Scott Johnson: Using the Word ‘Pyramid’ to Describe Raniere’s Businesses Was Prejudicial

Was Nxivm a true pyramid business -

By Scott Johnson

It wasn’t so much hate the Department of Justice (DOJ) had, as Keith Raniere said, they just wanted joy since “he who has the most joy wins.”

In his post, Pyramids, Abortions, and Kinky Sex Life of Victim — Were Keith’s Legal Rights Violated? – Part IV.  K.R. Claviger couldn’t be more wrong when he wrote, “the term ‘pyramid organization’ is not a pejorative term.”

Most people don’t use the word “organization” when referring to a pyramid and instead include words such as “business” or “scheme” or “scam” or simply the term “pyramid” by itself. Therefore, it is an extremely pejorative term. Claviger is so clueless it’s almost funny, but it’s too serious of a topic to be funny.

About the only thing that Nxivm appears not to be is an illegal pyramid scam, because the definition of that word is essentially Multilevel Marketing that has little-to-no retail sales to non-distributor customers, and Nxivm appeared to have lots of those.

DOS could be considered to be an illegal pyramid scam because there were no customers — only compliant downline slaves who recruited more compliant downline slaves.

But was Nxivm really a pyramid scheme?

Regarding the abortion records, unless Raniere himself had one or more abortions, that information isn’t his to complain about being disclosed. The abortions were the women’s sensitive information, and so Raniere, in Claviger’s vocabulary, had no standing in that matter.

Keith Raniere teaches a group of his followers. Among the women, how many of them had abortions?

Why does Claviger keep missing the obvious? It must be that she isn’t a very bright lawyer.

The judge should have allowed the inclusion of cross-examination of Nicole’s other sex-life behaviors, as Raniere was maintaining what he did to her was normal for her. It’s an obvious 6th Amendment right to confrontation violation.

Allison Mack ordered Nicole to make contact with Keith Raniere. Nicole thus began communicating with Raniere and the nature of her communications were not permitted to be introduced as evidence at the trial by the defense. The claim is that the texts and emails would have shown that Nicole was consenting to a sexual relationship with Raniere and that, in fact, she sought him out. The prosecution claimed that her texts and emails and other visible signs of consent were only given because she was under duress because she gave collateral to Mack, and this was an unseen force driving her to make these efforts at seeking out and seducing Raniere.

Claviger is wrong about the person who voluntarily transcribed the video; wrong that it cannot be considered to be forced labor. Plus, the jury wouldn’t buy it.

Pamela Ann Cafritz died in Nov. 2016. Nicole was told/asked to transcribe video for use in Cafritz’s memorial service and review a number of articles written by Keith Raniere, She spent perhaps 40 hours doing so. Although she appeared eager and willing to do the work, it was later charged as forced labor since she had collateral hanging over her and she could not, it was argued, refuse to do the labor. For her 40 hours of computer work, Raniere got 40 years for this offense.

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  • This Guy Scott Johnson is a real bad person, trying to help attack victims of the cult – serious. He was Mayor of Saratoga Now hes just joined the OGS. WOW WHEN DOES IT END. TO MANY POLITICIANS JUMPED WITH BOTH FEET INTO THIS CULT NOW WE ARE LEFT WITH THE FILTH, they are trying to keep it going at all cost.

  • Why is it claimed that people who freely chose to pay for a course at NXIVM are slaves who were forced to recruit other slaves. How did they force them?

  • The prosecutors used the word: “pyramidal scheme” instead of using the word: “company”. This change of words carries a negative bias and for this reason should not have been used during the trial.

    • Please cite from the trial transcript where the prosecution used the term “pyramid scheme”. We’ll all be waiting for your response.

  • Interesting Question:

    Was DOS a “Gifting Scheme” for some of the members such as Nicki Clyne and the Mexican contingent of DOS?

    “The road to participating in a gifting scheme is often paved with sound-good intentions and clever branding like “Women Empowering Women,” “Circle of Friends,” or “Secret Sister” — but just because it is called a gifting “circle” does not make it one.”,4534,7-359-81903_20942-513367–,00.html

    • Yes, it was. And a lot of other criminal acts as well. Interesting to read Michigan’s take on illegal pyramids, since the largest one on the planet is based there.

  • “Claviger is wrong about the person who voluntarily transcribed the video; wrong that it cannot be considered to be forced labor. Plus, the jury wouldn’t buy it”

    But the matter of the fact is that the jury was coerced by the “no one noble soul could allow it to happens in the world” argument. There is so much missleading and so much hate. Why do K.R. Claviger manipulate so badly? What is her real interest?

    • There was in error in that sentence, it should have stated “Claviger is wrong about the person who voluntarily transcribed the video; wrong that it CAN be considered to be forced labor. Plus, the jury wouldn’t buy it.”

