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TVI Express and TVI Team OZ (The Australian site disappeared in December 2011 and the international one in July 2013)

MLM theft averted, maybe (22/5/2010)
It's always a good week when a pyramid scheme is disrupted by the authorities. The latest of these scams to rise to the surface of the swamp is TVI Express, which offers tens of thousands of dollars a week income by not selling memberships in a travel club. That's right - there is no selling, so just where the money comes form is a mystery. What is not a mystery is where the money goes - into the pockets of the scheme promoters. Interestingly, it seems that the top pins in this particular fraud live in Cyprus and India, well out of the reach of regulatory authorities in the places where they do business.

The trap for these scamsters is that someone has to go somewhere to run the meetings to attract victims, and the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission managed to get in first when the crooks came to Australia. You can see the media release from the ACCC here, and this is what it says:

ACCC obtains restraining orders against operators of alleged pyramid selling scheme 'TVI Express'

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has acted quickly to obtain orders restraining three individuals from promoting an alleged pyramid selling scheme called TVI Express.

On Friday 14 May 2010, in the Federal Court, Sydney, the ACCC obtained ex-parte injunctions restraining Laulhati Jutsen (also known as Teddi Jutsen), Tina Aroha Brownlee and David Graeme Scanlon from promoting the alleged pyramid selling scheme.

Pyramid selling schemes are deliberate scams designed to benefit the originators while taking advantage of later recruits. They operate on the basis that members receive commissions for recruiting new members. However, they inevitably collapse leaving most participants out of pocket.

The TVI Express scheme is promoted by the respondents through various websites including the site www.tviteamoz.com and the TVI Express Oz group on the site www.facebook.com. People who wish to participate in the scheme are required to pay a membership fee of $330. Once an individual has paid the $330, they receive a 'travel voucher' and the opportunity to receive commission payments for recruiting other people into the scheme.

The ACCC understands that Ms Jutsen, Ms Brownlee and Mr Scanlon had planned to hold presentations across Australia and New Zealand this week to promote the scheme. The orders obtained by the ACCC will prevent these presentations from going ahead. If the individuals ignore these orders, they risk being in contempt of court.

The court orders also restrain the individuals from knowingly accepting payments from, or making payments to other participants in the scheme. The individuals are also required to place notices on various websites alerting members of the public to the ACCC's court action.

The ACCC will now prepare the matter for final hearing. The ACCC will be seeking orders declaring that the individuals engaged in contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and injunctions restraining them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. The ACCC will also be seeking civil pecuniary penalties against the individuals.

Release # NR 104/10
Issued: 17th May 2010

It seems that the scam promoters are taking the normal approach used by pyramid scheme operators and treating the law as if it doesn't apply to them. Checking the web site of the local operation and the head office at www.tviexpress.com shows that it is business as usual. As I am a public spirited individual, I submitted the following comment through the ACCC web site:

A media release from the ACCC dated May 17 says "The court orders also restrain the individuals from knowingly accepting payments from, or making payments to other participants in the scheme. The individuals are also required to place notices on various websites alerting members of the public to the ACCC's court action".

http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/928564

A check of the websites www.tviteamoz.com and www.tviexpress.com on May 22 shows that neither site is displaying any notice about the court action and both are still soliciting payments for participation in the scheme.

I would hope and assume that further action for contempt of court will be initiated against the individuals and companies concerned.

The TVI Express web site is a model of MLM correctness. There are the testimonials from fictitious millionaires that have sold, sorry not sold, lots of memberships. There are testimonials from Warren Buffett, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton about how they wish they'd thought of MLM instead of making their money honestly. There is at least one picture of an expensive car. There is the fine print that says that if you don't actually make millions of dollars it's not their fault, it's yours. In other words, there are all the usual lies told by the crooks that invent and run these scams.


The good news just keeps on coming (17/7/2010)
In May I reported that a pyramid scheme operator, TVI Express, had come to the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. It seems that, like many crooks, the scheme operators don't think that laws and court orders apply to them. Here is what the ACCC had to say on July 12, 2010:

ACCC issues contempt of court proceedings against Lualhati Jutsen

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued proceedings against Lualhati Jutsen (also known as 'Teddi Jutsen') alleging contempt of court.

Ms Jutsen is the first respondent in the ACCC's proceedings involving allegations of participation in a pyramid selling scheme referred to as TVI Express, 'TVI Team Oz'.

