Local City Places fails to provide ownership or executive information on its website.

As per its website, Local City Places is based out of Arizona in the US.

Local City Places’ website domain (“localcityplaces.com”), was privately registered on May 1st, 2023.

Troy Warren is cited as Local City Places’ “editor” on its website.

On his LinkedIn profile, Warren discloses he’s also CEO and President of the company:

Why this information isn’t provided to consumers on Local City Places’ website is unclear.

In the footer of Local City Places’ website there’s a reference to City Press Media.

LOCAL City Places | Powered by City Press Media

There is a City Press Media website up at “citypressmedia.com”, but I’m not sure if it’s related. In any event, the website is running a WordPress theme populated with default theme data.

Another name we can attach to Local City Places is Tom Beal (right).

In a December 29th, 2023 press-release announcing Local City Places’ launch, Beal is cited as an Executive Board Member.

Executive Board Member Tom Beal, expert Digital Marketer, performance coach, and “mentor to mentors,” puts it this way, “There is no better way of spreading the good word about amazing local businesses.

The level of thought put into this for reviewers and local companies is extremely impressive.”

While Troy Warren doesn’t appear to have an MLM history, he does appear to have a long history of marketing and ecommerce related scamming.

A July 2009 article by Ivan Penn for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), lays out some pretty serious misconduct.

• A lawsuit by MasterCard International in 1991 that accused Warren and more than a dozen other defendants of taking millions from consumers through false offers of low-rate credit cards under a company they ran, called Listworld. The case was settled and dismissed.

Listworld filed bankruptcy and reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which shut the operation down for deceptive practices.

• A bankruptcy filing that left Warren with a judgment for $1.9 million that he was declared responsible for in an order in 2006.

• An order by the Arizona Corporation Commission that Warren pay $20,000 in restitution to investors for selling stock he did not register for a charitable Internet business, FreeFundRaisingPrograms.com Inc.

• The Better Business Bureau gave Warren an “F” for his failed SearchBigDaddy.com Internet products and services business because of complaints, failure to respond to complaints and lack of business background.

Warren also has been sued at least five times for failing to pay state and federal taxes in the tens of thousands of dollars, from the early 1990s to 2005.

Penn’s article also covers BBZ Resource Management, which saw Warren sued by Tidewater Marketing Global Consultants for

unfair competition and counterfeiting, among other things, for “copying, distributing and misappropriating Tidewater’s business information.”

Tidewater and BBZ Resource Management ran a “gas and grocery program”.

Troy Warren, 49, of Mesa, Ariz., and his BBZ Resource Management company have been flooding e-mail boxes in Florida and elsewhere with offers for a gas and grocery program.

BBZ Resource Management escalated its marketing efforts in Florida after TideWater was put “under state control and [became] the subject of a criminal investigation for deceptive business practices”.

One of BBZ’s brokers e-mailed a press release about its program, stating, “Gas and Grocery Headquarters, the leading provider of gas and grocery certificates, is looking to help companies that fell victim to a now defunct gas rebate program based in Largo, Florida.

Hymie Orlin, one of BBZ’s representatives through fuelandgroceryincentives.com, said his company is picking up Tidewater’s clients.

One of BBZ’s merchant clients described the business as a Ponzi scheme.

Pouls calls the program run by BBZ Resource Management a fraudulent Ponzi scheme in which the company was using “new income to pay off old debts based on false pretenses.”

Pouls, a developer who also ran a credit card business and other ventures, says that he separated himself from BBZ after it became clear to him that the company was defrauding the public.

“The biggest thing going on was nobody was getting their cards,” he said. “I was appalled.”

Penn’s July 2009 article cites Warren and his company Troy Warren SBD offices as operating from a Chandler, Arizona address.

Local City Places’ Arizona address is also in Chandler, so I’m pretty sure this is the same Troy Warren.

In 2000, Alaska’s DCCED’s Division of Banking and Securities went after Warren for something related to the website “HotYellow98”.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pull up specific case details. Fortunately Arizona’s Corporation Commission went after Warren for similar conduct in 2005.

[Warren] signed a Consent Agreement with the State of Alaska Division of Banking, Securities and Corporations on May 31, 2000, regarding the unregistered sale of securities to four Alaskan investors offered by HotYellow98.com, Inc., the Nevada Corporation and its predecessor the Arizona Corporation.

As part of the Consent Agreement … [Warren] paid restitution to four Alaskan investors in the amount of $26,000 and reimbursed the State for costs in the amount of $1500.

The ACC’s enforcement action relates to “ListWorldUSA.com” and “FreeFundRaisingProgram.com”. It is the same enforcement action cited above in Ivan Penn’s St. Petersburg Times article.

Finding that Warren committed securities fraud in Arizona, the ACC ordered Warren to pay another $20,000 in restitution and a $5000 administrative penalty.

Finally there’s a slew of consumer complaints against Warren published on Complaints Board.

The complaints are specific to September through November 2019, which is a bit odd. I can’t verify any of the claims so take them with a grain of salt.

Read on for a full review of Local City Places’ MLM opportunity.

Local City Places’ Products

Local City Places markets an online business directory. Basic listing with photos and advertising copy is free.

For $99 a month, listed businesses can purchase an “Exclusive City Showcase”.

Exclusive City Showcase enables your business to be displayed in front of all consumers in your city area on a FEATURED basis with a plethora of other big benefits.

No further specific information is provided.

Local City Places’ Compensation Plan

Local City Places charges businesses $99 a month for their “Exclusive City Showcase” service.