      • There are a lot more errors than that one in your ” sentence”. The jury did their civic duty. They rendered their verdict. That is what Keith wanted. Do not try and disparage them. They were not coerced.

        Have you ever served on a criminal jury? People take it very, very seriously. They do not take deciding a person’s guilt lightly. It is disgusting how little credit you give other humans. Yet you want everyone to give your precious vanguard the benefit of the doubt. [redacted]

        • I doubt the jury put much weight on someone volunteering to transcribe a video and considered it forced labor when there were many other much better examples of that issue. You are as clueless as Claviger.

          I have served on a criminal jury. It was a joke, the government went after someone for merely defending themselves. In Texas, a place where you’re still allowed to do such a dastardly thing. It’s disgusting you have opinions with such little information. What makes you think I support Raniere? [redacted].

          • I am not talking about the government. I am speaking of the jury. If you took your civic duty seriously, good. Then you are like most honest, sincere Americans. If not, shame on you.

          • Part of any criminal trial is the government. I don’t need your admiration and I reject your shame.

          • Anon at 7:46 pm, thats right stand your ground by having a little stomp on it. Come back to the circle when your’e good and ready.

  • When Scott starts providing statutory citations and case references to back up his statements about what the law is regarding specific topics — or he refutes the citations that I have made — I will respond to what he has to say. Until then, I will ignore his futile attempts to sound like he knows what he’s talking about. He doesn’t…

        • Scott-

          How do you know if K.R. Claviger is a woman or a man? It does not matter one way or the other to me. You, on the other hand, don’t miss an opportunity to take a swing at the fairer sex.

        • Anonymous-

          All us ‘wack packers’ use the Frank Report for a social life.

          Parlato Wack Packers:

          Nice Guy
          Scotty Amway
          Mitch G.
          The RightSide
          Sultan of Six

          The Parlato Wack Packers are like the
          legendary Rat Pack. Just a little nuttier.

          We bring joy to Frank’s existence. 😉

    • Which specific topic can Scott school you on? The definition of an illegal pyramid? When Claviger is more specific Scott will respond to Claviger’s stupidity. Until then, Scott will ignore her futile attempts to sound like she knows what she’s talking about. She doesn’t…

      • Claviger schools us all, thankfully. Takes time to write informative articles, helps people out with points of law, corrects errors – all done most affably. Then there’s you, Scott, insult after insult and not much help at all. Hopefully, there’s something in your life that cheers you up, makes you feel a bit thankful.

    • Any organization, no matter how small, is pyramidal, this applies to a business, an organization such as a political party, or NXVM. The theories of the organization of Kelsen, or Robert Michels demonstrate how organizations have operated. If a person joins an organization, and performs activities of their own free will, as it can be classified as illegal ?

      • Whether an organization is an illegal pyramid scam has absolutely nothing to do with the shape, org chart, etc., it has to do with whether there are adequate sales to those outside the pyramid, i.e., customers.

  • Keith ran “Consumer’s Buyline.” That is reason enough to legitimately question the structure of the next business Keith was running. He brought it on himself. Just like everything else that landed him in prison.

  • The original topic was Raniere’s claim that the prosecution’s description of NXIVM as a “pyramid organization” was prejudicial and, therefore, grounds for a successful appeal of his conviction.

    The clear answer is that Raniere has no legal grounds to stand on this issue.

    Now the discussion has shifted to whether NXIVM was a pyramid scheme (which wasn’t a charge Raniere faced).

    I’ve had several relatives and acquaintances get caught up in MLM’s and pyramid schemes, and a couple have tried to recruit me, so I know that grift up close and personal.

    If it isn’t already obvious, I think NXIVM is an evil scam. But… it isn’t clear to me how it was a pyramid scheme (as distinct from a hierarchical, pyramid-structured organization, which it obviously was). Could someone clue me in?

    Was it set up that coaches bought bulk courses/materials from proctors and proctors, in turn, from senior proctors, etc. and then had to recruit underlings to sell them to?

    • A legitimate MLM sells lots of products to outside customers who are not distributors, an illegal pyramid MLM scam sell most of their products to the distributors instead of outside customers. NXIVM appears to be the former in terms of being a legitimate MLM, as they had a small group of coaches/proctors, etc., and about 17,000 customers over the years, the problem is pretty much every other law known to man was violated.

    • Given that many people are anti-business, even the term pyramid organization carries a negative connotation for them.

  • Reading the responses here from Nxians is amusing.

    No one even attempts to make legal arguments.

    It’s like dealing with little kids. No matter how much you explain reality TO them, they are like “But I don’t wanna go to school!” “You’re a doo-doo head!” “I don’t like you!”

    They think faux-Socratic questioning and just making bold statements without evidence will create the reality they wish existed.

