Women’s Gifting Tables Pyramid Scheme Leaders Forfeit $200,000 As Connecticut Cracks Down

October 10, 2012

Attorney General George Jepsen and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein today announced that five former participants in an alleged illegal pyramid scheme will forfeit a total of $202,500 through voluntary compliance agreements reached with the state.

The compliance agreements come as a result of the Office of Attorney General and Department of Consumer Protection’s investigation into the “Women’s Gifting Tables” scheme.

“As with any pyramid scheme, these gifting tables are inherently deceptive,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “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.”

“These pyramid schemes resurface every few years in different forms, but they are always illegal,” Commissioner Rubenstein said. “Anytime you are not selling a product or service, but have to recruit new members into the scheme in order to get paid, it is an illegal pyramid. Simple math dictates that within a very short period of time, the number of new recruits who are needed in the scheme will outstrip the entire population of Connecticut, with nearly everyone but the original players losing everything. Beyond causing financial loss, these schemes are insidious because they require every recruit to perpetrate the scam on the next victim, and thereby commit fraud themselves.”

The individuals who have entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the state are:

  • Patricia MacKenzie of Essex, who will forfeit $45,000.
  • Elizabeth Culligan of East Haven, who will forfeit $40,000.
  • Terrell Naumann of Branford, who will forfeit $20,000.
  • Sally Stedman of Guilford, who will forfeit $65,000.
  • Felicia Zaffin of Branford, who will forfeit $32,500.

The individuals have also agreed that they will not participate in any gifting tables or other pyramid schemes, and that they will cooperate with the state’s investigation. The forfeited funds will be deposited into the state’s General Fund.

In this scheme, women are encouraged to join a small group known as a “table” in which they each provide a $5,000 gift to another woman in the group. As new women join the group, others move up the pyramid into higher “positions” to eventually receive their own gifts totalling much more than their initial contribution. When such schemes fail to recruit enough new members, the pyramid collapses, leaving the newest members with nothing.

Pyramid schemes are considered a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The voluntary compliance agreements resolve state civil claims only, and are not related to or resulting from any federal criminal matters. The state’s investigation into Women’s Gifting Tables remains active and ongoing.

Assistant Attorneys General Jeremy L. Pearlman, Michele S. Lucan and Phillip Rosario, head of the Consumer Protection unit, are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.

Please click here to view the voluntary compliance agreements.

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5 Responses to Women’s Gifting Tables Pyramid Scheme Leaders Forfeit $200,000 As Connecticut Cracks Down

  1. Paula on October 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    It kind of stings to think that I’m a part of such a gullible group of people who will actually buy into this nonsense. This particular scheme looks to be geared entirely toward women, and IT ACTUALLY WORKS.

  2. Barbara on October 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    What is the difference between forfeiting and a fine? I am sure they made a lot more than they “forfeited” so it seems they really made out well except I expect their lawyers charged more than they “forfeited” so maybe it is fair. Many years ago I was asked to attend one of these gifting groups but I wasn’t able to afford it, thank goodness and would have felt awful if I had recruited friends who would also lose money. I also think that the originators of this knew that down the line, after they got their’s the scheme would collapse and the idea that they would let other women lose their money is so wrong to me!! Shame on them!!!

  3. Cheryl on October 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I was invited to several of these table meetings. A neighbor invited me, however, the concept never sat well with me. One of the “members” who applied pressure to me stated that she didn’t understand why I hadn’t made a decision to join and pay $5,000.00. That was my last meeting. It became clear to me then that something wasn’t “right”. I’m glad this has come out and they were exposed. I know that most of these ladies received MORE money than their “punishment” .

  4. M Mallow on October 11, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Barbara Parker (hedge fund manager Greenwich/Madison),Meg Hayden (Madison), Peg Steiner, realtor (Madison),and others…check these women out. They have been scheming for years. Why are not other predators exposed? That is what they are.

  5. Ed P on October 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Early members make money, late members lose money. Maybe it should just be classified as gambling. How about we tax it and let gullible people pay into it? Oh wait, that would be compettion with the lottery.

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