He said he just wanted to call to see how I was doing. After all, we hadn’t seen each other since the mission reunion ten years ago. So we exchanged updates on our lives, and then reminisced and gossiped a bit about the old mission days. Then the conversation took an unexpected, and ultimately, horrifying turn. It’s all sort of a blur now. Something about working from home… an exotic-sounding juice… a down-line… Before I knew it, I was being pummeled with various factoids about an exciting new opportunity to sell this incredible juice, the intricacies of the pyramid scheme, and promises of ultimately making millions. By the time he finished I felt so abused. I despised him.

Almost nothing destroys a friendship more quickly than a good pyramid scheme. And there’s nothing like a large population of aspiring Mormon entrepreneurs to provide the fertile ground allowing this “industry” to thrive. Say what you want about Utah, but its network marketers are second to none.

As a Utah native, I’ve observed pyramid scheme trends over the years. Amway ruled the 1980s. Nuskin came on strong in the 90s. Now we seem to be experiencing an era of juices (e.g., Noni, Xango). And while I’ve never participated, I’ve been subjected to enough sales pitches to have observed some recurring patterns. Here are three common tools of the trade:

First, a good marketer will come in the back door. An effective line of questioning might go something like this: “Spending time with your family is important, right? And you think good health is important, don’t you? And wouldn’t you agree that drinking juice is healthy? What if I told you there was a way that you could spend more time with your family, drink healthy juice, and make money—whether you get out of bed in the morning or not?” Then BAM! They’re in! “I’ve got this new product called Noni Juice that will let you do all those things!”

Second, the timely, yet fleeting, opportunity. “Nuskin is going into China and it’s going to be huge. HUGE! But you’ve got to get in now.” Followed by the obligatory, “Of course, it’s not for everyone…”

Third, the success story just around the corner. Of course, the person hitting you up is never wealthy, but he’s always just right on the verge of hitting it big. However, the person right above him? She’s making hundreds of thousands of dollars while sipping pina coladas on the beach. “Did I mention she’s spending all kinds of time with her family? And after all, isn’t that what the Church is all about?”

There are a lot of things we don’t know about the afterlife, but I’m inclined to believe there’s a special place in hell for network marketers—probably not far from the place reserved for Coke drinkers, people who watch rated R movies, liberal Democrats, people who take the sacrament with their left hand, and anyone who hasn’t read The Work and the Glory series.