The couple in question are husband and wife duo LaShonda and Marlon Moore. The couple became minor celebrities when they appeared on the reality TV show "Family or Fiance," which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network last year.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the couple in a state court on Tuesday, June 15. In the lawsuit, he wrote:
"Over the course of the [Wuhan coronavirus] pandemic, LaShonda and Marlon Moore, the husband and wife duo of Prosper, Texas, and BINT, have operated an illegal pyramid scheme, Blessings in No Time (aka BINT) to scam tens of millions of dollars from members of the African American community throughout the nation. Defendants promised profits and a money back guarantee. Instead, Defendants are dissipating assets – leaving thousands of victims in dire straits."
According to the complaint, the Moores, through BINT, asked for money with the promise that they would use the contributions to "bless and assist needy members of the African American community in the wake of the pandemic and economic and social strife." BINT contributors – known as members – were asked to provide the Moores a minimum of $1,400. Some participants reportedly paid as much as $67,700.
The Moores allegedly promised victims of the scam that they would receive a "return blessing" in the form of an 800 percent return on their investment. This means that if a member paid the Moores the minimum amount of $1,400, they were liable to receive at least $11,200.
This payout is contingent on the member being able to recruit at least one more participant to the pyramid scheme. The recruit needed to make a contribution to the organization before the member was eligible for the promised return on his or her investment. (Related: Investigation: Many cryptocurrencies are nothing but a massive Ponzi scheme promoted by paid "influencers.")
BINT's website claims that the organization "harnesses the power of digital communities and the internet" to provide struggling communities with the means to raise funds, "overcome hardship" and reach their "aspirational goals."
According to the complaint, BINT members who contributed money were formally prohibited from posting reviews about the company on their social media accounts. Many abided by the prohibition and remained silent, fearing that they would not receive their promised payout if they spoke out. This had the added effect of preventing other potential victims of the scam from learning the truth about the organization.
Paxton's lawsuit also claims that it has received nearly 200 consumer complaints against BINT. His office received the complaints through the website of the Texas branch of the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit.
"BINT scammed Texans out of money by exploiting their deeply-held religious faith during a national crisis," said Paxton. "This is despicable behavior, and BINT will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Paxton has asked the court to "stop the Defendants from causing further harm" by freezing all of BINT's assets, ordering the organization to stop conducting business dealings in the state and compensate all of its victims.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has also filed a case against the Moores in the District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. This case has accused the couple of violating the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
Rutledge has also accused the Moores of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If found guilty, the Moores will be fined up to $10,000 for each violation of this act.
Learn more about other criminal scams by reading the latest articles at Hoax.news.