Highly Unethical, Perfectly Legal: The Shady Business Models We Can’t Escape

Companies are created with one purpose: profit. They don’t care who they hurt along the way, so governments step in to regulate them and ensure consumers and workers receive fair treatment. 

Scammy Yet Legal

Woman has her arms crossed and is looking off to the side likes she's a little unsure and insecure.
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The government can’t regulate everything, and if a business can find a way to exploit folks for increased profits while following the letter of the law, they will. 

Here are the most unethical business models and practices that we can’t believe are legal. 


Example of an MLM downstream pyramid with one person at the top and their downstreams.
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MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) create funnels of regular people who sell products directly to consumers. 

In theory, that would be okay, but most MLMs profit by forcing their “sellers” to buy mass quantities of product so they have it on hand to sell. The system pushes vulnerable people into debt and then destroys friendships when they get desperate to sell the products they paid so much for. 

The MLM then uses manipulation tactics, much like cults do, to keep the sellers on the hook for more. 


couple meeting with an insurance agent
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Insurance is supposed to protect folks from catastrophic loss, but in practice, it typically just siphons money from people and doesn’t offer enough help when needed. 

There are always hoops to jump through when reporting a claim, and the companies will do everything in their power to avoid paying out. 

Payday Loans

Sad man in a suit showing an empty wallet.
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Predatory lending is highly unethical, yet loan sharks pop up in low-income neighborhoods nationwide. They prey on people who lack financial literacy and have no other options to pay for emergencies, but the rates are so high that it’s nearly impossible to dig free. 

Child Labor and Sweatshops

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People love their cheap threads but never stop to consider why that shirt only costs ten bucks. Many fashion brands rely on child labor, sweatshops, and other unethical labor conditions to keep their products cheap. 

Consumers keep buying, though, so the cycle is likely to continue. 

Mega Churches

People sitting in the pews of a church.
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Religion and business shouldn’t mix. However, many shady preachers use their religious authority position to manipulate people out of their hard-earned money. 

The Funeral Business

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Funeral homes prey on people at their most vulnerable. Salesmen hone in on the grief and sadness of the recent loss to upsell useless products under the guise of “If you really loved the deceased, you’d buy all this stuff.”

It’s gross and unethical. 

Microtransactions in Gaming

Man holding phone looking like he's concentrating hard.
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Mobile game developers found a great way to siphon money from people: microtransactions. Though some developers only charge for aesthetic things like skins, others make their games pay-to-play, and as soon as someone stops paying, the game becomes unplayable. 

It’s unethical because the designers know it’s addictive and use that to keep the players paying. 

Inadequate Wages

Broke young man shrugging and holding open his empty wallet.

Any company that only exists because someone else subsidizes its workers is engaging in an unethical business practice. 

The majority of people who receive SNAP (food assistance) benefits work full-time at places like Walmart and Mcdonalds, meaning taxpayers are footing the bill when these companies underpay their workers. 

Unable to Cancel

Frustarted woman with long brown hair looking up. She has her hands out and a look of upset frustration on her face.
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Many businesses make signing up for their subscription services a breeze but then make it impossible to cancel. You can sign up with the click of a button online, but you need to make four different phone calls and send a certified letter to cancel. 

Your business is unethical if your business relies on people paying because they can’t cancel. 

Planned Obselence

Couple looking at a dishwasher
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Companies don’t make lasting products because they make more money when people have to buy a new one. 


A phone with the Youtube logo on the front.
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Algorithms on streaming services and social media networks lead people down dangerous roads. The companies learned long ago that outrage sells, so they funnel folks to content that will keep them angry and engaged, thus fattening their pockets to the detriment of society. 


model politician with assistant talking to journallists.
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Many companies rely on the laws they bought to stay in business. Intuit lobbies the government to prevent the IRS from developing free software for tax filing so they can earn millions in revenue off the backs of average Americans

People are forced to pay for stuff because companies buy lawmakers and prevent competition. 

Is America Actually Dystopian?

Panaoramic of a city with the top mirroring the bottom in a fantastical manner.
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Although there are many fantastic things about living in the US, some of our systems and laws leave many scratching their heads, wondering if we’re already living in a dystopian nightmare. 

Here’s the evidence that makes us wonder if America is actually a dystopia.  

If America is the Best, Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?

Woman holding an American Flag over her head.
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Everyone claims America is the best country in the world, but other Western nations put us to shame. Here’s the cool perks other countries provide their citizens that we wish we had in the States

America’s Toxic Work Culture

man at work looks really bored and unhappy
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Our work culture is destroying us. Find out how. 

Read it Here: America’s Toxic Work Culture

How Are These Scams Legal?

woman with mad and confused facial expression holding one hand up as if to say "what?".
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Society is ripe with folks legally scamming you out of your hard earned cash.

Here are the top scams we all just accepted as normal. 

Why No One Wants To Work Anymore

woman throwing papers behind her as she quits her job.
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The common boomer refrain derides younger generations for refusing awful working conditions. Are they right?

Find out why no one wants to work anymore

Source: Reddit