Is ViSalus A Scam? – A Pyramid Scheme On LifeLine? 9 Observations
Still here to figure if the ViSalus business is a good opportunity, or their weight loss products a good buy? I wonder why.
Before we move into the specifics, most of ViSalus products are unavailable for direct distribution right now. You can only buy them through Amazon.
Plus, their official website is not something that is pleasing to the eyes. In fact, there are rumors that ViSalus is quietly acquired by another Multi-Level Marketing Company (MLM) called “Pruvit”.
So, in this ViSalus review, we will discuss what happened to the company, and why it is probably a bad idea to join them right now, if that is what you are considering.
1. What is ViSalus?
ViSalus is a Multi-Level Marketing company (at least it used to be) that sells weight loss and healthy living products. The company is founded by Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen in 1997.
In 2005, ViSalus was bought over by Ryan Blair. Sarnicola and Mallen remained as sales chief and Chief Management Officers respectively.
Back then, ViSalus’ marketing strategy was quite a unique one as it promotes a “Challenge” rather than the products alone. And, the best part was the rewards disbursed to people who actually lose weight through the challenge.
Everyone wants to look slim and healthy and ViSalus’ products may be able to help you achieve that goal. However, ViSalus is not a “magic challenge” that can help just anyone lose weight.
You need sheer determination, motivation, and discipline to succeed in losing weight. Well, these are also the elements that are key to any kind of success.
Anyway, in case you are wondering why you haven’t see much of Ryan Blair in ViSalus, here’s what happen.
What happened to Ryan Blair?
Since stepping down as the CEO of ViSalus, Blair continued to be a member of the board of directors and a substantial shareholder.
Blair was one of the co-founders of HashTagOne, a company that provides entrepreneurs with venture capital.
In 2016, Blair published his second book titled, “Rock Bottom To Rock Star, where he gives valuable lessons abut entrepreneurship.
In 2019, he spends time at his latest company called AlterCall. This company helps people to accelerate their path toward financial independence, global impact, and spiritual evolution.
If you are interested to find out more about him, he is very active on Linkedin.
2. What Happened To ViSalus (Timeline)
Visalus was almost buried by a $6 million debt during the 2008 housing Crisis. In the same year, Biyth, Inc. bought 43.6% of the company’s equity for $13 million and it’s shareholding was later increased to 72.7%.
The company was at the brink of bankruptcy, but it was Ryan Blair who salvaged the company as he lead the company to a $150 million in revenue.
Biyth, Inc planned on taking ViSalus public with shares worth up to $175 million on Initial Public Offering. However, the IPO didn’t go through as Biyth, Inc. announced that the company’s growth was not properly valued due to uncertainties in the market.
Blair sold the remaining equity of the company to Biyth, Inc for 792 million.
The company begin reporting huge losses since its peak in 2012. This is partly due to the lawsuits, which we will talk about in a while.
A company in crisis, Blair and the other co-founders bought back ViSalus for $148 million. Since then, ViSalus stopped reporting its sales figures.
There are some rumors around ViSalus was being sold to Pruvit, another network marketing company that sells Keto supplements. There are no official announcement, but this article says ViSalus was quietly acquired in 2019.
Another article from a Pruvit distributor announcing the partnership of Pruvit and ViSalus.
And an Instagram post from Nick Sarnicola, ViSalus CEO, that shows he spoke on stage at the Hacking Better event organized by Pruvit in October 2019.
Another piece of evidence we found was the site of ViSalus’ distributor that was redirected to Pruvit when you click on the “Buy now” button.
However, we still can’t find any ViSalus product on Pruvit yet.
At current, the rumors remain a rumor. We will update this again when the time comes, but do leave a comment down below if it happened but we have not updated the post.
3. ViSalus Lawsuits
Ocean Avenue founders Fred Ninow and Ken Dunn filed a lawsuit against ViSalus for alleged corporate espionage, computer hacking, and theft.
