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You are correct in saying Tesla is neither a Ponzi nor pyramid/MLM scheme, but you have erred in your distinction between the two.

A Ponzi scheme purports to have some amazing business opportunity, but secretly pays returns using money from new investors. They will often use MLM/pyramid-style recruiting tactics, and not solely rely on the fraudster for recruitment.

It's true that MLMs pay out fees collected from newer recruits, but everyone knows where the money is coming from. Usually MLMs also have some semblance of actual business activity (Mary Kay, Amway, Herbalife, etc.)

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