Blessing Loom: The dangerous game you should avoid
SOCIAL media has been taken by storm this week with the promise of a quick buck by what appears to be a simple game.
But the "blessing loom” craze that's been sweeping the internet is actually an illegal ponzi scheme and could end up costing players thousands more than they invested.
Police are urging residents to "be aware” and to never trust something that seems too good to be true.
A Sunshine Coast player, who wished to remain anonymous, contacted the Daily with her concerns that a number of local Instagram influencers were ripping off their thousands of followers.
"I naively got involved because I saw so many people that were classed as influencers get involved in it that I thought 'oh look it must be legit' and stupidly didn't go and investigate it myself,” she said.
If she had investigated the game she would have found it had actually been around for years, and was simply a new version of an old scam.
What is the 'Blessing Loom' and is it illegal?
To join the loom, participants must send a one-time payment of $300 for a promise of a $2400 return.
To get to the centre of the diagram where you'll collect your winnings, you must recruit two other people to invest $300, who then recruit two more people.
Once the diagram is filled and the payout is achieved for the top level, the loom splits into two diagrams and all players move up a level.
It seems like an easy way to make money, but it's actually another variation of a "gifting circle”, which is another variation of an illegal pyramid scheme.
Pyramid or ponzi schemes like this are not legal to run or be involved in in Australia.
Players could wind up facing a maximum penalty of $220,000.
Why is it so popular all of a sudden?
The anonymous ex-player told the Daily the scam had been circling social media, particularly with local Sunshine Coast personalities, for the past week.
She said a number of popular Instagram accounts had been sharing the game, using their large following to easily recruit more people.
"It's been flooded all over the Sunshine Coast this week. It's gotten out of control,” she said.
She said it was easy to get "sucked in” because of the trust people had in online influencers.
"I just jumped in blindly,” she said.
"I guess when you see somebody you know and trust doing it, you just don't do your due diligence.”
After she had recruited her own friends to the game, she found out it was classed as fraudulent activity and immediately regretted her involvement.
"After I found out ... naturally I wasn't going to be involved in recruiting any more people,” she said.
She paid her friends back in full, amounting to more than $1000, and started advising people it was illegal.
But she didn't get the response she was hoping for.
"They were basically trying to say 'there's nothing illegal about it',” she said.
"The most popular one-liner was 'You can't put your money into a poker machine and expect to get a refund'.
"That's fine if it was just a gamble. But it's not, it's illegal.
"Anybody with this information should now be doing the right thing and just return the money to the people they've recruited.”
What police want you to know
Queensland Police have received information from the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) that the scheme had resurfaced and was affecting people in the state.
Detective Inspector Vince Byrnes from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group in the Queensland State Crime Command urged people to not trust something that seemed too good to be true.
"The idea of a pyramid scheme is to recruit members ... and in this case it's using social media,” he said.
"Pyramid scheme promoters disguise their true purpose by saying you'll make money.
"That may ring some bells for consumers. It's one of those warning signs that we ask people to look for.”
Det Insp Byrnes warned social media users to be cautious when sharing any financial details about themselves online.
"If someone's asking for your bank details and they're asking for your money, are you in control with what's happening with your cyber identity?” he said.
"Be wary of people who say 'this is a guaranteed return'.
"When you're dealing with people you don't know who are telling you about benefits you can't see yourself, that's a warning bell.”
Det Insp Byrnes said anyone curious about the game should not let people pressure them into joining and to always get their own legal advice before putting money in.
"People should consider their own circumstances and ask themselves if they're in control,” he said.
"In the case of these types of offences ... it may lead to charges concerning fraud and the like. There are serious penalties in relation to that and I would caution anybody to be wary of these games.”