This was allegedly done by ViSalus to stop its distributors from leaving and joining Ocean Avenue.
ViSalus officials reportedly hired two private investigators, Nathan Moser and Peter Siragusa, who then hired computer hackers from India to hack into the files of Ocean Avenue and its distributors who were formerly from ViSalus.
The two private investigators were later convicted, and were sentenced to one and three years in jail. Meanwhile, ViSalus’ security director, Carlo Pacileo was charged with 3 years probation.
Timothy Kerrigan and other former members filed a lawsuit against ViSalus for allegedly operating under a pyramid scheme. The charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.
Sommer Schwartz filed a class-action lawsuit against Visalus for also allegedly operating a pyramid scheme. He cited that the company focuses more on recruitment rather than selling products.
Caprice Byrd and others filed a lawsuit against Visalus for allegedly committing securities fraud.
In the official lawsuit, former pastor Vince Owens used his religious influence to attract new recruits to join ViSalus. A $450,000 settlement was agreed upon by ViSalus and the complainants.
ViSalus was charged with yet another lawsuit for violating the Telephone Consumer Act (TCPA). Here’s what happened.
Lori Wakefield reported that she did not make any money and left the company in 2012.
Three years after leaving the company, in 2015, Wakefield along with other former members stated that they have received phone calls from ViSalus promoting their products using an artificial voice without their consent.
The Oregon District court hammered the company for statutory damages worth $925 million. The company later contested the verdict citing that it is unconstitutionally excessive which was later denied.
With all these mounting legal cases, it is no wonder the company is in hibernation mode right now.
4. What are ViSalus products?
Visalus offers a wide array of products such as weight-loss shakes, drinks, snacks, and supplements.
However, we couldn’t find the complete product details on the Visalus official website. When we looked up Amazon, the only product available was the Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix.
The shake mix is the foundation of the Body by Vi challenge kit. It is a meal replacement shake formulated with highly absorbable proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to support digestive health, bone health, and muscles and ultimately help you lose weight.
This shake mix is also available in smaller travel packets for your every meal. The company certifies that the shake mix is Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten free.
Can you live off ViSalus Shake? Living off dietary shakes such as the Vi-Shape Shake Mix could resolve weight issues, reduce appetite and reduce your calorie intake.
However, healthcare professionals do not recommend living off meal replacement shakes for a long time. Getting all the nutrient your body needs from a single food source can be difficult.
ViSalus products typically expire at around 6 to 18 months. Of course, expiration is faster when the packaging is opened.
5. How does Body By Vi 90-Day Challenge Work?
Visalus offers a weight loss program called Body by Vi 90-day Challenge.
The company claims that this Challenge is customized for anyone, and it is based on providing adequate nutrition while stimulating weight loss.
Who doesn’t want to lose weight despite the busy schedule, right? All you need is to consume only 2 meal replacement shakes a day, and nothing else. To be honest, this is more of a psychological battle than anything else. Lol!
Anyway, you can choose between three feature challenge kits:
- Balance Kit: For better overall health and wellness
- 1 Vi-Shape Shake (bags / 24 servings)
- 1 Vi-Shape Mix-In (Sample page / 6 servings)
- Optimum Kit: to support your physical transformation
- 2 Vi-Shape Shake (bags / 48 servings)
- 2 Vi-Shape Mix-In – Chocolate (box / 30 packs)
- 2 Vi-Shape Mx-In – Strawberry (box / 30 packs)
- 1 Nutra-Cookie Chocolate Chips (box / 12 cookies)
- 1 Nutra-Cookie Oatmeal Raisin (box / 12 cookies)
- 2 Nutra-Bar Chocolate Caramel (box / 12 bars)
- 2 Nutra-Bar Peanut butter and jelly (box / 12 bars)
- Shape Kit: to start a healthier lifestyle
- 2 Vi-Shape Shake (bags / 48 servings)
- 1 Vi-Shape Mix-In – Chocolate (box / 15 packs)
- 1 Vi-Shape Mix-In – Strawberry (box / 15 packs)
You need to consume 1 Vi-Shape Shake per day and use the Vi-Shae Mix-in to add flavor to your Vi-Shape Shake. Of course, you need to consume according to its instructions for these Challenge Kits to work.
