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Report: #108332

Complaint Review: Empire Wholesale - Scentura Creations - Riverside California

  • Submitted:
  • Updated:
  • Reported By: Riverside California
  • Empire Wholesale - Scentura Creations 2257 Business Way Riverside, California U.S.A.

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I was involved briefly with the "company" then I saw the light. I don't know Yvonne but everything she wrote was true. I had the same exact experiance with Chris. He brags about how you can have your own business and tells us it is not a selling job but in the next breath claims there is a contest to see who can sell the most perfume.

There were too many promises that were too good to be true and I researched the company and never showed up again. I never sold a thing for them and the only thing I lost was two days of work. I had a real job at the time but got swept up in the dream.

Chris is a scam artist so beware of his lies and Scentura Creations. Nothings he says in the meetings is true and if you really believe that you can own your own business in 90 days than you are fooling yourself.

Mary
Riverside, California
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/14/2004 10:38 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/empire-wholesale-scentura-creations/riverside-california-92507/scentura-creations-empire-wholesale-rip-off-riverside-california-108332. 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author
18Consumer
5Employee/Owner

#23 General Comment

office? LMFAO

AUTHOR: Garth - (United States)

POSTED: Monday, May 21, 2018

you got the broom closet, not an office (in your mama's basement)

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#22 UPDATE Employee

IF its a scheme Why did I get an office?

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

POSTED: Monday, May 29, 2006

So funny to see how quickly people blame the owner or the company and call it a scheme. But all these people have only been with the company for 1,2,3 days some got as far as going on a trip. And then they realized it was all a scam. they say, "I have been lied to,", "I was never told the truth."

I saw an ad in the paper like these people and I too went through the interviews, I went through my FFaar contest and I went in the field. But the difference between me and the rest is that I stuck it out. And 90 days later, I got my own office. The training program made me strong, it prepared me to be a great owner. And now I am hiring and training my own team so I can pass on this great opportunity to other hard warking, average people, seeking to better there lives and become a business owner.

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#21 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Found a REAL job the week after.....

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

POSTED: Thursday, April 06, 2006

...In response to Chris' comment about not listening to someone who is still looking for a job.....

I've found one and it only took me a week and a half to find it. Now I am an account manager for the company I work for and I am really making $50,000 a year now (well, minus taxes) without commisson or sales - just my hard work!

I am not here just to critisize Chris. He will get what's coming to him. I am posting this to let naive young people know that you are worth more than this low-life man!

And even if you do fall for this scam, know that you can pick yourself back up and get the job you really deserve.

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#20 UPDATE EX-employee responds

10 years ago

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

POSTED: Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'm from California and 10 years ago when I was 19 yrs old I fell into this Scentura pyramid scheme. Now I'm 29 and a law enforcement officer. First of all, PEOPLE if they are not paying you an honest paycheck where uncle sam is taking money from it, its not a good idea to get into it. Second this guy Chris that you all keep "smacking" is obviously an uneducated smooth talker who can't even write/type why would you feel this person is "successful"?? I remember the "first" interview "second" interview scenario and going to a "satelite" office to sell and everyone screaming and jumping around like it some big party. Hello?! Red flags!! Anywhere they're not "working" is not a good place to "work" for! I am writing this for all the young people out there. Decent honest hard work is the only way to good money. This go run around in parking lots and sell cheap perfume IS NOT IT.

Just my two cents,
Michelle

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#19 REBUTTAL Owner of company

response

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

POSTED: Tuesday, November 08, 2005

if you went through my training i explain "dog poo" "meager living" i say it.... i tell the truth. i right "commission" on the board. i say "100% incentive". i've never said steady. the reason for no W2. is because its not a job its a career, you were working as an independent contractor, which is going through the training program. as for the back ground check. i said i dont care about your back ground, i'm basing our relationship off current integrity. company integrity huh? you have warrants for your arrest. your one to be able to talk about integrity. thats nice..... so theres your answers.... cassandra.... i dont really know what you do for a living but if you have a nicer life style than the person that "scammed" me into this business. ill listen to you..... thanks for the comment....



.... its kind of funny, that you actually take time out of your "busy" day to right comments about a company that you think you know everything about because of ONE person. and yes maybe the business that you went to had empty promises... mine aren't... how can you pre judge me like that if you are so holier than thao? you have never met me, and you can say what you want, and your entitled to it, the only reason i come here and type rebuttals is because i care for my business, and i believe it why because i started out the same as all the people that came on the computer to see if it was BS. and i almost believed it myself, but the person that trained me in the business never lied to me told me the truth about everything, and i told myself on thing when i went through the training process, if he ever lies i'll quit. he never did, he told me stuff, i didn't really want to hear, but its what i needed to hear. and i thank that person, and i love the feeling when somebody is able to thank me for the same reason. i'm not about to change your mind i dont really care because what you've done is what you've done with your lifes, i've taken advantage of what someone made available to me, it didnt cost me anything to start just some hard work, could i have probably made more money at mcdonalds in training ? maybe? but i make more money now... and your probably think yeah off "your poor victums"...but i pretty sure you work for somebody else the taxis cab company.. and they give you a check and you make somebody else money... alot more money than you are making and he will never let you have the chance to own the never taxis company... but thats that... i thought a scam means we dont show up the next day... i still keep showing up... so whoes really getting scammed? thanks for your time to read what i've had to say...

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#18 Consumer Suggestion

If you lie long enough you begin to believe your lies!

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

POSTED: Thursday, October 20, 2005

To Chris,

Although I have never worked for any "distrubutors" of Scentura Creations I have however been a victim of a scam artist "Nexpan" (North eastern expansion-although by now I'm sure he's had to think of at least 2 more new names)who rented a store next to my place of business. You can tell everyone that you are an honest person who doesn't use drugs or anything, but that doesn't change the fact that you profit off of the hard work of some misguided people who believe your lies and hope to make it rich like you promise them, if only they will give 110% I have had to listen to hours and hours of the same pitch day in and day out. You know the pitch "fake it till you make it" Don't you get tired of telling the same lies over and over, week after week. I have driven people home from this palce who hardly had money for a cab, but were so greatful to me for sharing with them the information I had on this company. So you can defend your business practices until your blue in the face, the truth of the matter is that you have to live with yourself, and if it makes you feel better to say that your helping people, if that helps you sleep at night- then so be it, But you know that some day YOU WILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN yourself so someone who can see past your lies and who knows your heart--GOD! good luck with that!!

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#17 UPDATE EX-employee responds

A few questions for you...

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

POSTED: Friday, September 30, 2005

What you do in your own life if your own business I guess. I couldn't really care that much, I am not longer with this company. I just have a few questions. First off, if this was a real, legit job then why do you guys even bother making the pay sounds like it's a steady income at first? If this is a real job, why isn't there a W2 involved? As for background checks, that's complete bull. I unknowingly had a warrant out on me and apparently I passed my background check-or maybe just didn't run me. Yeah, GREAT company integrity there.
I'm your typical straight edge, hardcore kid too, Chris. Believe me, there are better jobs out there where you don't have to deceive people to make a living.

I hear Hot Topic is hiring.
Man, I slay myself.

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#16 UPDATE EX-employee responds

How to shut down chris's pyramid scam

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

POSTED: Monday, September 26, 2005

Chris asks why Scentura has not been closed down. The reason is that the head Scentura company is shielded from the actions of its distributors by an "independent contractor license" which states that any action the distributor does, the head company cannot be held liable for. (See the language of the contract in the Illinois case below)

The appellate court of Illinois, after an action was brought against one of Scentura's previous distributors by Scentura, weighed all of the evidence carefully, studied Scentura, and determined that Scentura was a PYRAMID SALES SCHEME.

http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2001/2ndDistrict/September/Html/2000964.htm

the consignment contract between plaintiff and defendant is properly characterized as a chain referral sales technique or pyramid sales scheme

Every distributor uses the SAME script, which we actually have a copy of and have typed out. It explains FFAAR programs, how to advertise forever in the want ads, etc.

Chris's there is always a bad apple line is nothing but a smoke screen. Every Scentura manager uses the same unethical techniques. The same advertising in the want ads, the same practice selling on your family and friends lines, etc.

Again, who are you going to believe, the appellate court of Illinois or some sleazy snake oil salesman named Chris?

How to shut down Scentura in your area:
http://ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff36647.htm

The best way to close your local distributor is to write or call your local classifieds and tell them that world perfume/ Scentura is advertising fraudulently. Ask them to put the ads in the sales section and that the ads are fraudulent and do not belong in the office management section. Every week, weekend and week out, these distributors advertise for trainers just like you. If the advertising stops, then the pyramid fails.

This worked for us with the Salt Lake City newspaper's classifieds. The distributor was forced to advertise as: "sales, fragrances" not for management or office positions, as your classified advertised.

If a petition is available, sign your name, address, and telephone number to mail to your local newspaper classifieds.

Telephone number and address of your local classified ads:

________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________

________________________________________
****************************
****PETITION****
Address of newspaper in your area:
http://www.usnpl.com/
http://dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media/Newspapers/
http://www.floridalink.com/thenews/newspapers.htm

Dear _____________________,
After Applying for a job with _____________________, telephone ___________________ which
advertises in your classifieds weekly, we found that _______________________ has no management positions. The job is 100% sales and should be added to the sales section of your newspaper and the management position titles should be taken out of the classifieds.

