HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced on Wednesday that five former alleged participants in a pyramid scheme will forfeit $202,500 through voluntary compliance agreements.
Patricia MacKenzie, Elizabeth Culligan, Terrell Naumann, Sally Stedman and Felicia Zaffin agreed to forfeit the money, no longer participate in pyramid schemes or gifting tables, and cooperate with the state. Under the terms of the agreements, MacKenzie will forfeit $45,000, Culligan will forfeit $40,000, Naumann will forfeit $20,000, Stedman will forfeit $65,000 and Zaffin will forfeit $32,500.
The state will deposit the forfeited funds into its General Fund.
The compliance agreements are the result of collaboration between Jepsen's office and the Department of Consumer Protection in relation to the women's gifting tables scheme.
"As with any pyramid scheme, these gifting tables are inherently deceptive," Jepsen said. "Representations are made about a potential for large sums of money that, as recruitment stalls, are unattainable. People lose thousands of dollars believing they will receive a windfall return that never materializes. Consumers should be aware that state and federal law prohibits these kinds of schemes, and any offer involving upfront money payments with promises of big profits that depend on recruiting others should be considered suspect."
In the alleged scheme, women are encouraged to join a small group called a table in which they each give a gift of $5,000 to another woman in the group.
When new women join the group, others move up the pyramid into higher positions in which they receive their own gifts. Eventually, the total gifts are much more than the women's initial contributions. When the scheme fails to recruit enough new women, the pyramid collapses and the newest members receive nothing.
Pyramid schemes violate the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The five voluntary compliance agreements reached on Wednesday only resolve state civil claims. They do not result from any federal criminal matters.
The state is continuing to look into the women's gifting tables scheme.