donald-lapre‘The Greatest Vitamin in the World’ was a MLM company focused around the sales of a multi-vitamin… supposedly the greatest one in the world.

Run by Donald Lapre (photo right), the basic idea was that you paid your $35, recruited other people into the business and then took home commissions ranging from $1000-$5000 with up to 50% in matching bonuses on those you directly recruited.

The Greatest Vitamin in the World collapsed sometime in 2008, and following the collapse Lapre seemingly spiralled into a run of promoting increasingly dodgy looking business opportunities.

By 2011 the law had finally caught up with Lapre and

in June 2011, Lapre was charged with 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and promotional money laundering.

After originally failing to rock up to court, Lapre was subsequently arrested in late June.

Prosecutors handling the case alleged that

investors and customers spent nearly $51.8 million, but received just $6.4 million in commissions.

Between 2004 and 2007, they say, Lapre himself took in at least $2.2 million from the business.

Lapre himself consistently denied the charges and maintained his innocence.

In the face of allegations accusing him of defrauding 220,000 people to the tune of $52 million USD, yesterday Donald Lapre chose to commit suicide.

People often focus on the money side of MLM fraud without taking into account the countless lives it affects via financial ruin.

Ultimately, cases like Lapre show us the extreme result of these such frauds.

Much more common and far-reaching is the financial destruction such schemes wreak on those who willingly participate in them. Something you might want to keep in mind the next time someone tells you there’s no risk involved because the initial investment into scheme is only $5, or $10 or as was the case in Lapre’s Greatest Vitamin in the World, $35.

At the end of the day if the compensation plan isn’t legit, someone always ends up paying.

In this particular case, Lapre chose to pay with his life.