Name---Telephone --------------

Email

_____________________________


_____________________________

_____________________________

_____________________________
*****
***Scentura letter to your local classified advertiser***
Address of newspaper in your area:
http://www.usnpl.com/
http://dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media
/Newspapers/By_Region/U_S__States/
http://www.floridalink.com/thenews/
newspapers.htm

YOU NAME
YOUR ADDRESS
YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER
YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (THIS IS IMPORTANT TO INCLUDE; IT ADS AUTHENTICITY TO THE LETTER)

[You local Newspaper Classifieds Address Here]


Dear ______________,

My name is _______________.

On ________ (DATE)________ I applied for a job in your classifieds:

________________________________

________________________________(TYPE COMPLETE ADVERTISEMENT(S) HERE)

________________________________

I found out that this company is fraudulently advertising in your classifieds. This company is actually a distributor of Scentura perfumes. Scentura is an Atlanta based perfume company that runs a pyramid sales scheme. (This is according to a ruling of the Appellate Court Of Illinois, Second District, see attached article)

Scentura sells imitation perfume to distributors across the country. All distributors must sign independent contractor licenses stating that the parent company is not liable for anything illegal or unethical that the distributors do.

There is no MANAGEMENT RECEPTIONIST (CHOOSE ONE) position available with this company. When I arrived for training, the company wanted me to:
-sell perfume to my family and friends,
-sell perfume in parking lots illegally without a business license, and
-lie to customers that this perfume was authentic when it is an imitation.
There was no office work involved with this company. It is a 100% commission job.

The managers of this business where incredibly deceitful, and lied throughout the entire interview.
(YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXAMPLES HERE
FOR EXAMPLE:
MENTION THE FEE FOR THE BOGUS BACKGROUND CHECK,
THE FEE FOR THE PERFUME STARTER KIT,
THE PROMISE OF A LARGE YEARLY SALARY )

Scentura Distributors survive by advertising the same deceitful advertisements every week. The RECEPTIONIST MANAGEMENT (CHOOSE ONE) position, which is advertised in your classifieds, will never be filled. Every week this Scentura distributor will advertise in your classifieds.

Every week new young adults will answer these deceitful ads and be promised a management position at a later date after initial training', which lasts several weeks. This initial training' is selling perfume in parking lots and door to door to business illegally without a peddler's permit. The vast majority find out this is a scam and quit within the first two weeks, those who stay get a percentage of the sales of the new recruits and help train them. Eventually a person can open his own office with his own money, and begin to place ads in classifieds all over again. The person who initially hired this new office manager gets a percentage of his sales. A classical pyramid scheme, as the Illinois Second District ruled.

Every week Scentura distributors lure young adults by these deceptive advertisements. Please read the attached news articles about Scentura. If your classifieds stops allowing this Scentura distributor to advertise, then their deceitful pyramid scheme will collapse. Please stop allowing this firms to advertise in your classifieds.

Thank you,

(attach the included news articles, along with additional news articles found at:
http://ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff36647.htm)

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#15 REBUTTAL Owner of company

growth

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

POSTED: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

there is a negetive side to everything. im even straightedge.(it doesnt really matter but my point is...) i dont drink, smoke, or do drugs my entire life. if you look it up on the internet there are gonna be just as much negetive stuff on that as well. especially where im from (salt lake city utah). and there are many reports on the news and in news papers about it as well,.. like people that were getting beat up by "straight edge gang members". a few bad people made a bad impression on something good. and unfortunately most people focus on the bad part then the good part. its the samething with "scentura creations" or our business there have been a few bad people who made a bad impression on our business. i dont agree with it but, that doesnt mean im not gonna keep helping people. because i know i tell nothing but the truth (not everybody is gonna agree). but everything i do is for the right ethics and reasons. and if this company is so bad why havn't we been shut down then? we've (not i) been around for 30 years. you have to read what all these reports are saying "these "scams" are going up all over the place!!!!" the reason being is because more and more people are making it out of training and managing these new offices like we promised. it doesnt make much sense to me? is the training very very very very hard? yes.... are most people that arent able to make it threw training, blame us for their falures? yep? college only has 22% of people leave with a degree, and only 2% of these people use that degree for a career. most people would call school a scam also, but school keeps selling school. and we will keep giving an opporunity for FREE. because we NEVER EVER asked any of you or these people for money. thank you.

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#14 REBUTTAL Owner of company

growth

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

POSTED: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

there is a negetive side to everything. im even straightedge.(it doesnt really matter but my point is...) i dont drink, smoke, or do drugs my entire life. if you look it up on the internet there are gonna be just as much negetive stuff on that as well. especially where im from (salt lake city utah). and there are many reports on the news and in news papers about it as well,.. like people that were getting beat up by "straight edge gang members". a few bad people made a bad impression on something good. and unfortunately most people focus on the bad part then the good part. its the samething with "scentura creations" or our business there have been a few bad people who made a bad impression on our business. i dont agree with it but, that doesnt mean im not gonna keep helping people. because i know i tell nothing but the truth (not everybody is gonna agree). but everything i do is for the right ethics and reasons. and if this company is so bad why havn't we been shut down then? we've (not i) been around for 30 years. you have to read what all these reports are saying "these "scams" are going up all over the place!!!!" the reason being is because more and more people are making it out of training and managing these new offices like we promised. it doesnt make much sense to me? is the training very very very very hard? yes.... are most people that arent able to make it threw training, blame us for their falures? yep? college only has 22% of people leave with a degree, and only 2% of these people use that degree for a career. most people would call school a scam also, but school keeps selling school. and we will keep giving an opporunity for FREE. because we NEVER EVER asked any of you or these people for money. thank you.

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#13 REBUTTAL Owner of company

growth

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

POSTED: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

there is a negetive side to everything. im even straightedge.(it doesnt really matter but my point is...) i dont drink, smoke, or do drugs my entire life. if you look it up on the internet there are gonna be just as much negetive stuff on that as well. especially where im from (salt lake city utah). and there are many reports on the news and in news papers about it as well,.. like people that were getting beat up by "straight edge gang members". a few bad people made a bad impression on something good. and unfortunately most people focus on the bad part then the good part. its the samething with "scentura creations" or our business there have been a few bad people who made a bad impression on our business. i dont agree with it but, that doesnt mean im not gonna keep helping people. because i know i tell nothing but the truth (not everybody is gonna agree). but everything i do is for the right ethics and reasons. and if this company is so bad why havn't we been shut down then? we've (not i) been around for 30 years. you have to read what all these reports are saying "these "scams" are going up all over the place!!!!" the reason being is because more and more people are making it out of training and managing these new offices like we promised. it doesnt make much sense to me? is the training very very very very hard? yes.... are most people that arent able to make it threw training, blame us for their falures? yep? college only has 22% of people leave with a degree, and only 2% of these people use that degree for a career. most people would call school a scam also, but school keeps selling school. and we will keep giving an opporunity for FREE. because we NEVER EVER asked any of you or these people for money. thank you.

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#12 UPDATE EX-employee responds

PART 2 .. are you going to believe some person on the internet or 31 media reports on Scentura

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

POSTED: Monday, September 19, 2005

Part 2 from the above....

PERFUME SALES COMPANY RECRUITS IN MUNSTER, IND
The Times (from Munster Indiana), 06/22/2001 Kim Chievrue

Jun. 22--A Georgia-based company that sells knock-offs of designer perfumes has begun recruiting in Northwest Indiana, with classified ads, which offer "management positions" earning more than $500 per week.

While the business operates legally, according to the Better Business Bureau, one local resident who applied for a management position said he was surprised by what he found. The applicant is a Porter County resident who asked that his name not be used in print.

"At first, they wouldn't even tell us what they were selling," he said of the mass interview he attended. "I got as far as the second interview, but then I checked them out on the Internet."

He said the company offered to pay for the training, in cash -- that red flag made him suspicious enough to begin his online research.

What he found, he said, was pages of comments from employees and former employees of Scentura Creations nationwide. Some said they had made a good living selling the fragrances door-to-door, but others reported that, like the Porter County applicant, they felt misled by the offer of "management" opportunities.

"They said you'd be managing your own office, in charge of people going door-to-door, doing sales," said the applicant. "But the training is you going door-to-door. You're selling their product, so the office you're training out of makes money."

According to many of those who posted Internet notices about the company, the only opportunity for management requires the salesperson to recruit and hire his own staff out of his own profits.

The Better Business Bureau in Merrillville said the company's practices are legal. The BBB file shows Scentura Creations has been in business since 1976 under the name Wholesale Merchandise and W.M. Industries. The principle officers are Lawrence Hahn and Robert Hasty. There is no record of any complaint being filed with the bureau in connection with Scentura Creations.

Scentura officials told the BBB they sell fragrance products wholesale to independent contractors, who then resell them. Because the seller is not an actual employee of the company, the report says, the person going door-to-door is responsible for securing the proper business licenses and paying all applicable taxes to government agencies.

