Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 28, 2013, 7:00pm

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) -- Latino civil rights activists want California Attorney General Kamala Harris to look into the alleged predatory business practices of a nutrition and supplements company that also has been accused of operating a pyramid scheme.

The activists argue that Herbalife, headquartered in Los Angeles, is targeting and taking advantage of minorities.

Earlier this month, dozens protested outside of a Los Angeles convention center, calling for Harris and Santa Cruz District Attorney Bob Lee to investigate the company.

Herbalife was hosting a Extravaganza Latina sales event at the convention center at the time.

"We are asking Attorney General Harris to help us protect vulnerable, low income Latinos and other minorities from these schemes that have cost people their life savings," Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told Reuters.

Founded in 1980, Herbalife sells nutrition, weight management and skin care products through independent distributors.

However, the company has been criticized by some Wall Street investors, including hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, of operating a sophisticated pyramid scheme.

A pyramid scheme is a business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services.

Herbalife denies the allegations.

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