Ponzi is back. The mostly Mexican ladies have been getting swindled out of a lot of money in Ponzi schemes that are hitting many areas of the country, including Southern Baja.
Ponzi schemes have been around for a while, but the new scam by the clever fraudsters exclusively targets women and employs psychological tricks designed to give them the illusion of belonging to a special support group for selected women; a kind of new age entrepreneurial club, where secrecy and discretion is the rule, and where acquiring “universal abundance and prosperity” is within reach of all who believe. It is all a con that masquerades as a successful financial model in which women can “weave the dreams of financial success together and enjoy abundant wealth.”
The plan works like this: Women are asked to contribute the equivalent of $1300 U.S. each and are promised a payback of $10,000 in one month. In some cases, women are invited to neighborhood parties, or to an exciting lunch or a special dinner where they might witness one lucky lady, who has arrived at the top of the pyramid, receive her big payout. This is the coveted position where she will receive “all the abundance of the universe,” and where the moment becomes an enthusiastic celebration by all. The women in attendance are led to believe that they will soon take their turn at the top, too, as long as they spread the wealth— that is, pay their share— stay in the game, and bring more investors into the fold. The meetings are usually hyped up, celebrated events where excited and overly enthusiastic women are told by effervescent cheerleaders that their special day is just around the corner. Hang in there, they say, and continue to work hard for your dreams.
But in order to pay out the one person on the top of the pyramid, all the others on the bottom of the pyramid have to pay into the system, and there are far more contributors (losers) than recipients (winners). The system collapses when the new members realize that their special day on the top will never come. For every one person who makes it to the top of the pyramid, fourteen will have to fork over the money. Also, the lucky person on the top may also be obligated to pay all the expenses of the party, which may include an expensive dinner, drinks and party expenses, or to loan money to new recruits. Remember, it´s important to share the wealth.
The “investment group” discourages women from involving men or skeptics or non-believers in the financial activities, since “they just don´t understand,” and conducts operations where transparency is shunned, and women are strongly discouraged from honestly disclosing to lenders what the money will be used for. Men, after all, according to company documents, may be an impediment to a woman´s success. They are often “resistant, cautious, negative, skeptical or fearful,” (this is sometimes true), and should be avoided, they claim.”
The “estafadoras” or swindlers, persuasively appeal to a woman´s need for empowerment, financial independence, and even spirituality. They ask the ladies to support each other with positive encouragement and in good cheer, and to believe that their path to prosperity requires dedication and faith. Doubts and questions about achieving their share of wealth may have negative results, the organizers say. It is important to stay positive . . . and to believe!
New recruits must commit to a goal of investing their $13,000 in the Loom of Abundance, and to “carefully select” other women to share in the “great opportunity”. Participants are asked to invite family members, friends, and others in their social circles or on the internet to join in the benefits of positive prosperity.
Countless women have been and continue to be duped, including women from La Paz and other areas of the state. Most are crushed to find that the promise of achieving “universal abundance,” or at least making a lot of money, results in a stinging financial loss and emotional misery.
Most of the women cringe or cry when they discover they have been taken to the cleaners, and their marvelous return on investment, typical with pyramid schemes, will never happen. Many women have fallen for the trap, and many others, including spouses, relatives and friends, who lend, or unknowingly provide them the necessary entry funds, also suffer the consequences. This is another example of a pie in the sky approach to riches and financial happiness that ends on a dark, dead end street where the victims are left feeling confused, disappointed, angry, sad and sometimes shameful. Unfortunately, the old adage, “Si parece demasiado bueno para ser verdad, probablemente lo sea” or, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” has not been heeded, and probably needs to be repeated a little more often.