TVI Express and 10 Secrets of Highly Effective Liars: how tviexpress ensnare reps in fake MLM web
NOTE: The following narrative is dramatized, but the analysis is real. For "10 secrets of an effective liar", see Psychology Today / Extreme Fear Blog / Top 10 Secrets of Effective Liars. For TVI Express Lies, see TVI Express lies exposed.
Is TVI Express a scam? Yes, I believe TVI Express is a scam. TVI Express tells very good lies. After all, it has ensnared up to 1 million people, as claimed by its own phone representative and other members.
Why am I telling you all this? I came across an article called "10 Secrets of highly effective liars", and I was chuckling at all of the secrets. I have seen them all used before, and it was my job (which is not relevant) to pierce the lies, and get to the truth.
I also had a friend who had tried to recruit me into TVI Express, which I knew to be a scam from the start. However, my friends have fallen too deep, and I cannot convince him to get out. At the time, I do not have enough evidence to back up my instinct. That was several months ago. He was so mad at me, he actually accused me trying to hold him back because I was jealous, that I don't want to see him having a better life. That hurts, as we had been friends since high school. We were no longer... friends. We barely speak to each other now.
Since then I have collected a lot of evidence about TVI Express. I have analyzed TVI Express web pages (and their changes). I have watched their presentations. I have listened to recordings of their conference calls. I have even called their UK number a few times (though a third-party) and talked to their phone drones just to get a sense how they operated. What could have swallowed my friend up and turned him into a man who values dollar signs over friendship?
I have also studied the difference between a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, and a pseudo-MLM scam, but that is for some other day. Today, I wish to discuss the 10 secrets of highly effective liars, and how TVI Express used them to ensnare victims.
SECRET #1: Have a reason to lie (and lie no more than needed)
The bad liars tell lies even when they do not have to, then have to cover up lies with even more lies. Eventually they told so many lies, cannot keep their story straight, and their lies are exposed.
The good liars lie just enough to achieve what they need.
TVI Express told just enough lies to make it sound good. They do NOT explain themselves, even when the charges are serious, like "TVI Express is a pyramid scheme!" They simply do NOT tell more lies than they must. The less they lie, the less likely they will be caught at a lie.
Also consider this fact: real MLM companies, such as Amway, ACN, and so on are very serious about their image. They have sections on their own website explaining how they are NOT a pyramid scheme, and how to tell the difference between network marketing (or MLM) and pyramid scheme that look like MLM (a.k.a. "pseudo-MLM scam"). TVI Express simply say nothing. Why? They don't need skeptical people. They want people who join without looking twice, people who do NOT want to know the truth. As in the movie Jerry Maguire, "Show me the money!" People who were skeptical are NOT their targets. Why lie for the the skeptics?
What's worse, TVI Express often let its members defend its reputation. My... "friend" was a perfect example. That way, if the member was caught at a lie, or when later was proven to have spoken untruth, TVI Express was not involved. TVI Express members (or alleged members) have been documented to present false definition of pyramid scheme, along other things. Were they rewarded for their defense? Not hardly.
This has an implication: by using members to do their dirty work, eventually the members would be devastated to find that he or she had been lied to all along. As most members start their own downlines by recruiting friends and family members, this would cause serious relationship problems, like the rift between me and my... friend.
SECRET #2: Lay the groundwork
Liars who have worked out their story beforehand, instead of extemporizing (i.e. making it up as they go) enjoy far more success with their lies. As always, practice makes perfect. It also helps them be consistent (see Secret #5)
TVI Express trained their phone reps well. They recited canned speech with zero problems. They simply refuse to answer questions they are not briefed on, blame things beyond their control, and so on. Even Mr. Tarun Trikha, the most visible member of TVI Express (in fact, the only person who can be CONFIRMED to represent TVI Express at all), tell a consistent story. However, when the website was later changed to contradict his own story, or when his own statements were later proven false, there was no explanation.
Another thing TVI Express did very well is intentionally redefining sales as recruiting. To most people, "sales" is something an employee do, and it's a "low-end" job. TVI Express had stated "you do not need to sell anything" in their own FAQ, which made people feel better. Then they tell the members that they *do* need to recruit people. Somehow, this is not considered sales, when in fact, what the recruiters are doing is selling TVI Express itself (membership / distributorship).
Furthermore, when TVI Express just lay the groundwork, it encourages the members to invent new explanations that were never officially sanctioned. TVI Express never claimed to be a "travel club", yet you will find thousands of recruits claiming so all over the Internet. By leaving the official explanation vague, it allowed the unscrupulous members to invent new explanations in order to recruit more people.
