Friday 5 August 2011


I really don’t like seeing grown adults cry. I can cope when it’s a result of bereavement but that’s normally one of those “cycle of life things”, death is inevitable and expected and the grief following is natural. What I really dislike is seeing tears that have been caused by someone else.

What I really, REALLY dislike is when a proud, intelligent adult is made to cry by a nasty, vicious, cheating pyramid scheme that has stolen her money and left her ashamed and poor.

A couple of weeks ago a reader emailed us asking for our help in recovering money she had invested in TVI Express. She had been invited by two local TVI agents to invest money in what they claimed was an infallible scheme to make money. If she “invested” P30,000 they assured her that within months she would make an enormous profit. They were so convinced of this that they signed a contract with her that “promised” she would “reap an amount of P84,000 before the 10th March 2011 and another P84,000 on the 31st April 2011.“

The contract went on to say that if they failed to pay these amounts she would “have the right to institute legal proceedings for the recovery of any monies owed.”

Clearly the TVI people were convinced they had a failsafe method of making all this money, they wouldn’t have signed such a contract if they didn’t believe it. Either that or they’re just enormously silly.

But they were wrong. Are you surprised?

Some background. TVI Express is a pyramid scheme. Although it’s claimed to have offices in various respectable places it actually appears to be based in India. They describe themselves as
“a dynamic company dedicated to bringing today’s lifestyle-conscious consumers the most superior travel and hospitality products & services, as well as providing a unique opportunity to promote TVI Express through Independent Distributorship.”
So what do they actually offer? What products, what services do they have that you want? The answer is simple. They don’t have any products at all. The closest thing they have is a range of travel discount vouchers. But think about it. Is a discount actually a “product”? Of course it isn’t, it’s a discount against the price of a product. The discount doesn’t actually exist until you spend a lot of money in the first place. And try as hard as you can you’ll find very quickly that these vouchers can’t actually be spent in the places you want to go. These worthless vouchers only exist to give TVI some credibility and to avoid the fact that they’re a product-less criminal pyramid scheme.

That’s what, in fact they are. If you want more than just my word on it, keep reading.

Our reader had given TVI her P30,000 because the people who recruited her believed they had a way of fast-tracking the enormous rewards that TVI promised. Nobody seems entirely clear what this plan involved but it was something to do with buying their way higher up the pyramid. And then, as if by magic, hundreds of lower level gullible fools would hand over vast quantities of cash and everyone at the higher levels would be rich.

That was the plan. Of course this is all utter nonsense. There were no such gullible fools. There isn’t actually an adequate amount of stupidity around. Needless to say our reader didn’t get the P168,000 she had been promised in her contract. No money was made by her investment at all.

Being quite a feisty, intelligent woman, instead of just whining and moaning she demanded her P30,000 back. They gave her an initial cheque for P15,000 but the cheque for the remainder was returned by the bank. They had run out of money as well. It’s then that she got in touch with us to see if we could help.

I suggested that we all get together and I could act as some sort of mediator. OK, I confess, I was biased. She was the one whose money had been taken away from her, they were the ones that took it with false promises from a pyramid scheme. You can guess whose side I was on.

To their credit, the couple who had recruited her had the backbone to come along and offer their side of the story. They didn’t deny anything, they acknowledged that her story was accurate. They now realise, like everyone else, that TVI is a pyramid scheme and they’ve lost money as well on their get rich quick scheme. They’ve assured us that the reader will get all of her initial investment back very soon.

However, it’s more than just the money. Our reader feels ashamed because of what’s happened. She’s not stupid, she’s a confident, assertive and intelligent young woman who can only be accused of naivete. But she was tearful when she was with us, considering the distress this has caused and how embarrassed she was about falling for this scam.

I wonder how many people are falling for scams like TVI Express and are too ashamed to come forward?

One last thing. I’ve been calling TVI Express a pyramid scheme for nearly 2 years now. People have contacted me denying it, saying it’s no more than a legitimate multi-level or network marketing scheme but they’re wrong, they’re either liars or fools. They must know that there’s no product, it’s not difficult to see. It’s also not just me that says it’s a pyramid scheme. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the State of Georgia and, most recently, the Bank of Namibia have all taken action against them. In Namibia TVI Express is now illegal. It’s also been shut down in South Africa with prosecutions pending.

Finally, if you want to see evidence of all this, check this article on our blog and I’ll post links to all the relevant evidence.

Please, I beg you, avoid TVI Express like it’s a communicable disease because that’s what it is. An infection that needs to be eradicated before it causes more tears.

This week’s stars
  • Onkametse from Debonairs at Riverwalk for having a brilliant attitude.

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