• Report: #133372
Complaint Review:

Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing

  • Submitted: Tue, March 01, 2005
  • Updated: Fri, March 25, 2011

  • Reported By:Memphis Tennessee
Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing
2424 Harrodsburg Rd. Ste101 Lexington, Kentucky U.S.A.

Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Company will eventually sale out like Kenny Trout did with Excel Communications and leave the reps with a downard spiral company Ripoff Lexington Kentucky

*Consumer Comment: 'Amway' and 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing' are the American Dream made Nightmare

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: FHTM get caught in the D&B lie - another one revealed

*Consumer Comment: "company"

*Consumer Comment: USA Today hammers FHTM

*General Comment: FHTM is an EXCELLENT COMPANY

*Consumer Comment: Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Hit with Class Action Suit

*Consumer Suggestion: FHTM Reps are being Deceived.

*Consumer Comment: How to Identify a Product-Based Pyramid Scheme

*Consumer Comment: LIES -- LIES -- LIES -- LIES

*UPDATE Employee: Misinformed

*UPDATE Employee: Would you be willing to switch a few existing services to providers who would pay you to use them?

*Consumer Comment: WOW!, I'll be praying for these skeptics (Hecklers).

*Consumer Comment: Response to Excel and Fortune Ripoff

*Consumer Comment: FHTM needs to be upfront about everything...before joining, here's the lowdown.

*UPDATE Employee: Why do people always hate on a good thing

*Consumer Comment: They will do business with a dead tree if it will generate dollars

*UPDATE Employee: Facts Beat LIES Every Day of the Week

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If you follow network marketing like I follow it Fortune Hi-Tech is going down the same yellow brick road like another company did in the early 90's Excel Communication.

Remember Excel hit the Billion $ mark in less than 8 years faster than Microsoft and how did they do it by capitalizing own the deregulation of public utilities mainly long-distance. But that was not what made it grow so fast it was 1 simple word Electricity yep I was guilty to I bought into the hype that Excel and its ind.reps would be making money everytime someone cut on a light or open there frigerator.

But years went by and nothing ever happen so Kenny Trought sold the company something he never said he would do and moved to Lexington Kentucky to breed horses. Now this brings me to the New Excel Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing a lot of the same faces same marketing plan but new name and new location not Dallas Texas were Excel was born but Lexington Kentucky were Excel's former top money earner and yes Kenny Trout's new home.

Fortune is now 4 years old and all money is made by you paying your membership 249$ which was 199 then 249 then 199 now 249 again why does it change the the kit are always the same? Also here comes the rip off this why Fortune says it is not a pyramid because customers has to be gather before any money is paid out you come sign me up I pay 249$ if I get 2 customers in 30 days the comapany will pay you the sponsor 100$ now listen to this the 2 customers can be you yep you heard right you can be the 2 customers.

So you see this is the grey area were they can get by. Also there is a position call trainer coach you pay fortune 399$ and you can get 40$ everytime you train a 249$ rep. but what happen is reps will not train and fax there trainer form in to get 40$. I witness a guy in Memphis train 10 people in 3 states in 10 minutes that 400$ that is a rip off there is no way for them to monitor it just another way for the company to pockett 360$ of your hard earn money so stay away from the cloning of Excel that by the way has now sold 3 times and now is bankrupt and no they have not sold 1 customer electricity but from what I hear they are having trouble keeping it on.

Thank you Rip Off report for people to voice their opinion and that is what it is a professional full-time networker's opinion I suggest if you are looking at this for a business check out the information for yourself. Thank you and god bless

Concerned Networker
Memphis, Tennessee

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/01/2005 10:38 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/fortune-hi-tech-marketing/lexington-kentucky-40503/fortune-hi-tech-marketing-company-will-eventually-sale-out-like-kenny-trout-did-with-excel-133372. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

'Amway' and 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing' are the American Dream made Nightmare

AUTHOR: fhtmclassaction - (United States of America)

'Amway' and 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing' are the American Dream made Nightmare

Here are two recent articles from 'USA Today' for your free-thinking readers.



The criminogenic organization known as 'Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing' is an 'Amway' copy-cat. i.e. 'FHTM' is the reality-inverting label over the entrance to yet another self-perpetuating 'MLM business opportunity' cult. 'FHTM' was instigated, and is run, by a gang of exceedingly-greedy, but otherwise-mediocre, little raketeers from Kentucky. These narcissistic parasites have begun to grow rich by peddling an unoriginal lie whilst steadfastly pretending moral and intellectual authority.

In the adult world of quantifiable reality, the authenticity of the 'FHTM' lie is currently  being challenged all over the USA, after the State of Montana charged that 'FHTM' was actually a dissimulated pyramid scheme. However, exactly like the billionaire bosses of the 'Amway' mob,  the millionaire bosses of the 'FHTM' mob posed as innocent Christian businessmen/philanthropists under attack and instructed their aggressive echelon of attorneys to negotiate a 'settlement' with the plaintiffs. i.e. Without admitting any fault, they agreed to hand-over a significant chunk of their ill-gotten gains in Montana, in order to continue their clandestine criminal activities elsewhere.

It is common knowledge in the USA that 'FHTM' is a pernicious blame-the-victim scam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZxCK4adtuA .Indeed, it is common knowledge in the USA that all so-called 'Multi-Level Marketing' companies are shielding essentially the same, premeditated, closed-market swindle.

This general video warning has been recently produced by the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the US Federal Trade
Commission http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoB2PKYbu4Q . However, it beggars belief that senior FTC officials like Eileen Harrington can use public funds to pretend that the FTC wants to protect the American people from 'MLM
business opportunity' fraud, when, for decades, other senior FTC officials have allowed this cancer not only to gnaw its way into the USA, but also into the rest of the world.

Despite more than half a century of damning-evidence, senior US government trade officials prefer to remain blissfully-ignorant of the fact that behind so-called 'MLM' companies has lurked the ongoing historical phenomenon of criminogenic, or pernicious, cultism.  Meanwhile, the self-appointed bosses of these reality-inverting, totalitarian groups continue to rake-in vast fortunes by peddling variations of the same Utopian fiction as fact.

