Victims of pyramid schemes due $445,000 in refunds
RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) – People in North Carolina who lost money to pyramid scheme Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing will get a total of more than $445,000 in refund checks, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday.
Checks are being mailed by the Federal Trade Commission to 33,621 people across the state who bought into the scheme but lost money.
“North Carolina consumers were wronged by false promises of high earnings while only those at the top made a profit,” Cooper said. “We brought down this pyramid scheme and now victims are getting some money back.”
Across the nation, 285,361 checks totaling more than $3.7 million are going to victims of the scheme. The refunds are the result of a court approved settlement won by Cooper, the FTC, Kentucky and Illinois in 2014 to shut down Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing.
People who receive the checks are encouraged to deposit or cash them as soon as they get them, and at least within 60 days. Additional refunds may be possible once ongoing lawsuits against FHTM’s top earners are resolved.
FHTM operated a pyramid scheme out of Kentucky that recruited more than 350,000 participants between 2009 and 2012, including more than 30,000 in North Carolina. FHTM claimed participants could earn tens of thousands of dollars a year by buying into the operation to sell satellite television services, home security systems, beauty products and other consumer goods and services.
As with all pyramid schemes, the vast majority of consumers who bought into FHTM lost more money than they made.
“Always do your homework before you invest in a new way to make money, and be skeptical of claims that you can earn thousands of dollars quickly,” Cooper warned.
Under North Carolina law, a pyramid scheme is any plan in which a participant pays money for the chance to receive money upon the introduction of new participants into the program, whether or not a product or service is offered as well. The ultimate focus of the program is recruiting new representatives and selling the products to new members as they join, not selling to actual customers.
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