Legality of Cash Gifting
A lady called me today. She sounded worn, a little scared, and uncertain. She wanted a website – but you could tell she was not certain about even asking – not sure she could afford it, probably. I gave the standard reply: “Depends on what you need.” Then I asked her the standard exploration question: “What is your business?”
She said it was a Cash Gifting Program with a replicated website. I didn’t think much, I just said what I knew. “Ummm, those are illegal.” Then I followed with, “That kind of program is illegal, and you need to report this to the FTC.” She said “Thank you” a bit stiffly and hung up – I’m not sure if she thought I was nuts or deluded, or if that first sense of disaster was just sinking in. I wish I’d have thought to stop her, talk to her a bit more, help her know what to do.
Then I went on a research hunt to find documentation of what I knew. Well, a Google search for “cash gifting legality” returns all sorts of deceptive information. Claims left and right that cash gifting IS legal, based upon reports or information from the IRS.
Frauds! The IRS is NOT the issue here.
- Cash gifting to friends and family is legal.
- Cash gifting SCHEMES are NOT legal! They are nothing more than pyramid (Ponzi) schemes! CLEARLY forbidden by US trade laws. They fail on EVERY point!
Don’t believe me?
Such schemes use various methods to try to get around the laws using clever descriptions, but their descriptions are NOT what matter – the way in which the LAW describes it, and the INTENT of what they are doing is what makes it illegal.
By IRS definition, a Cash Gift is something given by a PERSON, to another person, with no expectation of return.
By FTC definition, an illegal pyramid scheme is one in which there is no legitimate product or investment going on, and which depends upon the recruitment of an ever larger group of people in order for anyone other than the top members to realize a good return on investment.
Any time an organization exists, formal or informal, for the purpose of Cash Gifting, the purpose and intent is no longer giving with no expectation of return. When you give someone money, and expect to MAKE money from it, it is not a Cash Gift, it is an investment, and you are a business. And this is a business with no product, no real investment occuring, and which only pays if more people join and pay into it. Pyramid Scheme, plain and simple!
These schemes, no matter how cleverly described, and no matter how slippery the leaders, get shut down. They are illegal, and no amount of claiming they are not will make them legal. No amount of “lawyer approved” claims will make them so – in fact, if they CALL it a “Cash Gifting” program, it is illegal, because Cash Gifting for profit is in itself illegal.
The thing is, why would you want to take the chance? People who create these are not “nice people who just want to help others”. They are scammers who want your money!
By participating, YOU are participating in an illegal scheme. If you DID make money at it, you would be liable for prosecution!
Why in the world would you want to take the chance of doing something that is clearly illegal, just because someone says, “Oh, our version isn’t illegal”? There are SO MANY things you can do that WORK to earn money, why would you throw away your money on such a thing when you know deep down that it just isn’t going to end happily?
Scamming is two sided. A scammer cannot take someone for their life savings unless there is someone on the other end of it who is greedy enough to want something for nothing – or unreasonable returns on their life savings. The person being scammed has to be WILLING to take the RISK of being scammed.
Ignorance accounts for some of it – but I don’t buy that most people who are scammed are ignorant. I think that they may be a little that way. But I think that in most cases, a little voice in the back of their head warned them that it probably wasn’t legit, but they let their greed or sense of desperation silence that little voice.
Don’t let greed overrule common sense. That little voice that warns you is the strongest protection you have against being scammed.
And beware of people who use supposed loopholes to try to persuade you that the thing that is illegal is somehow legal because THEY are doing it. If they have to use loopholes, they just aren’t good people. They are going to bend the law and look for loopholes with YOU, just the same as they are telling you they are doing with the government.
Good business doesn’t need to tell you that they are “legal because…”. Good business is CLEARLY legal.