Multiple charges laid in ‘cloud’ gifting pyramid scheme


2018-07-17 11:34 PDT

File # 2017-31813/ 2018-1758

After exactly one year of repeated warnings from police that the popular ‘cloud’ gifting pyramid scheme is illegal, formal charges have been laid against two suspects.

Whether you call it a ‘gifting circle,’ a ‘birthday gift,’ a ‘cloud,’ ‘people helping people,’ or ‘New Boss Life,’ the essential element of expecting a much higher payment in return makes this an illegal pyramid scheme, says Corporal Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP. People who buy in to this scheme are putting themselves at risk of criminal charges.

Two people are currently facing charges in Coquitlam:

  1. Chrystal Lee Lyons, a 44-year-old resident of Maple Ridge, is facing four counts of ‘conducting a lottery’ under section 206 of the Criminal Code. Police allege that Lyons went by the pseudonym of ‘Purple Shadow.’
  2. Esther Ayshia Vandenbrink, a 56-year-old who is also from Maple Ridge, is facing one count under section 206 of the Criminal Code. Vandenbrink is suspected of using the alias ‘Party Girl.’

Variations of this pyramid scheme often encourage people to use pseudonyms, says Corporal McLaughlin. The organizers also regularly change small details of the scam, or claim that they’ve found a legal loophole, or claim that their scheme is endorsed by a police officer or tax official. However, no matter what you call them, pyramid schemes are illegal.

The gifting pyramid scheme has been evolving for years. In general, new members are recruited, or ‘invited,’ by friends or acquaintances and pay a ‘gift’ of between $1000 and $5000 to join. Each new member is then expected to recruit more people to pay in to the bottom of the pyramid until they reach the top and get (or share in) a $40,000 ‘birthday gift’ payoff.

If you are approached by someone who wants to get you involved, call your police of jurisdiction. In Coquitlam, call the non-emergency number at 604-945-1550 and ask for the Economic Crime Unit.

Released by

Cpl. Michael McLaughlin

Media Relations Officer
Coquitlam RCMP
2986 Guildford Way, Coquitlam, BC V3B 7Y5
Office: 604-945-1580


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