So what does this have to do with TVI Express, you ask? BIM also claims to run a "travel club", except everything cost ten times as much. The membership is $3200, and they claimed earnings potential is $100000 a week. Otherwise, there is an exact copy... 2-4-8 pyramid (i.e. 2x3 forced matrix), otherwise known as 8-ball scheme or "airplane game".
It seems that this had inspired TVI Express, albeit the price is lowered to 250 and a single pyramid was doubled, but otherwise, the structure was exactly the same.
When CBC in Canada profiled it in 2009 to be a get-rich-quick scheme and a pyramid scheme, the owner's main defense is "nobody has charged me any thing yet". That did not happen until 2011.
Citing from Mr. Fitzpatrick's notes on the investigation:
Then, there was the product. A travel club membership for $3,200? Offered by an unknown company? In a field of great competition and many very good online free travel services? It did not add up. Of course, as Marketplace later revealed, the product is actually worthless. It’s a fake.TVI Express is unkown, and bazillion free travel services are available online. It doesn't add up. Now that two years had gone by, it is documented that TVI Express have only affiliate relations with a few travel companies, that you and I can access for free. Thus, the $250 membership is worthless. The free trip you supposedly get is also worthless, cost extra $150 or more to redeem, and people have been left stranded all around the world. Clearly, the "travel club membership" is fake and worthless.
I also asked, where are the customers? The presentation stressed just recruiting other salespeople (BIM members). They called BIM members “salespeople” and said they were earning “commissions” but there were no customers. Each salesperson just recruited other salespeople. That could not be a business.TVI Express changed the terms to "distributor", and they used all the MLM jargon, but there are no customers, just more members.
Then came the explanation of the pay plan. They told us that they would pay $5,000 “commission” on a $3,200 sale. What? How could this be? As the presentation soon revealed, this was not a “payment” at all. It was just a transfer of money from the later recruits to the earlier ones. No one but a magician can pay more in commission that the product actually costs. Right?TVI Express promise you $10000 if you recruit only 2 people. However, filling two pyramids would actually mean over 200+ people join the scheme. As there is nothing actually sold to people outside the scheme, any "commission" is fictional.
And then, there was the “sleeping money.” Yes, BIM claimed that you “earned” money while sleeping. This was for those who made it to the top and then continued to collect money as “vice-president.” Where was that money coming from? Well, it came from people who joined later.
TVI Express FAQ says "make money while you sleep" as well, and the money clearly came from all the recruits that came in as your downline.
Thus, TVI Express is a BLATANT clone of a CRIMINAL PYRAMID SCHEME being prosecuted in Canada.
Add this to the fact that TVI Express was served a Cease and Desist in Georgia USA, kicked out of China, charged with operating without proper license in Indonesia, sued as pyramid Scheme in Australia, chased out of Hungary and Czech Republic... is there any doubt that this is a pyramid scheme?
And here's the MAIN lesson to take home: do NOT expect the government to save you when it comes to fraud. Canada didn't move on this scheme until YEARS later, even when TV station blown it wide open.