Would you trust a pyramid scheme? Observer media’s Adia Wynter took to the streets of St John’s to gauge your views on the burgeoning micro finance schemes.

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By Adia Wynter

Residents appear largely cautious over the integrity of pyramid schemes which promise fast money and have seen a surge in popularity across the region.

It seems as though many individuals have become weary of the ubiquitous ‘Go Getters’ money scheme that markets the opportunity to obtain high returns from a small investment fee.

Pyramids make money by recruiting an ever-increasing number of “investors”. The initial promoters recruit investors, who in turn recruit more investors, and so on. It is called a “pyramid” because at each level the number of investors increases. The risk therein lies when recruiters fail to source new investors and lose their source of income.

Yesterday, Observer spoke to members of the public to determine whether they would participate in such a venture.

One man expressed his disdain towards the schemes due to the experiences of those around him.

He said, “I’m not down with it… I’ve been asked to come on board, but I met a cousin of mine and he said no, because he already tried it and all now, he hasn’t gotten any money back.”

Other individuals explained that they would not participate in the venture due to the ambiguity that surrounds its workings.

One woman told Observer, “I would not put my dollar to it. I don’t trust it because… if I pay one hundred dollars to get, say, four thousand dollars, then I will need two other people to back me up, and if I don’t have those two other people, what will happen? I don’t trust that.”

Sharing this same opinion, another member of the public said, “I am not interested because I don’t know anything about that money or where that money is coming from. That money is too easy.”

There are also those who boldly refuse the idea when approached by recruiters as their belief is that the entire operation is fraudulent.

One man passionately explained, “There is no way in business somebody is going to give a hundred dollar and get back eight hundred dollars. That has to be a scam. It’s not for real. People, look out for all these scammers.”

On the other hand, there are a few who seem to be very optimistic about the idea.

“I will participate in it because in this financial crisis… you will try to do anything and take risks – take one hundred and double it or even multiply it by eight, so of course I am willing to take a risk,” one young man explained.

However, there is one young lady who says she acknowledges the risks involved, but still believes it is a profitable venture.

She is currently a member of the ‘Go Getters’ group that consists of over 900 individuals.

When asked about her experience in the group, she said, “It is, in fact, exactly what it is: a pyramid scheme… The thing is, once you explain to people exactly what it is – no sugar coating and so forth… You tell them straight forward that it’s a pyramid scheme and if you don’t invite people, you don’t get any money.”

Despite these things, she said that it is an opportunity she would recommend to others, but she does not believe that everyone is cut out for the job due to the rigorous effort required.

“It’s not for the feint of heart, because honestly, I was on my phone non-stop for hours upon hours… all one o’clock, two o’clock, five o’clock in the morning.”

Police spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas confirmed that police are paying close attention to the rise of these schemes.

“We are aware of the get-rich-quick schemes or pyramids or box – whichever names we choose to call it – that are in operation here in Antigua and Barbuda… It is one of those situations the police have given some attention and will continue to monitor,” Thomas clarified. “One of the first things I would advise the general public to do is to first do your due diligence. Do some background checks… Find out the potential risks that are involved before you invest your hard-earned money into this particular savings or scheme,” Thomas added

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