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Moneylife » Life » Public Interest » Forbes magazine's strange activism on behalf of the shady MLM QNet

Forbes magazine's strange activism on behalf of the shady MLM QNet

Moneylife Digital Team | 20/12/2012 06:07 AM | 

A blog published by the international magazine Forbes on the founder of QNet, a notorious multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme, has been touted by agents of the company as a blue-chip endorsement. Now the same writer goes a step further to defend them by attacking Moneylife’s stance on the dodgy scheme. Not surprisingly, QNet, which refused to answer direct questions posed by Moneylife, appears to have provided detailed answers to this writer

Donald Frazier, a writer at Forbes, has done it again. This time, he endorses QNet, a typical MLM scheme, which has been luring hundreds of thousands Indians the same way Speak Asia did, while attacking Moneylife. The endorsement contains answers to specific queries raised by us. What is astonishing is that Frazier claims not to have met any detractors of QNet. Here is the latest on Forbes’ endorsement of a dubious operation that our Ministry of Corporate Affairs and its Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) are claiming to investigate.

The blog by Frazier on the website of Forbes Asia has repeatedly found mention in the comments section of Moneylife’s many articles on QNet as a credible endorsement of the scheme and its Malaysian-born promoter, Vijay Eswaran. The comments, ostensibly from independent representatives (IRs) of QNet, seek to allay the fears of potential victims of the scheme. When Moneylife tweeted the India editor of Forbes magazine to find out if it really was endorsing QNet, our articles were apparently brought to Frazier’s attention.

Since then, Frazier has tried to draw Moneylife into a dialogue and attempted to get us to supply him with a list of QNet detractors—something no self-respecting journalist ought to do. Now he has published a bigger endorsement of QNet, which, strangely enough, has Moneylife and its managing editor as its centrepiece. Does this mean that Moneylife’s investigation into the Singapore-registered QNet’s obviously shady business is hitting home? Read on for details.

Frazier’s latest blog starts with the strange premise that he invited Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife and founder-trustee of Moneylife Foundation, to use his blog as a “neutral site” for providing information on QNet. This is strange because Moneylife is an e-paper, in competition with Forbes, and we have posted several articles about QNet, which detail our standpoint. Frazier, however, seems confused about the difference between media entities and a shady corporate entity that would need his blog—either as a friendly or hostile site—to post views.

Mr Frazier also claimed that “She (Ms Dalal) also opted to not identify self-professed ‘victims’ of QNet who, she says, came out in one of her for-pay seminars in Mumbai a few weeks ago." This is interesting because Moneylife Foundation’s seminar was attended by two senior officers from the government’s SFIO who not only heard the victims but also participated in the discussion. There was an audience of over 50 persons that day.

He then goes on to pick up some direct and specific questions that Moneylife had posed to Zaheer Merchant, QNet’s director for corporate communications. Mr Merchant has yet to respond to us directly, but apparently made time to give Frazier a point-by-point reply.   Ironically, the answers only prove our point that QNet’s reaction to our writings—way back in 2009—were to immediately offer an all-expenses paid trip to Hong Kong to Ms Dalal to “check out their operations”. It is not clear why an MLM selling holiday packages, watches and trinkets globally needs to fly journalists to Hong Kong. Mr Merchant says that many journalists accepted QNet’s invitation—it would be interesting to get a list of names, because analysing their writings on QNet, before and after visiting Hong Kong, would establish the impact of the trip.

The emails between Mr Frazier and Ms Dalal that are self explanatory...

On 3 December 2012, Mr Frazier wrote...

Dear Ms. Dalal -
 
Greetings, and I hope you are well.
 
You've apparently been much more successful than I have in finding detractors of QNet.  Last week I sent you a message with a greater idea: what if you were to summarize all of the allegations of unsavory and illegal behavior by the company?  I would run it in my column in Forbes, and demand that QNet answers them publicly.
 
I should post a column on reactions to the story anyway.  I can get answers to all of your questions, helping your readers and mine.
 
Here's the link:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/donaldfrazier/2012/10/24/selling-a-better-life/ (Originally in Forbes Asia's print edition for November.)
 
I hope to do this is a few days; please reply so that I know you received this,


On the same day, Ms Dalal replied, saying...

Dear Mr Frazier

Greetings and many thanks for your email. I guess you have written to me because everybody lured by QNet is quoting the "positive" coverage that QNet received from Forbes.
 
I am not sure you know, but we run a magazine (smaller than Forbes, certainly, but we are in the publication business). Our website www.moneylife.in has a big reach and our e-magazine goes out to over 75,000 people every day.  

