Is the UFF MMA a scam?
Photo by: jepoirrier
One of the more popular internet searches that lead people here to Gather Little by Little is the term “UFF MMA Scam”. I wrote about the United First Financial (UFF) Money Merge Account (MMA) back in October after receiving a flier from one of my sons football coaches. Being fairly new to personal finance at the time, this was my first exposure to the MMA product and its promise of paying your mortgage off in half the time along with saving thousands of dollars in interest. The big red flag for me of course was the $3,500 cost of the software that supposedly helps you do this.
The article I wrote about the UFF MMA product provided an objective perspective that both addressed it’s positives and negatives. My final conclusion being that the decision to use the product was really a personal decision.
Since then, I’ve continued to receive fliers in our mailbox for UFF MMA and for other similar competing products along with reading about it many other blogs and money forums. As a result of the amount of searches I receive for “UFF MMA scam”, I decided to do a little more digging and decide if the UFF MMA product is really a legitimate product or a very cleverly crafted scam.
What is a scam?
A quick check on Wikipedia for the word scam yields something called a “Confidence Trick”:
A confidence trick or confidence game, also known as a con, scam, swindle, grift, bunko, flim flam, or scheme, is an attempt to swindle a person or people (known as the “mark” or sometimes “griftee”) which involves gaining his or her confidence.
One of the first examples listed is that of the “get rich scheme”, where cons work to separate marks from their hard earned money. I am pretty confident each one of you has encountered at least one of these schemes at some point in your life and most of you many. They aren’t hard to find, just turn on your TV and find on of those infomercials for real estate sales and how you can get rich seemingly overnight. What I found even more interesting on the Wikipedia page was that one of the variations of the get rich scheme was the pyramid scheme. I’m sure many of you have encountered these as well.
A pyramid scheme is a business model that involves making money through enrolling other people in the pyramid, often without the delivery of a product or service. A common example is an offer that would allow a person to sell the same offer to other people for a fee. The fee being paid to the person offering you the ability to sell the offer. It starts off with one person, who sells to some number of people, who then sell to some number of other people, and so on. The end result looks like a pyramid, with the person at the top making the most money. Pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States and in many other countries. Why? Because they don’t actually sell anything.
One very popular legal variant of the pyramid scheme is Multi-level marketing (MLM). MLM schemes allow companies to market their products directly to consumers through direct selling. Independent people, often referred to as distributors, represent the parent company and are rewarded a commission based on the amount of product they sell. Distributors sell the product either directly, or by utilizing their own set of independent distributors. Distributors earn commission based on their sales, along with any sales from their own distributors. Thus the name, “multi-level”.
The trick is distinguishing between reputable MLM companies and illegal Pyramid schemes. This can sometimes be a very difficult task and becomes even more complicated as pyramid companies try to present themselves as legal and reputable MLM companies. The key distinguishing feature in the majority of MLM companies is that commissions are sold based on actual products or services.
What type of scheme is UFF MMA?
Now that we have some foundation in place and a common understanding of scams, pyramid, and MLM schemes we can now properly evaluate whether or not the UFF MMA program is indeed a scam or not, and if not, exactly what type of scheme it is.
Is UFF MMA a scam?
No, by definition it isn’t. The UFF MMA product does offer an actual product, the software. The software also provides savings if used correctly. However based on my research, the product does seem to way over promise. You can utilize a similar approach for free save yourself the $3,500 for the software.
Is UFF MMA a Pyramid Scheme?
No. The UFF MMA offers a legit product and pays a commision ($1400) to their distributors per sale. This by definition and from the FTC’s perspective is not an illegal pyramid scheme. Remember, Pyramid schemes don’t generally offer a product for sale.
Is UFF MMA an MLM scheme?
Yes. Given the company does provide a product, pays it’s distributors per sale, and additional distributors can be hired, UFF MMA is an MLM company. Being an MLM company isn’t a bad thing at all, and there are quit a few very successful ones including Avon and Mary Kay.
With that being said, here is where things get a little fuzzy. I consider the UFF MMA program a “pseudo-scam” hidden behind the veil of an MLM scheme. UFF MMA is certainly a legal product but it utilizes deceptive marketing practices that make very grand claims. Claims that don’t generally deliver in the long run. Additionally, the upfront cost of the program is significant ($3,500.00). A similar approach can be developed using a spreadsheet. While more manual, it would save you the $3,500.00. Most people pay the $3,500.00 out of their mortgage as part of the UFF MMA program, resulting in interest being paid on the software and potentially doubling the overall cost.
One additional point that makes this product a pseudo-scam to me is that distributors are provided with a $1400.00 commision for each sale they make. That is a huge incentive for people to sell the product.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
In the end, I think the whole UFF MMA product boils down to the old golden rule of “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. The promise of the UFF MMA program is to cut your mortgage time in half resulting it ten to hundreds of thousand dollars in savings, all for a small investment of $3,500. Sound to good to be true? Sure does to me.
If this is such a great and wonderful product, why isn’t it more common place? Why isn’t it offered by more reputable financial institutions? Why is it being marketed to me via homemade fliers passed out by my son’s football coach? (that to me is enough to scream possible scam).
In the few hours I spent researching the product, there were far more people speaking out against the product than were for it. Most of those speaking in favor of it had some type of financial gain with the product. In one thread I was reading (which I won’t link to) the guy, whom I’ll assume was a distributor, was linking to information about the UFF MMA program and the link was an affiliate/referral link!
While it may not be a scam from a legal or purest aspect, it’s close enough for me. Personally I’m staying far away from it, but I would encourage you do spend time on the internet researching the programs and maybe even talking to some finance professionals before you make any final commitments.
Do you have experience with the UFF MMA program or any other MMA program? I’d love to hear how it’s going for you personally. Sell an MMA product and want to offer your opinion/viewpoint? Please do, but I would appreciate you making it clear you sell the product, and please don’t include any links to your companies product. I’ll delete any comments that do. So share your thoughts on the UFF MMA program, add a comment!