U.S. v. Gold Unlimited , 177 F.3d 472 (1999)

Does the operation of a pyramid scheme necessarily involve fraudulent activity?

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The Circuit Court held that the jury instructions tying a pyramid scheme and fraud were proper. Gold Unlimited sold "shares" in gold bars. A member could earn more gold by recruiting additional members to buy shares. The owners, along with the company, were charged with the promotion of an illegal pyramid scheme, mail fraud, and other associated crimes. The owners were convicted, but fled before they were to report to prison. The company appealed, claiming that the jury instructions were prejudicial by implying that if the company operated a pyramid scheme, then it intended to defraud the public. Gold claimed that such an instruction did not require the jury to find intent to defraud on the part of the company, only that it operated a pyramid scheme. The Circuit Court disagreed, ruling that the government would still have to prove intent to operate a pyramid scheme. Because a pyramid scheme was inherently fraudulent, the Government need not prove intent to defraud and intent to operate a pyramid scheme separately.

Full case and case summary also available online at: http://www.mlmlegal.com/legal-cases/US_v_GoldUnlimited.php

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Reference Info:Federal, 6th Circuit, Kentucky | United States


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