I am not sure why WE should summarise anything for YOU to publish in your BLOG. Completely flummoxed by the suggestion. Wouldn't it be far better if you were to visit our website, search for QNet and find everything we have to say on the matter for yourself?

If you are truly saying that you have not found anyone with anything negative to say about QNet, I can only say that you have not looked hard enough. We had several people at our seminar in Mumbai who would have happily provided details. Maybe a visit to the Serious Frauds Investigation Office in Mumbai or the police in Hyderabad will also help you get information.

I trust this is useful.


On 4 December 2012 Mr Frazier replied...

Hi Ms Dalal, and many thanks for your prompt, substantive note.
 
Yes, I was quite surprised to find my story commonly described as an ‘endorsement,’ as if coverage of any company confers a quasi-official ‘seal of approval’ on its activities.  Mainly, given our focus on individual entrepreneurs at Forbes, it’s a story about the ascent of QNet’s founder who, you gotta admit, has indeed become rich and famous this way.
 
I’ve just discovered Moneylife.  Your creation?  I think its mixture of news coverage, commentary, blogging, tweeting and events could very well point the way for the future of journalism—at least in India, where the Jain brothers et al seem to be far in advance of the West in breaking down old conventions.  I love its energetic tone of righteous indignation!
 
To answer your question, I thought you might prefer to assemble these various charges because that would give you a more cohesive, harder-hitting document. (Must confess: I also thought you might have fun with the confronting Qnet directly in my space.)
 
But no worries:  I’ll take your advice, by gathering the disparaging references from Moneylife, your blog, your twitter feed etc, and running them in one document, and asking QNet to reply.  I’ll be sure to attribute them to you. But some of these are more like allusions.  For example, consider a twitter reply of 19 November, by a Ritesh Anand?@Rites40: @suchetadalal “Mam I am a direct victim of QuestNet/Goldquest, really want to kill those bastards, All these MLM are pure fraud.” Great copy, but it doesn’t give us as lot of information to go on.
 
(BTW I’m not a blogger—all of my stories for Forbes and Forbes Asia are for the paid print operation and subject to the same fact-checking, editing and so on. Forbes corporate uses the blogging platform to post everything they publish—no wonder you got the wrong impression.)
 
I’d be delighted to feature the people from your seminar in Mumbai.  Bring them on!
 
I’ll do this over the next few days; please feel free to forward anything you’d like me to add to the mix.
 
Cheers – and thanks again for inspiring what will be a spirited dialogue.



On the same day, Ms Dalal replied, saying...

Greetings Mr Frazier...
 
Moneylife—our website also collates authentic information and cross checks it with the police, serious frauds office and government ministries.

Just for your information, we will not collate uninformed comments on Twitter or Facebook and use them in our reports or stories. Also, just by way of background, Debashis Basu (editor & founder of Moneylife) and I have over 27 years of journalistic experience, mainly in India's mainline press. So it’s not a little fun blog—and the “righteous indignation” you speak of is borne out of close observation of the Indian business scenario.

So no, we won’t “bring it on" .. We think each of us ought to do our own research and our own writing. Many thanks for your offer.


There are other things that the Forbes columnist apparently failed to notice when he was trawling the internet for Twitter feeds and comments. QNet and its IRs or sales agents specialise in creating duplicate domain names to manipulate search engines like Google. Moneylife had a firsthand experience of this. Maybe Mr Frazier should check this link: http://forbesmagazineqnet.1672098.free-press-release.com/.

Another result that appears on Google bears the title "Forbes Asia - Official QNet Blog – Qnet” (yes, the QNet people have used Forbes Asia as their page title!) The entry on this blog page says, "Vijay Eswaran in Forbes Philanthropy Heroes List!" Do we, or Mr Frazier, need more proof that shows how his article in Forbes is being misused by QNet to endorse its ‘business’?

QNet has done this to Moneylife as well. Check out moneylife.qnetlife.in and moneylife.qnetlife.net, which is clearly the handiwork of the QNet team and designed to mislead. Finally, here is a first-person account from a well-known television journalist, Ashu Dutt, on how he and his family became a victim of QNet. He sent this to Mr Frazier with a copy to us…

Donald:

I got your reference from Sucheta Dalal. As a backgrounder I was the Chief Consulting Editor of Bloomberg TV and ET Now, Editor and Senior Anchor at CNBC-TV18 and Senior Anchor at NDTV/Star News. I am also a bestselling author of over a dozen books. So I hope this provides you with credibility in terms of a "detractor".