'MLM business opportunity' fraud is undoubtedly a form of major organized crime spawned in the USA. It should never have been left to ill-informed, and/or corrupt, American regulators to deal with this internal threat to democracy and the rule of law.

'Amway' and 'FHTM' are the American Dream made Nightmare. David Brear (copyright 2011)
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#2 REBUTTAL Owner of company

FHTM get caught in the D&B lie - another one revealed

AUTHOR: fhtmclassaction - (United States of America)

Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing lies about its 3A1 D&B rating to entice people to join its pyramid scheme. See full current report at www.fhtmclassaction.info

FTC Steps Up Efforts Against Scams That Target Financially-Strapped Consumers

More Than 90 Actions Brought By Commission and Its Law Enforcement Partners

Attorney General Roy Cooper today joined state attorneys general from across the country
and the Federal Trade Commission to announce a national sweep targeting business opportunity scams, including actions against four companies that have targeted North Carolina consumers.

When jobs are scarce, claims to help people make money fast become plentiful, Cooper
said. Consumers think theyre buying into a great way to earn a living, but they could end up paying far more than theyll ever make.

In challenging economic times, many people in the state are looking for work. Unfortunately, sometimes they find scams instead of legitimate opportunities. Complaints to the Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Division about business opportunity, work-at-home schemes, and other employment related scams were up 11 percent last year, from 177 complaints in 2009 to 197 complaints in 2010.

Operation Empty Promises is a national sweep by the FTC, Cooper and other state attorneys
general aimed at stopping business opportunity scams and educating consumers about how to avoid them. Announced as part of the sweep are actions taken by Coopers Consumer Protection Division against four companies including Fortune Hi Tech Marketing who claims that people who buy into its business earn thousands of dollars a year. Based on consumer complaints, Coopers office
launched an investigation into FHTM in mid 2010. Consumers say they paid money to the company but were only able to make money by recruiting others into the scheme, not by selling any actual goods or services. A total of 25 consumers have now complained about FHTM, and Coopers office is investigating the company. Although this case is currently under investigation, its important
for consumers to know that a pyramid scheme is a violation of the law and is defined as any plan in which a participant pays money for the chance to receive money upon the introduction of new participants into the program.

Were looking closely at business opportunities that seem to offer false hopes, and also reaching out to educate consumers on how to recognize and avoid fraud, Cooper said.

Later this month, Coopers office plans to launch a tool kit to educate consumers on fake
business opportunities which will include print, web and video materials. The goal is to prevent North Carolina consumers from losing their hard-earned money to scammers trying to take advantage of a tough employment market.

Dont let scammers use empty promises of jobs with high earnings to take your money, Cooper warned consumers. Before you agree to invest in any business, check it out thoroughly and always be skeptical of claims of guaranteed profits.

Cooper has taken action against a number of other kinds of scams fueled by hard times. For
example, his Consumer Protection Division has won 13 cases against foreclosure assistance and loan modification scams in the past five years, including two so far in 2011.The Federal Trade Commission today stepped up its ongoing campaign against scammers who falsely promise guaranteed jobs and opportunities to be your own boss to consumers who are struggling with unemployment and diminished incomes as a consequence of the economic downturn.

Operation Empty Promises, a multi-agency law enforcement initiative today announced more
than 90 enforcement actions, including three new FTC cases and developments in seven other matters, 48 criminal actions by the Department of Justice (many of which involved the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service), seven additional civil actions by the Postal Inspection Service, and 28 actions by state law enforcement agencies in Alaska, California, Indiana, Kansas,
Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

In a press conference at the FTC, David Vladeck, Director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer
Protection,  was joined by Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice; Greg Campbell, Deputy Chief Inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper; and a California consumer who had bought into a program to start his own Internet business.

The victims of these frauds are our neighbors people who are trying to make an honest living, said David C. Vladeck, Director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection. Under pressure to make ends meet, they risked their limited financial resources in response to the promise of a job, an income a chance at a profitable home-based business. But these turned out to be empty promises
and the people who counted on them ended up with high levels of frustration and even higher levels of debt.

The FTC has updated consumer education materials to help consumers avoid falling victim to
these scams. Screen shots from the websites of some of the operators charged in this law enforcement sweep, as well as video footage of FTC Consumer Protection Director Vladeck and FTC attorney Daniel Hanks, are also available at the FTC website.
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#3 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: anon - (Canada)

I am agreeing that FHTM can be a life-saver to certain motivated peoples; FHTM is a sore excuse for a company though.
Is there not a way to become some-sort of a program? Some way to exclude them from traditional economical business practices that have very strict rules on how their finances can be collected and distributed.

The only people they are hurting are people stupid enough to pay money then not work for it back.

It's not a scam, although it is a VERY unstable business, all evidence provided above (including people on the side of FHTM).

All of you that work for FHTM know the business revolves around recruitment, do not deny it, it is fact. It is also fact that >50% of representatives buy and collect through themselves for personal "gain". This is just stupid, you're supposed to be marketing and selling the products to others and generating consumers for these fortune 500 companies that you can't stop talking about.

All the facts are straight with this company, everyone knows what is going on. You just have nowhere to go as a reputable "company".

Start working on a solution.

And good for you people that make good money from it. I hope it is invested in something more stable though.

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#4 Consumer Comment

USA Today hammers FHTM

AUTHOR: consumer - (United States of America)

State officials step in

Some government officials aren't so sure. What states are doing:

Montana Commissioner of Securities Monica Lindeen says she was pitched to join Fortune by her brother. He recruited her mother and other family members before she learned her office was investigating. She called Fortune a "pyramid scheme" when she filed suit against the company in March. Along with prohibiting Fortune from paying people for recruiting and insisting that bonuses only be based on product sales outside the home, Montana's consent agreement requires Fortune to lower its entry fee from $299 at the time to $75 and to give every representative a "disclosure document" that explains how long it takes to earn different levels of income. All of Lindeen's family members have left Fortune.