Vendors pay the wholesaler $17 to $19 per bottle for the fragrances, and resell them for whatever price they can.

Scentura is doing business as Extreme Enterprises in Portage. The applicant said he was told the company intends to open 25 more locations in this area. The Better Business Bureau report shows Extreme Enterprises was established in November of 2000; no complaints have been filed about the company.

A spokesperson for Extreme Enterprises would not give his title or allow his name to be used, and declined to comment for this story.


ADS SPUR WARNING ON JOBS COMPANY'S INTERNSHIP IS SALES SPOT, BBB SAYS
St. Louis Post - Dispatch St. Louis, Mo.; Jun 22, 1993; Linda Eardley



The Better Business Bureau has issued two warnings to young people seeking work this summer.

The bureau says American Prestige Co., which distributes Royal Prestige cookware and cutlery, has offered college students a "summer internship." But the positions are really "thinly disguised sales jobs," the bureau says.

American Prestige, of Sunset Hills, mailed letters to about 5,000 college students across the St. Louis area last month, the bureau said. The letter described the internship and said class credit and scholarship programs are available in some cases.

"Several students who were interviewed by the company said they felt misled by the use of the word 'internship,' while the firm's representative talked solely about making money selling the firm's products," the bureau said.

The bureau said the firm's president, Tony Miller, said that students have to arrange class credit on their own and that the scholarships offered by Royal Prestige are based on how much cookware the student sells.

Miller could not be reached for comment.

John Flotron, trade practice consultant at the bureau, said it received 143 inquiries about American Prestige this month and last month, most of them from students who received the internship letter.

The bureau warns students to be careful about answering internship letters or ads that offer any of the following:

Unusually large sums of money to be made.

No experience necessary for a job with good wages.

Pay based on "qualified" sales presentations, with the company determining what makes them qualified.

A requirement that money be paid in advance of employment.

The bureau also urges caution when considering employment with several local perfume distributors. These companies advertise in the newspaper for assistant managers. While salaried positions paying up to $40,000 are promised or implied, the positions are primarily commissioned sales jobs, the bureau said.

Seven such companies are Orion Enterprises, Genesis Enterprises of Overland, Mirage Enterprises of University City, Phoenix Enterprises of Sappington, Teka Ltd., London Express of St. Charles, and Borealis of St. Charles.

All are affiliated with Scentura Creations of Atlanta.


WORKERS SAY PERFUME BUSINESS STINKS

Employees Sell Knockoff Perfume
7:03 p.m. EST February 14, 2002




LAKE WORTH, Fla. -- It started as one small business that didn't smell right, but now it might become a state investigation.

Eyewitness News 25 reported Wednesday about complaints against a branch of Scentura Creations, a perfume company. People who responded to employment ads said they got roped into selling knockoff perfumes for no pay.

But it seems some of the workers do stay with the program and have gone on to start their own offshoot companies, doing the same exact thing to hundreds more people.

"There's nothing I can do," Palm Beach County sheriff deputy Kris Roy said. "I can't go in there and say 'Give this man his money back."

Derron sels tried to get back $240 that he said he paid as part of his job to sell perfume for Alan Moltandon (picutred, left). Moltandon runs Rhino Enterprises, a distributorship for Scentura Creations. Officials describe the company, which is based in Atlanta, as a multilevel marketing business. But some job seekers call it a scam. Officials might soon be investigating the incident.

"When we see something like this, it is time for us to turn it over to law enforcement who can actually make them pay for what they're doing," Kimberly Overman of the Better Business Bureau said.

Scentura Creations and some of its distributorships are being accused of running ads for employment, saying no experience is necessary "just a love of music and fun." But job seekers said they are roped into selling knockoff perfume on the streets, and turning most of their earnings over to Moltandon and others like him.

Eyewitness News 25 found four different offices in Lake Worth where job seekers are supposed to report for an interview. Officials said many of those offices move around, which is why it is difficult for authorities to track the businesses down.

"It's really hard to keep track of people when they're running this type of scheme, because things open up so quickly in different places," Oveman said.

Overman said Moltandon seems to be running the office without the right licenses. The Better Business Bureau is turning over their information on him and others to the Attorney General's office and the Division Of Consumer Fraud.

But the job seekers who say they got roped into the alleged scheme said they might be out of luck trying to get the money they are owed.


Too True To Be Good
Charles Elmore
The Palm Beach Post
July 27, 1992



Pam Butterworth, 33, answered an employment ad in West Palm Beach for managers and assistant managers earlier this month. The interviewer said she had the qualifications to make $30,000 and more with the company-- if she could commit immediately. Looking for a new start anyway, she quit a lower- paying job at a florist shop.

Days later, she and more than a dozen other recruits carpooled to Atlanta for a meeting that almost seemed like a revival. The company president said it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Several people, including a woman in a wheelchair, emerged from a crowd of 600 to talk about what it meant to them. The president rewarded some with a $100 bill on the spot.

It was exciting, but Butterworth asked about the $30,000 job an interviewer had mentioned. A recruiter told her, "Don't worry about it, Pam. It's going to work out."
But it never did. The job was selling knockoffs of designer perfume door to door for a commission of $2 to $9 per bottle. It amounted, she said, to "begging on street corners."

For the first generation that won't end up better off than its parents, The American Dream is getting harder to find. The $15-per-hour manufacturing jobs have nearly disappeared. Economists say a recovery is under way, but 10 million are out of work, 1 million have stopped looking, and 6 million have only part-time jobs when they need to be working full time.

And then there are millions who are employed who would gladly trade their safe, boring jobs for adventure, excitement, a chance to hit it big, anything except a pre-planned, financially prudent trudge to the grave.

The easy, smug reaction is to laugh. How could people fall for these get- rich-quick schemes, these no-money-down real estate seminars, these too- good-to-be true want ads? The temptation is to hand out boilerplate advice: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

But this isn't good enough. In real life, the things most people want -- the money to live out their ambitions, respect, happy relationships-- often seem like dreams too good to be true.

The truth is far less tidy: We need The Dream, even when we know that, chances are, it is The Lie.

The Dream explains why communism collapses and capitalism thrives. And why we buy our lottery tickets knowing the odds are against us-- but also knowing $1 will at least buy us, for a while, one heck of a beautiful fantasy.

Promoters of The Dream know exactly who they are trying to reach.

"You're 35 or 40 and you've reached a dead end. You aren't living the American Dream. It's the second chance you need."
.

Whether we embrace it or deny it, The Dream is still there, stretching before us like the sea. Experts find that if they can't stop us from diving in, they can at least tell us to stick a toe in first while while keeping one foot safely on shore.

"Don't quit your job until you've replaced the income in the new venture," advised Garvey, who once left a teaching job to go into the real estate business for herself-- but not before establishing steady rental income from properties she bought.

"If you go into business for yourself, remember you no longer have benefits like subsidized health insurance," she said. Also, qualifying for certain kinds of loans, if you need them, will be easier while you have a salaried job.

Also remember that unless you are smart enough to be born rich, work will always be involved.

"There are legitimate offers and there are ones that aren't, and in the legitimate ones you're going to have to work hard to make any kind of major income," said Ron Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Palm Beach County. "The one that is the scam is usually the one that promises the most. There's no free lunch and no simple get-rich-quick scheme."

And keep an eye open for sharks. It isn't difficult for promoters to create an aura of wealth and excitement, said Jim Lyons, a Tampa-based investigator for the Florida Attorney General's Office.

"Frequently you find that the trappings of wealth are leased," he said. "Anybody can rent a Rolls and get up on stage. Testimonials can be plants."

The most common tactic is urgency, exhortations to act now while you feel the passion. As a motivational charge-up, a reason to get up off your couch, that's fine, Lyons said. Just don't let it blind you to reality.

Even before Pam Butterworth got to the meeting in Atlanta, she noticed a few things that bothered her, but she stayed with it. She wanted to believe it was going to work out.

Once, she said, a recruiter showed how to cheat McDonald's of a few hamburgers, returning a few minutes later and falsely claiming they had left out part of a large order.

Another time, her group stopped at a Jacksonville mall and approached strangers there to buy perfume, keeping an eye out for cops who might ask questions about permits.

The manufacturer of the perfume she was supposed to sell, Scentura Creations of Chamblee, Ga., accepts no responsibility for the actions of independent distributors who sell its product, said Vice President Bob Hasty. The number of the West Palm Beach recruiter Butterworth said she dealt with has been disconnected.

The Better Business Bureau of Atlanta lists an unsatisfactory record for Scentura Creations for reported problems with sales tactics, advertising for sales people and failure to provide requested written information.

In Butterworth's case, it wasn't just the money she spent on gas to Atlanta or the time she lost. There was also the opportunity cost, the economist's term for what you give up to do something else. She could not file for unemployment because she had quit her old job. She was a single mother with an 11-year-old child to support. She had a new car to pay off.

And there was a psychological cost as well. Butterworth laughed sadly while telling how one of the recruiters gave her $5 because she had a nice smile. Like a lot of us, she had wanted to believe. Recalling the experience, her eyes grew moist and red.

