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Lately when scrolling Instagram, I’ve seen reels promising a hassle-free way to make money. Influencers are telling their followers that they’re making thousands after taking a simple course. And if you just “comment COURSE below” they’ll link you to the course so you can learn how they did it.

Headshot of Jannese Torres

Jannese Torres, author of Financially Lit! and CNET Money expert review board member

It’s sketchy. And it’s a scam. Underneath it all, these “master resell rights” or MRR courses are essentially multi-level marketing schemes. They seem enticing, but rarely deliver. Instead, you’ll only make money if you repackage the same course and get your own followers to buy it. 

As a personal finance expert, I know firsthand that the road to wealth isn’t quick or easy. I use my platforms (social media, podcast, and my latest book) to help people build a healthy relationship with money. Some of my resources are free, and some are paid. But the difference is that I focus on realistic ways to grow your net worth and become financially free — they’re not scams encouraging you to resell the same courses for money.

These days, even scams can look authentic. Here’s how to spot these red flags, so you don’t waste your time (and money).

Read more: Watch Out for These Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

What are MRR courses and where did they even come from?

The idea of reselling rights isn’t new. It actually comes from old ways of selling books and magazines. Just like stores could sell books they bought from publishers, in the digital world, creators started letting others sell their digital stuff too. As the internet grew, so did the market for digital things like e-books and software. MRR courses came about as a way for creators to sell their digital products along with the rights for others to resell them.

Today, MRR courses are popular on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, especially among folks who want to make money online. But there’s a problem: many of these courses aren’t as good as they claim to be. They promise big success, but a lot of times, people end up disappointed. So while the promises used to market MRR courses can be exciting (“earn $10k in one month!”) — many of them overpromise and are borderline predatory.

Are MRR courses pyramid schemes?

MRR courses aren’t considered pyramid schemes, but they have some overlapping practices. Pyramid schemes are scams and are not legal. You’re required to buy products or inventory upfront or regularly, even if you’re unable to sell it.  


In a pyramid scheme model, money flows up to the top. The most people you add to your downline, the more money you can make.


MLMs are often linked to pyramid schemes and the two can look very similar. An MLM isn’t a pyramid scheme as long as it pays you based on your sales of products or services. However, with an MLM, you may still earn a commission of your recruit’s profits, resulting in a similar downward pyramid shape. And while some MLM setups may help you earn money if they sell real products or services that people want to buy, it can be hard to tell the difference between real opportunities and scams.

MRR courses could be considered a type of MLM, depending on how you earn money. These courses focus heavily on getting you to recruit others to join in order to make money by selling the same course to them. They, in turn, are encouraged to rebrand the course and send it to their followers. And so on. It’s a setup similar to traditional MLMs, and it’s raising the same red flags.

Also, MRR courses often make big promises to attract those who are trying to make money fast. They show stories of people who supposedly got rich quickly and claim that anyone can do the same if they buy the course. But for most people who join, the reality is different. They often end up not making much money, and some even lose the money they invested in the first place.

So are MRR courses scams?

Not always, but they can be. But if you’re interested in buying a course to learn more about a particular skill — like affiliate marketing — be thorough and research the course and the person selling it before buying. While social media may sing praises about how a specific course helped them earn $20,000 overnight, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same results (and many people won’t). Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Check if the person or company offering the course is known for doing good work by looking at reviews from other people who took the course. See if the person teaching the course knows what they’re talking about and if others who took the course got good results.
  • Look at what the course teaches and make sure it covers what you want to learn, it’s well-explained and up-to-date. It’s also important to see if the course is interesting and keeps you engaged while learning. 
  • Don’t forget to check if the course comes with any extra help or a community where you can ask questions. 
  • Think about whether the cost of the course is fair for what you’ll learn, and if there’s any way to get your money back if you’re not happy with it.

Be careful when it comes to MRR courses — especially if you’re buying one to start making money online. They might seem like a great way to earn cash fast, but if you’re not careful, you may find yourself ensnared in a messy MLM scheme that can cripple you financially.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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