The Texas Attorney General's office sent Fortune a "civil investigative demand" letter on Aug. 26. The letter asked for the names of all state residents enrolled in Fortune, how much they paid to get in and got in return, along with the gross product sales in the state. The letter also asks the names and earnings of the highest-ranking managers of the company, who is below them on their teams and how much comes from direct product sales as opposed to "commissions, bonuses or sales by others." Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, says the office is reviewing Fortune's response, and the "investigation is ongoing."

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's office is also investigating, according to former Fortune managers Day and Isaacs, who have been interviewed. The office doesn't confirm or deny investigations and wouldn't comment about Fortune. In an interview, however, Conway said it could violate the state's anti-pyramid scheme law if product sales alone couldn't "sustain the people at the lower end of the chain." And it could be considered an "unconscionable act" under the state's consumer protection law to not disclose how unlikely it is for new salespeople to make anything close to what more senior managers do.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued a cease-and-desist order last December against Fortune for violations of several state laws. Fortune agreed to pay a $12,500 fine and to voluntarily comply with state laws. But Stenehjem said the state's consumer protection division would continue to investigate whether Fortune violates the state's anti-pyramid, consumer fraud and home-solicitation laws.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper's office has received "a number of complaints" about Fortune, and the consumer protection division launched an investigation, according to spokeswoman Noelle Talley.

At least four other states Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois and Florida have followed up on complaints from disgruntled former Fortune representatives.

Non-English speakers vulnerable

Some say Fortune goes too far in targeting vulnerable Hispanics who aren't fluent in English. Ilse Bustamante, a printing company executive from Deland, Fla., filed a complaint with her state after a friend tried to strong-arm her into joining Fortune because of her Latin connections. She says Fortune is determined to tap into the growing Hispanic market to fuel its own growth and targets bilingual people like her to lure non-English-speakers.

"The way they (Fortune) present this info is misleading, and with them not knowing English that well, they're going to fall for it," Bustamante says.

Mary Jude Ramirez, whose son-in-law left Fortune because of the high monthly fees, agrees. "These are people who really have an American dream," Ramirez says. "The Fortune people tell them they only need a great desire to get ahead, and if they spread the word of this program, riches will pour into their lap."

A central part of the Fortune pitch, as heard at the conference here and explained by several former managers, is that it's easy to recruit other managers because the brands and products it sells are ones almost everyone already needs and uses. But nearly all of the household names, including Travelocity, Citibank, Allstate and Home Depot, that the company listed on its website as recently as this summer are no longer named.

Fortune has been known to target those still in high school. Michael Love of Poway, Calif., had just turned 18 when he was "brought into the scheme," says his lawyer Alex Schack. They sued Fortune to get his $1,000 back and settled out of court.

Young people "all have big dreams and are very susceptible to something like this," says Schack, who is preparing a lawsuit against Fortune seeking class-action status in California.

Study FHTM's income disclosure statement to know what is really going on.  Take note that 28.15% did not earn any money for the year 2009.  Also, FHTM is only reporting earnings on months reps earned a check, leaving out the zeros months reps did not earn a check.  They also left out the 28.15% from the earnings.  All of this of course helps skew the numbers into a more favorable liking for FHTM.  Even without calculating the zeros we can easily tell 95% of the representatives in FHTM are not making money.  Once you add in the cost to purchase product each month the Manager level comes out making negative earnings.  The regional level comes out making negative earnings as well.  That is based on the new product bundle that came out after the issue in Montana.

FTC consumers protection on pyramid schemes that are hard to recognize.

Pyramid schemes now come in so many forms that they may be difficult to recognize immediately. However, they all share one overriding characteristic. They promise consumers or investors large profits based primarily on recruiting others to join their program, not based on profits from any real investment or real sale of goods to the public. Some schemes may purport to sell a product, but they often simply use the product to hide their pyramid structure. There are two tell-tale signs that a product is simply being used to disguise a pyramid scheme: inventory loading and a lack of retail sales. Inventory loading occurs when a company's incentive program forces recruits to buy more products than they could ever sell, often at inflated prices. If this occurs throughout the company's distribution system, the people at the top of the pyramid reap substantial profits, even though little or no product moves to market. The people at the bottom make excessive payments for inventory that simply accumulates in their basements. A lack of retail sales is also a red flag that a pyramid exists. Many pyramid schemes will claim that their product is selling like hot cakes. However, on closer examination, the sales occur only between people inside the pyramid structure or to new recruits joining the structure, not to consumers out in the general public.

So what do you do?

So what do you do after being fined almost a million dollars for operating as an alleged pyramid scheme?  What do you do after being exposed on major television news channels from misleading claims? What do you do when you have to change your business? What do you do when your own State's I-Team Investigation exposes FHTM over the year about their activity? What do you do after a major paper like USA Today floods you with more factual information? What do you do when a Class Action Lawsuit is served by a very credible lawfirm?  What do you do knowing another Lawyer in California is putting together another Class Action Lawsuit? What do you do when a State Attorney General sends you a civil investigative demand letter?  What do you do with other A.G. investingating?  Do you make more changes to how business has been done for the past 10 years? OR...........

You ask to be on Oprah. 

On her website under contact us, there is a section that says (Do you have an idea for a show or a topic you'd like to see on The Oprah Show?) 

In closing go to youtube and listen to Casting Crowns - What If His People Prayed

Very inspiring!

