Togetherness Review: Benefie points investment scheme
Togetherness went into prelaunch in early 2014 and provide a corporate address in Seychelles on their website.
Further research reveals this address to belong to Abacus Seychelles, an offshore business registration provider.
Abacus Seychelles don’t provide the cost of registering a company name through them on their website, but do state that incorporation takes only “1-2 business days”.
As such, Togetherness would appear to exist in Seychelles in name only, with where the company is actually being run out of not provided on the company’s website.
Credited as CEO of Togetherness is Nicklas Liberg (right).
Other than disclosing Liberg’s name, the Togetherness website fails to provide any further information. Instead, the company’s “about us” page is used to provide a marketing spiel about the company.
Liberg appears to be based out of Sweden, which is likely where Togetherness is actually being run out of (and probably explains the clunky name).
Back in 2005 a Nicklas Liberg in Gothenburg, Sweden, lamented his loss of $11,600 USD in a local pyramid scheme.
The scheme appears to have revolved around DVD rentals, scamming 180 Swedes out of $582,000 USD.
Affiliates pumped thousands of Krona into the scheme each month, on the promise of advertising ROIs.
Likely due to language-barriers, I was unable to piece together anything further (at least not concrete) on Liberg’s MLM past.
I will mention though that he seems to have been involved in something called “FX Club” back in 2006. There’s a few social media discussions among people who seem to think that was a pyramid scheme too.
Nothing more recent than that unfortunately.
Read on for a full review of the Togetherness MLM business opportunity.
The Togetherness Product Line
Togetherness’ product is an app service they call “Benefie”.
Benefie is a “plug-in” – a small program you simply download on you computer and that will give you rebate/discount on more than 10,000 famous online shops.
This is being enabled by having the Benefie being connected to all these shops through agreements, so that when a Togetherness client using the Benefie and is making an online purchase, the client will get a rebate.
This rebate – or “cash-back” – is generated when you make an online purchase as the Benefie is immediately identifying which online shop or store you have made the purchase on, and honouring you by giving you the rebate back to you in cash.
You see, online stores pay Benefie a sales commission for sending shoppers their way, and Benefie splits that commission with you.
The basic gist of it is retailers sign up for Benefie, pay Togetherness a commission on any products purchased through the app and then this commission is shared as cashback.
Using Benefie through the Benefie website is free, however users must pay €7.95 if they wish to use Benefie via a “browser extension or mobile app”.
Note that the Benefie mobile app does not yet exist, with the Togetherness website advising it is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2015.
The Togetherness Compensation Plan
The Togetherness compensation plan revolves around affiliates generating points.
These point can then be exchanged for cash, used as an incentive to recruit new Togetherness affiliates or converted into World Bonus points.
Togetherness affiliates can also trade their points into the company for Benefie users, however this itself derives no direct financial benefit to the affiliate.
As such I’ve omitted “marketing units” from the compensation plan analysis below.
In order to qualify for commissions, a Togetherness affiliate must have recruited at least two affiliates.
These affiliates, along with the qualifying affiliate must have two Benefie users under them.
All Togetherness commissions are tied into the acquisition of points.
1 point is equal to €0.10
Togetherness affiliates can obtain points as follows:
- purchasing them – €100 = 1000 points, €250 = 2500 points and €500 = 5000 points
- recruiting affiliates who give away or sell at least two Benefie licenses within 30 days of joining the company – 60 points if the recruited affiliate is a Benefie Package affiliate (€199), 120 points if they are a Benefie and Marketing Package affiliate (€599) and 600 points if they are a Benefie Unlimited Package affiliate (€999)
- 1 point per €1 EUR a personally referred Benefie user receives as cashback (must be at least €100 EUR cashback generated in a month to qualify)
There is also a way to earn points via “steps”, which is what Togetherness call binary cycles.
A binary compensation structure sees an affiliate placed at the top of two binary teams, left and right:
A Togetherness affiliate populates these teams via recruitment (hence the requirement of two recruited affiliates to commission qualify). Recruited affiliates from an affiliate upline and downline can also populate their binary teams.
Points generated by affiliates in both binary teams are tallied up, with a cycle (step) generated when 240 points are generated. This total must have at least 80 points from any given side (meaning the smallest split is 160/80).
How many points are awarded is determined by how many binary cycles a Togetherness affiliate has generated:
- 0-2 cycles = 100% of the points generated (240 points)
- 3-4 cycles = 85%
- 5-6 cycles = 70%
- 7-8 cycles = 55%
- 9-10 cycles = 40%
- 11 or more cycles = 25%
Note that 30% of all points awarded by binary cycles are awarded as Bonus Pool points.
Also note that affiliates are capped at 500 binary cycles every four weeks. This limit can be raised to 15,000 if the amount of points generated by affiliates in the higher side is less than 10% of the total number of points generated by the weaker side.
Total number of points are points generated by affiliates as well as Benefie users who are not affiliates.
Finally, a Togetherness affiliate can boost the points they earn via cashback from their connected Benefie users, by signing up at least two Benefie users within 96 hours of joining the company.
