Fund America


Fund America

Individual Retail Membership

Fund America, Inc. was a company that marketed consumer buying club memberships through multi-level marketing (mlm), also known as, network marketing. The cost of a Fund America membership was a $100.00 a year with an additional $40.00 administrative fee (first year only). With membership a member would receive a blue mid-size three ring binder with information and forms to fill out. The premise of the membership through Fund America were to get members to save monies through rebates and have those rebates automatically transferred to a tax-deferred annuity bearing compounding interest. Fund America wanted to get their members to save while spending through the membership.

Service providers

There were several service providers that offered rebates and/or discounts with a retail Fund America membership. Some of the providers with an individual retail membership was savings on long distance through MCI Communications with a 20% rebate, a 5% travel rebate with Ask Mr. Foster Travel Agency, a 10% percent rebate from the Best Products catalog, and a small rebate through the MBNA America Bank credit card purchases. Additionally, there was a preclipped coupon program where a Fund America member would check which items he or she wanted and then the company would send them clipped coupons through the mail. And, there was an accelerated mortgage program to save thousands of dollars on one’s home. Also, there was a $99.00 short notice resort condo program, where through membership, one would call one week prior and reserve an unfilled condo at a resort. The members' rebate monies would be transferred individual tax-deferred annunity accounts bearing compounding interest.

Marketing Plan

A Fund America Independent Representative could buy into the marketing structure at $400.00 as an Associate (with five wholesale memberships), $1600.00 as a Manager (with twenty wholesale memberships), or $3200.00 as a Director (with forty wholesale memberships). The next earned level was Executive Director with ten Directors directly underneath him then Presidential Director with ten Executive Directors directly below in the marketing plan. It was the marketing plan that qualified Fund America, Inc. as a legal company according to the laws of California. An Independent Representative could "downline" up to twenty wholesale memberships to a new representative making him a Manager, and that new Manager could, in turn, "downline" as many as twenty memberships wholesale to new representatives joining the marketing plan.

Deemed a Pyramid Scheme

Fund America, Inc. was shut down through a cease-and-desist order by the Florida Attorney General's Office and Florida Banking & Finance Department on July 21,1990.

Florida was the only state that deemed FundAmerica an illegal pyramid. FundAmerica reopened in various states most specifically California and even new markets such as Chicago and Illinois. Bob Edwards spent the next 4 years and over $30M trying to rebuild Fund America but was not successful.

Conclusion

On one hand, the retail Fund America membership was a sound idea saving for a future retirement - saving while spending, however on the other, the marketing plan with its "wholesale buy-in" and "downlining" created problems with the state of Florida. It was the state of Florida that put an end to this so-called "business opportunity of a lifetime." Fund America, Inc. had almost reached what people in the multi-level marketing (mlm) field call critical mass, albeit, only operating in California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Florida. Critical mass is when an mlm company is poised for geometric growth exponentially. According to Florida officials some 98% of more than $33 million in gross income (during the first four months of 1990) came from "wholesale membership sales."

More Company Info

Fund America, Inc. had a humble beginning and started business in 1987 in Los Angeles, California then later moved its offices to Irvine, California. In the end, Fund America, Inc. went through bankruptcy court proceedings in California and reemerged as Fund America 2000. Mr. Edwards paid all creditors including $4M in bonuses that had been frozen by Florida’s actions.

Resources

* [http://www.falseprofits.com/FSChaptPg.html False Profits] mentions Fund America

* [http://www.webraw.com/quixtar/archives/2004/09/whats_wrong_with_multilevel_marketing_iii.php What's Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing? - III] mentions Fund America and the founder

* The Phoenix Gazzette by David Wichner, July 23, 1990; Edition Final, Section Metro; Record Number 9007260151

* The Arizona Republic by Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, August 1, 1990; Edition Final Chaser, Section Business; Record Number 9008060184

* Orange County Business Journal by Mark Rechtin, July 30, 1990


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