Death of a Fake Herbalife Dream

John Peterson & Herbalife's Fake DreamJohn Peterson was one of Herbalife’s top independent distributors. For years he had channeled millions of dollars into the company’s bank account … and into his own pockets. But John didn’t sell products … he sold dreams. Dreams of happiness, of self-fulfillment and felicity. Dreams that no human being could or should ever venture to vend.

About a week ago, John Peterson was found dead in his car after he apparently committed suicide.

Peterson was found inside a 2008 Ford pickup parked at his residence in Steamboat Springs, Colo., where he “succumbed to a single gunshot wound,” said Ray Birch, undersheriff for Routt County. Birch said the initial investigation indicated the gunshot was self-inflicted.

Even though Peterson had always publicly claimed that thanks to Herbalife he had built the blissful lifestyle of his dreams, one can’t stop from pondering whether it was all just for show … and whether or not Peterson himself had actually achieved the Herbalife nirvana of perpetual euphoria – the dream which he flaunted in order to recruit others into Herbalife.

Or more likely … perhaps this whole MLM culture is so rotten from the base, that distributors have to fake their own happiness (and alleged financial opulence) while the overwhelming lion’s share of them still fail so miserably. A perverse culture and twisted mind set, cultivated out of the deception and feint that’s being sponsored by MLM companies such as Herbalife.

Excerpt of a memo from Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson, following the death of John Peterson:

Dear Team Herbalife,

Today is a very sad day for us all. Founder’s Circle member, John Peterson passed away suddenly today, following a tragic accident at his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

“Suicide” has such a strong emotionally negative connotation … you know, probably because happy people usually don’t take their own lives. So rather than call it what it was, why not just refer to it as a “tragic accident” and avoid all the petty implications involved in having to justify the seemingly false proclamations made by one of the company’s most prominent earners?

Pathetic … and disgusting.


That’s what we are in Herbalife, storytellers. We tell stories about products and we tell stories about other people’s success and our own success, and that attracts success to us.

The above video was released in January to promote Herbalife in the Brazilian market and features the late John Peterson talking about how he’s rich and happy and realizing his dreams … all thanks to the felicitous opportunity of Herbalife. But there is one very cardinal element missing here …. the actual product.

Unlike real businesses, in the pyramid business it’s all about the recruitment and NOT the product … one’s success is determined by one’s ability to sell the idea of the sell to other recruiters who will then sell the idea of the sell to other recruiters. John Peterson was a great recruiter of other recruiters,

He was disingenuously appealing to the emotions of prospects by exploiting their desire for a better future, rather than legitimately providing them with valid products … a common practice and diversionary tactic widely employed by promoters of pyramid schemes.

At this point in time, although it’s impossible to ascertain the precise reason as to why Peterson took his own life, his close almost-inextricable association with Herbalife raises a couple of interrelated speculations:

  1. Herbalife’s decision at the beginning of the year to ban the practice of distributors selling internet-based leads to other distributors undoubtedly shrunk Peterson’s profits. Perhaps the drastic income decline spiced with the humiliation of being hurled from the top of the pyramid was just too much for Peterson to endure.
  2. It is possible that Peterson’s company, Work From Home Inc., was under FTC investigation after attracting a lot of negative attention. It would have been quite embarrassing for him to have been sued for defrauding consumers after branding himself as an apprentice dream-fulfiller.

Despite the fact that Peterson’s cause of suicide still remains unknown, it would be safe to assume one thing – John Peterson was a great seller of dreams … even if those dreams did ultimately prove to be unattainable.

  • Aleksey Zuravlov

    Wow, that’s shocking. That probably shook the foundation of Herbalife.
    How old was this guy?

    • Omri Shabat

      He was 58 when he died.

      Presumably Herbalife’s business has already been shaken before, when few of its top distributors (Anthony Powell, Shawn Dahl) began to desert after the company became harsher about selling web-based leads.

      • Angel

        Hey Dude I am happy with the products….I have been taking them for almost 6 years…I am a happy costumer.
        You can not speak like that if you don’t know.
        Your opinion is from a retard and crazy guy.

  • disqus_fIf1hIZEHS

    FAKE is the brain of who wrote the article. He doesnt know as much about Herbalife. I’m proud distributor in Italy since 1995. R.I.P

    • Omri Shabat

      Congratulations for fucking up the good citizens of The Boot. Perhaps one day you would learn from the Belgians in your vicinity how to outlaw those horrible soul-sucking schemes.

  • Wade Balsdon

    Whatever idiot wrote this post needs to be educated. You only make money in Herbalife when products are moved and consumed. You can sell all the dreams you want to, but if products are not being consumed, no one makes money.

    • Omri Shabat

      I really tried hard to understand your comment … but I just don’t speak Common Stupidish.

      • Wade Balsdon

        One day you will grow up and understand Omri :-)

        • Omri Shabat

          One day you’ll grow up and understand that even with all your typical foolish platitudes, by being an Herbalife distributor you are only strewing harm in the world … and hurting yourself.