    It’s impossible for them to understand that the cult techniques which worked in the NXIVM bubble have little power in the outside world.

  • Here’s a definition:

    “Multi-Level Marketing Pyramid Scheme
    Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a legal business practice, but unlike traditional pyramid schemes, this model involves the sale of actual goods or services. But participants are not mandated to close any sales, in order to generate income by recruiting members below them.

    Some MLMs are nearly indistinguishable from pyramid schemes because they involve the sale of printed materials that have no real value, such as educational courses. These MLM schemes thrive by forcing recruits to buy such no-value products at high costs, and by making them sell these same products to next generational members.”

    • That is a poor definition.

      First of all, it should state the sale of actual goods and/or services are to customers who are also not distributors and therefore have no profit motive behind the decision to buy. Most MLMs mandate sales to non-distributor customers, it’s one of the three so-called “Amway rules,” in order to be paid for downline volume, but they simply ignore the rule and pay out anyway, because they want the distributors to stay in as long as possible and end up losing as much money as possible.

      Also, most MLMs do not pay for the mere act of recruiting, but do pay for product and/or services volume the recruits below them purchase. This is a very common error the MLM scams take advantage of by demonstrating no money is made by the upline for the mere act of recruiting, thus damaging the credibility of the critic. When the critic has other legitimate points, it is easy to dismiss them as being incompetent. The same goes with the “saturation” theory, just google Ger-Ro-Mar and FTC and see for yourself.

      The “printed materials” are an entirely different issue. The lack of retail sales to non-distributor customers is the illegal pyramid, the “printed materials” are one of many types of “tools,” the more formal name is BSM (Business Support Materials) printed materials are almost non-existent with the online world we now live in, but do include small, medium, and large meetings, books, recordings, phone apps, voice mail, website access, etc., and generate many times more profit for the upline than from Amway. Not all MLMs have this issue, but the ones that do, such as Amway and Herbalife, have it in spades. This is RICO fraud and/or business fraud, not because of the amount of money being made but because this fact isn’t disclosed to the downline or prospects.

      Nobody is bodily “forced” or “made” to buy the tools for themselves and sell the tools to their downline, but they are taught the tools are the “secret sauce,” the “shortcut to success,” etc., and the downline naturally teaches this practice to their downline and recruits. In fact, Amway has written rules that clearly state the tools are optional, but then the upline retorts with “so is success.” Also, the tools do have value, just like the MLM products and services do, but they are overpriced. These types of absolutes are what get many MLM critics ignored and even discounted by the MLM scams.

  • I think that in most cases where someone refers to a pyramid structure they imply something negative. Most companies possess this structure, but it’s only when there’s an assumption of badness that the word pyramid is used.

    It might be good to ask why would someone need something to sound bad? Specially if the thing is bad, why would it be necessary to make it sound bad then?

    • If they were really concerned about this issue, Keith’s attorneys could have called a business professor as a witness and had them explain what the term “pyramid organization” means to the jury. But they didn’t.

    • Since Claviger didn’t answer your question (as usual), I will. The strategy is to reinforce a bad thing is a bad thing to remove any doubt that it is a bad thing. Just like using the terms Claviger and [redacted] lawyer is redundant but it reinforces the facts.

  • Up to the point where they handed over ‘collateral,’ in other words blackmail material, everyone in DOS was arguably a volunteer or willing participant.

    The door was open and they could have walked away. Not easily, and not without painful consequences, but they could have.

    Some did, and more bravely, some did after that point.

    There are degrees in victimhood like everything else.

    Sorry, but that needed to be said.

    As far as I know, there are absolute and relative victims in NXIVM, but no Saints.

    • Well…each woman (except the first line slaves) had to provide “collateral” prior to even knowing really anything about DOS (and what they did know was rather deceptive), so each woman arguably wasn’t a willing participant from the start.

      • From what I know, it’s accurate that women were asked to provide collateral prior to knowing about what DOS was, it was one of the conditions to get to know about it (if you wanted to know about it).

        One distinction I would make is that women chose to provide it or not; I believe it is an important distinction since often when we say they ‘had to’ it implies they didn’t have a choice.

        • Pioneer of possible. That is not what you have been previously stating. Do you now acknowledge that Raniere directed the brandings and said they would be used for ” collateral”? It’s recorded. Keith’s voice. Saying it. Also. They gave the “collateral” to a trusted female friend, who, in turn, gave it to Keith. After they told the women no men were involved n DOS. And again there is no such thing as “a lifetime vow of obedience” as you have written previously. That is slavery. It is illegal. Were you in DOS?

    • Paul, would you have the same opinion if women left DOS without any of their collateral being exposed? It is my understanding that there were women who joined DOS and decided to leave (even before the mass exodus) and their collateral wasn’t exposed. I know a woman who left, before the problems, and she was fine. She wasn’t ever concerned that her collateral would be exposed when she left.

