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Warnings Against Christmas Pyramid Schemes Preying On Low-Income People

Ngā Tāngata Microfinance is warning whānau to stay safe this Christmas and avoid pyramid schemes, many of which use cryptocurrency, including ‘Gifting/Koha Circles’ that are promoted primarily to and by Māori and Pasifika families.

Ngā Tāngata Microfinance general manager Natalie Vincent says "Many of us feel pressured at Christmas time to provide lavish gifts and large feasts for friends and family. We need to remember to spend within our means, and avoid excessive debt. We also need to keep away from any scheme offering large returns in short timeframes."

Vincent says people need to be aware that pyramid schemes including gifting/koha circles are illegal in New Zealand. Any investment scheme that derives its income from recruiting new members, as opposed to the sale of goods and services, is considered by law to be a pyramid scheme.

"We’re currently seeing a wave of pyramid schemes conducted with cryptocurrency," says Vincent. "Using cryptocurrency instead of cash allows would-be scammers to operate in the shadows, independent of banks. This means that banks cannot flag any potentially illegal transactions."

At first Bitcoin (BTC) was the cryptocurrency of choice for these schemes, but Tron (TRX) has become the favoured medium of exchange.

Ngā Tāngata Microfinance encourages whānau in need to access the assistance of financial mentors within the FinCap network of budget services over the Christmas season. Their services are free and confidential. If the need arises, financial mentors can then assist families in applying for a Ngā Tāngata interest-free loan.

Whānau can find their nearest financial mentor by going to fincap.org.nz and find more information on Ngā Tāngata Microfinance at ntm.org.nz.

Vincent wishes everyone in Aotearoa season’s greetings: "Stay safe, spend safely. Meri Kirihimete ngā mihi o te Tau Hou, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".

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