          But no … let me guess. I’m just a hater and jealous of others’ super-grandiose fake success.

    • sgffgs

      No, as a former Herbalife distributor, I can assure you that money is made when products are ORDERED, not necessarily CONSUMED. Get it right.

  • Brett

    Whomever wrote this article is an idiot!

    • Omri Shabat

      Let me guess … another frustrated Herbalife distributor.

  • johnrollow

    There are some people who are going to knock MLM/Network Marketing businesses with false information, regardless. They are misinformed, dont-wanna-be-informed spoilers. Maybe they were not successful themselves (I wonder how many earn a million a year). Or they’re speculators like Ackman who accuse Herbalife of being a pyramid scheme in order to drive its stock value down so he can profit on the short sale (that one didn’t work).
    Signed: Not a Herbalife rep.

  • Guest

    Wow….talk about people you don’t know much? Shame you feel like you need to comment on someone you obviously have never met. How about being respectful of the man’s family?

    • Omri Shabat

      How about being respectful of the thousands of families that he had ruined? How about some fucking respect to the so many families that are still entangled with this bullshit?

      Your comment is stupid … so people should only criticize people whom they had known? This is outright idiotic logic. Now troll away asshole.

  • gonen

    I think frustrated that you probably did not work and success in your life then you write out of frustration
    You are a poor man and pathetic sounding angry at the world you’ll live
    As a successful distributor I know people like you are looking for excuses why you did not go in life and blame the whole world except yourself
    People here are right you really are an idiot

    • Omri Shabat

      Like so totally, man! Nothing to do with the fact that at least 95% of Herbalife’s distributors are losing their little bedraggled panties due to professional manipulators!

      God speed, you little sociopathic motherfucker! God speed!

    • xykts

      Successful distributor? How much money do you actually make selling these products per month? And how much money do you spend per month purchasing the products from your upline??

  • Scott Linklater

    Pretty average article. To use the tragic death of someone to peddle an anti MLM agenda when you have no clue as to why this person committed suicide is very low and really really bad journalism!

    Drawing a very long bow here and you actually hurt your overall credibility by showing that you will find any reason to knock something.

    It means i take with a grain of salt all other articles by you. This was only the second article i have ever read of yours and I only found this as it was at the base of the first article i read about the empower network.

    You clearly hate MLM and will do anything to run it down. That is the wrong stance to have. Go after the bad ones and hit hard but don’t create something out of nothing or something out of a tragedy, it’s petty and weak!

    • Omri Shabat

      Except for your first three words, which I can respect as your honest opinion, I staunchly object to the rest of your comment.

      1. I’m not “peddling” an anti-MLM agenda. I’m divulging how evil MLM is … anybody else who would seriously research the topic would inevitably reach to the same conclusion. Eventually, you just can’t deny or ignore the overwhelmingly sad stats of victims.

      2. Peterson’s suicide represents in so many ways the hyper fakeness of this “industry.” He always boasted how happy and mirthful he is … until he killed himself. It’s an important story to demonstrate for others who are inside the Sick Machine how they shouldn’t believe those at the top of the pyramid.

      3. This is an anti-scam blog … therefore, it’s naturally the place to discuss frauds (such as Herbalife) and fraudsters (such as Peterson). Should I just forget Peterson’s lifetime of crime and never mention it again? That said, I focused on his connection to Herbalife and not on his personal life.

      4. I don’t really understand how is it exactly “something out of nothing” … Peterson was one of Herbalife’s top distributors (and poster boys) and he mysteriously found his death after the company changed its terms, which had impacted him tremendously. Nothing? It might turn out to be EVERYTHING.

      5. I actually urge you to take with a grain of salt all other articles by me … or by anybody else. Always do your own due diligence and your own vetting. The fact that you even said that makes me take with a bucket of salt anything you’ve just said.

      • Scott Linklater

        You wrote “I’m not “peddling” an anti-MLM agenda. I’m divulging how evil MLM is …”

        If that isn’t an uninformed narrow minded view then I don’t know what is. To make such a statement and then expect to be taken seriously is insane!

        Are there bad people in MLM, you bet there are, bad companies, heaps of them, people that have been ripped off blind, thousands but that doesn’t make it evil. It’s a way of moving products and services through a supply chain. It isn’t evil any more than retail business is evil.

        Statements like the one above is where you lose all credibility. It’s akin to having a bad experience with a few plumbers and declaring they are all evil.

        Herbalife isn’t a scam. It’s the biggest weight loss company on earth doing billions in sales a year and is publicly traded.

        Scams don’t last 33 years, do billions in sales and get traded openly for years on the stock exchange. Doesn’t mean they don’t have dodgy distributors, they do….but to just label the hole thing a fraud is ridiculous. It shows a complete lack of any businesses acumen or the ability to look at things objectively.

        For every person that’s been ripped off by an MLM company or distributor there is 5 or ten that have had a good experience with one to some level. And for every person complaining they didn’t make any money out there I could show you another thousand that didn’t put the effort in to realistically expect a good financial return.

