’ And Receive Payouts
EDITOR’S NOTE: The screen shots below show that Rodney Blackburn ends his “Unison Wealth” promo at the 8:29 mark of a 14:27 video. At the 8:30 mark, the website of the SEC becomes the feature and remains so for nearly the next six minutes as Blackburn touts Achieve Community, Unison Wealth and Trinity Lines, Ponzi-board “programs” one and all. It is Saturday. The PP Blog did not immediately hear back from the SEC on a request for comment.
1. From ‘Unison Wealth’ . . .
2. . . . To The SEC
A 14:27 YouTube video from an “Achieve Community” member now promoting at least two other Ponzi-board schemes includes nearly six minutes of continuous footage from the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The latest promo by Rodney Blackburn focuses on “Unison Wealth” and has a publication date of Jan. 9, 2015. It is titled “Network Marketing & MLM Programs Are Getting Better!!!” The promo suggests that ordinary MLM creates an environment in which 97 percent of participants lose and that new, smarter, better schemes are emerging to replace them.
“You don’t have to do any marketing, for the most part,” he says of the purported new way of network marketing. “You don’t have to jump through any hoops and recruit people. You don’t have to go through any of these things.”
In short, Blackburn says, in the new way of network marketing, participants “just kind of put [their] money down” and payouts flow back to them. What’s more, he implies, the SEC doesn’t have jurisdiction, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, including several concurrent active prosecutions involving network-marketing or MLM schemes with passive components.
Blackburn even dares individuals to complain to the SEC about the “programs” he’s promoting.
“There’s people on here who think that the SEC can shut companies down,” Blackburn says as part of his narration. “Guys, [the] SEC is designed for, again, Securities and Exchange Commission, what they do — it shows it right here in back and white.”
Blackburn proceeds to click on an “ABOUT” tab and a “What We Do” subtab at the SEC website. He then cherry-picks a quote from the agency’s site, wholly ignoring sections on SEC enforcement that detail various cases brought against network-marketing or MLM schemes.
“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets,” Blackburn says, reading from the SEC site.
That’s true, of course — but the cherry-picking ignores the much larger whole.
Had Blackburn simply typed “MLM” into the search box in the upper-right corner of the SEC site, he’d have gained instant access to information that undermines his jurisdiction theory.
Without perusing the enforcement section that has information on recent schemes such as Zeek Rewards, TelexFree, WCM777, eAdGear, Zhunrize, CKB168 and others, Blackburn switches back to his personal narrative.
“Guys, it’s about investors,” Blackburn continues, apparently concluding that the SEC would have no interest in the schemes he’s promoting. “It’s about efficient markets. If others of you who want to complain to your governments about these companies that are out there — you know what, go right ahead. It’s not going to do any good, unless they’re doing illegal activity. Unless you have substantial, proven evidence that any of these companies — any of them, OK — are doing anything illegal, it’s futile. You’re just blowing fear out there to the rest of us, OK, because it’s not going to do any good. Come up with something better. Come up with a fact.”
It is a fact that the SEC, on Oct. 1, 2013, issued an “Investor Alert” titled “Beware of Pyramid Schemes Posing as Multi-Level Marketing Programs.” As part of its outreach, the SEC warned about schemes with “Promises of high returns in a short time period” and “Easy money or passive income.”
Meanwhile, it is a fact that Achieve Community has been positioned as a “passive” program with an 800 percent ROI in as few as 55 days. It’s also a fact that a Dec. 27, 2014, promo for Unison Wealth published on YouTube by Blackburn is titled, “Unison Wealth – Review 100% Passive Automated Play for just $40!”
Blackburn’s Jan. 9 video appears to be a compendium of two, with the first 8:29 focused on Unison Wealth. When Blackburn’s Unison pitch ends, the scene shifts abruptly to the SEC website. SEC visuals appear continuously for nearly the next six full minutes as Blackburn discuses his “programs.”
Even as Blackburn tries to make the case that the “programs” are outside the purview of the SEC, he tells his audience that he prefers “passive” programs.” Somehow lost by Blackburn in all of this is that the passivity of a scheme and how it behaves in practice are what confer jurisdiction on the SEC.
This has been the law in the United States since at least 1946.
Less than a year ago — on Feb. 28, 2014 — the court appointed receiver in the Zeek Rewards Ponzi- and pyramid case as brought by the SEC in a highly publicized action in August 2012 — alleged that “ZeekRewards succeeded be cause it promoted a lucrative ‘compensation plan,’ offering large amounts of passive income to entice individuals to participate in the scheme.”
Kenneth D. Bell, the receiver, is suing thousands of individuals for the return of hundreds of millions of dollars, saying their “winnings” came from hundreds of thousands of victims defrauded by Zeek.
Aug. 17, 2012, SEC News Release on Zeek action. (Headline: “SEC Shuts Down $600 Million Online Pyramid and Ponzi Scheme.”)
Oct. 17, 2013, SEC News Release on CKB168 action. (Headline: “SEC Halts Pyramid Scheme Targeting Asian-American Community.”
April 17, 2014, SEC News Release on TelexFree action. (Headline: “SEC Halts Pyramid Scheme Targeting Dominican and Brazilian Immigrants.”
March 28, 2014, SEC News Release on WCM777 action. (Headline: “SEC Halts Pyramid Scheme Targeting Asian and Latino Communities.”
Sept. 26, 2014, SEC News Release On eAdGear/Zhunrize actions. (Headline: “SEC Announces Cases Targeting International Pyramid Scheme Operators.”