Monday, March 17, 2008

The LDS Church Responds Worldwide in Light of Franklin Squires Fraud, By Robert Paisola

Dear Mr. Robert Paisola

In my Church on Sunday, March 16, the following was read. My first thoughts when I heard it was that word of Franklin Squires had reached LDS headquarters. A link to the Deseret News article has more details:,5143,695261200,00.html

In the letter, the First Presidency says that “reports of fraud schemes and unwise investments prompt us to again counsel members with respect to prudence in managing one’s financial affairs.” They also stated that they are “concerned that there are those who use relationships of trust to promote risky or even fraudulent investment and business schemes.”

“We are concerned that some church members ignore the oft-repeated direction to prepare and live within a budget, avoid consumer debt, and to save against a time of need.”
“Consideration should also be given to investing wisely with responsible and established financial institutions. We are also concerned that there are those who use relationships of trust to promote risky or even fraudulent investment and business schemes.”

“While all investments carry an element of risk, that risk can be managed by following sound and proven financial principles: first, avoid unnecessary debt, especially consumer debt; second, before investing, seek advice from a qualified and licensed financial advisor; and third, be wise.”

This is a full copy of the Article including the First Presidency Message from NBC

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent a letter to its congregations, urging members to be wary of fraud.

In the letter being read in churches, the First Presidency says "reports of fraud schemes and unwise investments prompt us to again counsel members with respect to prudence in managing one's financial affairs."

"We are concerned that some church members ignore the oft-repeated direction to prepare and live within a budget, avoid consumer debt, and to save against a time of need," the statement reads.

"Consideration should also be given to investing wisely with responsible and established financial institutions. We are also concerned that there are those who use relationships of trust to promote risky or even fraudulent investment and business schemes."

The LDS Church did not elaborate beyond the First Presidency's statement, but state authorities who investigate financial crimes hope Utahns will "heed the message."

"I hope bishops have read them. It is real critical that they are being read," said Francine Giani, the executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce. "I hope people are listening."

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Here in Utah, authorities said a majority of the fraud cases they encounter involve some level of "affinity fraud," which is an investment scam that preys upon members of a specific group — such as a religious or ethnic community.

"It is very prevalent," said Charlene Barlow, the Utah attorney general's section chief over financial crimes. "I have victims that sit here and they say, 'I can't believe I was so stupid. But you know, he was a church member. He was in my ward. He was my bishop.' So they check their skepticism at the door."

Affinity fraud is not limited to the LDS Church, but, obviously, many of the cases here are LDS-centric because it is the dominant faith.

"People that are going to perpetrate a fraud on a group of people, the issue of trust is important," Giani said. "That trust can come from a religious affinity."

Barlow said anecdotally, they find LDS connections do factor into a fraud scheme.

"You'll walk into their office and they'll have their Gospel Doctrine manual laid out there because they're preparing their lesson for Sunday," she said. "I don't know that all of the people are consciously trading on their church affiliation. I've often thought the first person a con man cons is himself."

Recently, the Utah Attorney General's Office filed fraud charges against an Ogden businessman accused of bilking hundreds of investors out of more than $140 million. State securities investigators have alleged that Val Southwick, 62, emphasized his LDS membership while soliciting investors in what prosecutors call a massive Ponzi scheme. Southwick is scheduled to be arraigned March 24.

Barlow said the weight of the LDS Church's statement may be lost on those perpetuating schemes, because they believe the "investment opportunity" will work this time.

"They won't think it applies to them because they're aren't doing it," she said. "They think, 'Yes, you should go after these bad guys, but I'm not one of them."'

Giani hopes those looking to put their money in someone's investment will listen and do their homework, making sure people are licensed and have clean records. Such information can be found by visiting the state's Web site at

"As a member of the faith, it is always a tragedy to me to uncover many of the details (of a fraud scheme). Frankly, I am much less tolerant of those kinds of situations, because technically we should know better," Giani said.

In its statement, the First Presidency urged its members to know the risks of investing.

"While all investments carry an element of risk, that risk can be managed by following sound and proven financial principles: first, avoid unnecessary debt, especially consumer debt; second, before investing, seek advice from a qualified and licensed financial advisor; and third, be wise."

Comments from NBC Television Viewers:

Reader comments: Leaders warn LDS against money scams

Wow | 12:09 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
What Moron is still falling for these scams?

Kudos to the first presidency though, for making this statement.
Anonymous | 1:17 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Why are we so vulnerable to fraud? It's a well known fact that many Utahns live beyond their means. Both parents work so they can lavish their children with all the called necessities...of life. Most teens today drive their own cars and have their own cell phones,all paid for by mom and dad. Pres. Monson has made the statement that most of us have "a year's supply of debt" instead of a year's supply of food and other necessities. We've lost our common sense and judgment.
I have no sympathy for losers | 2:13 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
The article quotes Charlene Barlow of the Utah Attorney General's office as saying, "I have victims that sit here and they say, 'I can't believe I was so stupid. But you know, he was a church member. He was in my ward. He was my bishop.' So they check their skepticism at the door."

Anyone who says this is stupid and I feel no level of sympathy for them. I'm as likely as the next person to be the victim of fraud but it won't be because I put aside my common sense and thought that a Church member, Ward member or Bishop couldn't commit fraud when there are members who commit rape, murder, robbery and all sort of crimes include fraud and child molestation.

Even Apostles have been excommunicated from the Church for committing egregious sins. Far to many people see those in the Church differently than they would see someone else and its wrong. This is why Utah's fraud rate is higher than a lot of other places and this has a correlation to idiots in the Church committing fraud and being dumb enough to allow another mother to defraud them. Shame on all of you morons.

Moron | 2:15 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Hate to say it but lots of people are falling for them. I also hate to say a lot of these multi-level marketing schemes masquerading as real businesses. I am not saying all MLM are bad, just that the model is used by many in a bad way. It's not secret that Utah is the capital of MLM and for the most part the claims of the products is pure hogwash, some of it is probably real hogwash.

SJ Bobkins | 2:17 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Many people who are victimized, made their choice to invest not on the basis of an unrealistic return but because they trusted their church friend, church leader, family member, and went along with whatever that person said.
I am LDS and was in a ward where one very outgoing and seemingly successful man persuaded enough people to invest in his company to gather $75 million dollars for himself. Eventually he was caught but not before destroying the trust of many others. Invest because it's a good investment not because you know that the person is an active member of his church and couldn't possibly be a crook. There are crooks in every church, every neighborhood and they prey on those they know and those who trust them. If your a crook where do you go to find suckers? Right at home

Trek | 2:46 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
You'd be surprised how deceiving they can be. After experiencing being the victim of identity theft, I've opened my eyes to these warning signs. NEVER, no matter what, give out personal information. That's the first step in stealing information/money out of your pockets. Do your homework how you can prevent being the victim to their schemes. You'll be glad you did because it affected nearly every one of us!

Timj | 5:15 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I wonder if there's a correlation between those who believe what they hear on talk radio and those who get scammed.
In any case, far too much gullibility going on. Too much trust and not enough thinking.

Jon | 5:17 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I think the bottom line is greed.

We know gambling is wrong because it's trying to get something for nothing. But we just don't get that the latest great scheme is akin to gambling. We are still trying to get something for close to nothing. I just don't understand why people think they can trust other members with their money. I have seen this happen soooo many times over the years and not just in the United States. I have lived by the mantra to NEVER get into business with family or members of the church. Nothing but trouble and bitterness awaits you. It has served me well while I have seen some good friends and family burned.

NY | 5:20 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Trading on religion is a very common scam and it amazes me that so many fall for it (I remember seeing "Christian" used car dealers when I lived in SC). It seemed to be especially rampant when I lived in FL. All it took was a slick talking huckster to join one of the local mega churches and it was off to the races. First of all, anyone who would use their faith to promote their business in any way should be very ashamed. Run the other way, this is a powerful sign that something is wrong -- regardless of the level of their church service/calling. I applaud the first presidency for making this statement, but I have always wondered why they have never warned about the snake oil/pyramid schemes that flow out of Utah Valley and target the world's poor. Few scams are so cruel and do so much damage.

GK from England | 5:28 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Despite the fact that my wife and I are debt free and very careful with our money, (we pay for everything with either a debit card or cash) I can see how easy it is for individuals, couples and families to get into debt without trying too hard. It seems here in the UK and from what I have read concerning the US economy, prices and bills e.g petrol (gas) utility bills, grocery costs, rates, childcare fees, mortgage or rental payments etc etc are continuing to increase at an alarming rate but wages are not keeping up with inflation. The counsel from the First Presidency to avoid fraudulent scams and keep out of debt is wise but concerning the subject of debt, they also need to understand that many people are trying to live within their means and avoid debt but find it soooo difficult to afford just the basics in life i.e. food and gas, and many of these people work hard and pay their taxes.

Formermormer | 5:40 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Great article,and all the good sense elements a person of any or no faith needs to protect themselves from fraud are there except,perhaps,one:

The thing that ultimately makes us vulnerable is
GREED. Miraculous returns appeal to that element of human nature,but common sense should tell us it likely isn't so. The green eyed monster,GREED rears its head,and rationality goes by the wayside.
You're primed to be a victim.

It's simple enough to state,but besides keeeping your skepticism about these 'special deals,just for us',your best insurance is to live within your means so you don't find yourself needy of these great opportunities. If your back isn't already up against the wall,you're not so likely to move forward with something you know in your heart doesn't make sense. Take it from one who knows.
mormon weakness | 6:22 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
One of the most blatant weakness of Mormons (especially Mormons in high mormon density areas) is that they believe that financial prosperity, even wealth, is necessary to both keep up with their fellow worshipers and to show that they too are "blessed". Thus they fall for get rich quick scams, pyramid schemes, and the likes. We have lost our financial modesty as a people. We think that the world drives 40,000 dollar cars so must we. We don't achieve wealth through hard work and long term education and investment any more. In a way we have betrayed many of those traits so perfectly exemplified by our forbearers. What happened to fix it up, make it do or do without? We should be known as the frugal, hardworking savers not the bottomless materialistic appetite crew! Our homes are too big, our cars are too expensive, and we work less and save even less than that....pride goeth before the fall!

