Women’s ‘Gifting Circle’ Participants Risk Felony Prosecution; ‘Stop Immediately’ And Pay Back Money, Idaho Attorney General Warns

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden at an Idaho event last year. Source: website of the attorney general.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden at an Idaho event last year. Source: website of the attorney general.

The successful felony prosecutions under federal law of two Connecticut women in a cash-gifting scam apparently hasn’t registered in Idaho.

Now, the state’s attorney general, citing the Connecticut prosecutions that led to lengthy prison sentences, is taking action. And he’s not mincing words.

“Taking part in an unlawful pyramid scheme violates the Idaho Consumer Protection Act and is a felony under the state’s criminal code,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “Make no mistake – taking part in these schemes is illegal. Anyone who has received money from participating must pay it back. Failure to do so may result in civil or criminal enforcement action.”

Idaho investigators have received two recent reports of illegal gifting pyramids operating in the state, Wasden’s office said. Sums of $5,000 are being solicited. Reports identified the schemes as a “Women’s Wisdom Circle.”

One has “a formal dinner theme, the other a gardening theme,” Idaho prosecutors said.

From a statement by prosecutors (italics added):

In one Women’s Wisdom Circle reportedly operating in Ammon, participants are being asked to pay a $5,000 entry fee. By recruiting others, participants can then advance up the pyramid through levels named after the courses of a formal dinner: appetizer, soup/salad, entrée and dessert. Reports investigated by the Consumer Protection Division indicate those at the top of the pyramid have received payments of up to $40,000.

The gardening theme gifting circle operating near Preston makes “soil” the entry position, while “harvester” rests at the top of the pyramid.

The schemes are promoted as gifting programs intended to empower women and claim to adhere to IRS gifting rules. Women are encouraged to keep their involvement secret and are required to sign a statement that the money they pay is a gift, with nothing expected in return.

The statements are false and do not make participation legal, regardless of what potential recruits are told, Wasden said.

“Participants should stop immediately,” Wasden warned. “Unlawful pyramid schemes collapse, hurt people financially and are a crime in Idaho.”

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