A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent and unsustainable investment game based on the promise of unrealistic returns of imaginary investments. Early investors actually get these high returns, which leads them to recommend the program to others. Investors` returns are paid from the fresh money that comes in. After all, no new investors can be found and the pyramid collapses. Many potential entrepreneurs have unconsciously become entangled in pyramid schemes disguised as business opportunities. If you have suffered financial losses due to illegal business practices, talk to your state`s attorney general. Not all multi-level marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it can be a legitimate, multi-step marketing plan. If the money you make is based on how many people you recruit and your sales, that`s probably not the case. It could be a pyramid scheme.  Ponzi schemes are illegal in New York State, as well as in many other states.
Section 23A of the New York State General Business Act § 359-fff establishes criminal liability for initiation of and participation in pyramid schemes (also known as chain distribution systems). Investment advisor Bernard Madoff, arguably the most famous artist in the Ponzi scheme, has been sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Madoff convinced many high-level people to invest with him, falsified relevant portfolios and documents, and paid early investors with the money he received from later investors. Most investors have lost everything. Madoff died in prison on April 14, 2021. Participants in these clubs or programs are required to qualify their investments as “unconditional gifts” by signing waivers. However, the truth is that by making these “gifts,” everyone expects those who stand further down the pyramid to do the same. The intention is not to make an unconditional gift. Therefore, these people are not only involved in illegal Ponzi schemes, they can also violate tax laws.
If you decide to become a distributor, remember that you are legally responsible for any claims you make about the company, its product and the business opportunities it offers. This is true even if you simply repeat the claims you read in a company brochure or advertising flyer. If you decide to recruit new distributors, keep in mind that you are responsible for any complaints you make about a distributor`s revenue potential. Be sure to present the opportunity honestly and avoid unrealistic promises. If these promises fail, remember that you could be held accountable. People in the upper layers of the pyramid usually benefit, while those in the lower layers usually lose money. Since most program members are at the bottom of the ladder, most participants will not earn any money. In particular, if the system collapses, most of the members will be in the lower layers and therefore will have no way to benefit from the system; Nevertheless, they will have already paid to register. Therefore, a pyramid scheme is characterized by the fact that a few people (including the creators of the system) earn large sums of money, while subsequent members lose money. For this reason, they are considered fraud.  Investors who truly believe that the products or services that the promoters have sold them are legitimate inevitably realize that they have been scammed. It is only when these products and services are unsaleable and the promoters refuse to buy them back that they end up realizing that they have participated in an illegal Ponzi scheme.
The success of Ponzi schemes is usually limited to founders and early-stage members. These people fraudulently attract new paying members who strive to get a promised quick and significant return on investment. These members then recruit more paying members. This cycle continues. Profits go to founders and former members. The system usually goes down as soon as no paying member can be found to support existing members in their payments. Obviously, the easiest way to avoid getting scammed is to not participate in an advertisement that looks like a Ponzi scheme. Here are some additional tips to help you stay away from pyramid schemes: Although pyramid promoters claim that the possibility of making money is endless, this possibility cannot happen due to the saturation of the market. For example, if a program starts with one person recruiting two people, each of whom recruits two more people, and so on, in just 28 levels, virtually the entire population of the United States – every man, woman, and child – would be involved, as shown below.
Pyramid schemes are scams. They can look remarkably similar to legitimate MLM business opportunities and often sell real products, perhaps even the ones you`ve heard of. But when you become a Ponzi scheme distributor, it can cost you and your recruits – often your family and friends – a lot of time and money that you can`t get back. The business models of Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) are very similar. The first two systems are illegal; MLM transactions may seem shady, but they are technically legal. This article defines pyramid schemes and explains how to distinguish them from multi-level legal marketing programs. A typical Ponzi scheme starts with a first recruiter attracting investors by promising high returns on their investments. The initial recruiter is at the top of the “pyramid”. Once investors have donated their investment money or membership fees to the original recruiter, they become “Level 1” members.