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.
The chief mechanic in an air force unit from which an F-16 and its pilot went missing last week died on Sunday evening in what might have been a suicide, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday. The ministry in a statement confirmed media reports that the mechanic, surnamed Huang (黃), “hurt himself” at a military barracks. Huang was taken to Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital after he was found unresponsive in the barracks, but doctors could not revive him, the ministry said. Huang served in the 26th Tactical Fighter Group of the 5th Tactical Fighter Wing, the same unit as the missing
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last night said that it had no comment about reports that a senior US Navy officer had arrived in Taipei for a visit. Several media outlets reported that Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence of the US Indo-Pacific Command, arrived at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on a special charter flight at about 7pm. The schedule of a “senior US official” in Taiwan would not be made public, the ministry said in a news release, without confirming the visit or the official’s identity. Interactions and exchanges between Taiwan and the US are common, and visits
NON-TYPICAL: Apart from Atsani, storms in autumn missed Taiwan, rainfall has been lower and average temperatures have been higher, a CWB forecaster said The current water shortage is expected to worsen in the next few months, with the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) yesterday forecasting a colder, dryer winter than normal. With winter starting next week, the bureau at a media briefing outlined the expected conditions through February and reviewed autumn’s significant weather events. Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-cheng (呂國臣) said that autumn this year had three major characteristics: First, 13 tropical storms and typhoons formed from September to this month, up from 11 in the same period last year, Lu said. Apart from Atsani, for which sea and land alerts were issued in Taiwan, the tropical
‘VIRUS DIPLOMACY’: The nation’s expertise in handling COVID-19 was among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO, the European Parliament said The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan. During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan. In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on