Glencoe woman warns people away from Facebook 'Blessing Loom' scheme
GLENCOE, AL (WBRC) - A Glencoe woman says a "blessing loom," a scheme that solicits money through Facebook with promises of quick profits and has swept the Etowah County area, is a misleading pyramid scheme and should be avoided.
Emey Devoll, a mother of two who works at an oral surgery clinic, says she actually made money at the scheme, only to refund it later.
The "blessing loom" solicits $100 into a loom that is said to pay out $800, if all goes as planned.
"Everyone named it a 'blessing loom,' because once you got out, you're 'blessed' with 800 dollars. You put a hundred dollars in and you profit 700 dollars," Devoll said.
Devoll says she actually reduced shares of everything, once she made it to the middle of the "loom" and could control things, to $50 contribution and get back $400.
Devoll said she had misgivings, even though various players told her it was legal and Paypal administrators originally told her it didn't violate their terms of service if it's a "gift." But later she began hearing debates that was, indeed, illegal, meeting the definition of a pyramid scheme and bearing similarities to similar schemes that circulated before the days of social media and even before typical civilian access to the internet, as far back as the 1980s.
Then she began hearing that people lost money, followed by messages from the people themselves.
"Then I had a girl message me about her money and that it was going to her kids Christmas," she recalled. "I even had a girl message me, telling me that she had lived in a trailer, she needed wiring fixed, that she's a single mom with two kids, and she was really hoping that would benefit."
While she could see how some people might say if they need the money so badly they shouldn't have gambled it in the first place, Devoll says the people in question were misled into thinking it wasn't much of a gamble. She says unlike a $2 lottery ticket, where the very longshot odds are printed on the form, these people were told their profits were almost certain.
"I'm not someone that can sleep at night, knowing that I took something from somebody, even if they gifted it to me, you know," Devoll said. "I completely believe in karma, you know. So I try to make sure all my ducks are in a row before I go to bed at night."
Devoll notified Paypal, whose terms of service agreement does forbid transactions that "support pyramid or Ponzi schemes, matrix programs, other 'get rich quick' schemes or certain multi-level marketing programs."
She requested that the money she received be refunded to the people who had given it to her. Then she said she reported it to Facebook as a scam.
"I also made it known to Facebook that what we all went through was a scam, because eventually, no one warned you about, it's going to die, the whole loom is going to end. And somebody is stuck without money, and at the end of the day, is that fair," she asked.
"If you're okay with doing that to someone, then it's really not a blessing," she added.
Devoll now warns others to stay away from the scheme, and even went as far as to make a video on Facebook telling her story.
Facebook users, many of whom were from Etowah County, heavily debated the scheme. Some claimed it was legal and someone told them so, but others cited specific laws about pyramid schemes. A law firm went as far as to warn everyone by mentioning the loom in a Facebook ad, saying to save their money because "you'll need our services."
WBRC checked with several Etowah County area law enforcement agencies and none of them had any reports taken by someone who had lost money through the scheme.
That includes Gadsden Police, although its public information officer, Sgt. John Hallman, said they have a detective, Sgt. Ryan Preston, who has studied the "blessing loom" extensively in case anyone does make such a report.
Copyright 2016 WBRC. All rights reserved.