Every state has adopted laws regulating MLM companies. Although much enforcement activity has come from the federal government through the FTC, SEC and U.S. Postal Service, the vast majority of enforcement activity has occurred at the state level.

From a historical standpoint, state regulation of multilevel marketing programs is a relatively recent phenomenon. For the most part, the three major direct selling companies that laid a foundation for the multilevel marketing industry for decades to come, Amway, Mary Kay and Shaklee, began their operations in the late 1950s. From a legal standpoint, matters went relatively smoothly until the major pyramid cases of the early 1970s involving Glen Turner's Dare to be Great and Koscot Interplanetary.

The Turner programs were prosecuted substantially under securities laws and various consumer fraud laws. Along the way, most states adopted various forms of anti-pyramid legislation. Although generally targeting the same type of activity, state MLM legislation has taken its form as pyramid statutes, endless chain scheme statutes, lottery statutes, sales referral laws and, most recently, multilevel distribution statutes.

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