126 127 Little Red Riding Hood is the quintessential fable for going to bed with Network Marketing ; but also Pinoke , and theanthropomorphic animals accompanying him, are not bad at all. Network Marketing, or Multi-Level Marketing , represents a valid business tool, with all its advantages and possibilities of income, but choosing shortcuts and trusting the wrong people, it will end up as for the many who believed in easy gain without having contemplated its risks. Thus, a path with its usefulness and perspective can be distorted in favour of fraud acting, without method , to the point of no return. Understanding how a system works is the basis of a useful awareness. We investigated the topic with an expert in Network Marketing and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Marco Benassi , and with Carolina Guerini , Professor of Economics and Business Management at the Cattaneo LIUC University and member of the Faculty of the Marketing Area of SDA Bocconi School of Management – which, from her research, published a book: Network Marketing (ed. Egea, 2017). We have also benefited from the support of Alessandro Norcia , voluntary administrator of an Italian Facebook community, Il Gatto e la Volpe nel web (transl. The cat and the fox on the web, Ed.’s Note ), contacted on a daily basis by an average of thirty scammed people, largely due to a fraud disguised just as Network Marketing. The evidence of Network Marketing is that of a legitimate system, capable of generating an interesting – but certainly not memorable – income over the mid- term. One of the paths available is via royalties , and that's where the first deception appears. The second one lies within the communication characterizing those who want to swindle their neighbour: self-ostentation, and affectation of the benefits seasoning life, is but widespread rental storytelling . «Governed by Italian Law no. 173/2015 , Network Marketing – Benassi explains – is a system of distribution of products or services born about a century ago in the United States which, if developed ethically and in line with the law, can turn out to be very profitable, bringing several advantages to those who take part in it. The most obvious advantage of this practice is the absence of an initial investment to start one’s own business. There are essentially two forms of income: direct earnings , concerning the sale, and indirect earnings , concerning royalties on the developed turnover». «Economic advantages mostly come from the fact that, through this system, a number of costs present in traditional distribution are eliminated . In fact, wholesalers, representatives and physical points of sale are absent. Furthermore, all marketing and advertising expenses are very low, due to the word of mouth generated, peculiarities belonging par excellence to this kind of business and not affecting distributors. Meritocracy – Benassi concludes – represents a perfect propellant to obtain the desired results and, if on the one hand it proves to be a great disadvantage for those not really willing to take care of their personal and professional growth, on the other it represents a concrete possibility for everyone, not requiring special skills or qualifications». Therefore, the bait has the appearance of royalties, capable of withstanding the scam to such an extent that it no longer needs an asset to exchange. Thus, pyramidal structures were born. In the words of Professor Guerini: «A historical 1979 judgment – Amway against the Federal Commerce Commission – recognized the legitimacy of Multi-Level Marketing techniques and their extraneity in relation to illegal pyramids. The concept of Network Marketing itself has, in effect, been manipulated with the aim of defrauding those taking part through pyramid selling programs. These, under the guise of a distributive organization, practically do not distribute any product or service. In other words, these are programs aimed at obtaining earnings determined by the affiliation process , rather than by the selling one. On the contrary, Network Marketing must assume that everyone will be paid; it must give equal opportunities to all those in charge (even those who entered the network later); furthermore, it must be sustainable in the long run». federico tosi multilevel and the fable