The ACCC alleges that Ms Jutsen breached an order made by Justice Yates in the Federal Court on 14 May 2010. This order restrained Ms Jutsen from operating a certain bank account, including making withdrawals.

The ACCC also alleges that Ms Jutsen breached an order made by Justice Bennett in the Federal Court on 20 May 2010. This order restrains Ms Jutsen from withdrawing funds from a certain bank account other than amounts reasonably necessary for Ms Jutsen's ordinary living expenses.

A directions hearing has been set down in the Federal Court in Sydney on 14 July 2010.

Release # NR 135/10 Issued: 12th July 2010

You can't be imprisoned in Australia for theft via pyramid scheme, but you can certainly be locked up for contempt of court. It makes me smile to think of Teddi Jutsen experiencing the reality of what it means to be in the "downline" of a prison population hierarchy.


Another scam down - for the time being (3/12/2011)
If history is any guide, the promoters of the TVI Express pyramid scheme will disappear for a while and then pop up with another scam, but at least they are getting some grief now. Not as much grief as their victims would have experienced, but that's the way of parasitic schemes like multi-level marketing. I probably should clarify my position here - all multi-level marketing schemes are parasitic frauds, whether they manage to climb through the loopholes in black-letter law or not, and the people who invent and promote them know this. That is why they have to resort to legal action to close down any criticism in case potential victims get to know how implausible these schemes are for anyone wanting to make money, except the people at the top of course. (See here and here.)

Here is the good news from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The media release says:

Court finds TVI Express a pyramid selling scheme

The Federal Court of Australia has found TVI Express to be a pyramid selling scheme following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Lualhati Jutsen (also known as Teddi Jutsen), Tina Brownlee and David Scanlon were also found to have breached the law by participating in the TVI Express scheme.

The court accepted evidence that Ms Jutsen transferred $296,985 out of Australia between February and May 2010. Justice Nicholas inferred that this represented the proceeds of membership fees collected from new members.

"It is beyond question that new participants in the TVI Express System are lead to believe that they will receive payments for the introduction of further new participants," Justice Nicholas said.

"Indeed, the only way a participant can earn any income in the TVI Express System is through the introduction of new members to the scheme."

A pyramid selling scheme may be defined by new members being required to make a participation payment to another participant in the scheme. This payment must also be entirely or substantially induced by the prospect that new members will be able to earn payments in relation to the recruitment of new members to the scheme.

People who wished to participate in the scheme were required to pay a membership fee of $330. Once an individual had paid the $330, they received a ‘travel certificate’ and the opportunity to receive commission payments for recruiting other people into the scheme.

Pyramid schemes may be identified, in part, by the extent to which the membership fee, or participant payment, bears a reasonable relationship to the value of goods or services that participants are entitled to be supplied under the scheme.

"The scheme has been designed to be operated in a way that makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for people to redeem their travel certificate for the purpose of taking such a holiday. For that reason, travel certificates which may be downloaded by new members are likely to be of little or no value to them," Justice Nicholas said.

The TVI Express scheme was promoted through various websites including the site www.tviteamoz.com and the TVI Express Oz group on facebook.com. The TVI Express scheme extended throughout Australia and internationally.

The Court also found that the three respondents had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by making representations that TVI Express was associated with certain companies in the travel industry when it was in fact not.

The proceedings have been stood over, with the court yet to hear submissions in relation to the declarations, other relief and pecuniary penalties sought by the ACCC against the three respondents.

Release # NR 221/11
Issued: 30th November 2011


Slip, slipping away (10/12/2011)
I mentioned last week that pyramid scam TVI Express had run foul of the regulatory authorities. Reader Graham Carter noticed something that had happened after I did my regular link check for the month. Here is the current state of the Australian web site. Unfortunately the international one is still there to attract unsuspecting victims.


That old Schadenfreude feeling (26/5/2012)
It takes time, but pyramid scheme operator TVI Express finally has to pull out the cheque book. You can see the media release from the ACCC here.

$200,000 penalty for TVI Express pyramid selling scam

The Federal Court has imposed penalties totalling $200,000 on three individuals for their illegal participation in the pyramid selling scheme TVI Express.

"Pyramid selling schemes are not legitimate businesses but scams promising the rewards of easy money that never arrives," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said.

"People who are tempted to take part in pyramid selling should note the serious penalties they could face."

The Federal Court's decision marks the end of the ACCC’s action against Lualhati Jutsen (also known as Teddi Jutsen), Tina Brownlee and David Scanlon for participating in a pyramid selling scheme.

