British Women Convicted For Roles In Cash-Gifting Pyramid Scheme With Bridal Theme

recommendedreading1In May 2012, three American women and alleged “leaders” of a cash-gifting pyramid scheme were arrested in Connecticut for their roles in the purported “opportunity,” a pyramid that featured so-called “Women’s Gifting Tables” and had a food theme. Two of the woman later were sentenced to prison. The third woman was placed on three years’ probation and put under court supervision.

It now has emerged that 11 women in Britain implicated in a highly similar scheme have been prosecuted. Six have been convicted. The British scheme was known variously as “Give and Take” and “Key to a Fortune” and had a bridal theme.

MailOnline published a photo of promo material associated with the scam. It showed a beaming young woman, presumptively a newlywed, displaying a pile of cash from a bed.

The apparent message? Get a great start in wedded life by handing over your cash to a gifting scheme and waiting for your £3,000 to magically turn into more than £20,000.

Like the Connecticut cash-gifting scheme, the British scheme allegedly was led by older women, including some in their fifties or sixties. Both schemes featured false claims the “program” was legal.

The British scheme reportedly gathered on the order of £21 million, with about 90 percent of participants losing their money. Some of the participants appear to have purchased multiple positions, hoping to score more than one payout.

Western Morning News, quoting a prosecutor, reported the scheme was ruled with a “rod of iron.” In May 2012, federal prosecutors in the United States said the Connecticut scheme included an element of “intimidation” aimed at silencing people who questioned the scheme.

The scheme in Britain allegedly operated between May 2008 and April 2009. The Connecticut scheme operated roughly between 2008 and 2011.

From the BBC, quoting Judge Mark Horton (italics added):

“These cases and the actions and attitudes of these defendants demonstrate the way in which pyramid promotional schemes and chain gifting schemes can be secretly created and quickly spread amongst a vast number of people and over several counties,” he said.

Even members of Alcoholic’s Anonymous were targeted in the U.S. scheme, according to testimony in the case.

Vulnerable individuals also were targeted in the U.K. scheme, according to multiple media accounts.

In 2013, police in Canada issued a warning about a “Women’s Circle” cash-gifting scheme “making its rounds” in British Columbia. In 2010 and 2011, at least 15 women in the U.S. state of Michigan were charged criminally in an alleged cash-gifting scheme.

In February 2014, a prosecutor in Hawaii warned about a “Women’s Circle” gifting scheme operating in that state. The PP Blog reported at the same time  that members of a cash-gifting scam known as BlessingGoldClub were trying to offload “units” in the Better-Living Global Marketing HYIP scam for $500. The units purportedly were being discounted from $1,295.

In the U.K. case, Judge Horton said, “The public need to be aware that schemes like this lead to the destruction of lifelong friendships and families and in some cases whole communities as friends and family are lured into such a scheme,” according to Western Morning News.


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