This story originally appeared on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission
A promoter of a suspected pyramid scheme in New Zealand has been told to stop or face court.
The Commerce Commission is cracking down on the Lion’s Share scheme, a cryptocurrency operation.
The commission announced it had sent a “Stop Now” letter to one of the promoters, Shelly Cullen, who was recommending it online and in person.
Cullen regularly held seminars online and in person, stating Lion’s Share gave people an opportunity to earn extra money. She is popular on social media, with some of her videos receiving tens of thousands of views.
The letter urged Cullen to stop associating with and promoting Lion’s Share.
On receiving the letter, Cullen told the Commission she had stopped promoting the scheme.
If she did not, the commission could seek an injunction in the High Court.
In a statement, the Commission said the investigation was ongoing.
“However, because it considers that the Lion’s Share scheme is likely a pyramid scheme, the Commission advises any individuals already involved with the Lion’s Share scheme to cease their involvement and those considering joining the Lion’s Share scheme are advised not to do so,” the statement read.
Pyramid schemes are illegal under the Fair Trading Act.
They can take many forms but usually offer a financial return based on payments made by new recruits.
Returns are dependent on the recruitment of new members, not sales of a product or service.
This is a problem because many participants will always be near the base of the pyramid and will not get the promised return on investment.
Only the few initial participants at the top of the pyramid would likely make money, since the number of possible new recruits in any community would be limited.
Kamata ke ngāue atu ma’u mafai ‘a Nu’u Sila’ kia kinautolu ‘oku nau tu’uaki ‘a e uki kakai ke nau līlī pa’anga kae palōmesi tokua te nau ma’u ‘a e pa’anga lahi ange. Kuo tohi ‘a e Commerce Commission ‘a Nu’u Sila’ ‘o fakatokanga ki he taha e kakai kuo pehē ‘oku nau tu’uaki ‘a e va’inga tānaki pa’anga ta’efakalao ‘i he founga ko e sikiimi pilamita pe pyramid scheme. Ko e fo’i līlī pa’anga ‘eni ‘oku fai ‘aki hano uki fakatokolahi mai ha kakai ne kau lī ‘a e pa’anga taki lauteau ‘i he funga e palōmesi te nau toho ha pa’anga ‘oku lahi ange’. ‘Oku lolotonga felauaki foki heni ha ni’ihi e komiunitī Tonga’ ‘o tatau ‘i Tonga mo Nu’u Sila’ ni ‘o tu’uaki ‘e ha ni’ihi ‘oku lelei pe tokua ia, kae taimi tatau kuo ‘osi ‘asi hake ‘a e ngaahi lāunga ‘a ha kakai Tonga ne nau kau ki he ngaahi līlī ‘i ‘Aokalani mo Tongatapu ‘o pehē kuo mole ‘enau silini’ ka kuo ‘ikai ma’u ha me’a ia. ‘Oku mahino foki ‘oku fakatauele ‘a e fa’ahinga līlī pa’anga ko ‘eni’ he ko ‘ene kamakamata’ ‘oku malava ia ke uini (win) ha ni’ihi ha pa’anga lahi ange he me’a ne nau lii’. Kae fakatatau ki he hisitōlia’ ko ‘ene fuoloa atu pe mo ‘ene ‘alu ke tokolahi ange’ ko ‘ene hoko ia ‘a e palopalema’. Pea ko e me’a ia ‘oku ui ai ‘a e fa’ahinga va’inga’ ni ko e pilamita he ko e ki’i tokosi’i pe ‘i he tumu’aki’ te nau ma’u e melie’ ko e toenga tokolahi ‘i lalo’ ‘e ‘ikai ke nau ma’u ‘enautolu ha me’a, ko e fakamole ‘ata’atā pe. Ko e fo’i ngaue ko eni kuo fai e fakatokanga ki ai ‘i Nu’u Sila ni’ ne ui ko e Lion’s Share. Kuo tuku atu ai ha tohi ‘a e Komisoni ki he fefine ko Shelly Cullen ke ta’ofi leva he ‘oku ta’efakalao. Ne ne ‘iloa ‘a Cullen he mītia fakasōsiale ‘i hono tu’uaki ‘o e līlī ta’efakalo ko ‘eni’ ki hono kau muimui’.