The court ordered that Ms Jutsen pay a penalty of $90,000. Ms Brownlee was ordered to pay $80,000 and Mr Scanlon $30,000.

Justice Nicholas found that Ms Jutsen's contravention was serious and a substantial penalty was warranted. Justice Nicholas was also satisfied that there was a clear need to impose a penalty on Ms Jutsen that will deter her from engaging in further breaches of the law.

In relation to both Ms Jutsen and Ms Brownlee, Justice Nicholas found it difficult to accept Ms Jutsen’s submission that she should be regarded as a victim of the scheme. He also did not give any weight to Ms Brownlee’s submission that she blamed the ACCC for not warning her that participation in the scheme was unlawful.

The court made declarations, granted injunctions for five years restraining all three from engaging in similar conduct and ordered that they pay the ACCC’s legal costs.

In November 2011, Justice Nicholas found that the respondents breached the law by participating in the TVI Express scheme. The TVI Express scheme was promoted through various websites including the site www.tviteamoz.com and the TVI Express Oz group on facebook.com. The TVI Express scheme extended throughout Australia and internationally.

People who wished to participate in the scheme were required to pay a membership fee of $330. Once an individual had paid the $330, they received a 'travel certificate' and the opportunity to receive commission payments for recruiting other people into the scheme.

The court found that the vouchers were of little to no value and that the only way a person could earn income from their participation in the scheme was from recruiting new members.

Pyramid schemes may be identified, in part, by the extent to which the membership fee, or participant payment, bears a reasonable relationship to the value of goods or services that participants are entitled to be supplied under the scheme.

The ACCC's case commenced in May 2010, at a time when Ms Jutsen, Ms Brownlee and Mr Scanlon were actively and heavily promoting the scheme in Australia and planning to travel to New Zealand to recruit more members. The ACCC took prompt action in order to protect members of the public from being recruited to the scheme.

Release # NR 099/12
Issued: 21st May 2012


I love the smell of burning MLM in the morning. Or any other time. (11/8/2012)
The scamsters at pyramid scheme operators TVI Express are the gift that keeps on giving. They simply cannot help behaving like the criminals they are. In the latest episode of the saga, one of the crooks kept taking money out of the bank in contravention of a court order.

You can read the media release from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission here. I actually hope that the scum commits another contempt of the Court and gets locked up. I love the idea of Terri Jutsen experiencing first hand what it means to be in the downline of a prison pyramid.

Teddi Jutsen fined $10,000 for contempt of court

The Federal Court has fined Lualhati Jutsen, also known as Teddi Jutsen, $10,000 for contempt of court orders relating to bank withdrawals.

"This case highlights the ACCC's determination to pursue contempt action when orders of the court have been breached or not complied with," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

Ms Jutsen was a respondent in the ACCC's TVI Express pyramid selling scheme proceedings. Earlier this year, Ms Jutsen was found in contempt of the Federal Court by withdrawing $35,000 through a series of six transactions from an ANZ bank account on 28 May 2010, when at the time she was restrained from making withdrawals from this account beyond those required to meet her ordinary living expenses.

Justice Jagot considered a fine of $10,000 was appropriate in all of the circumstances, including the fact that Ms Jutsen was already subject to a substantial fine of $90,000 in the pyramid selling scheme case. Justice Jagot also took into account the fact that Ms Jutsen has been ordered to pay the ACCC's costs of the contempt proceeding on an indemnity basis.

In November 2011, the Federal Court declared TVI Express a pyramid scheme. People who wished to participate in the scheme were required to pay a membership fee of $330. Once an individual had paid the $330, they received a 'travel certificate' and the opportunity to receive commission payments for recruiting other people into the scheme.

The court found that the travel certificates were of little to no value and that the only way a person could earn income from their participation in the scheme was from recruiting new members.

In May 2012, the Federal Court imposed penalties on Ms Jutsen and two other individuals for their illegal participation in the pyramid selling scheme.

Release # NR 166/12
Issued: 6th August 2012


Schadenfreude Corner (3/8/2013)
There's an old riddle that goes "What have you got when a multi-level marketing scam goes broke?", with answers like "A great big smile on my face" and "A good start". One of the most blatant of these scams was an outfit named TVI Express which "sold" travel. The outfit and its organisers were pursued by the Australian authorities and closed down some time ago, and when I did my link check on this site this week I found that the international web site has disappeared. Who says there's never any good news?


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