Commissions on these $99 a month fees are paid to affiliates who review these businesses first.

Residual commissions on the $99 a month fees are paid via a unilevel compensation structure.

A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1):

If any level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team.

If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.

Local City Places caps payable unilevel team levels at six.

Residual commissions are paid as a percentage of $99 fees charged across these six levels as follows:

  • level 1 (businesses you review first) – 20%
  • level 2 (affiliates you recruit who review a business first) – 10%
  • levels 3 to 6 – 5%

Note that one Local City Places marketing presentation I watched had slightly different commissions:

  • levels 3 to 5 – 5%
  • levels 6 and 7 – 2.5%

Only commissions across levels 1 to 3 are disclosed on Local City Places’ website (full compensation details are hidden from consumers).

Also note that these levels are tied to Local City Places affiliate ranks. Rank qualification criteria is not disclosed.

I will note that in one Local City Places marketing video I watched the rank of “Super Partner” was briefly mentioned.

Super Partner was described as;

You goin’ out and getting your ten and your ten. Your ten merchants and your ten members.

This sounds like Local City Places’ affiliate rank(s) are tied to referring $99 a month businesses and recruiting affiliates.

Review Points

Local City Places affiliates earn points when they write reviews on the platform:

  • write a review for a listed business = 50 points
  • write a review for a listed business you’ve already reviewed = 50 points

When a Local City Places affiliate has generate 1500 points, the points can be redeemed for a $25 gift card.

Joining Local City Places

Local City Places appears to offer both free and paid affiliate memberships.

Local City Places offers an affordable, comprehensive, and easy-to-use solution to help you grow, engage, and convert your audience with powerful email, automation, and list growth tools.

Our exclusive Affiliate Marketing platform empowers you with all the tools, content and selling guides you need to create successful affiliate campaigns.

As a LCP affiliate, you can combine these platforms and create your own Affiliate Marketing ecosystem.

Local City Places hides costs associated with affiliate membership from consumers.

Local City Places Conclusion

Consumer level online business directories have been dead for years. They’ve been replaced by search engines, which offer the same functionality.

One could even argue AI is eating into search engine’s, the same way they did to online business directories.

Meta rolled out AI integration into its online services last November. Users can ask the bot for nearby specified businesses, eliminating the need for a manual search.

Case in point; when was the last time you went to a business directory to find a business?

The only consumer-level business directories still in use are hospitality related. Think food apps and delivery services.

This leaves Local City Places’ offering dead in the water. But the business model doesn’t necessarily required business to sign up to be listed.

I couldn’t help but notice this in Local City Places’ website FAQ;

A “claimed” Merchant Page is one that has been claimed by the owner or representative of the business through our verification process.

I’m not going to definitively say it’s happening because I can’t prove it, but this paves the way for businesses to be involuntarily added to Local City Places as “unclaimed” listings.

The business model then would be listing businesses without their knowledge, affiliates rushing to leave a review and then contacting said businesses to get them to pay $99 a month.

Given Troy Warren’s past, this unethical conduct isn’t out of the question.

As to the review themselves, who takes paid reviews seriously? One of the falsehoods scammers commonly spread about BehindMLM is that our reviews are “paid for” content. Or alternatively, we accept payment to remove reviews.

Neither is true but the intent is to weaken credibility by (falsely) claiming our reviews are paid for.

There’s no question that Local City Places’ reviews are paid for. It’s the entire basis of the attached MLM opportunity.

I’m also wondering what’s stopping someone setting up a bot to snipe newly listed companies and posting AI generated reviews?

And how are negative reviews handled? Putting aside affiliates leaving bogus reviews, let’s say Company A gets listed involuntarily.

Company A sells hamburgers and a Local City Places affiliate, upon visiting Company A, was served a raw hamburger. After complaining to Company A, nothing was done.

The affiliate goes home and leaves a scathing review of Local City Places.

Then what? Local City Places calls up the business and asks if they’d be interested in paying $99 a month?

Alternatively negative reviews aren’t acted on. Over time though Company A cleans up its act and starts receiving positive reviews. Eventually Local City Places figures it’s worth trying to market their $99 service.

“Hi there, you’ve got a ton of positive reviews from our affiliates. Can we interest you in our $99 a month service?”

“Maybe. I can see this one review from early on though. Um, if we do sign up for your service… any chance we can get that review removed?”

With commissions on the line, Local City Places aren’t really incentivized to be honest. They’re incentivized to write reviews that might encourage listed businesses to sign up for Local City Places’ $99 a month service.

If the review intersects with a genuine honest experience with the business, great. If not, then um…?

Things get real messy real fast anytime payment and online reviews are mixed. There could also be potential FTC Act violations if fraudulent reviews and/or misrepresentations are or become the norm.

Speaking of potential FTC Act violations, we also have Local City Places failing to disclose ownership and compensation details to consumers.

An MLM company should be upfront with this information on their website. Failing which, consumers are left unable to make an informed decision about joining said MLM company.

The irony with Local City Places is, beyond Warren’s baggage, FTC Act disclosure failings and the paid reviews mess, the MLM side of the business is pretty solid.

You’ve got a service being sold to retail customers (listed businesses) and affiliates earning commissions on fees paid by retail customers. And from what I was ascertain, ranks tied to acquiring both retail customers and recruited affiliates.

Unfortunately that’s overshadowed by the rest of Local City Places’ offering. Approach with extreme caution.