Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged the US owners of WorldVentures Taiwan (環宇全球公司), Kenneth Edward Head and Jonathon Starks McKillip, with contravening the Multi-Level Marketing Supervision Act (多層次傳銷管理法), which protects people from pyramid schemes.
On the international business registry, the former is listed as Eddie Head, president and chief strategy officer of WorldVentures Holding Ltd, while the latter was listed as a director until he resigned in 2011.
WorldVentures Holding is WorldVentures Taiwan’s parent company and is registered in Cyprus.
The company’s international Web site says that WorldVentures has been the world’s leading direct seller of vacation club memberships for more than 10 years, offering travel services and “DreamTrip” packages at discount prices.
People need to pay NT$8,800 (US$280.7) to join WorldVentures Taiwan as a basic member, in addition to a monthly membership fee of NT$2,000, prosecutors said, adding that people with gold, platinum and higher memberships enjoy more perks and benefits.
The company began operating in Taipei in May 2015, prosecutors said, adding that last year it had about 1,300 members in Taiwan.
News reports last year said that WorldVentures had 500,000 members in 28 countries.
Prosecutors said that WorldVentures Taiwan operates like a classic pyramid scheme, in which club members are asked to sell travel products, and recruit friends and family as lower-level members to earn points and waive their monthly fees.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) last year launched an investigation, after the Travel Agent Association reported that customers were complaining that WorldVentures Taiwan was contravening travel industry regulations and not fulfilling its promises.
The commission in June last year fined WorldVentures Taiwan NT$3.6 million, citing evidence that the company had contravened business regulations by engaging in questionable multi-level marketing schemes.
The case was then passed on to prosecutors.
When the company launched in Taiwan, executives applied to register as a multi-level direct sales business with the FTC, but also applied to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau for a tourism business license.
The bureau did not approve the license, saying that “direct sales” was entirely different from tourism, so the company was not allowed to establish a travel agency.
Thereafter, WorldVentures Taiwan stressed that it was a direct sales and club membership business that mainly offered recreational activities and holiday travel packages.
According to US news reports and anti-fraud Web sites, 21 lawsuits were filed against WorldVentures in California, Texas, Louisiana and Delaware from 2008 to last year.
Plaintiffs in a 2017 lawsuit in California said that WorldVentures rewards recruiting over travel package sales; that it is nothing more than a Web site that compiles travel package plans from other sites, with prices in excess of popular travel sites such as Expedia and Travelocity; and that its income disclosure statement is misleading and confusing.
The company has been banned from doing business in Norway because the government found that it was an illegal pyramid scheme.
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu
A Belgian man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan last week is likely to have contracted the disease in Taipei in late June, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health vice dean Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Saturday reported that the man, who is in his 20s, came to Taiwan for work on May 3 and tested positive on Wednesday last week as he was about to depart. The man in March reported loss of taste and smell, the center said, adding that he worked in Changhua County, but visited Taipei several times,