Pyramid Laws by Country This is provided for
convenience. You should
look up the full text to check
for updates and changes.
Concurrence, Loi sur la
Fair Practices Act
State Laws Concerning Pyramid Schemes * Alabama
* New York
(1) Pyramid schemes are tried under the statute for illegal lottery.*Called a "chain distributor scheme" or "chain referral." **Called an "endless chain." ***No specific statute. Link leads to definition of fraud, bookmaking and lottery.
A Chain letter can be an email, an actual letter, or even a postcard. It is a communication that requests the user to make copies and send the copies to many other people. While typically providing false exaggerated claims ("This letter has been around the world 8 times." "Pass this along and you will have good luck." "Disney and Microsoft will award you with gifts for continuing the chain." etc.) They are only annoying and usually started by people who enjoy making fools of others. If the chain requests a reply to an address to prove you sent it to your friends there is usually a sinister reason. Either to jam an email box full of junk email or to gather email addresses for later mass emailing of commercial offers. (No charity will be helping some poor child based upon the number of email address they get.)
If the chain letter is a postcard with a threat that misfortune will befall those who do not continue the chain, it can be reported to the post office as a threat. This is not true for letters or emails.
If the Chain letter requests an item of value in return, it can be an illegal pyramid scheme.
If a business plan earns items of value by introducing others to the business plan who in turn are expected to recruit others to the business plan to earn items of value; that is a pyramid scheme. It does not matter if the items of value is called a loan, commission, or gift. If there is a product involved and it is only used to get members into the plan (four reports, software, web pages etc.) it is still a pyramid scheme. Multi-Level Marketing is not a pyramid when products are bought to be sold to people who are not members of the plan.
A plan of fraud where newer contributions are used to pay early members to make it appear there are major earnings. This is normally not a pyramid scheme. It is still fraud. Named for Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), who had a popular scheme that paid early investors with money gained from later investors.
For further information, please do a quick Google using the search term: Chain distributor schemes