"You feel like you've been raped practically," she said.



WHO WANTS TO BE RICH? LARRY HAHN: FROM SLEEPING IN A CAR TO A $5 MILLION HOME.




E. Thomas Jr..Atlanta Business Chronicle, Oct 5, 1987 v10 n19 p1(5)

Larry Hahn's 18,000-square-foot Atlanta villa - one of the most expensive homes ever built on the Atlanta market - has been sold. if contingencies can be worked out. An affidavit acknowledging the purchase agreement was filed in Fulton County Superior Court in August.

The sale may signal the departure of one of the city's most successful entrepreneurs. Hahn is president of W.M. Industries Inc (WMI), a wholesaler of consumer products, which have included tools, artwork, and electronics. He is also president of Scentura Creations Inc. a perfume wholesaler.

Appearing in a 1984 video, Hahn addresses a throng of salespeople at a Fox Theater rally, telling them that selling WMI products. "The income is unlimited. We have people the first year with this company who made $200,000 or $300,000. We have people consistently making $250,000-$300,000 every single year who were $10,000 and $15,000 earners."

Hahn's own reported income is also impressive. A brief filed in Atlanta's district court in a proceeding involving Hahn asserts that "in 1983 WMI paid him a salary of $3,373,758." That figure is more than double Coca-Cola CEO Robert Goizueta's current salary. Hahn declined to discuss his plans or his business., but friends say he plans to buy a home in the San Francisco area.

Perched atop a hill in Northwest Atlanta's wealthy Winterhur neighborhood, Hahn's house contains a gymnasium, screening room, several terraces and balconies and a 2,000-square -foot bedroom.

"The whole three years we were building it, cars were stacked up outside four cars back just to look at the house." Says John Allen project manager for the contractor.
The home was put on the market for about $7 million two years ago, about the same time it was completer. The home recently listed for $5 million.

For a dozen years, the 43 year old Hahn has built a wholesale business relying on direct sales of products ranging from luggage to toys to perfume. Currently, Hahn serves as president of W.M. Industries Inc., founded in 1975, and Scentura Creations, Inc., incorporated earlier this year.

A W.M. Industries brochure has declared that more then 300 offices and 8,000 salespeople marketed products offered by W.M. Industries. The brochure also charts the company's first six years in sales, touting $150 million in gross annual product sales the six year, climbing steadily from 12.5 million five years before.

Current revenue figures for WMI, Scentura Creations or their distributors-all of which are private companies-are not available. A September 1987 Scentura Creations newsletter, however, states that more than 33,000 jars of one new products sold out in two weeks.

Independent firms purchase products from W.M. Industries or Scentura Creations and sell the directly to people in their offices, on the street and in their homes, The direct vendors of WMI products work for the independent firms not the central office.

None of their sales managers or salespeople, the people in the field, were on salary," says Gordan Gates, former WMI executive vice president. "They were all independent contractors."

In addition to the actual products, distributors receive motivational and informational material from W.M. Industries or Scentura Creations.

A 1984 WMI motivational film sent to distributors begins with the "Rocky" theme playing behind Hahn's narration: "Who wants to be a millionaire? Who wants to be rich? Who wants to be financially independent? To be in business for yourself to support yourself and your family and do everything you ever dreamed about?"

In the film, a sea of people attending a rally at the Fox Theatre cheer widely as salespeople deliver testimonials describing their success selling WMI products. Before a flag-dropped backdrop, salesperson after salesperson reveals success stories:

"My first year in business with W.M. Industries I made more than the prime minister of Canada." Says one speaker.

Says another, " The closest people to me tried to talk me out of it: they didn't know that last year the average age of our owner was 24 with an income over $125,000."

Hahn emerges on stage from a cloud of smoke. When the applause finally dims, he explains the opportunity: " I don't care what your background or education: if you're loyal, you're dependable and you're willing to work hard. I'll see to it that you have your chance to become an owner and be into business for yourselves."

The profit attained by salespeople and distributors varies widely. Speakers in the film and profiles in a WMI brochure say possibilities are endless.

A WMI brochure describes the experience of Johnny Whitworth, who is still with Hahn: " He left behind a salary of $150,000, but that didn't bother Johnny. With hard work, enthusiasm, and doing things the "WMI" way, after one year his income hit $600,000."

Indeed, certain former managers of WMI product sales who were interviewed confirmed high incomes in their own careers. Linda Fucci, an administrative aide to Hahn at the start of WMI and an independent distributor of WMI until 1984, says she and her husband took in about $5000,000 a year at their peak. Eric Bresler, former manager of Canadian sales, says he left WMI a millionaire.

On the other hand, former managers point out that turnover of salespeople was high in their offices. "We had very few that would stay with us for a long period of time." Fucci says, "You never could back off from recruiting."

WMI has supported distributors with training to help boost sales. "We have a three-part training program."? Hahn says in the film. "We teach them how to hire, train, motivate and get along with other people , ant thn once we do that, we then teach them how to become better businessman. The day that you complete the W.M. Industries training program is the day we hand you the money to go into business for yourself."

Though they buy their products and receive literature from W.M. Industries or Scentura Creations, independent sales offices are free to recruit and sell however they wish, says Kerry Brunson, current sales manager in the Dallas area.

After moving to Atlanta from Miami, Hahn worked in real estate and portrait plan sales and was part owner in the original Underground Atlanta's Scarlet O'Hara nightclub before launching WMI, according to Judy Adelman, a friend of Hahn's.

"Fifteen years ago," says Hahn in the 1984 film, "I slept in my car, and I had no finances, I had no education, and I just said one day, if I could hook myself to the proper vehicle toi get a break in life and make some money, I would help other people."

With funds secured from friends, Hahn in 1975 purchased his first load of products, 31 piece sets of bake ware. At first, Hahn was head trainer, head salesman and head deal-maker, recruiting and training distributors himself.

Hahn went out in the fields for about the first year and a a half and "he personally trained about all the people he brought on board at the beginning." Fucci says. "Larry would take them out and show them how they could make $100 in a day. He'd go business to business, just walk in, and the pitch was very short and sweet."

The independent contractor concept "was preconceived before the first truck load was ordered in." Fucci says. "It was already planned out before we ever opened up."

Although other companies also sold door-to-door, W.M. Industries differed by selling to distributors in numerous permanent locations. "Larry just made it more professional." Says Fucci, now a real estate agent in Lawrenceville.

Soon, the product line swelled to include pots, pans and carving knives. Initially, W.M. Industries sold its products to about 10 distributorships, Fucci says. "And then it just started going like wildfire. It just caught on and we expanded our line to artworks, then luggage, then clothing and electronics."

WMI products were manufactured in both the United States and abroad, including Asia. The products tend to be "impulse buys," items that can be sold for $20 to $40.

"All we were was a moving Sears or Belks," says Mike Brewer, former WMI vice president. "If you went fishing, would you like to go fishing off a pier or a boat?"

As the product line proliferated, Hahn created divisions of WMI, whose managers often worked out of the WMI home office, though generally still only on commission.

By the early 1980's, rallies like the one shown in the 1984 film had grown to accommodate thousands of WMI product salespeople and sales managers.

"In 1982, we had the rally in the Fox Theatre," Fucci says. "We had about 4,000 people in and they came from Canada, Australia and Puerto Rico, where we had an office at the time.

"People would absolutely go bonkers." She says, "They'd holler 'super juice' a lot-that was just a thing to get the adrenaline flowing, and, of course, they chanted, 'Larry' a lot. There were balloons flying and horns going and confetti being thrown every which way."

Incentive prizes at rallies were substantial: Porsches, Cadillacs and trips to Monte Carlo. Inspirational, sometimes tear-jerking testimonials gave the rallies structure.

"We'd have 2-3-4-5-6,000 people," says Brewer, now president of North Carolina's M.B. Industries, a sales company. "The tears would just roll down their eyes. Because I'd tell them my testimonial and, you know, my testimonial was that I was a high school dropout - and that I came from a normal background and this was an opportunity for an above-average income and get all the things they ever dreamed of."

Promotional materials distributed by WMI and Scentura Creations stress the concept of "family". The song "We Are Family" plays in the background of the 1984 film. One section of the WMI and Scentura Creations newsletters is entitled "Family News" and congratulates salespeople for various accomplishments, such as high sales volume or the opening of a new distributorship.

Says Hahn in the film: " there is somebody that cares. I don't know every one of you, but I can feel that you're hungry, that you need a break in your life. That's what this is all about."

Fucci agrees the opportunity was substantial. "I certainly was very proud to be connected with a company that gave people so much opportunity as Larry gave them." She says, "to make what they felt they were worth, not what someone else thought they were worth."

Today Scentura Creations concentrates on selling "eight well-known designer fragrances," according to the flier. Billed in fliers as "Obsession Type" "Giorgio Type" and "Poison Type" the fragrances have been sold throughout Atlanta as well as other cities.

"Our perfumers select the finest imported oils and essences and blend them into top designer scents at a fraction of designer prices," a flier states.

Bruson's office sells 500 to 1,000 bottles a week, or $10,000 to $20,000 worth, he says.

