CCU student leader warns about the risks of multi-level marketing

The claim is that Grand Strand college students are being enticed - and losing money - in what some are calling a pyramid scheme.

Now, one Coastal Carolina University student wants the school to do more about it.

Multi-level marketing is a business model in which the emphasis is less about selling a product, than on recruiting other people to sell under you.

Alessandro Mannino, the president pro-tem of the CCU Student Government Association, says the campus's Prince Lawn is where many student groups do their fundraising, but it's also where multi-level marketing sales representatives approach students and make their pitch.

"They tell students or people in the area, 'Hey, we have this great product that we're trying to sell and you could sell it, but also you can make money by signing up people under you,' " Mannino said.

Mannino says students are told they have to shell out up to $400 of their own money up front and then recruit ten friends to do the same thing.

He says the sales reps make it sound easy, but very few people can make it work.

"From my research, more than 99 percent of the people that end up signing up, end up not making any money or losing money from signing up."

Mannino wants CCU to ban multi level marketing firms from being able to recruit on campus, or at least have the university do more to educate students about the risks of MLM.

The director of CCUR Career Services says some people can do well with multi-level marketing, but as a rule, the school doesn't allow MLM companies to participate in job fairs or career events.

"Quite often you have a lot of companies that are not quite as scrupulous as others and they will come in and begin to put pressure on students and they have enough pressure being students," Woodle said.

But Jason Jensen, a CCU grad from North Myrtle Beach, says he's made a lot of money with Vemma, an MLM company that markets an energy drink.

He says it's worked for many others, too.

"In Vemma, try the product. If you like it, order some. If the business doesn't work for you, it's not because Vemma didn't work. It's because you didn't do what was necessary to get there," Jensen said.