Whether it’s called a Ponzi scheme, a confidence trick or a pyramid scheme, any kind of “con” that separates people from their money through the means of deception is a fraud.
While “charming con artists” are a Hollywood staple, the government authorities find nothing entertaining about con games. If you’re accused of running a con of any kind, make no mistake: You’re in big trouble.
What makes a confidence scheme illegal?
There are a variety of con games out there, including one that has been circulating since the 1990s: The notorious Nigerian 419 con. The “419” refers to the Nigerian criminal code that this scam violates. However, this is one of many different types of confidence schemes tracked by the authorities.
All confidence schemes generally have, at their heart, the use of deception to convince people to turn over their money. However, not everyone sees a situation the same way, and it’s difficult to tell when someone was genuinely being deceptive versus simply misguided.
For example, maybe you saw your business enterprise as a multi-level marketing plan, but the government saw your work as a pyramid scheme. Or, maybe you were merely a wheel in a much bigger cog, so you genuinely thought that you were fundraising for a legitimate purpose.
What should you do if you’re facing charges?
Confidence schemes can run you afoul of both federal and state authorities, depending on the circumstances. If you have been accused of scamming people by sending out the “Nigerian 419”, phishing, or any other type of con, you’ll need an experienced legal guide to help you fight the charges.