for immediate release
December 6, 2001

N E W S   R E L E A S E

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and the Office of the State Attorney are jointly investigating an apparent Pyramid Scheme that has recently moved into Northwest Florida.

The scheme, known as "The Original Dinner Party" is promoted as a "game," with winnings described as "gifts." According to its literature, the "party" began as a charity fund-raiser with a group of "influential women" in Toronto approximately eleven years ago. According to the literature, "the concept they developed worked so well that they eventually decided to keep some of the money for themselves and to share the concept with their friends and families."

Despite assurances by its promoters that the operation is legal, it is an illegal "Pyramid Club" as defined in Florida Statutes. Participating in such a scheme is a criminal misdemeanor, and promoting such a scheme is a felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Arrests and prosecutions are possible as the investigation continues.

The scheme involves members recruiting or "inviting" others to join the "Dinner Party" in order to advance to a higher level and receive a financial benefit. Newcomers to the "Dinner Party" join by buying a "plate" at the "Soup and Salad Level" for $5,000. Several individuals may join together as one "plate" in order to share the cost. Each plate advances to the "Entree Level" by inviting two new "Soup and Salad" players. Each table has one seat at the "Dessert Level," with that individual or group pocketing the entire $20,000 "birthday gift" from the four newcomers. The "Entrees" and "Soup and Salads" then advance. The plan does not involve any sales or merchandise.

Anybody with information about locally-operating "Dinner Party" groups should call The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Criminal Investigations Division at 609-2000.

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for more information contact Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

(850) 651-7420

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