England

Women deny running illegal pyramid scheme

Eleven women have denied running an illegal pyramid scheme.

The defendants, from Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Somerset, are accused of taking part in schemes known as Key to a Fortune and Give and Take.

They are the first in Britain to be prosecuted under new consumer protection regulations.

The offences are alleged to have happened between 26 May 2008 and 29 April 2009, a hearing at Bristol Crown Court was told.

The women are:

  • Jennifer Smith-Hayes, 65, of Headley Lane, Bishopsworth, Bristol;
  • Susan Crane, 65, of Broadleas, Bishopsworth;
  • Mary Nash, 61, of Broadleas;
  • Jane Smith, 46, of Donald Close, Bishopsworth;
  • Rhalina Yuill, 31, of Bellevue Road, St George, Bristol;
  • Sally Phillips, 31, of Kinsale Road, Hengrove, Bristol;
  • Hazel Cameron, 61, of Chew Lane, Chew Stoke, Somerset;
  • Ritamaria Lomas, 46, of St Nicholas Road, Whitchurch, Somerset;
  • Laura Fox, 66, of Church Lane, East Harptree, Somerset;
  • Carol Chalmers, 65, of Clevedon Road, Weston-super-Mare;
  • and Tracy Laurence, 57, of Robbins Close, Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire.

They each pleaded not guilty to two charges of operating a promotional pyramid scheme contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The court heard there will be two trials, with the first likely to take place next year.

Judge Mark Horton released the women on unconditional bail.

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