      • It makes no difference whether some slut didn’t care about being blackmailed because she already had a bad reputation. One exception to the rule does not negate the rule, that’s NXIVM “thinking.”

      • And I know of several women who left DOS — and asked for their collateral back. Not one of them had anything returned.

        • Non-responsive. The question wasn’t about collateral being returned, it was about it being exposed/released. Even if the collateral was returned, how do they know a copy wasn’t made that could be released? I’m glad I know who not to hire as a lawyer.

          • You flatter yourself to even think that I’d consider representing you in any legal matter. But I would thoroughly enjoy representing anyone who has a valid claim against you just for the opportunity to question you under oath.

  • Frequently, on any given Sunday after lunch, someone would fill the air with el Pagliacci so that everyone else would make their swift farewells and get the hell out of the house for a few hours. It was either that or suicidal ideation. And here it is, Sunday afternoon.

  • Lat’s cut to the chase.

    Both Amway and NXIVM are scams that appeal to the world’s many simple-minded people.

    Just look how many morons voted for the Chinese spy Joe Biden.

    Do you think the Chinese gave Biden’s crack-head son Hunter millions of dollars to invest because the Clown is a genius?

    • Shadow-

      If you stuffed Biden into a bag and then stuffed Trump into a bag…..

      ….And then I handed you one of the two bags….

      It wouldn’t matter which one I gave you.

      Because either way you’d be getting a big bag-of-shit.

      It’s all the same. People in power wherever you go don’t give a shit about regular people.

    • Your superiority [redacted] is showing again – there are many people who were in NXIVM and Amway who are not simple-minded, Amway and other MLM scams happen to be very good liars. Inexperienced perhaps, but not simple-minded.

      Amway and other MLM scams tend to attract Republicans, not Libtards.

    • Speaking of scams targeting simple-minded people, how much have you donated to the “Stop the Steal” campaign, Shadow? I was glad, if not surprised, to see you weren’t part of the insurrection attempt. At least, if you were, that you have not been detained yet.

  • Question of the intent of the forced labor laws? Is this what lawmakers intended? The same argument could be used to make any doctor resident, big firm lawyer have grounds for forced labor because of fear of losing their job. Still doesn’t explain that Nicole chose this so she should live with the bed she made.

    • –The same argument could be used to make any doctor resident, big firm lawyer

      LOL, no. Doctors and firm lawyers are W-2 employees who get paid wages and have to pay taxes.

      Are you NXIVM acolytes really this [redacted]?

    • We have all seen movies or maybe real life instances, when skeezy gets run over by skeezy. Maybe that’s all that he and she wrote? Who knows?
      It beats the hell out of waking up one morning with an eviscerated horse lying next to you. There’s skeezy. And then there is skeezy. Willkommen to da petrfied forest. Who do you trust? The brazen hyenas or the sheeple? Omerta.

  • The coercion claim has no standard measurement. Everyone could be said to be coerced in their relationships with family and friends. Friends and family frequently punish each other for not doing what they want. Consider a man who is married to a woman who does not work. He controls the checkbook. If she does not have sex when he wants, he can harass her about her spending. Would a woman in this position feel at a disadvantage in the relationship? Would she feel enslaved to some degree to appease her husband and do things she may not do otherwise? Of course. Also, she can withhold sex and coerce him. Does he feel at the affect of her? Of course. Are they criminals? NO! What is the legal standard for coercion here and can any of us escape being criminals if our hateful ex uses the wave of victim sympathy to criminalize normal citizens?

    • Wow. Great standard belief about male / female relationships. Such an aspirational arrangement! You must be very popular with romantic partners. These were not those kinds of pairings. This is one old dude who is forcing sexual contact with a bunch of women. Including underaged girls and 3 sisters. Not one husband & one wife in what by your description is a sucky joyless marriage.

    • –The coercion claim has no standard measurement…What is the legal standard for coercion here…

      Yes, there absolutely are legal definitions for blackmail in many countries, including the USA and Canada. Crack open a book (or another source) of jurisprudence and educate yourself.

    • Classic NXIVM-think

      There are no victims; therefore, there are no perpetrators.

      It’s not that coercion is good or bad, it doesn’t even exist.

      It’s not that rape is good or bad, it doesn’t even exist.

      It’s not that murder is good or bad, it doesn’t even exist.

      Unless The World’s Smartest Child Rapist™ is the target–he’s the victim of so much hate, bias, anger, and prejudice.

      Poor Keith

    • Hey Patrick-

      —Consider a man who is married to a woman who does not work. He controls the checkbook. If she does not have sex when he wants, he can harass her about her spending. Would a woman in this position feel at a disadvantage in the relationship? Would she feel enslaved to some degree to appease her husband and do things she may not do otherwise? Of course. Also, she can withhold sex and coerce him.

