For self-motivated individuals with a knack for sales, opportunities abound to make a little extra cash. Working for a multi-level marketing company (MLM), also known as direct sales and network marketing, can even become one’s primary source of income.  However, it is easy to fall under the spell of misleading pyramid schemes. Grand promises, huge sums of cash, and minimal work are very tempting aspects of pyramid schemes. Knowing the difference between legal multi-level marketing and illegal pyramid schemes can help you make the safe decision when considering that job on the side.
The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi ,  who became notorious for using the technique in the 1920s.  The idea, present in novels (for example, Charles Dickens ' 1844 novel Martin Chuzzlewit and 1857 novel Little Dorrit each described such a scheme),  was performed in real life by Ponzi, and became well known throughout the United States because of the huge amount of money he took in. Ponzi's original scheme was based on the arbitrage of international reply coupons for postage stamps; however, he soon diverted investors' money to make payments to earlier investors and himself. 
In 2003, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosed what it called an Internet-based "pyramid scam." Its complaint states that customers would pay a registration fee to join a program that called itself an "internet mall" and purchase a package of goods and services such as internet mail, and that the company offered "significant commissions" to consumers who purchased and resold the package. The FTC alleged that the company's program was instead and in reality a pyramid scheme that did not disclose that most consumers' money would be kept, and that it gave affiliates material that allowed them to scam others.