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Members lose •300 mn in pyramid-like scheme

Date Posted: 2001-12-27

A joint police task force has implicated Global Shoji Inc. of Okinawa City in a pyramid scheme imitation, questioning organizers and charging them with violation of the Investment Law. Police have also searched the firmís offices as well as the home of company CEO Kazunori Higa. Approximately 750 individuals fell victim to the scheme, with damages estimated to be in excess of •300 million total and •3-4 million per investor. According to the police investigation, Global Shoji Inc. established Global Family Net (GF Net) in July of last year and collected a •21,000 per-share membership fee from participants. GF Net reportedly attracted members by advertising that a stable income could be derived from the network through distribution of local products and health foods as well as from finderís fees for introducing new members. Although new memberships increased without a hitch in the beginning, payment of fees to investors stopped completely in October. The promotional brochure clearly stated, however, that invested funds would be returned at such time when the continuation of the network was judged to no longer be feasible.

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