Unaico first popped up on my radar in April of 2011. Back then you had a pretty basic setup, with Unaico operating as an MLM business opportunity pegged to the social network SiteTalk.
Both companies were run by CEO Rune Evensen, with the plan being that SiteTalk would generate revenue and commissions via shopping purchases made within the network.
Both Unaico and SiteTalk came under the umbrella of the Enigro Group, headed up by founder Jarle Thorsen.
Upon reviewing Unaico in 2011 I found that the SiteTalk side of the business looked fair enough, however the virtual shares the company was offering was a huge red flag.
Jarle Thorsen has a history of involvement in several pyramid schemes (Worldwide Alliance , T5PC , World Games Inc. and PlexPay), and in Unaico this seemed to have manifested itself via the offering of virtual shares.
In a nutshell, affiliates deposited real money with the company and were issued shares. These shares were tradeable amongst affiliates, with their value pegged to nothing more than affiliate speculation.
On the 12th of May 2012, Unaico put out a “media release” in which they announced
SiteTalk – The Opportunity Community, today announced the new brand name of ‘OPN – The Opportunity Network’ that will be taking over the operations of the direct selling side of the business.
OPN was also pleased to launch at this convention SiteTalk 2.0 which is the latest version of the social media platform that drives the OPN business oportunity (sic).
SiteTalk 2.0 features new shopping “Deals” that allows SiteTalk users to take advantage of great shopping discounts created in their local markets.
An address in Singapore was provided at the end of the press-release, with further research indicating a boatload of confusion over where The Opportunity Network and SiteTalk are actually based.
As noted above, one of the addresses used by The Opportunity Network is ‘#17-01 The Arcade, Collyer Quay, Singapore‘. This is the same address used on the Opportunity Network website domain (“opn.com”) registration, indicating it is a primary address.
Yet if one visits The Opportunity Network’s website, a different PO Box address in the Cayman Islands (a known tax-haven) is provided:
1st Floor, Windward 1,
Regatta Office Park,
P.O. Box 10338,
Grand Cayman KY1-1003,
Adding even further confusion to the mix is The Opportunity Network’s Policies and Procedures, which state
Members waive all rights to trial by jury or to any court. All arbitration proceedings shall be held in the United Kingdom.
Three different addresses in three different countries spanning three different continents, with no clarification provided on The Opportunity Network’s website.
Despite changing their name in 2012 and relaunching themselves, I didn’t get around to a review until recently due to a complete lack of information released about the specifics of The Opportunity Network as an MLM business opportunity.
I suspect that a major contributing factor of this was The Opportunity Network’s new position on affiliate marketing of the opportunity:
Members must not produce their own literature, advertisements, sales aids and promotional materials, or Internet web pages.
For an MLM opportunity pushing a social network, the prohibition of independent affiliate marketing certainly seemed strange.
That spurred me on to further research behind the company name change, which led me to the Wikipedia entry of Enigro Group. In Unaico’s May 2012 media release quoted above, here’s the official reason the company provides for the name change:
“We felt that our nickname – “The Opportunity Network”, describes well who we are as a company today, and what our main focus is, so we decided to formalise that identity and make it our new official name – OPN” announced Rune Evensen, CEO of OPN.
I think a far more probable reason however was likely due to the ongoing regulatory problems Unaico was experiencing.
Shortly after the launch of the company showed the first allegations of it being a pyramid scheme surfaced. Thorsen has a background of pyramid companies Worldwide Alliance , T5PC , World Games Inc. and PlexPay.
The Norwegian Gaming Board has not drawn a full conclusion about Enigro, but they have warned against participation in the company.
They said: “After having made a preliminary assessment of Enigro, the Gaming Board is of the opinion that the company has clear similarities with illegal pyramid scheme.”
In April 2010 the company received attention by the financial authorities of Slovenia issued a warning against Unaico where they stated that this company was authorized to offer its services in Slovenia. The same warning was issued by the government of Austria.
In October 2010 the company Deloitte issued a press release in which it was denied any cooperation with Unaico.
Deloitte issued the press release in response to Unaico and SiteTalk marketing material in which allegations that Deloitte was involved in helping Unaico with their IPO.
In-investor club is also on the Finance Authority’s list of companies are cautioned not to invest money in. They said: “The FSA notes that I-investor Ltd. is not authorized to provide investment services in Norway, and therefore lacks the license required under Norwegian law.”
The company is consequently on international notification lists.
Both Pakistani and Chinese authorities have given their residents official warnings against involvement with Unaico, referring to the company as an illegal pyramid schemes and scams.
See the Enigro Wikipedia entry (Norwegian) for a full set of reference links certifying the above statements.
Write off the name change as an “identity change” sure, but I’m sure regulatory warnings being issued around the world probably had something to do with it too.
As for what happened to SiteTalk’s virtual share offering, the company appears to have converted them over into real-world shares on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
Initially The Opportunity Network had planned to list themselves on the British GXG Stock Exchange through the shell company “ST Communities”, however that plan fell through when the listing was terminated by GXG management.
ST Communities is a cash shell that is indeed on GXG
Markets however there is no way that the gentlemen in question would pass our screening process to be directors or controlling shareholders of a company on GXG should they attempt a reverse takeover.
Head of Markets, GXG Markets
ST Communities were terminated ‘as a result of a significant breach of both the General Rules of the Market (Rule 1.1) and the Disclosure Requirements (Rule 5.2).‘
Despite this, The Opportunity Network ultimately blamed their affiliates for the termination:
Dear OPN Members,
The main reason for this being the fact that the OPN members have been continuing contacting GXG. We have continuous urged you NOT to take contact with the GXG stock exchange, but there are numerous people still contacting the head office of GXG. You all need to help us to make sure that all your members get this information and warnings.
The company has 10 days to appeal against this decision. Our listing team have meetings with GXG Markets in London today, and they will deliver an appeal to this notice.
We will get back to you once we have further updates.
The Management Team
Whether or not an appeal was filed I don’t know but The Opportunity Network was never relisted on the GXG Markets Exchange.
Instead they got themselves listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange under the shell company “Global Digital Services PLC” on the 19th of August 2013 (stock code: STC).
In March 2013 The Opportunity Network’s Chief Compliance Officer Frank Ricketts appeared in a video where he heavily criticised the company’s critics. Referring to the GXG listing failure as a “mistake”, Ricketts went on to claim “the bloggers” who reported the failure and anyone else who did their due diligence were “idiots”.
Today no mention of the Enigro Group, Jarle Thorsen, SiteTalk virtual share offering or Cyprus IPO is made on The Opportunity Network website, with the company only acknowledging Rune Evensen and Thomas Nordlund (“co-founder / network director of OPN”) in the footer of the company’s website.
The Norwegian Wikipedia entry for the Enigro Group advises that ‘in the fall of 2011 and early 2012, both companies (Enigro and Unaico) were dissolved and their websites closed‘.
Read on for a full review of The Opportunity Network MLM business opportunity. [Continue reading...]