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State auditor looks to crack down on possible pyramid schemes

Montana’s commissioner of insurance and securities is looking to crack down on possible pyramid schemes using a new incentive program. The state auditor is allowing unregistered multi-level marketing companies to pay a reduced fine if they put their businesses under state oversight.

State Auditor Troy Downing started the incentive program a month ago to bring companies into compliance and to “confirm that they are not running an illegal pyramid scheme.”

At least 19 companies have come forward to self-report their failure to register with the state. Combined, those businesses employ around 4,200 people in Montana.

Those that filed paperwork include Life Platform, Chalk Couture and Beautycounter.

The auditor’s office program has so far doubled the number of multi-level marketing companies under state oversight.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, multi-level marketing companies are different from pyramid schemes when they pay based on retail sales and not on how many additional sellers a participant recruits.

The Federal Trade Commission says most people make little to no money working for multi-level marketing companies.

The following companies filed with the CSI by the incentive program’s Dec. 15 deadline:

  • Life Platform
  • Auvoria Prime
  • Breathless Wines
  • Chalk Couture
  • Epicure
  • Faberlic Inc.
  • Farmasi
  • Hugh & Grace
  • Seint
  • Think Goodness, LLC
  • Topaganda Scents
  • It Works!
  • Zinzino, LLC
  • Healy World Co.
  • Beautycounter
  • Sisel International, LLC
  • Unicity USA, Inc
  • Monat

Applications postmarked on or before Dec. 15, 2021, will be accepted by CSI.
Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.