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#5 General Comment


AUTHOR: JR - (United States of America)

I find it fascinating that the "naysayers" of Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing are all reporting events of 5 or more years ago. ....and couldn't be further off-base if they tried!
FHTM is now 10 years old and it is the 4th largest business of its genre in the US today.
The company now represents over 30 different Fortune 500 companies and is the largest purveyor of Dish Network in the US.....YES... THAT DISH NETWORK.... Dish has even gone so far as to establish a full-line call center next to FHTM HQ in Lexington, KY. just to service the flood of customers FHTM reps continue to bring.
I have been an FHTM representative since June of 2009 (came in 4 YEARS after these complainers left their remarks...) and have achieved the level of Executive Sales Manager. I receive checks 3x per month from FHTM and can (and have) receive as many as 5 checks per month. Entry fee is $99.99... the same cost as a COSTCO card and the company operates much the same as COSTCO.. except the revenue sharing is far greater than COSTCO.....
If you believe the detractors then my 6 figure annual income from FHTM must be a scam... and if that's so, then my 2011 Lexus RX350, fully paid for by FHTM, is a mirage, and the earned trips to the Bahamas, Atlantis, and Cabo San Lucas during the past year are merely a figment of my imagination, I guess... I did go to these places, completely paid for by FHTM, and I have the photographs and the vouchers to prove it!

FHTM is nor a get rich quick scheme and  is responsible for changing a lot of lives... approximately 125,000 so far. It is NOT EXCEL (I was an EXCEL rep in the 90s) and this company is very, very different and very straight forward.
All I can say is that at the age of 65, my life, after 38 years of slugging it out in the retail automobile business and real estate, has never been happier or more secure.
I am grateful to my wonderful sponsor and mentor, Darla, for her inspiration and her instruction,  and to Paul Orberson for all he has put together. BTW, Paul is the only person to earn $1,000,000 per month in NETWORK MARKETING (he did so in EXCEL.. for 22 months). His life story is the subject of an upcoming TV documentary and he has been asked to appear on "OPRAH", by Oprah herself because she is interested in the phenomenon that is FHTM. Paul will appear on January 11, 2011.
The above statements are all true and can be easily verified by anyone who might want to contact me...  
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#6 Consumer Comment

Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Hit with Class Action Suit

AUTHOR: FHTM - (United States of America)

Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Hit with Class Action Suit

by louabbott on September 3, 2010

In a 42 page document (exclusive of Exhibits) plaintiffs Yvonne Day , Leonard Haslag , James McCormick  and John W. Turner filed a class action law suit against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, Inc. (FHTM), the company, the owners, officers, some employees and distributor leaders.  In blistering language and drawing on the recent legal actions by the States of Montana and North Dakota, the suit alleges that FHTM is, and always has been, an illegal pyramid scheme and is a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.

The video on this page is part of a business presentation of the Fortune Hi Tech Marketing compensation plan by Presidential Ambassador, Joel McNinch that is quoted in the lawsuit.

Others named in the lawsuit are:

Paul C. Orberson, Jeff Orberson, Thomas A. Mills, David Mills, Billy Stahl, Simon Davies, Ruel Morton, Todd Rowland, Ashley Rowland, Todd & Ashley, Inc., Mike Misenheimer, Steve Jordan, Joel McNinch, Chris Doyle, Ken Brown, Jerry Brown, Bob Decant, Joanne McMahon, Terry Walker, Sandi Walker, Sherri Winter, Trey Knight, Kevin Mullins, Scott Aguilar, Molly Aguilar, Nathan Kirby, Dwayne Brown, Aaron Decker, Susan Frank, Ramiro Armenta, Angelina Armenta, Alexis Adame, Teresa Adame, Darla DiGrandi, Matt Morse, Matt Barrett and Roberto Rivera

The suit seeks to close down the company through injunction relief and recover treble  damages, costs, and attorneys fees.

The law firm for the class action suit is:

1400 PNC Plaza
500 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
(502) 540-2300 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (502) 540-2300      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (Telephone)
(502) 585-2207 (Facsimile)

Copy of the full law suit with all of the exhibits can be downloaded here.

Interested persons can follow the development of the law suit at Justia Dockets and Filings.

Mr. Jason Baker, who was identified to me at FHTM as general counsel for the company was not immediately available for comment.

Editor Opinion

While I am hardly qualified to judge the merits of the case on solely legal issues -  like whether the suit has been properly filed, whether the jurisdiction is correct, and whether it is properly framed, etc. there is little question in my mind that this presents a huge business challenge for FHTM and consequently, for all of their distributors. Regardless of the outcome of the case, with this news capping the other recent legal challenges to the business opportunity, it is bound to become very difficult, if not close to impossible to effectively recruit.  Without new recruits, it would seem doubtful that the company can stay in business.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the issue that all networkers need to understand. For a company to stand legal scrutiny, distributors cannot in any way shape or form be compensated for recruiting other distributors.

The law suit makes this allegation that could, in fact, be made against many MLM companies:

85. Fortunes commission structure makes this possible by allowing IRs [Independent Representatives] to earn
commissions on sales without ever actually selling anything to a customer outside the Fortune Pyramid. In fact, prospective IRs are told while joining Fortune that they must purchase certain products to earn their first customer points and therefore allow bonuses to be paid to their sponsors.

While the FHTM compensation plan ties the payment of commissions and bonuses to getting customers (at least 3) as measured by customer points, in actual practice, the lawsuit alleges this:

90. These active personal customers need not be actual human beings, let alone human beings outside of the Fortune Pyramid; rather, a product or service purchased from Fortune by the IR him or herself qualifies as a customer for purposes of allowing IRs to receive commissions and bonuses. The customer points assigned to each Fortune product or service determine how much of any given Fortune product or service must be purchased to qualify as one customer.

91. A Customer Point Sheet provided to new IRs explains what products or services may be purchased to qualify as a new customer. As an example, the purchase of $39.99 of True Essentials products by an IR counts as one customer and one customer point.

92. To obtain the required three customer points, new IRs are encouraged to merely purchase Fortune products and services themselves, rather than attempt to sell them to outsiders. Potential IRs are frequently told at recruiting meetings that they are already paying for the types of  products and services offered by Fortune e.g., television, Internet service, cellular phone service,vitamins or travel so they should simply switch from their current service provider to a product offered by Fortune.

