An illegal pyramid scheme has been uncovered that targets WA women and masquerades as a support network.
Two women, one from the South-West, have contacted Consumer Protection reporting the activities of the pyramid scheme which is being promoted as a Gifting Mandala, prompting a warning for people not to get involved.
The gifting circle involves a woman paying a 'gift' of around $270 to become one of eight 'fire' element recruits.
They must then recruit new participants so they can progress to 'wind/air', then 'earth' and finally 'water' when they are promised a 'gift' of $2,160 in return for their original contribution.
As long as members recruit others into the scheme, the money keeps flowing, but it will eventually collapse and those on lower levels invariably lose their money.
There is a spiritual element being utilised by promoters of the scheme where the gifting is portrayed as women helping other women to realise their dreams by displaying qualities of sharing and caring.
A warning was issued in June 2018 about an almost identical pyramid scheme A Living Workshop which also appeared to originate in the state's South-West.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said the group is shrouded in secrecy with participants told not to discuss their involvement outside the group unless they are recruiting new members.
"Once the new member joins the scheme, they are invited to chat in a closed Whatsapp group and, once they recruit eight others, they will advance to a higher position in the pyramid with promises of higher returns," she said.
"Often the new recruits are family members and friends, so these relationships may be put in jeopardy when the scheme eventually collapses and people are demanding the rewards they were promised or want their money back.
"We are told that social media is being used to source new recruits. It is important that people know that it is illegal to either promote or participate in pyramid schemes and those involved may face prosecution.
"Gifting circles or pyramid schemes have been around for many, many years but only really benefit the few people at the top.
"People should look through the spiritual veil and reject any approaches to join these types of schemes.
"Participants are sworn to secrecy which prevents many from coming forward which also thwarts a proper investigation from being carried out.
"We are keen to catch the originators and promoters of these schemes so we can put a stop to their illegal activities."
Anyone with information about the Gifting Mandala or any other pyramid scheme is urged to contact Consumer Protection by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 30 40 54.
More information on pyramid schemes is available on the Consumer Protection website.
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