In 2009, lots of people were feeling vulnerable. The housing bubble had burst, taking with it millions of jobs. Pensions had vanished. Stocks were slumping. For a shrewd businessman, it was the perfect time for a get-rich-quick scheme.
Enter Donald Trump.
In November 2009, Trump, boasting a Midas-gold tie, took the stage in front of several thousand fans at Miami’s Hyatt Regency to debut his latest venture: The Trump Network™, a multi-level marketing operation focused on nutritional supplements. Trump was, as ever, ebullient: “When I did The Apprentice, it was a long shot. This is not a long shot. . . . We are going to be the biggest in the industry.” The Trump Network’s motto was ubiquitous at the event: Discover the Difference between Opportunity and Success.
In reality, people were about to discover the fine line between a multi-level marketing strategy and a pyramid scheme.
In early 2009, Trump purchased Ideal Health, Inc., founded in 1997 outside Boston by Lou DeCaprio and brothers Todd and Scott Stanwood, who became Trump Network executives. They got to work selling two products: Donald Trump and nutritional supplements. “If you know anything about network marketing — and anything about the power of the Trump brand — you’ll know this is an extraordinary opportunity,” Scott Stanwood wrote on his LinkedIn page. Meanwhile, in a promotional video for the Trump Network, DeCaprio touted the “best nutritional formula in the world.”
|WATCH VIDEO ABOVE|
That was, as Donald himself might say, hyperbole. It’s far from clear whether Ideal Health’s (that is, the Trump Network’s) products had any substantive nutritional value. Take the centerpiece of the program, the PrivaTest, a urine test that would provide “a scientific window into your personal biochemistry,” as Trump Network’s website advertised. Customers would purchase the PrivaTest kit, collect a urine sample, and ship the sample to a lab, which would analyze it and develop a “Custom Essentials” kit of nutritional supplements “calibrated . . . to reflect your unique nutrient needs.” To burnish its medical bona fides, in its sample “PrivaTest® Test Results” booklet [PDF], the Trump Network cited a 2002 article in the Journal of American Medical Association that declared, “It appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”Read the rest of the story HERE.
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