Thursday, July 17, 2014

Marc Frank Montoya and the Pyramid Scheme

 
Over the past few years former pro snowboarder and amateur gangster, Marc Frank Montoya, has been re-inventing himself as a "Financial Freedom Specialist". It all sounded amusingly bonkers, but unfortunately underneath his veneer of blag, the ways he's chosen to money off the back of his snowboarding legacy are really sinister...


To become a financial guru you'd think you'd need a strong history of success in business and Marc Frank Montoya (MFM) is not afraid to claim that he's the dog's bollocks. This is how he describes his business background on his website:

How I went from "HOOD TO GREAT"

Discover How I Went From A Struggling "Hustler", To A World-Class Professional Athlete Building Several Million Dollar Businesses As A Serial Entrepreneur!


And on his Linkedin profile, complete with resplendent smugshot, he's claiming near Jedi-level business skills



Let's take a look at those claims by taking a trip through the rest of his Linkedin profile...

So that's just an incredibly wank way of saying he was a professional snowboarder. Well that bit of his profile is no surprise, but what about his claim to be a successful entrepreneur?


That didn't work out so well. He went into business with a really shady character called "Liko" Smith who was the brother of his then wife. The hotels had to be sold off after a few years when Liko Smith, who ran the business, was arrested for owing $200,000 in taxes. MFM was only really an investor rather than the person who ran the joint, but he lost a whole load of money on that bet.

Dead. Let's mark that up as failure two of two.

That's also gone and is now just a front page for the last thing on his résumé, we'll get to that in a minute. Three from three.


On top of those three there's been a series of other business attempts that he's chosen not to include on his Linkedin profile including:

  • Federal Skateboards - Dead
  • Sound Outerwear - Unsound
  • Biltrite Snowboards - Biltnotsorite
  • DumbFounded PerduKshinz, a DJ business - Dumbfounded


A bunch of failed investments, failed businesses and one zombie website is not the definition of being a serial entrepreneur. It's like a guy with a record-breaking premature ejaculation problem claiming he's a legendary swordsman.

With no sign of any actual business successes, this guy is surely in no position to be handing out financial advice, unless that advice is on how to lose money prolifically.

At this point MFM realised that he was about as good at business as he was at lip-synching hip-hop, so he looked for another way to make money, which leads us on to the most recent part of his career - scamming people.

These two businesses (and the zombie site) are the same turd polished in slightly different ways. There's a good article on Whitelines which takes a look at his most recent reinvention "Financial Freedom Specialist", but what they don't get quite right is how he makes his money. He doesn't make money just by flogging DVDs, the really sinister money behind this site is in the 'Mandatory Trainings' [sic] section. That section, and the whole focus of the other site, is on a scheme called multi-level marketing.

Multi-level marketing (MLM) sounds pretty innocent, but what it is in this case is one tiny grey step away from a good old-fashioned pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes, where the whole charade is based on the collection and redistribution of joining fees from new people to people further up the hierarchy, are of course illegal. To avoid the whole awkward jail bit, companies need to offer some sort of product or service to be involved and pretty often that product can be as nominal as 'wealth advice'.

MFM has joined up with an outfit called the Empower Network, a company set-up by a couple of very dodgy blokes based out of the hotbed of business success and convenient taxes, Costa Rica. Empower Network is really at the very sketchy end of the MLM schemes, because although they do offer a service, their service is pretty much just a garnish for the joining fees.



You pay in about $5,000 to join/get trained (you won't get that back) and for that you get some spurious advice on how to make money from blogging and a site of your own (which is build on Wordpress, a product you can get hold of without these guys for the very reasonable price of no money). Approximately $4,000 of that fee goes to the person that gets you to buy in and $1,000 goes up the chain to the guys at the top. You can then hope to make about $100 a month form blogging and for the volume of work involved $100 is a shitty amount of money and it would take years just to break even. But for most people it's even worse, as around 90% of the people who sign-up to this scheme stand to make no money at all.

The real way to make money in this scheme is not to blog, but to sell the idea to more people. Instead of the minimal $1,200 a year you could make from blogging about something like snowboarding, if you blog and talk about Empower Network and you managed to sign-up one person a month you'll make $48,000. That's a huge incentive for the people in the network to behave exactly like they would in a pyramid scheme and it all operates on the basis of exploiting a lot of people who lose money.

TL;DR You have to pay to join, and if you have to pay a company to work for them, it's a scam.

Also another warning sign is that if someone has to spend any time explaining how their business is not a pyramid scheme, it's a pyramid scheme. Here's MFM doing just that.


Sure buddy, it's not a pyramid scheme, and this isn't one of the most worst examples of misogyny in snowboarding history...



So MFM is spending a lot of time and making a lot of money from signing people up to Empower Networks and the first group of people he's been targeting are sadly the people who supported him when he was a snowboarder. Interesting way to thank them. Here's a couple of relevant comments from the EasyLounging forum.

Distric - One of my friends is selling that shit for MFM. imo, he lures shred kids in with the vision of being one of his "friends" having meetings at his house and going to bars with him. Friend has tried to get me to go. I want nothing to do with it.

