Four arrested in ‘gifting circle’ investigation in Mission

Police say more than 100 ‘clouds’ have been identified across Lower Mainland

  • Feb. 26, 2018 12:33 p.m.

The Mission RCMP have arrested four people and executed four search warrants in relation to a fraudulent gifting circle.

This is an illegal pyramid scheme that is active across the Lower Mainland.

Insp. Annette Fellner, officer in charge of the Mission detachment, said police began the investigation after Coquitlam RCMP received a complaint on Sept. 25, 2017. The complaint alleged that there were District of Mission employees, contractors and volunteers working within the RCMP detachment running a large-scale gifting circle.

Fellner said Mission RCMP, with assistance from the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit (FSOC), executed four search warrants at four locations throughout Mission.

Four people were arrested and have since been released without charges, while the investigation progresses.

Fellner said although police focused on the Mission-based gifting circle. investigators believe that thousands of people may be involved or are being actively recruited across the Lower Mainland.

She said more than 100 gifting circles – or clouds as they are also known – have been identified by police in the Lower Mainland. Similar incidents have occurred across Canada.

New participants are asked to attend meetings and to recruit two people. Once the lowest group of eight people has been filled, each of them is asked to contribute a $5,000 gift to the person at the top of the pyramid, also known as the “birthday spot.”

Participants are advised to use false names and to keep the gifted money in cash form, to avoid drawing suspicion from financial institutions.

“There are virtually no winners in this type of pyramid scheme,” Fellner said.

“People who are involved in this kind of fraud are imaginative. They sound convincing and say the right thing to make you believe it’s perfectly legal when it isn’t.”

Fellner said people should understand that not only could they suffer a personal financial loss for their involvement in gifting circle or similar pyramid schemes, but they could face tax implications through the Canada Revenue Agency and/or criminal charges.

She said up to 11 incidents involving gifting circles have been reported to police in the Lower Mainland in the past two years.

The scheme is generally directed toward law-abiding women who are asked to gift $5,000 to gain entry into the cloud or circle.

The primary means of communication for the people in this scheme is an app called Telegram Messenger.

Participants attempt to legitimize the payment of $5,000 by calling it a gift and falsely claiming it is not taxable.

Information about pyramid schemes and how to avoid them can be found at Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or the federal Competition Bureau toll-free at 1-800-348-5358.

Just Posted

VIDEO: History of Langley pioneer Philip Jackman comes alive in new novel

Book by Virginia Cooke details the life of Jackman, a Royal Engineer and Reeve of Langley

Trinity Western University players help Canada to second medal ever at Pan Am Cup

With the medal, Canadian team also qualifies for the 2019 Pan American Games

Aldergrove Fair Days gets ‘Down on the Farm’

Something for everyone at the 106th annual Aldergrove Fair

UPDATE: Strong showing by Langley Selects at 10-day tournament

Twelve teams competed in round-robin series

VIDEO: Langley hospital history recovered

After 16 years in storage, LMH memorial plaques added to museum in time for 70th anniversary party

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

Coco the cat survives horrific house fire wrapped in a blanket

Found in the laundry hours after Chilliwack firefighters douse blaze that destroyed five structures

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

Aldergrove Youth Soccer registration underway

Kids from U11 to U18 need to register so that teams can be formed, games organized

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Aldergrove ‘hoops’ boys raise cash

Successful fundraiser for the Aldergrove boys’ basketball team

Otter Co-op’s CEO top of the class

Jack Nicholson receives 2018 B.C. CEO Award in the Large Company category

Most Read