HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)-- Dozens of victims and over a million dollars taken over a three year period. Two Guilford women are facing sentencing in a gifting table scheme.
The women were found guilty earlier this year of conspiracy, tax, and wire fraud offenses. A hearing was held Monday to determine just how much money was lost.
There are believed to be many more of these gifting tables across the state. In court, Southington, West Hartford, and Avon were mentioned.
The bottom line prosecutors say in the emails sent from these two ringleaders, they tell members they can take in at least an extra $80,000 a year.
Pages of court documents break down the whole concept of the "gifting table." It's based on code words involving meals. If you want in, you're paying five grand to the person at the top to be an appetizer
There were four levels in all.
Eight people were assigned to the bottom rung, four people at the next level which was soup and salad, then two people at the "entree" level and then just one person at the top, the dessert level.
In New Haven Register photos are the two women found guilty back in February of running the table, 55-year-old Donna Bello and 64-year-old Jill Platt of Guilford.
They would refer to the ATM as their "freezer."
The women would often leave the tables after receiving $40,000 from new members.
Laura Smith, Legal Director of Truth in Advertising.org explains the deceptive component.
"The operation promises they'll make large amounts of money. The problem is because it's based on recruiting other people, eventually, people at the bottom of the pyramid lose out because there's no one to recruit," said Smith.
Smith says one red flag that the operation is illegal is making its main goal to recruit people.
"If there's quite a bit of emphasis on the product and a legitimate product to sell or a service, it leans on a legitimate operation," said Smith.
The women are charged with federal wire fraud and filing false tax returns. They're scheduled to be sentenced August 13th.
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