If this qualification criteria is met, the points earned on cashback amounts is boosted by
- 25% if the affiliate signed up with the Benefie Package (€199) or Benefie and Marketing Package (€599) or
- 50% if the affiliate signed up with the Benefie Unlimited Package (€999)
This bonus is temporary, lasting 96 hours from the moment it is activated.
An affiliate can earn another 96 hours of bonus points by recruiting a Togetherness affiliate who signs up at least two Benefie users.
Note that this has to be done within the 96 hour time-frame that the bonus is active. Once it expires, it expires for good.
Togetherness affiliates can earn a match on the binary points generated by their personally recruited affiliates.
- recruit at least five affiliates = 10% match
- recruit at least ten affiliates = 20% match
- recruit at least fifteen affiliates = 20% match and an additional 10% match on level 2 affiliates (affiliates your personally recruited affiliates recruit)
Note that as with the binary points generated, 30% of all points awarded as a matching bonus are awarded as Bonus Pool points.
Benefie Bonus Pool
The Benefie Bonus Pool is how Togetherness affiliates can convert their regular points into cash.
The pool itself is generated monthly, and made up of 50% of the total cashback awarded to Benefie users.
This dollar amount is then multiplied by ten, to make up the amount of points in the Benefie Bonus Pool for that month.
Togetherness affiliates earn a share of this pool by converting their points into Benefie Bonus Pool units.
This is done via what the company refers to as a “Unit Index”, which the company states will be set to 10.
This means that 10 points converted is equal to 1 Benefie Bonus Pool unit. Affiliates can also acquire units by trading with other Togetherness affiliates.
Note that Togetherness affiliates are limited to how many Benefie Bonus Pool unit they can generate each month, as per the following qualification criteria:
- generate 1 binary cycle = create up to 25 Benefie Bonus Pool units each week
- generate 10 binary cycles = create up to 50 Benefie Bonus Pool units each week
- generate 25 binary cycles = create up to 100 Benefie Bonus Pool units each week
- generate 50 binary cycles = create up to 250 Benefie Bonus Pool units each week
- generate 100 binary cycles = create up to 500 Benefie Bonus Pool units each week
- generate 250 binary cycles or more = create an unlimited number of Bonus Pool units each week
Note that an affiliate must have the corresponding points to generate a Benefie Bonus Pool unit, with 10 points required to generate 1 unit.
The World Bonus pays Togetherness affiliates a fixed sum each week, provided they meet the following qualification criteria:
- generate 250 World Bonus points plus recruit 2 affiliates and have 2 connected Benefie users = €25 a week
- generate 500 World Bonus points plus recruit 3 affiliates and have 3 connected Benefie users = €40 a week
- generate 1000 World Bonus points plus recruit 4 affiliates and have 4 connected Benefie users = €60 a week
- generate 2500 World Bonus points plus recruit 5 affiliates and have 5 connected Benefie users = €85 a week
- generate 5000 World Bonus points plus recruit 6 affiliates and have 6 connected Benefie users = €125 a week
- generate 10,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 7 affiliates and have 7 connected Benefie users = €200 a week
- generate 25,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 8 affiliates and have 8 connected Benefie users = €300 a week
- generate 50,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 9 affiliates and have 9 connected Benefie users = €500 a week
- generate 100,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 10 affiliates and have 10 connected Benefie users = €750 a week
- generate 250,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 15 affiliates and have 15 connected Benefie users = €1250 a week
- generate 500,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 20 affiliates and have 20 connected Benefie users = €2500 a week
- generate 1,000,000 World Bonus points plus recruit 30 affiliates and have 30 connected Benefie users = €5000 a week
Additional World Bonus points can also be obtained by meeting the following qualification criteria:
- generate 500 binary cycles = 49,950 World Bonus points
- generate 1000 binary cycles = 99,900 World Bonus points
VIP Pool Bonus
The VIP Pool Bonus is made up of 2.5% of Togetherness’ global sales volume.
This volume is split into five 20% pools, with affiliates able to qualify for a quarterly share in the pool as follows:
- generate 2500 binary cycles = a share in one 20% pool
- generate 5,000 binary cycles = a share in one 20% pool
- generate 10,000 binary cycles = a share in one 20% pool
- generate 15,000 binary cycles = a share in one 20% pool
- generate 20,000 binary cycles = a share in one 20% pool
I believe these pools do not stack, meaning an affiliate is only able to earn shares in one pool at any given time.
Note that the shares are paid out as points. The total amount of points available in the VIP Pool is equal to 2.5% of Togetherness’ company-wide sales volume for that quarter.
In their compensation plan documentation, Togetherness advise that the first VIP Pool payment will not be made until December 2015.
Affiliate membership with Togetherness is available at three price-points:
- Benefie Package – €199 (20 Benefie licenses and 1000 Bonus Pool units )
- Benefie and Marketing Package – €599 (20 Benefie licenses, “marketing campaigns” and 2500 Bonus Pool units)
- Benefie Unlimited Package – €999 (unlimited Benefie licenses and 5000 Bonus Pool units)
All packages cost €29 annually after the first year and come with €100 worth of Benefie Bonus Pool units.