Re Anonymous | 6:33 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
"It is a well known fact that many Utahns live beyond their means" Wow, I guess growing up my Dad should have known that fact. My senior year of high school I asked him for help with getting a car and he just laughed and told me to get a job.

Money scams are prevelant here in the state because those involved have such easy connections. They have their ward directory in one hand and their stake directory in the other. That is like 300 potentional clients or more. Whenever anyone in my ward approaches me with something relating to a new type of investment or new business I listenly kindley but tell them to beat it. Hopefully this statement by the 1st presidency will teach members of the church to not be so foolish in their decisions.
joe | 7:05 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I believe that many church members get others into their investments that are often very risky without disclosing that risk. I always live by the rule that the closer the person is to me, the more overboard I go in disclosing every conceivable flaw or risk (way beyond law to disclose). I never want to have someone close in my ward or my family think I duped them.

dave | 7:07 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008

Check yourself | 7:12 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
If you are involved in the "seminar" industry, call centers, most MLM, companies who use your credit, then you more than likely are in this group or work for one that preys on stupidity. If the success of your product or service is around 1 per 1,000 and requires people to front anything for "coaching" or "training" on how to be successful, then you need to check yourself and quit your job.
Don't be a part of it.

joe | 7:18 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
For some reason, too many Utahns have a blatant disregard for the law. It frustrates the heck out of me! Here we believe in being Honest in all our dealings, but we tolerate dishonesty as if it is not dishonesty!

1. Do you finish your basement without permits. if you do you are dishonest.

2. Do you allow your children to skate by on drivers license tests without driving the whole 40 hours?

3. Do you allow your children to drive after their license with other teens

4. Do you knowingly violate zoning laws.

5. Do you blatantly speed

6. Do you stretch the truth on credit applications (Utah has been in the top 5 fraud states for as long as they have kept records)

Stop being Dishonest!

Lisa | 7:19 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Here is one of the latest SCAMS!

Investors fraudulently inflate your bank account temporarily to allow you to qualify for a 2-4 Million dollar insurance policy. They then attempt to sell that to a hedge fund and give you 100K.

That is FRAUD People! Also, having some hedge fund preferring that you are dead isn't comforting either.
Robert | 7:25 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Perhaps we are going too far, but my wife and I make it a practice to not do business with ward or stake members. We have found that, over the years, when we do business with people we know in the church, more often than not they tend to take our business for granted. Also, when we are not happy with their work or services, we don't have to see them in church the next Sunday. We prefer to just do business on the basis of reputation without knowing the religious affiliation of those who we give business to. As I said, that may be going too far, but we are happier this way.
Anonymous | 7:31 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008

Using your membership of the church to get gain is akin to the priestcrafts in the Book of Mormon.

Mike Leach | 7:34 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Thanks to all. I never thought I'd see the day when so many Mormons would speakout on this particular issue.

Mahonri | 7:47 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
About time more comes from the Leadership of Utah, the Fraud Capitol of the Country.(Per the FBI)

Anonymous | 8:06 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Just remember the Brigham Young quote that relates to riches. Paraphrasing it he said that Members will get so rich and lead themselves to hell. Money is good if used wisely, but if not it is the root to all evil. Members need to be in the world but not of the world. I know so many millionaires that shop at dollar stores and live way below their means. The whole point is anything we get to easily we esteem to lightly. Thats why get rich quick schemes make ungrateful animals out of us and we continue to feed off of greed. Wow! Just dont use the religion to do your business, remember the people doing business in the temple? Jesus wasnt so pleased with them and he threw over the tables. Dont make sacred people and places unholy!

Idaho reader | 8:13 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Mahonri..."About time"? What do you mean? The leadership of the church has given the same sound advice for years and years. You can say "About time" when we dummies actually start to heed their warning and follow their counsel!

Roscoe | 8:16 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Since this seems to be a recurring problems with members of the church, maybe the church could design a ring to remind members that thrift is a virtue. Let's call it the "SIR" or "Spend It Right" ring.

Freeman | 8:18 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
At the root of the problem of excessive gullibility by members of the Church is the belief held by most that they can make decision s based on feelings. The notion that information can be obtained or proper decisions made as result of feelings is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

To mormon weakness and Mahonri | 8:23 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Recognizing you two haven't gotten out much, if you think people here live beyond their means, go to California or New Jersey. Further, the Church leadership has been saying the same thing for years so Mahonri's "about time" comment has no basis. Regarding the AG's comment, I would be surprised if many Bishops are defrauding their flock. High Priest Group Leaders yes, but when I was a bishop it was laid down in no uncertain terms that there would be no investment dealings with members of the congregation. most of the problems I've seen in my law practice have been with "brokers" moving in from California and the East Coast to prey on our people who are too trusting of other's motives and the schemes here are nothing compared to what I encountered in California and Virginia while working for the gov't there.
McKay | 8:24 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
When the deal goes bad or is late then it's suddenly called fraud? If you built a spec house and it is not selling, that is not called fraud. The market changed. If you did a risky deal then stop trying to blame other people and call it fraud. There is a lot of fraud out there, but everyone who is losing money didn't get scammed!!
Jed | 8:31 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Dont' you see the hypocrisy in your comments? "About time the leadership of the Church told us to beware of fraud!"

Did you have to wait around for the leadership of the Church to know you should beware of fraud?

This is EXACTLY the "I can't think for myself" mentality that makes the Mormon people so gullible in the first place! You trust only that which comes from Church leaders!

California LDS Transplant | 8:33 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I appreciate the first presdiency making a statement on this subject. It is embarrasing as a member of the Church to hear people losing their financial lives becuase of fraud by people within our Church who should no better. Those perpetrating fraud also leave a bad mark on those LDS members who are licensed and ethical to offer financial or real estate services.
When we lived in California and my father was looking for a new job, we were told time and time again by LDS men who were in positions of authority in their professions that they preferred not to do business with other members of the Church. The several ones making the comments had all moved to California from Utah (several from Utah County) and had seen too many examples of LDS members taking advantage of one another when working together.
So, once and for all, let's weed out the MLM'ers, politely decline their invitations, as well as anyone offering you the chance to make lots of money without working.
Let's have the state of Utah prosecute these people to the fullest, and have their memberships taken away. Too many times these people find other victims.
Brandon | 8:40 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Part of the problem is the church's HUGE emphasis on having kids and having the women stay home to raise them. Unless you're making over 75k that's just not possible these days with housing/gas prices etc...Many members are trying to make a quick buck so that their wives can stay home and raise the kids, we don't live in the 50's and 60's anymore, the church needs to come out and say that if the women has to work it's not the end of the world.
AINO | 8:46 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I agree with Robert. When it comes to working with other church members...AINO: Always Inspire, Never Offend. So, we don't do business with each other.
Ernest T. Bass | 8:47 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
The culture breeds dupes.
Rita | 8:48 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
It is sad that so many mormons are victims of scams and so often the perpetrators are church members and neighbors. What makes the mormons so vulnerable is their willingness to accept things at face value without question. Too much of this comes from church learning.
Formermormer | 8:50 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
While this problem is pandemic in Utah,church members have nothing like a monopoly on it. The credit card mentality is espoused and promoted by every manner of business,and even our federal government,so goes from top to bottom. Perhaps its not too over simplified to say that we as an entire society need to readjust our priorities and move back to a sound footing fiscally. As it stands,this nation is a house of cards and the winds are rising. Are temporal riches today worth the impoverishment that must inevitably follow the dedicated pursuit of Mammon?
To Brandon | 8:51 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Children are a blessing. Having said that; the emphasis is do what you can to have the mother stay home. If you can't by that I mean that it is necessary to have the mother in the work force then that is what you do. They emphasise not to have the mother work outside the home to pay for the boat, the fancy cars, the luxury vacations. In other words spend within your means. That is just common sense.
Rathje | 8:56 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
This stuff doesn't happen because Mormons are inherently more gullible than other Americans. It happens because they've got a ready-made social network - the ward, the stake, etc. It's easier for scams to flourish among networks of personal relations, than among people who don't know each other. That simple.
Amen to Monson | 9:02 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I am also a CA transplant. I moved hear for the good things and am not one who wants to change Utah. But, there are so many people that live hear that would not touch a drop of coffee, miss a sunday meeting, and would tell you about each time they go to the temple, and then, steal you blind. We live in an area of Highland that has such large homes. Fancy cars, nice things placed on the roofs of homes, motorized toys in the 5 car garage. My wife an ai have been ridiculed because we don't have a gigantic house, drive cars that are paid for, and drink a lot of Pepsi, and miss an occasional meeting. and oh yes, don't tell people how many times we go to the temple. We are a stupid people, we are a dishontest people, and uour leaders have been telling us this for years. Gon are the days of thrift, hard work, prudence. Shame on those members of the church who are living a lie.
What the...? | 9:05 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
What do suppose is deep in Mormon culture that makes them so susceptible to fraud?
JS | 9:10 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To Brandon: My family of five lives very modestly on less than 60K. We drive old but reliable cars, live in a 1600 sq ft house, live debt-free and cable-TV free, raise a big garden and are VERY happy. I personally know of many families living less than 40K (keeping Mom at home) and are doing well. I believe the late Larry Burkett called it defensive spending - if you don't have a great offense (income), keep a good defense on the field (low expenses).

Living under 75K is more than doable. If there is a will there is a way.
Utah=Fraud Capital | 9:15 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Utah is the fraud capital of the world, and it's because all the scammers know the LDS are suckers. They're far too trusting, and all these scammeers need to do is say they have a strong testimony and act like they're good Mormons. Once they do that, then others fall sucker to their scam.

Sure, I'd love to be a millionaire, but I'm not dumb enough to think all I have to do is sign up 20 of my friends and family, and then make sure they all sign up 20 of their friends and family.