        I don’t disagree there are bad people involved in the industry but there are also great people involved in the industry and lots of them.

        You destroy your credibility to a neutral observer like myself who isn’t involved in MLM and has nothing to lose from your attempt to spread hatred for it.

        You pander to a group of people who already think what you spew forth and all you do is back slap one another and blame the big bad MLM for bad things that have happened in their life.

        Some of those people would have genuine grievances and most would be lazy people who didn’t really put in much real effort at all and found someone that would listen to their sob story.

        To those that were ripped off, MLM didn’t do that to you a person did or a company did. And you know what, we have all been there. You don’t hear me calling the internet evil yet i’ve been ripped off on the internet. You don’t hear me saying trader papers are evil yet i have been ripped off through them. Coz it wasn’t the internet or the trader paper it was the person or company.

        You could do a far better service to your readers if you were able to step back and look at things logically instead of just tarring whole industries with the same moronic brush.

        You could be really good and help lots of people but whilst you push this barrow, you’re just another pissed off person ranting away in their tiny little part of cyberspace.

        • Omri Shabat

          You know what? Rather than speaking out of your distinguished ass … why don’t you give me one proven example, just one, of a “good MLM” which didn’t inflict financial losses to more than, say, 90% of its distributors? Just proffer me this one document that shows with verifiable data an MLM which didn’t benefit solely to those 10% at the top?

          And once you don’t find it, would you care to ask the forgiveness of all the millions of victims throughout history with just a small shred of empathy like a decent human being?

          • Scott Linklater

            LOL, now you are showing your true colours!

            The reason 90% of people fail in MLM is 90% of people do nothing with it! Or they talk to 5 people who don’t want to buy their products or join the company and THEY QUIT!!!!

            You can’t blame a method of moving products from a manufacturer to a consumer for people being lazy, easily distracted and unmotivated, that’s insane!

            It’s a business like anything else. It takes work, real work, and time and you can’t talk to 5 people who tell you no and then say it doesn’t work the same way you can’t open a barber shop and ask 5 people if they want to get their hair cut, have them say no and say the hair cutting industry doesn’t work.

            The best thing is at least these lazy people haven’t blown $100,000 to find out they aren’t cut out to work for themselves.

            Oh, and you say only the people at the top make the money. So what about the person who joins 20 years after the company is launched and 3 years later is earning 6 or 7 figures? Coz when he started he was at the bottom and it wasn’t ground floor and it was flooded and old and yet there are thousands of people that have done exactly this.

            Man you need to do your homework on business models.

          • Omri Shabat

            As you can see from this post or others, I almost don’t moderate comments at all. You can attack me all you want … but once you attack victims you cross the line. It shows YOUR true colors and lack of conscience.

            Comparing hair cuts to $100,000 losses is not only shockingly amoral but also incredibly stupid.

            Look how Herbalife presents its “opportunity” to first comers:


            Does it seem to you like an honest depiction of any business’ struggles? Of course not! It’s manipulative and deceiving. And this is just one example out of countless others. Essentially the whole “marketing” is based on misleading claims and fake hype.

            Once you take that out of the equation, you only remain with a company which sells overpriced inferior products that nobody wants to buy … a company which can never survive in a fair open market.

            I don’t accept any unconscionable “blame it on the victims” cult tactics here, so either hide your lack of any moral sense better or simply fade away into the dark night.

            BTW, without even realizing it, you’ve just showed how wicked and malicious MLM is.

  • fuck you omri muslim scum

    eat shit and die you fucken scum bag. you should just fucken hang yourself with your fucken rags

    • Omri Shabat

      Your perilous rage fuels me.

  • TerriK

    MLM companies should promote what they are, and that its a sales job. I was approached by MLM’s in the 80’s and didnt get involved long because I just didnt like sales so much. I also didn’t have a credit card back then to put the cost of doing business on. That’s the problem with new recruits ..They are putting the fees involved on a credit card which everyone should know is not a good idea. Middle class educated folks like in Ackmans videos..are just greedy like everyone else in this world. Sales has turned into a bunch of lead junkies. They buy leads because they haven’t been trained how to prospect. I worked in direct sales a long time ago for awhile…not MLM.. We were taught how to prospect and we also did trade shows and got leads that way.. Customers came to us …Now the internet has who knows who, responding to opportunity seeker ads who have probably tried every MLM out there… Paying $130. a lead..are they nuts? And these former reps on Ackmans video were not destitute. They were retired or worked recently. One girl was out of a job as a dental hygentist under a contract?? Didn’t bother to mention she might have gotten unemployment as well, and was looking for something under the table.. MLM’s dont usually take taxes out of your paycheck. One girl made alot of money to qualify to party with Anthony Powell.. Then her downline dried up I guess so she blames Herbalife for not handing her a living.. No one forced these people to stay in the business. I feel bad a little for them but they are ages 40-60+ they should have known better.