93. Although one of the three customers purportedly must be other than his/her own personal or household account, Fortune neither tracks nor enforces this policy, and the policy itself permits this customer to be another IR.

One of the 12 Critical Success Factors I teach in the MLM The Whole Truth Special Report and Course, is #8 Are there Real Customers?  The test is essentially this: can it be demonstrated that there exists a significant percentage of customers buying the companys products or services who do so even though they are NO part of the compensation plan?

If the answer is yes, probably any other legal issues that may exist can be fixed.  If the answer is no, any other legal manipulations may not suffice to prevent the company from being attacked as illegal.

I am actually shocked at how many companies would probably fail that test if the true numbers were known.  And, I am then further concerned as to how many distributors have no idea that the company is then vulnerable.

It is also important for network marketers to understand that each of the named defendants, including company principals, officers, management, and distributor leaders,  are being accused of participating in a pattern of racketeering activity, not just the FHTM corporation:

173. Each defendant is a person for purposes of RICO, 18 U.S.C. 1962, because each defendant is, and was at all relevant times, an individual or entity capable of holding legal or beneficial interest in property.

174. All of the defendants in this action collectively form an enterprise under RICO, 18U.S.C. 1962, in that they are a group of individuals and entities associated in fact, although not a legal entity.

175. In the alternative, the enterprise consisted of Fortune, which is controlled by defendants Paul C. Orberson, Jeff Orberson, Thomas A. Mills, David Mills, Billy Stahl, and Simon Davies.

176. In the alternative, the Fortune Pyramid is an enterprise, in that it is an association in fact of all defendants and others which, although not gathered under any legal entity, operates the illegal pyramid scheme to draw new investors to Fortune.

177. The defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity by participating in a scheme and artifice to defraud in violation of the mail and wire fraud statutes, 18 U.S.C. 1341 and 1343.

If this line of argument stands, distributors who plan on succeeding and achieving top leadership status had better be sure that the company they represent can stand rigorous legal scrutiny for reasons other than it makes good business sense they can end up being sued or even going to jail along with the principles of the company!

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#7 Consumer Suggestion

FHTM Reps are being Deceived.

AUTHOR: TexasJack - (United States of America)

To become a FHTM rep requires a payment of $300 which is immediately distributed to upline members. This is clearly a Ponzi. Earning the residuals is the carrot that keeps everyone buying 10 products a month.

The biggest scam of all is that one of those quick 10 products is True Essential vitamins. A rep will pay $40 a month for a vitamin available at drug stores for less than half that amount. The residual paid to the rep is 10 centsan amount that is insignificant but the rep has satisfied one of the 10 mandatory customer points(things the rep buys) in order to earn residuals from his downline people that he brought into the business.

The residual scheme can work but you need thousands of downline people that continue to buy 10 things every month to ever make money worth the effort. And when youre 1,205th downline person dies or quits buying, who knows what happens to the upline residuals from everyone below them.

The FHTM rep website is $25 per month and back office (TelTag) is $20 per month. These are 2 of the 10 things a rep must buy EACH MONTH in order to participate in the future residuals.

And a rep gets paid 5 times a month. Why? Because FHTM charges its reps $6 for each check.

Ask to see FHTM financial statements and you will be told it's a "private" company. Those financial statements would also prove the company is making money off its reps.....not the residuals.
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#8 Consumer Comment

How to Identify a Product-Based Pyramid Scheme

AUTHOR: FHTM - (United States of America)

How to Identify a Product-Based Pyramid Scheme ("Recruiting MLM")

2003, Jon M. Taylor, PhD

Multilevel companies that are based on profits from recruiting rather than retailing should be regarded as pyramid schemes or "recruiting MLMs." This article describes five ways to distinguish them from "retail MLMs" in which the company pays generously for retailing products without recruiting a large downline. "Recruiting MLMs" typically display five features:

1. Recruiting of participants is unlimited in an endless chain of recruiters recruiting recruiters.

Ask whether unlimited recruiting is allowed. When a given market is saturated, and the program must move on to another location or introduce new products or divisions to continue, the opportunity for each new person to make money becomes less and less as the programs expands.

2. Advancement in a hierarchy of multiple levels of "distributors" is achieved by recruitment, rather than by appointment.

Ask whether participating "distributors" advance their position (and potential income) in a hierarchy of multiple levels of "distributors" by recruiting other "distributors" who in turn advance by recruiting distributors under them, etc.? If so, the result is self-appointment through recruitment to ascending payout levels in the distributor hierarchy. If the only way a person can profit significantly in the scheme is through recruiting to advance to higher payout levels (or to buy another's downline), this strongly indicates a pyramid scheme.

3."Pay to play" requirements are satisfied by ongoing "incentivized purchases." These are purchases of goods and services that are required to participate in commissions or to ascend in the distributor hierarchy. If they are required to participate in the "business opportunity," then whether they are used, sold, given away, or stored is irrelevant. They should be considered a cost of doing business.

Ask whether prospective "distributors" are encouraged to make sizable investments ("front loading") in "incentivized purchases" in order to take advantage of the "business opportunity" and later to continue qualifying for advancement or higher payout in overrides (commissions and bonuses). This practice, can result in large losses if the products cannot be resold. Also be wary of plans that require minimum periodic purchases ("pay to play") to qualify for commissions or advancement. Do not sign up for continuing product purchases on auto-ship through an automatic bank draft or credit card, rather than making occasional purchases as needed. Such purchase requirements may be disguised investments in a product-based

pyramid scheme or a clever attempt to disguise pyramid investments

as product purchases.

4. The company offers commissions and/or bonuses to more than five levels of "distributors."

Ask whether the company pay overrides to distributors in a

hierarchy of more levels than are functionally justifiable. Even in major corporations, the entire world marketplace can be covered in five levels of sales management - branch, district, regional,

national, and international sales managers. Paying commissions and bonuses on more than five levels in an MLM program primarily enriches those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom. You would be wise to avoid any program that pays overrides on more than five levels. Breakaway compensation systems are particularly exploitive, as payments are on a hierarchy of "breakaway" organizations of whole groups of participants, not just individuals -- creating an extraordinarily high loss rate, except for those at the top of a "mega-pyramid of pyramids."