Then, there is the forex market - just give us a few thousand and you'll make 10x that in just a few days in the hugely volatile and risky business of the forex market. "Be you're own island"..yeah, right...if you believe that, your island will be at the homeless shelter because you lost everything trying to trade in a market where only the truly smart and truly financially sound should play.
Oh Please | 9:15 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
"Utah-phrenia" is the problem. A combination of being semi-educated and brainwashed by conservative talk radio. This makes Utahns totally vulnerable to miraculous juice and herbs instead of real medicine. They stick their kids into the local "Freedom Academy" where the history class consists of Cleon Skousen's books. And everything from the "dream mine" to your home teacher's latest revelation on how to get rich by morning, just give me your life savings. Utah's problem is stupidity.
M.M. | 9:15 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Many years ago, I tried to warn people of a definite scam.
Being a financial advisor, I thought it was my duty.

Guess what happened?
I was sued for defamation, and to fight the charges would have taken more of my resources than I was willing to give at that time.

The perpertrator had VERY SUBSTANTIAL church connections, which he exploited to the limit. Amazingly, he is still at it!
People are still getting ripped off, SO BEWARE!
Not the church's fault | 9:22 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To Brandon,

I am so appalled with you saying you have to make over 75k to have a parent stay home and that it is the LDS church's fault because of their emphasis on this. This is not true. You can stay home for a whole lot less and be fine. The problem isn't the church telling women to stay at home, it is the world telling people they need more. People think they need a large home, newer cars, flat screen tvs and video game consoles. If you truly look at need vs want you would see it is possible to stay at home and raise a family on way less than 75k. People tend to have problems when they can't clearly define a need from a want. They also have problems when they keep putting wants they think are needs on credit. It just builds up. None of this has to do with the church emphasis on women staying home. You can't blame the church because people listen to the world telling them what their needs really are.
Same boat as JS | 9:25 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My family of 6 lives in about the same circumstances.

It's amazing what you can do if you stay out of debt as much as possible.
Clueless Brandon | 9:26 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My wife stays at home, I have 3 kids, I make only 40K, we have no debt except our house payment. We do just fine, in fact i can sleep at night knowing i don't owe anybody money. I'd write more, but I got a tee time to play golf. Skiing was a blast yesterday too. Life is great. Rich people have stress. I don't.
Timj | 9:26 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My wife and I want kids, don't already own a house, and want my wife to be able to stay at home once we get kids.
With a good college education, that used to be no problem. Now, with how expensive houses and health insurance are, I need to go to graduate school just so we can afford to have kids and be a single-income household. And we we live a thrifty life, and are willing to continue like that (no need for boats, SUVs, a large home, etc.)
It's pretty sad, really.
Amen! | 9:27 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To you all saying "the church teaches this, the church teaches that; that is why all Mormons are so dumb," give it a rest. Simply because some LDS people are idiots, doesn't automatically qualify the rest of us as idiots. The majority of us do not need to be TOLD to do something that is sensible or to avoid doing something unwise.

Mormon Weakness- I personally have never known a single LDS person who TRULY believes that the possession of many material goods signifies that they are more "blessed". If it is so, these people do not know their doctrine! This is not the "blatant weakness" of an entire people as you claim. If it is true, it is the weakness of a few. They are obviously off track. Need we look to them for an example?

Brandon, I have not received one ounce of teaching that has said that under all circumstances, you must have children and stay home. If it is financially possible, do it. It's been proven to be the best situation for children, so why not? But if you simply cannot make ends meet, then the family is advised to do what it must do.
WM | 9:29 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I think the important thing to point out here is that ALL investments (and any business other opportunity for that matter) should be researched fully before putting any money in to it. Also, MLM's get a bad rap. I know plenty of people, my spouse included, who make a very nice living through a reputable and respectable MLM company. If you research and do your due diligence and find that it's not for you, that's fine. But that doesn't mean it's not for someone else.
Timj | 9:37 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To all of you who are doing just fine raising a large famliy on one small income, I have an honest question.
How in the world did you get enough money together for a down-payment on a house while paying rent and providing health care, food, clothing, etc. for your family?
And, more importantly, with the current costs of health care and houses, how would you do it in today's world?

his has always bothered me | 9:40 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
"...subject to Kings, Rulers, Presidents, Magistrates - and Snake Oil Salesmen."

Just kidding of course, but the "being subject to" thing has always bothered me for obvious reasons.
Anonymous | 9:42 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Who cares what the LDS Church leaders say about financial matters? Let them speak on spiritual things and leave the financial matters to those with expertise in that area.
Wonder Why? | 9:46 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
You can't imagine why MLM gets a bad rap?

Pretty simple--when a business is BASED on signing up "friends" instead of selling a legitimate product at reasonable prices--that might be your first clue.
Comments continue below
No business for religion | 9:48 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Do NOT do business with church members!! We learned long ago this is an extremely bad practice. Leave your business out of your ward and religion. It will back fire, and when things go wrong you will then have to face your enemy once week. Church is not for finding clients! The Bishop may be your ward leader but he is never and should not ever be your financial adviser.
Ancel Longest | 9:51 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Geez Louise.....your comments make Mormons sound like a bunch of crooks and dumbheads. This is a worldwide problem and the Church leaders are reminding us yet again to be aware of our business dealings and personal finance. We are seeing and hearing more and more each day about the doom and gloom of our country's economy. We are given each day to reflect on our problems and work on the solution. I for one have some difficult decisions but I have faith that if I live long enough most of them will be solved. Enjoy a nice day.....
JMT | 9:55 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Several commenters have suggested MLM as the primary fraud in LDS culture. Twelve years' research suggests that investment fraud warned against in the the First Presidency statement is trivial compared to Utah-based MLM fraud, which leads to losses of BILLIONS of dollars by millions of victims world wide.

The 2006 Utah Legislature exempted MLM from prosecution as pyramid schemes, based on a plethora of deceptions. Even our AG supported the exemption - no surprise since MLMs are his major corporate contributors.

In Utah, there is virtually no consumer protection against the scams causing the greatest losses -from MLMs (measured by loss rate, aggregate losses, and number of victims). The AG and legislature doesn't care because most of the victims are out-of-state.

For extensive research to support these conclusions and the reasons for the highest concentration of MLM fraud among Latter-day Saints, go to the website for the Consumer Awareness Institute at

MLMs are fraudulent because recruitment is dependent on at least 30 typical deceptions, which are identified on the website, along with a do-it-yourself guide for evaluating any MLM or other chain selling scheme.

- Jon M. Taylor, MBA, PhD, Consumer Awareness Institute - and Pyramid Scheme Alert
re:anonymous | 9:56 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Who cares what the church leaders say on financial matters? Probably only the people who know they would obviously be better off by following that advice. Yes, lets ignore perfectly sound logical advice from church leaders and instead PAY to go get the same advice from someone with "expertise". Let me guess what your job is or what you "do".

They are simply reiterating what should be common sense but as we all know it is not as "common" as we would like to think.

It is perfectly appropriate for them to remind church members not to put their financial futures in jeopardy. Their advice is based on spritual principles of avoiding pride and materialism. Duh.
RE:Timj | 9:59 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
You actually are more than ready to have kids: you have a home. If you are debt free, what are you waiting for? I raised my two kids as a single mom making less that 30K and we live just fine. Yes, they don't have ipods, my son worked to get a $500 car, no flat screens, and only one cell phone(mine). But this certainly teaches my kids how to be wise with money, save, and know that we can live within our budget. Some parents want to give their kids everything they dream of because they didn't have plenty when they were kids but as a parent, you can not give everything to a kid. That's a huge mistake.
John Lambert | 9:59 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I was once involved in selling cutco knives. I never made much money at it, infact I am not sure that I even broke even. I hate to admit that there was at least one person I was only able to call by using the ward directory. I still feel the weight of this indiscresion on me.

If people took seriously the ban on using church directories for business purposes we would have fewer scams. It did not help that my managers at Cutco positively told us we should use church directories to contact people.
Mike | 10:00 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I am a practicing member of the LDS church. My own rule of thumb is: if in a business context someone tries to "use" the church to establish his own credibility or trustworthiness, that person deserves neither credit nor trust.
Ernest T. Bass | 10:04 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I've got to agree with a point.
I also agree with several responses.
My wife and I have very little debt, nothing that wasn't needed, but throw in some health problems, not covered by insurance and it is nearly impossible to live on less than $50K.
There are a lot of working mothers who are active LDS. They work due to necessity, not mearly to 'keep up with the Jones'. These families shouldn't be made to feel guilty.
Franz | 10:05 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Many of you seem to think that members of the LDS Church have a monopoly on scams. It seems to me that the financial problems we are having in this country stem from sub-prime loans to people living beyond their means. This is country wide, not just in Utah; in fact Utah's economy is better than the rest of the country. This is not to say that there are no problems and that the recent letter and the many letters before that were not needed. Mormon weakness is right: too many times we (Mormons) equate financial success with spirituality. Orson Scott Card has addressed this problem, saying that when we read about the Nephites (as a group) being prosperous when they were righteous, we think that prosperity (as individuals) equals righteousness. We must be rich in order to be righteous.
TonyL | 10:06 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To Timj,
If you don't have cash, don't buy it. Eat rice and beans (it actually tastes great-all kinds of ways to make rice and beans differently). Use the debt snowball plan if you are already in debt. And follow Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover," It works whether you make 40K or 400k.---"live like noone else (now), so you can live like noone else later." When you don't owe anyone- you can live on almost nothing. It is true freedom.....
Phil | 10:06 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I agree with the First Presidency that members should be cautious.

However, this can be taken to an extreme.

For example, not all investment advisors with large, established firms have your best interest at heart and have a working strategy.

About three years ago, I was hit up by about 25 local advisors (all from the large firms) who wanted to have access to my clients (CPA firm) to get them to become the advisors' clients. Their objective was to maximize commission and that's all they talked about. In fact, only one of the advisors had a trading strategy. The others had no clue because they don't know the future.

In addition, not all advisors belonging to the small firms (or one-man shops) are bad. Some might have legitimate strategies that work.

Further, just because you lose money on an investment doesn't mean you've been defrauded. If you began investing in the stock market on November 1, 2007 and just followed the Nasdaq 100 trust (your common Nasdaq index fund), with double leveraging (try ProFunds Ultra OTC Fund), you're down 43% and losing more today.

