Betsy Stover was 17 when her mother asked her to help fax strangers, hawking a service that had the markings of a pyramid scheme.
“I always felt like a creep sending unsolicited faxes,” said Stover, who hated the chore, but knew the work required cold calls to succeed.
Stover, now a 38-year-old comedian based in Los Angeles, had largely forgotten about the experience until about three years ago. That’s when her Facebook feed started filling up with new direct sales posts touting cosmetics, jewelry and leggings.
Unbeknownst to her, friends Stover hadn’t seen in years had added her to private Facebook groups promoting body oils and makeup. She had little interest. It...