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£21m scam women ordered to pay back £1

By Claire Hayhurst

Prosecuting the women who operated and promoted a £21m pyramid scheme cost taxpayers at least £1.4m - but those convicted paid back as little as £1 each.

The get-rich-quick con, named Give and Take (G&T), fleeced at least 10,000 people between May 2008 and April 2009.

Bristol Crown Court heard the scam promised £23,000 for each £3,000 investment if a player recruited two friends.

G&T committee members pocketed up to £92,000 each, while up to 88% of their victims lost between £3,000 and £15,000.

The scheme generated £21m before it was closed down.

Eleven women became the first in the UK to be prosecuted for such a scheme under legislation from the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act 2008.

Six of the group, convicted of operating and promoting the scheme, paid back a total of £535,454. They were also sentenced to jail terms of up to nine months. One woman, who promoted the scheme, paid back £20,143, but two others were ordered to hand over just £1 as they had no realisable assets.

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