URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: KABOOM! 2 Connecticut Women Found Guilty In Cash-Gifting Pyramid Scheme

breakingnews72URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: (2ND UPDATE 6:44 P.M. ET U.S.A.) Both of the defendants on trial in federal court in Connecticut in a cash-gifting pyramid scheme known as Women’s Gifting Tables have been found guilty of wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

The jury returned the verdicts against Jill Platt, 65, and Donna Bello, 56, this afternoon. Both women live in Guilford. They were charged in May 2012. A third woman, Bettejane Hopkins, 66, of Essex, pleaded guilty.

In returning the guilty verdicts in about two hours, the jury rejected defense contentions that the women believed their cash-gifting “program” that gathered $5,000 from each participant and used a food theme was legal.

Prosecutors called it a fraud scheme designed to enrich some participants at the expense of others.

“As the jury’s swift verdict of guilty on all counts makes clear, ‘Gifting Tables’ are pyramid schemes and illegal, plain and simple,” said U.S. Attorney David B. Fein. “These defendants enriched themselves while fraudulently misrepresenting material facts about the Gifting Tables and conspired to hide their income from the IRS. I commend the agents of IRS Criminal Investigation for their thorough investigation of this matter, which is ongoing.”

Fein this afternoon threw down the gauntlet against cash-gifters.

“During the trial, the jury heard evidence that other Gifting Tables continue to operate in Connecticut,” he said. “The jury’s verdict today is fair notice to anyone participating on Gifting Tables that any money received is taxable income and that they may be involved in an illegal pyramid scheme.”

Included among the damning evidence against Platt and Bello was email correspondence, prosecutors said.

“I’m pleased to see that the jury saw that the ultimate purpose was the enrichment of the defendants,” said William P. Offord, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of New England.

From a statement late this afternoon by prosecutors (italics added):

Evidence at trial included several emails, including an email sent by Platt in March 2009 that told a participant: “It’s sort of a joke that I refer to our freezer as the ATM.”  Later in March 2009, Bello complained to Hopkins and another individual about two recruits, stating: “They have had enough parties. Its [sic] costing us a small fortune in their food and wine delights. No more parties until they commit with the cash.”

In June 2009, Bello sent an email that said “I am not a . . . saint . . . . I’m teaching you all how to make an extra 80 grand a year . . . . Isn’t that enough?”

Platt and Bello were found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and a combined total of 15 counts of wire fraud. (Eleven against Bello and four against Platt.) Meanwhile, the jury found Bello guilty of two counts of filing a false tax return. Platt was found guilty of one count of filing a false tax return.

Sentencing is set for May 15 before Chief U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson. The women potentially face years in prison.

Cash-gifting schemes may surface as forms of affinity fraud. They often are targeted at people of faith, and purveyors may claim the “programs” are legal.

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5 Responses to “URGENT >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: KABOOM! 2 Connecticut Women Found Guilty In Cash-Gifting Pyramid Scheme”

  1. While it is nice to see this action being taken and these people found guilty, there needs to be more of these cases being tried with all the cash gifting schemes that are running right now.

    Most of these cash gifting schemes target the Christian community, and sadly many are being promoted by church groups, as well as some pastors. Take a few of these down, and it just might send a chilling message if you play you pay.

  2. LOL, maybe more prosecutions would even send a chilling message to “lutarian”…!( Oh, wait! I forgot he doesn’t support cash gifting…!

  3. “I commend the agents of IRS Criminal Investigation for their thorough investigation of this matter, which is ongoing”

    Don’t you just love it? This could be the most important quote of the whole trial. Isn’t that how they used to get the Mafia?

  4. Cash Gifting scams are illegal in certain states since the Brian D.Martin story formerly known as LifeInATent who promoted the son of a bitch program

  5. […] >> BULLETIN >> MOVING: Two Connecticut women convicted of wire fraud and filing false tax returns in a multimillion-dollar cash gifting scam […]