Rolling coverage of Devide by the Swedish publication Sydsvenskan has enraged the company, prompting a protest and complaint with the Press Ombudsman.

Sydsvenskan first reported on Devide back on January 29th. The piece is rather tame compared to our own Devide review, which identified it as a blatant Ponzi points scheme.

In Sydsvenskan’s article the publisher lays out Devide’s business model as follows:

Buy a box with luxury watches and sunglasses for $ 30,000.

Enlist more like Do the same and make big money.

An offer that promises very high returns is now spread over Scandinavia, under the name of Devide.

Sydsvenskan links those behind Devide to the Timeless Gallery Group, allegedly some sort of art-based investment scam.

The article briefly covers Devide’s prelaunch event in a Gothenburg nightclub. Sydsvenskan notes that most of the attendees are from Norway.

When queried on whether Devide operated as a pyramid scheme, CEO Anja Al-Akabi told Sydsvenskan via email that

It is completely misleading to use Devide and pyramid scheme in the same sense.

Recruitment bonuses are very common in all possible companies, she argues.

When it comes to recruiting new “brand ambassadors” it is accepted that one gives a “kick back” or bonus to those who succeed.

As part of their research, Sydsvenskan approached the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate (Spelinspektionen).

They were told that initial inspection of Devide’s business model warranted a closer look.

Following publication of their article Sydsvenskan received a protest response from Devide a few days later (early February).

The article from January 27 … gets the reader to believe that
Devide is a so-called pyramid scheme.

Devide believes that Sydsvenskan has violated several publicity rules and greatly overruled their role as a serious news broker.

The company claimed it had reported the matter to the Press Ombudsman.

Devide nitpicked Sydsvenskan’s reporting, challenging them on the statement that Devide affiliates don’t sell anything.

Members sell goods; in this case watches from Hauger Watches and sunglasses from Saint Rochés.

Devide has pointed this out to Sydsvenskan, but they have chosen to hide information.

Having reviewed Devide’s compensation plan, while it can be argued that affiliates are selling watches and sunglasses as part of the affiliate packages – this isn’t the same as selling products and services to retail customers.

Attaching products and services to recruitment doesn’t legitimize it if there’s no retail activity taking place.

Devide also took issue with Sydsvenskan’s reporting regarding the Gaming Inspectorate and availability of Devide staff for correspondence.

Sydsvenskan responded to Devide’s criticisms by stating

The layout is described by the company itself a “moneytrain” with, according to our review, completely unreasonable returns on returns.

On different places make Devide herself advertising herself with the motto “you sell nothing … man should just be an ambassador. ”

All our interviews, including the one with the Gaming Inspectorate, are either approved by them interviewed or recorded.

At a new check with the current officer, she says that the authority is heavily burdened and must prioritize which cases are investigated.

Devide is not one of them at present.

We can also state that no concrete proposals for physical interviews have come to us, without the e-mail correspondence suggesting a desire to delay our work.

In a followup article dated March 26th, Sydsvenskan revealed the Norwegian Gaming Board had sent Devide a regulatory warning.

The warning pertained to Devide’s business model, and sought to inform the company about Norway’s anti pyramid laws.

As per said pyramid laws, a company must generate at least 50 percent of its revenue from sale of “real products” to retail customers (non-participants).

Speaking with Monica Kjelsnes, Sydsvenskan were told the Gaming Board had identified “several similarities with pyramid schemes”.

Despite Devide having no retail sales in their business model, Anja Al-Akabi is adamant the company operates legally within Norwegian law.

Rather than address the lack of retail focus within the company however, Al-Akabi told the Gaming Board

The large number of tips (you have received) comes from people (who) are sent to hurt the company.

We have become victims of a personal vendetta from competitors.

Al-Akabi doesn’t state who Devide’s imagined competitors are.

In a followup email to Sydsvenskan, Al-Akabi clarified that Devide

welcomes the contact with the authority.

It does not in any way blame Devide or have any views on (our) business (model).

Nevertheless Al-Akabi confirmed she was looking at “adjustments” to Devide’s business model, but affirmed there would be “no changes to the basic concept”.