The controversial shopping community Lyoness
may find itself in a precarious situation. ‘Money back with every purchase’, with this promise, Lyoness attracts its customers –
but not always to their full satisfaction. Especially controversial are the systems
behind the shopping community. In November, Eva-Maria Kaiser first reported
about victims feeling deprived of their money. The Austrian Corruption Prosecutor suspects that an illegal pyramid
scheme exists behind the Lyoness shopping community. Lyoness tries to combat such reports through complaints to
the Austrian Media Authority, yet it has lost its case. So, our Eva-Maria Kaiser will continue to report to you. About the law suit of the Austrian Association
for Consumer Information, and new allegations against the founder of Lyoness. Lyoness and its boss Hubert Freidl, the way they like to present themselves:
as a successful global corporation. Peter Hauser, attorney at law Of course, when you see Freidl’s
Messiah-like appearance at events, ‘together we will all become rich’ –
we are all familiar with this vocabulary; that fascinates. Lyoness was founded in Graz 10 years ago. Today, it is active in over 30 countries. Bernhard Wagner, former Lyoness Managing Director Austria Mr. Freidl makes many promises,
yet doesn’t deliver on them. The boss likes to present himself as a hero. One cannot deny that the man has charisma, and he is a very talented salesman. This influences the people’s decision making. Gradiose staging, the creation of a feeling of unity. Everyone belongs to the Lyoness family. During regularly-held meetings, the participants are
sworn in into the corporate philosophy. Here, in German and Romanian. ‘Money back with every purchase’
is our simple corporate philosophy. This concept functions everywhere, as you can see. It is simple and it is is just a great opportunity
for all of us to build a magnificent business. And, this is how it works. The so-called ‘Cashback Card’ is free. You just require
a recommendation from an acquaintance. Lyoness partner companies give discounts of a few euros for every
purchase. Members also benefit from the purchases of their friends. Today, we are the largest shopping community of the world.
Obviously, this has its reasons. However, the big bucks are made through a
system of ‘multi-level marketing’, say critics. This is an internally-spread Lyoness video from Switzerland. For 3000 Swiss francs (or 2000 euros)
you can buy into the system. The more you pay, and the more paying
people you bring in, the better. A miraculous money multiplication process commences. So much for the beautiful theory. In reality… The Commercial Court of Amstetten, last Friday. Attorney Eric Breiteneder represents about 300 Lyoness victims
and has managed to win several cases against Lyoness. Most recent plaintiff, Mr. F – who does not want to be filmed,
has paid Lyoness 6,400 euros for the promise of 60,000. According to his own administration, Mr. F. altogether has received
about 73 euros from Lyoness over the last three years. Mr. F. was participating in an ‘American billing system’. Through his
investments in vouchers, he would benefit from the US market. When the money never came, Mr. F. wanted to consume
the value of the vouchers he purchased from Lyoness. However, he finds out that in order to do so, he would need
to invest another 120,000 euros to get the actual vouchers. He is not the only one who is shocked by that. Lyoness is being investigated by a long list of authorities
and prosecutors for months and sometimes even years. These include the Austrian Financial Markets Authority (FMA)
and the Economy and Corruption Prosecutor (WKStA) – there are my cases, there is public movement, and of course, there are people that are unhappy
and publicly demand their money back. Former Lyoness managers also feel that CEO
Freidl has robbed them from their money. Bernhard Wagner was from 2006 to 2008 Managing Director of Lyoness,
and has expanded its market to Bulgaria and the rest of Eastern Europe. I have been laying the ground work for Mr. Freidl. That means that I have increased the sales
until they could work independently. When it was time for me to benefit from this work,
I was simply removed from the company. Wagner knows Hubert Freidl from previous companies
operating similar systems for a few years That is, to profit from the payments of subsequent participants. At Lyoness, the cash flow suddenly stopped in 2008. I believe it was in June when I suddenly
stopped receiving commission. I saw that one of the two structures I had built,
was completely taken away from me by Lyoness. Which is something they always claimed,
could never happen in this system. The ‘lifeline’ of Bernhard Wagner. Recruiting new members, which in return convince
new people to make down-payments. This constitutes a pyramid-like commission system. In the 22nd week of 2008, Wagner had
68,000 participants under him. One week later, merely 30,000 were left. Now, the amount of people would have
to be about 1.4 to 1.5 million. – Which would be in your system?