He's basically a financial Jimmy Saville

MFM claims that juice healed his knee. whatever

Good point. I forgot to mention that he used to also front up another multi-level marketing company that hucks miracle drinks called Monavie. There's another thing he didn't mention on his Linkedin profile.


drjcv - I've got a buddy that constantly gets hooked by the latest mlm thing, it doesn't matter how many he gets involved in he never seems to learn.

The fundamental thing about any mlm scheme is that its not about selling the product, its about signing people up. usually there is a couple hundred dollar sign up fee. The idea is you sell "financial freedom" to people. you hook people in by saying all they have to do is sign people up (and the people you sign up supposedly start making money from the people they sign up who makes money from....)

So you have a guy like MFM, who is successful and charismatic at the top of the pyramid (which has multi levels btw, that's where the name comes from) actually making some money, but no one else does, you're just a brick in the pyramid and the point at the top is embedded in MFM's sphincter.

Arsehole highlighted


The thing is that by getting involved with Empower Network Marc Frank Montoya is falling for the same bullshit. He's not at the top of these pyramids, he's a making money, but he's also being taken advantage of. It's a mugs game and he's a bit part player.

To up the irony, remember the guy that took large sums of his money and lost in on the Block Hotel? Liko Smith "The World's Most Extreme CEO", is involved in these schemes too and more than likely he's the one that got MFM involved. It takes some kind of special sucker to fall for that shit twice.

[Edit: It seems that Liko Smith's site has just been pulled down for legal reasons. Here's the archived version]


As good as Marc Frank Montoya was at snowboarding, what he's been doing off the mountains has really tarnished whatever credit he had instead of building something on it. By embracing these exploitative get-rich-quick schemes and targeting the people who used to be his supporters MFM is rapidly turning into a rotten legacy for snowboarding.




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12 comments:

  1. Oh yes, MonaVie... I used to get calls from Louie Vito to invest all the time.

    Montoya's in it for life... http://www.monavie.com/en/company/athletes/marc-frank-montoya

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  2. Linkend screen shots and a perspective that holds no weight. Are you going to do posts on the other 20 pros that are doing the same? Get your facts straight before you push publish. Amazing journalism...

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  3. 'The hell are you talking about? what possible thing here can be disputed? I remember all those companies, they all failed. All of them.
    And being that this is illicit, they just might do stories on "the other 20 pros that are doing the same"

    So yeah, amazing journalism.

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  4. Anyone successful in business usually gets it right by the 13th try. That is what it takes. The company that is a MLM that he is currently working with, is along side close to 20 other pros as well as pro football players, etc. So I was being specific in that comment. The article is outdated as far as what MFM is putting his attention into now. I have personally been mentored by Marco and have a successful business within snowboarding and also one advised outside of snowboarding. Having personally won an award representing snowboarding in mainstream journalism, running the fastest growing snowboard website currently, actually knowing the facts behind this article, and am aware of what it takes to succeed in the business world, I can say that this way amazing journalism.... please

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  5. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

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  6. Funny shit. MFM and Stevie Bell are slinging Nu Skin spankin lotion too!

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  7. Angrysnowboarder.comJuly 17, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Some mighty big claims in this anonymous response Guest, or should I say Bug Stroope. Lets talk about some of these claims.

    This is what I am coining as satirical realism. It pokes fun at the real nature of the story. If you can't grasp that as you want journalism, then lets look at it this way. It's definitely a pointed article that while you might not agree with points out the fact MFM is working inside of a pyramid scheme. Would you rather that this had just had a straight to the point just the facts dynamic? Because I can say if it did that would have been far more humiliating.

    Sad that he and other "pros" have joined in on it, but hey look up Wakeupnow and try to say it's not the same thing.

    If it takes you 13 tries to be successful you are a failure. I believe in every book, lesson, and article I've ever read on the subject it takes between 2 and 5 tries, 13 seems absurd. MFM definitely has more failures than successes. It's great that he has been able to keep going after all his flops, that definitely shows the entreprenuerial spirit, doesn't mean he's the best expert on success though. Not being a dick, just being a realist.

    It's also great that your company Insectico Industries and your website Familyshred.com are mentored by Marco. But as another website owner that's done it longer than you, I can say that doesn't mean shit in the grand scheme of things. Once again not being a dick, just being a realist.

    Also this belief that you are the "fastest" growing snowboard website is a bit of a laugh. Checking out site rankings, traffic, and what not you're not even a blip on the top 25 snowboard websites globally. So while this is the Internet and you are fully welcome to make any claims you want, you should have facts to back it up. Truthfully the fastest growing snowboard website is something more like snowboardingforum.com because it's simplicity and great SEO has really perched it at the top.

    Also not sure what this little award you received is as I couldn't find anything in any Google searches, but once again it doesn't mean fuck all in regards to this story.


    Now here is me being a dick. You come off as a dick swinging douche that has either bought into the pyramid scheme or someone that lives in denial that their "hero" could have faults. Whichever you choose I can say you just came across as a fucktard.

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  8. Angry SnowboarderJuly 18, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    Some mighty big claims in this anonymous response Guest, or should I say Bug Stroope. Lets talk about some of these claims.