Make sure your advisor is licensed and has a track record. I wish you luck.
John Lambert | 10:09 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I have to agree with Idaho reader. It is easy for people to sit at their computer and spout off about how they will avoid fraud, refuse scams, and so on. The change has to come in our own actions when we turn down things that appeal to our greed.
John Lambert | 10:18 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I have to respond to all those who advocate against doing business with church members. How can we build Zion if we will not even cooperate together? How can your ward be unified if you fear eachother?

I say the answer is investigate, but do not disqualify people based on affinity.

On the issue of housing costs, just hope housing prices keep coming down. Here in Michigan people are still trying to sell houses for more than they sld for in 1999, people have not accepted fully that the bubble has burst.
Buyer Beware | 10:22 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Simply, buyer beware. Research out the investment. Do not do business wholly over the phone. Consult non-biased subject matter experts, do not buy on emotion or get rich quick proposals, or by religion; be smart... Again, do not use "same beliefs" or "same religion" as the cornerstone or foundation for an investments. Remember greed and swaying markets change financial direction (and thinking) My wife and I invest wisely, both in the stock markert and in real estate, and trust me, whew, we are cautious. We live within our means, live modestly, very much so, but at any time, we can retire. Sometimes the "millionare next door," dives an old Aerostar mini-van, stills mows his own lawn with a Craftsman push mower, does not eat out every night, and shops at Sam's Club. We choose to grow our money so we can be independent of the government, and have rainy-day cash. Buyer Beware. Common sense. Choose wisely. Remember the movie "Wall Street?"
Tyler | 10:32 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
So, are they telling us to stop paying tithing? I'm half joking, but you've got people "investing" 10% of their money based on a relationship of religious affinity with extreme promises that the windows of heaven will open and God will pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
MLMs | 10:32 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
generally get a bad rap because they deserve it. My husband used to be a programmer for a company that sold software to MLMs. He knew intimately how they worked - and we'll never EVER get involved in one. If you found one that isn't a scam, good for you but I'm not interested. Besides the internal workings, the products are overpriced and overhyped.
On the other hand | 10:45 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Best real estate agent we ever had was our bishop... in CA. We bought a great deal on our first house, we sold it in less than a week for the price we wanted, and he was our agent both times. Sold our parents house when nobody else could get it sold. Dealing with an incompentent agent on the other end every time, and no, that wasn't just his opinion, he was constantly fixing their goofs and deals almost fell through when the other side screwed up. We knew him well before we used him, and he had a great reputation with everyone we knew who had used his services. Probably as dumb to overlook somebody great who happens to be in your ward, as it is to latch onto the first member you know who does a particular business.
To Timj | 10:47 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I've got your answer. For four years, my husband and I never ate out, we didn't rent movies, we didn't buy gum, candy, or go to dairy queen when we craved ice cream. We had one car, we lived in an old basement apartment. We still had two children during this time because his part-time employer offered us insurance because he was such a hard worker. We saved up over $5,000 while he was in the bishopric, going to college, and working, and I stayed home.

We didn't go on vacations, we didn't have cell phones, cable, or even call waiting.

We bought a home in pre-foreclosure, in an area that has a lower cost of living. Ten years later, we are in a bigger house, with zero debt, and our house is paid off. Not bad, 4 kids, paid off house in 10 years and I never went to work.
Moessers | 10:55 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Wow. We've come a long way since Brigham's decree of only doing business with church members and not the outside world. Now everyone's running scared of the church members.
BobP | 10:57 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
About a year ago, I was in church in our very small branch. Someone phoned from the Marina and asked how to get to the church. Someone went and got them.

They lived in Utah County and had sailed up the coast from Sacramento in a yacht worth well over a million. The made the money in MLM

Years ago there was an editorial in the Church News that said: If someone asks you to pray about an investment or scheme, keep your hand on you wallet while your eyes are closed. This is NOT a new thing.
carl | 10:57 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
The only one that ever works is that nice Nigerian fellow who is trying to transfer funds to my account. He sounds sincere. Are we now saying that I should not have provided my banking information? What could happen?
I think the Elderly are particularly at risk on garbage like this. I counseled with a woman who was scammed and I asked her if she discussed with anyone in her family before she jumped. She told me her daughter and her husband (A doctor) said it sounded like a pretty good deal!
JimK2 | 11:04 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
President Harold B. Lee said some time ago - "I can't believe so many church members are so gullible."

Want to gauge your "$uce$$ - if Christ came tomorrow, would He be chauffeured around in an Escalade whilst wearing $100 shoes (or perhaps just simple sandals)?

For those of you currently in a scam (as an "investor" or a not-yet-being-prosecuted schemer) - keep in mind that the Church refunds ill-
gotten tithing - not to mention the ruination of the lives of family members, friends, and fellow human beings.

Contact me and fully expect to be rudely treated and exposed (I won't run from you)!
Re: Timj 9:37 a.m. | 11:08 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
We have 4 children, live in California, I am a stay at home mom and our annual income is about 38K. First of all, we don't own a home, we manage apartments. Our situation is somewhat unique however, because the job offers a house (not apt.)for us to live in rent free. Granted that won't work for everyone, but it has been a blessing for us. Secondly, we went without health insurance, and only went to a doctor when absolutely necessary. In fact, we paid out of pocket for 3 of the 4 babies when they were born. My husband's current job does offer medical coverage, and it's interesting to me that now that we have a little more capability to take care of medical needs financially, our need for medical care has increased. ie. my husband needed an emergency Appendectomy, my daughter broke her arm, my other daughter got her finger smashed in a door and broken in a couple of places...all of this since the medical coverage was available to us. The Lord knew our desires for me to be able to stay with our children and though it's not been easy, He has taken care of us.
Anonymous | 11:13 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Please, you can no longer live on 40k and have a spouse stay at home with kids. If you bought your home more than 3 years ago then you have an affordable payment. It is nearly impossible to find a 1500 square foot home for under 200k! People entering the market today have extremely higher bills compared to those who owned homes before this ridiculous bubble.
Nichole from Canada | 11:19 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
First, to Brandon, the emphasis on having wives stay home is commendable. If more women stayed home with thier children then there would be more high paying jobs for husbands. There are times when a woman has to work and that's okay too, when there is a real need. It costs more to put children in daycare then most people make at work. The costs outweigh the benefits.
Living within your means should not be that hard. "Keeping up with the Jonses'" is the real problem. The First Presidency is right on to advise us to be cautious. As a stay at home mom of 4, I watch our finances and heed the council of our prophet. There are too many scams out there to name so do your homework first. Church members should NEVER use thier position in the church as part of their business dealings. I suggest that doing business with friends is rarely a good idea. Also, if you can't track where your investment is going at ALL times than you shouldn't have your money there in the first place.
Disgusting | 11:20 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
In our ward we have certain ward member who uses the church ward directory for her business mailing list. This member is only your friend if she gets your business. Pretty disgusting!
Irritated | 11:23 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My husband and I work, I only work part time, but we still struggle to cover the neccesites (never wants). our house is very small, we drive old cars. It's always something that takes our savings (heart surgeries, layoffs etc) so he hasn't been able to get back to school. My point is, not everyone's situation is the same. Not everyone is going to be able to live on what the neighbor is living on. I would think that we as a people would be more tolerant and accepting of people since that is what is taught in our religion. Why not stop judging? I'm tired of being judged because I am a working mom. It isnt my ideal situation but I do what I HAVE to do, to take care of my family, Who is anyone to judge anyone on the personal choices they might make?
Jean Louise | 11:24 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
And here's an interesting little observation: If you listen to KSL radio talk shows for even a couple of hours (Doug Wright; Sean Hannity) you'll hear at least one ad every hour touting a Ponzi-like investment scheme. Ads for seminars where you will learn "principles" and "values" of wealth and prosperity. Yep. All the Mormon buzz words, meant to nab the gullible, in a 30-second ad. Right there, on the LDS Church owned radio station. If church leaders are serious about trying to teach their members about wise investing, maybe they ought to check into what kind of crap they're selling for ads and infomercials on their own air waves.
hmmm | 11:27 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
You make 40K a year and you own your own home?????

Who approved that loan? I want one!!!! I read that the median income for approval on a mortgage in Utah is now at $90K a year.
My two cents | 11:32 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Let's be honest, it's very possible to live on little, but it's also very, very difficult. What if you have health problems? I have an uncle who pays over five hundred a month just for himself because he has diabetes. And what about the housing market? Sure, housing prices are falling, but they ain't the starter homes. In my neighborhood, for example, a forty-year-old home was just put up for sale: new carpet, 1400 square feet, ONLY 240,000! Where does a family living on 40K get 1800 dollars a month for mortgage payments when they're also paying taxes, tithing, utilities, food for five or six, gas, "generous fast offerings" and so forth. I love the church. I pay a full tithing and a generous fast (sorry if that sounds like shouting out my alms) and my wife stays home. It's possible, but let's be realistic. It'd be nice to be able to afford going out to eat one in a while.
Stating the Obvious | 11:36 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Stop wasting time and money "investing" in MLM Xango, Goyin, Tehitian Noni juice, magic vitamins & herbal suppliments, anti-aging products, etc, etc..I am sick of seeing all the ugly buildings that keep springing up each time I drive through Utah county.

Utah is the MLM capital of the world because of supportive state regulation.

I also think it is funny that some people would say, "don't tell us what to do with our money. Stick to spiritual stuff leaders!" What part of "get out of debt, and don't investment in pyramid and investment scams" do you not agree with?