Despite the fact that the promotional fliers clearly sates that the fragrances are "Obsession Type" or "Giorgio Type" officials in Texas and Iowa have found fault with the vendors of WMI products. An El Paso County, Texas, police report from April states: "The subjects [alleged to be] 'Managerial agents' for W.M. Industries, had employees selling their products on a door-to-door sales campaign and all were purporting that their products were manufactured by the authentic companies who also manufacture the trade name products. (i.e. GIORGIO, OPIUM, POISON, OBSESSION, etc.) and that their products were the same but bottles without the trade name so that they could be sold for less. An officer, working in an undercover capacity, was able to link the five subjects by admissions that they were aware that their products were actually inferior products and knew that they were being passed off as authentic brands."

A 1986 complaint filed in the Iowa District Court for Polk County by the State of Iowa against numerous defendants including W.M. Industries states: "In the course of conducting their business, Defendants have violated the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, Iowa Code 714.16 (1985), either personally or through their agents, [by]:

"a. making false, deceptive and/or misleading statements to potential customers about the nature of the transaction and the origin of the goods being soldabout the quality of the goods[and] the price of the goods being sold[and] about the prior sales of the goods to other individuals."

Hahn discouraged illegal tactics some former managers sat. "Larry would tell you not to misrepresent," Fucci says. "But then again we were not out there with the people all the time. If it did get back to us that one of our salesmen come to misrepresenting the product, that person was called in and asked why."

"I never heard Larry tell anybody to be dishonest in the business," she says. "He said there was too much business out there to lie about it."

While Scentura Creations distributes products across the country, friends of Hahn say the entrepreneur has long wanted to move to the West Coast. In one of the few articles on Hahn ever published in the local market-a 1984 feature story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Hahn's house -Hahn articulated that ambition.

"I want to move to San Francisco," he said. "It's got Camel. Monterey, the wine countrythere's more action there."



Phony perfume salesmen


Anchorage Daily News. Anchorage, Alaska: May 27, 1991. p. B.2
Finally, here's an update on the apparently phony perfume salesmen who were around town recently. They told would-be customers they were selling famous- name perfumes dirt cheap as part of a promotion.

Buyers reported the scents were similar, but not identical, to the originals.

The line sold evidently was by Scentura Creations, an Atlanta firm that's up front about selling imitations.

Joan Buhler in customer relations said the firm has no sales force and doesn't deliberately do business with retailers who represent the perfumes as originals, which is what readers say the Anchorage group evidently did.
....
Had enough? Write the Troubleshooter at P.O. Box 149001, Anchorage, 99514-9001.



Job warning


12 News Phoenix Arizona March 22, 2004
http://www.azcentral.com/12news/consumer/articles/JobWarning03222004-CR.html#

There are a couple of companies here in the valley, and there may be more, that a number of young job seekers are concerned about. The ads offer management positions, or entice you to own your own business, or ask if want to be in the fashion industry, but what is this job opportunity really all about.

If you're between the ages of 18 and 25 and you're looking for work in the valley, you and your parents should look at our investigation, then decide if this career choice is a good investment for you.

Related Video
One ex-worker talks about the experience
A mother loses her son

The ads are enticing to the young and the promises are great, but for some job seekers who choose to affiliate themselves with SCORPION PROMOTIONS in Phoenix, the opportunity is a deception. We talked to one young woman, who hooked up with Scorpion, and she gave us her take on what it's like to work at this perfume selling business.

"Anything could have happened to me or anyone of those young girls that were out there. I was out to 4 o'clock in the morning selling perfume."

20-year-old Ashlee Williams says she put her own life at risk going to bad neighborhoods to do her work. She says the gamble was just part of the job. When she answered an ad last month under the heading *fashion industry*, she expected something else.

"They don't let you ask any questions about what the company's about, cause I did. I ask fashion industry, what does that mean. She said they'll go over that in your interview."

The company that enticed Ashlee is called SCORPION PROMOTIONS on the 2300 block of East University in Phoenix. She says the interview consists of a room-full of people, listening to a motivational speech from Scorpion owner.. Jeff Frankel. Ashlee says most of the interviewees were around her age, but more naive.

"They had no goal in life. They had a goal that this guy was setting forth for them but it wasn't their own goal. They were promised something and they were working toward something for him."

Ashlee says the Scorpion promise is: If you agree to sell *SCENTURA CREATIONS* perfume, in 6 weeks, you can open up your own office and attract eager recruits yourself. She says she hated hawking fragrances in parking lots and outside convenience stores, but it was nothing compared to what happened back at the office if you didn't succeed.

"People could throw pies at you or shaving cream or whatever he decided to basically humiliate you cause you didn't meet that quota."

Ashlee says most salespeople never saw any commissions or opened their own offices.

She has a message for other young people who are interested in Scorpion or any other company affiliated with Scentura Creations.

"I say don't do it. Don't waste your time. There's so much more out there. If you really want to sell perfume, go down to Dillard's and stand at a counter and get paid $15 an hour to do it."

We tried, on several occasions, to talk with Jeff Frankel about his business operations and get him to respond to these allegations. He refused us every time.

There's also another valley company selling Scentura Creations perfume. It's called SKY ENTERPRISES. It's on McDowell road in Scottsdale. They essentially operate in a similar fashion to Scorpion.

We've talked with Phoenix police, the Attorney General's office and the Arizona Better Business Bureau. They all say that Scorpion Promotions and Sky Enterprises are NOT doing anything illegal. However, the employment practices of companies selling Scentura Creations perfume have been questioned in four other states and Great Britain.

Through our investigation, we found out that anyone selling non-food items on private property in Phoenix is required to have a "privilege sales tax" license. If they stay in the same location for more than 30 minutes, they are also required to have a "mobile vendors" license. Any sales agent without the proper licenses is subject to a fine.

All the Scorpion and Sky sales reps we spoke with say they sold perfume products on private property and never obtained any licenses. They say the owners of both companies never mentioned anything about the need for a license.

As for the pie in the face routine, we verified this with three sources. If this practice is going on at Scorpion and Sky, I would like to ask the owners a question. How does it motivate a young, impressionable person to do better in their job by throwing pies in their face in front of their peers. Since neither one is talking, I guess we'll never know. We hope our investigation gives the information needed to determine whether a career in perfume sales is right for you.



If Scent Of A Job-Ad Is Foul, Be Wise, Trust Your Senses


12 News Phoenix Arizona Apr. 5, 2004
http://www.azcentral.com/news/columns/articles/0405action05.html

Help-wanted ads in newspapers tout "management positions" and "opportunities to own your own business." A Call 12 for Action investigation found some are for 100 percent commission selling Scentura Creations perfume.

Several Valley residents who have peddled the perfume say the job is a typical multilevel-marketing experience: Sell enough perfume and one day, they are told, they can recruit others to do the same from their own office.

"They don't let you ask any questions about what the company's about," says Ashlee Williams, 20, of Phoenix.

The former salespeople also described humiliating rituals, such as having pies and water balloons thrown in the face of salespeople who didn't meet sales quotas.

Two Valley companies, Sky Enterprises in Scottsdale and Scorpion Promotions in Phoenix, are affiliated with Scentura and manage the sales teams. Call 12 called and visited Scorpion's offices, but President Jeff Frankel refused to speak with us. Sky never returned several phone calls seeking comment. Scentura Creations, based in Atlanta, also did not respond to our calls.

State and local authorities say companies like these are not doing anything illegal. Before you take a job with a multilevel-marketing business:

Check with the Better Business Bureau of Central/Northern Arizona to see if the company has any complaints on file locally or nationally. Call (602) 264-1721 or go to http://www.phoenix.bbb.org/.

The Federal Trade Commission provides advice on checking out MLM businesses. Call 1-877-382-4357 or go to

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menu-fran.htm.

Reach Call 12 for Action from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays at (602) 260-1212 or 1-866-260-1212.



WAMI-TV


Miami Beach, FL 1999

WAMI-TV reports that "An Atlanta-based company has been hiring people over the last five years, promising them management jobs. All the company delivers to its new employees though, is conning them into hocking counterfeit perfume on street corners. After initial training sessions, employees are promised that they will receive a salary, an office and a car. After two to three weeks of hocking the counterfeit perfume with no pay, the employees get disgusted and leave...."

John C. Mattes 1999 WAMI-TV (Miami Beach, FL)



Perfume Selling Business: Recruiting Methods Questioned


WAOI Television, San Antonio
5/29/2004 9:03:54 AM
http://www.woai.com/troubleshooters/story.aspx?content_id=82BD24CE-5571-4002-A389-44B80B042130

The newspaper ads promise high paying, management jobs, but the young people who respond end up selling imitation perfume in parking lots. As Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila shows us in this undercover investigation, what seemed like the sweet smell of opportunity, turned out to be a very sour disappointment.

"I looked at the paper and it said 'management trainees, $30,000 to 40,000 a year, guaranteed paid training,'" Eric Debona says. He's looking at the eye-catching ads running in San Antonio newspapers for more than a year. With headlines like "circle me", and "fun job," they promise "serious money" and "no experience necessary."

