Although Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing purports to sell everything from hair care products to cell phones, the real sales job was done on potential recruits to the organization.
"The law against pyramid schemes is clear," says R. Kenyon Meyer, an attorney who works with the well-known firm of Dinsmore and Shohl in Louisville, Kentucky. Meyer represents four former Fortune sales representatives in a national class action alleging they were victims of Orbison's operation.
According to the suit, sales representatives were charged $299 for the privilege of joining the Fortune team. Then they were pressured into buying a never-ending stream of services and equipment in order to do the job, says Meyer, who has been researching the company for several months now.
"Fortune requires sales representatives to get 'frequent customer points.' Those points are obtained not by selling something, but by signing up for something in order to do your job as a representative!"
Just because Fortune maintained a list of products for sale doesn't mean it isn't a pyramid scheme, warns Meyer. "Every pyramid scheme has some product that it purports to promote. The focus on recruitment overrides the focus on the sale of a product to the ultimate consumer meaning somebody not involved in the pyramid."
Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing was recently routed in a Montana state class action where regulators successfully litigated against the company for operating a pyramid scheme.
Orbison, who lives and operates Fortune from Lexington, Kentucky, tells recruits he was able to retire after he made a million dollars month with another multi-level marketing company. He started Fortune in order "to give back" and allow others an opportunity to get rich.
READ MORE FRAUD LEGAL NEWS
There may be thousands of potential class members across the US and even in Canada and Britain, but Fortune is unclear about how many sales representatives it actually has on the books. "They have made some vague representations from time to time, like we have had tens of thousands of representatives join in the last couple of months," says Meyer. "But there have been no official numbers released."
The class has yet to be certified. Meyer believes it will happen soon. "I am really looking forward to the discovery phase," he says.