Guilty Plea in Gift Card Ponzi Scheme

A South Carolina woman has pled guilty to orchestrating a gift card Ponzi Scheme.  Annette Marie Benson, 44, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud in a South Carolina federal court on Wednesday, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.

Benson carried out the scheme by selling valid gift cards to victims at a steep discount, often up to 20%-50% off the retail value.  These cards were from retailers such as American Express, Shell, Visa, and Walmart.  Benson did not receive any discounts on the cards she purchased to resell, and would continue selling the cards to new victims in order to make up for the losses incurred.  Yet, consistent with the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme, Benson's scheme collapsed when her outstanding obligations outweighed the money she was able to draw in.

Benson is scheduled to be sentenced October 4th.