People just want to believe that what they are getting into is different, but 99% of the time you will lose. And believe me, you won't get rich selling over-priced garbage to your friends and they don't want to hear about it.
wealthy | 11:40 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Hey people, Their is nothing wrong with having a big house, a nice car and some of the nicer things in life if your income can sustain your lifestyle. some of you make it sound like being LDS and wealthy at the same time is a sin! (My wife stays at home too) Oh and by the way, I got introduced to my Career by a fellow LDS member 17 years ago
Ramsey Not Needed | 11:43 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I can tell you to get out of debt for free. In my opinion, Dave Ramsey is a huckster. It bothers me that he uses religion to sell his products. I do listen to his show when running errands. I listen to hear people's sad stories so I can try not repeat their mistakes myself.
Enjoying life | 11:52 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
40K a year, family of five, wife at home, paying a full 10% tithing on gross. 0 debt (except a car and I'm about a year ahead on my payments) , and have plenty of money to put a down payment on a modest house. Oh and I've gone on two trips to Europe in the past year and a half. I don't see what is so hard when you manage your money right.
Timj | 11:53 a.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Thanks for the replies.
We'll have about four more years of rough-living while I go to grad school, and then, after four years, hopefully we'll be able to move beyond the rice and beans.
Rules | 12:23 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
As a licensed Financial Advisor who has been in the business 14 years, it amazes me how many people turn down sound investment advise from me or other reliable advisors and end up going with the guy putting on the "Seminar scam" in someones house or after hours in the back of a business. These are The rules I go by:

1. Always ask the presenter if He/She has ever been convicted of any fraud, filed Bankruptcy,or have any outstanding judgements or liens against them or their company.
2. There is no hurry to get into any investment. Do your research on the people and company presenting the investment by calling the State of Utah div of securities and BBB
3. Invest with reputable Companies and Institutions
4. Dont invest because He/She is your neighbor, friend, relative, ward member or work associate. Think for yourself and do your homework
5. Always get 2 or 3 opinions from other Registered Financial advisors (not with the Company) on the product that was presented to you

Be careful as some of these people are very good at commiting fraud
me | 12:39 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Mormons are basically a trusting people because we are ourselves trustworthy and so fall prey to those who are schemers !!It is so sad that members of the church take advantage of their brothers and sisters in the gospel.
Anonymous | 12:45 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Timj: by saving, spending in what's really needed:
Food: eat properly, more vegetables, less snacks, less dinner out, cut fast food. You don't need all cereal flavors in your cabinet. Have two and use them all. Don't trash food.
House: small one, little maintenance, btw, now it's the time to buy, have you heard of FAA loans?
Clothes: have you heard of sales? buy costco jeans and remove the labels, nobody will notice it's not a brand one.
Car: do you need the last car model? why buying a new one?
health care: that's something you don't save on but people here prefer wearing abercrombie rather than having health insurance
TOT | 12:45 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I don't need Dave Ramsey to tell me to get out of debt. He tells you to get out of debt then wants you to spend $ buying his products. No Thanks!
EASY THERE | 12:49 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I think a lot of you are getting a little out of control here with the whole "don't do business with people in your ward"
You can make the same case for not doing business with family, neighbors, friends or the like.
The point the church is making is BE CAREFUL. Don't trust someone JUST BECAUSE they're from your ward. Trust them because their business plan is sound
Anonymous | 12:54 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
So, why did the Holy Ghost only recently encourage the Church leaders to warn the church members about fraud scams. Like others have pointed out, these types of scams were catching more people off guard 5 years ago.
billy bob | 12:55 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I was thinking that they should begin excomunicating any and all who invest in ANY multilevel marketing because if you do fall for any of them, you are just too stupid to have a membership card. thank you
KBYU | 12:56 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
PBS is a scam! Pledge money to save the Laurence Welk show and Teletubbies. No way man! PBS tried to make the LDS church look bad. Thats the last place my dollar will ever go.
Buyer Beware | 12:59 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To Rules:

Agree. Hey y'all, follow this chap's advice.
The Old Submariner | 1:02 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Timj - the cry of things being too expensive has been around since I was a youngster in the 1930's. It is called saving towards a goal. The military is known for low wages. We rented & saved. Purchased a mobile home. Bought a lot later on after living in a mobile home park. Bought a lager mobile home as the family got larger. Eventually, someone starting out bought our mobile home & rented the lot from us. It was available because we had purchased a small home. Then they bought the lot from us. We moved (got transfered which always costs money), but between the house & the money from the lot sale, we got a larger house. Coming from lean & mean circumstances in North Dakota, we raised 4 great kids & now have 9 great-grandchildren. In retirement, we are living well. The real answer to your question, just in case you haven't figured it out - and from some of your questions, I don't think you have - start small, within your means. You can't start with what your parents have.
TOT | 1:02 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Actually there is something wrong with having a lot of luxuries when many others in the world are suffering. I'm not advocating forced socialism but morally, self indulgence is wrong.

Think about the story of Lazurus and the rich man. The rich man was obsessed with building a bigger barn to keep all his stuff. Go find the admonitions in LDS conference addresses where the speakers said to stop building bigger barns and asked those with more to help those with less.
Honest Answer to Timj | 1:10 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
We are buying a house right now. It's a cheap house, so it's not a huge down-payment. We've been looking for a few years, it's takes a ton of time and effort to find cheap houses that are in good enough condition to live in. We make 22K. We have two kids. We use a budget and don't cheat on it. We put some money in a savings account evey time we get paid. That savings account has saved us many times! We make do with less. We have one car, which we paid cash for. We pay cash for everything. We take cash to the grocery store, and if the bill comes to more than we have with us we decide what we can do without. We shop yard sales and thrift stores. We research big purchases to find the best deal. We rarely buy new.

Why don't you post my comments? | 1:14 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My comments do not get posted more times than not even though they are less than the 200 word limit, are certainly not abusive, offensive, off topic, or misrepresentative, especially when compared to some of the outrageous comments you do post. It is clear that the Deseret News has a discriminatory policy? The question is why? And yes, I have proven this point by making 2 opposite points at the same time. The DMN posted the one favorable to their bias and did not post the one challenging their position. I guess that's your prerogative, but please don't pose as a legitimate source of news or a defender of the free press when stifling free speech. That is in and of itself a form of fraud.
californian | 1:24 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Are you kidding me? look at the nation as a whole...Mormons seem to fall for this stuff just like everybody else...they are almost like people! Growing up I was taught never to do business with anyone from church or's as good of advice now as ever. Beyond that, my dad always told me to think and then very unAmerican that seems now. I used to work for a man ( a prince among men to be honest) who is Mexican American and refuses to do any business with any establishment who says "Se Habla Espanol"! Make people earn your trust and your business.
houses | 1:36 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I found a house in Layton for $170. We saved for the down payment for 3 years. We got a FAA loan which gives us a 5% interest rate so what we are paying for rent will actually pay for the loan. Don't let your real estate agent do the whole searching. Spend your time at the internet and you will get a REAL idea about what's going on. Also, if you want to live in those "high" areas, yes, get ready to pay the price, otherwise, you can find nice houses at reasonable prices in areas that are just being developed. We all want to live in nice neigborhoods but that does not mean you have to live in Park City to get a nice house. My in-laws moved to a better area and there they have problems with their kids trying to keep up with the Jones. They wished they didn't move because they did it for a better house. They fell into the trap.
Comments continue below
ca | 1:38 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
WM, MLM's by definition are a scam. Maybe your wife is doing well, but she is making money off of other peoples failures. In order for an MLM to work, you have to sale a propsective MLMer that they will make it rich. BUt in order for this to work for you and all other upliners, most of these prospects have to fail.

If everyone succeeded as promised, in a short time, the entire world would be a part of that MLM.

WM, if your wife is an honest person, she would stop making money off of others peoples failures. Get out.
Financial Advisors | 1:39 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Most financial advisors make their money on the investments they sell and know little other than they were "told" to push that stock or investment at a sales meeting. Be careful.

One of the largest scams that came through Utah about 25 years ago took in about 50% of the doctors in Utah. In particular Dentists were hit hard. The man used to sell dental equipment. Well that isn't surprising.

What was surprising to me is that he took in ONE THIRD of all the ATTORNEYS in town. People constantly say to run financial decisions past your attorney. Realize most are not that well trained in investments. On this paricular scam, one of the prosecutors said that ANYONE that would have seriously checked into it would not have invested.

Few people did. They invested because their neighbor, local celebrity or even general authority had invested or been involved.

Check out all the details. Do not take for granted anything the person wanting your money claims. Use common sense and pick up some books or take some classes on investment. If you don't understand what you are investing in and how your it works. Don't.
observer | 1:46 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I once knew a man who put it this way in regard to religion and money...."Every time somebody starts telling me how religious they are, I feel like a new bride. I know I'm going to get it, but I don't know when or how much."
Spanky | 1:54 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
It's easy for con men to take advantage of greedy people.
Dave | 1:57 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Sometimes a business will go bad when you work with a bunch of jerks! And if this kind of thing happens to you-- suddenly are demonized within the ward you live in by the members who you have done business with--as the ward scam artist. Not all people who get into business with the wrong people are scam artists. Sometimes they have associates and partners who even scam their partners and then will lead the whole company straight to hell. It's probably a good idea to check-out your business partner or partners before striking a close partnership with him/her as well, because if he is a evil scam artist, and he goes down-- so will you!
Don't be scared off... | 2:09 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Some investments are actually GOOD! When we were young we were cautioned NOT to buy our small house until we could afford to pay cash. (Most likely never would have happened since values raised faster than we could save.)

I'm so grateful my husband wasn't as fearful and indoctrinated as I was, we would have missed our greatest opportunity.
PerhapsThou | 2:13 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just –

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this, the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

For behold, are we not all beggars?
MLM's are part of the problem | 2:31 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Most successful multi level marketing reps make a major part of thier money off of people that never make a dime.
Anonymous | 2:46 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Stupid is as stupid does.
Matt --- To ca... | 3:00 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To ca...

I like you do not chase MLM schemes, these are not worth my time. But, your tone is rather spiteful, and full of hate and anger. Your words are uncalled for against that man's wife.
To: WOW | 3:09 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To WOW: "What Moron is still falling for these scams?
Kudos to the first presidency though, for making this statement."

You answered this question with the last sentence.

Since the Mormon presidency addressed this to their members, I guess that's your answer as to who still falls for this scams?

They know that, there morons out there who falls for it, otherwise, they wouldn't make the statement.
2penniesworth | 3:23 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Timj. I have 8 kids. I stay home most the time. Hubby makes 45K a year. We have a nice home - not too bit, in fact a bit smallish. We just bought it last year. Our first home purchase. How did we do it?
We did not have cable that's 50 bucks a month we saved.

We did not eat out. That's about 100 a month.

We don't have car payments. That's 300 a month (or more!).