SECRET #3 Tell the truth, but presented in a misleading way
Technically, half-lies are not outright lies. They did tell you the truth, but in a way you thought the statement meant something else.
TVI Express does this right on their website, in many different places.
Under "expert watch" section of TVI Express website, the quote from Warren Buffet, "best investment I ever made" was NOT referring to TVI Express. The quote was deliberately chopped. The full quote was "Dollar for dollar, [networking marketing] companies were best investments I ever made." By removing a few words, TVI Express was able to dupe a lot of TVI Express supporters into writing on their own websites or blogs "Warren Buffet invested in TVI Express!" And technically, TVI Express said no such thing. It is not responsible for misinterpretation of its members.
In another instance, TVI Express published names of members of their advisory board, and many people simply took that to be the same as a "board of directors". People who actually read the explanation about the advisory board realized that the advisory board's job is to advise TVI Express members, NOT TVI Express management. At least one TVI Express distributor "team" recorded a conference call with one such advisory board member, Tarun Trikha, and presented it as "TVI Express board of directors member Q&A session". It was no such thing.
Yet another case of misleading statement is the payout. TVI Express promised 72% payout of sales commission on their website, yet TVI Express also promised that its members do NOT need to sell anything in its own FAQ. How can there be sales commission if there is no sales? Furthermore, the 72% payout statement lead to multiple members thinking it actually says "72 cents of every dollar taken in is given back to members". That is simply NOT what it says.
I can go on and on, but my point should be obvious: TVI Express had told a LOT of half-lies, right on their website. And there have been documented cases where they have REMOVED or REVISED their website to REMOVE EVIDENCE of the half-lies they have told.
SECRET #4: Know your target, and tailor your lies
Good liars can get inside listener's head, not literally of course. By using empathy, a liar can pick up what the listeners want to hear, and avoid hitting trip wires that will trigger their suspicions.
TVI Express specifically targets people who want money, easy money, minimal work, esp. in parts of the world where education may not be as prevalent as it could be. Ever wonder why TVI Express, a company supposedly headquartered in London UK, would choose to launch in India, then China, and so on, essentially third-world countries with decent Internet connectivity but not that well educated, but $10000 can be a life-changing amount of money? Because 1) it can promise almost life-changing amount of money, 2) it sounds legitimate, being a British company, 3) it discourages international investigations 4) it introduces jurisdiction problems.
In China, TVI Express is known as "British TVI Travel Express". It sure sounds legitimate, doesn't it? Yet TVI Express never registered with the Chinese Direct Selling Bureau, and thus operated illegally. And do you know what Mr. Tarun Trikha had promised Chinese members of TVI Express in June 2009? He promised no less than TVI Express subsidiary in Hong Kong, and TVI Express office in China, really. It was documented on multiple Chinese TVI member blogs. You see any TVI Express offices in China or Hong Kong today? Nope. But it was what Chinese members wanted to hear at the time. Did TVI Express ever announce they will NOT be launching any offices in China or Hong Kong any longer? Nope.
TVI Express borrowed credibility from any source it can get... Celebrities endorsements that are actually NOT endorsements (see Secret #3), claims of "channel partners", "investment groups", a London address and phone number, and so on. All claiming more legitimacy than it warrants. TVI Express offered "just enough" credibility so people will not look deeper unless they are REALLY skeptical. It also has its members spread logical fallacies like "if it pays, it must be legit" to reassure the doubtful. It is a particularly elaborate yet effective lie.
SECRET #5: Keep your facts straight
Successful lying is hard because you have to be consistent. If you say one thing at one time, and another thing at another, then people will catch you in a lie.
TVI Express is remarkably consistent by letting ONE person be the major source of information: Tarun Trikha. None of the other people on the advisory board of TVI Express have been seen at meetings or blogs, but Tarun Trikha were everywhere: on conference calls, at TVI Express "conventions", and so on. He is effectively the 'face' of TVI Express. And yet he claims to be merely an advisory board member, not an employee.
By consistently referring to executives who were never seen nor heard as the real source of information, Mr. Trikha was able to divert attention from himself. If he was caught at a lie, he will simply claim he got bad information from someone else, so it is not his lie.
SECRET #6: Stay Focused
How committed is the liar to the lie? Most people find lying unpleasant, and when they finish lying they felt relief. Good liars, on the other hand, enjoy lying, and feels no shame or remorse.
This is hard to judge. I can't say how committed TVI Express is to any lies, because TVI Express is a corporate entity. However, all TVI Express members, management, and employees certainly have motivation to do so. After all, telling people the truth will drive them away, whereas if you continue to lie (or to ignore the truth) you may be able to add another recruit, which increases your chances of the big payout. Most will choose $$$.
