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Letter -Gifting Circle represented

To the editor:

In response to Susan Wood’s article regarding the Women’s Gifting Circle, printed on Thursday, May 3, quiet time is over. Most participants in the Women’s Gifting Circle are reluctant to go on record because we did not wish to justify the ill-informed and socially irresponsible journalism that has been circulating through the Tahoe Basin with a response. However, my eyes have been poisoned for several weeks now, and I can no longer hold my tongue.

I could not begin to describe how my life has grown from this circle. I could fill your entire publication with stories of the lessons I have learned, but for now, I shall keep it to response only.



Let’s start with “Pyramid Schemes.” A pyramid is performed as follows: An individual starts the scheme, usually selling the product. They recruit members to invest into these products. The people involved in pyramids must recruit in order to receive profit. The money trickles down through the order in the pyramid, everyone getting a piece of the money from the person before them. The person in the beginning continues to receive until the pyramid fades out and ends. In the Women’s Gifting Circle, the new members gift the woman in the receivership position. After she had received from the women at the beginning level, she is done receiving, unless she elects to buy herself another space. The women in the middle positions receive no portion of the money until they reach the receiver level and they in turn will be done when their receivership is up. So by fact and definition, the gifting circle is not a pyramid.

Next, I would like to apologize to any women who feel that members have harassed them. If anyone is pushing this on you, they are not abiding by the code set out by the circle. We do not “recruit.” Let me announce this to all members: This is a beautiful thing when kept pure. We are not Amway, so put away your recruiting lists. We approach women with the option to join, whom we feel could benefit from the circle. Even women without $5,000. Surprised? Don’t be! A large number of women involved, including myself, are women who have never had $5,000 to give away, or even seen that much money all in the same place! We are the women of your community who, like everyone else, pay high rent and work for a living. I was gifted into the circle when I was in a particularly “down” time in my life. A woman I barely know gave me a spot on her circle to help give me a leg-up. It worked. For the first time I was able to write a check to a charity that I cared about without stripping my wallet. I was able to get rid of my debts and give freely to people around me. I was given the opportunity to be in a position of philanthropy. It felt great.




As for the “victims,” a woman is to be told and shown in written statement that this is a gift, with no guarantee of return. If this woman writes a check to become a member anyway, it is her choice.

If you find something immoral about supporting the women in your community, I challenge you this: Go to a place that you’re likely to see a lot of local females. Put your arms out to your sides and spin around. Your fingers will likely graze several of these women. My mothers, sisters and friends in the circle. You will brush upon psychologists, therapists, photographers, and yes, Mr. Lacy, lawyers, and court-appointed officials.

This is a gifting circle, not a pyramid scheme. It is protected under Title 26 US code, sections 2501, 2502, 2504 and 2511. Look it up.

When we receive our money, we are not buying fancy new sports cars and frivolous trifles. We are supporting ourselves. We are giving to our community. Women have built schools and donated large sums of money to worthy causes. We have patronized your businesses and supported the men in our lives. You know someone in it. We are happier because of it. If you don’t like it, then by all means, don’t join! If someone approaches you and you feel uncomfortable, tell them that you don’t wish to discuss it. I’d be very surprised if anyone pushes the issue. We have been challenged before. It is international. It’s been going on for more than 14 years, and it is bigger than you, Mr. Lacy. It’s a wonderful gift. Women are not victims. We make our own choices. We do not need your protection.

Andrea Shuman

Tahoe City, Calif.

Editor’s note: The California Attorney General’s Office and the El Dorado County District Attorney call the gifting circles illegal, citing the state penal code relating to endless chain schemes. It states: Any scheme for the disposal or distribution of property whereby a participant pays a valuable consideration for the chance to receive compensation for introducing one or more additional persons into participation in the scheme or for the chance to receive compensation when a person introduced by the participant introduces a new participant.”

Further, El Dorado County District Attorney Gary Lacy suggested Wednesday increased interest in prosecuting those in the gifting circles who have fraudulently misleading the public for personal gain. He cites a penal code relating to grand theft as another charge participants may face.


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