Sometimes Westword stories will veer together. Whether through randomness or fate, the act of completely dissimilar topics or profile subjects colliding can either result in beautiful synergy -- i.e., marijuana and Chinese food -- or in a twisted wreckage of irony and pain.
Case in point: Tom "The Troubleshooter" Martino is using his platforms in local media to draw his audience into a multi-level marketing scheme from which he and his business partners in the "Martino Matrix" stand to directly profit. His shill of choice? An energy drink called Efusjon.
We write about this in this week's issue, but in the meantime, check out a segment of the June 23 episode of Martino TV, a hybrid between paid programming and a magazine-style news show that airs weekdays on Fox 31 and Channel 2.
Martino interviews a representative of Efusjon, an energy drink that also happens to come with "a business opportunity," a pitch eerily similar to Bazi, a multi-level marketed superdrink profiled by this paper in May.
What Martino neglects to mention, both in this spot and the one
, is that the Efusjon event is being operated by a longtime sponsor and business partner Matt Klaess. While posing as a potential Efusjon recruit, this reporter was told by several of Klaess' employees that Martino and his wife both stood to profit handsomely as more people sign up as distributors of the drink. (Klaess called after our print article went to press Monday night and asserted that Martino is "in no way involved," though a speech he made at a July 16 Efusjon party touted his Martino connection.)
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To join the program, distributors must pay an upfront fee of $186 for 48 cans of Efusjon (with shipping) and recruit three other people to do the same. To qualify for compensation, distributors must pay $156 every month to maintain this purchase. They also have to ensure that at least three of their recruits stick with the program. Those recruits, in turn, must do the same, lest they lose their spot on the ladder.
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That comes out to [sound of calculator keys clacking] nearly $2,000 a year in energy drinks! Sound like a good deal? Martino thinks so. As the above Martino TV video shows, he quickly hangs up on a caller who dares to mention the word "pyramid" in relation to Efusjon. But in a Martino TV segment from a few weeks ago, the Troubleshooter had a very different view on "Work at Home Scams." He lays out several clear "red flags" that people should watch out for before joining one of these groups, namely "up front money."
Check it out. Does Efusjon pass Martino's own smell test?