We often hear about scams in the diet pill industry, but the magic cheese scam that is currently being investigated in France, really has taken the not very cheesy biscuit.
A 74-year-old French woman is on trial at the moment in France where she accused of creating one of the most bizarre and lucrative scams ever invented.
The businesswoman Gilberte Van Erpe, known as Madame Gil conned thousands of people in Chile out of an estimated 14.5 million Euros. She conned the unsuspecting Chileans into investing millions of Euros into kits to make a luxury cheese product that could then be sold back to the French cosmetics industry.
According to Madame Gil, this magic cheese was a prized ingredient used in skin cream popular with celebrities such as Michael Jackson and the French cosmetics industry could not get enough of it!
For €369 (£271), customers were persuaded to buy a kit containing filters and a special powder which they mixed with milk and left to fermented. The final product was a cheese type substance that they were told was highly sought after by the cosmetics industry. To make it easier Madame Gil’s company would buy it back at vast profits for the producers.
To enrol the first victims, the kits were given away free and the cheese makers were actually paid for this first batch. They were then persuaded to invest their profits in further cheese making kits. Once this happened the scam was off and rolling.
It worked as a pyramid scheme with the people who had already been paid for the magic cheese, convincing others to join in with the scheme.
Some people became obsessed with making the cheese. Some gave up work to focus on the ‘business’ full time. Others remortgaged their homes in order to pay for more cheese kits. The business spread rapidly at its height around 5.500 people were caught up in the scam.
It all collapsed in 2006 and Madame Gil was eventually arrested in the millionaire’s playground in Nice France in 2008. It was not possible to extradite her to face trial in Chile and it has taken until now to see her on trial for her crimes.
As for the so called magic cheese, it was discovered after the scam collapsed rotting in a warehouse in Chile. Unsurprisingly it had never left the country.
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