Pro or con?

Hope springs eternal, especially when money is involved. And, as adults, don’t we all have the right to invest our cash where we want, with the hope of a big return? After all, the stock market is legal, and many of us have lost both money and hope through it.

But, when your friends, relatives and neighbors are involved, one would also hope that you would look carefully at any investment you are pulling them into. Thousands in the Sacramento area have chosen to gamble on Women Helping Women (see “Inside the pyramid,” page 16), and many of them have lost.

Pyramid schemes have a new form and fashion. They’re often called “gifting clubs,” but they still have the appearance of pyramids no matter how you modify and name them. Women Helping Women sounds as positive as the attitudes of the women who got involved. Now, though, as the authorities have moved in to shut it down, the club could be called Women Grifting Women. The organization, like all pyramid schemes, depends on people pulling in others in order to make it successful. And, if it is a pyramid, it is destined to fail.

As have others, the pyramid eventually will collapse when the people at the bottom find the “gifting club” has run out of new investors and when the big payoffs dwindle. Beyond that, pyramid schemes are illegal. So, even if the club could hold up under its own weight, the prosecutors hoping to make a point will try to close it down.

The women in Sacramento have been portrayed in the daily media as crooks because it helps the prosecutors’ case to portray them that way. But they have their own story to tell, one that shows many of the women didn’t realize what they were getting into.