      —If she does not have sex when he wants, he can harass her about her spending.

      Your logic and rationality are dependent on the fact that no one can question you. There are so many holes and contradictions in your logic.

      Behold the number 1 hole:

      In your example, you left out “collateral” blackmail. Neither the woman nor the man is being collateralized: i.e., Blackmailed.

      Collateral is why the women were coerced. It’s blackmail dude!

      Freewill never existed with Raniere and DOS.

    • Patrick-

      Keith Raniere’s supporters should take his case to the ACLU

      If you truly believe his constitutional and civil rights have been violated, then the ACLU will help. That’s why the organization exists.

  • The Nicole counterargument makes sense, but why didn’t Raniere just submit his phone as evidence to impeach her?

  • I have done some research with lawyers and it shows very similar points to what you are responding to Claviger. Proving someone’s wrong isn’t or shouldn’t be the focus here. What we are looking at is a violation of rights by the American justice system to one of his citizens! I can’t believe this keeps happening. I believe all of us reading this should be addressing the judge! This can happen right in front of us!

    • If you are arguing that the U.S. criminal justice system needs some major changes, I am 100% with you.

      But whether Keith was treated differently by that system is an entirely separate issue

      • Translation from NXIVM-speak to English: “do some research with lawyers” = “The World’s Smartest Child Rapist™ says so”

      • Claviger is an attorney!!!!!

        Claviger is not a lawyer!!!!

        Attorneys are people that passed the Bar.

        I’m positive Claviger pass the bar!

        What did you pass besides the 8th grade?

    • I will be responding to Scott shortly. In the meantime, I will reiterate what I’ve already said to several others who believe that Keith’s rights were violated during the course of his apprehension, expulsion, arrest, indictment, pre-trial detention, trial and/or sentencing: I have yet to see any evidence that Keith was treated any differently than the average defendant in a federal case is treated. That is not to say that I agree with the way in which the U.S. criminal justice system works (I don’t). Rather it’s to say that simply disagreeing with the norms, rules and standards of the U.S. justice system is not going to get Keith a new trial.

      In order to warrant a new trial, Keith is going to need to prove that he was not treated in accordance with the existing norms, rules and standards. If/when I see evidence of that, I will join in the call for a new trial for Keith.

      It’s not a particularly good comparison but think of it like this: If I get charged with driving at 65 mph in a zone where the speed limit is 45 mph, I need to prove that I was driving at 45 mph or less in order to avoid being found guilty. Arguing that the zone in question should have a 65 MPH speed limit is not going to get my ticket thrown out — even if I’m right. As long as the area was properly marked with signs indicating the speed limit was 45 mph, that’s the standard that will determine my guilt or innocence.

      • Is it not also a question of how the speeding was measured and determined. Whether the measuring device provides reliable results at all, and is calibrated and tested, or whether the excessive speed measurement is due to incorrect operation of the device?

        • Sure — and several other issues that may be raised as a potential defense to the charge. But once all those issues have been resolved, it really comes down to how fast was the driver going — and what was the speed limit.

  • Scott, thank you for bringing up some interesting points. I’m not sure why you chose to insult Claviger’s intelligence, though. Why not focus on facts and opinions on the law and let them speak for themselves?

    • Scott didn’t challenge Claviger’s intelligence, he challenged her legal knowledge. Scott did focus on facts and opinions of the law and you didn’t. What do YOU think Scott got wrong?

      • Here’s the quote from Scott’s article that I was referring to: “Why does Claviger keep missing the obvious? It must be that she isn’t a very bright lawyer.”

    • Anonymous 8:25-

      —I’m not sure why you chose to insult Claviger’s incredible intelligence and infinite patience. Why not focus on facts and opinions on the law and let them speak for themselves?

      It’s Scott, Anonymous. Why would you expect anything else?

      …..And Frank has the naked gall and bare audacity to chide me, whenever I am mean to Scott.

  • Part of the law:(18 USC 1591)

    (3)The term “commercial sex act” means any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.”

    (5)The term “serious harm” means any harm, whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological, financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a reasonable person of the same background and in the same circumstances to perform or to continue performing commercial sexual activity in order to avoid incurring that harm.”

    (think release of collateral here)

    From Nicole’s victim impact statement:

    “This is a message that you sent to a first line slave [Camila], quote: “I think it would be good for you to own a fuck toy sex slave for me, that you could groom and use as a tool to pleasure me…..

    “The interaction ended with you saying, quote: “Having one or two young slaves devoted to reviving my body sexually to produce more energy would help. It would be their 24/7 job.”