5. Company payout per sale for each upline participant equals or exceeds that for the person selling the product, creating inadequate incentive to retail and excessive incentive to recruit -- and an extreme concentration of income at the top.

Ask whether a "distributor" purchasing products "for resale" would receive about the same total payout (in commissions, bonuses, etc.) from the MLM company as participants several levels above who had nothing to do with the sale. If so, the company's payments to the person retailing the product would be pitifully small, while those at the top of the upline can compound the small commission per sale by the sales of hundreds or even thousands of downline distributors. This is great for the upline leaders but lousy for those attempting retail sales. Avoid any MLM company that pays less than half of all distributor payout to the person actually selling the products to outside customers.

Never accept income projections of retail sales at full retail

prices, especially for products that are overpriced and not competitive

in the marketplace. Also be wary if you are asked to choose between

two options or "tracks" -- one for those who want to "retail" the products and another track for those who are serious about "building the business." This sales pitch usually indicates that the incentives are heavily weighted towards recruiting

Where valid data are available, recent research has demonstrated that when all five of these red flags are found in an MLM, the percentage of participants who lose money is 99.9% -- even worse than the loss rates for typical no-product pyramid schemes and for games of chance in Las Vegas.


Dr. Taylor is president of the Consumer Awareness Institute and a director of (((Redacted))). Additional information is available from Dr. Taylor and the (((Redacted)))Web site.

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#9 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: FHTM - (United States of America)

Let me make something perfectly clear. When someone says, "Would AT&T, GE, DuPont, etc. do business with fortune if we were a scam or illegal pyramid scheme". IT IS A LIE!!!!! NONE OF THOSE COMPANIES ARE IN BED WITH FORTUNE. Fortune has no direct relationship with any of them. According to GE - they have NO relationship with FHTM. According to Dish Networks - FHTM does no business directly with us so they CAN NOT possibly be our largest customer gather.

NOT ONE CEO of any of the companies that FHTM represents has ever been to Lexington nor met with Paul or his band of idiots. It is a LIE to make you think you are getting into business with some of the world's biggest companies, when all you are doing is working for a pyramid scheme that deceives and missrepresents its relationships.

Paul Orberson and the FHTM team DO NOT understand the meaning of the FTC definition of "PPS" Product Based Pyramid Scheme. Do your homework. How can they pay our $575.00 to managers on a $299.00 investment of someone else and say it is about product sales and not recruiting.

Orberson was the king of building downlines. There are a handful of his buddies from Excell sitting in the Presidents Pool (7 ONLY) sharing the revenues made from getting unsuspecting people charged up about an opportunity that will fail for 99% of those who get in.
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#10 UPDATE Employee


AUTHOR: Anonymous - (U.S.A.)

In regards to fortune hi tech marketing, there are some statements made that aren't entirely true. First of all, their home office is in Lexington, KY but they are far from being bankrupt. They are a "debt free" company and I might add that Kenny Trought has nothing to do with the company. In fact, as far as the network marketing field is concerned, a man named Paul Orberson earned more money in a shorter amount of time then anyone had before and that was just before he retired prior to his fortieth birthday. He, along side his friend and colleague, Tom Mills. Shortly after the company took off Jeff Orberson joined the team also. Also, the prices listed to join are inaccurate and there is no denial as to it being like a pyramid. Lets face it, all business' are. You have an owner, then the manager and then the employees and when you get into corporate business it is an even larger pyramid. As far as getting 2 people under you, that is not required either. In fact, it's not pushed on anyone. If you like you can simply have family and friends pay for things through your website and they never have to join. I mean think about it, would all of these reputible companies such as Dish Network, Alltel, AT&T, Target, Walmart, Home Depot and the list goes on and on, use Fortune Hi Tech Marketing if they weren't reputable? We simply replace the middle man and have loyal customers make their everyday purchases and bill payments through our site and we receive a small payment for doing so. Sure is cheaper than paying someone famous to do a million dollar commercial on T.V. don't you think? Everyone knows word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. Thank you Ripoff Report for allowing us to speak up and out against people who want to bash companies. Don't get me wrong, any job takes work and if your not willing to do any work then perhaps you too would complain. But if you like the position your in now, keep on doing what your doing. If not, your lifestyle won't change unless you do.

Lake City, FL
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#11 UPDATE Employee

Would you be willing to switch a few existing services to providers who would pay you to use them?

AUTHOR: B.f. - (U.S.A.)

That is the bottom line in FHTM. Customer loyalty. If you don't use a cell phone, don't watch T.V., don't have a security system, don't use any nutritional or beauty products and don't know one single person who uses any of these services or products, then Fortune is not the company for you. If you want to make residual income on products and services you are already using and are willing to find a few other people who want to change their lives by using these products and services then Fortune would be a good fit for you. It's not a get rich quick scheme, it's something you will have to work at. You only need 3 services to get paid down to 8 levels and your website is one of those services.

For those that don't want to join but use cell phones, satellite, or buy clothes, eat at restaurants, need new tires, have kids that need toys, have a computer that needs paper or ink, want a new Hi Def T.V. -that's who your website is for-your customers. If you want to get paid to unlimited levels you will eventually need a total of 10 services, but those are easily acquired along the way and you won't need them right away. Because the residual takes a while to build up, the owner built into the company the most lucrative bonus system in the industry to provide instant income until your downline builds. If you are looking for something for nothing, and don't want to work, then stick with your 9 to 5 or 3 to 11 job and only get paid when you show up and continue to worry about being laid off like everyone else right now.

If you want to control your financial future, take a serious look at this company. It will be worth an hour of your time. P.S. it's in the company bylaws that this company can never be sold and never go public. That was the downfall of Excel and the founder of FHTM knew that. That's why he got out when he did and why he made sure it would never happen to his company.
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#12 Consumer Comment

WOW!, I'll be praying for these skeptics (Hecklers).

