Education chief warns against suspected pyramid scheme

Birgitta Lindström, acting high school chief at Skellefteå municipality.
Birgitta Lindström, acting high school chief at Skellefteå municipality.

In a message sent to all high school students, Skellefteå municipality has warned about the suspected pyramid scheme, IM Academy.

Engelska 2 november 2023 15:30

Lately, Norran has investigated the company IM Academy, which has spread among teenagers in Skellefteå and which authorities in several countries have identified as a pyramid scheme.

Norran received information that several high school students have been involved, and now the local education authorities have issued a warning to students.

Specifically, they are warning about "Retired Young", a group within IM Academy. The message says that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Here is an excerpt from the message:

"If you are receiving messages about unique opportunities for fast money, luxurious lifestyles, and travel, it is probably a recruitment attempt for Retired Young. It is a so-called pyramid scheme, which is illegal in Sweden".

Norran has not been able to confirm that the concept is indeed a pyramid scheme, but several experts have made this assessment. In Belgium, for example, IM Academy has been completely banned because it "has the characteristics of a pyramid scheme".

IM Academy activity revolves around recruiting new members. Those who are exceptionally skilled are said to be able to earn several million kronor per month.

Svenska Dagbladet revealed earlier this year that the company originated from an American fraud scheme. The company's founder and CEO, Christopher Terry, has a long history of questionable business activities, writes SvD.

Birgitta Lindström, acting head of the school authorities, says the warning was sent out after a principal received indications that several students had been involved with Retired Young.

– One of them was a student with high absenteeism who was confronted with the allegation. There was a suspicion that this person was involved in the company. So we decided to issue a warning to parents, students and staff, she says.

The message also states:

"If you know someone who has joined Retired Young, or if you have joined yourself, you can contact your mentor or counselor."

"A mentor is always the student's closest contact. A counselor can be that too."

"We feel it is important to give this warning; we fear that many students don't know what is best for them," Lindström said.

Norran has tried to contact IM Academy several times. The company has not responded. There is no clear information on the company's website about who is responsible, or the identities of the people behind the concept. No phone numbers are listed. The only means of contact is an email address, but it is unclear who maintains it.

Norran has also made repeated attempts to reach the founder, Christopher Terry, both through his own website and social media, but he has not responded.

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