Additional Benefie licenses can be purchased at the Benefie and Benefie and Marketing package levels for €89 (20 licenses).
Note that these licenses allow a user to use the Benefie browser plugin or mobile app (not yet released).
Togetherness affiliates can also upgrade from the Benefie and Benefie and Marketing Package affiliate memberships to the Benefie Unlimited Package membership for €900.
Before we get into the massive legal red-flags of Togetherness’ compensation plan, let’s first look at the viability of their Benefie platform.
First and foremost, nobody is paying Togetherness €7.95 for access to discounts.
The only people running around with Benefie licenses are going to be Togetherness affiliates, who will likely flood the market anyway as they need to give away the licenses to qualify for commissions.
The “discount app” (cashback, rebate or whatever you want to call it) space is highly competitive, and a €7.95 is just laughable.
Should Togetherness reduce the price of the app, or we ignore it completely and focus on the browser version, the issue of an MLM company merely providing access to third-party discounts remains.
As an MLM company, Togetherness themselves are selling access to discounts and affiliate memberships.
And should nobody outside of the opportunity be paying €7.95 for the Benefie app, then only affiliates are going to be purchasing licenses (as part of their affiliate membership), which is even worse.
Analysis of Togetherness compensation plan reveals the reason the Benefie app is unattractive.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts though, I’ll start by noting there’s a distinctive pay to play element within Togetherness’ compensation plan.
In addition to being awarded points based on how much an affiliate initially spends when they sign up, there are a number of instances within the Togetherness compensation plan where points are awarded based on which affiliate membership option was signed up with (recruitment and the matching bonus are two examples).
This is a red-flag in and of itself, as it draws into question the motive behind the amount a Togetherness affiliate pays for their membership (pay more = earn more).
And now the points…
Whenever I see points in an MLM compensation plan, as in actual points money is converted into and then converted back again – there’s usually something dodgy going on behind the scenes.
Togetherness is no exception.
There are two layers to this Ponzi investment scheme, the regular points and the World Bonus points.
The World Bonus Points are the easier of the two schemes to break down so we’ll start there.
Affiliates directly convert cash into World Bonus points or generate the points as part of their regular point acquisition (see 30/70 binary point allocation).
Then, based on how many points they accumulate, Togetherness affiliates qualify for a guaranteed weekly ROI of up to €5000 a week.
Where is that money coming from?
Hint: It’s not coming from non-affliate Benefie users and it’s not coming from merchants using the Benefie platform.
Moving onto the regular points, this is the core of Togetherness’ compensation plan and it’s essentially a trading platform tacked onto the discount app.
Affiliates convert real money into points or acquire them when others do (either by signing up as an affiliate or using the Benefie platform).
These points are then converted into Benefie Bonus units, which the company, in their compensation plan, claim ” will increase in value”.
At some point enough units have been generated such that affiliates will convert a certain amount of their total points back into regular points (the process takes 30 days).
These regular points don’t forget are equal to €0.10 each. And therein lies the investment scheme.
Granted the ROI per Benefie Bonus Pool unit is determined by the Benefie cashback paid out, so it’s not full-blown Ponzi – but if affiliates are the only ones using Benefie? Yeah. That’s just affiliate money being shuffled around.
And at the very least, the most definite offering of unregistered securities.
Specifically, affiliates converting funds into points, points into units and then “holding onto” units on the expectation they will increase in value, before converting them back into points and then cash again.
The World Bonus Point scheme however is pure Ponzi. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that affiliate fees are being recycled to pay out the guaranteed ROIs promised each week.
You simply cannot peg legitimate end-user activity with fixed weekly ROIs. It doesn’t add up.
And the worst of it is that Togetherness appear to know exactly what they are running, with the following text appearing in their official compensation plan documentation (caps verbatim):
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BENEFIE POOL UNITS AND THE BENEFIE POOL IS NOT TO BE SEEN AS AN ”INVESTMENT” WITHIN THE MEANING USED BY DIFFERENT AUTHORITIES AND SHALL BE VIEWED ONLY AS AN EXTRA REWARD IN POINTS BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE IN THE COMPANY`S GROWTH GENERATED BY THE USE OF THE BENEFIE!
When was the last time a legitimate MLM company had to go around warning people that it wasn’t a Ponzi investment scheme?
With all of that in mind, the offshore registration of Togetherness in Seychelles should start to make sense.
Basically Nicklas Liberg is hoping he makes enough bank before regulators in Sweden or the EU catch up with him, at which point I guess he’s hoping he’ll simply point to his investment disclaimer and hope things will be hunky-dory.
If regulators don’t shut Togetherness down first, as with all Ponzi schemes Togetherness will collapse once new investment in points dries up. A decline in affiliate membership signups will also hurt the company.
This will first manifest itself by way of the World Bonus Pool payments, which are weekly and fixed.
The second problems arise with these fixed payments (including restructuring by reducing the advertised amounts), you can bet your bottom dollar something is up.
At that point anyone with funds still trapped in Togetherness points loses out. Kaboom.