AUTHOR: Jason - (U.S.A.)

There's one of two things wrong here, neither of the people paid atention during the company overview or maybe they did ask more questions? For one thing anything in life you do doesn't need to be about you! That's where everyone fails at so much in business because an unsaved person will desire money and depend money to provide for them. You don't have to bea customer of "True essentials, dish, or your own webpage. The webpage is a replicated website of the corporate website, You wouldn't need to purchase these thingsit would just be easier to refer others if you were a customer of one of the services. This would make it easier to talk about with other people. More later,
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#13 Consumer Comment

Response to Excel and Fortune Ripoff

AUTHOR: Marie - (U.S.A.)

Excel was not a ripoff company. The only people ripped off were people who bought into the idea of it being a get rich quick without any WORK idea. It was not a pyramid scheme but a legitimate company that helped a lot of people get what they wanted if they were willing to work for it. I wanted and needed a car and extra money every month and I got that. When I felt like I no longer wanted or needed the business I stopped working it. My choice! Excel still exists as Excel Telcom but with no independent reps. Proves it was not a ripoff.

Fortune Hightech is not a rip off or a spin off of Excel. Fortune is a legitimate company with some good people working that business, yes some of them did come from Excel and none as far as I know have any complaints about the company. I chose not to work Fortune due to my schedule. I do however believe that some people need to get their information straight before they begin complaining. DO NOT JOIN ANY NETWORKING OR MULTI-LEVEL BUSINESS IF YOU DON'T PLAN TO WORK IT. There is no free ride but you can achieve your goals if you apply some effort. The system is designed to work for you if you WORK for yourself and use the system.

Grow up people it's about improving your lifestyle and helping your family if you want to do that and complaining less about what you are not well versed about. Get the fact straight before you report on any company. Some people are better employees than business owners. Yes Network Marketing is a business not a job, not a hobby and not for peole who don't want to WORK. M.B. Georgia
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#14 Consumer Comment

FHTM needs to be upfront about everything...before joining, here's the lowdown.

AUTHOR: Alisa - (U.S.A.)

I was invited to a meeting of this company. I watched the DVD before I went. I was pretty confused. I was told the cost of joining was $299. Well, that is alot of something I don't have. I was told I would get that back without too much trouble, just by getting others in. I would also need 10 points which I would aquire through companies they, in a word, "promote". Some of these companies we already have in our home. So, basically, I would have to pay for the other points. Get Dish TV or cingular. Well, this is like going to a grocery store and using coupons for something I don't really need. I left the meeting still confused.

Anyway, I did some checking on my own. Come to find out, I wasn't told everything. I was told that I would have to sign up for one of their products...they are promoting their vitamins. This will cost $43.99 each for men and womens pacs. I then have a web page setup fee of $19.95 and then I must pay a monthly fee of $19.95. So to get started I need $426.88. I also must pay a monthly fee of $107.93 ($87.98 vitamins, $19.95 web page) Hey, I can get a web page for less than $5 a month! Now, before someone comes back on this, yes these prices can differ. Maybe I don't want the vitamins. I'll get DishTV, or maybe a cell phone (neither of which I use in the first place). These items are for the 10 points I need.

Now, I need to get 3 others to join as well. After all this, I get 2-20% back from this company. I can pay more fees in order to train as a regional manager. Wait, sounds like a pyramid scheme to me...I am not saying this is a scam. I'm sure it is possible to make money on this, but I am in an area where most everyone is sceptical when it comes to marketing anything. I know. I did a marketing scheme under another group, which didn't work out. I guess some people could market anything if they thought about it for awhile. I know one guy had a website which was nothing more than asking people to send him $1. Go figure. BTW, what I am telling you is what I was told by a rep of this company. I see from these reports on this site that the money charged for this program differs...why? Does this mean that the prices will eventually increase after I join? I can't risk that.
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#15 UPDATE Employee

Why do people always hate on a good thing

AUTHOR: Marquise - (U.S.A.)

I'm going to keep this short and sweet....

Above it was stated that Fortune was backed by Kenny Trout and that the compensation plan was identical to that os Steve Smith....well if Excel stayed in busniess for over 15 years AND it didn't go out of business VARTEC did....Excel was no pyramid scheme....and yes heads of companies make bad decisions and the rest of the company pays for it...but that is just business....in the 15 years Excel was in business it changed A LOT of people's lives.....and since a lot of people learned form the mistakes Excel made I see Fortune have much longevity and changing a lot more people's lives
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#16 Consumer Comment

They will do business with a dead tree if it will generate dollars

AUTHOR: Larry - (U.S.A.)

Deer fellow networker I see you have been decieved by the big name companies doing business with Fortune. I could call up a division of cingular right now and say I am starting a direct marketing or mlm company and would love to have company on board and you will never pay until the our direct marketing rep sign someone up they would say were do I sign.

You dont believe me look @ Conigen,E-star,Nexx and many more small mlm companies. So when say would these companies do business with a scam the answer is a YES.I have been is this industry foe 12 years and Fortune Hi-Tech is scamming the 249$ average Joe on the street. You could go to Conigen or Estar and sign up free and sale the same services for a bigger commision and have a free website.

Paul is money hungry he said he started this company because he was bored of retirement baloney. He started FHTM because of Kenny Trout backing it.I have researched there compensation plan and it is a duplicate of a good friend of mine Steve S.I know you probably are a rep and everything I have said is true and the truth hurts.
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#17 UPDATE Employee

Facts Beat LIES Every Day of the Week

AUTHOR: Ray - (U.S.A.)

I will attempt to make sense of the NUMEROUS and glaring factual & grammatical errors of the original "report".

Excel was the youngest company ever listed on the NY Stock Exchange. A book, was written by a former adviser to Pres. Bush, about the rise of Excel. The above IS true though -- Excel reached a billion dollars faster than Microsoft, which is a testament to the power of network marketing rather than an indictment. Word of mouth advertising is the most powerful form of advertising there is.