QI/QNet/QuestNet/GoldQuest/Faith Network is not just a fraud, but they lure women to break away from their families and then go after the family money. My own wife fell into this trap. I have 3 little children and she has put their future in jeopardy. They first lured her into their web using hypnotists (their Mumbai kingpin, Manjunath Hegde, is a hypnotist and they proudly declare him to be a "master of the mind". The network in Mumbai is run through another cult-like organization called "Faith Network".

Once this was done, they got her to put money from our house and relatives. Then they told her to kidnap our children and run away to Thailand (my kids are US and Thai citizens). Fortunately, Indian immigration stopped her from going to Thailand.

This is my story. I can tell you that there are hundreds of Indian families that have been ruined by these people. In Mumbai, they use hypnotism and cult-like practices (wearing white clothes with blue pendants).

Once they trap the women, they go after their wealth. My wife has now gone on to take over our assets by changing directors and doing all kinds of illegal corporate stuff guided by QI kingpins.

This is my personal experience and I come from your fraternity. I must say I was very dismayed to see a magazine of your standing put out an article about people who use hypnosis and destroy families.

QNet openly uses your article to mislead people. While it may just be an article for you, hundreds of homes have been destroyed. People are being sold Ponzi schemes in a country where the level of financial literacy and understanding of legal rights is very poor.

Hope you will do something to correct this distorted picture

Regards
Ashu Dutt

 


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191 Comments
jitu moni

jitu moni 3 hours ago

Madras High Court
Gold Quest International Pvt. Ltd vs The State Of Tamil Nadu on 9 April, 2003
..... 25. Nothing is placed on record regarding the foundation of the petitioner companies and the aims and objectives of the companies to achieve and how they are beneficial or serving the ends of the society or the general public and therefore needless to mention that only to cover up cases of such nature, Act 43/78 has been legislated by the framers of law revealing thereby the legislative intent to cover up cases of such nature with schemes which are not based on any ideal relying on one's effort, hard work or putting in the intelligence etc. but on luck or chance of making quick or easy money by lazy or lethargic means of enrolling members into the scheme only to enrich the organisers at the cost of the general public which are glaring in the schemes and there is no wonder the respondents have issued proper directions to their subordinates to be on the alert and to avoid innocent general public from falling a prey to the ill-motivated designs or alluring tricks and tactics adopted by parties like the petitioners by using those who fall a prey early being used as their canvassing agents for enlisting more number of the general public to join the scheme ultimately to enrich themselves at the cost of the innocent public who are sure to be cheated ultimately and since many such instances have proved to be utter failures in the recent times giving way for the public to be cheated of their hard-earned life saving monies. Prevention is better than cure. The preventive and punitive measures taken on the part of the respondents cannot, under any circumstance, be termed as either irregular or illegal or infirm or in violation of the norms of law. The respondents have rightly exercised their jurisdiction conferred by law in registering such cases wherein such unlawful activities are reported or brought to the notice of the respondents thereby promptly registering the case either under the relevant provisions of the IPC such as 420 or under the penal provisions of the Special Act such as the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes ( Banning) Act, 1978 and thus they have only acted in adherence to the requirements of law and no such directions or orders as sought for to be made in the above petitions need be necessary in the circumstances of the case.

26. So far as the judgments cited on the part of the petitioners are concerned, in the first judgment by the Honourable Apex Court it is clearly held that `in the first place, it must be proved that he is promoting or conducting a scheme for the making of quick or easy money and secondly, the chance or opportunity of making quick or easy money must be shown to depend upon an event or contingency relative or applicable to the enrolment of members into that scheme', which are the ingredients of the relevant provisions of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, which are laid emphasis by the Honourable Apex Court and the Honourable Apex Court would also hold that the `scheme has necessarily to be judged as a whole both from the viewpoint of the promoters and also of the members in order to find out whether it is a scheme for the making of quick or easy money and any event or contingency relative or applicable to the enrolment of members into the scheme'. Therefore, it is incumbent on the part of the respondents to study each and every such scheme floated and exercise their jurisdiction and proceed against, provided the transaction is not above-board and is secretive or clandestine in nature and if the transaction is considered to be a scheme for making quick or easy money.

27. So far as the case in hand is concerned, on a overall consideration of the facts and circumstances of the scheme floated on the part of the petitioners, the respondents in their considered view have rightly arrived at the conclusion to hold that they fall under the purview of Section 420 IPC and under Section 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 and hence they have given positive instructions to the law enforcing machinery and the police to register the cases wherever such schemes are floated. Therefore, the actions and prosecutions initiated by the respondents and their subordinates could only be concluded as within the permissible limits of their powers to register such cases and not in violation of any law or rule or norms.
http://indiankanoon.org/doc/267753/

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jitu moni

jitu moni 3 days ago

http://www.hyderabadpolice.gov.in/Frauds...