– Yes, and over which I should receive commissions. – How much would you make per month now? – Somewhere between 50 and 100 thousand. – Euros per month?
– Yes, euros per month. Bernhard Wagner is now suing
Lyoness to recover his losses. This is a video from happier days.
When Hubert Freidl was still his friend. Educating members in Bulgaria. The boss himself propagates the Lyoness system. My goal is to make you achieve your wishes, dreams and goals. What is promoted here is not a shopping community,
which Lyoness claims is its only activity. It is all about positions, positions, positions, positions. By making down-payments, one can
acquire positions in the Lyoness system. I don’t go out to merely register someone. It is not about registering people for the cash back card. Then I could as well just register
you at the nearby swimming pool These are cult-like events where people are being whipped,
like we just saw in Bulgaria. ‘What do you want? House? Boat?
A big, beautiful car? That is your goal?’ ‘You don’t want to be a poor pensioner, you want to
achieve something in life, you want to be part of a company.’ That has absolutely nothing to do with a ‘shopping community’. Lyoness insists it is a shopping community and
claims only few members buy many positions. The boss, who propagates the purchase of units himself,
chooses not to comment on the allegations. Mathias Vorbach, head of communication at Lyoness I cannot comment on the video, as I haven’t seen it myself. However, I can’t imagine that Mr. Freidl has said anything
that contradicts the philosophy of Lyoness. In November, two former managers talked
about Lyoness in this programme. Then, they were still anonymous,
yet now, they appear before the camera. They are also suing Lyoness. The ex-managers and Lyoness have a dispute
over a 1.5 million euro commission. The ex-managers are willing to fight until
the last instance for their rights. Our case is definitely not a unique incident. It is Lyoness’ strategy to let people build their networks for them,
and then let them drop as a rock, without paying them. That is one of the pillars the company is built on. Recently, the ex-managers have founded ‘Plattform-Lyoness’. Here, victims can exchange experiences and get legal advice. Their first gathering is planned for next Saturday. Themselves, they are very surprised by the enormous interest. Since last Friday, we have had about 25,000 page views. And every day, we welcome
more than 50% of new people. Now, also the Association for Consumer Information (VKI)
is concerned with the situation revolving around Lyoness. After numerous complaints from consumers, the VKI
has examined the terms and conditions of Lyoness. Especially the fine print. Peter Kolba, Association for Consumer Information (VKI) We have tried very hard to, but we
do not understand the terms. We are convinced they are incomprehensible.
Especially for the average consumer. Contracts that contain incomprehensible phrases,
are invalid under Austrian law. The VKI has therefore filed a law suit against Lyoness,
at the Commercial Court of Vienna. We were very surprised to find 61 vague and inexplicable clauses.
We had never seen so many incomprehensible clauses in one contract. Additionally, the contracts signed by the members, contain many
clauses that violate the applicable Austrian legal requirements. Therefore, the VKI has filed a law suit against Lyoness, through
which we want to force Lyoness to stop using these clauses – as well as, most importantly, prohibit them from relying
on the content of those contracts that were signed earlier. Lyoness’ top managers enjoy meetings in
the most beautiful places of the world. They respond calmly to the news that after the WKStA and FMA,
now also the VKI is undertaking legal action against Lyoness. Mathias Vorbach, head of communication of Lyoness We are not worried by this news. Yet, naturally, it does not make us happy.
Therefore, we hope it will be resolved soon. And we expect that we will able to demonstrate
that we have always acted correctly. That we are not, as always claimed, an illegal pyramid scheme,
and that we ultimately do not harm consumers. CEO Freidl celebrates his birthday on the Maldives. Who is part of the top of Lyoness,
has a good reason to smile. For now… Thanks to Eva-Maria Kaiser and ORF; @LyonessVictims;
Visit: Plattform-Lyoness.at; CC-Lyoness.Blogspot.com Thus, a lot of work for justice.
And a lot of hope for the victims.