The Syndicate (business group)
The Syndicate is a business group that uses digital marketing to sell products that critics have described as get rich quick, work from home and self help products. Technology journalist Joshua Topolsky has described the Syndicate as "these guys call themselves Internet marketers, but what they're really doing is it's a pyramid scheme, essentially".
Members of the Syndicate use online advertising, email marketing, affiliate marketing and multi-level marketing to sell "info products", such as self-published books and videos that purport to teach customers how to get rich through online business. They also do lead generation for pressure-sales telemarketing companies called "boiler rooms". The Syndicate's members use the group as a way of coordinating product launches and release dates, and of enhancing perceived credibility through social proof. According to Syndicate member Frank Kern, "Have you ever noticed that all the people in the Internet Marketing world are promoting each other? I mean, we're not psychic. It's not like, 'Oh, I suddenly realize he's having a launch today, I have to nail it'. We all work together, all the top people work together."
Critic Jason Jones, who blogs as The Salty Droid, has accused the Syndicate of being a cartel that harms customers through price fixing and unfair competition. Syndicate member Frank Kern denies this, and claims that the Syndicate's purpose is to "help the customer have a great experience".
Eben Pagan is a former real estate agent and pick-up artist under the pseudonym "David DeAngelo", who has since become a "full scale member" of The Syndicate. He sells relationship counseling products with his wife Annie Lalla.
Irwin Frank Kern is an Internet and video marketer, who has released videos describing the operation of The Syndicate. In 2003, Kern was charged by the Federal Trade Commission with engaging in deceptive business practices and operating a pyramid scheme. He settled the case, and paid a fine of $247,000 to compensate victims. The Verge has claimed that Kern does lead generation for Jeremy Johnson, a marketer who was charged by US federal prosecutors with operating an alleged fraud ring.
Mike Filsaime is a Syndicate member and telemarketer. He sells packages of information about how to make money on the internet, and does Internet lead generation for boiler rooms and call centers that sell "coaching programs" that claim to help people learn Filsaime's methods; Filsaime receives a percentage of the money paid to the coaches. One of these boiler rooms, Prosper Inc., was a major donor to Utah politician Mark Shurtleff and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
American author and public speaker Michael Ellsberg has written about the lives of, and promoted the products of, Syndicate members Frank Kern and Eben Pagan in his book "The Education of Millionaires".
- Flatley, Joseph L. (May 10, 2012). "Scamworld: 'Get rich quick' schemes mutate into an online monster". The Verge. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Topolsky, Joseph (May 10, 2012). ""Internet Marketers" vs "Internet Scammers"". The Verge. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- "Scamworld: 'Get rich quick' mutates into an unstoppable monster". The Verge. May 10, 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Jones, Jason (August 12, 2010). "The Internet Marketing Syndicate". The Salty Droid. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Chivers, Tom (January 14, 2010). "Pick-up artists, online seduction and dating tips". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Strauss, Neil (May 1, 2012). The Game. Harper Collins. ISBN 0062130110.
- Gross, Grant. "FTC Cracks Down on Internet Scams". PC World. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Scott, Kimberly (July 1, 2015). "Feds intend to drop some charges in Jeremy Johnson fraud case". St. George News. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Flatley, Joseph L. (June 8, 2012). "Mitt Romney goes to Scamworld: Prosper, Inc. and its powerful friends". The Verge. Archived from the original on February 8, 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Topolsky, Josh (May 11, 2012). "The Vergecast 030: Scamworld, Danny Sullivan, and Pebble's Eric Migicovsky". The Verge. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Gregorian, Vartan (October 21, 2011). "The Myth of the Millionaire College Dropout". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 31 January 2016.