Excel never got into electricity. But Excel did not build its billions on the promise of electricity. Excel made money because their Managers went out and signed up customers, customers who paid their bills every month because they had a personal direct relationship with an Excel rep that signed them up. THAT is how Excel made a billion dollars faster than any company before it, and that is why other companies such as Pre-Paid Legal, ACN, Xango, Fortune Hi-Tech, and many others sprang up in its wake.

There are so many inaccuracies in the above. Kenny Trout is currently one of the richest people in America, according to Forbes Magazine. He did sell Excel and retire to breed & sell horses. He did NOT move to Lexington Kentucky, and he has nothing to do with Fortune Hi-Tech.

Fortune was started by Paul Orberson, the #1 Excel rep of all-time. Paul was a broke high school basketball coach when he joined Excel in 1990. He went on for 3 years, and made over a MILLION dollars a month for over 30 straight months, and retired from Excel in 1996.

After 4 years of retirement, Paul decided to start a company that could give other motivated people the same opportunity that he had -- to change his financial future. After examining dozens of other MLM companies, and the strengths & weaknesses inherent in their compensation plans, Paul created a company that eliminated most of the headaches. Fortune was started in 2001, and is already at over $80 million in revenue. Unlike Excel, Fortune is 100% debt free, and is not tied to any ONE industry the way Excel was tied to telecom.

Fortune is only a marketing company. We market brand-name goods & services, and we help others start their own businesses with us. Ask yourself these questions:

Would Cingular/AT&T, the largest wireless company in the US, be doing business with a pyramid scheme? Would DISH Network, rated #1 in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates, be in business with a company that makes its money by scamming people?

Would CIGNA Dental Network do business with a disreputable company? What about Traveler's Group Insurance, one of the oldest and largest insurance companies in the US? Would they do business with Fortune if it was a scam?

Would there by an ABC PrimeTime Live video on Fortune's websites if it were a scam? Would a scam be launching into both Canada AND Europe in April? Would a scam be federally licensed and regulated in all 50 states? I could go on...

Fortune does not make any money from new managers signing into the business. When a new manager pays $249 to get in and then gathers 2 customers, it triggers over $800 in payments to the organization. The reason is that the 2 customers are usually gathered in good faith, and will generate way more revenue over time for the companies than a customer who sees an ad and then only sticks around for a few weeks/months. If Fortune were a scam, then they would not pay out more than they take in in entry fees. They actually LOSE money in the short term, but make up for it by retaining customers for their partners for long periods of time. Fortune has a 99% retention rate for some of its customers, which is almost unheard of in business, and which guarantees them a certain amount of revenue from their partners every single month.

MCI, Cigna, Cingular, DISH, etc... these companies that Fortune is partnered with, pay Fortune roughly $6 per month for the customers once they are already gathered. Contrast this with the MILLIONS these companies spend on advertising every single day, in the hopes of gathering a few customers. So by partnering with Fortune, these companies are doing smarter business. They only pay for customers once they are gathered by Managers, and not before. A SMARTER way of doing business, for our partners, and for Fortune.

Right now there are around 100,000 Fortune reps nationwide, and about 300,000 customers. Do the math: 300,000 x $6 = $1,800,000 a month x 12 months = $21 million a year x 4 years = $86 million dollars in revenue. The proof is in the facts. Get the facts straight before making biased statements and untruths.

And, what's also unsaid above is that FHTM has it in its company bylaws that it can only earn up to a certain amount of money per month after all bills & Managers have been paid. Anything that's left over from that nominal amount must be paid back out into the field. Fortune is the ONLY marketing company that has such a policy.

The Trainer Coach position is entirely optional, and NEVER has to be done by any Manager. It is not a requirement, nor is it forced upon any new Manager. It is there for those that wish to take a more active leadership role. Trainers are trained by corporate liasons, and they are paid $40 to make sure that new Managers understand how to go out and build this business.

If the person who witnessed a Fortune trainer sending in forms for reps that haven't been trained, that is unfortunate and should have been reported. It's bad for business, but there are bad apples in EVERY business and EVERY job, not just in network marketing. No business is perfectly run by perfect people, and there will always be those who would seek to exploit the system. There are many of us Fortune representatives operating with honesty and integrity, and no bad apples are going to undoe the work that has been done already.

As far as Excel goes, it is gone. Excel was bankrupted by a corrupt Board of Directors at its parent company, Vartec. As with all Boards, they were only interested in their bottom line. Vartec was in a lot of debt, and first tried to use Excel's revenue to pay the debt. Then they decided to cut ties with the Managers while retaining all the customers for themselves. It wasn't Excel's marketing plan that caused it to go under; it was the greed of a few unwelcome decision makers who treated Excel like a traditional business, but with no regard to the hard work of the Managers.

Another thing to remember about Excel is, it made a LOT of people a LOT of money in a short amount of time. Excel made more millionaires faster than any MLM company before it, because of the way compensated Managers for building organizations of customer gatherers. Fortune's comp. plan is 100% BETTER than Excel's was, so if history repeats itself (and it always does) Fortune is going to create tons of wealth for those that are willing to work hard to get it.

Fortune Hi-Tech has no Board of Directors. It has no debt. It has no unsavory & unwelcome decision makers who can only think of ways to line their pockets. It was started by one of the top money earners in the ENTIRE network marketing industry, and was created only as a financial vehicle for those that CHOOSE to pursue it. It is NOT for everybody, nor will everybody ever be a part of it. It is for those that are willing to first dream, and then are willing to pursue it.

If the above writer was a real full-time networker, then he/she would have reported more accurate information about this company and its opportunity. Clearly, this writer is someone who has a very negative bias towards Fortune Hi-Tech, and probably network marketing in general. I'd advise any readers to do their own due dilligence and get the information they will need to make a decision whether to move forward or not.

Thank you for your understanding and for allowing a forum to dispute such blatant ignorance.
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