KNOXVILLE (WATE) — It is billed as a way for women to lose weight and make money, but is “It Works” too good to be true?

Found in 2001, the “It Works” phenomenon is a product line that includes a body wrap and supplements. On a distributor site it states explicitly that it “helps diminish cellulite and stretch marks” if used properly.

The products are sold through distributors called “wrapreneur.” Distributors make commissions on both the products they are selling and the new distributors they sign up to be members of their teams.

When Mandy Jenes from Knoxville signed up to be a “wrapreneur” she said she was hoping to make money to help pay her way through nursing school by recruiting others in the multi-level marketing business. However, she said that was not the case.

“When I invested my $99 in the company they said I would make a thousand dollars and that was not true. I was not making a thousand dollars, I was losing money,” said Jenes.

After investing $99 for a “starter kit” to join the company, a distributor has to spend $80 monthly on products for herself or resale, with extra costs for things like hosting wrap parties or running a website. She earns commissions based on how many “loyalty customers” and other distributors she can enroll.

At national conferences successful distributors tell others if you want to make money, you have to sell the entire line of products and wrap as many people as possible to build your business. In self-help testimonial videos, successful distributors, many who earn a good living selling the products full-time, talk about their success and what it takes to sign up other distributors.

It Works distributor Susan Wade says she is “picky” about who she signs up because she says It Works is a business.

“If someone tells me they are not interested in turning on their website or auto-ship, look this business is not for you, you need to be a loyal customer,” said Wade. “I want serious people on my team.”

Jenes said she had many loyal customers buy products from her, but they stopped short of selecting the auto-shipment membership option.

“I was hosting three parties a week. I was spending about $200 to have product on hand for people to buy,” said Jenes. “They were not buying, because they didn’t want to be in that auto shipment.”

To get a discount, you must agree to buy at least three months of “It Works” products and agree to auto-shipment. If you cancel early, you are required to pay a $50 fee. Jenes said people didn’t want to fork our $30-40 dollars every month because they did not need products every month.

The It Works sales force also sells and promotes a line of supplements called fat fighters or fat burners. Jenes said she expected results.

“It was put as a magic pill. Like you take this and you can go pretty much and eat whatever you want,” said Jenes. “That is not necessarily true.”

There are people in the Knoxville area and across the country who do make money from It Works, but Jenes cautions others who may want to become a distributor that It Works is not for everybody.

“Be careful, do you research with it,” said Jenes. “Read the fine print.”

The Federal Trade Commission said before diving into a multilevel marketing program, make sure you are not dealing with a pyramid scheme.  If you’re planning to buy into a multilevel marketing plan, get the details:

  • If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is mainly based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s a pyramid scheme.
  • Even if a company sells products or services you’re familiar with — or boasts celebrity members — they may not be legitimate.
  • Don’t be fooled by rags-to-riches stories or portrayals of lavish lifestyles made possible by joining the program. These stories may not represent the experiences of most members.