Just in that, we've saved 450 a month. Timex the 5 years we saved for the house.... you get the rest.

THATS how we did it

Oh, and we don't have health care insurance. We do have insurance in case we land in the hospital. With that $ we don't spend on premiums each month, we put away. When someone needs to go to the doc, we pay in cash, out of that fund. It's cheaper, and works just fine for this family of 10.
My Posts Has Also Been Rejected | 3:29 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
To: " Why don't you post my comments?"

Several of my comments also was not posted.

Unlike you, I do know why. It's not because of the outrageous gross misrepresentation, or what not, but it's because the Deseret News is owned by the LDS church, and it's only following it's own policy that's been around since the beginning of their church, that is, to not challenge the church or its doctrines.

The people that monitor this works in essence, works for the church, and they have to follow the commandments of keeping the church, pure, pristine and unadulterated as they see it, therefore, it's not unusual of surprising for me to learn, even in the free, unopinionated, unbiased press, unfortunately, are not free, very opinionated, and highly biased journalism.

They eliminate those who are not like them, and they certainly don't like you when you don't have their point of view. This is the Deseret News I've come to know from forums like this, and it goes all the way to the top.
why don't they Post comments? | 3:31 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Here in SE utah, at the price of $$$111 million dollars a Ponzi scam was ran W/the operation following the idea of stealing from Peter to pay Paul. This involved an ex-county commissioner and his son who now occupy a cell in federal prison. What irks me the most as a taxpayer is the audacity of several citizens who ran full page ads giving support to these two scoudrels while they were facing these charges. You could have just went over and gave them a hug not pretend they were some kind of Matyrrs.The GA who caught them in Minnesota probably had no idea of their stature in the mormon community in this county. But again in a lame show of support while this case was still in the federal courts, some group bestowed a citizenship of the year award on the ex-commissioner as if to influence the court in his worthiness. Needless to say the ploy did not work. That's alot of money which school districts nationwide are missing. The sanctity of the child has been tarnished and to try to white wash the ordeal by certain administrations is to lie to the parents and children who are effected!!
Anonymous | 3:37 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Beware of false prophets
and snakeoil salesmen
To- Moron scam guy | 3:38 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Wow! that was a bright, brilliant intelligent statement! Looks like some kind of moron thinking coming out from under some basement floorboard. Do I smell a rat or what?
on why don't they post comments? | 3:42 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Instead of GA ..meant AG as in Attorney General.
Re:Financial Advisors | 3:43 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Its no wonder the most wealthy and successful people in our country use a Financial Advisor and statistically, Investors who use a Advisor make more money on their Investments than the "Do it yourselfers" Do you expect Financial reps to work for free? And NO, I am not told to sell any product from anyone and YES I think I know about my business as I have been helping clients for 33 years.I now work 2 days a week not because I have to financially, but because I like to help my clients. How many of these people who got scamed would love to work with a Financial advisor now? Please be careful about making comments about a Industry you dont know anything about. In life, you usually get what you pay for!!

Financial Advisors thoughout Utah
Anony | 3:46 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I have a close relative who lent a Utahn close to $100 years ago with some mining stock and handshake for security. The mining stock was worthless as was the handshake. Lost it all. The scammer's pitch was as slick as snot on a doorknob. And, to this day he goes to church every Sunday.
Another Adam | 3:47 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Are there any other ways I can eat bread without getting any sweat on my brow?

Any one?
Roger | 3:53 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
When one looks at all the preposterous things mormons believe in and accept for fact it is not hard to understand how they are the ideal dupe for scams. Mormons grow up with the wool over their eyes.
Paperboy | 3:54 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
LDS members are taught to obey positions of power and authority. When scam artists and con men use their church conditions and positions of leadership in connection with business dealings, it is very difficult for faithful members to resist. Thinking skeptically and questioning authority is simply not encoded in the psychological DNA of faithful Latter-day Saints. Unless members are taught that it's ok (or even better, beneficial) to question and think for themselves, this kind of thing will continue to go on.
Paperboy | 4:01 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
So stupid. You deserve to get taken.
Don't be stupid.

Did I mention. I think those investing are the problem. They are trying to scam money out of the honest worker.
ca | 4:22 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008

I've learned that when dealing with people involved in MLM's you have to be blunt and harsh. Otherwise, they don't get it. Most successful MLM's do not believe they are perpetrating a fraud.

I personally have never been scamed by an MLM, but plently of my friends and relatives have. You have to also be just as blunt with people thinking of joining an MLM, otherwise, their greed gets the best of them.
beware of insurance salesmen | 4:24 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
people also fall to the scams of the big and alleged trustworthy banks and insurance companies and from registered reps who claim to be financial planners because they show you some cool charts some software spit out and gave you a plan... a plan to put your money in mutual funds and insurance product which underperform the market as a whole and receive no review... products layden with ridiculous fees which make driving on the freeway in 1st geer look efficient... Countless people have their financial planner who is really just an insurance salesman come over and sell them an insurance policy with will one day supposedly help with retirement.. pay off the mortgage or pay for college... this is all non-sense... people can do better than that... people can also do better chosing their own stocks and mutual funds rather than investing with these so called planners who put you in products which pay the best commissions rather than products which consistently offer better performance and lower fees... not to mention that your planner never will review the performance of your investment... do it yourself and do better...
Real Estate and Mortgages | 4:24 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
One of the problems is that Loan officers, Financial advisors, and Realtors are commissioned based. Meaning, they make no money unless they make sales. That being said Loan officers are telling you what you can qualify for not what you can afford. Realtors are telling you that now is the best time to buy, when really home prices are going down. etc. Not all of the truth is told in these deals, because they too, need to feed their families, so there is a conflict of interest that usually comes up between protecting you, and making a dollar for their families and or spending habits.
bad talk radio... | 4:24 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
I keep reading that it is the darned talk radio that is making people gullible enough to fall for these financial scams.
Just a note; listen to Dave Ramsey ( on the radio ) at 7pm. and see the ignorant stuff that is being discussed on the evil radio. or you can get news and information from the same old same old.
To paperboy | 4:35 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Nobody "deserves" to get taken. "Investors" are NOT the problem. Where would our country be if no one was willing to invest their money? Investors are NOT trying to "scam money out of the honest worker."

Investors are actually trying to help those who need more money.

An abundance of dishonest, greedy, uneducated, and unqualified people are the problem, not the investors.
Not the problem | 4:44 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Investing is NOT the problem. Investing wisely is the key! Trusting others is a GOOD thing, as long as that trust is justified by experienced research. Hiding our money in a mattress really doesn't help anyone.
It's okay to invest wisely | 4:50 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
You don't always "have to" sacrifice basics to be financially successful. Buying a solid home in a safe and re-salable area was the best investment we ever made.

Some people make the mistake of simply buying what's cheapest in order to save money. It's important to live within our means, but that doesn't mean being so extremely frugal that you miss out on the real opportunities that our out there.

Just don't invest more than you can afford to lose, and don't put all your eggs in one basket, or if you do, guard that basket!!!
amusing to watch | 5:23 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
It's alway amusing to read about scam artists out-scamming their fellow scammers.
Advisors and Agents | 5:29 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
There are clear differences between MLM's and Financial Advisors and insurance agents. Someone who sells in an MLM doesn't have to be licensed with the state (insurance) or registered with the NASD (securities). Most insurance agents and investment advisors carry Errors and Omissions coverage to cover them (and their clients). Securities and insurance are regulated by states and the federal government. Many securities are backed by the SiPC in cases of failure or default.

Of course, people need to do their homework. They can check the financial rating of an insurance carrier and do a plethora of research on the internet. You can base investment decisions on facts and past experience. MLMs, Ponzi Schemes, and other vehicles of their ilk rely on testimonials, pomp, and false encouragement.

If I had enough disposable money to invest, I would most definitely visit a financial advisor. I'm relatively young, but hope to be in a situation soon where I can consult with a financial planner.

I'm glad the First Presidency is reiterating sound financial principles. I think we all can learn (especially in tough times) to be more wise in our financial dealings.
wrz | 5:29 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
What's wrong with living beyond your means? If things don't pan out you can always declare bankruptcy and it all goes away. And you've had a lot of fun in the mean time.

