ST. LOUIS – Have you recently been approached by an overly-friendly stranger who pitches you a too-good-to-be-true business opportunity? Well, it probably is. The same situation seems to be popping up all over St. Louis.

This recently happened to me during a recent trip to a coffee shop for a bite to eat. While ordering at the drive-thru, I was told the breakfast sandwich I wanted was out of stock and had to reconsider my options. When I drove around to the register, the server seemed to really enjoy that I didn’t complain about the sandwich I missed out on.

With no customers behind me, he struck up a conversation and asked me several icebreaker questions. We planned to meet in person at the same Starbucks the following week. That Thursday afternoon, we spoke about each other’s present and future goals. The conversation ended with him wanting to “network” and get me in touch with his “entrepreneurial mentors.” Before we could meet, I was asked to read the book “The Business of the 21st Century” by Robert Kiyosaki.

Another week went by and I was called to meet up with the man and his mentors to discuss the book. An hour before the scheduled Zoom meeting, I decided to research what the book was about. After quick Google and YouTube searches, I discovered that the book is being used in a widespread multi-level marketing (MLM) scam.

I blocked the recruiter from my contacts and didn’t join the Zoom meeting. The recruiter later sent me a direct message on Instagram, sharing how he was “totally hurt and surprised you didn’t want to be a pyramid king with me.”

A St. Louis Reddit thread posted on July 24 was about someone who moved here in January. They were approached three different times by people wanting to “network.” The MLM scam seems to target young adults in their early to mid-20s. St. Louis Redditors recognized the scheme and spoke of their own experiences.

“This is a common anyway sales tactic,” a poster named Bob said. “They want to ‘mentor’ you straight into their down line.”

“Same thing happened to me. Town and Country Target. I moved here only two months ago,” said Colina.

Ozarksslam21 commented “Lots of stories like this in r/AntiMLM as well. Sounds like Amway for sure. It’s a reverse funnel.”