A Singaporean YouTuber has been subject to legal action by a local “e-commerce education” company for his videos, which are aimed at “exposing” the ubiquitous ‘Singapore Amazon marketing guru’ schemes frequently seen in advertisements on social media platforms.
Rishi in an Instagram post on Friday (13 November) said that Leapvista had sent him a legal cease and desist letter for his video “Exposing Singapore Marketing Gurus”, which featured one of its co-founders Benjamin Tan.
According to Mr Tan’s bio on the Leapvista website, he is “one of the most respected Amazon sellers in Asia” and “a highly sought after Amazon trainer that is known for his genuine honesty and for guiding his students on a life-changing journey through Amazon FBA”.
FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), in which sellers store their products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
Amazon will then pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. FBA purportedly helps sellers scale their business and reach more customers.
In his video, Mr Rishi said that much of the introductory material found in free seminars by such marketing “gurus” on how to set up an Amazon business can easily be found on YouTube.
“Here is where they provide value first. They will let people know about their authority and knowledge … They will give people that feeling by providing the bare, bare, bare minimum information — which, by the way, can be found on YouTube,” he said.
After that, said Mr Rishi, the seminars will usually go into money-related matters — what he points out as “the original reason why you are at the masterclass” — such as the exorbitant amount of money a participant supposedly makes in a month after engaging in such a business model.
Following that, the “gurus” will offer attendees to sign up for their paid courses to learn more about how to set up such a business and to earn such amounts.
Some individuals shared their own experience of attending such courses, some of whom were roped into spending thousands of dollars on such paid courses — even as much as S$20,000 — as seen in the screenshot below.
Several other commenters shared their experiences or others’ experiences with other such “marketing gurus”.
“I paid almost S$3,000 to attend it prior to covid19 and the course was a complete waste of money. There is nothing about property strategies,” one commenter said, adding that the person holding the property course “just keep talking about his life story and how he donate a lot of money to charity and how he got his phd”.
Another disclosed an incident where they were allegedly threatened with a lawsuit and was tracked down “for leaving a negative comment on Fb about how these seminars are nothing but a sham”.
A couple of commenters pointed out that while the FBA arrangement is legitimate, it is not as easy to make money from such a model as the “marketing gurus” often suggest, given that it is becoming more commonplace and competitive now.
“The gurus know from their revenue that dropshipping heydays are over and that’s why they are channelling their resources into such overpriced courses. It is very likely bringing them more money than whatever they sell online,” one commenter said.
Noting that this is not the first time he had received such legal letters, Mr Rishi questioned why content creators or individuals who fell prey to such schemes “get sent lawyer letters” for speaking up “about such programs which cost people a bulk load of money”.
“We should be able to have a conversation without the fear of getting sued,” he said.
Mr Rishi added, however, that the current legal action taken by LeapVista against him, together with the awareness campaign through his exposé videos may serve to place such programs “under the spotlight” and help many Singaporeans as a result.
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The amount raised through Mr Rishi’s self-started fundraising campaign on Go Get Funding for his legal fees in the Leapvista suit has exceeded his target sum of S$15,000 at the time of writing.