    This is what I am coining as satirical realism. It pokes fun at the real nature of the story. If you can't grasp that as you want journalism, then lets look at it this way. It's definitely a pointed article that while you might not agree with points out the fact MFM is working inside of a pyramid scheme. Would you rather that this had just had a straight to the point just the facts dynamic? Because I can say if it did that would have been far more humiliating.

    Sad that he and other "pros" have joined in on it, but hey look up Wakeupnow and try to say it's not the same thing.

    If it takes you 13 tries to be successful you are a failure. I believe in every book, lesson, and article I've ever read on the subject it takes between 2 and 5 tries, 13 seems absurd. MFM definitely has more failures than successes. It's great that he has been able to keep going after all his flops, that definitely shows the entreprenuerial spirit, doesn't mean he's the best expert on success though. Not being a dick, just being a realist.

    It's also great that your company Insectico Industries and your website Familyshred.com are mentored by Marco. But as another website owner that's done it longer than you, I can say that doesn't mean shit in the grand scheme of things. Once again not being a dick, just being a realist.

    Also this belief that you are the "fastest" growing snowboard website is a bit of a laugh. Checking out site rankings, traffic, and what not you're not even a blip on the top 25 snowboard websites globally. So while this is the Internet and you are fully welcome to make any claims you want, you should have facts to back it up. Truthfully the fastest growing snowboard website is something more like snowboardingforum.com because it's simplicity and great SEO has really perched it at the top.

    Also not sure what this little award you received is as I couldn't find anything in any Google searches, but once again it doesn't mean fuck all in regards to this story.


    Now here is me being a dick. You come off as a dick swinging douche that has either bought into the pyramid scheme or someone that lives in denial that their "hero" could have faults. Whichever you choose I can say you just came across as a fucktard.

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  9. Thanks for the kind words. Sorry I get kicked out of the comments every time I try to log in, so I have to post as a "Guest". You have me all figured out the same as the article had Marco figured out. Thanks for the FamilyShred plug, but it wasn't what I was talking about. I have been in the game behind a few publications for quite some time and have been writing under another name for even longer in and outside of the snowboard industry. I have always been a person that got too pumped up when one of my friends or family was wronged in any way and my response to the article was one of those cases. Everyone is entitled to there opinion. We come from two different sides and I will go back to doing what I do and you the same. Again, thanks for the plug and the extra traffic.

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  10. Thanks FearMe, I was boiling up a rather lewd response to Bug, but you're far more articulate.

    P.S- Can you do a story on "the other 20 pros" if you haven't already done so?
    I'd love to see your take on it.

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  11. If anyone has the names of these other 20 pros send them my way

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  12. Wow there are some sad ass people out there!!! Here are a bunch of wannabe riders who couldn't make the cut on their boards so they created websites or "BLOGS" to talk shit about the guys who can or did. Big news here Marco is doing MLM. That story broke like 8 years ago where the fuck were you guys.


    This article is very inaccurate!!


    Here are a few facts about MLM's or "pyramid Schemes" as you irresponsibly and ignorantly called them. By the way this is coming from someone who doesn't even do them I'm just not an ignorent dumbass who doesn't know difference.


    The deffinition of Pyramid Scheme is an unsustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of PRODUCTS OR SERVICES to the public.


    MLM's offer products and or services. By your definition and irresponsible journalism a pyramid scheme with one "Arsehole" at the top would be the definition of any privately owned company in the world.....would it not?
    So MFM is in a company called Nu Skin now right? That company started in 1984........wait Marco wasn't doing MLM's then so how could he be the guy at the top? Looks like Nu Skin is currently a $2.1 Billion publicly traded company. Damn Marco must be killing it if he's at the top of all that right.
    So let's recap, a business that offers products and has been around for 30yrs is publicly traded and valued at $2.1 Billion doesn't seem to fit the definition of a "Pyramid Scheme". It's been around since 1984 so it's defiantly sustainable. It has created over 800 self made millionaires and every 4 days they create a lifetime millionaire, seems like a better investment then a snowboard blog or any snowboard company right now. It offers products and services and is publicly traded. Sooooooooo how is it a pyramid scheme??


    Maybe Marco is busy trying to build a business while helping other like minded people learn and build their business. If you look again at your "arsehole" graphic you will see each person under the arsehole is at the top of their business and has the potential to grow their business as big as they can.


    Every time you fell on your face learning to snowboard did you consider yourself a failure?? Or was it learning? It's people like Marco who don't give up and don't care what people think that go on to truly master something. That's why it is funny to see you try and tear him down while running your amateur little blog and prob scrubbing toilets at Denny's. He would be a great person to learn from about business he can help you avoid all the mistakes he's made so you'll never have to make them yourself.


    The internet is the world's bathroom wall people. It's idiots like these guys who write stuff about things they know nothing about like money and business. Don't take your business advice from any of these amateur snowboard bloggers who are struggling to pay rent themselves. Pick up a freaking book. Take the time to learn something well enough to master it. That's all Marco is trying to do.


    -Kenny Martinez

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