Students feel targeted by multi-level marketing company

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By Alexandra Holyk

Students are concerned about the presence of multi-level marketing company (MLM) Kuvera Global on campuses, including Ryerson. The company has allegedly targeted students for recruitment who are not educated on investments and trading. 

According to the r/ryerson subreddit, students at Ryerson, York University and the University of Toronto are allegedly being recruited to join in exchange for courses on financial trading and investing.

Kuvera has promoted their services through social media advertising and recruitment seminars—meant for students to learn about and get involved with the company—at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM). One of Kuvera’s distributors, Amir Mahammad, said the company is not affiliated with Ryerson, however, they did hold a recruitment meeting at TRSM on Sept. 12. 

To join the Kuvera team, students are required to pay a starting fee of US$249 with an additional US$219 every month to maintain their program subscription to Kuvera. 

In an emailed statement, Chad Garner, president of Kuvera, said subscribers pay to have access to a “library of financial training and education covering a variety of topics.”

Students have reported to The Eyeopener they lost tens of thousands of dollars while they were involved with Kuvera, and that they were demeaned by those involved with the company. 

Kuvera Global has been using social media advertisements to recruit students on universities

Garner said that the company “does not target students” and doesn’t “use college campuses to recruit.” 

“Our products are offered to people all over the world with no specific targeted group of individuals.”

Mahammad said Kuvera is a “tech-educational company” that provides training on the Foreign Exchange Market (Forex) in Canada and cryptocurrencies through video tutorials, live training feeds and different modules.

When asked about how Kuvera works, Mahammad said that they teach people how to finance and invest their money. He said that professional investors and traders hired by the company “analyze the charts for us, and they do the more complex stuff and we do the simple stuff…we just check their work, see if it’s good, then we just copy and paste numbers onto a different application.”

When Mahammad was asked about students’ comments about Kuvera being a “pyramid scheme,” Mahammad said that’s “illegal” and said Kuvera is “a multi-level marketing” company.

Risky business 

Roaheen Mansuri, a third-year mechanical engineering student at York University, said that he has been personally attacked by the higher-ranked distributors within Kuvera, saying that they “went out of their way to find my old photos and adding rude commentary…They berated me for my physical image; called me fat..[and] made derogatory remarks.”

Garner said that Mansuri’s experience was “extremely disturbing information and will not be tolerated.”

“There are absolutely policies and procedures in place to avoid and punish this type of behaviour,” he said.  

“People who are seriously involved tend to behave like cult members”

Mansuri said that the Kuvera distributors are not as professional as they seem. “The people who are seriously involved in this tend to behave like cult members,” he said.

Mansuri started a petition to raise awareness to stop MLMs like Kuvera from using university and college campuses as platforms for promotion and recruitment. The petition already has more than 100 signatures.

Since students are often unable to keep up with the monthly cost, the company offers to waive the fee if the individual recruits a minimum of three additional members, said Mahammad. The student then becomes a distributor for the company.

“We modify our subscription offering regularly,” Garner said. “Generally the monthly subscription is $100-200 per month. There’s no specific pricing for students.” 

Other students also had negative experiences while working with the company. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, says he was a former trader with Kuvera and he lost more money than he earned.

Roaheen Mansuri reported that distributors at Kuvera went out of their way to attack him online

“I’ve personally lost around $30k when I was a part of [Kuvera],” said the student in a direct message on Instagram. “All I learned was to market ‘how great the company is, how much money I have made, the experience I have gained, and how much it changed my life.’ If I didn’t do any of that I would get no help from the [recruiter].”

Garner said that the student’s experience of losing money was “not common” and said that participating in this type of market “involves risk of losing money.” According to him, distributors in the company are seeing “very positive results” and “constantly remind customers of the risks of the markets.” 

He also added that it seemed that the student had a “very poor experience with the company” and that it was not something they take “lightly.”

MLMs vs. pyramid schemes

Formerly known as Wealth Generators, Kuvera is an American MLM, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

The company was bought by Investview, Inc. and changed its name from Wealth Generators to Kuvera in February 2018, according to the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (U.S. CFTC)—which aims to protect consumers and the public from fraud, manipulation and abusive practises. 

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Greater Toronto Area (ACFE-GTA) Chapter, MLMs or network marketing is a business strategy that encourages its “promoters” to recruit people to join their sales team. In return, the “promoters” are paid for the products they sell themselves, as well as the sales made by their recruited teammates. 

“I personally lost $30k when I was a part of Kuvera Global”

The ACFE-GTA Chapter said that pyramid or fraudulent schemes can be disguised as MLM companies—the difference being that no real product is sold in a pyramid scheme and participants strive to make money just by recruiting people.

Investview was fined $150,000 by the U.S. CFTC in February 2018, according to a U.S. CFTC release. 

“We have seen an increase in the number of unregistered entities and individuals illegally pedaling apps, websites, and social media…for trading in Forex,” said James McDonald, U.S. CFTC’s Director of Division of Enforcement, in the release. “Many of these entities and individuals specifically target millennials, who may be less experienced investors.”

According to Mahammad, when a distributor recruits multiple people to join Kuvera, their ranking increases within the company. Once they reach a certain ranking, they begin getting paid a monthly salary, starting at US$500. Garner said a distributor can “make as little as US$250 per month and go up from there.” 

‘Too good to be true’: student

Professor Ron Babin of TRSM expressed his concern regarding students buying into an MLM investing in cryptocurrency, saying that it “is very dangerous and I would encourage any Ryerson student to be extremely cautious.”

Second-year business management student Marcus (u/juiceboxhole), who started the Kuvera subreddit, said that the company is  “here to sell a product not help [people succeed] in the market.” 

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Marcus. 

In the subreddit, he says that Kuvera is an MLM which “preys on the innocent and uneducated.” 

“No one should ever risk more than they can comfortably lose in any market. We teach that religiously,” Garner said. “The cryptocurrency market is risky and participants should only risk what they are comfortable losing.”

Jerome Strader, manager of careers and operations at TRSM’s Business Career Hub, said the program works to ensure that students connect with legitimate employers and that “the Business Career Hub has not worked with Kuvera and we have no plans to engage with them.”

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