Fantasy? That's exactly what is likely to happen in the sub-prime debacle bailout.
Anonymous | 5:50 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
My, don't election years coupled with an unpopular war and the economy going down the toilet bring out the best in people?
Re: beware of Insurance guys? | 6:27 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Some of the Families I help are glad they didn't take your advice when I presented the widow with a 750,000 check due to a premature death of a husband. If these families would have listen to you, they wouldn't have any Income coming to maintain a household of children, pay for future college expenses, Missions and weddings and to pay off any Debt. Insurance Salesmen are the only people who show up after a funeral giving out money, rather than having their hand out asking for money. Listening to comments from people like you are why a lot of people get into trouble in the first place!!
Scam Artists | 6:28 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Real estate "flippers" are scam artists. They produce nothing of value. They basically beat someone in line, bought the house, and turned around and said, "you can have it, but it's gonna cost you $30k" more than I paid for it yesterday." Thus young couples and others buying a home they actually need, decide to buy from the flippers for fear that home prices will continue rising. Considering interest, the flipper costs the family approximately $60k over the 30 year period of the loan. What service did the flipper provide??? If you said nothing, you're absolutely right. I hope these "flippers" are the ones getting hurt by the mortgage crisis. Due to the true need everyone needing somewhere to live, I believe real estate "flipping" is unethical. Unfortunately, I know many otherwise good people who got sucked into taking advantage of others by housing means.
Investing smart | 7:45 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Autos are the worst investment a human can make! Someone once said the only thing worse than buying a depreciating asset is paying interest on a depreciating asset. In 1993 my brother and I both received $25,000 from our grandparents. He decided to buy a big truck that he no longer has today. I invested my money in a mutual fund rec by my Uncle who is a financial planner. Today that fund has avg over 11.5% a year and is worth over 127,500 on my last statement. We need to educate ourselves better when it comes to Investing and proper Money management. I also agree with "Rules" comments when it comes to scam artists'
Anonymous | 7:59 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Cars are never an investment.
Only a necessary evil.
Anonymous | 10:48 p.m. Mar. 13, 2008
Whoever said cars were an investment? I'd hope that's common knowledge now.
To those who are tooting their horns on how they've lived on nothing so the rest of us should be able to...please remember, some of us are hit harder than others. My husband and I started out our marriage with savings and no car payment. However, the car that had no car payment kept breaking down. We needed the transportation, and although my husband can do some minor repair work, he couldn't drop engines or diagnose electrical problems. Our savings couldn't keep up with the repairs. Then, I've had three years straight with medical problems. We can't keep up with all of those (even though I have insurance). Basic fact is that every time we start catching up, stuff goes wrong. Just count your blessings that it hasn't happened to you and don't be so harsh on those of us that are trying.
Honestly | 12:01 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
I think the reason so many people fall for scams and get rich schemes is old fashioned greed.
Outside Utah | 12:55 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
Unlike many comments about a handful of LDS scammers in Utah, there are many scammers of all races and religions throughout the world. This letter was sent to congregations outside of Utah as well. Fraud is occuring everywhere, especially to single women by other "businessmen" who try to earn their trust. My single mom in CA was sold a subprime loan when she refinanced and Countrywide cheated her out of $180K in less than 2 years. My sister received two fraudulant cashiers checks for her car she was selling in the classifieds. My widowed grandma was cheated out of $200k by her realtor. My advice is to beware of everyone.
AEP | 2:18 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
Let´s hear our prophets. That´s enough.
NY | 6:56 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
I think "Investing Smart" meant to say that he invested his money in a mutual fund while his brother bought a car instead. Cars are a personal use asset, NOT an investment. Also, thank you Jon Taylor for your great website on the dangers of MLMs. As I stated in an earlier post, I wish the brethren would issue a statement about these. That there are so many in Utah (especially in Utah Valley) is such an embarrassment. They target the poor of the world and are a particularly cruel scam. Another good resource about how these cleverly disguised pyramid schemes work is False Profits by Robert Fitzpatrick. Google this to find his website.
WM | 8:28 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
To ca: you mistakenly assume when I said "my spouse" I meant a wife. It's my HUSBAND, and MLM's are a legitimate business. I have an MBA and learned about MLM's in my Entrepreneurial marketing class in GRAD SCHOOL.
Also, the rate of fraud, etc. seems higher among Mormons because there is a large network built right in. If you're looking for anything, you go by the recommendations of friends and people you know. If you're Mormon, those "recommendations" end up coming from other Mormons. Duh.
Eminence Front | 9:25 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
What rich irony. The LDS profit telling church members to watch out for scams when the Mormon Church is one of the biggest religious frauds in the last 200 years
NY | 9:44 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
WM, Where are earth did you go to grad school? I can't imagine any reputable university teaching that MLM is a legitimate form of business. The fact that they are LEGAL (I will never understand why the FTC doesn't shut these down) does not make them LEGITIMATE. Looks like your professor needs to update his own education. See the False Profits book and Website as well as Jon Taylor's (who posted earlier) book and website if you want the facts on MLMs.
Trying to save money? | 10:04 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
I worry about all the people out there who in an attempt to "save money" are doing without basics like health insurance. The family of ten may be surviving well now, because of their thriftiness, but I'm afraid they may be one sickness away from bankruptcy.

Perhaps, we as a society, need to do more to make health care affordable. This seems to be a major issue for many families, and the current system doesn't seem to be working very well.

My neighbors pay over $13,000 a year for health insurance for a family of 4. Fortunately, for now, they can afford this, but what happens when their business slows down?

I worry that the upcoming recession may push many of us, who smugly think we are okay financially, right over the edge.

Perhaps we need to help enact better laws BEFORE the disaster strikes.

Doubletalk | 11:15 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
Interesting that so many comments say this happens because the church teaches us to be gullible, yet the whole reason for this article is the church telling us NOT to be gullible. Mormons are not susceptible to fraud because they follow the teachings of the church. They are susceptible to fraud because they DON'T follow the teachings of the church.
SFCRETDENNIS | 11:25 a.m. Mar. 14, 2008
We have been warned time and time agin about this and so many other things. It all so proves no one is perfect. Let someone ells mess up and little is said of their beliefs, except the Catholics and the child sex crimes, other wise nothing is said, let a LDS member mess up and it is plastered all over the paper, Mormon did this and Mormon did that.

One thing I do know if you will follow what James said in 1st James V 5-6 you can never go wrong.
Mark | 12:32 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008

So maybe we should just stop screwing up so badly!
Comments continue below
Nigerian Scam | 12:35 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
Utah is the primary target for Nigerian Scams. The Nigerian scams come in different forms.
Leesa | 12:45 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
A couple of years ago, we had *4* ladies in our ward dealing Pampered Chef. The party invites were endless. One of the girls I had taught in YW was flabbergasted when she came to my home as a Cutco rep (she was in college) and I wouldn't buy anything. The couple in our ward who do pre-paid legal know better than to contact my husband and I. A Living Scriptures sales rep who came to my home about 4 summers ago (obviously working off a church list, as I live in Texas) was practically livid when I indicated that we wouldn't be purchasing their DVD set. First, he questioned what kind of mother I was, then began going for the guilt line, that his wife was having their first baby and he needed to make sales to support them. I held my tongue, but nearly suggested he should've gone with a more reliable, normal job. Mormons & MLM's ... bad medicine!
Adrienne | 1:42 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
My ex-husband who happens to be LDS, was probably one of those who was too trusting. He fell for just about every MLM scheme out there, and would have fallen for a Nigerian scam if he didn't show me that e-mail. Most people I know who are LDS have a strong work ethic, and are very aware of the types of scams out there, so they aren't gullible at all.
Duff | 2:46 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
It is no accident that Utah is the MLM capital of the world. What does that say about Mormons?

It means that if people make their decisions based on religious trust, on prayer, on a belief in human goodness, they are ripe for the picking.

But when you have more children than you can properly educate, you do strange, desperate things to get cash. Good luck to you all.
Jon M. Taylor | 4:06 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
To NY and others re – Why was MLM not included in the warning?
Because victims of these schemes rarely file complaints - with law enforcement, the Better Business Bureau, or with Church authorities. In chain selling, every major victim must become a recruiter to recoup costs of ongoing purchases – required to qualify for commissions or advancement. They fear consequences from or to those they recruited, or who recruited them - often a close friend or relative. They also are led to believe the MLM is legitimate because law enforcement has not shut them down.

Church authorities won’t speak out against MLM until enough people complain about it. So please write directly to the First Presidency asking them to warn Church members – and to protect the image of the Church (LDS/MLM promoters victimize vulnerable populations worldwide – to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars!) Anyone can read the research on LDS involvement in MLM by going to the web site for Consumer Awareness Institute.

Please speak out publicly. Complain. The squeaky wheel gets the grease – in law enforcement and in the Church.

– Jon M. Taylor, Consumer Awareness Institute
Overdone | 4:11 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
Any product,service or investment including cars, MLM's,insurance,education needs to be weighed and considered properly.

I agree about not using the church as a sole source for clients or business.

Not all MLM's are bad. Consider the folowing:

If you are purchasing an MLM product, ask yourself if there is a real product that actually works? Will it benefit you? What is the one-time cost? Is there a money back guarantee? How long has the company been in business? If I risk losing this money will it ruin me financially?

Answer those questions correctly and you will never go wrong. Those questions also apply to every other purchase you will ever make in Wal-Mart, Sears, JC Penny, IKEA and the local food store.

Some MLM's work just fine. Ours does and continues to do so.
Anonymous | 4:36 p.m. Mar. 14, 2008
To Jon Taylor,

Good to see your comments. You are doing a great work for consumer advocacy.

Keep it up!
mikefromcanada | 8:06 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
hey brandon , funny I make 2k a month, my wife stays home , we have kids , and guess what ? no debt ! i own my house , my boatS, my 3 CARs and so on , and all in good shape , perfect running condition, or in perfect order if not a car or boat , depends all on what you want and need , i can do with used, and a bit of elbow grease. 75,000 a year ? are you crazy ? i can raise 15 kids on that ! and still have it all , learn to get priorities straight and you can too , btw I also pay my tithes and other offerings in full as well. poor ? me ? not by far ! rich ? yes ! I have the gospel and try to live it ! attached to my possesions ? nope, need it ? prove it , it 's yours ! that simple :)
mikeincanada | 8:20 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
to timj, no offence intended here but *I* donot live in capitalist central, health care ? free, dwn payment ? not always,, houses? more fair price here,food? much cheaper here again ,same with clothing and the rest , our dollar ? worth more than yours , getting the point yet ? utah gullible ? not really , just a bunch of hard working americans trying to make ends meet in an economy driven by greed, getting sucked in whilst only trying to get a break, SOME, as in any other place in the world , stupid, and greedy of course , but mostly , no , just trying to survive and maybe not quite as perfect as the rest of you finger pointers, whose time is coming, maybe not in money scams , but say , in a layoff or the like , everyone gets hurt, one way or another. I noticed thos , ESPECIALLY the "smug" and "Self righteous" , just an observation take it as you will , prob with more self righteousness and venom spewing.....
Duane Finley | 8:29 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
It is sad to hear most of the comments not to say there is not some truth in most. The over all picture reminds me of the cycle that goes on in the Book of Mormon. We all have a hunger inside us, to bad that we have a tendancy to satisfy it with material things instead of Spiritual things, like love, service and hard work. My wife and I are debt free and live on less than 20K. When we have a hunger we give love, service and read the scriptures. It has not always been like that. Seems we learn more atleast when we are young by our mistakes. Jesus Christ is the light/example I pray we can all learn to follow Him and those He has set as our leaders in righteouness. Let us be calm as a dove but wise as a fox. We must judge with righteous judgements, not others, but ourselves in all we do say and think.
Anonymous | 9:49 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
I'm LDS and I have never fallen for an MLM scam, and I have never considered even getting involved. I also have children I support on my own without the help of a father and I haven't gone to desparate measures. We just live on less and materialistic items become non important.
My teenage children have jobs, so they are able to buy the items they need.
Trent | 10:34 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
Don't judge too quickly or harshly. Yes, I have heard that there is a high amount of fraud and living beyond means within Utah. However, painting the entire LDS population with such a broad brush is an inadequate diagnosis. Have you ever heard of "One for the Money", or visited the Church site, "Provident Living"? If we were truly following the advice of the church, we wouldn't be falling for such schemes.