SECRET #7: Beware of non-verbal signals
The bad liars fidget when they lie. The really good liars can control their non-verbal cues, thus NOT giving away their lies.
TVI Express does not even need to be very good liar, because TVI Express only communicates through methods that do NOT include non-verbal cues, namely, e-mail and phone calls. By placing its legal location first in UK, then Cyprus, but launching its operation in Asia, TVI Express can simply discourage any attempts to force a face to face meeting.
TVI Express representative appearances, usually by Mr. Tarun Trikha, had always been under controlled circumstances such as TVI Express "convention", or conference call or video conference. Any attempt to locate offices where TVI Express management can be interviewed in person, on record, have been fruitless.
It would be interesting to run Mr. Trikha's conference calls through some voice stress meters and see what sort of results would come up.
SECRET #8 Turn up the pressure
Raise the emotional stakes when the target becomes suspicious, to distract the target.
TVI Express supporters have been known to insult any critics, hoping to draw them into rage-filled flamefests. So many of them have done so, one wonders if it was in a script somewhere. The insults ranges from the childish to the sophisticated, but they are insults, nonetheless.
TVI Express supporters are also known to post TVI Express announcements translated through Google, to introduce additional areas of debate. It is often known as the "red herring".
SECRET #9: Counter-attack
Most people are uncomfortable accusing others, and this can be used by a liar to their advantage. By attacking the critics, the liar can force the critics back on the defensive, by introducing doubt. Was the critic really justified in doubting the liar? Uh...
TVI Express distributors are often quite good in diverting attention from TVI Express. Many members will attack any critics of TVI Express with charges of "conspiracy", "paid by rival", "you just don't understand new way of doing business", and so on. Other attacks will be "the sources you cited are worthless". Yet these accusations are not backed up by any facts.
At least one TVI Express member was caught posting with multiple names to make it appear if there were a LOT of TVI Express supporters while on one of these debates on a public forum. Another was documented to have threatened a critic with physical harm on a public forum.
SECRET #10: Bargain
Good liars can often "bargain" their way out of a jam, even when they were caught in a lie, by eliminate feelings of responsibility for the lie. This is often done by passing it onto someone else, or pay off those who were offended.
TVI Express was able to delay or eliminate any inquiry into them at Sikkim, India by refunding "6000 investors", after a local police investigation.
Mr. Tarun Trikha have not done so, but he probably can divert any attention from himself by blaming TVI Express management for any lies he told, thus incurring no personal blame.
Bonus #11: Eliminate the evidence
TVI Express is very good in eliminating the evidence of its lies on its own website. A lot of things just disappeared from the TVI Express website, with no explanation. Among them:
- $5000 "voucher" in addition to the $10000 board payout (disappeared from their FAQ)
- Donation to UNICEF and TVI Express commitment to community (entire webpage is no longer linked, but still can be found by Google))
- all mention of TVI Services (even though money was paid to TVI Services)
- The announcement that the "booking portal" needs more time.("Expired" by TVI Express)
- a quote from Sir Richard Branson touting the advantages of MLM, but probably worded to make it sound he was endorsing TVI Express instead.(It's gone for a long time)
- Tarun Trikha's name from the "Advisory Board" (it is no longer there any more)
Unfortunately for them, their lack of oversight means all of their website content is cloned by various "member" websites, leaving plenty of evidence for people to find.
TVI Express have used most of the Ten secrets of effective liars, in the way it goes about doing business. I find this to be a sign of scam, and the more I looked, the more signs of scam I see.
TVI Express used multiple corporate names, multiple locations in multiple countries, virtual offices, and more. It had lied so many times. The booking "portal" one was supposedly able to book that 7-day 6-night trip you get when you join never worked. It was supposedly promised to be fixed by November 1st, 2009, then March 1, 2010, and according to TVI Express members, it is STILL not working, as of May 10, 2010. Payouts are into a VIRTUAL eWallet that is not guaranteed by anyone and may in fact, violate banking regulations of most countries. The matrix itself is a perfect copy of 8-ball scheme, a subset of pyramid scheme. Mr. Tarun Trikha himself have promised many things that were never delivered. He promised in one conference call that explanations of the "incentives" (laptop computers, villas, yachts, luxury cars) and how to qualify for them will be on the website soon. Six months later it is still not there. He has promised that TVI Express will be establishing offices in Hong Kong and China, but that never happened. In fact, he usually have to defer to the two TVI Executives who were never seen or heard from, but seem to be the decision makers. It is just too suspicious for it NOT to be a scam.
However, that was not the purpose of this article. This is to discuss the techniques TVI Express used for its lies, and I hope you have learned how to better spot lies, so you won't fall for them so easily in the future.
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