Money Circulation Schemes, Direct Marketing, Multi-Level Marketing Schemes, Network Marketing


Money Circulation Schemes are being promoted in the name of Direct marketing (DM), Multi-Level Marketing schemes (MLM), Network marketing (NWM), Referral Marketing, Introduction Marketing, Chain Marketing etc.


These schemes are nothing but camouflaged Money Circulation Schemes. In the front end the promoters display products and services at the back end it is nothing but Money Circulation Schemes banned under the provisions of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.


To divert the attention of the public as well as the Law Enforcement Agencies and to cover up their illegal activity of Money Circulation Schemes they display products and services.


Product is only a bait but end result is Money Circulation Scheme


Money Circulation Scheme means any scheme by whatever name called where in the person has to enroll into the scheme through a already enrolled member by subscribing to the scheme by paying initial kit / member ship amount and purchasing goods and services, where in by this the introducer of the enrolled member will get benefits (easy money) and the company which promotes the scheme earns quick money. The enrolled member again has to enroll further members to get his amount back and also the benefits. By this the promoter of the company by just promoting the scheme gets benefits and the person who enrolls at the initial of the scheme reaps the benefits.


By enrollment into such scheme one would be getting back the initial paid investment and keep gaining financially by enrolling new members. So also, the second set of enrollers keep multiplying and gain financially, fascinating every onlooker to get engrossed into such dubious money circulation schemes. Such a system of chain to work endlessly to provide profit to everyone concerned would ultimately breakdown at some stage, resulting the financial benefit to some who joined the scheme at initial stages (they will be none than the promoters of the scheme), resulting in big financial loss to those who joined at a later stage. When a person fails to get his required clients or non-viability of the scheme but blame it as one’s personal failure. The gullible people are taken unaware when the real failure. The gullible people are taken unaware when the real picture of the money circulation schemes emerges. By the time the people realize that they were taken for a ride and cheated, it would be too late.


The promoters to promote their schemes through high profile campaign by using film stars, Government servants, Doctors, Engineers and well known personalities of the society in their meetings which are conducted in star hotels, Kalyanamandapams etc., with lot of fan fare. Public should refrain from attending such meetings.


Promoters of the scheme float their companies with attractive names like “Wonder World Co.” “Miracle Co” “Japan Life India” "Amway” “Gold Quest” “Ayerveda Life” “Herb Life” “Happy Life Co” “Magic Co.” “Nice Co.” “Mega Co.”, “eBIZ” etc.


They give attractive names to the enrolled members depending upon their enrollment like with attractive and stylish titles as “Silver member, Gold member, Diamond members, Platinum member, so on and so forth. They also call them as “Master Distributor, Super Distributor, Double Super Distributor etc,”, etc


They also use attractive slogans like “ Earn in rupees or dollars. Work from home ” “ Work four hours and earn Rs., 50,000 per month ” “ U R the boss of your business, so enroll immediately” “ Earn up to Rs.35,000/- + Monthly by just working 2 hours at home ” “ Do u want to earn extra by sitting at Home? The contact us ” “ Your pathway to Heaven ” “ Enroll with us for Healthy and Wealth life ” “ Do u want to lose your weight, then contact us ” etc.


These companies win over confidence of the members (victims) and maintain their image as charitable and benevolent, by offering donations to charitable, social and service oriented institutions by attracting publications, photographs of VVIP’s donating cheques. Likewise, they boost their image in a corporate style and try to gain mileage.


A single company will launch many sister companies to fool public as if to show that they are big group of companies. A single company renamed many a time attracts people of different places, takes its chameleon stride through colorful gifts, brochures, under case of cheating. Likewise, all innovative methods are put action to successfully grow them well and make money for themselves causing irreparable financial loss to the general public and society.


These companies results in exploitation of personal influence of each and every distributor or his close relative. If a Superior officer or his ward involved in MLM, the subordinates are forced to become members in the chain. Likewise if a close friend comes with a scheme, one finds it difficult to say “No” and if all the above get cheated also but they refrain from complaining to Police only to save their relationship/friendship.
BEWARE…!
If your close relative, friend, neighbor or your superior or colleague approaches you with a product / service which involves enrollment and further enrollment of members and meetings at high profile places / kitty parties then it is nothing but Money Circulation Scheme banned under the provisions of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.
The appeal to the public to not to enroll themselves into Multi Level Marketing Companies, Money Circulation Schemes, Network Marketing Companies and other such companies and such schemes and get cheated.
MLM schemes destroy the well knitted social fabric of our Indian society and make your house as well as your neighborhood a market.
It is an appeal seeking your co-operation with the Investigating Agencies to curb such menace and nip it in the bud before it engulfs the gullible Public.

