Skip Nav

What Happened With Keith Raniere and Consumers' Buyline?

The Vow: What to Know About Consumers' Buyline, Keith Raniere's Scam Before NXIVM

Keith Raniere is widely known as being the leader of the controversial group NXIVM, but what you may not have known about was the pyramid schemes he also ran a few decades ago. The most prominent one was called Consumers' Buyline Inc. (aka CBI), and while HBO's The Vow, airing on Fox Showcase and Binge, touches on it a little bit, here are more details you might want to know about what it involved and how it all came crashing down.

Raniere originally founded Consumers' Buyline in 1990. The company was born as a recruitment scheme that promoted discounts on things like groceries or appliances. Raniere recruited members who then had to recruit more, all with the promise of massive commissions, according to Forbes. The company employed up to 150 people within a couple years and quickly amassed over 200,000 members. Raniere sold Consumers' Buyline similarly to how he sold people on NXIVM — with promises of results.

By the end of 1993, Forbes reports that Raniere was pulling in $19 from each new recruit and had sold over $1 billion in goods and services. But 1993 was also the year the company was investigating for being an alleged pyramid scheme. Raniere shut Consumers' Buyline down in 1996 officially but never admitted any wrongdoing. He was ordered to pay $40,000 after shutting down but quickly set up another similar pyramid scheme the following year.

Raniere maintained, while under investigation, that Consumers Buyline didn't require people to pay to sell memberships or earn commissions on the sales of those they recruited. However, the attorney general didn't agree. The ruling stated, "The emphasis in [Consumers' Buyline Inc.] is clearly not on the sale of a product but on recruiting new organisational rows to boost membership. Indeed, the only product in CBI is the membership. . . . CBI is a classic pyramid scheme. The emphasis in CBI is clearly not on the sale of a product but on recruiting . . . to boost membership. Like all pyramids, CBI's matrix is destined to collapse."

After shuttering Consumers Buyline, Raniere set up another multi-level marketing company, and in 1998, created NXIVM, which is arguably also a recruiting scam in its own right, though it was later revealed to be much darker than just a recruitment scam that ultimately landed him in jail awaiting sentencing.

More from POPSUGAR
From Our Partners
TV Shows on ABC in 2021
The Best Stocking Stuffers For Schitt's Creek Fans
Pop Cancels One Day at a Time After Season 4
The Undoing: Grace Fraser Coat Details From Costume Designer
Paris and Nicole's Best Style Moments From The Simple Life
His Dark Materials: What the Botanic Garden Bench Means
Who Are All of the Daemons on His Dark Materials?
Watch the Shameless Season 11 Trailer | Video
Saved by the Bell Reboot Cast Quotes on the Original Actors
Who Is Hosting the 2021 Grammys?
Movies and TV Shows Leaving Netflix in December 2020
Gifts For the Moira Rose in Your Life | Schitt's Creek
Latest Entertainment