AG Tong and DCP Warn Against Pyramid Schemes Proliferating During COVID19 Crisis
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull today warned consumers to avoid pyramid schemes proliferating on social media during the current COVID-19 public health crisis.
Pyramid schemes typically require a large upfront payment to join, with a requirement to recruit other paying participants. Participants who recruit a certain number of people are promised a large payout at the end. In reality, the vast majority of people lose their money as participation in the scheme dwindles. These inherently deceptive scams are a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and the Office of the Attorney General has the authority to seek civil fines and penalties in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection. They may also violate Connecticut criminal statutes.
The schemes go by various names and can come in many forms, but one prevalent version right now is called the “Blessing Loom,” which fraudulently promises an $800 payout in a matter of days. Participants are asked to wire $100 to start at the outside of the “loom.” As you recruit more paying participants, and as those participants recruit more participants, players move closer to the center “payout.” The scam is spreading on social media, and participants have been asked to send money using online platforms like Venmo and PayPal.
“The Blessing Loom is a new name for an old scam. Upfront payments and recruitment requirements are hallmark signs of a pyramid scheme. Don’t believe the pitch. Nearly every participant ends up losing their money. Scammers are seeking to capitalize on unprecedented unemployment and anxiety caused by COVID-19. Steer clear of these get rich quick frauds,” said Attorney General Tong.
"Remember, that if an offer sounds too good to be true - it probably is," said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. "We know that in times of hardship it can be tempting to give in to these offers, but we encourage families to take a step back, and recognize the signs of a scam. Unfortunately, in times like this scammers will try to take advantage of our fears. Don't let them, and contact us if you see anything suspicious."
To report a scam or instance of fraud, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318 or file a complaint with the office at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint, or contact the Department of Consumer Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org at 860-713-6300 or file a complaint with the department or visiting https://ct.gov/dcp/complaint.
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