    “Your Honor, those text messages from Keith that I referred to were sent to a first-line slave on October 1st, 2015. That is one year and four months before I was introduced to the idea of a women’s organization group. That is eight months before I naively walked into the NXIVM Source acting class, having just arrived in New York City. Allison was teaching that Source class.

    What I did not know then – but I do know now – was that she was already at this point one of Keith’s slaves, that while she taught this acting class, she was also simultaneously scanning for vulnerable young candidates to become one more of Keith’s slaves. This kind of premeditation on both Keith and Allison’s part, as well as Keith’s calculated manipulation, his gas-lighting lies and his coercive ill intent, is why this man deserves life behind bars.”

  • DOS was hands-down a pyramid scheme.

    NXIVM, in my opinion, was as well. It relied on a complete vertical sales integration.

    Either way, I don’t think it’s prejudicial.

    I didn’t hear Nicole’s testimony, but I will say this:

    “How do you get the attention of the world’s smartest man?” proves her interaction with him was based on his fake, false, malicious, and fraudulent self-grandiosity.

    She was lead to him. Not like they met and had a dinner date. She was misled and deceived and lead to him under false pretenses.

    As such, her past is irrelevant.

    My opinion.

    • FMN, I find it interesting you say “hand-down” a pyramid scheme. I’m not an economist or a business person but I did take the courses of ESP and found them to be life changing. Pyramid scheme implies people are selling snake oil. Regardless of whatever you believe about Keith, you don’t get 17,000 people to pay money for a course over a 20 year period that is snake oil.

      • That’s really not a high number of people over 20 years. And a big chunk of them did not like the training and felt ripped off. And another chunk felt terrorized by Nxivm. Bad success rate.

      • Andy, ” pyramid scheme ” has nothing to do with whether the courses worked or not.

        I’m sure Amway sells soap that works.

        It has to do with sales distribution.

        Amazon sells books to a distributor, book stores,etc. Horizontal distribution.

        If the employees sold books to employees, who had to bring in more employees to sell books, that would be pyramid.

        I have heard the early nxivm courses worked.

        • Interesting. Are you aware that people could take classes in NXIVM and never share it with anyone and that wasn’t an issue? Out of the 17,000 that took courses, that’s actually what most did. For some people who wanted to have a business in ESP, there were enrollment requirements but very little.

          • Are you aware the case is not about the alleged people who had “no issue”? Just like if you rob a bank, the case is not about banks that you didn’t rob. There’s that “rational” and “data” based thinking again, dead-ender!

      • Snake oil has broken many vulnerable people, as well as bankrupting them. Scientology was in business before Raniere even got started and is still going, limping along but with an with immense bankroll behind it by now. (Other peoples’ $$$.) United States religious exemption for Scientology has been the one thing that the notorious sadist, David Miscavige, has managed to accomplish, after he took the leadership reins left by the big jackass, Hubbard.
        There are a few mansions around, maintained and waiting for Hubbard’s return to flesh, stocked with a supply of his favorite menthol cigarettes.

        There are plenty of these groups who offer a commercial version of courses, designed to garner profits, as well as using their palatable formats for recruiting course students into other dimensions of the group, such as dishonest schemes, negative interpersonal experiences, paying for further and more expensive course work, etc. A club you did not join.

        Ramtha could be still poking around, too. Not that “she” is the only one. Shee-it. She-Itt. Hubbard drank like a fish, too. Similar to Ramtha. This is theater, the fake spirituality and fucked-up “wisdom” of utterly pathological phony phonies. Hubbard also loved amphetamines and teenaged girls in shortshorts, and he had a squad of them to wait upon him.

        A couple of the former shortshort squad girls, sixties slave girls, often having been abandoned by their Scientologist parents, comment at the Underground Bunker to this very day, having described their awful day-to-day lifestyle of personal powerlessness, sometimes stuck for years in grotesque circumstances aboard Hubbard’s floating yacht cum prison.

        And always the Underground Bunker’s website archives are available for thorough perusal, just as articles are available at Frank’s, via its archives.

        Those who took a few Nxivm courses and found it beneficial but who were not caught up in the group to the extent that participation inveigled these individuals into bad situations are fortunate.

        It is not that difficult to enroll 17,000 people who don’t see the snake oil into classes which are a successful-looking front, a commercial facade concealing its dirt and its appalling interpersonal behaviors and actions. There has to be a productive facade for the Ranieres to function at all.

        Look how long the Catholic church has lasted, trying to hide so much abuse and perversion while pompously imposing its hypocritcal and guilt-milking strictures about how and what to think over anyone who happens to get anywhere near them with any degree of receptivity. Take what’s good, what fits you and leave!

        I needed Mary to keep going as a child. But then I realized that Mary was never a Catholic, and so Mary and I don’t need the pretentiousness or the frigging nonsense. No one may interfere, no one may inject illusion or delusion. This is private. This is personal and is my own meditation, among several other meditative pursuits. From age three, looking around at what we call God, I have objected and not always quietly.