Debona says the real catch comes later because "you don't actually see what they're doing' until you're already in." He's just one of the hundreds of job seekers who responded to the ads. He says the "fun management job" was nothing but a smoke screen. He ended up hawking imitation perfumes in parking lots.

"If they would have said, 'yeah, here's what you're doing, you have to go out, put it in your car, drive from parking lot to parking lot to parking lot and walk up to people and try to sell them this in the parking lot, I wouldn't have had anything to do with it."

After receiving numerous complaints from people like Eric, the News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters went undercover. We answered the ad and were told to come to an interview at an unmarked Northside office on Wetmore Road. Inside, we noted loud music played constantly to create a hip, casual atmosphere.

Just as Eric described, our photographer was ushered into an office by a young woman who explains the company is called "Texas Scents Incorporated" or "TSI." The interview says they distribute a line of knock off fragrances called Scentura Creations.

Here's how the interview went: Interviewer: "I'm a manager here at TSI. We work alongside another company called Scentura Creations. Have you ever heard of them before?" WOAI Photographer: "No." Interviewer: "They're a fragrance company. We have over 300 worldwide locations, and we're looking to do a big expansion in San Antonio and the surrounding area. So, we need managers and assistant managers."

The interviewer never mentions the job involves selling perfume. She says after a few weeks of training, applicants get their own office, and can make a lot of money.

The interviewer says, "Now income your first year here out of the training program, you're looking at $30-40,000 in your own location."

Eric tells us it's during that so called training program that new recruits are told to go out and sell perfume, and that they should start by targeting their relatives. He claims, "They want you to go out and sell to your friends and family, see how you do."

We were invited back for a second interview a few days later. This time the room is filled with other applicants. Again, the speaker gives few details, other than the job will include lots of perks like bonuses and company paid travel.

"If you're a money hungry person you'll make a lot of money during the training program," the interviewer says. "You'll make a hell of a lot of money. We also pay out bonuses."

Eric says there were no bonuses, and the travel usually involved driving your own vehicle to another town to sell perfume. "We went out for the trip, and they say the hotel's paid for but we had to sell the perfume to pay for the hotel."

One claim we caught on tape from the interviewer is, "I've been here 2 1/2 years. I'm making six figures. It's incredible."

On the third interview, we finally meet the man behind TSI, owner Brian Warner. His three hour lecture to applicants is short on specifics, and at times sounds more like a motivational seminar.

"You got to have an open mind, what do you want me to do, attitude," Warner explains. "Do what we tell you to do, even if you question it in your mind."

Eric says Warner tells all new recruits not to listen to family members who may be skeptical about the business. "They tell you straight out that your family will turn on you, they will try to tell you that you're getting brainwashed. They'll tell you the company's bad for you. They tell you straight out, 'don't listen to your friends and family.'"

Day after day we saw Warner in front of the office, sending recruits out to sell boxes of Scentura Creations perfumes. Each bottle sells for $30. The salesperson only gets to keep $7 to $10. The rest goes back to Warner.

"I don't know anybody that made any money," Eric tells us. "I mean, not more than 50 bucks here, 60 bucks there."

Eric says the young salespeople are never told that most cities require a permit to sell merchandise. On one occasion everyone in his car got tickets for selling in Alamo Heights, which they then brought to Brian Warner.

"We all got tickets. He took them and said 'don't worry, I'll take care of this...forget about it. My permit covers all of you,' because he had a business permit to do it, and he made it sound like it covered each one of us individually, which of course I found out later, wasn't the case." The ticket was never paid and Eric ended up paying off a $500 arrest warrant, on top of the money he spent for gas.

Companies distributing Scentura Perfumes have been springing up in many cities. Some young recruits have lost more than just gas money, and the hopes of a lucrative career. In Phoenix, two young people were killed in a car accident while on a sales trip for a local distributor of Scentura perfume.

The mother of one of the victims says her son was working long hours, and was under a lot of pressure from the manager of that office. She told Phoenix station KPNX, "It's basically like they're taking young lives and just smashing them into the ground. These kids are all going to fail."

We wanted to get some answers from the man behind the operation here in San Antonio, Brian Warner of TSI. He wasn't as talkative with us, as he is in his perfume selling pep rallies.

News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila confronted Warner, "I'd like to ask you about your business. Aren't you misleading these young people, telling them that they're going to be managers earning 40 grand a year, and they end up selling perfume in parking lots?" Warner only offered, "No comment, please leave."

While a judge in Illinois called Scentura Perfume a "pyramid sales scheme," there's not much local law enforcement can do.

Aaron Valenzuela with the Texas Attorney General's office, says they've started tracking complaints from parents. "They're concerned that their children are being exploited in the sense that they are promised you know, high paying managerial type employment and really what they turn out to be is door to door salesmen."

For now, all law enforcement can do is offer the same warning as Eric Debona, before you fall for one of those too good to be true employment ads: "Smack yourself in the head. Think. Take a minute. Stop. I wouldn't recommend anybody going anywhere near that place." Basically, take the time to sniff out what's really going on.


Company Leaves Perfume Peddlers Feeling Betrayed



http://www.wftv.com/money/3556228/detail.html
July 20, 2004

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- They may have approached you in a parking lot, selling designer perfume knock-offs. But it's the perfume peddlers themselves who many times feel betrayed.

Shelby Sillen had spotted a job ad that read, "Managers ... first time okay, for sales distribution center."

"I went expecting a management job and they did nothing but lie to me," says Sillen.

At an office for EOE Management, on Forest City Road, she got the job as manager.

"They promised us that we would be making $30,000 a year," she says.

Action 9 intern Jessica Salitsky heard that when she was hired. Then, the first day, the new "managers" were told they had to "survive" boot camp, selling perfume to learn the business.

"Within four weeks, what were you going to have?" Action 9's Todd Ulrich asks Salitsky.

"Our own location. There were going to be two managers and we were going to manage 10 to 15 sales people," she says.

But first they were independent contractors, selling perfume eight hours a day to strangers on the street. There was no paycheck, but they could make a few bucks profit on each bottle sold, if they could sell the perfume for more than $20.

Eventually, recruits like Sillen realized they were being hustled as free labor.

"They're pimping you, basically. They have you out on the corner making money for them," she says.

It's the same kind of tactics Action 9 first uncovered eight years ago. Then, the company was Transworld Creations, owned by David Babb, who advertised for $35,000 "managers." Two years ago, published reports had David Babb running the same operation in Missouri.

Today in Central Florida, it's EOE Management, and recruits like Shelby Sillen claim they were trained to lie and tell people they just left a perfume show and had to sell at cost.

"You're lying to these people. You were never at a perfume show. This is what they taught you in training," Sillen explains.

When another woman from EOE approached us, while we were undercover, to make a sale, suddenly the perfume "knock-offs" were the actual designer fragrances.

"And this is really Jean Paul?" Ulrich asks.

"Yes, the true ode de perfume. The oil based," the salesperson replies.

Consumers got hustled in parking lots and no job seekers that we talked to ever got paychecks as managers.

Michelle Andrews runs EOE Management. So does "Monica," who won't disclose her last name.

They refused to speak with Channel 9.

EOE Management was opened by Kendall Management in Casselberry. It too runs ads for managers, then sends you out to sell perfume.

All the companies sell perfume made by Scentura Creations in Atlanta, which says it has nothing to do with the way its independent contractors do business.

No one we talked to who responded to the ad was actually hired. Instead, they were trained to set up another office to run ads for managers, who will actually sell perfume in parking lots.



Team 4 Investigates Perfume Sales (You can watch video of this at this link)


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Nov. 23, 2004

The following investigative report by Jim Parsons first aired Nov. 23, 2004, on Channel 4 Action News at 6 p.m.

It's a scheme that victimizes two sets of people: The customers who buy the phony fragrances and the unsuspecting job applicants who end up doing the selling. Our investigation unravels the setup and takes down the guy at the top.

Parsons: "Why are you misleading consumers?"

Kevin Neal, Pittsburgh Wholesale owner: "I'm not misleading anybody."

For two years, he's been running his operation out of an office near Ross Park Mall. By most accounts, something here doesn't smell right.

When you think of buying designer perfume, a store counter like the one at Sephora in Shadyside probably comes to mind. Lots of light, lots of glass, lots of steep prices.

Cathy Ingold: "I only use Chanel."

Ingold is a Chanel No. 5 woman, through and through. She doesn't like paying $200 a bottle, the going price at most department stores.

When she received this e-mail last year from a co-worker's daughter, it caught her attention: Chanel No. 5, along with dozens of other well-known fragrances, all for just $27 a bottle. How can you pass that up, the e-mail asks.

Ingold: "I thought I was buying a bottle of Chanel No. 5. When the package came, it was in a red bottle. When I contacted them, they said that's why it's less expensive, because it's generic packaging. Then I smelled it, and I don't know what it was."

Parsons: "Was it even close to Chanel?"

Ingold: "No."

Parsons: "You know the difference?"

Ingold: "I know the difference."

She had purchased an inexpensive fragrance manufactured by a Georgia company called Scentura Creations. They're known in the business as renditions, or knockoffs of popular brand-name perfumes.

