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State warns of pyramid schemes after recent fraud attempts

State warns of pyramid schemes after recent fraud attempts

November 13, 2006
by Stephanie Wentworth

After receiving more than a dozen recent complaints, the state is warning Marylanders to guard against pyramid schemes.

Since the end of October, the state received 15 inquiries regarding a pyramid scheme targeted at deaf people. A Canadian company is soliciting residents to sell diamonds, said Kevin Enright, a spokesman for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Pyramid schemes — mock businesses that earn money primarily from recruiting members and charging them fees rather than the sale of products or services — are illegal in Maryland.

“Many people promote pyramid schemes out of ignorance and do not realize they are engaging in illegal and harmful behavior,” Attorney General J. Joseph Curran said in a news release.

Some pyramid schemes may offer a product or service to disguise their true nature. The product or service may be overpriced or have a questionable value, like exotic vitamins, health tonics and gemstones of uncertain origins, the state said in a news release Monday.

The state released a new investor education brochure with tips to identifying pyramid schemes that make be masked under the name multilevel marketing plans.

The brochure is available at www.oag.state.md.us.


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