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May 18, 2022

Pyramid scheme resurfaces in Byron

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Image: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme
Image: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme

Hans Lovejoy

An international pyramid scheme is duping women from the area, say a number of locals.

The Echo reported the issue in 2013 when a group called Women’s Wisdom Circle was operating and cloaking itself in themes of new-age spirituality and women’s empowerment.

The latest incarnation is called the Lotus Circle, which The Echo understands is run by the same group of women who ran the Women’s Wisdom Circle. 

Under the Australian Consumer Act 2010 [Part 3-1 Division 3], it is illegal to participate in a pyramid scheme or attempt to induce someone to join one.

Like a pyramid scheme, Lotus Circle women part with a $5,000 ‘unconditional gift’ to join as a ‘seed’ and are lured with a promise of an eventual $40,000 if they ultimately blossom into a ‘lotus’.

Recruitment is made generally through social media or face to face.

Additionally a new circle has emerged, called Fractal Circles, which encourages men to also join.

Local woman Karma Barnes says apart from a strong Byron Shire presence, the Lotus network also includes chapters in New Zealand, Bali, California, Hawaii and Canada.

‘I have seen a lot of women being sucked in around Byron Shire and New Zealand,’ she says. 

‘I am really concerned for women, particularly new women to the area, that may be targeted. It’s deeply unethical and predatory. Because of the exponential growth, there will always be 88 per cent of women who will never get their money back.

‘There are many ways for women to help and support each other. There should not be a price tag on this. Also, if people want to give money, there are so many women’s charities that could benefit.

Selling blood, eggs

‘A document that promotes the scheme, called 25 Ways To Manifest Your Gift, suggests options to gain quick cash to enter, including asking for an early inheritance or getting a bank loan. Number 18 on the list suggests ‘selling your blood and eggs.’

The Secret philosophy

Another woman Jenna Snow (not her real name) said, ‘It’s deceptive because they try to trick you into believing it’s an unconditional gift.’ 

‘They use language like “abundance vibration, poverty mentality and fear paradigms.”

‘There’s nothing spiritual about funnelling money from the many to the few.

‘Those wanting to recruit say things like, “You would pay $5,000 for a spiritual workshop anyway so think of it like that”. You can see why people are drawn in if they are craving a connection in their life. They say the connection is primary and unconditional while the money is secondary.

‘If you suggest the maths doesn’t add up, looks unsustainable and is unethical, you get a rave on “abundance theory.”’ 

Additionally nine locals, calling themselves the critical thinker’s support group, also made a ‘community announcement’.

Critical thinking

The group say they chose to remain anonymous and are local teachers, social workers, healers and professionals.  

‘This scam has conflated the intention of women’s circles and appropriated it for selfish gains. It relies on the pseudo-spiritual philosophy of the Secret.

‘This is not a product; it’s unsustainable and the ultimate capitalistic con.

‘The good news is that because it’s illegal, you can get out of the ‘gift’ contract. The Lotus Circle breaches contract and consumer law. You sign a contract to say it’s a gift – but under the law it’s illegal to make a contract under false pretences.

‘There are some who have their money back,’ they say, ‘and lawyers have been involved.’

‘There is no shame in trying to get out of this,’ they said. ‘There are online lotus support groups, including the closed Facebook group, Muddy Lotus.’


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9 COMMENTS

  1. So sad to hear this, please be aware Landmark appears to making a similar effort in Tyalgum. There was an ‘event’ advertised in the local press. Having been emotionally blackmailed into attending one of Landmark’s ‘seminaars’ in a major city (had to get away through a fire escape door), people need to be warned about involvement with Landmark. It also cloaks it’s separation of thousands of dollars from participants in new age waffle.

  2. A person… who ran several of these circles… used her instagram influence and profile to prey on vulnerable women that looked up to her. Young women thought she was a goddess, they thought her healthy looks and beauty came about from raw food and spiritual enlightenment. They were not privy to her private cellulite sucking sessions, her botox injections or her plastic surgery. She posted constant drivel about her flashes of spiritual enlightenment and offered to share it further with them all, if of course they gave her $5000 …. She never delivered, she spent their money, she was never available for calls. When they failed, she used passive aggressive techniques to bully them into thinking they would only improve with her guidance. The schemes are a fraud, the people in them are frauds. They are a horrible seduction that supports the lonely and makes them pay to get access to friends. If you have something to give, you are obligated to give it…without charging someone for it

  3. There was a pyramid scheme in Byron Shire in the 1990s that conned quite a few people – Phoenix? “Abundance theory” has been around in one form or another since at least the 18th century and has been as successful as prayer in convincing the universe it is benign. A far better handle on the nature of the universe can be obtained by observing the opportunistic omnivores in nature or learning something about physics.

    • If you can’t bet em join em? Aren’t a lot of in the Shire here because we want to generate more ethical and sustainable ways of living? What a sad way to get ahead, off the backs of others 🙁

      • You mean like Your boss who makes money from Your work?
        Or the politicians who uses taxes to pay their expenses?
        Or the “Elite” the top 1% that hold 80% of the worlds wealth?

        This only looks like a scam if someone goes into it only for money and doesn’t understand that it’s about generosity and giving. If someone doubts it, they prove themselves right by not sharing the movement from the right space.

        However, if one approaches this believing We can all come together and support each other.

        This is the world I believe in, and that belief actually means it’s possible. If only people who also believe in this world support it it works.

        Just like if someone believes in a world where they have to trade most of they life working in a job they don’t like to make money for someone they probably don’t care about.

        It’s all about perspective. Someone can only understand and see it when they’re ready.

        It’s only falling apart when someone comes in just wanting to make a quick buck instead of coming from a loving space.

        The only thing I agree with, is that people shouldn’t get into dept for it, it’s supposed to be about feeling abundant enough to be generous and give kindness.

        And of course only people who believe in being giving and generous without needing anything in tmrethrn shoud join, if that happened it would continue and flow. As I said it only falls apart for the people who don’t believe.

        • I’m sorry, what you’re saying is rubbish. It’s selling snake oil dressed up as ‘spiritual awareness’, ‘generosity’ blah blah. No different to hundreds of other pyramid scams. In the end, the people at the bottom always get screwed – and no amount of ‘positive feelings’ or ‘belief’ will change that. If these scams were really about generosity and giving as you say – they would not require money in the first place.

          It is also illegal.

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