Scentura is up-front about its products being imitations. Not so with the local independent office that sells them, an unincorporated outfit known as Pittsburgh Wholesale.

Jill Barrett, former employee: "We were supposed to tell them that it was the exact same thing, just promotionally packaged. And we were supposed to say the reason they paid so much for Calvin Klein was the bottle it was put in -- that whatever is in the Calvin Klein bottle is in this bottle."

Barrett and Tanya Pant quit good-paying jobs last summer to work at Pittsburgh Wholesale. They were drawn in by a classified ad that promised management jobs, and by persuasive boss Kevin Neal, 23, who came to Pittsburgh from Alabama to set up the operation.

Pant, former employee: "He can get you to believe anything. And you do."

Pant and Barrett told us the same thing several others have complained to Team 4 about -- that Neal and his staff got them to believe they'd be making $50,000 to $70,000 a year managing their own distribution centers.

Barrett: "They never, ever used the words, 'You will be selling perfume,' or that you have to make sales. They never said the word 'sales.'"

But that's what they were doing -- helping Neal meet his goal of selling 500 bottles of perfume in a week.

Barrett: "The job was selling perfume on a day-to-day basis in the street, walking into stores, stop people going to college campuses."

That's where we found Neal peddling his perfume -- on the campus of California University of Pennsylvania. He was dressed like a college student, had his bottles in a backpack, then strolled in and out of dormitories.

Barrett: "They're lying to their customers, lying to people who come into their programs. I left a good job with good pay to make no money, to be lied to, to be vicitmized, and I think these people need to be stopped before they hurt other people."

Parsons: "Kevin Neal, Jim Parsons from Channel 4. I want to ask you about the business you've been running here."

Neal: "Yeah, guys, no."

Parsons: "Well, why don't you talk to me about your business and the business you've been giving consumers around here?"

Parsons: "How many people do you think you've ripped off in the past year?"

Neal: "Nobody."

Parsons: "Nobody?"

Neal: "We run a very legit business."

Parsons: "So you're not telling people that they're buying Chanel or Calvin Klein perfume? Your people aren't doing that?"

Neal: "No. Our people understand that everything we sell is a rendition."

Ingold didn't understand it. She thought she was getting Chanel from Pittsburgh Wholesale.

Ingold: "I sent them a letter and they wouldn't do anything about it. That's when I filed a complaint with the attorney general's office and they didn't do anything about it."

Team 4 did something about it.

Parsons: "Why all the deception, Kevin?"

Neal: "There is no deception at all."

One day after this exchange, Neal packed up the contents of the office into a U-Haul and vanished. Pittsburgh Wholesale is no more.

It appears Neal has left the Pittsburgh area. Documents in his office indicate he may have headed for Minnesota.

Pennsylvania's new attorney general, Tom Corbett, tells Team 4 his office will do a better job responding to these types of complaints -- especially, he says, in a case like this, where Ingold provided the attorney general with evidence in the form of that e-mail, yet nothing was done.



2 Teens Say Sales Trip Turned Into a Nightmare


Orlando Sentinel Tribune, January 3, 1991

Two teen-age former employees of an Altamonte-based company that sells imitations of high-priced perfumes say they quit after feeling exploited during out-of-town sales trips.

The mother of one of the teen-agers contends her daughter worked excessive hours and went for days without money for food.

The owners of Chic Enterprises, however, said the former employees are whiners who did not work hard enough to excel in the sales job, refused to take money for food and failed to return more than $600 in merchandise.

"If they're not willing to work hard, I'm not going to waste my time on them," said Debra Sheridan, co-owner of Chic Enterprises, 370 Whooping Loop. "This is a business where only the strong survive".

"When people interview I tell them, 'You're going to have to work your tails off and always give 110 percent,' " she said. "There is nothing illegitimate, illegal or scandalous about our company."

Cretia Force, 18, hocked a Gucci watch given to her by her grandparents to get home from Charleston, S.C. Force, who drove her car on the sales trip, said she did not eat for three days until she pawned the watch.

Rick Varnum, 18, of Winter Park, said he went on two sales trips, one to Valdosta, Ga., and the other to Charleston. Varnum, who was 17 when he worked for Chic, said he received little training in selling the perfume and made about $30 in the three weeks he worked there.

"They said you could make $40,000 a year, but you had to pass standards and sell so many bottles," he said.

Varnum and Force said small groups of employees were taken to other sales trips. Once there, the complany trainers rented hotel rooms and sent the group out to sell. The trainer would accompany the trainees, who would go out in pairs. The hotel room would remain locked until 5:30 p.m. when they were allowed to return. Sheridan said Force and Varnum left in the middle of the Charleston road trip and did not return the merchandise assigned to them. Since the Nov. 14 incident, Chic has filed civil suits against Force and Varnum seeking $332.50 or 19 bottles of perfume from each of them.

Force and Varnum said they left the bottles in the hotel room.

Sheridan, 25, said the sales trips are made so "manager trainees" can sell in untapped markets. Orlando and other large metropolitan areas can have as many as four or five companies selling the imitations of well-known perfumes such as Obsession or Chanel No. 5., she said.

The trainees sign out bottles and are supposed to turn in $17.50 per bottle sold and return the unsold portion, Sheridan said. Anything employees get above the $17.50 is profit for them, she said.

The company also offers bonuses and incentives for trainees who sell a large number of bottles. Chic buys the bottles at $9 apiece and suggests a sales price of $25.

Sheridan stressed that Force and Varnum were manager trainees, not salesmen. Road trips are designed to show trainees the business with the goal of setting them up in business elsewhere, she said.

The trainees are supposed to work all day and can work after dark if they want, she said.

Force said she and Varnum were treated badly and made to sell in dangerous neighborhoods.

"These were bad neighborhoods," she said. "People were telling us to leave before someone hit us over the head and took our stuff."

Cretia Force's mother, Karen, said, "These young kids aren't streetwise. They tell these kids to go into apartment complexes and sell."

According to the city's licensing department, Chic opened in May 1990 and renewed its distributor's license in October.

The Better Business Bureau has received no complaints or inquiries about the firm.

Sheridan said the company has changed some of its practices. It had required a $25 fee to check the references of potential employees and required employees to deposit $150 to pay for any merchandise not returned.

"It's riskier for us now, but those things were scaring off potential employees," she said.


DENVER POST: RAPE
Denver Post November 11, 2001; Page B-02



3 rape suspects sought in 2 incidents in Denver. Denver police are looking for three suspects in two rapes that occurred on Friday and Saturday. The first rape was around 4 p.m. Friday. The victim was walking along West 32nd Avenue near Zuni Street selling perfume when two men approached her and dragged her into an alley. They took turns sexually assaulting her, according to a police report.


Thanks to Schauds (schauds@att.net ) for alerting me to this:

In this past Sundays Denver Post I read an article that horrified me. A girl selling perfume less than 1/2 mile from the Ol' Factory Wholesale office [Scentura distributor] was raped at approx 4:00 PM on Friday. This was the first day of training folks. And although I cannot say that she was selling Scentura Products, I can only imagine someone that I had interviewed with was walking away from her first day of training to find her very first sale and becoming a victim of a horrible crime. [Posted on November 12, 2001 at 11:11:42 on http://www.seniors-site.com/fraud/]



Serial Killer was a Scentura employee
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette



An 18-year-old convenience store clerk was strangled early Friday at the Jackpot Inc. store at 9520 N. Rodney Parham Road, the police said. It was the second murder of a convenience store clerk in Little Rock in 18 days.

A perfume salesman who had been living in homeless shelters and had served prison time for a strangulation slaying in Erie, Pa., was arrested at the store and later was charged in her death.

...

Ward was a salesman at Wholesale Fragrances of Arkansas, 8 Shackleford Plaza, a division of Scentura Fragrance, said a receptionist at Wholesale Fragrances who asked not to be identified. She said she did not know how long Ward had worked there.

(This article shows two things:
1: That Scentura will hire anyone.
2: That Scentura distributors often do not do background checks.
Why would a homeless man be working for a Scentura distributor?
Why would a convicted killer pass Scentura's "background checks"? --editor)

(Full article)



Former Scentura employee robs and shots distributor



3 charged in shooting, robbery in Timonium; Wounded woman tells how she comforted her 6-year-old daughter
The Baltimore Sun August 7, 1996, Wednesday

As three suspects were being charged in the attack, Shannon L. Senna recalled yesterday from her hospital bed how she comforted her 6-year-old daughter with prayer after being shot and bound alongside her in the garage of their Timonium home.

"She was sitting in the front seat next to me in the Cadillac, and the guy reached in over her and shot me," Senna said. "Then they taped her hands up just like mine, and I just kept telling her to be calm and to pray out loud and that everything would be all right."

And that seemed to be the case.

Although she had been shot in the chest, and the bullet had passed through and remained lodged in her arm, Senna, 41, was released late in the day from Sinai Hospital and left accompanied by her family.

Her daughter, Amber, was doing fine, she said.

Her husband and teen-age son also were at home but were not injured when three men -- who were masked -- invaded and ransacked the house on Pot Spring Road Monday morning.

