Warning: Ballajura man promotes US pyramid schemes (Leon Shipard)

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Business / companyConsumerSenior

Western Australian consumers are being warned about a Ballajura man who is under investigation for promoting pyramid schemes based in the United States.

Leon Shipard (75) has been promoting the AndThanks2U website (www.andthanks2u.com) by posting leaflets in the letterboxes of Perth homes and advertising in the ‘business opportunities’ section of the Quokka classified newspaper. Quokka has now ceased to publish the advertisements.

The website, registered to a person in Little Rock Arkansas USA, offers participants, who pay $2.50 to join the scheme, a windfall of $145,800 after eight weeks. Each new member must introduce four other members per week to the scheme for eight weeks, with the joining fee increasing to $1,000 over that period. The original sponsor receives the proceeds of the fees collected from future participants who join the scheme.

Mr Shipard is also believed to be promoting MyFuelClub (www.myfuelclub.net), another suspected pyramid scheme which is currently under investigation. The scheme involves various levels of membership depending on a member’s fuel consumption and members must enlist three other people to join the scheme. Participants submit their fuel receipts to receive a rebate and are promised a higher rebate as more people are introduced into the scheme.

The following characteristics can be used to help identify a pyramid scheme:

  • unrealistic claims in regard to future profits;
  • often do not involve the genuine supply of any goods or services by or among members;
  • the sales and/or promotional material push recruitment very hard; and
  • receiving payments for recruitment is a substantial reason to join.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll believes there is strong evidence which indicates that the websites being promoted by Mr Shipard are pyramid schemes.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, pyramid schemes are illegal and there are heavy fines of up to $220,000 for anyone who takes part in the scheme or encourages other people to take part,” Ms Driscoll said.

“So, apart from the real risk of the pyramid scheme collapsing and leaving many people out of pocket, those who participate and promote such schemes are liable to prosecution.

“We strongly recommend that the community does not get enticed by these ‘get rich quick’ schemes and refuse any offers to participate. Anyone who is approached to join these schemes, or has been approached by Mr Shipard specifically, should contact Consumer Protection immediately.”

Pyramid scheme promoters can be reported to Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au. Further information on pyramid schemes is available on our website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/pyramidschemes.


Media Contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
30 Oct 2014

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