December 08, 2016


Vancouver, BC - Earlier this year, your BBB brought to light the issue of Gifting Circles. A pyramid scheme that targets affluent women with the promise of a 40 thousand dollar payout after an initial 5 thousand investment. Pyramid schemes rely on recruitment, not products or services being sold and they fall apart as quick as they begin. The people at the top run away with the cash and the people on the levels below lose their money. Plain and simple, it’s illegal.

Enter the Christmas season!

BBB has been made aware of a similar pyramid scheme involving an online wine exchange, and while less investment is required, it’s still a problem.

This copy was taken from social media:

“ATTENTION WINE DRINKERS!!! Or anyone else I didn't tag!!!
Anyone interested in a holiday wine bottle exchange? It doesn't matter where you live, you are welcome to join. I need a minimum of 6 (or up to 36) wine lovers to participate in a secret wine bottle exchange.
You only have to buy ONE bottle of wine valued at $15 or more and send it to ONE secret wine lover and afterwards you will receive from 6 to 36 wine bottles in return!! It all depends how many wine drinkers join.
Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information! Please don't ask to participate if you're not going to follow through with sending one wine bottle.
Comment below if you're in & I'll send you the details via Facebook messenger or text - if they are confusing at all, please let me know!!
And yes, it really works.”

“While the impact on your pocketbook isn’t as significant as a Gifting Circle, it’s still a pyramid scheme and demands that you bring other people in,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “The people at the top will get a lot of wine, the people at the bottom will not. We just want people to be aware of how these things work and that they are not allowed under Canadian Law. You don’t buy one bottle of wine and get 36 for free.”

BBB offers these tips to avoid a pyramid scheme:

• Be wary of “opportunities” to invest in things where the success or failure relies on subsequent recruitment.
• Independently verify the legitimacy of any franchise or investment before you invest.
• If it seems too good to be true, it is.
• Investigate. Ask around. Search online. Be skeptical.
• If no product or service is being offered or sold, how does it make money?
• Invest your money with reputable investment professionals and firms with a track record.
• Be very wary of investments that promise low risk and high returns.
• Don’t let greed overcome good judgement.
• Getting involved could have a negative and lasting effect on friendships.
• If you have any concerns contact BBB serving Mainland BC.
• Investment concerns can also be directed to the BC Securities Commission.


Media Contacts:
Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
Phone: 604-488-8702
Mobile: 604-505-2307
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

About BBB:
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 111 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2015, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 7,500 complaints.