5 Huge Companies Accused of Being Pyramid Schemes

5. USANA Health Sciences

USANA Freestyle World Cup

A skier at a competition sponsored by USANA Health Sciences | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

  • Type: Public
  • Founded: 1992
  • Products: Nutritional supplements
  • Net revenue: $918 million

In 2007, Barry Minkow, a convicted stock-fraud felon turned fraud investigator, wrote a 500-page report and gave it to the SEC, FBI, and IRS, accusing USANA of operating an illegal pyramid scheme. The company’s long-time auditor mysteriously resigned shortly after. USANA filed suit against Minkow for defamation and stock manipulation following the report’s release. And in July 2008, USANA and Minkow reached an undisclosed settlement. Both the SEC and the FBI spent time investigating USANA, but the company remains active.

USANA was also scrutinized by Dr. Murray H. Smith, a New Zealand government statistician for the Commerce Commission. In 2008, he said, “You can make a very strong argument that this could be a pyramid scheme.”

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