Fraud is a national problem which is currently feeding on the regional financial illiteracy, illiteracy that may be compounded by the misused trust within the church. It is time for the Utahns, LDS or not, to abandon the ideas of getting rich quick. The advice from the church is not new. You can't expect to fly a plane unless you learn from training and experience. It is the same with making money.
Ray | 11:45 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
To Trent | 10:34 a.m.,

You and several others claim that the Church teaches principles of frugality, prudence, and providence when it comes to business and financial matters. You are right. Those teachings are available for all to see.

That does not change the statistics. Statistically, Utah is in the top of states for bankruptcy, fraud, and related scams. These numbers are undeniable.

So your point only brings up an important question. If LDS are TAUGHT to beware of scams and fraud and bankruptcy, the numbers demonstrate that THEY AREN'T LISTENING! Why aren't LDS people listening to their leaders? Important question.
NY | 1:10 p.m. Mar. 15, 2008
Mike in Canada, I can't help but comment on your "free" health care. It is most certainly not free. Your ultra high taxes pay for that and still you have severe shortages and waiting times. In fact, Cleveland is now known as the the hip replacement center for Canada because Canadians do not want to wait so long in pain. A few years ago the health care backlog became so bad that British Columbia had to contract with Seattle hospitals. Where would Canada be without the U.S. for a health care outlet? Moreover, Canadian doctors, wanting to make a decent salary, are moving to the U.S. which has been a great concern for Canada. As for Canadian unemployment, it is typcially 2 or 3 percentage points higher than here in the U.S. Sorry to burst your bubble with the facts. I could go on, but I am running out of allowable space. Go to Canada's Frazier Institute for the latest on wait times for health care in Canada.
Patti | 1:16 p.m. Mar. 15, 2008
Someone may have already responded to this because I haven't read all 166 comments, however, let's give Mahonri a little break. He did not say "Leadership of the church" he said "Leadership of Utah". There is a big difference.
Sad but True | 4:02 a.m. Mar. 16, 2008
This is so timely, true and sad. I know, because a specific member of a Stake Presidency is making his living doing exactly what the the first presidency is warning about. Unless these people are actually caught and brought to justice - it just continues and the members are often their prey. But whoever they prey upon, it is still just plain "sin".
MLM Bashers | 10:19 a.m. Mar. 16, 2008
New York Time Best selling author of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" (sold 20 million copies to date)and renowned business expert, Robert Kiyosaki recently said about Network Marketing: "Because I did not gain my fortune from network marketing, I can be more objective about the industry. It's the Business School for people who like to help [offers] a value that goes beyond just the potential of making a lot of money [honestly]. I finally found a business with a heart and a deep caring for people." Network Marketing is actually taught at the University level, one in particular is the University of Illinois at Chicago by Harvard Grad, Dr. Charles King. He is a network marketing expert and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and many other publications. Check out the Direct Selling Organization for real facts. It is the national trade association of the leading firms that manufacture and distribute goods and services sold directly to consumers, including MLM. Part of the Association's mission is to ensure that the marketing by member companies of products and/or the direct sales opportunity is conducted with the highest level of business ethics and service to consumers."
KC | 9:15 p.m. Mar. 16, 2008
4 years ago my wife and I decided after much prayer that she should stay home and she was expecting our first child at the time. I was making 45K. We continued to trust in the Lord and opportunities came our way. I'm now self employed in a commercial construction field making 120K. Now able to buy nice things like house, car, truck, etc. I'm finding out that even if you have the means it's not always good to spend money on worldly things. The more you spend the more you are driven to spend. The counsel is very important to me. We are a very blessed people and we have to be carefull not to become worldly. We should save and invest wisely and we can help a lot of people along the way.
Anonymous | 12:14 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
Why aren't any of my comments being posted? Am I banned?
RE: MLM Bashers | 2:22 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
Robert Kiyosaki is not necessarily the best resources to be using to defend MLM. I, myself, consider him to be part of financial fraud since it has been verified that he has repeatedly lied over and over again and has made his millions off of dumb and gullible people. For more information on the truth behind Robert Kiyosaki, google "John T. Reed's analysis of Robert T. Kiyosaki" to find the truth. Needless to say, the man has become an expert con artist.
NY | 6:08 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
Anyone in finance/economics can tell you that Kyosyki is not a good resource or model to follow. I read his books and there were several red flags. If this is the best MLM/pyramid defenders can come up with, they are in deep trouble.
NY | 8:24 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
Dear "banned",

I don't know why I am writing this because I doubt it will get posted. Some of my comments have not been posted and I have no idea why. It seems to be very arbitrary. One comment will be posted and then another that elaborates a little more in response to someone else will not "make the cut". It is truely frustrating to spend time writing and not have it posted for who knows what reason. The last one that was not posted was in response to someone who said that their MLM works fine. I pointed out that it may work fine for them, but it does not work fine for their victims who pay multiple times what the product is worth so the difference can flow up the pyramid (I elaborated in more detail). I also pointed out that the MLM/pyramid type of distribution system for goods and services is not economically efficient and the fact that some people actually make some money off this scheme does not mean it "works fine". Anyway, for this I was banned. I guess it comes down to whether or not the monitor agrees with you. Very Frustrating indeed.
MLM's not Mormons Fault | 8:55 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
The reason Utah is the MLM capital has nothing to do with the LDS people. It has everything to do with the Utah legislature. (I realize it is mostly LDS) The laws in Utah are the easiest in the country to pass off an MLM as a legitimate business. In most states companies have to sell over 40% of there product to consumers. In Utah businesses can count their distributors (the people who sign up to sell the goods) as consumers so they don't actually have to have a consumer base. So write your legislator and our attorney general and let them know what you think of MLM's in our state if you want things to change.
returned to utah | 9:07 a.m. Mar. 17, 2008
My whole take on this "discussion" is that we all need to stop making judgements on other people and just do what's best for you. There's nothing wrong with MLM's or Robert Kiyosaki or real estate investing as long as it is done within the law. If you want to join a MLM, you just need to realize that you must work at it, and not expect to sit back and let the money roll in. You also need to do your research or due diligence. We need to be skeptical of investments to the point that we research it and make sure it fits with our goals and beliefs. And guess what? Praying about it is just plain good sense!!!

MLM Bashers | 1:19 p.m. Mar. 17, 2008
If you're not happy about Kiyosaki's reputation, try Dr. King, and more importantly, the Direct Selling Organization. Check out how much good most of these companies are doing in the world. If you're ambitious and want to provide better for your family, or make it possible for a spouse to stay home and raise your own children, if inhibited by finances, instead of someone else doing it for you, you have a few options: 1) Hope you can get a good raise at work (and continue working for someone else and their goals and amitions, instead of own) 2) Invest hundreds of thousands in a franchise (I wish I had that kind of cash) 3) Start your own business (after 2nd mortgaging out your house) 4) Invest under $500 to get set up in your own direct selling business, once you've done your due diligence (prayed about it, acted wisely, etc.) and provide a valid, worthwhile product to consumers. Personally, I'm grateful when someone shares something they believe in with me - if they're nice about and not pushy. It's really unfortunate that the few bad apples have left so many others with a bad taste in their mouths. MLM's Products | 1:53 p.m. Mar. 17, 2008
What MLM's sell a worthwhile product at a normal price? I think many have good products, but they claim to sell products this way to save money for the consumer. $50 Juices, $120 Vitamins. That doesn't sound like savings to the consumer to me. Dave | 3:21 p.m. Mar. 17, 2008
I totally agree. We should invest with long-established brokerage firms--like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, UBS, Citibank, etc.

Why didn't I think of this sooner? Anonymous | 6:26 p.m. Mar. 17, 2008
I have the utmost compassion for my LDS friends who are being duped by their LDS brothers and sisters.
It's like a huge dysfunctional family. Yes, because | 8:45 p.m. Mar. 17, 2008
They have people from church that they consider "family" and that they can't believe would do them any harm. It is sad, but true. Nicholaus | 12:00 a.m. Mar. 18, 2008
People, we need to learn to get along and trust one another. Yes there are scams out there but they aren't only mormons doing them. Learn to trust in your leaders. Our First Presidency is simply trying to guide and direct you. Be honest in all your dealings, if you aren't you need to do a check up. You can hide your business dealings from people but you can't hide them from God and that' who you will have to answer to in the end. Our country is in financial ruin because of interest onlys and arms, cash value insurance and poor investments. Be smart, stay out of debt, save your money, buy term life. Statistically our country has a savings rate of -1.6% so i don't care who you are and what your living off of, you aren't saving! As for my family, I rent a home, drive a 05 ford minivan, 99 nissan maxima, I don't have a big screen or new furniture and I still need 60 plus thousand a year to live on. That's paying tithing, saving 20% of my gross income and living modestly. That doesn't mean I am happy with that either. Nicholaus | 12:15 a.m. Mar. 18, 2008
I really love the comments by people who say I have no debt except my house or no debt except my car. So your saying that 175 thousand dollar mortgage isn't debt or that 30 thousand dollar car isn't debt. Get Real!!! you have debt own up to it. It is unfortunate that spouses do have to work outside the homes and i'll agree sometimes it is neccesary. The problem with our country as far as jobs is we don't get paid enough. The average salary is 27 thousand a year thats why it takes 2 to 3 jobs to live a moderate lifestyle. Gas prices are ridiculous which is a whole subject on it's own, so get to the real point of this whole article. Beware of the investment scams, research the company and the credibility it has don't just take a persons word for it (which is unfortunate we can't just do that) We are all trying to succeed and have to make money off of each other whether it's a mlm, tire shop, grocery store, restraunt, clothing or shoe store, contractor, pool service, yard care. It all is the same so be honest with each other! Thank you NY | 1:08 a.m. Mar. 18, 2008
My relatives are losing their houses because of an MLM fraud scheme and I can't get the story posted.

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