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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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234 Comments
jitu moni

jitu moni 1 week ago

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/...

VIJAYAWADA: Yet another multi-level marketing (MLM) company Vihaan Direct Selling Ltd was sealed by police and its representatives were paraded before mediapersons here on Tuesday. Police will soon serve a notice on its promoters -- Vasudeva Reddy and Ch Gangadhar - who are currently in Dubai and alert the Interpol to help nab the duo.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, commissioner of police A B Venkateswara Rao said that 134 people in the city have fallen prey to the company. "Vihaan Direct collected Rs 1.16 crore and deposited Rs 65 lakh in the account of Vihaan Direct Selling Ltd, which is based in Mumbai. Another Rs 10 lakh was deposited in the account of VR 1 Training Centre, which is based in Bangalore. Rest of the funds have been misappropriated," he said.

Acting on a complaint from a depositor Prathipathi Lakshmi Ganesh, Krishna Lanka police led by circle inspector S V V S Murthy arrested four representatives of the firm- Gourang Desai, Y Babul Reddy, D Nagaraju and Ch Manikanta -- on June 22 and recovered Rs 15 lakh in cash and four mobile phones.

It was on January 5 this year Mumbai-based Vasudeva Reddy, a notorious MLM agent, opened Vihaan Direct as a franchise of Hong Kong-based Q-Net near Prasanthi Hospital in Labbipet. He also ran a training centre called VR 1. City-lad Desai, who met Vasudeva in Mumbai, was nominated as in-charge of the training centre. Gangadhar, a close aide of Vasudava, was nominated to run the direct selling firm.

Gangadhar recruited Babul, Nagaraju and Manikanta as independent representatives (IRs) to carry out the fraudulent MLM operations. Their modus operandi was typical of a binary tree structure- each IR has to recruit more members. IRs will receive commission based on the number of referrals and sales volume of other IRs in their team.

The police commissioner said that Vijay Eswaran, who runs Q-Net, is the brain behind the MLM firms. "From 2002-08, he ran a firm in Chennai that swindled Rs 1,100 crore. Between 2010-14, he ran another MLM firm with Vasudeva Reddy, which swindled Rs 425 crore from depositors," he added.

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jitu moni

jitu moni 1 week ago

QNET multi-level marketing scam busted in Vijayawada - Tv9

https://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plsdlh0FBkU

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jitu moni

jitu moni 1 week ago

http://www.business-standard.com/article...
Four persons have been held today for their alleged involvement in the multi-level marketing 'Qnet' case, police said.

The four persons, identified as V Bal Reddy, Gautam Desai, Dasari Nagaraju and Cheemakurti Manikanta, were arrested today and Rs 15 lakh, deposited in different bank accounts, were seized from them, district Police Commissioner A

B Venkateswara Rao said.

The accused were nabbed by Economic Offences wing of the Commissionarate and the key person involved in the alleged fraud, Gangadhar from Vijayawada, is absconding and is currently said to be in Dubai, the senior officer said.

The five persons were associated with multi-level international marketing firm Qnet, a company founded by one Vijay Eswaran, a Malaysian citizen based in Hong Kong, in 1998, where the company agents extracted huge money from people by offering them lucrative incentives, he said.

The company also operated in India with other names like 'Qen' and 'Quest, police said.

Eswaran had appointed one Vihan Direct Selling, owned by Gangadhar, as the sole selling company in India, where the firm had assigned some agents to recruit salesmen under the direct selling system.

According to police, the agents had appointed 134 first level salesmen by collecting Rs 1,16,55,000 and another 13,400 second level salesmen were joined by the 134 sales persons.

In the meantime, one of the salesmen suspected company's activities and lodged a complaint with the police and the four accused were arrested after investigations.

Rao said if necessary, a red corner notice will be issued against Gangadhar.

He said Qnet is facing many charges in the country and some of the cases against the company are pending in courts.

A decade back, the company was involved in a Rs 11 crore case of alleged fraud in Chennai. It has also been facing some cases in Mumbai, the officer said.

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Jagdish Singhania

Jagdish Singhania 2 months ago

Because they are feard Gabbar will really be Back as Qneters know to fight back very well but since the company follows Gandhian principles the so called law makers are acting like illiterates in this century when the World has already accepted this platform as a level playing ground allowing each & every individual to help themselves. I am surprised the negativity is being spread so high for what.. infact none of them are speaking of the past backgrounds of the leaders that are building up this business strongly. They have been well qualified & at good respectable positions in life before QNET. Only thing is that they were not the people who wanted to stay stuck in the RAT Race & wanted to grow up. QNET created the platform & helped them achieve the same for themselves which they were as it doing for the BIG organisations they were slogging for.... IS this not good enough for Indian Economy that many of these people have been able to venture out on their own costs & get business to India in terms of their commissions.

Why is everyone closing eyes on this... ??

At one place India allows Business Investors to go & Exhibit abroad & collect money back from Foreign Trade Dept.. & here these people who have ventured on their own earnings are being tortured ,.. WHY >?????? Can any literate person answer on this...

Talking about the Fraud, Scam etc etc .... WHY ?? If the same products are bought from companies like Rolex, Tissot, Apple, Soaps, Perfumes, Samsung who are levying 300-1000% margins is all ok .... WHY ???

Who is paying for these products at the end of the Day ??


I can tell you this since I work for Distribution company so this is no unauthentic writeup.

I am not a writer But I am really concerned of the true people who are becoming victims & being harrassed by the people misusing their powers.

Arey if you are really interested in safeguarding the people , why arent you getting into the right cases & sacking the real culprits of the society who are looting common people so openly.

At the end can say only one thing either you guys too are hand in gloves with them & helping them or you are scared of their power & trying to use the same over the innocents.

But dont worry, wont stay for long , Good will always the Evil. It was true yesterday, it is true Today & will remain true tomorrow too.

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Arvind Gautam

Arvind Gautam 2 months ago

If Qnet is cheating the people then why Indian government is not taking any action against this company and its IR.

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