Pyramid Schemes are Illegal

March 23, 2021

Pyramid Schemes are illegal and anyone organising or participating in such schemes will be charged under; Section 87 A of the FCCC Act. This has been iterated by the Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Hon. Faiyaz Koya after reports of Fijians participating in ‘get rich quick’ schemes have surfaced in the past few days.

“The road to participating in a gifting scheme is often paved with sound-good intentions and clever branding like “Women Empowering Women,” “Circle of Friends,” or “Secret Sister” and so on — but just because it is called a gifting “circle” does not make it one and I am stressing again that it is illegal” said Hon. Koya.

The Minister has called on all Fijians to be vigilant and mindful when approached by individuals to take part in such schemes. “We work hard to earn money to pay for things, why are we venturing into schemes that does not guarantee us returns and takes advantage of the vulnerable who are already strapped for cash and are lured into the idea of making money fast. This is a pure hoax and no Fijian should participate in these schemes”.

“I am resonating the Consumer Council’s previous warnings that such schemes will destroy the knitted fabric of our society. A lot of people are convinced by such scams but will start to complain only when the highly enticing payback vanishes. Commonly, we trust friends and family, who introduce us to the scheme, and this is what enables pyramid schemes to grow – but people will end up blaming their loved ones if they lose out on their hard-earned cash once the pyramid collapses or vanishes which will inevitably happen” added Hon. Koya.

Consumer Council Fiji Chief Executive Ms Seema Shandil has also implored Fijian consumers not to be swayed by enticing testimonies and marketing tactics on social media being used to market such scams which is designed to prey on peoples trusting nature.

“There is no short-cut to wealth and if people come across individuals offering investment opportunities with sky high returns in just a short period of time either on social media or in person, report them to us immediately. These are people who are using this current pandemic a ruse to con Fijians out of their hard-earned money” said Ms Shandil.

People coming across schemes or individuals offering investment opportunities are being reminded to lookout for the following traits which are hallmark of pyramid schemes;
• Someone promises you a bounty of cash or gifts by mail, email, or social media.
• Recruiting new people is the primary focus of the program.
• No goods or services are being sold.
• There are no written agreements or contracts.
• The program brags about the high earnings of a few top performers.
• The program includes plenty of “testimony” and “success stories.”
• The recruiter usually asks for a small upfront payment with high returns in order to gain your trust. Eventually, they will convince you to start making large payments

Hon. Koya has also revealed that pyramid schemes in Fiji are now being labelled as gifting circles and community gifting.