June 15, 2024

Shelly Cullen, renowned for her involvement in pyramid schemes, seems to be back with yet another ‘investment opportunity’. This renowned schemer, known for her quote, ‘I jump from scam to scam because I can’, excited over 200 viewers in a Zoom promotion of a new bitcoin venture called MaView. The Commerce Commission cautions the public to be wary.

Cullen, who is awaiting sentencing for her pyramid scheme called Lion’s Share, is suspected to be affiliated with the new scheme. Lion’s Share resulted in vast losses for investors, totaling almost $17 million.

It’s alleged that Cullen is promoting the MaVie initiative while overseas, despite being convicted for Lion’s Share. Her involvement raises concerns for the Commerce Commission, following her confident admission in a 2021 video that she aims to be “one of the biggest scammers in New Zealand”.

MaVie represents itself as an opportunity for prospective investors to connect to the wealth supplied by bitcoin. Lion’s Share targeted predominantly Māori and Pasifika communities and similarities have been noted with the MaVie online meeting.

Pyramid schemes such as Lion’s Share and likely MaVie guarantee massive profits while preying on the increasing pool of investors. As the investor list expands, the scheme eventually collapses, leaving latecomers at a loss.

Concerns rise as the co-host of the online meeting referred to the audience as “Shelly’s community”, indicating Cullen’s unseen involvement. The promotion was given by Neo Anderson, whose identity remains unclear, who promised attendees a fortune derived from bitcoin.

Investors should exercise caution as Anderson suggested that an investment of $1000 could turn to $1.2 million in five years. The impossible-feeling goal would require continuous $1000 monthly deposits and an 8% monthly interest rate.

Despite these warnings, Anderson’s pitch aimed to convince attendees that his proposal is a “money magnet”.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pyramid scheme?

A pyramid scheme is an unsustainable business model that requires an ever-increasing number of participants or investors. Initial promoters recruit further investors who then continue the chain. The growing structure eventually collapses as potential investors run out, resulting in massive losses for those who joined late.

Who is Shelly Cullen?

Shelly Cullen is a convicted schemer known for her involvement in an illegal pyramid scheme called Lion’s Share. She is currently suspected of being linked with another bitcoin-based investment, MaVie, and has previously admitted to her illegal activities online.

What is the Commerce Commission’s advice?

The Commerce Commission strongly advises the public to exercise caution around investment opportunities, this includes new schemes like MaVie. It warns that if an offer seems too good to be real, it most likely is, and suggests potential investors do their due diligence before committing their hard-earned money.
This unconventional form of wealth creation, called the Lion’s Share scheme, was broadcasted through YouTube or online meetings. Cullen, in August 2020, announced in a video that she earned over $150,000 in 11 days, gaining a considerable number of views. Then, the following month she informed an online meeting about her income of $204,000 within five weeks. And in October 2020, she claimed that through the “Etherium” and “Tron” platforms of the scheme, she had a payout of $15m and $12m respectively.

Two systems that are used for cryptocurrency trading are the Etherium and Tron. A financial analysis for Cullen’s district court prosecution revealed that on the Tron platform this scheme had 116,383 participants, with the upper 1% securing 92.2% of the profits. Overall, 12.4% constituted winners, while 83.6% were losers, with the remaining 4% just breaking even. Profits of the winners equaled $10.363m, while the losses incurred were $10.509m.

Pyramid schemes are evolving, as Vanessa Horne of the Commerce Commission decides, with advancements in technology including social media and cryptocurrencies. This change makes these schemes look more like legitimate profit-making opportunities. The Lion’s share scheme involved 83% of participants losing money totaling approximately $NZ17 million lost worldwide.

According to Horne, these pyramid schemes can cause immense harm in our communities because individuals are often confused about the membership’s financial benefits and the associated risks. The schemes’ collapse can be exceptionally devastating for most involved in it.

Despite numerous attempts, Cullen couldn’t be reached for comments via social media. The situation is quite dire as after September of the previous year, no one involved with prosecuting her has been in contact. They believe she might have left the country and not returned.

Pre-empting Cullen’s sentencing at the North Shore District Court on June 24, the Commerce Commission, also the prosecutor in Lion’s Share case, contacted international agencies. They even sent warning letters, educating about pyramid scheme risks that might invite a breach of the Fair Trading Act, to those promoting MaVie within New Zealand.

Horne concluded by encouraging consumers to review any investment opportunity thoroughly before participating. She warned that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

### Frequently Asked Questions

#### What is the Lion’s Share scheme?
The Lion’s Share scheme is an unconventional method of creating wealth that was broadcasted through online platforms, including YouTube. The scheme involved cryptocurrency trading, using systems like Etherium and Tron.

#### How are modern pyramid schemes evolving?
Modern pyramid schemes are evolving with the advent of technologies including social media and cryptocurrencies. This can make pyramid schemes look like legitimate revenue-generating opportunities, misleading investors about the potential risks and financial benefits.

#### What is the impact of such pyramid schemes on communities?
Pyramid schemes can cause considerable harm to communities as individuals are often misled about the membership’s financial benefits and the associated risks. The collapse of such schemes can be devastating for the majority of those involved.