A program with no or a low-quality product, or with a focus on getting paid per recruit, could be an illegal pyramid scheme. However, don't let the term pyramid throw you off. It's not the shape of the organization that makes it illegal. In fact, most companies have a pyramid structure with a CEO at the top, VPs next, mid-level managers etc. What makes an illegal pyramid scheme is the lack of a quality product, or that income is earned on recruiting, not commissions from sales. 
For full disclosure, I want to point out that I am not affiliated with any multi-level marketing or direct sales companies, and that I don’t receive any compensation from the industry for my opinion on it.  I’m sharing this with you because after I wrote what is considered the most widely read, copied, and quoted MLM article in the history of the industry, I was accused of writing it to promote my own MLM business or the industry in general, which is not the case.
I think you showed how poor your research is when you tried to claim that MLM’s proper name is referral marketing. I guess Money Magazine got it wrong in 1987? http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1987/06/01/83883/index.htm or maybe USA Today did last year: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2011-02-07-multilevelmarketing03_CV_N.htm ?

With so many of the fastest growing MLM companies pushing to have you join, it can get confusing when you’re looking at MLM products, compensation plans, where to get leads, marketing tips, and most of all – can I really make money with this? What you need to remember, is that the best MLM to join in your situation is going to come down to one thing – finding a product and a business you are excited about sharing!
6. MLM trade journal advertising. A well-written and properly placed ad can generate some good contacts. But don't expect thousands or even hundreds of inquires. These publications are read by experienced distributors who see lots of offerings. Yours must stand out in order to compete. Many publications will offer you a press release to accompany your ad that will greatly enhance your inquiries.

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It was an absolute pleasure doing business with you. I was very pleased with the speed that you delivered your product. We ordered a specific quantity of addresses but Listguy was very generous in supplying 5,000 more addresses that we had requested at no further cost. We were able to acquire the addresses we needed in the time frame we required. I would definitely recommend Listguy!
It is almost impossible to stop the industry because of the amount of investors and lobbyists who are profiting from them. “During the Obama administration, the Federal Trade Commission made its biggest-ever effort to curb this industry when last summer it slapped nutritional supplement–seller Herbalife with a $200 million fine and, as part of a settlement with Herbalife, demanded it restructure its business so that it would “start operating legitimately,” as FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez put it.” (Slate) The current administration under President Donald Trump will be a completely different story and may very well be a boon for the MLM industry. Let’s start with Trump himself. In 2009, he licensed his name to an MLM, which eventually went bankrupt, along with many of his participants. Many in Trump’s cabinet have strong ties to MLMs as well: Betsey DeVos (whose husband is the president of Amway — by the way, DeVos family has donated $200 million to the Republican party over the years), Ben Carson, Carl Icahn (a billionaire who is also a major investor in Herbalife and holds five board seats at the company), and Charles Herbster.
The following is a list of organizations that according to their website descriptions provide MLM lead lists. Database Systems Corp. is not affiliated with any of these organizations nor does it promote or endorse the products and services of these companies. These websites provide various types of leads including business marketing leads, business opportunity leads, opt in MLM leads, network marketing leads, home business leads etc.
Although each MLM company dictates its own specific financial compensation plan for the payout of any earnings to their respective participants, the common feature that is found across all MLMs is that the compensation plans theoretically pay out to participants only from two potential revenue streams. The first is paid out from commissions of sales made by the participants directly to their own retail customers. The second is paid out from commissions based upon the sales made by other distributors below the participant who have recruited those other participants into the MLM; in the organizational hierarchy of MLMs, these participants are referred to as one's down line distributors.[5]
Some MLM reps will promote their business as a "job" or use other description​s to lure prospects. MLM isn't a job, it's a business. Any MLM rep promoting "employment" is using deception and isn't someone you want to work with. Other deceptive (and often illegal) practices include making income guarantees or suggesting you'll make money doing very little. 
Don is a great person to work with. He has a lot of knowledge. The Apache Leads support team will answer any questions that you have.After searching long and hard for a legitimate MLM phone lead company on Google, I discovered Apache Leads. I gave them a go and I'm glad that I did.You won't be disappointed, the leads were real people who are genuine, who are actually looking for a home-based business. I will continue to use Apache Leads to help expand my business.
Thanks Ray for this info about the lead company. Some time ago I purchased Todd’s script book and purchased a large group of leads from another company. After over 400 calls I realized that the company had sold my ‘exclusive’ leads, muliple times. Did I consider it a waste of time and money? No, it was a very good training opportunity for me. Most people have a job and work and can’t take time off to get a ‘telemarketer’ job. But they can get a script book and get a group of inexpensive leads and use it as a form of training on the phone. After a large no. of calls the phone can become a familiar and usable tool.
Here we’ve got a throwback to network marketing’s roots (Remember Tupperware parties? No? There’s a reason for that). Kitchen products, cooking demos, and mommy bloggers galore. Stay-at-home-moms looking for some flexibility are still a HUGE target demographic for MLM, so it’s no surprise that Pampered Chef has done so well that Warren Buffett decided he needed a piece of the action.
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