Alberta police say 'gifting circles' were a pyramid scheme
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - A southern Alberta man is facing charges in an alleged pyramid-type scheme that extends into Saskatchewan and British Columbia and has generated huge losses.
Lethbridge police say so-called gifting circles were introduced in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton between September 2018 this May.
The circles promise a return of $40,000 in exchange for a gift of $5,000 and the donor must then recruit two more people to kick in funds, but investigators say money is lost when new recruits cannot be found.
Witnesses say there are currently more than 500 members and 80 gifting circles -- numbers investigators say would involve losses totalling $2,000,000.
Steele Cameron Tolman, a 57-year-old Coaldale resident, is charged with fraud over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000.
Tolman has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court May 17.