Evan Kelly from the BBB says the scam is called a “Gifting Circle” or “Women’s Wisdom Circle.”
“It all seems very legitimate helping another woman in need or a family overseas, until you are
left empty-handed,” Kelly said. The scam had fallen off the radar, said Kelly, but has since resurfaced.
“What they are trying to do is target relatively affluent women who can pony up $5,000 each and create an eight-person base and the woman at the top who started this gets a $40,000 payout,” Kelly said.
READ MORE: Back-to-school scams are back in season
Author and inspirational speaker Kamal Dhillon alerted the BBB when she was recently targeted. Dhillon is a survivor of domestic violence and provides support to women.
“They knew the work that I do, that I had been speaking and advocating and fighting for vulnerable women for injustice,” Dhillon said.
The gathering was called “Women Gifting Women.” Soon after the first meeting, Dhillon says the alarm bells were ringing.
Not only was she asked to hand over $5,000, she was also asked to recruit other women.
She says she was told, “once you get the $40,000, they [the women] will meet you in a public place with a bag full of money and they give it to you secretly. One of the rules is you do not go and deposit the money in the bank.”
The BBB said this is a pyramid scheme and against the law.
“Any time there is an investment where the money comes from recruitment [it] is a pyramid scheme and illegal.
So they get two friends to recruit four friends and those four friends recruit eight friends and now you have this pyramid shape of people funding it. The people at the top get the $40,000 payout,” Kelly said.
“This is a scam and you are just going to be giving your money away.”