By Kaye Corbett
© 1999

FALKLAND, BC — Pentagono has swept the globe, hunting for innocent,
or to be more correct, gullible victims.

However, pyramid schemes, even though disguised as multi-level
marketing plans, have been around before Methuselah was a teenager.

There have been such legendary scams as the attempted sale of the
Brooklyn Bridge by George C. Parker in 1883. It seems ol’ George would
zero in on a “mark” and introduce himself as the owner and then offer
the “mark” the bridge and the toll-taking rights in exchange for $50 to
$50,000. The slippery con man also tried to get rich with the sale of
other top-notch New York landmarks as Madison Square Garden, Grant’s
Tomb and even the Statue of Liberty.

Parker was sentenced to life for his unsavory deeds and died in Sing
Sing prison in 1937.

Others have tried to sell such notable sites as the Eiffel Tower in
Paris, France and Big Ben in London.

Now, a scam — Pentagono — has been like a virulent disease
spreading throughout British Columbia, where I live.

Take for instance, an unidentified Canadian woman spoke to me the
other day, telling me about Pentagono, and how she was going to become
extremely wealthy since she had already spent $180 (US$120).

Knowing that I was a writer with WorldNetDaily, she wanted to know
how much she could earn. Duh!

I’d never heard of Pentagono, but I was quick to learn that a
privately owned organization — AKA Future Strategies — had been
founded in late 1944 and was located in Carpi, Italy in the province of
Modena. In March 1995 Future Strategies began promoting and
administering the system, Pentagono, under the pretense of helping
people overcome financial hardship.

In January 1996, Future Strategies decided to expand Pentagono
internationally and claim the system is available in more than 100
countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

During 1998 and now into 1999, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP) have received numerous inquiries about Pentagono on the Internet.

Future Strategies claims to be registered with the Italian Chamber of
Commerce and Industry in Modena. They also claim that it’s a company
completely approved by the Italian authorities, operating worldwide.
There are a number of Net sites that post links to the Pentagono

In the scheme, investors have to purchase a membership certificate
from “a friend” priced at US$40 ($60 Cdn). Seven people’s names are
printed on this certificate — the friend’s name is on the bottom. Once
the certificate has been purchased, you are asked to send US$40 ($60Cdn)
to the person who is shown in the top position. You are also asked to
send an additional US$40
($60 Cdn) to Future Strategies Srl, Via Muratori 1, Carpi (Mo) 41012,
Italy, to cover administrative costs. Once this has been paid, the buyer
will receive three additional certificates with his/her name in 7th
position. The buyer must then sell each additional certificate at US$40
($60 Cdn.) each. By the time the buyer’s name reaches the top of the
list, the company claims a total of US$87,480 ($131,220 Cdn.) can be
earned. Future Strategies says “the mathematically tested system
represents the improvement and best synthesis of over 50 years of
experience and university studies.”

The RCMP Economic Crime Branch has reviewed these reports and
believes that this investment solicitation exhibits the characteristics
of a common “pyramid” scheme and readers are warned that continued
participation in the scheme may result in a charge under Section
206(1)(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The RCMP has been advised by Italian authorities that this scheme
does not constitute a criminal offence in Italy, but rather a violation
of an administrative procedure. The Italian authorities will not be

Later, the disgruntled Canadian victim told me that “I can’t sell any
of the certificates, so I’m out $180.”

So is Pentagono a pyramid scheme?

A pyramid has been defined as a fraudulent system of making money
that requires an endless stream of new recruits. In the pyramid scheme
each new recruit: a) gives money to his/her recruiters, and; b) must
enlist fresh recruits to give him/her money.

Future Strategies administrators claim their product is the key that
each participant is purchasing a discount card good for discounts
throughout the world at participating merchants.

But the fact is: The Countdown Card is issued by Future Strategies,
is free of charge to all Pentagono participants and is included in the
mailing with their (3) certificates. The only purchase recruits ever
make in the program is when they purchase a certificate.

In the wealth re-distribution program the new recruits never purchase
product. In fact, these new recruits only purchased an ACTIVE POSITION
in the marketing plan.

The program is solely dependent upon continuously recruiting of the
other individuals in an effort to make money. Compensation paid for the
recruitment of other individuals into this marketing plan is a function
deemed illegal under U.S. and Canadian laws.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has already ruled
Pentagono is a pyramid selling scheme and the Wall Street Journal
reported in September 1997 that 100,000 Malaysians were conned in an
Internet scam.

That’s right, it was Pentagono.

And what about the unidentified Canadian woman?

She’s only out $180. She’s fortunate it wasn’t more.

So if you think an idea is too good to be true, it probably is.

My advice to potential Pentagono victims — track down Future
Strategies’ CEO Marri Claudio and his henchmen and put them out of

NEXT: West African letter schemes on The Net.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.