MLM itself is a legitimate business strategy. However the subject of ethics can be rather vulnerable. The pyramid scheme, unlike MLM, is clearly a scam. In a pyramid structure, a member pays a fee to join. A portion of the money will then be remitted back to them when they bring a new member into the scheme. No products are involved in this scheme, simply get more people to dump in money for your chance to make more money.
For more information, John Oliver did a fantastic segment about the horrors of MLMs. The 2016 documentary, Betting on Zero, investigates the allegations that MLMs are nothing but legal pyramid schemes. This article also does a wonderful job of breaking down the reasons why MLMs are doomed to failure. I encourage anyone who is thinking about signing up for an MLM to watch these.
Although emphasis is always made on the potential of success and the positive life change that "might" or "could" (not "will" or "can") result, it is only in otherwise difficult to find disclosure statements (or at the very least, difficult to read and interpret disclosure statements), that MLM participants are given fine print disclaimers that they as participants should not rely on the earning results of other participants in the highest levels of the MLM participant pyramid as an indication of what they should expect to earn. MLMs very rarely emphasize the extreme likelihood of failure, or the extreme likelihood of financial loss, from participation in MLM. MLMs are also seldom forthcoming about the fact that any significant success of the few individuals at the top of the MLM participant pyramid is in fact dependant on the continued financial loss and failure of all other participants below them in the MLM pyramid.
Great article and you nailed it regarding purchasing leads. I tried a few times talking with various people over the phone but none committed. I often wonder how the greats like Dexter Yager and Bill Britt (both amway reps) built their businesses to such a large magnitude without the use of social media. I certainly believe social media has made building network marketing businesses much easier than back in the day.
Perhaps the only real way to reach free leads is to network with other, more experienced marketers, and perhaps get them to share their lists as a way to get you off the ground. With this, you aren’t really getting free leads as such – more leads at no up-front cost. The other marketers will usually expect that you will send commission to them for the sales that you make.
Plexus Worlwide is ranked by Inc. magazine as #8 (in 2014) and #132 (in 2015) fastest growing privately held company with a three year growth of 2833%; all while offering a 60-day money back guarantee on all its products – which means the products work. And at a consumer friendly price point. 40% of all sales are from customers and not ambassadors.
Multi-level marketing (MLM), also called pyramid selling,[1][2] network marketing,[2][3] and referral marketing,[4] is a marketing strategy for the sale of products or services where the revenue of the MLM company is derived from a non-salaried workforce selling the company's products/services, while the earnings of the participants are derived from a pyramid-shaped or binary compensation commission system.
With the advent of internet marketing has come a whole new science of selling online making the acquisition of those elusive network marketing leads just a little bit easier. Easy access to the internet for both the marketer and, much more importantly, their potential customers, has forced a whole new set of ideas to the forefront. Here are just a few of the options that are now available.

Specifically, they struggle to jump start their health goals, to connect with new people, to learn new things, and yearn to be a part of a community.  What I am telling you is that the average retiree is at least 25 pounds overweight, feels tired for some part of the day, may be moderately depressed about something, has low self-esteem in one or two areas of life, acknowledges they only kind of have a best friend, and overall lead pretty plain lives.

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