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Easy money offers may prove costly

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Especially these days. So the offer to make easy cash is tempting.

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Especially these days. So the offer to make easy cash is tempting. And that’s what a company called BIM (Business in Motion) is offering. We found out first hand when we went inside: join their organization, and you could make serious dollars, and get dream vacations. Almost every night in hotel conference rooms across the country, BIM is holding information sessions about their exclusive money-making plan, with the promise that it is on the cusp of exploding into a profitable venture bigger than Amway.

Sound too good to be true? BIM says it’s not. They say that hasn’t stopped around 8,000 Canadians from getting in. The man behind BIM, Alan Kippax, says the company has already brought in $30 million in sales. And just what does BIM sell? Its main product is the UltraLife travel club, with online access to steep discounts on resort travel all over the world. Attend a presentation, and you could get the sense that you’ll soon be relaxing in sunny climes while the money pours in.

BIM says you can get a $9,000 package for just $3,200 at one of their presentations. We get ourselves inside and do some digging. We attend a few sessions and discover the real attraction is not the holiday, but the promise of big money. The pitch is about bringing in new buyers. And when you help Alan Kippax do that, you can join their pay structure and, he says, potentially make thousands of dollars signing up new members.

But potential buyers should approach with caution. Experts we’ve spoken to say BIM looks and sounds like an illegal pyramid scheme, which means it has a limited shelf life and buyers could lose their money. To prevent pyramids, Canada’s Competition Bureau forbids any company from operating a business that makes most of its money off recruiting. Another red flag for pyramid schemes? The product sold is often of little value. So just how much is their travel product worth? We compare BIM’s $3,200 travel club with discount sites available to anyone on the Internet. We find cheaper prices for the same date at the same resort as in BIM’s package.

Alan Kippax insists his company is entirely legal. But the RCMP admitted to us that they suspect it is an illegal pyramid scheme. They told us they’ve passed on their concerns to the Competition Bureau. The Competition Bureau would not say whether they are investigating.

Meanwhile, BIM continues to pitch its plan to Canadians desperate for cash in these tough times. If you are unsure about joining a money-making venture, do lots of homework. Turn to the Internet and search for any complaints about the people involved. And before you hand over your money, understand the law so that you don’t risk losing cash to a scheme that may eventually collapse.

– Wendy Mesley is a co-host of CBC News: Marketplace, Canada's award-winning consumer affairs show, and a regular back-up host with CBC News: The National. CBC News: Marketplace airs each Friday night at 8:30 p.m. (9 p.m. NT) on CBC Television.

 
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