Pyramid Scam
3 September 2001

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Pyramid Scam hits the Highlands

Women are being advised to be on their guard against a dubious pyramid investment scheme which has spread to the Highlands. Trading Standards Officers
at The Highland Council have expressed concern that the "Women Empowering Women" Pyramid Scheme appears to be operating in Inverness. 

Women wishing to join the scheme are asked to "invest" (Pounds)3,000 with the
promise of a return of (Pounds)24,000. However, the council is warning that
there is no real investment involved and the only way to make money is at the
expense of others further down the chain.  Head of Trading Standards, Nigel MacKenzie, said: "It is mathematically impossible for this scheme to work. Each new member has to recruit a further eight "investors" to get any return. The result has been that only a very small number of people at the top of the chain make any money at the expense of everyone else. It has led to financial misery for thousands of women throughout the UK and we do not want to see this happen in the Highlands." 

A legal loophole means the scheme is not actually against the law, but Mr MacKenzie is urging women not to be taken in by the "too good to be true" promises of this scheme: He added: "Often it is not appropriate for us to
condemn a scheme that is not illegal, but I can be forthright in recommending
that people steer well clear of the "Women Empowering Women" Scheme."
Consumers can obtain advice from Trading Standards by telephoning The Highland Councils Consumer Advice line on 0845 600 4222 (local rate) or visiting any Council Service Point.

1. The Trading Schemes Act 1996 prohibits many Pyramid selling schemes which involve goods and services, but does not cover cash-only "investment" schemes.

 2. Clarification and further information are available from Nigel MacKenzie at
the Highland Council Trading Standards on 01463 228700.