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jitu moni

jitu moni 1 week ago

http://www.moneylife.in/article/qnet-eow...

QNet: EOW seizes documents from Vanmala's 'hidden' office

Moneylife Digital Team | 12/04/2014 06:13 PM |

After being named as accused in the Rs425 crore QNet scam, Vanmala shifted its office to undisclosed location. However, the EOW raided this secret hideout and seized important documents about the MLM operations of QNet

Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police has raided a little known or 'hidden' office of Vanamala Hotels, Travels & Tourism Services Pvt Ltd, an associate of QNet India. The EOW has seized documents and computers used by Vanmala related with its vacation holiday packages sold to customers of QNet in India, say sources.

Vanamala had its office at Trade Centre in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). However, the tourism services provider shifted its office to an unknown location when it was named as an accused in the first information report in the Rs425 crore QNet multi-level marketing (MLM) scam.

Vanmala shifted its office to Lower Parel from BKC. However it kept the new address hidden even from its submissions in the court. Daryl Patrick Bisset, the chief executive of Vanmala has been found avoiding EOW and not forthcoming since past few months, the sources added.

During the investigation into the QNet scam, it was revealed that majority of the victims across the country were sold the "Holiday & Vacation Packages" from Vanmala.

In February 2014, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India, registered a case in the Rs425 crore QNet scam for money laundering.

The ED has named QNet Ltd from Hong Kong, its official franchisee Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd, Vijay Eswaran, the founder of QI group and three other independent representatives (IRs) of QNet from Mumbai.

In a media statement, QNET called the money-laundering probe by ED against it as 'allegations that are preposterous and completely baseless'.

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gurupreet

gurupreet 1 week ago

Vanamala/QNET runs away from Mumbai...

This is the message that was posted on http://www.vanamala-india.com recently...

Dear Members,

Due to service disruptions on our current hotlines, please refer to the following number should you have any queries: 0008006001144 or email us at customercare@vanamala-india.com

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Is it a 'Simple" Disruption or there is more then meets the eye..The truth is their offices were raided by the EOW..effectively shutting down the whole operations of Vanamala in Mumbai.

The last time this message was posted after Vanamala's Payment gateways were blocked..

Important Announcement regarding Payment Gateway - INR Payments
Dear members,

We are experiencing problems with our Payment Gateway system. As such, please refrain from using it with immediate effect.

To know the alternate modes of payment you can use, please contact our Customer Experience Ambassadors at
+91-22-6139-9500 and they will assist you accordingly. Thank you.

The above mentioned PRI Line number +91-22-6139-9500 has also become un-operational

How good these white collared criminals are at sugar coating the real truth...Raids become "disruptions"...blocking becomes "problems"...shame on you all white collared criminals, you all should be tried for treason for your anti national activities.

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gurupreet

gurupreet 3 weeks ago

EOW RAIDS QNET SYSTEM MEETING IN MUMBAY BEING CONDUCTED BY "MR.BIJOY MATEHWS"..TEAM LEADER OF QNET.

This Morning QNET team Leaders had organised a Seminar/System at the following address and invited innocent people to induce them into this illegal money circulation scheme..the system was held at the following address:

Youthapreneurs Training Center, 605, Alpana Bldg, Opp Sarvoday Hospital, LBS Marg, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai - 86

During the raid Mr.Bijoy Mathews was caught red handed promoting the illegal money circulation scheme in presence of 45 Odd people.

Ironically this Mr.Bijoy Mathews is the same person who has had cooled his heels in the jail for more then 20 days in the past for the same offence.

The officers of EOW detained and questioned several people and names and contact details of 47 people were noted down :)

I am sure the records of the activity today will lead to the cancellation of the bail of several team leaders of QNET.

Let me mention here that a similar activity was done by the EOW several months back when QNET leaders were holding a system meeting in Dadar, Mumbai and details were noted down. These details led to the arrest of Nine qnet leaders earlier.

So guys any guess who all will be arrested now after today's raid/activity?

Best guesses will win prizes ;)

Keep posting/replying...

Regards
Gurupreet

P.S Tomorrow is the Hindi New Year so my msg to QNET "Happy New Year" in advance...

After the ABA of your people are cancelled we will get the bails also cancelled wait and see...

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