The court has made a very clear final decision in the case (case file 31 C 651/16z 11) which will surely apply to all damaged parties: They acted as consumers and never stood a chance of obtaining the advantages promised without recruiting new members.
The court’s reasoning shows a comprehensive view of what happened. Several crucial aspects that are mentioned in the reasoning should be shown in context and put together, in order to clarify the nature of the advertised “shopping community” and the “pyramid scheme” or MLM-System behind it.
The highlighted business model, based on down payments on voucher orders and on the necessity to recruit new members as fundament of the pyramid scheme, was defined as unlawful by the court.
Lyoness pretended that the business model “customer card + Cashback” was all about “shopping”. In fact, there was no significant turnover based on Cashback, but only on the vouchers themselves. This is actually a complicated and cumbersome way of payment for consumers, who have to pick it up personally at a Lyoness’ point of sale. It was much easier to “virtually” sell vouchers through the mentioned “down payments” of EUR 2,000 and grant the right to vouchers, summing up to EUR 20,000-100,000 and more, in cases where the paying member covers the difference, makes a purchase or recruits new paying members.
Lyoness took advantage of renown brands for all down payments, as well as for “country and business packages”. The brand’s reputation was used to improve the image and credibility of the system (as for sure no one would’ve trusted or made down payments for “Lyoness vouchers” only). Even today, these brands are perhaps not aware that their brands/vouchers were named and consigned on the “order contracts”. This was also done abroad, where it wasn´t possible to pay with them. We are in the process of informing the concerned distributors that their credibility and image have been illegally misused to generate a larger turnover through down payments. From this perspective, the so called “voucher partners” would be directly linked to the billions in generated Lyoness turnover and the resulting damages.
How do this companies asses the situation, as their vouchers are now part of a pyramid scheme and thousands of consumers have made down payments on them? Will companies such as Otto, McDonalds, OMV, etc. manage to keep out of the legal responsibility of having perhaps significantly contributed to damage members, as thousands of their vouchers were set up to back up down payments?