By midafternoon Monday, police had three suspects in custody -- one of them a former employee of a Cockeysville perfume business, International Designs, owned by Senna's husband, Jozef F. Senna Jr., 40.

Police identified the former employee as Gilbert J. Dent III, 29. Checking his home in the 2900 block of W. Cold Spring Lane in Baltimore, police found a dented pickup truck similar to one seen leaving the Sennas' neighborhood Monday.

Dent was arrested with William E. Sharper, 39, of the 2100 block of Elsinore Ave. in Baltimore and Joseph M. Johnson, 21, of the 2700 block of Helmsley Road in Woodlawn as they left Dent's home late Monday afternoon.

Police said the men were questioned and held at different police lockups overnight, and were formally charged yesterday with attempted murder, a handgun offense and armed robbery.

Police said jewelry and money were taken from the house, where Mr. Senna also was threatened, before the trio fled in the family's other car, a Mercedes-Benz that was abandoned nearby.

According to charging documents filed in District Court, Dent told detectives that he and two others were responsible for the robbery.

Mrs. Senna said she worked part time at her husband's business and knew Dent.

"He seemed like such a nice guy," she said. "But I have since changed my mind. He went to church with us twice. We always invite those who work with us to go to church with us."





Death Linked to Local Perfume Selling Group


WAOI Television, San Antonio
5/29/2004 9:12:47 AM
http://www.woai.com/troubleshooters/story.aspx?content_id=0A74D76D-918F-4DF3-9C15-7957D8C3D682
Jaie Avila Trouble Shooter News 4 WOAI

Our News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters' undercover investigation revealed how one San Antonio company promises young people big-money management jobs, then puts them out on the street selling imitation perfume. Now one family blames that company for the death of their daughter.

"We'll never have the same life we had before," Sandy Lewis says. "Misty was our only daughter. She was our baby. She had a lot going for her."

Like a lot of young people, Misty Lewis, 19, was eager to make a success of her life. On her own for the first time and engaged to be married, she was searching for a job with a future.

"She was looking for something that she could get into to help make her car payment and her insurance payment and she went to the paper in San Antonio and saw the ad," Misty's mother explains.

The ad promised a fun job, serious money and no experience necessary. It was posted by a company called Texas Scents Incorporated, or TSI. A Trouble Shooters undercover investigation showed how TSI recruiters lure applicants with promises of a well paying, management position, running their own office. Instead, recruits end up selling a brand of imitation perfume called Scentura Creations.

They're often sent on long road trips, using their own vehicles to sell the perfume on the street and in parking lots.

In March of 2002, Misty Lewis was returning from one of those perfume selling trips to Laredo with three other young salespeople when the 17 year old driver fell asleep and crashed. Misty died from massive head trauma.

Sandy Lewis says, "I blame the company entirely only because they put my daughter and every kid that they bring in there in danger because they don't tell them the hazards of the job."

Misty's parents sued TSI, and the case was settled out of court. The Lewis's claim that Misty and her young co-workers were under tremendous pressure. The workers only got paid if they sold perfume, and even then it was not very much. For every $30 bottle that Misty sold, her parents say she only made $3.

But the Lewis's say the young recruits are convinced to stick with it because of the frequent pep rallies led by TSI owner Brian Warner.

"Do what we tell you to do, even if you question it in your mind," Warner told our undercover producer during one of those pep rallies. He preaches constantly about the wealth and independence they will achieve if they just keep selling.

Warner wasn't so outspoken when News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila tracked him down earlier this month.

Avila confronts Warner, "I'd like to ask you about your business. Aren't you misleading these young people telling them that they're going to be managers earning 40 grand a year, and they end up selling perfume in parking lots?" Warner only responds, "No comment. Please leave."

TSI gets away with not paying recruits a minimum wage because it makes them sign an agreement making them independent contractors. Former salespeople for TSI tell us they were never told they need permits to legally sell merchandise, and they aren't instructed to charge sales tax.

It is that sales tax issue that may finally catch TSI. The Trouble Shooters have learned that the State Comptroller's office is looking into the company, which it says has failed to file the required sales tax reports.

We've been hearing from a lot of young people who say they were never paid the money they were owed for selling Scentura Creations perfume for the folks at Texas Scents Incorporated. The Texas Workforce Commission tells us it needs you to file a "Wage Complaint" so that they can investigate and maybe get you some money.

The News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooters tried again to contact Brian Warner and TSI for comment. No one returned our call.

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#11 UPDATE Employee

employee

AUTHOR: India - (India)

POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2005

I work with Chris and I believe him, I am going through the training program and I understand what it is I am doing. The company is not ripping me off. I know that Chris is being honest about everything. To get through the program you have to listen to Chris quitting after one day 2 days or even 2 weeks ins't the answer. Be opened mind and listen.

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#10 UPDATE Employee

employee

AUTHOR: India - (India)

POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2005

I work with Chris and I believe him, I am going through the training program and I understand what it is I am doing. The company is not ripping me off. I know that Chris is being honest about everything. To get through the program you have to listen to Chris quitting after one day 2 days or even 2 weeks ins't the answer. Be opened mind and listen.

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#9 UPDATE Employee

employee

AUTHOR: India - (India)

POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2005

I work with Chris and I believe him, I am going through the training program and I understand what it is I am doing. The company is not ripping me off. I know that Chris is being honest about everything. To get through the program you have to listen to Chris quitting after one day 2 days or even 2 weeks ins't the answer. Be opened mind and listen.

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#8 UPDATE Employee

employee

AUTHOR: India - (India)

POSTED: Thursday, September 15, 2005

I work with Chris and I believe him, I am going through the training program and I understand what it is I am doing. The company is not ripping me off. I know that Chris is being honest about everything. To get through the program you have to listen to Chris quitting after one day 2 days or even 2 weeks ins't the answer. Be opened mind and listen.

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#7 REBUTTAL Owner of company

the problem?

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

POSTED: Monday, September 05, 2005

its kinda sad you've made a judgement on a company that you've only been there for a day or two and you take advice from people that had a problem with working hard. the first day we or i'll tell you its hard. but what is done is done. your right everybody out there.... we will STEAL your first born child, and slaughter your family in the night. dont make a judgement until you finish if you didnt finish and find out yourself, then its better off not saying anything at all.

oh and by the way i have utah plates because i'm from utah, and i have a friend that works at the nissian dealer ship. but ill let you be right, i really wasnt in cali for 3 years. i just happened to be in that building for just that day. and the stuff these people said a year and a half ago were not in cali either.

the funny part is one of the guys posting is still looking for a job(hes still looking in the news paper). and hes giving you advice. hmmmmmmmm?

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#6 UPDATE EX-employee responds

Now goes by SENSATION WHOLESALE!!!

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

POSTED: Thursday, July 21, 2005

I was browsing the classifieds today and saw an ad that said 'Bob had a job, Bob lost is job, Do you want Bob's job?' and the phone number listed to call looked familiar so I called it.

The woman who answered said 'Sensation Wholesale' and she said it so fast I couldn't understand her. I had to ask her to repeat what she said twice. The voice was the same one that answered as 'Infinity Wholesale' so I knew it was them.

Just thought I'd pass this info along so perspective employees see this new company name.

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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPORT - Chris with the holes in his ear....pffft.....scamming people is the only way he can make his money.

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

POSTED: Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I just finished my first day there today. Thank you so much for filling out this report. You have saved me much time....I didn't return a phone call to a real business that wanted to hire me because I was waiting for this one to start (I was officially hired 6/22 but they "went to Vegas for a company retreat"). Now I have to continue looking for a job...they totally wasted almost a week of my time. The ad in the newspaper didn't even say anything about management...it just said 'Customer Service'!!! Watch out everyone!!! Chris with the holes in his ear....pffft.....scamming people is the only way he can make his money. I was wondering why his plates say Utah when he says he's been in California for 3 years!!!

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#4 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I fell for it too!

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

POSTED: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mary, I fell for the same scam in San Bernardino, CA, with a company called Platinum Marketing, Intl. While the exact numbers and figures differ from location to location, the scam is the same. I am seriously considering setting up post in front of that office with flyers that have these testimonials written on them. I want everybody there to quit, and I want Scentura to die.

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#3 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I fell for it too!

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

POSTED: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mary, I fell for the same scam in San Bernardino, CA, with a company called Platinum Marketing, Intl. While the exact numbers and figures differ from location to location, the scam is the same. I am seriously considering setting up post in front of that office with flyers that have these testimonials written on them. I want everybody there to quit, and I want Scentura to die.

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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I fell for it too!

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

POSTED: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mary, I fell for the same scam in San Bernardino, CA, with a company called Platinum Marketing, Intl. While the exact numbers and figures differ from location to location, the scam is the same. I am seriously considering setting up post in front of that office with flyers that have these testimonials written on them. I want everybody there to quit, and I want Scentura to die.

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

I fell for it too!

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

POSTED: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mary, I fell for the same scam in San Bernardino, CA, with a company called Platinum Marketing, Intl. While the exact numbers and figures differ from location to location, the scam is the same. I am seriously considering setting up post in front of that office with flyers that have these testimonials written on them. I want everybody there to quit, and I want Scentura to die.

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