        What in the HELL does philosophical interference and endless rulebooks about mortal sin vs. venial sin have to do with anything? Will it get anyone through any dark night of the soul? Who said “judge not….?”

        There ought to be no shame attached to having done some Nxivm courses. That’s getting off lightly, though. We see ones who were and are still trapped in Raniere’s and Salzman’s big and little schemes.

        Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere couldn’t sell me a marshmallow. I can see them coming before they can get their asses through the door, due to recognizing their egostistical typologies, which offend me. Red flags and bull. Not happening. But I had to learn through mistaken faith, from certain experiences before Raniere was even born in 1960.

        Some people liked Ford Pintos and Edsels and walked away with no pain. I bought a terrible cookie once. The label didn’t look that bad, but ugh. That damn cookie!

      • *Ramtha students nod agreeably.* You tell ‘em, Andy! It’s impossible to drink expensive snake oil for decades. Unprecedented!

    • NXIVM apparently had many students who took a course or two and never tried to recruit others. That is the definition of a legal MLM and not an illegal pyramid scam.

      Who cares whether it’s prejudicial? The goal for the DOJ is to win the case, not play nice.

  • I wish these arguments were a little more expanded for those of us not familiar with the definition of pyramid scheme, the 6th amendment or the legal definition of forced labor. I can’t totally follow or judge whether this post is compelling or not.

  • “Most people don’t use the word “organization” when referring to a pyramid and instead include words such as “business” or “scheme” or “scam” or simply the term “pyramid” by itself. Therefore, it is an extremely pejorative term.”

    Scott, start by googling “inferential reasoning.”

    If a quick review of the topic doesn’t help you understand the error in what you wrote, you can also enroll in a very affordable distance learning course in Critical Thinking or Logic at a community or state college.

    These are topics ESP/NXIVM didn’t cover well.

    • There is no need for psychobabble, the term “pyramid,” regardless of the modifier (with the exception of pyramids in Egypt), is considered a negative thing by most people.

      • Let me guess–you know the term “psychobabble” because you’ve heard it used to describe The World’s Smartest Child Rapist’s™ nonsense.

        Critical Thinking and Logic will appear under the Philosophy department in the course catalog, not Psychology.

        The insult you’re looking for would be “philosobabble.”

        Check in with Jhon Cartesius if you’re looking for a course in that subject.

        • You guess wrong. There is no need to introduce “critical thinking and logic” to the term “pyramid” that has negative connotations for most people. It’s a simple fact.

      • Umm…no it’s not.

        The term in itself has never been seen as a pejorative. Only the term “pyramid SCHEME” has that connotation because it is an illegal corporate structure.

        • This is the exact point that I was trying to make when I first stated that the mere fact the prosecution referred to NXIVM as a “pyramid organization” is not going to result in Keith getting a new trial because that term, all by itself, is not considered to be prejudicial.

          Had the prosecution referred to NXIVM as a “pyramid scheme” or as a “pyramid scam”, my response would have been different.

          What supporters of NXIVM need to keep in mind is that I’m just evaluating Keith’s claims — and Suneel’s claims — in terms of the existing regulations, statutes, and case law with respect to the U.S. criminal justice system.

          I am not evaluating the various “legal issues” they have identified in terms of how I think the U.S. justice system should operate (If I were doing that, I would have agreed with their position on more of those issues.

          What Keith is going to need to prove in order to get a new trial is that he was treated differently from the average defendant in a federal criminal case — and that the difference amount to a violation of his due process rights.

          Merely claiming — and even proving — that certain aspects of our criminal justice system are unfair is not going to get Keith a new trial.

          • Claviger, you have the lawyerly ability to distinguish between the way the world is and the way you would like the world to be.

            Nxians, alas, have been raised on the knee of narcissist and have lost the ability to make that distinction.

            I commend you for having the patience to lead their horses to water.

        • Those references (and lots more) do not represent what the typical person thinks about the term “pyramid.” Of course, the term has to be used within some sort of context, not just as a singular word.

          • I agree with you that when most people hear the word “pyramid”, they think that it’s a reference to some sort of scam or scheme. But since the term “pyramid organization” is not pejorative per se — and is, in fact, a term that is used in many scholarly texts to describe legitimate business organizations — it was incumbent on Keith’s attorneys to address this issue during the trial.

            They could have done that by objecting to the prosecution’s use of the term — which I don’t remember them doing (I’ll go back through the trial transcripts and see if I can find any such objection). Or they have could have called a witness to clarify what the term actually means.

            If they didn’t raise any objection to this term at the time it was used, they will not be allowed to object to it on appeal.

