Some many months ago in February, as the winter cold was warming to the spring of 2017, I got invited by a Taiwanese friend to participate in a game of futsal with a group of people she doesn’t know. Since I hadn’t been exercising for some time, I decided why not?
This Taiwanese friend, T, was invited by a super friendly lady, N, in her 50-60s whom she met at a Yama-P concert twice. I thought that was really nice. When we arrived at the place for futsal, I met N who was really very cheerful and friendly. While waiting for the rest to arrive, we got changed and sat by the futsal court. I asked what kind of members join in the futsal and she replied that people of all ages from all walks of life. I asked, “how did you guys meet?” and they said through friends of friends to gather a group of people who enjoys hanging out and exercising and doing all kinds of stuff together. She also said they gathered almost weekly to do sports after work on weekdays at around 6pm and the members always change although there are some who constantly participate. That sounded slightly odd to me but I didn’t think much of it.
When the rest of the members arrived, something in me raised an alarm. They were all very bright and cheerful people but the interactions and dynamics was unusual and something I’ve seen before. I pulled T to one side and asked if the group was in some sort of religious group or doing MLM. T told me not to be mean and said N is just a super friendly person. I took her word for it and enjoyed my time playing futsal with them.
After futsal, the group gathered for dinner at a nearby family restaurant and there was this man, O, seated next to me whom I saw at the futsal field but who also never joined in the fun. I asked him why and he said he’s no good at sports. That made me wonder why he was there in the first place. N then began to share that O is a very smart and capable person who owns several businesses but leaves his businesses to his staff so he practically doesn’t have to do anything and goes traveling a lot. According to N, he’s too smart so he didn’t enjoy school and decided to not attend college. N also said many of the futsal members frequently go traveling together and they have planned a few more within the next couple of months. When one of the girls invited me to join them in their game of basketball a week later, but refused to exchange contact with me and instead directed me to exchange contact information with O, who doesn’t do sports, I was literally thinking, “WTF?” in my mind. And as the conversation went on, I grew more and more wary about this group of people.
Fast forward a few months later, I went to meet N for the second time, after several invites to join them for many other types of events over the last 6 months. When I arrived, O and a few other familiar faces were around. I sat next to N, in front of O, and the dynamics was again very unusual. It didn’t feel like a regular drinking party. While we were seated at a rectangular table with people in front of and beside us, N focused on solely talking with me while O focused on speaking with this other apparently new girl next to him. We hardly interacted with anyone else during the course of the meal and it felt like N was in charge of speaking to me. As N began to repeat several times that O is on vacation 365 days a year, travels a lot, and doesn’t have to work, I was affirmative that this has got to be an MLM recruitment process.
For some reason, my face lit up. I decided to play along and headed to dig out that information. I asked N what O does and she said he runs so many kinds of businesses because he is so smart, she doesn’t know every single one of them. Hmm… familiar. I asked for just one and she said she doesn’t know the details. Fine. As she continued to talk about their holidays and invited me to join them, I said honestly I couldn’t because of my work schedule and she said it’s alright even if I could only join them for 1 of their 4-day trip which is really fun and people have done that before. That sounded ridiculous to me. Why would I use my leave, spend money to go Fukuoka with a group of people I don’t know for just 1 of their 4-day trip and believe it would be fun and worth it?
N went on to say they upload their pictures to a blog which is password-protected but she sent the link and password to me to show me how fun it is. I accessed the page, which read “Revolution Friends” and asked what that means. N said she doesn’t know and asked me to ask O. I began to get more and more excited about this exposé. I clicked on the navigation bar and there, I saw the word “seminar.” The site doesn’t reveal much information on the seminar, which is presented by O, but claims to offer consultation to people who are worried about money and their future. I asked N about the details and she said it costs only 1,000 yen and the content is not fixed as it depends on the audience. I said to her, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay 1,000 yen to sit in a seminar to listen to someone I don’t know talk about a topic I don’t know beforehand. There’s simply no valid reason to believe it can benefit me, so if I know the details, it would be easier for me to decide if I want to go. I could feel N’s walls of secrecy breaking down and she caved and told me it’s about how we can lead a life like O’s.
That was when I decided to go for it (not the seminar). I asked, “Is it about passive income?” Her eyes opened wide and said, “Yes! It’s MLM.” I asked, “What product do you deal with?” She said “Everyday products.” I asked, “Is it Amway?” Her eyes lit up and she went, “Yes! Did you know about Amway?”
This morning I went back to their blog again and read the profile of O and recalled that he said he used to work at Google about 2 years ago, which is also written in his profile. When I told him maybe we were there at the same time, his eyes looked shocked. I asked him which team he was in. He hesitated and asked me which team I was in. I told him our team name and he looked lost. He asked me what we do and I told him AdSense and he said, “Oh, we were in a different team then.”
I asked again, “Which team were you in?” He said, “AdWords team.” That didn’t sound like he knew what he was talking about because there should’ve been a team name, which is definitely not “AdWords.” And it also felt odd someone in the AdWords team didn’t know our team name since we were practically the publisher and demand side of the same service.
I went on, “Which floor were you on?” He looked stunned again and said, “I was at the Toranomon office.” Never knew there was a Toranomon office.
The conversation went on and he asked if I was a full-time staff at Google and I thought, “Ah-ha! There’s my chance to catch him!” I told him the color of my badge and he didn’t know what that meant, which means he was most probably lying about having worked at Google.
There are a lot of suspicious things in his profile. It said he wasn’t good at studying but was outstanding at sports such that the basketball, baseball and handball club invited him to join them. It also said he paid 4 million yen for cram school to get into university. All these were the exact opposite of what I was told.
I wonder if I should tell N to be wary of that guy, but since she knows him longer than she knows me, and that they are in the same MLM team, she probably wouldn’t listen to me.
But at least, I’ve warned T about it.