In a December livestream to his QAnon fan base, conspiracy theorist Phil Godlewski laid out what he described as the key to their financial future: buying money.
The precious metal, Godlewski insisted, would soon explode in value after the passage of legislation that some QAnon believers say would bring utopia. Income taxes would be eliminated, debt would be abolished, and anyone with money would become fabulously rich.
But Godlewski didn’t want his followers to buy money from just any company. Instead, he told them to buy through 7k Metals, a multi-level marketing company and metal dealer.
Godlewski and other top QAnon conspiracy theorists have found a new way to make money from their followers: by asking them to buy and sell products for multilevel marketing companies.
MLMs, which rely on new members recruiting subordinate salespeople, with the original “upline” making money from the sales of their “downline” recruit, were previously the domain of leggings and clothing companies. ‘essential oils. But now QAnon leaders want in on the action.
While many MLMs are legal, some have been compared to illegal pyramid schemes, where new members pay cash to join with no chance of getting their money back. Disillusioned MLM members complained that they were heavily in debt when their profits failed to materialize.
The silver sale via 7k Metals marked the latest business move for Godlewski, who served jail time last year after bouncing an NSF check for more than $21,000 and then falsifying bank statements to avoid to be taken. In an unrelated 2010 case, Godlewski was charged with having an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of bribing a minor.
Godlewski is not alone. More and more QAnon promoters have turned to promoting multi-level marketing companies as a way to monetize their followers.
QAnon booster Richard Potcner, who calls himself “Richard Citizen Journalist” online, rose to prominence in conspiracy theorist circles in 2020 by filming hospitals as “proof” that the pandemic was a hoax.
This spring, Potcner came to his followers with a serious message: It was time to buy some silver. Like Godlewski, he had partnered with 7k Metals to entice his followers to join MLM.
“Patriots are unstoppable together,” Potcner said, encouraging his supporters to put their retirement funds into cash.
Although the business relationships between QAnon promoters and MLM companies are unclear, Godlewski and Potcner could reap substantial profits if they are counted as the “uplines” for subscribers who join 7k Metals.
Godlewski, Potcner and 7k Metals did not respond to requests for comment.
QAnon leaders aren’t just selling money. Scott McKay, a Q-backer who wields a tomahawk on stage and openly fantasizes about murdering Democrats in his videos, appears at QAnon rallies across the country as “Patriot Streetfighter.”
In posts on the Telegram messaging app in March, McKay urged his fans to prepare for the launch of a mysterious project called “Operation Tomahawk”. Revealing little about the project, he promised he was launching an “economic warfare platform” that would attack liberal businesses and “suffocate them”.
“We’re going to have millions and then tens of millions of people participating in this,” McKay said in a video.
McKay’s Tomahawk operation turned out to be Patriot Switch, another multi-level marketing based direct selling business. This time, QAnon subscribers are encouraged to purchase their products through Patriot Switch, “thus supporting businesses that promote freedom.” In a video to his followers, McKay promised they would earn commissions by recruiting new people to sell through the company.
McKay did not respond to a request for comment.
Promoting MLMs hasn’t always been smooth sailing for QAnon’s numbers. In 2021, Godlewski’s efforts to introduce his supporters came up against Jeanette Geary, a conservative activist and Godlewski’s detractor. Geary told The Daily Beast in a December email that she contacted the FBI and other law enforcement about Godlewski’s money operation. (Godlewski has not been charged with any crime related to the silver sales).
Last year, Godlewski sued Geary for defamation in federal court in Pennsylvania over his allegations. Geary claimed that Godlewski encouraged his followers to empty their 401(k) retirement accounts and convert them into cash sold by 7k Metals, according to his lawsuit.