If you had experience with the 90 day challenge, could you please share your story with us in the comments? Thank you!
6. ViSalus Compensation Plan
Since the business opportunity is no longer in existence and they are not accepting new distributors at the moment, let us share with you how, once upon a time, you can make money with ViSalus.
7. Is ViSalus a Scam?
With the mounting lawsuits, I am pretty sure you are screaming ViSalus scam, right?But let us share some findings with you and maybe it can solidify your perception.
First of all, when accessing ViSalus’ main website, the browser prompted that the site is note secured. Furthermore, the product images were taken down, probably due to the conflict of the unsecured http protocol. And, the last post was way back in December 2019.
The website was basically abandoned so to speak.
The Health Claims
Secondly, making strong health claims were what got them into troubles in the first place. For example…
From the video, one of the distributors claimed that Vi-Pak was the reason she could skip a kidney transplant. Though it was a personal story, but the implications from it leaves impression that the Vi-Pak can cure kidney diseases.
The fact that Vi-Pack is nothing more than a health supplement which is not FDA approved.
This was not the only video, there were a swamp of videos and testimonials by independent distributors making strong health claims, but unfortunately they were taken down.
The financial claims
ViSalus used to offer “free BMWs” to qualified distributors when in fact, it is not free. It is only when you reached the level of Regional director or higher, the company will give you a car allowance of $600 a month, but you’ll have to pay for the rest.
This guy on the video, got his BMW in 11 days after signing up as a distributor with only 4 people on his team. The video was dated Mar 8, 2013, and the person in the video is no longer a distributor as the links on the video has no destination.
This is just one of the examples of financial claims, there were many who claimed that making money with ViSalus was easy and you can be a millionaire shortly if you buckle down and do the work.
Unfortunately, the claims were unsubstantiated. Only 1% to 3% of all MLM distributors will make significant sums of money, and it took them approximately 7 to 8 years to achieve that.
So, to claim ViSalus as an easy way to become a millionaire is just a fantasy for most.
The good reviews
On the other hand, there are many positive customer reviews on Amazon. Most claimed that their products work. People do lose weight with ViSalus products.
So, is ViSalus a scam? Yes and no.
Yes because of the unsubstantiated health and financial claims made by its distributors, and those who were brought into the business with the premise will feel that ViSalus is nothing but a scam.
That’s why when you do a little research on your own, you will be met with heaps of ViSalus complaints.
And no because the products work for some people, the company delivers on their orders and honors the return policy.
So, there’s always two sides to a coin. You make the judgement call.
8. Is ViSalus Still In Business?
Well, what happened to body by vi? If you visit their website, we are pretty sure you will be met with disappointment as their products are not distributed through their official site anymore.
There is no official announcement that ViSalus is out of business either.
Other than the Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix that are still selling on Amazon, there are no circulation of other ViSalus products.
We could only guess at this point that ViSalus is still around because of the recent reviews, and a possibility that ViSalus might have been sold to Pruvit.
If you have any further updates on this, feel free to share it with us in the comments.
9. Final Verdict: ViSalus Scam?
We cannot say ViSalus is a pyramid scheme because there are customers (non-distributors) who find the products helpful.
A typical pyramid scheme sells products that provides no value to its customers.
And, we cannot say that ViSalus is a total scam either because the company fulfils its orders and did obliged by their returns policy when their products were still in circulation.
But, if you were to ask if it is a good idea to buy its products from Amazon or even join the company, the answer is no. The future of the company is uncertain, and there are currently no signs of leadership.
Anyway, we hope to have given the answers you are looking for in this ViSalus review. Thank you for your time.