There is another lawsuit filled in the beginning of this year with 80 plaintiffs that's more specific to the pyramid scheme/MLM. (NYT Article)
The early classes of NXIVM remind me a lot of the Landmark Forum, which is another personal growth group that says they're not a cult. I knew some people in the early 2000s who invited me to go to a free evening event and I was too nice at that point in my life to say no. However, 20 minutes in I had a visceral reaction to the environment where I basically started shaking and crying, had a panic attack and left.
About the evening (which I remember very well) Landmark started off with a big group of everyone (maybe 75 or so people) for about 10 minutes, where one of the first things they staged, was someone in the audience asking "Is Landmark a cult?" to which there was a resounding laughter, and of course denials. Then a few more BS questions. Then they separated us into smaller groups of less than 10. I was, of course, was not put in a small group with anyone I came with. Then there was some new age babble about how to remove blocks from the life you want to live etc. and they're trying to sell their $300 weekend seminar. Then after that the next seminar they suggested was a Money seminar where you were supposed to learn about your relationship with money and they had someone tell a personal story about how it helped them. Immediately I think to myself, uh -- they're trying to figure out who has money! And that's when I started freaking out. I left the little room, found the people I came with and they saw I was freaking out and I said I was leaving with or without them, they left with me. One of the people I went with was an actor, he was the main one interested in it, after watching this I'm like, heh, go figure.
There are so many similarities between NXIVM and the history of groups like this. Landmark, EST, Scientology, Manson, Jim Jones, Bagwan Rajneesh, Branch Dividian etc. and yes, they're on a spectrum of awfulness but I'm sure in my lifetime there with be another one that does shady and illegal shit where people are hurt. It blows my mind sometimes.
This show did not do a great job of telling that Cautionary Tale of how it's done which I think is a responsibility with this subject matter.