Advertising scheme boss led firm suspended for ‘pyramid selling’




A leader of a get-rich-quick investment product recruiting across the country was a senior figure in a firm suspended from trading in Canada because of its pyramid-style operation.

Rajiv Dixit is chief operating officer of Banners Broker International and was previously the manager of the now defunct ICF World Homes.

Banners Broker, which relies on investors renting online ad space, has said it is “categorically” not a pyramid scheme. It claims to have attracted 9,000 registered investors here.

In 2009, the Canadian Competition Bureau received complaints about ICF. The firm eventually told investors it had to suspend sales, as the bureau decided its business was reliant on “recruitment enticement”. It said the bureau was not satisfied it had a genuine source of income and it eventually decided to cease trading.

The bureau would not comment on individual cases, but said it enforces Canada’s Competition Act. Under this, businesses are classed as pyramid schemes if they are not selling a genuine product and repay investors with the money sourced from new recruits.

In a statement, Mr Dixit said ICF was a legitimate multi-layered marketing company. He noted that he did not own the firm and was only an employee of it.

“I do believe ICF was not a pyramid, as I would not be involved with one,” he said.

He also said Banners Broker operated a different — and legitimate — model.

At a recent information meeting in Cork, the company’s contractor in Ireland, Paul McCarthy, of Maconne Online Advertising Ltd, promised potential investors that they would earn a four-fold return on investments of up to $3,665 (€2,800).

Mr McCarthy said returns were assured.

“Every single person who joins Banners Broker makes money,” said Mr McCarthy. “If you are in this room tonight and you are an affiliate with Banners Broker, after seven days you’re making money. I couldn’t make that statement up here tonight unless it was true.”

Similar meetings have been held in West Cork, Waterford, Tipperary, Kerry, and Clondalkin.

On Saturday, its managers from Canada are due to start a world tour with a gala dinner and training weekend in City West Hotel, Dublin, for 1,500 people. Mr Dixit will attend.

Mr Dixit said the drive for new affiliates in Ireland did not mean it was another recruitment enticement firm.

“[Recruitment] is not how Banners Broker makes money, but is the major way we chose to market the company, through word of mouth advertising,” he said.

In a follow-up statement, Banners said recruitment was an established method for online advertising firms to build their profile.

Mr McCarthy said people involved in Banners Broker were not required to recommend any new entrants.

* RELATED ANALYSIS:

Another scheme too good to be true?

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