How deep does NXIVM go? Inside the cult’s pyramid scheme
Another court case has come up against the NXIVM sex cult, this time former participants filed against the cult for stealing millions of dollars through coercion. Judges are starting to realize that the NXIVM wasn’t just about sex slaves, it was also a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme on steroids.
Victims were lured into the cult with false hopes of achieving success through expensive NXIVM classes.
Keith Raniere loved pyramid schemes
Keith Raniere was sued in 93 for organizing a pyramid scheme called Consumers’ Buyline Inc, but he couldn’t kick the pyramid scheme habit. After a couple more failed pyramid schemes Raniere started the NXIVM cult which provided “Executive Success Programs” (ESP) to paying clients. To the untrained eye, ESP’s might have sounded like programs for successful executives, but surprisingly they were a scam.
Now a new lawsuit is firing up against the top members of the NXIVM cult who helped Raniere rake in millions from well-intentioned individuals. Although most of the members of NXIVM weren’t sex slaves, people paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend classes. Some members even had to pay for and organize Rainier’s elaborate birthday celebration, dubbed “Vanguard Week”.
NXIVM members were psychologically broken down
One former member, Sally Brink said “They get you to not trust your own decision-making process. They tell you that you need them to make decisions. You start to doubt everything.” Brink reportedly paid over $145,000 to take NXIVM executive classes over a span of a few years. Ms. Brink is one of 80 plaintiffs suing Keith Raniere and 14 other NXIVM associates for operating a criminal enterprise.
NXIVM used psychological programming
Kieth Raniere was obsessed with using Neuro-linguistic programming (NPL) as an approach to achieving specific goals. NPL teaches that experience is subjective based and it can be re-learned by pursuing a series of rational inquiries to alter the meaning of a sensory stimulus that the person experiences. NPL was one of the most powerful techniques the NXIVM cult used to keep their following.
Only the rich were welcome
Membership to NXIVM was by invitation only. Recruits were required to fill out long questionnaires that detailed their wealth, religion, and children, among other topics. The questionnaires were allegedly used to pinpoint insecurities that could be exploited by the cult leaders. NXIVM recruiters allegedly preferred finding “trust fund babies” to join the group.
Early courses in the NXIVM curriculum would condition students to become dependent on a system of rewards and punishments. Once these conditions were established, a recruit’s self-esteem could be broken down and re-built according to the whims for the NXIVM coaches. A former NXIVM member says the process “leaves you wanting more and feeling like they have the answers”.
The bar for success was always moved
NXIVM leaders continually manipulated program requirements so that only a fraction of participants ever received income. Students were constantly pressured to take more courses and recruit other members. The inner circle of NXIVM also tested the loyalty of members by making extreme demands like having them lick mud or running headfirst into a tree. Students were often scared to leave the cult.
The new court case against Keith Raniere and his NXIVM cult leaders was filed in Brooklyn and contains an almost 200-page document that describes the various ways the NXIVM cult extorted money from its members. Raniere was already convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking in 2019 and other leaders of the NXIVM have also been found guilty of various felonies.