          • A) what’s a “typical person” b) can you show your extensive research that proves you can know what others “think”?

          • Claviger already agreed with me so it’s a closed case. A “typical person” is used all the time in the legal field, isn’t it Claviger? My concern isn’t whether Raniere can raise the issue on appeal, it’s that people don’t understand what a pyramid scheme/scam is.

          • Anonymous 2:00pm-

            Pyramid Schemes are more complex than the board game “Chutes and Ladders” but not nearly as complex as the convoluted game “Monopoly” which has a multitude of rules. Claviger might be a barrister, but that doesn’t mean his/her has the intelligence to understand the intricacies of Pyramid Schemes.

            Can Claviger even explain the difference between a Ponzi scheme and a Pyramid scheme? I think not.

          • Pyramid schemes are quite simple. The problem is most lawyers are even more stupid. Scott even asked the lead FTC attorney against Herbalife why retail sales are required for an MLM to not be an illegal pyramid and she said “precedent.” While it is true that Amway is a precedent example of that issue, it’s not the underlying reason. I’m sure Claviger would get it wrong as well, unless she read Scott’s comments, websites, listened to his podcasts, etc.

          • Claviger, most people aren’t even aware of scholarly texts that use the term “pyramid organization,” so that comment is meaningless. The issue isn’t how some scholarly texts use the term, the issue is what most people think when they hear the term “pyramid,” regardless of any modifying word, unless it’s referring to Egypt. And yes, I realize there are pyramids in other countries as well. Lawyers’ minds work in such strange ways….

  • ” how do you get the attention of the smartest man in the world”? Very close up photos of your spread vagina it turns out.

  • This is a modified and distorted post of the comment that was submitted. In other words, VERY bad “journalism.” One example is the picture of the pyramid with billions of people being involved by the 12th level is extremely misleading as this size of illegal pyramids has never occurred and the very idea was slammed by the judge in the Ger-Ro-Mar case when the FTC tried using this “saturation” argument. Do some research on that lawsuit and then try to do a real story for a change. The problem with illegal pyramid scams isn’t saturation, it’s lack of retail sales to non-distributor customers.

  • LMAO

    “How do you get the attention of the smartest man in the world?”

    Smartest, dumbest, everything in between, its pretty easy. No dude is that complicated.
    Mostly though a quick interaction with him should have been a red flag that he as most definitely not the smartest man in the world. Not got that impression from any of the videos I watched. Average intelligence is what came across.

    As for rest of post, getting bored with all these weird, non-lawyers, trying to pretend they are experts on legal minutiae.

    • You either don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t want to understand that most people never met Raniere until they were thoroughly lied to regarding how wonderful Raniere was, mainly by the evil women who surrounded him. It’s the same with all MLM scams such as Amway, they don’t tell you about the evil side, you have to figure it out for yourself over time. Many people go broke and never figure it out, because they believe the lie that if they fail it is their fault, they didn’t try hard enough, didn’t have a big enough dream, didn’t do what it took to change, etc. Guess which MLM Raniere was in before he started Conumers’ Buyline and NXIVM? Spoiler alert – it was Amway.

      • I am perfectly aware of people’s capacity to self delude. Had a full-on example of the consequences of that just days ago. May have heard about it? Cost a few lives. Does not change that there were red flags that they chose to ignore.

        That is what makes this case murky and why we have all these idiot non-lawyers trying to figure out ways to get Raniere off. So much of this was self-delusion and self-inflicted brainwashing. The laws were not written to account for people volunteering themselves to be robbed, branded, and raped. This is what these people are counting on to free Raniere.

        • Your answer was non-responsive to the point of people being “prepped” to meet Raniere by a small band of very evil women.

          I believe time will show the entry of the Capitol was mostly the work of Antifa and BLM types, and some very fringe and other Trumpers got caught up in it, it’s called group behavior. That assumes there is a legitimate investigation, which is an admittedly dubious assumption.

          The lives that were lost are being investigated including excessive force against the woman shot dead. I don’t believe we know what caused the other three civilian deaths yet. When people are allowed to burn down businesses across the country and confine people to their homes without compensation it is bound to lead to problems, especially for people who display their broad assortment of expensive ice cream in their multi-thousand dollar freezers.

          • Speaking of the ability to self delude…

            I had a paragraph in mind but realized why bother. Cannot help a cult member until the cult members ask for help.

            Note: You all need to coordinate more. The duplication of phrasing is a red flag. As it makes a response that doesn’t actually fit what you are commenting on. Also, I get that the Venn diagram of far-right nutters and those that admire cult leaders heavily overlap, but when trying to sell propaganda, you might want to not use far-right idiots. You get silly conspiracy posts that stray from the message trying to make.

    • Why don’t you point out which parts you think are incorrect, rather than a blanket statement with zero basis?

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083