Sep/Oct 2014 - Pacific Standard

Sep/Oct 2014

money-friends

Silicon Valley's Embrace of Multi-Level Marketing

In a culture that increasingly valorizes start-ups and social entrepreneurship, and an economy that keeps ordinary people always on the lookout for the next gig, it makes sense that multi-level marketing firms have found a warm reception. But how different are they from their predecessors—and how are they the same?

The Grandparent Scam

Every day, phones are ringing in homes across the country. Maybe yours. On the line: organized teams of con artists trying to bilk you out of thousands of dollars by impersonating your loved ones. One especially lucrative scam targets the supposedly vulnerable demographic of grandparents. A journalist and grandmother sets out to discover who's calling—and the real reason why the "grandparent scam" works so damn well.